Planning a safari is no easy thing to do, emailing back and forth and searching for the most suitable destinations. Lisa Antell has traveled numerous times with WanderingThru and adores big cats. Her personal goal is to photograph as many members of the Felidae family as she can- might I add that this is a global list!
East Africa is one of my favorite destinations to travel to. I am partial to Kenya for many reasons, and recently I discovered a new treasure with Lisa as we embarked on a multi-destination safari in Kenya, and started our journey at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp.
Rooms at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is situated in the Laikipia region, with Mount Kenya lying to the east and the Aberdare’s National Park to the south, the views are spectacular, to say the least. This was not always the case, previously OPC was a cattle farm, but in 2004, 90 000 acres of land were purchased with the prospect to rewild and reintroduce wildlife that once roamed this wide-open space. Today, it stands as the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa and is home to the last two northern white rhinos.
Private guide Tayla McCurdy enjoying the company of white rhino
The conservancy hosts a wealth of wildlife including big cats, grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, Jackson’s hartebeest, AND striped hyena! Although we didn’t see any striped hyena, we saw the tracks of an individual that spends time around Asilia’s Bush Camp. Another frequent visitor at Bush Camp is elephants, from individual bulls to breeding herds that come to quench their thirst at the Ewaso Ngiro River.
As you can imagine, these conservancies/reserves cost an absolute fortune to protect, especially when rhinos are involved. There are indeed generous people and organizations that donate to fund these operations. Ol Pejeta offers the opportunity to join the rangers in some of their daily activities. Lisa was thrilled to see what a day
in the life of a ranger entailed.
First up, we joined the K-9 unit on a tracking simulation. Naturally, I was the target that the dogs had to sniff out, while Lisa would be with the team of rangers and dogs that had to track me down. I used a piece of gauze and wiped it all over my face and neck- I was embarrassed to see how much dirt was on the gauze. Sunscreen and dust = dirt-trap! I then placed the manky piece of gauze into a sealed jar. A team of rangers and I disappeared into the bush, leaving behind a trail for Lisa and the K-9 unit. It did not take Diego the bloodhound long to close the gap between us. I honestly stood no chance! I was outed by Diego; my punishment was big slobbery kisses. Bloodhounds are affectionate dogs with powerful noses. Belgian Malinois are the breed of dogs and typically used as attack dogs in K-9 conservation. Thankfully, this was just a training simulation.
After that experience, Lisa and I were in dire need of a cup of coffee! Keep an eye out for the blog about our encounter with the last two Northern white rhinos.
Want to travel to Ol Pejeta? Check out our classic Ol Pejeta & Masai Mara package for more details