I am the type of person who happens to love travelling and as such impromptu trip to the Maasai Mara was definitely a plan. Thing is, I have never been to the Mara so this trip had me had me over the moon. On the day of departure, we were to meet at Nation Center by 8.00 am and head out to the Olarro Conservancy. The conservancy was to be our home for the next three days as we sampled what it had to offer. But being that we are African timers, we left Nairobi at 9 am and it was already raining, thankfully there was no traffic and we were out of town in a jiffy.
Our first stopover was at the Olarro Gift shop, an amazing place to shop for Maasai ornaments. We thereafter proceeded to the Lodge which is about 30 minutes’ drive. However, the road is under construction and in the future, it should take about 10 minutes to drive there in the near future. As soon as we branched off from the main road, our game drive literally started from the abundance of wildlife in the area. From Zebras to Wildebeests and Thomson gazelles, it was a feast for our eyes.
We kicked of our stay at the conservancy at the Olarro lodge. The lodge comprises of 8 rooms that holds 16 persons when full. The rooms are beautifully crafted to give a wild and warm feel. The aim of the small capacity is to give personalized services and experience while enjoying the stay. Their rooms go for Kshs. 66,500 per person per night while a double goes for Kshs. 43,000.
On arriving at the Lodge, the staff were at hand to welcome us with minty cool napkins to wipe off the dust from the long drive. They also provided us amazing fresh Tree tomato juice, I mean who even knew Tree tomato juice could be this tasty? Thereafter, we headed straight to the restaurant but before the waiters could take our orders, the manager was alerted over the radio that an injured elephant was being pursued to enable treatment by a veterinary officer. The manager asked us if we wanted to join in the pursuit of the elephant. To which we all agreed in unison, I mean who could pass up such an opportunity?? 5 minutes later we were all in the Landcruiser’s driving through the plains in search of the injured elephant. The drive to the site was pretty exciting as we got to see different animals in their natural environment.
When we arrived at the site, we found the KWS rangers all suited up and ready to capture the elephant for treatment. They were equipped with drones to separate the injured elephant from his herd. Elephants are social animals that live in a herd and as such they always protect each other. So if the injured elephant was shot with a dart and went down, the rest surrounded him in a bid to prevent the rangers from getting to him.
The chase to capture the elephant lasted the whole afternoon as he was not one to give in easily. He cleverly run up the hill so as to avoid being darted by the Veterinary officer. In the process one of the Rangers got hurt from a crush when one of the elephants pushed his motorbike. However, despite being hurt the Ranger, a Mr. William did not give up the chase as he understood the importance of having the elephant treated as soon as possible. They finally managed to isolate and the elephant, tranquilize it and as soon as it went down, treat it.
The treatment was done within a few minutes, this was to avoid a scenario where the ellie woke up mid treatment which would be a hazard for the rangers. After, they were done with the treatment, we moved to a safe distance and watched as the elephant got up groggily, shook its big ears and sauntered off to look for its herd. After an action packed afternoon, we headed back to the lodge where we were treated to late lunch.
After, satiating our famished selves, we were shown our rooms so as to enable us to freshen up. The rooms were quite exquisite and one would have been forgiven for thinking that there were in a five star hotel in Nairobi or Mombasa and not a camp in the middle of the Mara. If this is the life that the well to live, I need to step up my hustle like asap. After freshening up, I decided to just relax in the room after the long drive and our mini game drive.
Soon after, it was time for dinner and on the menu was grilled chicken, pork, mshikaki and even mtura. For accompaniments, there was rice, ugali and fresh vegetables from their farm. When we were done with dinner we sat back and enjoyed some entertainment from a Maasai Cultural dance group.
I have to confess that I am not a morning person as such waking up early has never been my cup of tea. However, the guys at the lodge usually give you a wakeup call in the morning so as to ensure that you don’t miss the early game drives. A cup of coffee soon after ensured that I was fully awake and ready for the day. During the drive we were able to see different types of wild animals, from Lions to Zebras, elephants among others. Our driver also explained to us the different types of antelopes that can be found in the Mara from the Bushbuck to the Dikdik.
During our visit, we had a chance to check out the solar plant that powers up the lodge. The lodge entirely operates on the solar energy which is commendable. They have invested in 200, 240vAC solar panels and inverted solar batteries. The conservancy also has a 24hrs Wind backup generator.
We also got a chance to visit the Lodge’s farm from where they get their vegetables. There we met with a passionate gardener by the name ‘Ole Yesu’. He explained to us how he practices organic farming which I found to be interesting as healthy eating is the rage nowadays. Apparently for fertilizer he uses cow dung and for a pesticide he uses elephant dung.
After the farm visit, we transferred to Olarro Plains. Olarro plains is a similar small unit holding full capacity of 16 persons. The management always encourages their guests to experience both institutions and have unique experience within the same area. Here, during the low season the rooms go for Kshs. 54,000 with double rooms going for Kshs. 44,500 and children Kshs. 33,500.
Olarro plains is exceptionally designed to enable one to be able to see all the activities happening in the plains at whichever point you are in the compound. As such from the rooms, infinity pool, restaurant one is still able to watch the wild animals in their natural habitat.
After lunch, we embarked on a trip down the Maasai village which was quite awesome. We got a chance to be welcomed into the Manyattas, explore the village. The Maasai women had their mini market where they displayed their handiwork for sale. Visitors to the conservancy are able to purchase the art work from the ladies and hence support them.
In the evening, we had a sundowner by the infinity pool where we were served with cocktails. The pool and the scenery were so awesome that you could find yourself just chilling there the whole day as you check out the wildlife below. That night we had a bush dinner, where we dined right in the middle of the plains. It was a surreal experience as we got to have our meal with sounds of Bushbucks, wildebeest and crickets calls. In as much as the staff assured us that there was nothing to worry about, during diner I was constantly on the lookout as the thought of being turned into a meal by a wild animal was not appealing.
On our last day we visited the Olarro Conservancy where we got a tutorial on how the place works. The Conservancy sits on a 20,000 acre land and their aim is to provide protection and hope for the wildlife in the area. The rangers work in collaboration with the KWS team to help stop poaching and control Human-wildlife conflict. We were also apprised on the challenges faced through the local animal – human conflict and the measures they took to control them. After the lessons, we hopped onto Quad bikes and had a ride around the area.
Our trip ended with a drive to the Olarro projects. The Olarro conservancy isn’t just your normal get away holiday destination. These guys have invested heavily in the community living within the Olarro geo-location. Olarro has built Community health center with really subsidized prices to serve the community. They have also built 3 water wells to provide water to the local communities for free, these wells have solar power for pumping to the surface for ease of use by the community. The staff at the water wells and the health center are employed by the Olarro conservancy to ensure quality services to the community at fair prices. Olarro conservancy has also helped in building schools, employing teachers and sponsoring students to all levels of education. Actually, one of the lead rangers at the Olarro conservancy is a proud beneficiary of the Olarro Conservancy.
After staying at the Conservancy, it is definitely a place i would recommend to visit. Here, you not only enjoy the scenery and game drives but also get to learn a lot about wildlife, culture and the benefits of philanthropy.
By Nelly Nyadzua.