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Ghosts of Lodges Past

Once upon a time high up on three lovely hills there was a lodge named Olkurruk. Safari travellers from far and wide came here because the views quite simply were unmatchable anywhere else in Africa. Spread out below and beyond Olkurruk Lodge for as far as the eye could see was the unsurpassable Maasai Mara, home to Africa’s great mammals.
Above: The old sign welcoming guests to Olkurruk Mara Lodge

Tried as I may I simply cannot find out more about this lodge other than being charmingly described as having ‘19 thatched guest rondavels designed to create the feel of an African village’ where the rooms have been ‘simply and attractively decorated using natural local materials. Each cottage is divided into double rooms therefore it can accommodate up to 38 guests. There is a box seat for the wildlife and to get there by SUV from Nairobi takes 8 hours’.

Does anybody know what ‘a box seat’ for the wildlife actually is?

Fifteen years ago, the first time I ever went to Olkurruk, I found nothing but burnt-out ruins. I am told it was destroyed by fire in 1997. There are legends a-plenty as to the cause of the fire but suffice to say nothing but the foundations was left. For years and years we crunched our way through the debris dreaming of what actually could be built here one day.

There were quaint notices, loos with aloes growing out of them, path numbers painted on stone directing you to nothing more than concrete plinths overgrown and desolate. The only inhabitants that I could find were some quizzical rock hyraxes who had made themselves quite comfy here amongst the wreckage.

And then on 12 August 2014 a new wind swept through Olkurruk and a new lease of life was breathed into this lovely place. The same beautiful views remain but a new name was chosen (covered in this blog post) and on 14 June 2015 Angama Mara will welcome guests to this extraordinary corner of Africa.

Perhaps the rock hyraxes will stop sulking and come back as our first honoured guests.

Filed under: Inside Angama

Tagged with:

About , Olkurruk , The Angama Way

About: Nicky Fitzgerald

After more than 30 years in hospitality, starting with a small hotel at the foot of Africa and followed by a further couple of Cape hotels, most notably The Bay, and sixty plus safari lodges across Africa and India, Nicky has served more meals, puffed more cushions, filled more beds, trained more staff and opened more properties than she cares to remember. Nicky retired as Angama's CEO in July of 2022 and remains an advisor and delightfully opinionated member of the Board.

Browse all articles by Nicky Fitzgerald Meet the angama team

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The Leaning Giraffe 14 October 2015 The brand name needed to be reflected in the logo: to tell the story of a lodge being ‘suspended in mid-air’; to underpin the historical importance and the world’s curiosity with Africa; the spirit of the place, its people, flora and fauna.... Chris Gough Palmer shares his story about the creation of the Angama brand By Chris Gough Palmer
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Join the Conversation (17 comments)

Comments (17):

Sue Dipple

10 August 2018

Hi, I have just found your blog while revisiting my own "memory lane" of lodges in Kenya. We are planning a safari for 2019 to celebrate our 70th birthdays. We stayed at Olkurruk in 1996. I still dream of that spectacular view. It was with Kuoni on a safari they called "Out of Africa". I am so pleased that a new generation of safari lovers can get to see the Masai Mara from the escarpment once again. Sue

    Nicky Fitzgerald

    13 August 2018

    Dear Sue I was delighted to receive your comment - thank you so much. There is not much history available on the old Olkurruk Lodge and I so enjoy meeting former guests and staff who knew the property. Steve and I went there for the first time about 15 years ago when it had already burnt to the ground. I am happy to hear that you are planning on returning to the Mara for a celebratory big birthday safari and please contact me on [email protected] if I can assist in any way. Warm regards Nicky

Neil Emmott

24 September 2017

If Olkurruk was destroyed by fire in 1997, then it must have been in the latter half of the year because my sister and I stayed there for 2 nights in July 1997. We booked through Kuoni travel which is based in Switzerland but which is one of Europe's leading travel companies and is very popular here in the U.K. We were on a safari holiday that took us to 4 lodges - Mara Sopa, Mara Serena, Olkurruk and Lake Nakuru Lodge. Olkurruk was indeed in a spectacular location. Facilities were a bit more basic than at other lodges but there was a lovely, homely feel to Olkurruk and you did feel closer to nature while staying there. I'm sad that it must have burnt down not long after we stayed there, but your new lodge sounds fantastic and I wish you every success. We have two friends who have never been on safari and who keep asking us to return to Kenya with them, so maybe we will return to that lovely spot very soon. Neil Emmott Manchester, England

    Nicky Fitzgerald

    16 October 2017

    Dear Neil Thank you so much for sharing your story about your stay at Olkurruk Lodge - you are the first person who has contacted us in this regard. If you have any photographs of that stay and would be happy to share them please email me on [email protected] - we would love to see them. Looking forward to welcoming you back to the lovely Mara one day. warm regards Nicky

    Nicky Fitzgerald

    29 September 2017

    Dear Neil We were so delighted to finally 'meet' a guest who actually stayed at Olkurruk Lodge. Thank you so much for getting in touch with us and sharing your memories on our blog. I have a few images of the original lodge and would love to see any if you still have them. My email address is [email protected] Kuoni happily is still sending guests to this lovely property and how wonderful it would be if you could return one day and see what we have built high up on the edge of The Great Rift Valley. It surely is one of the most beautiful settings in the world. Looking forward to welcoming you back home to 'Olkurruk aka Angama Mara' Warm regards Nicky

Victoria

15 December 2016

Ohhhh how wonderful to find this, I stayed in OlKurruk Lodge in 1995 of early 1996! I need to come back and enjoy the view again from your beautiful new lodge! Best of luck and hope to see you some time!

    Nicky Fitzgerald

    16 December 2016

    Dear Victoria Thank you so much for getting in touch. We would be delighted to welcome you back to this lovely corner of Africa - the view is still as wonderful but the lodge totally different - please visit our website www.angama.com if you haven't done so already. Do you by any chance have photographs you would like to share with us of the old lodge? My email address is [email protected] Warm regards from the Maasai Mara Nicky Fitzgerald Owner

salome

3 June 2015

I used to go there in the mid 1990s while on duty around Lolgorian. It was already abandoned by KTDC and i think UTC. The best location in the ecosyst. Best wishes for the opening and thereafter.

    Nicky Fitzgerald

    3 June 2015

    Thank you so much for your good wishes and lovely to e-meet someone who knew Olkurruk

Ken Hermer

3 June 2015

Oh Nicky - what a wonderful story. These will be the luckiest and most pampered and indulged rock hyraxes in the entire East African region! Counting down the hours to your opening with much happy anticipation. Hugs to you, Fondly, Ken x

    Nicky Fitzgerald

    3 June 2015

    Thank you dear Ken - we are waiting for you!

Danica

3 June 2015

May the lead up to launch be exciting and every bit overwhelming as it should be... may the delight on your first guests' faces warm your heart and paint a smile on your faces from ear to ear. May we get to see it for ourselves really soon. Goodluck, the Encompass Africa team here in Australia and South Africa wish you well and we are watching with great anticipation.

    Nicky Fitzgerald

    3 June 2015

    Thank you dear Aussie friends - we are feeling the love ...

Glenn Oltmanns

3 June 2015

We are so excited to be among your very first guests. Counting the days.......!

    Annemarie Meintjes

    4 June 2015

    I can't wait to see it! 15/6 seems so far off!

      Nicky Fitzgerald

      4 June 2015

      Thank you dear AM for all the beautiful ideas, inspiration, fun, craziness and hard work over the past 16 months ... it's close now!

    Nicky Fitzgerald

    3 June 2015

    Sooooo much to do but we are getting there!

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