Last updated on April 1st, 2021
During our visit to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, we came face to face with the full reality and consequences of humans’ exploitation of the earth. It feels incredible to think that we were looking at the last two [known] Northern White rhinos on the planet. Hunted into extinction, Natu and Fajin are the only known survivors of their species and scientists are working to save the species through IVF.
Meeting Fatu & Najin – The Last Two Northern White Rhinos
Our main reason for travelling to Nanyuki was to have an up-close interaction with Fatu and Najin, the last known rhinos of their kind. We booked our tickets and appointment time on the Ol Pejeta website and met with Zachariah Mutai to educate us on these animals and the work Ol Pejeta is doing.
Before going into the enclosure, Zachariah gave us a very detailed briefing of the timelines and life of these rhinos. In 2009, 4 of the last 7 remaining northern white rhinos (Fatu, Najin, Suni and Sudan) were brought to Ol Pejeta. They had been living in a zoo in the Czech Republic and previous breeding attempts at the zoo were not successful.
Scientists and conservationists hoped that bringing them back to their native habitat would present more favourable breeding conditions but that has not happened naturally.
In 2014, Suni, one of the male northern white rhinos brought in died of natural causes at the age of 34. Four years later, Sudan, the last male northern white rhino (aged 45) was euthanized after suffering from several age-related complications.
Both Fatu and Najin are unable to carry pregnancies, so scientists are opting for IVF, having successfully harvested eggs and fertilized them into embryos using stored sperm from the male rhinos.
It was certainly very interesting to learn about the efforts going in to prevent the extinction of these species. It was also quite exciting (and terrifying) to interact with them so closely. In the past, Ol Pejeta let visitors interact with them outside of their vehicles, however, since the introduction of a southern white rhino in their enclosure, Fatu and Najin have been learning to explore their wild side more.
There’s also an option to see the rhinos on horseback. If I were to visit this place again, I think I might opt for that.
PS: Be aware of the rhinos’ proximity to your car. The southern white rhino decided to sharpen her horn against our car. Unfortunately, the ranger did not notice this on time and she left a few scratch lines on the vehicle. If you’re renting a car for this trip, it is something to take into consideration.
Meeting Baraka, the Blind Black Rhino
After spending some time with Fatu and Najin, Zachariah led us to meet Baraka, a dear old rhinoceros who has been a resident of Ol Pejeta for the last 11 years. Baraka lived in the wild until he was blinded after a fight with another black rhino. Later on, he developed cataracts in his other eye and went blind completely.
The team at Ol Pejeta tried to perform surgery on him but that wasn’t successful. Unable to survive in the wild, he will live the rest of his days on Ol Pejeta Conservancy grounds.
One fascinating thing I noticed from feeding and observing Baraka was how in tune he seemed to be with his surroundings. Despite being blind, he was able to find his way around his large enclosure with ease. Our interaction with Baraka was certainly a highlight of this visit.
Ol Pejeta Self-Drive Safari
We wrapped up our visit to Ol Pejeta with a self-drive safari. This conservancy has the Big 5 (Lions, Leopards, Buffalo, Rhinos and Elephants) and we were lucky to find 3 of them (rhinos, buffalos and elephants) despite our short drive. I’m convinced that if we had spent more time, we might have been lucky to some of the resident predators in the conservancy.
Nevertheless, the sheer amount of rhinos we saw was very impressive. The rhino sightings began right from the entrance gate to the moment we stumbled upon a very large group as we drove out.
Overall, the animal sightings at Ol Pejeta was impressive and this conservancy rates highly on the list of places I have been to on safari.
Travel Information: Getting from Nairobi to Ol Pejeta Conservancy
The drive from Nairobi to Ol Pejeta is about 3.5 hours. The road conditions from Nairobi to Nanyuki town are excellent and well paved. You only start to go off-road about 13kms away from the conservancy. It is still a significant amount of driving so if you are travelling during the rainy season, a 4-wheel drive is unquestionably mandatory. I’d say it is also preferred during the dry season as well.
There’s also an option to fly into Nanyuki or the conservancy. You can find details about that here.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy Fees & Other Charges
There are two separate types of charges at Ol Pejeta. The entrance fees and the fees you pay depending on the activities you choose. When we visited, there was a 20% discount promo going on so, the entrance fee for adult citizens was Kes 1120, for residents, it was Kes 2080 and for non-residents, it was $72. Children (ages 3-11) are charged half price for all categories. In addition, we paid an extra Kes 600 for our vehicle class.
For the second price category, our chosen activity was meeting the Northern White Rhinos and this cost us Kes 5270 each. The price was the same for citizens, residents and non-residents. For more information about tickets, activities and prices, see the Ol Pejeta website.
Travelling on a Budget?
If you’d like to see the northern white rhinos, you can do so without paying to get into their enclosure. If you’re lucky, they’ll be close enough to the fence for you to observe them from outside. You may also choose to meet Baraka and visit the Chimpanzee Sanctuary – these activities are included in the entrance fee.
It is important to note that all proceeds from the rhino interaction go back into preserving the species. So if you do pay for this experience, you would be contributing to the incredible work Ol Pejeta Conservancy is doing.
Our trip to Ol Pejeta Conservancy was part of a weekend trip to Nanyuki. You can find the first instalment of this trip here and a 48-hour itinerary [coming soon]