Using innovative conservation strategies and collaborating closely with local communities, partner NGOs, national parks, and government agencies, Big Life seeks to protect and sustain East Africa’s wildlife and wild lands, including one of the greatest populations of elephants left in East Africa.
The first organisation in East Africa with coordinated anti-poaching teams operating on both sides of the Kenya-Tanzania border, Big Life recognises that sustainable conservation can only be achieved through a community-based collaborative approach. This approach is at the heart of Big Life’s philosophy that conservation supports the people and people support conservation.
Big Life has established a successful holistic conservation model in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem that can be replicated across the African continent.
With spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro and unique encounters with large-tusked elephants, Ol Donyo Lodge offers guests private access to one of the finest quintessential wilderness areas of Africa, the Mbirkani Group Ranch. Situated between Kenya's Tsavo and Amboseli, the Ranch covers 275,000 acres and is owned by 4,000 Maasai.
Big Life co-founder, Richard Bonham, who originally established Ol Donyo, successfully works with the Maasai to combine conservation and tourism with livelihood benefits. The Lodge is secluded in an absolutely stunning geographic location that includes a diverse range of habitats ranging from savannah lowland plains through acacia forests to the verdant Chyulu Hills.
Guests can explore this superb area by vehicle, on foot or on horseback. Keen mountain bikers can also take to one of the biking trails in the Chyulus, often seeing oryx, giraffe and Coke’s hartebeest. As well as the diverse range of habitats and activities the wildlife, too, is varied with residing elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard as well as many species of birds.
Ol Donyo, whose name in Maa means “the spotted hills”, blends contemporary design with the rich culture of the Maasai. The main lodge, built of stone, wood and thatch, overlooks a waterhole where there is an open-air hide to observe wildlife at close quarters. There are 10 spacious guest suites in separate stone-and-thatch cottages which include plunge pools and rooftop terraces where (highly recommended!) guests can have their beds moved into the open and sleep under Africa’s humbling and beautiful endless canopy of stars.