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“Like staying at a friend's place... Amazing Place”

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Great Plains Conservation ol Donyo Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Mexico City, Mexico
Level Contributor
39 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Like staying at a friend's place... Amazing Place”
Reviewed 3 February 2014

Here is "The Good":
Ol Donyo is an one-of-a-kind lodge. Tastefully decorated and filled with brilliant ideas in every corner: star gazing stations in the lodges, outdoor showers, heavy curtains instead of windows, the list could go on. The wildlife is not as plentiful as in other locations, but has an abundance of animals at an ingeniously designed waterhole right in front of the lodge's main house. Since Ol Donyo is situated in a private concession, the game drives and other activities are tailored to the guests' interest and desires. The food is very good and the head chef and staff is continually trying to innovate and please, which is something you'll feel flattered by.

Here is "The Amazing":
The best thing about Ol Donyo is the friendly, treatment you get from the lodge's managers and staff. Key word being friendly, instead of just serviceable or accommodating. You really feel like you're staying at a friend's place (albeit a very rich friend), because the hosts take the time to know you and to introduce you to the staff. Therefore, after the first day you know everyone enough to feel comfortable in the lodge. Also, I also love the fact that you get to meet and share bread and wine with other guests that -in our case- were invariably very different from us and very interesting and nice.

There is no Bad things to highlight from Ol Donyo. Just don't expect to see an abundance of large mammals since the area has been affected by severe drought in previous years and conservation efforts to repopulate the ecosystem to its previous levels are currently underway.

Tips: Some people already mention Konee as a great guide. I can vouch for that too. He is a very nice and fun person. Horseback Riding is a relaxing and delightful experience, the trek up Ol Donyo Hill has an amazing view, but my wife had a hard time going up .

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank AlonsoFB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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143 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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  • Sleep Quality
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (42)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Perth
Level Contributor
17 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 January 2014

A smiling Masai named Konee welcomed us to his land. He would be our guide through out our stay. We soon learnt Konee is known as the “rock star”. He knows everyone, everywhere. Going into the villages with him is a rock star experience with people waving and talking to him. We were elated the animal viewing began the minute we started driving towards the lodge with elephants and giraffes being so close. Great start to our trip. Konee you’re the best ☺

The Committed managers of Ol Donyo Alysa and Ray discus plans with you and ask what activities you would like to do as opposed to other lodges that just tell you what your doing. They often dine with you, so you get to know them well and have easy access to their vast knowledge. The staff are very tentative, polite and well spoken English. Alysa and Ray have done so much for Ol Donyo, gaining huge respect from their staff. This really shines and the harmony gives a feeling we did not experience anywhere else. Thank you, Alysa, Ray, Douglas and team.

The food is worth an extra mention. Ray is a chef and has overcome the massive isolation challenges to present 5 star quality foods. He has really challenged the cooking staff with 150 new recipes in a year. That is huge with an amazing outcome. Congratulations to all the kitchen staff. Ray, your cheeses were outstanding and the best we had on our trip ☺ Dinner offers choices of sitting with others or on your own. Lunch is a buffet with all guests sharing a table which we enjoyed listing to others experiences.

Our room was massive and clean with a lovely private pool but sadly too cold to swim in. The rooms are private so the outdoor shower can be used without any concerns. We had room number 1 but Alysa kindly let us view number 2 as a comparison. It was smaller but in no way compromised. Still great views with the bed set up higher for views. I would still have been very pleased staying in this room. Our room had excellent views to the watering hole where all types of animals come to drink. The lodge even recycles the water to put back into the watering hole. The hide is an outstanding concept for up close and personal animal viewing at the watering hole.

The only negative for us was we couldn’t have tea in our room when we woke up, despite the beautiful chest in the room with assortments of tea and coffee. This is due to the kettles that trip the power, but hot water can be sent to the room upon request so its only a small negative.

We decided to do a hike into the volcanic tubes with Konee and Hussie. Hussie is a ranger sent to protect us if needed, which is unlikely. This is a must do hike but be warned it does have its challenges with climbing down the deep carved terrain. Some areas Konee gives you a head lamp. Don’t let this put you off, I was worried but after completion decided it was not too difficult. My husband lost his black sunglasses and Hussie was very upset we could not find them. He went back with another group the next day and set out on a challenge to return them….he succeeded!! You’re a star Hussie ☺

Asante Sana Ol Donyo ☺

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Thaihappy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bergen, Hordaland, Norway
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 November 2013

I searched for a lodge with good horses and riding guides for game watching to fulfill my dream of a horesback riding safari. Ol Donyo Lodge fulfilled my dream and so much more. After two nights there I was out of superlatives. It is the most perfect place for a lodge, without other lodges and other tourists nearby, placed so close to a waterhole that you almost always see elephants there. The lodge is so perfect with all its very private rooms facing the beatiful view of the savannah and with all luxury. I just gasped when I was shown around by the most wonderful managers, the couple Allyssa and Ray, who do everything to make you have the holiday of your life. They are so friendly, caring and joyful to be with! And the horses and riding guides were fantastic. Everything is top quality with this place! I had the ride of my life the morning with me and two riding guides having breakfast at the hill ol Donyo and thereafter the most spectaculous riding so close to giraffes, elephants, oryx, wildbeast, antilopes and many more I can not remember the names of. I had the longest canter in my life, it was heavenly flying over the savannah on the powerful Nglowo that never was excausted. And the afternoonride ending with the most beautiful place for watching the sunset and the moonrise. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! It will be difficult not to visit this place again :-)

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Nils B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cleveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
43 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 131 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 November 2013

ol-M-G what a stunning location and lodge. Facing straight on to Kilimanjaro it's an absolute thrill to wake up and see the mountain so clearly. ol Donyo Lodge is breathtaking, from the setting to the decor to the cuisine to the staff. Top of the line and Alyssa and Ray are the most gracious hosts. Being a professional chef, Ray's influence over the cuisine is obvious and he uses the freshest ingredients to create delicious and interesting dishes. And the best part is, you don't really feel stuffed because unlike most safari camps, ol Donyo is an action camp as well. You can bike you can hike you can walk you can horseback ride through the open plains and up the steep hills. You can also get in a good workout running up and down to the hide set in front of the camp where the game, especially huge bull elephants, congregate around the limited water supply. I don't think they've forgotten a thing at ol Donyo and the presentation is so genuine. Don't do less than three nights or you will regret it!

  • Stayed November 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank debbierich
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Midlands
Level Contributor
42 reviews
38 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 October 2013

We stayed at Ol Donyo for 3 nights following 4 nights on a full-on safari. What a very different and unusual kind of place, and a great place to go to after several very busy days in the Mara. Our guide here (Dan) was great, and it was very interesting learning about the Maasai way of life, and the challenges of the guides in flipping between the two. We saw some great things that we’d not seen before - gerenuk, bush babies, black footed cat, a hare that looked like a small kangaroo with a big tail, pole cat, genet cat (there was a habituated one at the lodge that would feed from your hand), and lots of other great things. It's a quieter game experience, but some of the drives were amazing – we went up into the Chyulu hills behind the lodge on one morning, the final bit of the drive was like a ride at theme park it was so steep, and we had breakfast on top of the hill looking at Kilimanjaro (which we had great views of every day). We also did a night drive – not an “evening on the way back and it’s got dark” drive, but a “have dinner then head out at 9.30pm and come back at midnight” drive. It was great, and we had an adventure as both back wheels got stuck in two different aardvark holes simultaneously and we had to be rescued. It was very exciting looking at the eyes in the dark looking at us.

There was great hosting here by Ray and Alyssa, a very nice couple. Ray has clearly done great things in the kitchen there, and with the chefs. Sometimes the waiting service wasn't quite up to par, but on the whole it was great (and especially the lunches which were excellent).

The rooms were spectacular, we were in one with glass doors, which we had requested. We had regular visits to our terrace by the local monkeys which was great. The pool on our terrace was too cold to swim in, but the main pool wasn't and we used that. I can imagine that if you were there at the height of summer the pools with the room would be brilliant. The star bed experience was fantastic, though we ran indoors at about 2am when it rained.

We went on a really good long walk through the bush for about 8km which ended up with a surprise breakfast out on the plains which had been cooked on a fire the staff built. It was really well done.

Thank you Ray and Alyssa and Dan for a great few days.

Room Tip: We were pleased that we chose a room with glass doors - definitely do this if you are in any way twi...
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank DJM_MP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
47 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 October 2013

Ol Donyo set the bar for our entire trip. The accommodations are luxurious, and the perfect way to start the trip. We did so much at Ol Donyo, bike riding through the bush, bush walks, safari adventures, and horse back riding. These activities, coupled with 5* meals made the entire experience extremely special. Ray and Alyssa were off property for the time while we were there in April 2011, but the fill in manager, Rachel, did not disappoint. Amazing host, and very accommodating.

  • Stayed November 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank J0sephUSA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Orlando, Florida, United States
Level Contributor
34 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 October 2013

We started our holiday at this incredible lodge and we were impressed not only with the quality of accommodation but equally with the high level of service. Ray & Allyssa are consumate hosts who know just how to make each and every guest feel special.

Our Masaai guide was wonderful and the experience of a walking safari is not to be missed!

Room Tip: You will have a choice of "open" bedrooms or glass walled. Be certain to make your selecti...
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Colleen A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Great Plains Conservation ol Donyo Lodge

Property: Great Plains Conservation ol Donyo Lodge
Address: Mbirikani Group Ranch | Chyulu Hills, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Rift Valley Province > Amboseli Eco-system
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 20 Speciality Lodging in Amboseli Eco-system
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:4 star — Great Plains Conservation ol Donyo Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Imagine...275,000 Acres of scenic Africa, where the wildlife can be found free and roaming, without tourists in mini buses or a set schedule. Imagine...Travelling across the archetypal savannahs of East Africa in an open 4x4 game drive vehicle without limitation, feeling the rhythm of Africa beneath your feet as you walk with expert trackers, or horseback riding with Mount Kilimanjaro as a backdrop. Imagine...Exploring this paradise, and then coming home to one of the most luxurious small lodges in Kenya where a hot bath, in or outdoor shower, or private swimming pool await - all with inspiring views across the expansive plains, plus delicious food, charming hosts and world-class service.Ol Donyo Lodge is in the heart of the 275,000 acre Mbirikani Group Ranch, located on the slopes of the Chyulu Hills National Park between the Amboseli and Tsavo West National Parks in southeast Kenya. Its location is unrivalled with full views of Mount Kilimanjaro and in the path of seasonal elephant migrations. It is a lodge rich in history, passion and conservation. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Ol Donyo Hotel Amboseli Eco-System

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