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Great Plains Conservation ol Donyo Lodge
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Reviews (151)
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All reviewshorseback ridingchyulu hillsthe managersother guestsgame drivesguide jamesa special placemorning ridebig skieshour and a halfan experienced riderelephants drinkingevery guesthours watchinglava tubefirst stopunique experience
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Reviewed 26 March 2014

We stopped at this extraordinary lodge while our Safari in Kenia. Having been to the Serengeti before, we were sure nothing could top that! Actually, we were wrong. The adventure starts with the flight over green hills and going down also in the green, as there is no real airstrip:-)

We were taken to the lodge where we first met Alyssa and Roy, the Managers of the lodge. We have been to quite some lodges in Africa, but those two really do a perfect job!
They upgraded us on a room with our own plunge pool -the rooms are absolutely amazing! They have no front wall, but only curtains, so the room opens up to the endless plains of Amboseli, with Kili in the back. On the right, the same view can be enjoyed in your plunge pool! And you directly watch the elefants and giraffes passing by.
The view alone made us wish, we could sit there forever and just stare, but at this astonishing lodge there is no time for that ( unless you want to do just that!)

Our first way was to the"hide", you just go down there directly from the lodge and can sit in an open shed, just some ten meters away from the big elephants - again you could sit there forever unless you have to go by jeep for your sundowner on a big rock in the middle of the plain, watching the red sun disappear!

The lodge is famous for its horse riding, but as we are absolute beginners we hesitated but then decided to do it. Again, although we were quite late with our wish Roy and Alyssa managed a ride for us on the next morning. It was awsome! You ride slowly with two guides through the plains, following a giraffe, it truly was an adventure!
In the afternoon we hiked on ol Donyo hill with our guide, the walk takes like one hour and a half and rewards you with an incredible view -and of course with a gin tonic:-)

Last but not least the food! Roy is a british cook, who has been quite around the world and therefore brings some fresh ideas to the African kitchen, lunch was served on a big table, where you sit together and share a variety of fresh and creative salads. We loved it! Of course, if you want to eat allone you are also free to do that.

But what to my opinion made this stay so memorable was the hospitality -especially of the managers -Alyssa and Roy! Not only will they do everything to make your stay most agreeable and adventourous, but they are also interesting people to talk to and you feel they like what they are doing! On the day we had to leave, our booked driver didn't show up as he took the wrong way. Roy and Alyssa immediately organised our guide to drive us for two hours round the hill, to meet our driver-this was great and we would like to thank them again very much for their support!
So an ABSOLUTE RECOMMENDATION from my side for this lodge! Of course this has its price, but the memories are worth every penny!

Thank you again everybody at Ol Donyo Lodge!

Room Tip: With plunge pool
  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank Heide B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GreatPlainsConserve, Manager at Great Plains Conservation ol Donyo Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 31 March 2014

Thank you so much for your amazing review.

It was such a pleasure having you at the lodge and were overjoyed with how you embraced the many wonderful activities we offer from enjoying the hide to hiking ol Donyo Wuas hill and of course the horse riding!

We are extremely happy that you enjoyed the food, we have a lot of fun using new recipes, techniques and styles and when our guests recognise the efforts made by the kitchen we could not be more proud of our team.

We hope that you come back soon and we get to share more of our lodge and our area with you.

Thanks you again
Kind regards
Ray, Alyssa and the ol Donyo Lodge Team

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 March 2014 via mobile

Had a great time at ol Donyo. The number of activities is amazing! Enjoyed several game drives with our awesome guide James. Although there is not as much wildlife here as in other parts of Kenya, James always managed to find us some interesting wildlife and was especially great at bird spotting.

We also did a horse ride, which was fun and the horses are beautiful. We hiked up Ol Donyo one night, and it was a bit more challenging than we expected, mostly due to the heat. However it was worth it for the incredible view at the top. Took a visit to a local Maasai village which I loved.

As far as accomodations, the lodge is beautiful and overlooks the watering hole that is always crowded with elephants. There is a path down to an elephant hide where you can observe the elephants at close range while enjoying a drink.

the cottage itself was gorgeous and we loved waking up each morning with a view of kilimanjaro. we opted for a non-pool cottage and were glad we did, as there is a communal pool and given all the activities we had very little time to sun bathe.

Can't forget to mention the staff - every single person was friendly and went out of their way to make us comfortable. The regular managers were on holiday, but we would never have known if no one told us. Lexy, the substitute manager, was incredible.

Thanks to everyone at Ol donyo for an amazing stay!

Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Anne S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 February 2014

Stayed 3 nights at Ol Donyo Lodge with parents.

The scenery of the Chyulu Hill area is unbelievably varied and beautiful.

As soon as you arrive into the Chyulu hills you know that you are visiting somewhere very special. But on arrival at Ol Donyu Lodge all your expectations will be immediately surpassed. The management team of Ray and Alyssa make you extremely welcome before taking you to your cool, spacious and luxurious rooms, complete with star bed roof terrace, expansive private terrace and super large plunge pool - it is a wrench just to leave the suite!
The communal areas are just a spacious with super views out towards the plains and Kilimanjaro.
The food is truly excellent, reflecting the manger Ray’s chef background and passion for good food. The food here is definitely a massive step up from traditional safari lodge food. I looked forward to and enjoyed every meal, definitely the best food I have had in any lodge or hotel in Kenya. My partner is wheat intolerant - this was taken on board without fuss and she always had interesting/tasty food matching my own.
All the staff we met were very friendly, yet supremely professional - nothing was too much trouble and they seem to intuitively know what you need before you knew yourself.
Activities are not set but tailored towards you - limited to perhaps only your own imagination. The management team of Ray and Alyssa have great passion and enthusiasm for life - it is truly infectious! We chose various activities including traditional game drives and saw a wide range of game and countless birds, a very pleasant and interesting bush walk, a fascinating trip to and into the lava caves and of course enjoying our plunge pool. There are of course many other activities including horse riding, cycling, a visit to a genuine Masai village, climbing a volcano……etc etc.
Our very knowledgeable guide, Seki was unfortunately taken ill - I hope he make a swift recovery. At short notice James took over and he proved to be a complete joy to be with - good fun and very knowledgeable. If you like birds he is a bird guru!!
I need to mention the elephant hide - the hide is a short walk from the lodge pool - it is set next to a waterhole - so close you feel you are actually joining the big guys for a drink! I confess I spent every spare minute I could here (even the hour before we left) - quietly sitting alone watching the elephants drink and socialise is guaranteed to make anyone smile (I’m smiling as I think about it now)

I cannot recommend Ol Donyo Lodge highly enough - it is a great lodge made exceptional by Alyssa, Ray and all their team.

I am desperate to go back.

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank rjm50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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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2  Thank AlonsoFB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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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Thank Thaihappy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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