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Ol’ Pejeta Conservancy

A different kind of safari awaits at the Ol’ Pejeta Conservancy. At a 4 hour drive from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this is heaven on earth for rhino fans. With a population of 140 black rhinos, it’s the largest sanctuary for these massive animals in East and Central Africa.

Black rhinos have been acutely threatened with extinction since 1993. At that time, there were only an estimated 2300 animals left worldwide. Today their numbers have risen again to over 5000. In Ol Pejeta their number has grown from 20 in 1995 to 140 today, which makes Ol Pejeta definitely worth a visit! In addition, there are also 41 (39 southern and 2 northern) white rhinos living here. Since white rhinos are relatively peaceful and easy to spot, the park offers the opportunity to observe them up close.

The last two northern white rhinos in the world

Najin and her daughter Fatu are the last two northern white rhinos in the world. Najin was excluded from the breeding program at the end of 2021, which aims to save the species from extinction, because she has become too old (over 30 years old). Fatu is now the only remaining donor in the program, which aims to implant artificially developed embryos into another, more common rhino species in Kenya.

Chimpanzees

The conservancy is home to more wildlife than rhinos. It also hosts all members of the Big Five and many other “regular” safari animals.  Endangered species like the African wild dog, the Oryx, Jackson’s hartebeest, Grevy’s zebra, serval, cheetah and the bat-eared fox have a home here.

Last but not least, the conservancy is home to the Sweetwaters Sanctuary. This is a sanctuary for orphaned or abused chimpanzees. Even though these beautiful primates are not native to Kenya, the conservancy is a safe haven for them. They started doing this after another sanctuary in Burundi had to close down due to the war in 1993. Together with the Jane Goodall Institute and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), they managed to continue the good work of giving chimps from all over the world a new safe home.

Common Animals in Ol' Pejeta Conservancy

  • Black rhino
  • Southern white rhino
  • Northern white rhino
  • Chimpansee
  • Elephant
  • Lion
  • Buffalo
  • Leopard
  • African wild dog
  • Cheetah
  • Grevy’s zebra
  • Cerval
  • Oryx
  • Jackson’s hartebeest
  • bat-eared fox

Ol' Pejeta Conservancy Highlights

  • Nearly 200 rhinos on 360 square kilometers
  • All of the Big Five and many more animals live here
  • Home to the Sweetwater Sanctuary for orphaned and abused chimpansees

Rhino Facts

Did you know there is actually no colour difference between black and white rhinos? The name is said to be a mistranslation of the Afrikaans word ‘weit’. This means wide and refers to the white rhinos square shaped lips used for grazing. Black rhinos have hooked lips, and this is the main difference between the two species.

Black rhinos are also smaller than white rhinos. They prefer thick bush habitats, whereas white rhinos prefer open grass plains. They are more solitary, shy and aggresive than white rhinos, which is why the white rhinos are easier to spot and get close to.

 

Activities in Ol' Pejeta Conservancy

  • Get close to a white rhino
  • Walk the nature trail
  • Visit chimps at the Sweetwater Sanctuary

How to get there

By car it takes three to four hours from Nairobi to get to Ol’ Pejeta, with the last 13 kilometers being a dirt road. It’s also possible to catch a flight from Nairobi to the Nanyuki airstrip, after which it’s a mere 45 minute drive to Ol’ Pejeta.

Climate

Kenya has a cold season from June to November with average temperatures of 20°C during the day. Nights can get cold during this season, so it’s best to take a sweater.

Mid October to November is the short rainy season, after which temperatures rise up to 30°C during the day from December to April. April and May come with showers again as this is the long rainy season. It normally doesn’t rain throughout the day as one sees sunny mornings with rain clouds building up towards the afternoons and evenings.

 

Best time to visit Ol' Pejeta Conservancy

June to October and December to March are the best times to visit Ol’ Pejeta Conservancy, as this is the dry season. The rainy season makes it sometimes challenging to drive the dirt roads.

However, take into account that July and August and December are high season, which means it’s more busy with tourists. The months of September and October are cooler, dry and less busy, which makes that probably the best time to plan your visit.