Sanctuary Olonana is a high-end safari lodge with impressive design – best suited to those looking for a more formal hotel-like safari experience. We particularly noticed the excellent service and long-serving staff who are passionate about the guest experience.
Access & location:
The camp is accessed via approximately 15 minutes’ road transfer from the Kichwa Tembo Airstrip. It has a great location in one respect as it is right on the banks of the River Mara, in its own concession within the Maasai Mara National Reserve. However, it is also close to a busy dirt road that connects local communities to the nearby town of Aitong. It is situated just 45 minutes’ flight from Nairobi.
Accommodation & facilities at Olonana:
Sanctuary Olonana’s guest accommodation consists of 14 spacious canvas tents including two honeymoon suites, all described by Sanctuary Retreats as ‘oversized’! There’s also the ultra-luxurious three-bedroom Geoffrey Kent Suite. The tents are connected to the main areas by neat paved paths. The standard units are roomy enough for families, and spaced sufficiently far apart to ensure ample privacy – ideal for couples! Each boasts two four-poster beds with floor-to-ceiling mosquito nets, plus bedside tables, lounge furniture, a writing desk and chair, and a private veranda with river views. The en-suite facilities comprise flush toilet, twin washbasins and shower – and the honeymoon suites feature outdoor showers too! The Geoffrey Kent Suite is accessed by a private road. Featuring clean lines and contemporary furnishings, it offers two bedrooms with en-suite facilities including freestanding bathtub. The third bedroom is for children’s use. All bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, and each opens onto a wraparound deck, which boasts river views and a private infinity pool. The suite also has its own kitchen, living and dining areas, and a well-stocked bar. Meals are freshly made by a designated chef, and guests enjoy a private vehicle and guide while on safari.
The main facilities of Sanctuary Olonana also have a contemporary design. Local Maasai women were involved in ‘mudding’ the interior walls, a technique used in their own homes. The result is stunning – light yet earthy tones blend beautifully with the natural surroundings to provide very relaxing areas in which to sit, eat, and take in the views. The lounge has comfortable armchairs and sofas around coffee tables, in addition to a fireplace for a particularly cosy feel. The dining room contains elegant tables and smart upright chairs, extending onto a dining deck that overlooks the river and its inhabitants. There’s also a swimming pool with plenty of sun loungers – and a fantastic mini-spa! The spa staff are brilliant, skilled in delivering a range of treatments, from facials to full-body massages. And all the while the River Mara flows by, sometimes serene, other times full and frantic with wildebeest!
Activities at Olonana:
Activities from Sanctuary Olonana comprise expertly guided game drives, nature walks, and local visits, with hot air balloon safaris available at extra cost and arranged through YZ.
Expertly guided game drives- At Olonana, you do not have to leave camp to fit in some wildlife watching, as among others the river is home to a pod of hippos! However, venture farther afield on a game drive, with the camp’s highly experienced guides, and you will be treated to sights of nature at her most spectacular. All Big Five animals roam the Maasai Mara, with numerous other predators and herbivores. There’s a lot of birdlife to observe too, as over 300 species are attracted to the region’s savanna, woodland, and forests! The camp is also very well positioned for guests to experience the world-famous Great Migration, with the huge herds of wildebeest passing by from July to October.
Nature walks- Walks are another great way to get to know the local flora and fauna. They feature a visit to the camp’s wetlands, an opportunity to plant a tree, and some interesting lessons in animal signs, all in the company of a very knowledgeable naturalist.
Local visits- Visits to local villages are available too – here, you can meet the elders and join in with such Maasai activities as hut building, warrior dancing, and making fire! You can also check out the local schools.
Hot air balloon safaris- We’re happy to arrange a hot air balloon safari for you. This involves rising at dawn and drifting over the plains and all their inhabitants below, finally descending to a delicious breakfast of sausages, bacon, eggs, fruit, pastries… and champagne!
*This property is unfenced and located in a wildlife area, so large and potentially dangerous animals do pass through. If you opt to stay here, always be alert when walking around the camp and request for a member of staff to escort you if you have any concerns. Any guest is escorted after dark as a matter of course.