All you need to Know about Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a not-for-profit wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya, situated on the equator west of Nanyuki, between the foothills of the Aberdares and Mt Kenya. The Conservancy works to conserve wildlife and provide a sanctuary for great apes. Also to generate income through wildlife tourism and complementary enterprises for re-investment in conservation and community development. The conservation of the natural habitat, located in Kenya’s Laikipia Plateau, ensured the protection of existing rhino, elephant, and other wildlife populations in addition to rescued chimpanzees living in a 300-acre sanctuary.
Ol Pejeta is the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa. Ol pejeta is home to two of the world’s last remaining northern white rhino. It’s the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees, in a Sanctuary established to rehabilitate animals rescued from black market. It has some of the highest predator densities in Kenya, and still manages a very successful livestock programme. Ol Pejeta also seeks to support the people living around its borders. This is to ensure wildlife conservation translates to better education, healthcare and infrastructure for the next generation of wildlife guardians.
Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary provides a haven for orphaned, abandoned and rescued chimpanzees. It is the only place in Kenya to see these great. The Conservancy also has the “Big five game” among a large selection of other African animals. This makes it a popular safari destination.
Over the years, Ol Pejeta’s novel conservation model that seeks to enhance land productivity while furthering conservation and community development. They have received awards both locally and on international stage. These awards are a testament to our continued commitment to sustainable conservation.
Wildlife and Birds of Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ol Pejeta is home to two of the world’s last remaining northern white rhinos. It is also a Black rhino sanctuary. In 1993, Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary was opened. The Sanctuary aims to provide a refuge for chimpanzees rescued from the black market. It is the only place in Kenya where these fascinating animals can be seen. Africa’s most iconic species hunt, graze, breed and fight for survival on the plains of Ol Pejeta every day, in an ecosystem that has the highest densities of wildlife in Kenya outside of the Maasai Mara. Other animals living here include: Elephants, Aardvark, Tree Hyrax, Senegal Bushbaby. Vervet Monkey, Patas Monkey, Olive/Anubis Baboon, African Ground Squirrel. Seeing the iridescent starlings alongside the majestic Kori Bustard or hearing the iconic call of the African Fish Eagle are some of the great bird experiences.
Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary
The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary was established with an agreement between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Jane Goodall Institute. The aim – to provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from West and Central Africa. Over the last decade, Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary has been compelled to keep accepting chimpanzees rescued from traumatic situations. Bringing the total number of chimpanzees in the Sanctuary to 36. They arrive with horrific injuries sustained from abuse at the hands of humans. Here at Sweetwaters, they get a chance to start over.
Sweetwaters is also a chartered member of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), an alliance of 18 sanctuaries in 12 African countries; currently caring for over 800 orphaned and/or confiscated chimpanzees. PASA’s role is to help conserve chimpanzees and other primates and their habitats through public education.
Attractions in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Endangered Species Enclosure
This 283-hectare drive-through enclosure next to the Morani Information Centre is home to the last three remaining northern white rhinos (one male and two females), an ever-so-close-to-being-extinct subspecies. The rhinos were brought here from the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic in 2009, but have not yet bred successfully. Also in the enclosure are the endangered Grevy’s zebra and Jackson’s hartebeest.
Home to 39 profoundly damaged chimpanzees rescued from captivity across Africa and further afield, Ol Pejeta’s Chimp Sanctuary encompasses two large enclosures cut in two by the Ewaso Ngiro River. There’s an elevated observation post and keepers are usually on hand to explain a little about each chimp’s backstory; note the tiny replica cage in which one of the chimps was chained for years on end prior to being brought to the sanctuary.
Morani Information Centre
Part education or interpretation centre, part museum, this three-roomed structure is appealingly interactive and comes with instructions to ‘please touch’ the leopard skin, antelope horns and other similar objects. You’ll also find displays and information on Ol Pejeta’s predator-proof bomas (cattle enclosures designed to keep predators out) and the history of the conservancy’s rhino conservation work.
Things to do in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
To maximise your time at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, enjoy some activities such as;
Lion Tracking in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Several lions on the conservancy have been fitted with radio collars and you can learn how to
track them with the researchers with a special tracking device. When you locate a pride, you will
learn how to identify the individuals by notches on their ears, whisker patterns and other
distinguishing marks, and all data is passed to the Ol Pejeta Ecological Monitoring team in order
to further understand these magnificent predators. Guests remain in the vehicle at all times.
Running with the rangers
Keep your fitness levels up whilst on safari, to counteract all the delicious food you’ll be eating,
by joining the Ol Pejeta Conservancy rangers on their early morning run. They do this daily to
keep fit, and we can arrange for our guests to join them and the chance to have a coffee with
them afterwards to learn more about their work to keep the wildlife on the conservancy safe. A
fun and rewarding way to start your day.
Cultural and Community visits
See first-hand how the local communities are benefiting from the conservancy, visiting agricultural projects such as water collection and tree nurseries, or the jiko energy project to reduce firewood usage. During term-time on weekdays, it is also possible to visit a local school.
What better way to get out into the wild and really experience Africa at its most raw than to
sleep out in a simple fly-camp? Enjoy an early dinner at camp and do an evening drive to your
camp which will be all set up for your arrival, have drinks around the campfire and enjoy the
spectacular night sky before retiring to your dome tent, falling asleep to the sounds of the bush
all around you. There are sheepskin rugs in the tents, bedrolls, blankets, and a toilet tent and a
guide will stay at the camp to ensure your safety.
Visit the Canine Anti-Poaching Unit
Visit the conservancy’s blood hound dog kennels and learn about the training that transforms
these canines into anti-poaching patrollers. After your tour, you can play a game of human canine hide and seek, trying to evade the dogs and finding a spot to hide within the Morani
Information Centre. A great way to interact and get a bit of exercise for you and the hounds.
Horse riding with rhinos
The chance to ride amongst the endangered species including the Northern white rhinos is a
once in a lifetime experience. This predator-free area is wonderful to explore on horseback, with
the chance to also encounter other of the endangered species such as Grevy’s zebra or Jackson’s
hartebeest. Group size maximum 4 riders.
Endangered Species Enclosure
Today, only 2 Northern white rhino remain in the world and both are found at Ol Pejeta
conservancy in a 700 acre enclosure protected by 24 hour armed security. Take the opportunity
to visit the enclosure and view these majestic animals in a private and intimate setting and learn
from the keepers about the efforts to preserve the last of this highly endangered species.
Learn about the varied animal species and birdlife of the conservancy on a game drive from Ol
Pejeta Bush Camp. Let our expert guides inspire you with their knowledge and explore this
Walking Safaris in Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Discover the sights, sounds and smells of the bush on a walking safari with our guides. On foot, the magic of the bush truly comes alive and walking through big game country is an experience not to be missed. Minimum age for walking safaris is 16 yrs on shared basis.
Night Game Drives
Dusk and early evening just after the sun has fallen below the horizon is a thrilling time to be
on safari. Antelope come out to feed in the cool air, predators take advantage of the cloak of
darkness to stalk their prey and nocturnal species such as aardvark, zorilla and white-tailed
mongoose begin their day. Join a knowledgeable guide on a night drive and seek out the action
that takes place after darkness falls.
Best Time to Visit Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ol Pejeta Conservancy offers good wildlife viewing throughout the year, although heavy downpours in the peaks of the Wet season can disrupt planned excursions. For self drive visitors, a 4×4 is essential in the rainy season.
How to get to Ol Pejeta Conservancy by road or air
The main gate into Ol Pejeta for visitors is the Rongai gate to the east of the Conservancy, which lies at the end of the road from Nanyuki town. Visitors can also enter via Serat Gate on the Rumuruti road. The drive to Ol Pejeta from Nairobi takes about 3-4 hours.
There are daily scheduled flights from Nairobi Wilson Airport to Nanyuki airstrip, which is a 45 minute drive from Ol Pejeta. Air Kenya and Safarilink both offer services to Nanyuki from Nairobi. It is also possible to charter a flight from any other wildlife conservancy or airstrip, into Ol Pejeta’s airstrip. (currently only open to charter flights).