Safari Rides and luxury Lodge in Chyulu Hills National Park
For anyone looking to combine riding in Africa with luxury accommodation and a wide range of activities to suit non-riders too, this Safari Lodge is the perfect choice. Situated in the Chyulu Hills of Southern Kenya, the Lodge offers adventure, relaxation and privacy in abundance.
The horses are available for lodge guests every morning and evening. These horses have largely been imported from Southern Africa and are well-schooled, athletic and fun to ride. The riding pace and terrain is varied and riding groups are kept small.
Guests not wishing to ride can enjoy day/night game drives, walking, mountain biking, swimming, massage, day trips to Amboseli National Park or to Maasai villages and schools. Every guest has their daily itinerary designed to suit them, with as much or as little riding as they would like.
Sample itinerary for your riding safari (flexible stay, 6 days, 8 days or longer)Day 1: There are scheduled flights in the morning and afternoon. The following itinerary assumes guests arrive on the morning flight, but is easily amended for an afternoon connection from elsewhere in Kenya. Upon arrival at Ol Donyo airstrip, guests enjoy a short game drive en route to the lodge. The Chyulu Hills offer some of the most stunning scenery in Africa; rolling volcanic hills, Acacia forests, and grassy plains all under the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. This first drive serves as an introduction to the area and its inhabitants; there are 38 recorded species of large mammal here and over 300 species of bird. Upon arrival at the safari lodge, guests are welcomed by our friendly staff and given time to relax, swim, unpack and enjoy lunch.
In the afternoon riders head to the stables to meet the horses and guides. Each rider is given a brief assessment in the outdoor arena, to make sure they are comfortable and happy with the horse they have been given and have the correct ability for riding with big game. Having finished the assessment, riders set out off from the stables on a ride designed to introduce the rider to their horse and the local ecosystem. The group will pass through thick Acacia forest, and out onto the savannah. Expect to ride at a variety of speeds and to see game such as giraffe, impala, elephant, warthog and gazelle. Riders head back to the lodge for sundowners.
Non-riding option; Choose from a number of afternoon activities eg game drive, walking or mountain biking. Join the riders back at the lodge for sunset. Day 2: Both riders and non-riders can enjoy a journey up into the hills behind the lodge this morning. Riders can take their horses up to the top of 'Ol Donyo Wuas' a beautiful tree-covered hill behind the lodge that affords magnificent views of the whole area. This is a four-hour ride, so a packed breakfast will be carried in saddle-bags. Expect to see large bull elephant, eland, impala and giraffe en route to the summit.
Non-riders can also enjoy this morning's hill climb, either on foot or in a vehicle. If the latter, a popular descent option is to take a mountain bike from the top and race back down to the lodge! Non-riders also take a packed breakfast today.
After an active morning, those that wish to horse ride again are welcome to go for a short evening ride. Those looking for relaxation can enjoy a massage at the lodge, followed by an afternoon at the 'blind' near the lodge waterholes. Hidden within the log-jam, guests can watch wildlife coming in for their evening drink; from elephant, to cheetah, giraffe, warthog, jackal and much more.
Early supper followed by a night drive, to go in search of nocturnal wildlife. Day 3 - Camping at Crater Camp: Riding option; leave the stables early morning for a long ride through the woodland, across the savannah and beyond. Enjoy stopping for a spoiling cooked breakfast under a large acacia tree whilst the horses graze.
Non-riding option; Bike ride or walk from the lodge, through the woodland and onto the plains to the same breakfast spot as the riders. All drive or ride back to the lodge after breakfast, shower, pack small overnight bag and enjoy lunch by the pool.
Enjoy a two hour ride up into the Chyulu Hills themselves in the afternoon, heading towards Crater Camp; a secluded campsite that is nestled into a cedar forest next to a large volcanic crater.
Non-riders leave the lodge by vehicle, arriving in the camp in time to climb the nearby volcanic crater in pursuit of the very rare Verreaux's Eagle which nests in the nearly inaccessible rocky outcrops at the rim.
Or, they may choose to explore the lava tubes under the crater, which lies within walking distance of the camp. These jagged caves stretch for miles as they lead away from the crater and have been used for generations of hunter-gatherers as shelter.
Enjoy sunset together in this spectacular campsite, before settling down for an evening by the fire, enjoying bush stories and sounds of the wild. Accommodation this evening is in comfortable bell tents, with bedrolls, and hot showers are provided. Day 4 - Full riding day in Chyulu National Park: Riding option; Today's riders ascend another 2,000 feet higher into the Chyulu Hills. A noticeable change in climate and temperature occurs as you reach over 7,000 feet above sea level. The ride is dominated by incredible views of the vast wildernesses of Tsavo East National park to the east and Mount Kilimanjaro and Amboseli national park to the west. Due to the altitude of the area, clouds often sit on the top of the Chyulu Hills. This consistent moisture has given rise to miniature jungles, or mist forests that dot the summits of the hills. Today's ride takes about four hours and ends at one of the largest mist forests in the hills. Non riding option: Setting off from the camp in the vehicle, non riders can enjoy a long walk today, stopping to meet the riders at the mist forest for a picnic lunch.
After a sumptuous picnic, all guests and guides have a chance to enter the mist forests on foot, in pursuit of the buffalo, leopard, syke's monkey and giant forest hog that reside within it.
For those guests that wish to return to the lodge tonight, a drive out of the hills, via a different route to the ascent is suggested. The route passes local subsistence farming communities, as well as thick tongues of volcanic lava containing much interesting flora and fauna.
For those wishing to camp again, this can be arranged at crater camp once more and horses can be ridden back to the camp in the late afternoon. Day 5: Those who camped last night return to the lodge on horseback, or in the vehicle, following a cooked breakfast in camp.
Before breakfast, there is one last chance to either climb the volcanic crater or explore the lava tube caves below it. For those who returned to the safari lodge last night, this morning is free to choose any activity on offer; from a visit to a local maasai village, to a game drive, or bush walk.
This afternoon, perhaps the whole group can head out for a game drive and 'sundowners' together. A suggested location is a stunning rocky outcrop to the west of the lodge, which guests can climb up and watch the sunset from. Day 6: Depart after breakfast, by plane, to Wilson Airport. Continue to enjoy your Kenyan experience through relaxing at the coast, or heading to another region for some wildlife viewing and photography.
(subject to change)
Riding holidays at the Safari Lodge
Imagine…275,000 acres of scenic and wild Africa, where the wildlife can be found free and roaming, without tourists in mini buses or a fixed schedule to adhere to.
Imagine…travelling without limitation across the archetypal savannah of East Africa in an open 4x4 game drive vehicle, or feeling the rhythm of Africa beneath your feet as you walk with expert trackers, or exploring on horseback, all with Mt. Kilimanjaro as a backdrop.
Imagine…exploring this paradise, and then coming home to one of the most luxurious small lodges in East Africa where a hot bath, indoor or outdoor shower, or private swimming pool await – all with inspiring views across the expansive plains, plus delicious food, charming hosts and world-class service (member of Relais & Châteaux).
The Safari Lodge is located in the heart of the 275,000 acre Mbirikani Group Ranch, on the slopes of the Chyulu Hills, between Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks in southeast Kenya. It is a lodge rich in history, passion and conservation. The 20-bed lodge, rebuilt and redesigned in 2008, is perched on a hillside set in thick woodland, with no two suites or villas the same. What is consistent is the attention to detail, the comfortable yet utterly luxurious décor and the tradition of greatness. Regarded as one of the most attractive lodges in East Africa, this Safari Lodge is a place to call home for as long as possible.
There are a great variety of activities available to suit every guest’s interests. For the active there is bush walking or hill hiking, horseback riding for both advanced and novice riders, mountain biking and even fly camping. For families there is a dedicated children’s guide, who can entertain young safari guests all day with his bush survival course, painting, games and other activities. There is also a chance to enjoy cultural visits or visits to local conservation and community projects, as well as game drives during both day and night. Finally, for those wishing to unwind and relax at the end of a busy day, there are massages offered and other spa treatments in the comfort of each guest’s room.
A Horse Safari at this Lodge is a holistic experience not to be missed! Accommodation & Facilities
The breadth and depth of the Lodge's living and dining area is absolutely awe-inspiring. Upon entering, one is immediately struck by spaciousness and yet the intimacy. The entire main area is set high on the hillside, and opens completely to the plains below, with Mount Kilimanjaro ever present in the distance. The use of stone, thatch and wood make for a very tactile experience, which fills the senses. The low-impact gunnite construction (a combination of wire, hessian cloth and minimal cement) creates a contemporary style. The space flows, there are no straight lines and unique architectural details give character to every area. The magnificent iron-ore chandeliers coupled with grand fireplace provide a warm glow, accented by the rich earth tones. Arched doorways, indoor gardens, bronze sculptures, Zanzibari wood doors, Victorian furniture and romantic prose grace the space. It is captivating.
Just below the main area, but also on the hillside is a breathtaking infinity pool, complete with a private lounge and dining area. With views of the lodge’s famous waterhole and luxurious voile curtains and cushions, it's the perfect place to while away the afternoon.
Al fresco lunches on the verandah and or candlelit dinners in the main dining room are wonderful, but we also enjoy hosting breakfasts in the plains and dinners under the African sky; or surprise sundowners and classic English tea in the romantic setting of the bush. Finally, it's a night cap around the cozy outdoor fireplace to round out another perfect day in Africa.
The Safari Lodge consists of ten expansive guest suites in six stand-alone villas. No two spaces are of the same design but all have a dramatic view of the archetypal African savannah and its flat top acacia trees with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background. The décor is luxurious and opulent, while still retaining the atmosphere and sense of place that is an essential ingredient of an outstanding bush lodge. Art from around Africa coupled with the photography of Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher create a commanding space under the high thatch roofs. The design is contemporary and yet traditional.
All suites have a lounge, verandah, indoor and outdoor showers, double washbasins, flush toilet and bath, and “star-bed”. The rooftop “star-bed” is accessed from the verandah via a winding stone staircase. This is a fabulous sleep-out option, with utter privacy and all the amenities of the suite just below.
All but two of the suites have their own private pools. These two stand-alone standard suites are Asali and Mpya. The pool suites are four-bedded private villas and are ideal for families or small groups of friends. They are designed to be versatile and function either as family villas or for two couples while still maintaining an element of privacy. An outer central foyer connects the two suites. These are Nyati, Sirra, and El Mau. Lastly, one of the villas, Sambu, functions more as a bush home intended for families or groups of friends. This villa is purpose built and designed for a couple who want space and seclusion or for parents who require their children under the same roof, but with adequate space and privacy. It has two bedrooms under one roof and one swimming pool. Each bedroom has its own spacious en-suite bathroom, complete with an indoor and outdoor shower, "star bed" and sundowner viewing deck.
Laundry is done on a daily basis and is complimentary.