Our final stop in Kenya was in an area call Laikipia region, where we stayed at one of the most beautiful and special places that we’ve ever stayed at. Ol Lentille is considered one of Kenya’s most unique safari lodges, located at one of the highest points of this region. This lodge is incredibly special not just because of its luxurious accommodations and services, but the fact that it was built as a project to benefit the local community in profound ways. We were deeply touched and inspired when we heard story after story on how Ol Lentille used its resources to meet the many needs of the local community, including the building of schools, medical clinics, water sources, and so much more.
I did not realize this prior to arriving, since our entire trip was planned by a travel agent, but staying at Ol Lentille is the epitome of luxury. While I’ve had the good fortune of staying at some of the most luxurious properties around the world, including familiar brand names like the Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, and St. Regis, I can honestly say that Ol Lentille takes the client experience to a whole new level.
With only 4 villas, all perched on top of the highest point in the region, exclusivity is one of the things that makes Ol Lentille feel so special. During our stay there, our group of 6 booked the The Chief’s House, a residence that includes 3 separate en suite bedrooms, a living area with fireplace, a plunge pool, and a large deck that overlooks the rugged hills and mountains. However, we were the only guests on property at the time of our stay, so it felt even more exclusive for us!
Upon arrival, the butler assigned to our villa, Biwott, helped us with our luggages and gave us a tour of the property. While the landscape was on the rugged side, all the spaces of Ol Lentille was beautiful and had its own unique charm. There was a cozy library with a fireplace, which happened to be where the only wifi was available (Ol Lentille has renovated since then and all their villas have wifi now!) so needless to say, we spent a lot of our leisure time there, lol. There was a huge, expansive pool with a dining deck. There was an on-site spa, and spa services were included as a part of the accommodations pricing when we stayed. That meant we could get massages all day if we wanted to! 😂
Our guide for the week was Boni, who was super fun and entertaining, with many stories to share. When we found out how heavily involved he was in the local community, we decided that we’d much rather have him show us around his “home” than to do more game drives to see the animals. Any opportunity to get to meet the locals and immerse into their culture is one that we will grasp and cherish!
So, instead of game drives, Boni took us to his village to meet his family, to the local school that Boni himself started, and even to the tiny church that he and his family attended. We were greeted warmly by everyone and graciously invited into their homes. Despite their humbling living conditions that were made from cow dung, each person we met was so genuinely kind and generous, even gifting us with handmade accessories as we departed!
Boni has been doing some pretty amazing work for his community through the years. What started as a simple goal of providing some basic education for the children in his own village progressed into a brick and mortar school for hundreds of children from different villages. The once “classroom” that simply took place underneath a shaded tree became several buildings full of desks and chairs for the children to learn. The teachers that he brought on board to teach receive very little pay, because tuition is simply whatever each family can contribute every month, which is often little to none. These teachers were there because they genuinely believed that education can change the trajectory of the next generation, and wanted to do what they could to help with this mission.
We loved our time at Boni’s school. We got to visit all the classrooms, meet all the teachers, and engage with the children. We even sang, danced, and played games together! The kids were genuinely intrigued by us, as they don’t get a lot of visitors. Some would giggle excitedly and give us high fives. Others would just shyly walk alongside us. But everyone was warm, welcoming, and full of joy. I think that was what struck us the most. Despite the less than ideal environment (according to our first world standards), the children had such a joyful spirit to them!
After our visits to get to know the local community, Boni and the staff at Ol Lentille also arranged some fun activities for us in the area. We rode camels and ATVs through the savannah, had a lovely bush lunch (where we invited Boni’s son to join!), and even a night safari searching for jaguars!
One of the things we loved most about staying at Ol Lentille was their dining experience. We had breakfast in our villa’s dining room every morning, but they would thoughtfully arrange all other meals at different locations, each with a very different experience for us. We had a poolside lunch one day, which was fantastic because the kids jumped right into the pool after. We had lunch on our expansive balcony overlooking the mountains. We had one dinner next to the cozy fireplace in the library and another on the rooftop of the library. Our most favorite dining experience of all though, was our very last evening. Boni and Biwott arranged an amazing sundowner for us, where we were driven to a different mountaintop to witness a magical sunset. We snacked, drank, and stared out at the magnificent, unobstructed view in front of us, praising God for such a remarkable gift. Afterwards, we were driven to another area, where we were surprised with a bush dinner! A giant, roaring fire was created to keep us warm (and to keep the animals away), and the kitchen staff from Ol Lentille brought their equipment to cook for us right inside those bushes!! While we were dining underneath the stars, we heard a number of animals around us, which made it all the more exciting (and just a tad scary, hehe). What a memorable way to end our time in Kenya!
In case you were wondering if we took advantage of the unlimited spa services at Ol Lentille, we did! We got massages and mani/pedis and it was a great way to relax! Thank you so, so much to the staff at Ol Lentille, particularly Boni and Biwott, for making our stay so remarkable.
I just want to end this post expressing how incredibly proud I am of Brianne and Bridgette. The girls launched a fundraiser for Boni’s school once we got home, because while we were there, we learned that the 300+ children that attend the school do not get to eat lunch. They have to go hungry all day because the school does not have the funding to provide lunch, nor do the parents have resources to do so. Also, they were in dire need for an additional building to house the kindergarten classrooms as the number of students have increased quite a bit. Brianne and Bridgette were able to raise enough money to allow the school to build the additional classrooms, plus provide lunch for a year and a half! Praise God for the girls’ compassionate hearts and genuine desire to help those that are in need. It’s so easy to turn a blind eye to the needs around us, but I truly believe that God places people in our lives for a reason. We’re grateful that we visited Kenya when we did, and that we met people who opened up their lives to us in ways that brought us so much growth and learning. These wonderful people, while having very little material resources, have the most kindred spirits and we left feeling very inspired and uplifted by the reminder that real joy truly comes from within.