Going wild in Ol Pejeta – a night with ellies at the campsite!

Labour day weekend, and figuring out what to do! Sam and I like the wild, so Ol Pejeta seemed like a good idea!

DSCN0182The Ol Pejeta conservancy is very close to Nanyuki, and in dry weather, is super accessible to simple saloon cars. Now we were planning to be more adventurous, so hired a land cruiser from super-reliable Simon in Nanyuki town.

Thank the universe we did take that car, because our campsite is on the wildest side of the park. Murera Donga is near the Marsh Lands (Lion King anyone!) in the middle of acacia trees, and you are provided with firewood, a water bowser and a basic toilet. At an extra cost you could get a night guard, and if you want some safety, I highly recommend it – we didn’t get one, but probably would the next time!

We drove around Ol Pejeta all day, so it was quite late by the time we got to our site, and the sun was setting. It has been raining lots across the country, so the firewood was quite damp. An hour after successfully trying to light the fire, Sam and I decided to just use the landcruiser light to light our way. Just as we were about to get out some fish to cook, we heard leopard growls and lion roars, VERY CLOSE! The lions had to be only a few hundred metres away! So we quickly got back in the car and tried to figure out our next plan. We both decided to use the car lights to scan around the area for any other potential dangerous animals. Lucky we did, because we saw a huge bull elephant walking towards our site!

So back in the cruiser we went, and cooked from inside the cruiser, opening the door once in a while just to wash stuff. Before this, we had used the tap stand at the water bowser to wash our hands and have a quick wash. I am really glad I did, because the one elephant became 5, as one called others over to eat the yummy grass in the area. This is all slightly unnerving, having a HUGE bull elephant at your car window. The dominant male smelled our car, and having deemed us safe, he telepathically signaled the other ellies to come closer to the site.

This is where it got interesting. One of the ellies decided to explore the water bowser, so went around it, sniffing. He figured out there was water in there, and found the metal lid on the top! He used his trunk and tried to flip it open, till he eventually managed….and that must have felt like Christmas to him! Because he got so excited with the water, he slurped it up , and we could hear the swoosh of the water going into his throat! The other ellies, seeing that there was fresh water available, also came and joined in the fun! We watched as our water supply was drank dry (lucky for us we had our own supply in the car!). When the bowser was getting emptier, we saw one ellie use his leg to tilt the bowser frame so that the water would all flow to one side, and he did this for the other elephant to drink! Eventually they left the site, and we went out quickly to use the bathroom and sleep in the car….such an adventure!

Ol Pejeta has some really amazing conservation projects:

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1. The Chimpanzee Sanctuary – Saving these highly intelligent creatures from fates worse than death – being kept as pet slaves mostly in confllict zones. We saw Max and Uhuruhara on this visit. This visit comes free with your conservancy entrance fee.

DSCN00932. The Morani Information Centre and Baraka the blind black rhino  – You can go visit Baraka, who lost his right eye a few years ago in a fight, and possibly feed him. He loves sugar cane! his visit comes free with your conservancy entrance fee.

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At the information centre you will also find the Moranis Restaurant – a wonderful foodie oasis in the wild! Indulge in scrumptuous Ol-Pejeta reared steak while you watch the elephants roam the plains!

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3. Visit three of the last five Northern White Rhinos on earth –  This is a bittersweet visit, costing 40USD per person. Two females and one male Northern White rhino have been relocated from a zoo in the Czech Republic. One male was killed last year. Najin and Fatu, the two females, live amongst the Southern White Rhinos in the protected area, while the last living male on earth, Sudan,  is now kept in his own enclosure. He is 42 years old and does not have many years more to live. Efforts to mate him and the females have failed, so scientists from around the world are trying to find all ways possible to let the species propagate, but chances are getting slimmer each day 😦

When Sudan dies, the entire species will essentially become extinct – as the females have no other male to mate with to continue the species. Knowing that, I cried when I saw him….knowing that when he goes, so does his kind 😦

I am definitely going back to Ol Pejeta soon…next time, lion tracking probably!

To get there, drive to Nanyuki, and onward – it’s quite easy!

Kenyan citizen entrance fees are 1200shs per day. You can book for the entrance and everything else online at http://olpejetaconservancy.checkfront.com/reserve/ 

Simon in Nanyuki is great for vehicle rentals. Reach him at +254 721 661 050

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