Nanyuki & Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Disclaimer: This is not a paid promotion and all experience shared here is personal. I paid in full for all the accommodation, entrance and excursions.
Nanyuki & Ol Pejeta Travel VLOG
The city of Nanyuki is no different to average Kenyan cities; it is chaotic, busy and has very little to offer in terms of actual tourism. Except of course the Equator Marker which runs through the city. It, however, has many gems around that are absolutely amazing and I am sitting inside one right now after an amazing day seeing more animals than I have ever seen in my life. I am referring to Ol Pejeta Conservancy which lies at the feet on Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa.
I planned my trip to Nanyuki because it was the best way not only to see the elusive Mount Kenya but also to see some amazing animals, including the last 2 remaining Northern White Rhinos in the entire world.
Getting to Nanyuki & Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Nanyuki is located 200 km north of Nirobi at the foothill of Mount Kenya. It takes roughly 3:30 to 4:30 hours depending on the traffic and the best way is to hire a car with a driver which is what I did. I left from Nairobi early in the morning and in roughly 4 hours arrived in Nanyuki. It was mostly an uneventful drive and the road was good most of the way, it was quite patchy at some places though.
If you plan to drive yourself, be prepared for some crazy traffic which is common in Kenya. I saw some public transport busses cross on red lights (they are called matatus). I wasn’t going to risk my life this way. Getting a driver turned out to be a great idea. The car cost me roughly $65 per day which was reasonable because it included everything (except fuel).
Gay Nanyuki/ Nanyuki & Ol Pejeta Gay Travel
Nanyuki is fairly small and like all other cities in Kenya, there are no gay bars or LGBT venues in Nanyuki. I opened grindr to barely 4 profiles around, all blank and all shy. Staying in a tent with your partner can be a very beautiful experience. I would totally choose this place as a honeymoon spot and like most places, guys here don’t seem to mind much as long as you’re a little discreet. I’m afraid that’s all for gay life in Nanyuki and around for now.
Where To Stay Near Mount Kenya?
I decided to reward myself for a hectic year and booked myself a luxury tent in Serena Sweetwaters. It is located inside the Ol Pejeta conservancy and I liked it for a few reasons.
It is located inside the conservancy next to a water hole and just sitting and watching there is very beautiful. You can see the animals in front of you from rhinos to giraffes and zebras. I also loved the idea of staying inside tents which has a certain charm and romanticism to it, except it doesn’t have sleeping bags and open toilets. My tent had a shower and toilet and hot running water.
It is, however, not a cheap place and comes with a few caveats; the rates for international travellers are steep and you must pay the conservancy entrance fees in addition to the hotel payment (more about that below).
If you are looking for more budget friendly accommodation, check out Ol Pejeta Conservancy website options here. Make sure to book things well in advance especially during high season and space here is fairly limited and you almost always never get last minute spots.
If you’d rather stay in Nanyuki, there are a few lodges and hotels easily available online.
If you want to stay as close as possible to Mount Kenya I’d recommend Fairmont Safari Hotel.
Serena Sweetwater Camp
Serena Sweetwaters is a luxury tented campsite or as we call it now; glamping. I liked a few things about the place and others not so much.
Let’s start with the location, it is right next to a water hole and throughout the day different animals come to the water hole and you don’t even need to leave the place to see some of them including rhinos and some times elephants and rarely lions.
It is very well developed and the place resembles a little forest with tents scattered. The tents are also very comfortable and beds are super cosy especially at night when they leave you a hot water bottle under your duvet.
Now the negatives;
I am not big on resorts on all inclusive places but I have had very little choice here as the place is located inside the conservancy and there are no places for food for miles around, the food was good but fairly limited and nothing local on the menu except for a few small items like Ugali.
It gets really cold at night and it would have been nice to have some heating source but not sure how good would it be considering I was inside a tent.
The most annoying thing was the hoards of children around screaming and shouting. I know it’s not a hotel problem but I would have loved it, if there was a separate area for families to avoid the shouting and screaming and children trying to scare the animals away.
Absolutely loved the place otherwise, the staff were especially very friendly and helpful.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a unique place. It is a non profit international conservancy spread on some 360 sq. km and it hold a unique place in the entire area. It is host to multiple families of lions, leopards. It also has the largest population of black rhinos in Africa along with a sizeable population of white rhinos including the last 2 remaining female northern white rhinos. Elephants, giraffes, hyenas, gazelles, impalas, deer, buffaloes, camels, warthogs, pigs, chimpanzees, baboons, you name it they have it.
I absolutely loved spending the three days here, it is a very special place and a great start to any African adventure. Their staff was also very friendly and helpful and it was really enjoyable exploring the place with them. some practical information below:
- The entrance fee for international travellers is $90 per 24 hours, you will also pay the local rate for your driver and vehicle. You can find the exact details here.
- There is a separate fee if you want to go for a game drive arranged by the conservancy and many other optional tours and activities, you can check the details here. I paid $60 to meet the northern white rhinos, it was on top of the entrance fee. Some activities are free like meeting the blind black rhino, Baraka and the Chimpanzee sanctuary.
- Instead of getting game drives, I decided to hire a guide through the conservancy, it cost me 2500 KES but it was totally worth it.The guide was not only knowledgeable but also very friendly.
- You do not need 4×4 vehicles to explore around, I was in a normal car and we didn’t have any issues at all.
- Don’t forget to pack some warm clothes as it gets quite cold here overnight.
- If you have some don’t forget your binoculars, I didn’t have any but my guide was friendly enough to share them with me.
- Getting out of cars and animal feeding or disturbing them is strictly prohibited. You are not only breaking the rules with a fine you are also putting your life and life of these animals in danger.
- The best time for game drive is early morning, be prepared to wake up early and by that I mean around 6am. It gets too hot later and animals find shade or sleep and you wont be able to see much.
Itinerary For 3 Days Around Mount Kenya
Day 1 – Nairobi to Nanyuki and Ol Pejeta
Day 2 – Ol Pejeta Conservancy Game Drive, Rhinos and Chips Sanctuary
Day 3 – Ngare Ndare Forest and Fairmont Hotel
To see complete details check my article about Best Way To Spend 3 Days Around Mount Kenya article. It also includes the beautiful Ngare Ndare Forest.
Have you travelled to Nanyuki and around? I’d love to know about your experience. If you are planning a trip and have any questions feel free to ask.