Travel Review by Jan Goss
Ol Tukai is a truly lovely Amboseli lodge. This is not the old bandas that were there for years. This lodge was built in 1996 and is the newest lodge in Amboseli.
From the time you exit your vehicle you are surrounded by lovely landscaping. You walk up a plank boardwalk, often watched by the resident monkeys, to reception. Here you will be greeted by staff, register and be assigned your room. You have a choice of a Kilimanjaro view or elephant view from your room. Opposite the reception desk you will notice a stone wall with the image of “Echo of the Elephants”.
The rooms are all in chalet-style buildings with four rooms to a building. Each building is enough distance away that you never feel crowded. The rooms are large, light and airy with one wall made of Kenya stone. Mosquito netting surrounds the bed(s) on your return from your afternoon game drive. Your veranda overlooks either the elephants in the swamp area or Mt. Kilimanjaro (when it isn’t too cloudy). There are plants and flowers around all verandas.
At meal time you walk from your room down a flagstone path. Breakfast and dinner are served in the dining room. Lunch is served on a covered veranda overlooking the Amboseli wildlife. The food is very good at Ol Tukai with choices of many types of foods and desserts. The bar serves the usual drinks and serves as a gathering place to discuss the interesting things you have seen that day.
There is a new pool to enjoy between game drives where you can relax and soak up the sun.
There is a thin wire fence surrounding the lodge area. Please do not walk close to the fence when the elephants are near. People do not realize that an elephant could break the fence and kill you within seconds if it felt threatened. You are not in a safe zoo situation. We are in the animal’s territory. Please just enjoy watching and filming them from your veranda. I would hate to have an elephant shot because a tourist was too careless and got too close thus provoking an attack.
When I was at Ol Tukai in August a report came in that an elephant had been found deeply mired in a mudhole. Upon arrival at the scene we could see that only the head, trunk and upper back were visible. It was deeply stuck. Kenya Wildlife Service was called in to help. They went to the lodges asking for volunteer help. Twenty-eight men from Ol Tukai dropped what they were doing and rushed to the scene. With the direction of KWS, these men managed to get the 18 year old bull elephant safely out – thus allowing him freedom and his genes to be passed on from generation to generation.
I have stayed at Ol Tukai ten times, staying for a week each time. Many of the guests are people who return regularly. The real beauty of Ol Tukai is its staff. I find them more outgoing and friendly than at many other places in Kenya. Once you have been to Ol Tukai and return again, they all recognize you and make you feel like a member of their family. You’ll truly enjoy your stay here.