Kenya - Part 1: Ol Pejeta Conservatory

Ol Pejeta Conservatory can briefly be described as:

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. Using the latest technology to monitor species populations, and smart fencing techniques that allow free movement of migratory wildlife, Ol Pejeta prides itself on being at the cutting edge of conservation innovation. As the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, and the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees, Ol Pejeta is also safeguarding some of the most vulnerable wildlife in the world, and advocating for change.

Sweetwaters Serena Luxury Tented Camp We stayed at the Sweetwaters Serena Luxury Tented Camp within the Conservatory and I cannot say enough about staying here or the staff. This was our favorite place to stay the entire trip for two reasons (1) our hut was RIGHT outside a watering hole and at any point in time you could catch glimpses of animals grazing in or near the hole; and (2) the tent was breathable - thus, better airflow and was a LOT cooler. We went in the dry season, which is the hottest season and this was key to our stay.

The watering hole photo is actually inside our tent! This maybe the one and only photo I have of the inside of our place - but it really was our favorite. You can see that those side panels there (i.e. windows ha) flap up and down and are covered by mesh for insects. So when the wind was breezy and at night we flapped those suckers down and with no AC that's the next best thing!!

We spent 2 1/2 days here in the Conservatory - and yes, it was as magical as it looks in photos - even more so, if that's possible. Scroll through using the arrow to the right to see a glimpse of what we saw!

This video is of two grown, male elephants are bonding. So precious. I'm not sure if you can tell, but in the video (above) the elephant on the left (below) is limping and actually had a tumor on one of his legs.

Sammi, our WONDERFUL guide (should I do a post on recs and how-to book?) said for two male elephants to be acting this way meant two things to him - (1) that they were either brothers or grew up together in the same herd + (2) that his more healthy friend to the right (below) knew he it may not make it too much longer. :/ He was obviously having a hard time walking on it and these two huge male African (the larger of the elephants) were in the swampier area of the conservatory, eating softer grass that didn't necessarily give them the nutrients that they needed, but was easier to eat and plentiful. You don't need to move much to eat a large area.

I don't mean to bum anyone out, so hear me out! Seeing these two male elephants react to each other with so much love + sentience + compassion was truly one of the most magical, most magnificent moments in my entire life. The cognitive level that requires is astounding and, on top of that - the empathy displayed and the sacrifice this elephant made to just be with his friend, was, honestly, more human and beautiful than anything I've seen in a long, long time. Especially up close.    

And to lighten the mood with some humor....

^ Audio UP for Martin and I's super observant comments in this one ha!

On our way out, we went to the Jane Goodall Chimp Rescue on the Reserve. Chimps aren't actually native to Kenya, but this rescue was transported from Bramundi when it broke out in civil war in the 1990s. Jane wanted a more stable environment for already high anxiety animals and Ol Pejeta became their home. The things we learned and the images we saw of the Chimp trade + how intelligent chimps are will forever be engrained. I won't go in detail here, but DM me if you want to learn more.

We also got to meet a Barak, a black rhino that had been retired as he lost sight in both of his eyes at a very young age, and being extremely endangered they don't want to lose a single one. So he was turned into a educational rhino at the age of 5. For perspective, rhinos live about 45 years, so loosing his sight (in a bull fight) was detrimental to his health and wouldn't have lasted long without help.

He is totally fine in the photos btw - he is actually not super active normally the middle of the day (like most other savannah animals) due to the intense heat. We woke him up in the middle of his mid-day nap and he obliged us for a few moments with his presence for a lil' snack. ha! 

This is not Baraka. ha! This is a black rhino. He's walking towards the other rhino in the video and (not caught) he quickly turned and charged the other guy until he ran out of his territory. Black rhinos are more aggressive than white rhinos, but both rhinos are on the endangered list with only 5,000 black rhinos and 18,000 white rhinos remaining in the wild today. Ol Pejeta, currently houses 130 black rhino and are the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa.

We're FINALLY here at the end of part 1 of 3! What types of content would you like to see more of? Photos, commentary, videos? Let me know in the comments!

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