Ol Malo is a privately-owned family ranch & game sanctuary in Kenya’s Wild Northern Laikipia Province. As a family, they are deeply rooted in Kenya and they stand by the people and the wildlife of the land. The neighboring Samburu people are semi-nomadic pastoralists who heard mainly cattle but often look after other animals such as goats and camels. The Samburu trust began at Ol Malo with a handful of women and children and now covers over 1 million acres providing nomad schools, water reservoirs and wildlife conservation. Our first day covered transport from Nairobi, Kenya, to a Samburu initiation ceremony (where boys become warriors), to a sun-downer complete with a perfect view of the galaxy. There are days that stay with you in memory and there are days that change you. I am so thankful for days that do both, like this one.
Ol Malo is a hospitable lodge nestled into a rugged escarpment on the edge of the Laikipia plateau in Kenya's Northern Frontier District. Each double room has a veranda, perfect for taking in one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen, complete with Mt. Kenya off in the distance. A leader in eco-tourism, Ol Malo offers the perfect mix of luxury, comfort, and living in perfect harmony with nature.
"To stay at Ol Malo is to live by a different rhythm – measure the day by the timeworn patterns of nature. Wake up to see the awe inspiring sunrise, framing the snow-capped peaks of Mt. Kenya. Celebrate the new day with a dawn ride into the wilderness to view the animals as they awake. Feel the night’s chill burn off with the rising of the great equatorial sun while enjoying a bush breakfast. Keep the tempo of the world by the roll of the camel’s stride. Visit the colorful Samburu nomads of the North and sink with the dying sun into the waters of the pool. At night luxuriate in the peace and comfort of Ol Malo and tune into the magical sounds of wild Africa while dining under an ancient star-scape." - Bush & Beyond
While staying at Ol Malo, we had the great honor of being invited to an initiation ceremony. In the Samburu culture, the transition from one life stage to another or a change of marital status are events that are celebrated by rituals and ceremonies that have roots in the ancient tradition. The Samburu children are tasked with leading the goats to grazing; only after the initiation ritual do they enter a stage of maturity and play a more active role. The initiation ritual establishes the transition into adulthood and consists of circumcision and a ceremony that takes place around the age of 15. During the ceremony, the boy is shaved, covered with sheepskin and blessed with sprinkled grease and coal dust by the mother.
The circumcision is practiced at the door of the boy's home and the boy should not show fear or pain as proof of his courage. Often, the boys will burn each other to prepare themselves for the pain. Once the boy is healed he officially becomes a Moran. The main job of a Moran is to defend the cattle of the tribe, and often includes planning raids of villages to steal their livestock. The Samburu believe all of the cattle was put on earth for them and they must get them all back.