After the wet and cold of the Aberdares the warm rolling hills of Ol Pejeta was like a hug. Dotted by whistling thorn bushes and the predominant Mukenye, a native bush, the Ol Pejeta Ranch and Conservancy works to conserve wildlife, provide sanctuary, while generating income through wildlife tourism and cattle ranching.
We were the guest of Giles Prettejohn, the livestock manager and his wife Alison. Arriving in the evening, we were greeted by two men, Jackson and Raymond, who got us unpacked and settled in for our snooze. As I started to drft, I heard a lion start his “half roaring“. It starts like a “HUFF“! and then gets a bit more drawn out to resemble a roar. It’s unmistakable.
The lions walk up to the BOMA at night to see if they can get any cattle. The boma is an enclosure where the cattle are tightly packed in at night and guarded by a few men. Very effective.
The next morning, frisky vervet monkeys started to jump out of the trees and run across the metal roof of the house where we slept. Like thunder there was the initial BOOM and then the skittering created a rumble as the little pest ran across. It became comical because we could tell how much fun they were having, like teenagers up to no good.
On an early morning game drive they spotted giraffe, jackals, warthogs, different species of antelope and birds. While the rest of our bunch was doing that, I went riding with Alison across a high level spot that is also used as a landing strip. I felt like Karen Blixen in Out of Africa. It was stunning and just to be doing that was amazing to me. I will never forget it as long as I live.
That afternoon, Giles took us to look at his stunning Ankole cattle, an ancient breed with giant horns. They are a sacred cow in Uganda and very docile and beautiful. We were also introduced to part of his Boran herd. These are a native cattle to Africa and very hardy. We ate their beef and it is so tender and delicious, we bought more to take with us. What a superb breed for grass-fed organic beef. They create wonderful meat from grass only and are so insect resistant and hardy I would think that to start a herd in Texas for the organic movement we are all headed for would be a lovely idea.
We enjoyed our stay so much and if anyone comes to Kenya and would like to see an excellent example of how eco tourism and ranching can be intertwined, Ol Pejeta is not to be missed.
The website is: www.olpejetaconservancy.org