OL KINYEI CONSERVANCY
The First Conservancy of the Mara
Lions? Leopards? And Chimps
Ol Kinyei was the pioneer, the original innovator that proved the conservancy model was viable. A cooperative union between the 170 landowning Maasai people of the area and two tourism entities, this eco-aware arrangement has been a boon to all parties, as well as the 17,500-acre tract of land and the wildlife which inhabit it.
Under the agreement, the Maasai herders would cut back on their grazing practices in exchange for a leasing arrangement for their land. The income they regularly receive, plus employment at the nearby tourist camps have greatly improved the lifestyle of these native pastoral peoples.
The land has recovered to its full and scenic potential with spectacular views of the Mara, painted with green rolling hills, rivers, and streams. Filling this paradise is a wilderness dream of big cats – a resident pride of 20 lions. Plus, visitors enjoy frequent sightings of cheetahs on these plains, and leopard spottings are not uncommon.
Migrating and Resident Wildlife
On your safari through the conservancy, you’ll be treated to a busy variety of the local population – look for impalas, buffalos, hippos, zebras, giraffes, and elephants. Overhead and up in the trees, you’ll easily find some of the more than 450 species of birds.
Being adjacent to the Masai Mara, the conservancy is also an ideal spot to witness the greatest movement of animals on earth – the Great Migration. From June to October, hundreds of thousands, and sometimes even several million wildebeests and zebras cross into these lands on their yearly trek for richer grasses. Being guests at the conservancy, you’ll have a front-row seat. As an additional bonus, should you be here in January, you’ll witness a second migration into Ol Kinyei from the Loita Plains.
But as rich as these fields are with wildlife, the conservancy features the lowest density of tourists in the Mara region. There are just two eco-camps here and each has six tents – a limit of only 12 guests at a time. Additionally, no other tourist vehicles are allowed into the conservancy. Lucky guests will enjoy the thousands of unspoiled acres to themselves.
Sharing this land flocked with distinctive acacia trees are the Maasai people, nomadic herders from whom the park takes its name. They construct traditional villages surrounding the reserve and live as they have for eons, herding their cattle and pushing back at an ever-encroaching modern world.
Known for their brightly colored shukas and deft beadwork, the Maasai are a living link to a past that stretches back beyond colonial Africa, to an era when the entire continent was wild and untouched.
When you’re on safari in the neighboring national park, you are required to stay in your vehicle and that vehicle has to stay on the roads – no off-roading there. In the conservancy, it’s a different story.
Walking with the Maasai – Here you can take guided nature walks over the land, getting close to the sights and smells of the bush, the plains, the rivers, and the forest. Making this experience more authentic still is your guide, a Maasai native who grew up on these savannahs.
His Village – You can visit one of the local Maasai villages and there’s a good chance it was where your guide grew up or presently lives. Get close to these native inhabitants and learn firsthand about their traditions and ceremonies.
Full-day Game Drive/Lunch – What’s more fun than a game drive? A game drive where you can enjoy lunch in the field. No need to break up your day to return to camp for a meal. Just pull over to the nearest spectacular view and your guide becomes your host with a wonderful lunch prepared by the camp. Eat, relax, and then safari on!
Safari After Dark – This is another activity you can’t do in the national park – venture out into the cool dark for a nighttime safari. The land and the wildlife take on a different quality, an almost ethereal feeling when the sun has gone down. You’ll see other species peering back at you, their silver eyes glinting in the moonlight. Not to be missed!
These reserve-based projects help the livelihoods of the nearby rural communities.
- Education for local students, including computer skills training
- Healthcare – providing medical supplies to the local health centers and mobile clinic
- Energy – providing hundreds of local families with energy-efficient stoves – reducing the need for firewood.
Ol Pejeta Eco-Facts
- Sanctuaries to protect endangered chimpanzees, oryx, hartebeest, Grevy’s zebra, and bat-eared fox
- Home to the world’s last remaining northern white rhinos
- The largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa – the rhino population has increased by over 100 in the last 25 years.
Unlike the other conservancies, there are only two small camps in Ol Kinyei, with limited beds, making for a more exclusive safari experience.
Porini Mara Camp and Porini Cheetah Camp host a maximum of only twelve guests each. The lucky few who stay at these camps have seen the wildlife from their tents and verandas.
Getting there: You can Book a tour with Africa Kenya Safaris. And you’ll go in style – a specially outfitted 4 x 4 safari Jeep.
This is Ol Kinyei Conservancy
This is the ultimate safari experience – a beautiful and practically tourist-empty swath of land where the big cats and other large game are frequently spotted. Stay at one of the two exclusive camps, go for bush breakfasts and nighttime safaris. You’ll feel like it’s just you, the land and wildlife of Ol Kinyei.
Let’s Get Started