Ol Malo, Kenya
This unique and striking bush-home-cum-lodge nestles into the curves of a rocky escarpment on the edge of the Laikipia Plateau overlooking the ancient landscape of the Northern Frontier District. It is a beautiful wilderness area in Central Kenya which teems with wildlife and stretches across the foothills of Mt Kenya. Built, owned and managed by the Francombe family, with the help of their Samburu neighbours, Ol Malo offers one of Kenya’s original bush home experiences.
Once an overgrazed cattle ranch, Ol Malo was bought by Colin and Rocky Francombe (both descended from settler families) about 20 years ago. Their vision was to create a family home and carve a future for themselves and their children.
Ol Malo comprises the original Ol Malo Lodge which has four stunning, individual guest rooms (better suited to couples) and the more recent addition, the six bedroom family-orientated Ol Malo House. The rooms have been so cleverly designed that the house can comfortably cater for one or two separate families at any one time or up to three families on an exclusive use basis. Three ensuite double bedrooms encircle the large living and dining area which forms the central hub and two further cottages house the other three rooms – the large Crocodile Cottage and the two-roomed Hippo Cottage which also has a cosy living space. Colin and Rocky continue to welcome guests into Ol Malo Lodge whilst Ol Malo House is run by their son, Andrew and his wife, Chyulu. Born and brought up with the African wilderness as his playground, Andrew’s boundless energy and sense of adventure make him the perfect host for young families. He is also an accomplished bush pilot and Chyulu is a keen horse rider.
The Ol Malo experience is all about fun and spontaneity. The wildlife includes elephant, leopard, buffalo, lion, wild dog, giraffe, gazelle, impala, zebra and the greater kudu (Ol Malo’s namesake), but Ol Malo offers so much more than traditional game drives in open safari vehicles. Guests can join nature walks with an experienced guide, horse ride with Chyulu (Chyulu welcomes both novice and experienced riders), camel ride with Samburu guides, take a morning run with a Samburu Moran (warrior), enjoy a night under the stars in the treehouse or sleep below the cliffs in the leopard hide with floodlit views of the waterhole, swim in the river or in Ol Malo's stunning cliff-edge swimming pool and fly camp in the bush supported by Samburu guides with horses and camels for assistance.
Perhaps most signifcantly of all, guests have the opportunity to meet and interact with the Samburu Tribespeople and learn more about the Samburu Trust - a trust founded by Colin and Rocky's daughter, Julia Francombe. Julia launched the inaugural 'Beads for Food' programme in 2000 - an arts workshop where married Samburu women (affectionately known as 'Mama's) share their ancient bead-making skills with visitors. Over the years, Julia and her team have dug reservoirs, eduated the local children to better understand their nomadic way of life and very importantly, have learned to treat locals for tranchoma, a disease prevalent in Laikipia which can lead to blindness. The Trust's team of Samburu Warrior Scouts have become the guardians of their land and they proudly help protect the wildlife against the threat of poaching whilst educating other members of their community to respect the animals whose environment has been shifted out of balance by climate change and overpopulation. The Samburu Trust will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2020 - a Trust which would not have worked without the hands-on approach of the Francombe family and their close relationship with the Samburu tribe. Ol Malo is one of those very special places which touches the heartstrings of all those who visit.
The food is all locally produced and of the highest quality. Ol Malo serves home grown organic beef and lamb, milk and eggs from the ranch and in season, herbs and vegetables from their eco-friendly gardens.
Where is Ol Malo?
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