Exporing Kenya With Great Plains Conservation

Exporing Kenya With Great Plains Conservation

Five individuals in their 50’s started Great Plains Conservation and united their extensive skills and experience to create pioneering conservation projects in diverse and threatened habitats throughout Africa. It is a company that works on the basis of 100% sustainable conservation tourism. Much of their work involves giving back to the local communities, in Kenya’s instance the Masai.

Maasai Mara Olympic Athletes
Maasai Mara Olympics

This they do in a number of ways including projects such as the Masai Olympics, student conservation camps, educational scholarships, and a unique project of providing solar lanterns to villages and homes to enhance their living conditions.

Kenya is the home of the safari with some exceptional options for those looking for adventure, excitement and romance. Great Plains Conservation have wonderful options in both the world famous Masai Mara and Chyulu Hills, close to Mount Kilimanjaro.

Ol Donyo Lodge (Chyulu Hills)

Ernest Hemingway referred to Chyulu Hills as “The Green Hills of Africa”. A mere thirty – five minute flight from Nairobi, Chyulu Hills is two and a half times the size of Amboseli National Park. It acts as a wildlife corridor between Tsavo West and Amboseli and is the only lodge in the area. It is an incredibly diverse landscape and a Masaai region where the locals can be seen traversing from time to time.

Ol Donyo Lodge has some very impressive draw cards! The land is full of large tuskers, bull elephants with mammoth tusks. The setting is also superb. Mount Kilimanjaro forms a spectacular backdrop where multiple activities will keep guests entertained. Here is a list of activities on offer at Ol Donyo:

  • It is the home of Ride Kenya and has twenty horses on site for horse riding. Their tack room is marvellous with all the bits and bobs to enhance the horse riding experience (weight limit of 95 kgs per rider). They accept both novice and advanced riders.
  • There are ten state of the art mountain bikes for guide led cycling in the park.
  • The game viewing is brilliant. I have already made mention of the impressive tuskers in Chyulu Hills but the area has a very good population of resident lions, cheetahs and leopards. Both game drives and walks are on offer. The walks often visit some of the longest lava fields in the world.
  • Being a Great Plains premium camp also means that guests can sample some premium wines with a wine tasting on offer at the lodge.
  • There is a magnificent spa with views out onto Mount Kilimanjaro.
  • The lodge is also surrounded by four waterholes which attracts animals from far and wide. One of these has a sunken hide, made of an old shipping container, which is great for photographers. There is another hide made up of logs where clients can relax and enjoy their lunch from.
  • For the exercise enthusiasts the lodge also provides yoga mats, a selection of free weights and rubber bands.
  • There are seven suites in total with each room having its own plunge pool and star gazing bed, with a star gazing scope. Being so close to the equator means that star gazing is a mixture between what can be seen in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
View Ol Donyo Lodge...

Mara Expeditions (Maasai Mara)

The Maasai Mara is a special place to visit anytime of the year. It is best known for the wildebeest migration which occurs between the months of July and October however the game viewing is as good as anywhere in Africa year round. There is, in fact, many wildebeest, zebra and topi that “loiter” around the Mara year round.

The positioning of Great Plain’s Expedition Camp is great. It is situated in the main Maasai Mara Game Reserve, along the Ntiakitiak River and within a thick riverine forest, with traversing rights both in the National Park and in the quieter and private Olare Motorogi Conservancy. The area is a particularly well known cat region, especially for leopards.

The camp consists of five authentic tents on raised decks and each with their own hammock. It is a true bush camp with a luxury feel to it. Each tent has flushing toilets and bucket showers and is decorated with an eclectic yet coordinated assembly of what early explorers may have carried with them.

Activities at Mara Expeditions include early morning and late afternoon / early evening game drives in an open, 4×4 vehicle. Balloon flights across the Maasai Mara can be arranged but are at an additional cost.

View the Mara Expeditions Camp

Mara Plains (Maasai Mara – Olare Motorogi Conservancy)

One of only five camps in the Olare Motorogi Concession Mara Plains offers guests a more private experience when compared with lodges in the Maasai Mara National Park with 10 – 15% less vehicle “traffic”.

To access the lodge one needs to cross a rope bridge over the Ntiakitiak River, walking above hippos and crocs, before reaching a spacious lounge and library well hidden in the tree line. The lodge itself consists of five open plan and luxurious rooms and two family rooms. The decor pays homage to the essence of East Africa; Swahili heritage is reflected in large wooden doors from the island of Lamu, and accents of red and purple honour the great Maasai chiefs and warriors.

Add to this cultural melting pot a nod to the colonial era, with rich leathers, copper and brass used in campaign-style furniture and you have a lavish yet comfortable atmosphere that complements, rather than overwhelms the surrounding wilderness. Being a premium lodge at Great Plains Conservation means that premium wines, and wine tastings are available for guest’s enjoyment. There is also the added benefit of having spa treatments from the comfort of your room.

Activities include early morning, late afternoon and night game drives in an open, 4×4 vehicle as well as the option of getting to know more about the local Maasai Community. Balloon flights across the Maasai Mara can be arranged but are at an additional cost.

View the Mara Plains Camp

Mara Nyika (Maasai Mara – Naibosho Conservancy)

Great Plains Conservation’s newest camp, and sister camp to Mara Plains, Mara Nyika officially opened its doors on the 5th August 2019. It is situated in the Naibosho Conservancy in the higher uplands of the Masai Mara with plains views onto the Talek River (one of the focal crossing points for the migration). The Naibosho Conservancy is a region of diverse habitats that is very good for lion and cheetah sightings. Being in a private concession, as mentioned, allows for less vehicle “traffic” than in the main park.

The camp itself is different, yet spectacular. Shaded under Fever Trees in a riverine area, and with lots of privacy, it consists of four guest rooms that are built on a raised platform, to keep guests at a safe distance from some dagga boys that enjoy the area. Three actual tents make up one room. This consists of a lounge, bedroom and bathroom. In the coming months the Mara Nyika will also be adding a two – bedroom family unit, as well as a two bed suite private villa with its own private chef and guide.

Premium wines and wine tastings can be found in the lodge’s very own wine cellar, overlooking the plains in front, and this room can also be used as a private dining area. Food is great with more light and healthy options when compared with many other game lodges. The lounge and library have a very open feel to them.

Activities include early morning, late afternoon and night game drives in an open, 4×4 vehicle as well as the option of getting to know more about the local Maasai Community. Balloon flights across the Maasai Mara can be arranged but are at an additional cost.

View the Mara Nyika Camp

Great Plains Extras…

Some interesting and wonderful benefits of choosing Great Plains Conservation, besides the community upliftment programmes that they are involved in, includes their “Wild Studios”. Here photographic guides have the ability to help guests learn how to better their photographic skills. These are available in all their camps and not just Kenya.

They offer helicopter flights between camps, at an extra cost, and have a private aircraft at their disposal for guests interested in doing their own private flying safaris. They also offer a Young Explorers program where kids learn skills to graduate as “junior rangers”, the best camp for this being Ol Donyo with the plethora of activities on offer there.

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