Conservation First

There are many properties throughout Africa that have utilized tourism to support conservation initiatives, but at Ol Jogi, the protection of land and wildlife has always been the primary goal.

Established over 40 years ago by the Weinstein family, Ol Jogi is a 58,000-acre conservancy in the Laikipia District of Kenya. When they first ventured to the region, the Weinsteins were struck by its natural beauty; rocky outcrops rising from verdant plains, sporadic woodlands dotting the landscape like the spots on a leopard’s back. What was also abundantly evident was the fragility of this breathtaking wilderness.

Through mismanagement and uneducated farming practices prior to the Weinstein’s arrival, the landscape was desperately degraded, unable to support the wide variety of fauna that resided there. 

Laikipia is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, home to the largest variety of big mammals anywhere in the world. Herds of ungulates and cattle had decimated grazing lands, destabilizing the fragile ecosystem, and larger animals were forced to migrate. This unbalanced and failing wilderness inspired the Weinsteins to purchase a tract of land spanning 105 square miles (270km²), establishing their home, and beginning the lengthy process of returning the land to its natural state.

Ol Jogi Luxury Safari Lodge, Kenya

In 1970, it was estimated that over 20,000 black rhino resided in the world. Just 15 years later, that number had dwindled to just 350. In 1980, Ol Jogi became only the second private rhino sanctuary in Kenya, endeavoring to protect the remaining rhino and reinvigorate their population.

Early on, they realized that their Western understanding of conservation was a valuable asset, but they were also acutely aware of the need to support the communities that had resided in Laikipia for hundreds of years. Initiating an education program, they were able to develop symbiotic practices that both protected the flora and fauna and provided long-term sustainable solutions for the native pastoralists.

This attentive land management began to provide lasting results and by the 1990s the hard work was becoming visibly evident, with the return of wildlife and the landscape blossoming to support it.

Alongside its education program, in 1995 Ol Jogi developed a wildlife rescue center to care for wildlife that had been orphaned or injured as a direct result of human activity.

While the core focus at Ol Jogi was initially to preserve some of the most critically endangered species left in Africa and its habitat, it became apparent that further funding would be required to fulfill this objective.

Now with a team of rangers to monitor and protect wildlife, water and land management practices in place and the rhino sanctuary and veterinary clinic to support, Ol Jogi was developing its own sustainability issues. Having created and expanded their family home over the years, the Weinsteins recognized the value that tourism could provide to their conservancy. And so, in 2013, they opened their doors to guests.

The Uniqueness of Ol Jogi

Laikipia is a remarkable region. Not only does it possess a greater array of large mammals than anywhere else in the world, it is also home to six of Africa’s tribes, including the Maasai, Samburu, and Kikuyu.

Unlike the dramatic expanses Africa’s great plains, Laikipia instead offers a palpable intimacy. One feels embraced in nature’s arms, not exposed to its expanse, creating a connection to the wilderness as a patron and protector, rather than as a mere observer. This is the sensation felt by the Weinsteins some 40 years ago and it is instilled in their guests, through game drives and bush walks, and by witnessing the work being carried out in the field and at Ol Jogi’s clinic and rhino sanctuary.

This affinity is increased by Ol Jogi’s lack of tourists. The secluded private conservancy doesn’t allow external visitors in order to protect its trails and terrain from the increased erosion caused by safari vehicles. Additionally, and perhaps Ol Jogi’s most distinguishing asset, the homestead is Africa’s only private-use property within a conservancy of this size.

Absolute Exclusivity

Ol Jogi has more than enough space to develop a series of guest suites or tented camps while maintaining conservation and avoiding overcrowding. However, this has never been the intention of the Weinstein family. Instead, they have focussed upon exclusivity, offering a single booking at any one time. Their work remains their primary focus and so, while guests are acutely attended to, Ol Jogi has avoided the increased management required for multiple occupancy.

This allows them to gain the benefits of tourism without inhibiting the essential projects and activities necessary to develop sustainability and conservation. For the guest, what comes with this decision is absolute exclusivity. You are the only ones at mealtimes, enjoy safaris at your leisure, have the absolute attention of staff, and the freedom to roam wherever you please within the grounds.

Despite the wilderness continually beckoning you to explore, where this freedom becomes most apparent is within the property.

Your Home in the Wild

With only one party in residence at any time, Ol Jogi is only ever shared with friends, loved ones, and staff. Reaching beyond the rustic rock and timber walls of the opulent interior, each game drive is yours to experience alone, you are the sole guests of rangers and veterinary staff, able to converse and interact without the inhibitions of a larger group, and you can enjoy activities at your discretion, without being beholden to the needs of others.

Once a family property, Ol Jogi continues to embody the same sense of welcome and comfort. Their family home is now your home, and should you wish to walk barefoot through its corridors or relax over a game of solitaire or a good book, you are more than welcome to do so wherever you choose.

Like a secret passageway in a vast mansion, Ol Jogi also holds its own secrets, a winding tunnel taking you below ground to a hide sunk into the banks of a waterhole. With no schedule or other guests to share with, you are free to venture into the sumptuous hide at any time, whiling away the minutes and hours, transfixed by the passage of wildlife to and from the lagoon. This allows you to witness nature from dawn to dusk, observing the changes of activity that each chapter of the sun’s passage across the sky may bring.

Pool, gymnasium, spa, dining room, and elegant lounge; all are at your disposal as if your own, guests not only allowed but actively encouraged to treat this lavishly colonial home as theirs.

Ol Jogi’s many years as the Weinstein homestead have accumulated a distinguished collection of furnishings. Exquisite paintings adorn the walls, a sample of the family’s extensive collection, antique furniture, polished to a high sheen, offers its rich, warm ambiance to each room, elaborate ornaments share shelves and tables with a library of books; even the silverware might whisper tales of the olden days if only it were given a voice.

Reflecting the stately homes of rural England, Ol Jogi creates the impression of walking through history or peering back in time, a museum to Kenya’s colonial era, but one without the sterility or separation that comes with such properties. You may take books from the shelves to idly leaf through at leisure, unwind in sumptuous armchairs, and fall asleep between the ornately carved columns of a decadently soft and expansive four-poster bed. Like the inheritance of a long-forgotten wealthy great aunt, this home is now yours.

Sanctuary, Shared

With eleven bedrooms in several cottages across the property, Ol Jogi is able to accommodate larger groups of 20 or more. Perhaps the guests of a wedding in the wild, a long-overdue coming together of extended relatives, or several families uniting for an exceptional African vacation, the property is a shared experience but shared only with those you choose.

This allows for superb flexibility and makes it particularly well-suited to multi-generational groups or those with a wide range of interests or wishes. Some may wish to take a game drive at dawn, while others can choose to remain in bed or enjoy the facilities. Youngsters can explore the expansive grounds, play on the manicured lawns, or revel in the swimming pool while adults relax with a Scotch in the flamboyant bar.

A tour of the veterinary clinic may not be of interest to all, but the snooker table, study, or tennis court will be ample occupation while awaiting their companions’ return.

It is at the times of togetherness that this can be most appreciated. Sharing a movie in the cinema room, a meal around the expansive antique dining table, or the excitement of the hide or through the lens of Ol Jogi’s powerful telescope will unite guests in their surroundings.

Shared experiences can also be found in the wilderness, and while the group may be divided into separate vehicles on a game drive, they will come together under the last light of day for sundowners and snacks in the bush. With many animal sanctuaries, the experience is shared with other visitors, sometimes many, but at Ol Jogi, only your group will attend the rhino sanctuary, talking to staff about each animal and maybe witnessing feeding time or other activities.

Ol Jogi Luxury Safari Lodge, Kenya

Conservation Beyond Tourism

Ol Jogi is divinely luxurious, creating the most magical setting for an unforgettable safari vacation, but just beneath the surface, its true purpose remains tangible. It is a place created for the land on which it stands, a conservation project expanded exponentially, to the land, the animals, and the satellite communities of the region.

A few steps from the luxurious sanctuary of the property will reveal the perpetual bustle of work; rangers departing for their daily outings, vets tending to their mammalian patients, land regeneration, outreach programs and more.

This is an aspect that is both rewarding and exhilarating, and one into which guests are invited. Discovering these dimensions beyond your exquisite accommodation and the services provided by your staff is incredibly fulfilling. While many properties actively and admirably support projects, here one can see them in action every day, watching the work unfold that your investment is directly supporting 

Ol Jogi has created its own primary school that can be visited by guests, and the nearby cultural center provides insight into the people of Laikipia and how Ol Jogi continues to work for the betterment of all life in the region.

Like staying at a working farm, the machinations of its practices lay just below the surface, continually on the periphery, allowing you to discover its operations or simply enjoy a luxury safari in complete privacy.

There is an antiquity to Ol Jogi, its many years of history echoing through its halls. But contemporary innovation has been seamlessly integrated, from the modern gymnasium to appliances and facilities. Almost entirely off-grid, Ol Jogi harvests solar energy for its needs and has also invested in electric game vehicles. Environmentally beneficial, the lack of a rumbling diesel engine also heightens the serenity of a game drive and increases the chance of wildlife viewing, the warning call of a growling motor being noticeably absent.

The Ol Jogi Legacy

Black rhinos could be said to provide the perfect reflection of Ol Jogi’s work. Where once, almost none of the species could be found in Laikipia, Ol Jogi now has 36 black rhino within its borders, joining 64 white rhino and many other creatures. 

Grévy’s zebra have also flourished here. Critically endangered, an estimated 2,500 remain, but Ol Jogi’s efforts have created the single largest population of the sub-species anywhere in Africa – approximately 16 percent of the world’s remaining Grévy’s zebra.

With 22 species of ungulates, five species of large carnivores, a multitude of small carnivores, three primate species, and up to 400 varieties of birds, Ol Jogi has transformed from a dying ecosystem to a thriving environment with more natural diversity than almost anywhere else, making game drives particularly rewarding and abundant.

But the positivity hasn’t only impacted the natural landscape. To date, 100,000 school children have been hosted by Ol Jogi, educating them in symbiotic conservation to impart its importance on the next generation of local inhabitants. Herdsmen have been assisted in creating sustainable practices to maintain their livelihood without decimating the wilderness. Cattle cohabiting has initiated holistic grazing that actually benefits the countryside.

Improved water management has also benefited flora, fauna, and livestock within the area, with rain collection pans and boreholes developed to hydrate people, animals, and plants throughout the conservancy.

All this has been made possible by offering the most exclusive safari experience imaginable for its guests, every visit financially contributing to their ongoing work.

40 years ago, passion fuelled the Weinstein’s conservation work; a love of this stunning habitat driving them to protect and nurture it. Today, guests can benefit from their years of invested activity, seeing an abundance of wildlife, meeting rhino and orphaned animals, and discovering the projects that have made it all possible.

Beyond the more altruistic aspects of Ol Jogi, its exclusivity, unfaltering luxury, and absolute serenity combine in an experience that is beyond the imaginable.

In many ways, Ol Jogi can be seen as a benchmark of how tourism and conservation can unify to protect and improve the natural world. 

But to experience Ol Jogi for oneself is to understand that it is truly one of a kind.

Images & Videos: ©Ol Jogi