Last autumn Africa Adventure Consultants Journey Specialist Hilary spent time in Egypt and Kenya on safari. Hilary joins us on the blog today to share more about her experience exploring Ol Pejeta in Kenya’s Laikipia region.
On a safari adventure in Kenya, I had the opportunity to visit Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia as part of a larger trip. The visit was phenomenal and the memories I took home with me are sure to last a lifetime! Even after all the years I’ve been traveling in Africa, I was delighted to have a few safari “firsts” on this amazing trip.
The Laikipia region of Kenya is famous for its pioneering conservation projects, and Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a shining example of sustainable conservation, particularly regarding rhino. The Conservancy serves as a sanctuary to critically endangered black rhino, southern white rhino and the last two remaining northern white rhino in the world. “Ol Pej,” as we lovingly call it, had just 20 black rhinos in the early 90’s, but through pioneering breeding programs and impressively successful anti-poaching efforts funded and supported in part by safari tourism, that number has reached 165 today! Talk about making a difference with your vacation!
I was blessed to see many rhinos on every game drive (including incredibly adorable babies, I might add) – so many I lost count! Each sighting brought me so much joy, but the most memorable experience was when I visited the Endangered Species Enclosure. We started off with a short game drive from camp to the enclosure where the last two northern white rhinos, both females, are protected by 24-hour armed security. We met the remarkable rhino keepers, who shared their life’s work with us, explaining the extensive efforts being taken to protect and preserve these beautiful animals. There’s a plan in the works to use other species of rhino (southern white) as surrogate mothers to carry and mother future northern white rhino babies. Hope for their future endures!
When we drove into the enclosure, we were allowed to interact with these gentle, beautiful ladies. I have never experienced anything like it before. Coming face to face with them, feeling their rough skin and prickly hairs under my palms, letting them nibble along my hands for a carrot — I will never forget it. I also met the gentlest creature on the planet, the blind black rhino Baraka. I can officially cross off “kiss from a rhino” from my bucket list!
The next day, we joined up with the conservancy’s lion researchers and set out in search for radio-collared lions. The depth of the conversations we had on this drive was such a treat. We learned how to identify the individual lions by notches on their ears and all the data collected on this excursion is given to the Ecological Monitoring Team, making this a unique chance to participate in citizen-science.
Ol Pejeta offers many other unique experiences. My top recommended Ol Pejeta activities are:
Visiting Ol Pejeta puts a fun twist on a Kenya safari. Its lush and beautiful landscape combined with unique activities and wildlife that can be seen nowhere else make it a ‘must see’ in my book!
Photos courtesy AAC Journey Specialist Hilary Walters & Ol Pejeta Bush Camp