OUT&ABOUT: Luxury blends with nature at Olarro- PHOTOS

Friday December 14 2018

Lions during a hunt. Guests at Olarro Conservancy have the option of morning, early evening and night game drives. PHOTO| COURTESY

Lionesses pictured during a hunt. Guests at Olarro Conservancy have the option of morning, early evening and night game drives. PHOTO| COURTESY 

FAITH ONEYA
By FAITH ONEYA
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There are no half measures at Olarro Conservancy.

Not in the magnificence of the lodges or the in the painstaking measures taken to conserve the wildlife in the expansive 21,000 acres.

We leave Narok town a few minutes to midday and on our way to the lodge with Anthony, a friendly and thoroughly knowledgeable driver from Olarro.

An aerial view of Olarro Lodge. PHOTO| COURTESY

An aerial view of Olarro Lodge. PHOTO| COURTESY

We are lucky that it’s a Thursday, the cow market day, so we stop for a few minutes to watch the market intrigues. As if on cue and much to our delight, four handsome morans pass by our vehicle. We stop them to say hello. They smile shyly when a colleague compliments them on their looks and attire.

BUMPY BUT WORTHY RIDE

The drive to Olarro from Narok is bumpy and dusty. So dusty, in fact, that one can feel the dust lining their teeth if they dare speak while in the car.

But the wild animals scurrying along on the road as we drive along and the breathtakingly beautiful Olarro Lodge upon arrival more than make up for the ride.

The signage at the Olarro Lodge entrance. PHOTO| DAVID HERBLING

The signage at the Olarro Lodge entrance. PHOTO| DAVID HERBLING

The meticulous effort put in the interior decor of the rooms — a warm and delightful mixture of modern and traditional accessories — gives me a sudden urge to go back home and redo my whole house. I spend some time quizzing the lodge manager on the sources of the decor items: Bali, Thailand, Tanzania, Kenya are among the counties the décor was sought from.

A blend of the modern and traditional in the lodge decor. PHOTO| COURTESY

A blend of the modern and traditional in the lodge decor. PHOTO| COURTESY

The lodge offers babysitting services too, to parents who want some time to themselves while on holiday. As a mother of a feisty four-year-old, this is music to my ears.

But the beauty and luxury of the rooms does not even come close to the exhilarating experience of the private safari that we embark on at 4pm. Guests also have the option of a night and early morning game drives. The more adventurous guests can use quad bikes.

A hyena at Olarro Conservancy. PHOTO| COURTESY

A hyena at Olarro Conservancy. PHOTO| COURTESY

The boisterous William Hofmeyr the conservancy's general manager, graciously offers to drive us and regales us with tales of life at Olarra and fun facts about wildlife during the game drive.

SPEAKS 'ANIMAL'

Hofmeyr assures us that “animal” is one of the many languages he speaks and true to his word, we spot a cheetah and her cubs and he proves it.  Hofmeyr makes a sound that sparks the interest of the cheetah as it perks its ears. We have driven close enough to it to see its eyes widen slightly and its back straighten.

The cheetah William Hofmeyr was 'speaking' to. PHOTO| FAITH ONEYA

The cheetah William Hofmeyr was 'speaking' to. PHOTO| FAITH ONEYA

I’ve gone for game drives before and seen cheetahs as well but the thrill of being so close to one and having someone “communicate” with them as I watched, was an other-worldly experience.

If you enjoy being at the front seat, and being so close to wild animals that you can hear them breathe, then Olarro will exceed your expectations.

William Hofmeyr, the conservancy's general

William Hofmeyr, the conservancy's general manager, pictured with a baby elephant they rescued after it was abandoned by its mother. Hofmeyr is also a KWS honorary warden. PHOTO| COURTESY

IMMERSIVE TOURISM

Hofmeyr, who is also an honorary Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) warden, refers to the experiences they offer to guests at Olarro as immersive tourism.

“We incorporate our guests on patrols. It helps them experience what the rangers do as they can come and watch us,” he says.

But the patrols can be hazardous at times for the rangers. Hofmeyr once broke his ribs while catering to an injured elephant.

“Rangers put their lives on the line every day.”

Rangers at Olarro. Most of them are members of the community. PHOTO| COURTESY

Rangers at Olarro Conservancy . Most of them are members of the community. PHOTO| COURTESY

It's not just cheetahs that Olarro prides itself in. We also spot zebras, jackals, elephants, bush babies,topis, porcupines, wildebeests, aardvarks, bush babies, white tail mongooses, lions and hyenas.

The conservancy uses the Wild Application to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts. It’s an innovative tool that helps collect and analyse data that’s related to wildlife from the field.

A herd of elephants at Olarro Conservancy. PHOTO| FAITH ONEYA

A herd of elephants at Olarro Conservancy. PHOTO| FAITH ONEYA

The movements of the vulnerable animals are tracked through this.

FEWER CASES OF POACHING

There have been fewer cases of poaching as a result, according to Hofmeyr.

But away from luxury lodges and thrilling private safaris, the conservancy also gives back to the community. Not just by leasing their land from them but also by offering interest-free loans, jobs (especially to former illegal herders) and through projects such as the Ngoswani community water project. The latter saves the women from walking a distance of up to 40km to fetch water.

Ngoswani borehole, one of the community projects by Olarra Conservancy. PHOTO| COURTESY

Ngoswani borehole, one of the community projects by Olarra Conservancy. PHOTO| COURTESY

Little wonder then, that the villagers refer to Hofmeyr as baba. A term of endearment by any standards.

Olarra’s beauty and uniqueness rests in its unbridled efforts to offer the best of both worlds to its guests.

***

HOW TO GET THERE

By road

The drive from Nairobi to Olarro takes 4 hours, approximately.

You will need a Four Wheel Drive from Narok Town as the road is still under construction.

By air

Chartered: From Nairobi’s Wilson airport, take a 50-minute charter or scheduled flight to Siana airstrip, where you will be met by one of our private drivers who will take you on to Olarro. 

Helicopter: The helicopter journey departs from Nairobi and takes you directly to our helipads at Olarro Lodge.

Visit their website for more details.







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