Ol Pejeta Conservancy is one of the prime sanctuaries of Laikipia Plateau and all of the Big Five are present. Its highlights include the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa; a population of southern white rhino; a refuge for the last two northern white rhino left in the world; and Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, housing orphaned and abandoned chimpanzees.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy offers excellent wildlife-viewing opportunities. All of the Big Five are here and sightings of both black rhino and white rhino are common. It has some of the highest predator densities in the region, and aside from the big cats, there is a chance of seeing wild dogs. Other endangered species here include the beisa oryx, Jackson’s hartebeest, and Grevy’s zebra.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is home to all of the Big Five. It is the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, and sightings of both black and white rhino are common. Ol Pejeta is said to have the highest predator density in Kenya outside of the Maasai Mara; and there is a good chance of seeing lion, cheetah, and hyena.
The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary is a refuge for chimpanzees rescued from the black market. It is the only place to see these charismatic apes in Kenya. The endangered species enclosure is home to the only two remaining northern white rhinos in the world. Visitors can learn of efforts to bring these subspecies back from the brink of extinction.
The best time for wildlife viewing is from July to September and January to March. The soil in the region is mostly black cotton soil, which becomes very difficult to navigate after heavy rain. Wildlife viewing can become problematic in April and November – the wettest months. 4×4 vehicles are a must during the rainy season.
With more than 500 species recorded, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a bird-watchers paradise. Early morning and afternoon bird walks can be organized at the lodges (maximum six people), but on game drives, the main focus tends to be on large animals so it might be worth booking a private vehicle if bird watching is your main interest.
Bird watching at Ol Pejeta Conservancy is good throughout the year; however, the migrants from Europe and North Africa are present from November through April. This partly coincides with the Wet season, when many species can be seen in breeding plumage as they are nesting. The best time for general wildlife viewing is from July to September and January to March.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy offers good wildlife viewing throughout the year, although heavy downpours in the peaks of the Wet season can disrupt planned excursions. A 4×4 vehicle is essential if visiting during the rainy season from October to May.
Due to the high altitude, Ol Pejeta experiences a mild climate. Temperatures are fairly constant all year – daytime temperatures are in the mid-twenties, while nights are cooler. Warm clothes for game drives are essential. The main Wet season (the long rains) is from March to May while there is a shorter wet period (the short rains), which peaks in November.
The Dry season has mostly sunny days, although rainfall is possible at any time. Temperatures of around 24°C/75°F are common. At 10°C/50°F nighttime and early mornings are cold.
June & July – Conditions at this time of year are very pleasant in Ol Pejeta with an average afternoon temperature of 24°C/75°F. Overall, it is generally sunny with an occasional burst of rain.
August & September – These months are similar, although rain increases in August and temperatures do pick up – however, increases of both are small. In the afternoon the temperature will normally get to 24°C/75°F.
Even though the Wet season is between October and May, a drier period from December to February separates the ‘short rains’ and ‘long rains’. Overcast days are not unusual.
October & November – ‘Short rains’: It normally starts raining in October. The temperature in the afternoon averages a very pleasant 25°C/77°F.
December, January & February – These are the months separating the short and long rains when it is much drier. Its exact timing differs each year and it will still be wet some days.
March, April, and May – ‘Long rains’: April sees the most rainfall. Although it doesn’t rain for the whole day, tracks might become challenging to navigate. It is warmer in the morning with average temperatures of about 10°C/50°F.
The drive to Ol Pejeta Conservancy from Nairobi takes about three to four hours. The last 13km to Ol Pejeta is dirt, and 4×4 vehicles are essential in the rainy season. The easiest way to get to Ol Pejeta is to take one of the daily scheduled flights from Nairobi to Nanyuki airstrip, which is a 45-minute drive away. It is also possible to charter a flight from any other park to Ol Pejeta’s airstrip (currently only open to charter flights).
Nairobi is one of the biggest transport hubs on the continent. International flights arrive in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi.
In early 2017, there were armed incursions on private conservation areas in Laikipia by disgruntled herders. In 2018 and 2019, the situation has settled down, but independent travelers should seek the latest advice before heading into Baringo County or Laikipia.
Most people fly to Ol Pejeta, but if you are to drive out here and visit towns between parks, observe normal safety precautions. Read ‘cities and other urban areas safety precautions’ below for more information.
Several vaccinations need to be taken before coming to Kenya in general and, to a lesser extent, Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Malaria is the biggest health concern for visitors and antimalarials are recommended. The use of mosquito repellent (those containing DEET are most effective) and covering up during the evening is your best defense against mosquito bites.
All visitors to Ol Pejeta Conservancy should respect safety precautions relating to wildlife. Although incidents are extremely rare on safari, you should always keep in mind the potential danger and unpredictability of wildlife encounters. The best advice will come from your guide, so always listen to their instructions. Ol Pejeta Conservancy is located between the foothills of the Aberdares and the magnificent, snow-capped Mount Kenya. Habitats here include semi-arid grassland, woodland, riverine forest, and wetland. The conservancy flanks the scenic Ewaso Nyiro River.
Tracking wildlife in Ol Pejeta is not difficult in the drier months (June to September, and December to February) when the roads are dependable and the undergrowth is much thinner than it is in the rainy months. The only downside is that the conservancy can get flooded with visitors at these times. Also, up until September, the dry landscape lacks the striking lushness of the Wet season (October to May).