A guy called Aristotle once said that a friend is a single soul in two bodies. Or maybe they’re old friends who knew it when they met. This is the story of Chintan Gohel and Zainab Adam; the founders of Matembezi Travelers Club which started out in 2018 as a way to travel with friends and any interested individuals on a budget but in safety. They’ve done 30 trips around the country and this time they’re telling us about their trip to the Ol-Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county. Btw, it’s the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa.
Gang, Meet Chintan.
Who else is bummed that you can’t actually see the equator? Who even came up with that idea? I know I’m digressing even before I get started but what does it do? I think I’d like the answers. Aaaanyway, the reason I bring it up is that this line that doesn’t exist passes through the Ol-Pejeta conservancy. I went there. It was really nice. No, I wasn’t alone, there were 9 other people.
We got into one of those 10 seater tour vans and left Nairobi at 5:40am. I was hoping we’d leave earlier but hey; you can’t control everything. Ol Pejeta is about 15km from Nanyuki and the roads there could use a facelift to give me that smooth ride. But if you leave early enough it won’t matter so much.
Once you take care of the entry fees, you’re basically free to cover as much ground as you can. Let out the beast within. We were literally there for minutes before we came across a herd of elephants grazing just a few meters away from our van. It’s like the place that loves you at first sight. I think the feeling was mutual because it didn’t look like they were disturbed in the least by our presence.
Moving on through the many roads inside the conservancy, we met a group of impalas lazing around in the grass. They were quite close, within touching distance – we would meet impalas several times while inside the area – they are very common.
As luck would have it, it turns out that you can get both impalas and elephants in a single shot. Our cup runneth over.
It had been raining recently which did wonders for the conservancy. Everything was green and teeming. There were so many birds. It looks like the kind of place a miracle could happen.
If I could suggest just one thing for anyone whose thinking of going here; get the kind of tour van that opens at the top. Not only do you get the option of getting a clear view from the top up roof but the drivers know a lot about the place and talk to each other. So if something interesting happens on the other end, your radio buzzes and you can try your luck at catching the action.
Case in point, a lioness was spotted doing lioness things and literally minutes later all the tour vans were rushing to that spot. We were just hoping the lioness would kill something. Our driver Ngigi really came through btw. He knows all the shortcuts so he got us there in no time.
The lioness crossed our path then she sat in the grass probably to choose what she wanted on her grocery list.
There were impalas, zebras, hartebeest, waterbuck, buffalo, and gazelles so I thought for sure that we’d see some actions. But on the downside, all the animals there looked like they were on alert so nothing happened. Womp womp. Maybe I’ll use that as my reason to go back.
This place is good times and I was having a blast until we found the graves. There’s a place where they lay to rest all the rhinos that have died either from poaching or natural causes. I know that changes the mood but sad things are sad. Plus it really is a striking place. Just looking at it gives you a very tiny sense of the great things we’ve lost. Take a moment and think about what we are on the cusp of losing when all the treasured creatures of this country, this continent and the whole world. They’re calling it the 6th mass extinction event. Soon nothing will be left and we’ll be there holding on to nothing. Sooner or later we’ll get started on digging our own graves. It’s not a happy thought.
On the bright side, there’s still some that are alive. We met a sweetheart called Baraka. Baraka is blind but she eats right out of your hand. It’s like chilling with a 1000 kg furless fur baby. That was good times. Feeding her got us in the mood to eat so we stopped by this restaurant inside the conservancy where the ambience is set with the help of birds that sing to you as you relax. If I could get that sound on mp3 I’d listen to it whenever I missed this place.
We left at about 4:30 because it looked like it was going to start raining. You don’t want to get caught in a torrent in a place like that. All the roads turn to brown jelly. Personally, this was my first game drive in Kenya and it’s probably one of the best ways to pop your cherry. It really looks like they’ve got everything.
We’re doing this again and hopefully you’ll come for the next one.
Contact for Bookings:
0713662894 – Matembezi Travelers Club