Adventure vacations in Kenya

Ol Donyo Lodge


If you are interested in a horseback riding vacation in Kenya, Ol Donyo Lodge offers a unique opportunity to experience the nature and culture that makes Kenya an outstanding travel destination while enjoying an equestrian vacation.  Set within the 275,000 unfenced acres of the Mbirikani Group Ranch, the lodge offers spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro.  Its location also allows access to view diverse wildlife in their traditional migration routes between the Amboseli and Tsavo National parks. As a result of the lodge founder’s long relationship with the picturesque Maasai Tribe, guests have the opportunity for authentic visits with these people who have long been so much a part of this land.

The Lodge location in the midst of some of Africa’s finest game country means that you can see many wild animals on horseback up close by taking half day or full day guided rides with a picnic.  You can also take an overnight camping trip to spend the night in the African bush serenaded at night by the sounds of hunting hyena and lion.  The Lodge caters to both beginner and advanced riders and offers cross country jumping.  The horses are responsive Thoroughbreds, Boerpeds, Somali ponies and crosses.

For those who do not ride or do not wish to ride all the time the Ol Donyo Lodge setting offers guests a wide range of adventurous opportunities while also enjoying luxurious and private accommodations. Each suite and villa is unique in its harmonious blend of comfortable luxury and the rustic details of a game ranch. The availability of fine dining and massages, swimming in the infinity pool, and nights spent on a rooftop star bed all provide a relaxing option in conjunction with the activities on the savannah below. The wide variety of such activities includes mountain biking, hiking and game drives in addition to horseback riding on the well-trained and comfortable mounts. The lodge takes great pride in the training and care of these horses that can safely carry riders of all abilities on safari.  With the ability to cater to both advanced and beginner riders in addition to those who choose not to ride at all, Ol Donyo Lodge can offer everyone a way to experience this magnificent African landscape in unrivaled comfort.  This ride offers a fine introduction to horseback riding in Africa.

There are luxurious stand-alone cottages with spectacular views available with or without a private pool. Accommodations include spacious en-suite bathrooms and the option for a rooftop terrace to enjoy dramatic views or sleep under the stars. The lodge itself has comfortable dining and sitting rooms as well as a pool.

  • Overview:
    Ol Donyo horses are well-schooled, responsive, well-cared for and safari savvy. They are trained to respond to a direct rein and leg aids rather than neck reining.
  • Equipment Required:
    Helmets are required.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Boerpeds, Thoroughbreds, Somali ponies and crosses
  • Trip Pace:
    All paces
  • Tack:
    English and South African trail saddles.
  • Weight limit:
    210 for advanced riders

The lodge caters to both riders and non-riders, offering game drives, swimming, mountain biking, massages and day trips to the nearby Amboseli National Park or a Maasai village or school.

Flexible dates and length of stay.

Nairobi for transfer to ol Donyo airstrip.

Trip Itinerary

As there are no set days or length for this trip, this itinerary is flexible and just one of the many options offered.

Day 1

Upon arrival at Ol Donyo airstrip, guests enjoy a short game drive en route to the lodge. The Chyulu Hills offer some of the most stunning scenery in Africa; rolling volcanic hills, Acacia forests, and grassy plains all under the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro.
This first drive serves as an introduction to the area and its inhabitants; there are 38 recorded species of large mammal here and over 300 species of bird.
Upon arrival at Ol Donyo lodge, guests are welcomed by our friendly staff and given time to relax, swim, unpack and enjoy lunch.

Riding option; Introductory horse ride.
Riders head to the stables to meet the horses and guides. Each rider is given a brief assessment in the outdoor arena, to make sure they are comfortable and happy with the horse they have been given and have the correct ability for riding with big game.
Having finished the assessment, riders set out off from the stables on a ride designed to introduce the rider to their horse and the local ecosystem. The group will pass through thick Acacia forest, and out onto the savannah. Expect to ride at a variety of speeds and to see game such as giraffe, impala, elephant, warthog and gazelle.
Riders head back to the lodge for sundowners.

Non-riding option; Choose from a number of afternoon activities eg game drive, walking or mountain biking. Join the riders back at the lodge for sunset.

Day 2

Both riders and non-riders can enjoy a journey up into the hills behind the lodge this morning.
Riders can take their horses up to the top of ‘Ol Donyo Wuas’ a beautiful tree-covered hill behind the lodge that affords magnificent views of the whole area. This is a four-hour ride, so a packed breakfast will be carried in saddle-bags. Expect to see large bull elephant, eland, impala and giraffe en route to the summit.

Non-riders can also enjoy this morning’s hill climb, either on foot or in a vehicle. If the latter, a popular descent option is to take a mountain bike from the top and race back down to the lodge! Non-riders also take a packed breakfast today.

After an active morning, those that wish to horse ride again are welcome to go for a short evening ride.

Those looking for relaxation can enjoy a massage at the lodge, followed by an afternoon at the ‘blind’ near the lodge waterholes. Hidden within the log-jam, guests can watch wildlife coming in for their evening drink; from elephant, to cheetah, giraffe, warthog, jackal and much more.

Early supper followed by a night drive, to go in search of nocturnal wildlife.

Day 3

Riding option; leave the stables early morning for a long ride through the woodland, across the savannah and beyond. Enjoy stopping for a spoiling cooked breakfast under a large acacia tree whilst the horses graze.

Non-riding option; Bike ride or walk from the lodge, through the woodland and onto the plains to the same breakfast spot as the riders.

All drive or ride back to the lodge after breakfast, shower, pack small overnight bag and enjoy lunch by the pool.

Riding option; Enjoy a two hour ride up into the Chyulu Hills themselves, heading towards Crater Camp; a secluded campsite that is nestled into a cedar forest next to a large volcanic crater.

Non-riders leave Ol Donyo by vehicle, arriving in the camp in time to climb the nearby volcanic crater in pursuit of the very rare Verreaux’s Eagle which nests in the nearly inaccessible rocky outcrops at the rim.
Or, they may choose to explore the lava tubes under the crater, which lies within walking distance of the camp. These jagged caves stretch for miles as they lead away from the crater and have been used for generations of hunter-gatherers as shelter.

Enjoy sunset together in this spectacular campsite, before settling down for an evening by the fire, enjoying bush stories and sounds of the wild. Accommodation this evening is in comfortable bell tents, with bedrolls, and hot showers are provided.

Day 4

Riding option; Today’s riders ascend another 2,000 feet higher into the Chyulu Hills. A noticeable change in climate and temperature occurs as you reach over 7,000 feet above sea level. The ride is dominated by incredible views of the vast wildernesses of Tsavo East National park to the east and Mount Kilimanjaro and Amboseli national park to the west.
Due to the altitude of the area, clouds often sit on the top of the Chyulu Hills. This consistent moisture has given rise to miniature jungles, or mist forests that dot the summits of the hills. Today’s ride takes about four hours and ends at one of the largest mist forests in the hills.

Non riding option; Setting off from the camp in the vehicle, non riders can enjoy a long walk today, stopping to meet the riders at the mist forest for a picnic lunch.

After a sumptuous picnic, all guests and guides have a chance to enter the mist forests on foot, in pursuit of the buffalo, leopard, syke’s monkey and giant forest hog that reside within it.

For those guests that wish to return to the lodge tonight, a drive out of the hills, via a different route to the ascent is suggested. The route passes local subsistence farming communities, as well as thick tongues of volcanic lava containing much interesting flora and fauna.
For those wishing to camp again, this can be arranged at crater camp once more and horses can be ridden back to the camp in the late afternoon.

Day 5

Those who camped last night return to the lodge on horseback, or in the vehicle, following a cooked breakfast in camp.
Before breakfast, there is one last chance to either climb the volcanic crater or explore the lava tube caves below it.

For those who returned to Ol Donyo last night, this morning is free to choose any activity on offer; from a visit to a local maasai village, to a game drive, or bush walk.

This afternoon, perhaps the whole group can head out for a game drive and ‘sundowners’ together. A suggested location is a stunning rocky outcrop to the west of the lodge, which guests can climb up and watch the sunset from.

Day 6

Depart after breakfast, by plane, to Wilson Airport.
Continue to enjoy your Kenyan experience through relaxing at the coast, or heading to another region for some wildlife viewing and photography.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

The lodge is open year-round and dates and length of stay are flexible. *A 50% deposit is due at the time of booking*
Additional Pricing Information:
*A 50% deposit is due at the time of booking*

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Preferred Trip Dates

Ol Donyo Lodge
May 21, 2024
January 1, 1970
January 1, 1970

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My time on safari with Equitours in Kenya was unlike anything I had ever experienced and surpassed my wildest expectations. It was truly the most exquisitely planned and wonderful introduction to Africa that I could have hoped for and is something that I will, and must, do again.

James Strohacker 2007