Ol Jogi, Kenya. The Most Expensive Safari Lodge?

9.30 am Wheels up to Ol Jogi. Our Scenic Air pilot banks in a swooping turn to introduce a few hippos sloshing in a watering hole and herds of wandering Zebra on the plains, before our arrival at Ol Jogi, where many of our clients have happily stayed.

Set on 58,000 acres of unsullied wilderness and nestled into a lush, rocky outcrop, of the Laikipia Plateau. Ol Jogi is one of the most remarkable wildlife reserves in Kenya. Not a typical Safari Lodge by any fashion, it’s a stunning private home that has been in the care of the Wildenstein family for more than 50 years. Long time GM and property managers keep a watchful educated eye on preserving the property and managing local conservation. It is a design masterpiece with a unique style. The home and stone cottages have an extensive collection of museum quality artworks, antique furniture, taxidermy, and a collection of priceless china and silver. The setting creates an ambiance atypical of the more common safari lodge offerings. While the home is luxurious, it is also very comfortable and tranquil. Photos don’t do it justice!

Although our clients have stayed, this is my first visit, warmly embraced by GM Frederic Chanelet, you must be Gwendolyn! He leads us through a long carpeted underground tunnel from inside the house directly to a ‘hide’, pop out windows open to a popular animal watering hole, allowing guests to take a very close look at the giraffes and Zebra! Have you ever been so close to a wild animal? Imagine being a few feet away from a herd of buffalo, or an endangered black rhino, and being close enough to see the marks on its skin and hear its breath, all while being in complete safety and enjoying your favorite cocktail. Welcome to Ol Jogi! My mantra: the arrival sets the stage for any visit, Ol Jogi nails it!

Our evening game drive launches with a well camouflaged leopard mom posing atop a rock, her saggy belly full of milk for her cubs. We watch to see if she brings out a cub, her intent is a meal, not a cub reveal. Distracted by the leopard sighting on our Sunset outing, we make time roaring down the sandy road to dead end at a mammoth boulder. Rovers are not intimidated by a two-story rock, low gear engaged, our driver expertly scrambles up the face of the rock to the top, transporting us to a full sundowner bar! First night arrival and an impromptu leopard siting is rewarded with Dom Pérignon! To say we are impressed is an understatement!  We sit in canvas chairs around the cliff edged bonfire, in quiet reverence, gazing at the last brilliant hues of sunset, sipping bubbly on the edge of a boulder… extraordinary! The first bright star blinks, a toast to Ol Jogi!

We raced back to property for a delicious Tajine dinner; chef gathers the guests to describe the five-course meal. The young professional servers know every ingredient and offer matching wine.… Welcome to Ol Jogi, did I mention nothing compares! The more casual of the two dining rooms, faces a watering hole, where wildlife gather at all hours to sip and bathe. A wall length mirror above the table assures no guest will miss the wild visitors dropping in for a drink.

Morning coffee delivered to my comfy bed! Day Two begins. A Day of Stories about Nature, and Ol Jogi ‘s future development of conservation efforts. An educational safari amidst the magnificent old home and the exquisite guest cottages, privately hosting 14 guests, this is not a shared property. The experiences are tailored to each family or group of friends.

 Ol Jogi offers an extensive list of over-the-top excursions; we’ve brought in helicopters for off property elephant orphanage excursions. Guests can share in their fascinating projects such as their rhino orphanage, where you come face to face with these remarkable species. Tour the Veterinary Clinic and research center and understand how they take wildlife orphans from captivity and reintroduce them back into their natural environment.

The private compound assures you won’t see another land cruiser ever – hunt for the Big Five and never encounter another vehicle.  A private sanctuary teeming with an incredible diversity of game, including more than 40 of the 790 black rhinos that remain in East Africa, migrating elephants, and 15% of the remaining Grevy’s zebras.

Our educational visit at the animal hospital and rhino orphanage ends in an open field where we meet two elephants with keepers. Elly, 44 years old, is massive with enormous tusks, her 12-year-old daughter grazing nearby. Led individually to Elly with a bucket of carrots, she swung her trunk to retrieve a carrot and plop it into her mouth, if she could see her daughter, she was comfortable letting us feed her carrots one by one! The bucket was merely an appetizer! Elephants are constantly eating. They need to eat up to 150kg of food per day. Elephants eat so much that they can spend up to three-quarters of their day just eating!

Rovers continuing skyward to a broad plateau with soaring views, turn a corner arriving at several shaded tents for our lunch in the bush! Massive barbeque kettle drum grills and tables of fresh vegetables and meats – select your choices and deliver for grilling to chef! Saunter to the full bar at the edge of the cliff and sip while your lunch is prepared! Of course, there is a loo tent, with a view! Every meal, every outing tops the last – an extraordinary experience.

Each dining experience has tables exquisitely set with flowers and delicate silver or porcelain objects. The young male servers take turns embellishing each meal with an abundant assortment of objects from the main home. Ask Fred for the secret Butler Pantry tour, a private walk-in closet with floor to ceiling shelves of serving pieces, remarkable little butter dishes, knife rests… a treasure trove collection!

It’s safari heaven, we have spa and hammam appointments this afternoon, if you can imagine, more bliss!? The spa is adjacent to the pool and fitness center. Pool is an understatement, it’s a man-made lake with waterfalls, palm trees, boulder islands, private lounge nooks, and an upstairs deck with thatched umbrellas.

Ol Jogi Hammam… two hours of sheer bliss…I am a professional Hammam junkie and not easily impressed. The domed hammam with stained glass lighting, produces abundant steam with drops of heated water dripping from the ceiling… an ethereal experience! Triple body rub, massage, and two-handed scrub with Moroccan mud, finishing body and hair masque, followed by shea butter body polish! Alice is Kenyan, but she could teach a class in Hammam!

The main home consists of a trendy bar with chic monkey lamps, jungle prints, a game room, filed with heavy dark wood furniture, safari chic meets old world elegance. Cinema fans aren’t left out, comfy sofas line the room for proper viewing. Two dining rooms, one formal, and a grand living room with massive fireplace and sumptuous sofas. Another evening leads us to the secret wine vault and tasting room, the colossal steel vault door is large enough for Fort Knox…you won’t find it, a secret release button moves a wall revealing the door to the vault.

About the last night… Ol Jogi grand finale dinner on a wooden bridge over a river! A race to the river, where we walked over a creaky wooden suspension bridge to be greeted by our favorite barman for cocktails. An outdoor under the trees ‘living room’ of comfy sofas surround a roaring bonfire! Chef prepared Wagu and lobster, an assortment of yummy salads, fresh baked breads… and of course, dessert! Exceptional dinner, impeccable service… hard to top every meal and event, but Ol Jogi did every day!

It may be one of the most expensive African safari lodges, however, the balance between luxury and conservation is of equal importance.  Ol Jogi aims to be a leading model for private conservation, with relentless efforts to pioneer new methods and techniques enabling them to protect wildlife. Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy was created over 40 years ago, with the aim of preserving natural habitats and their wildlife in a responsible manner. 

Highly Recommend by our clients as well!