Africa has a special place in my heart… I leave a small piece of it every time I visit. I was itching to show my husband the beauty of the country, the warmth of the people and the incredible hospitality that they draw deep from within their souls to show us “western visitors” the true meaning of living, breathing and understanding the purpose life. We had the privilege to travel to Kenya and visit an incredible Eco-tourism property owned by John + Gill Elias, The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille. They have made it their mission to live in Africa and educate visitors who travel thousands of miles to become a piece of the puzzle of the influential movements in keeping Northern Kenya alive and thriving.
Our experience began in Nanyuki the gateway town to The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille. We watched the landscape change before our eyes thru he small prop-jet windows and arrived in style at the open-aired dirt runaway of Nanyuki. We were greeted with warm smiles from our private guide Timothy. A true Maasai, standing over 195 cm, Timothy was in fact a gentle giant with a great sense of humor. The moment we packed our bags in the Land Rover and shared a few laughs as we headed on our way, we knew we had a special chemistry with Timothy that would carry us through the entire visit.
On the drive Timothy shared great insight about the beautiful region he called home, its people, wildlife and was also forthcoming with details about the challenges they were facing. He was university educated at the University of Nairobi (studying Conservation) and was the exact person we had been envisioning as our guide given the goals of the visit were as much about education from this foremost community-based conservation tourism property as it was about relaxation.
After an easy and picturesque 1.5-hour drive we began to ascend to a small peak with villas perched up high overlooking the valley below. The setting sun was perfectly hitting the property and rich orange tints and shiny overtones could be seen from the unique roofs and large glass windows of the villas. ‘Is that where we are headed?” I asked Timothy. “It most certainly is!” he replied. All of a sudden the Land Rover was switch-backing up the peak making for a most dramatic entrance to the property. Upon arriving at Ol Lentille, we were welcomed personally by the owners, John and Gill Elias and our entire staff, Butler, Chef, Valet, and Spa Attendants. Everyone was most gracious and it felt very much like they were welcoming us into their private estate. They pampered us and took such great care of us from start to finish.
Every special touch was considered upon arriving into our villa. Our bags had been unpacked and clothes neatly placed in the drawers or hung up. A full turn down of our room took place while we dined that evening, including hot water bottles under the covers given the cool nights common in August / September. The meals were prepared right in the adjacent kitchen of the house via our private chef catering to our dietary needs and surprising our palettes with seasonal local cuisine. This five star quality food extended to all remote-based meals we enjoyed on the pool terrace, sundowners and appetizers at the foot of Ol Lentille and our traditional bush picnic lunch under a beautiful tree in the centre of a dried river bed.
Our two days of activities in the local community rank among the most educational and touching days of our lives. We made visits to two schools, a rural bank, hospital, water reservoir and a well that was under construction. A private visit was arranged for us to visit the conservation recreation center with the local people that gave us insight into life of the local tribes. Over 25 locals turned out to welcome us. We sang songs, danced to local music, played board games and interacted with the community.
John and Gill are doing a wonderful job with the property and surrounding initiatives in the community – it was great to support their drive. Their passion in providing unique luxury experiences and commitment to our fellow man is amazing. If you make the visit you won’t be disappointed. Be prepared for your eyes and heart to be opened with breathtaking views and top notch luxury details all while supporting a community to thrive on their own. The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille are true philanthropreneurs in every meaningful measure, quenching their entrepreneurial spirit and doing unbelievable good while they are at it.