Images of my some of my favorite past travel adventures. An adventure to Africa is life changing.
Looking to getting back on the road!
Thank you Africa Inscribed!
Our Safari was the most memorable experience of Will’s, Lily’s and my life.
The plan went like clockwork. Not one misstep. Dylan, Bernadette and team Africa Inscribed created and planned a spectacular experience from the minute we got off the plane till we got back on.
A big shout out goes to Warren Wright, our private label guide. He was so attuned to the children, they loved him. They learned so much and a huge part of our amazing experience was because of Warren. For a family traveling with children, I heartily recommend Warren as your private label guide.
No words to thank Team Africa Inscribed enough. Treasured memories for a lifetime.
Probably the most unique hotel in the world, Giraffe Manor was created by Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville. They were very interested in animal conservation, and bought the faux Scottish hunting lodge, in 1974. That year, the amiable giraffes, who kept poking their heads interestedly through the first-floor bedroom window were about to be dispossessed, their habitat lost to farmland development and their lives threatened.
Betty persuaded her husband to allow the giraffes to live on their 15-acre estate, and the couple began the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, based in Kenya and Maryland, which later bought an additional 105 acres for the giraffes. They adopted Daisy, one of the highly endangered Rothschild’s giraffes—which can be as tall as 20 feet, making them the tallest of the species. Daisy’s descendants have since proliferated, and the Leslie – Melvilles added the Giraffe Center, open to the public, on the southern part of the property.
Waking up to a kind voice saying Jambo and bringing hot chocolate, African sunrises and sunsets in that unlimited sky, rain storms rolling across the plains, almost running over a sleeping lion in the tall grass, learning about animal alarm calls when a predator is near, smells of a night fire, adopting orphan elephants, feeding Giraffe from your hand, learning polite words in Swahili, making bows and arrows with a Masai warrior, learning to build a fire from dung, visiting a Masai village, seeing the joy on children’s faces when giving mosquito nets to a school, visiting Karen Blixen’s home, sundowners, hearing the sounds of thousands of wildebeest in the migration, experiencing new food and tastes, the list can go on for days.
Learning and understanding wildlife in their habitat, watching them up closely in their daily activities is the ultimate thrill. There is so much the children expeiienced that cannot be listed. The enrichment was immense and incredibly satisfying to experience. A window in time that will never be recaptured. Traveling with children is priceless.
Sirikoi Lodge- Heaven on Earth – Lewa Downs Conservancy, Kenya
Beautifully managed by Tom and Nikki Hartley, Sirikoi aims to please. We think it is our favorite Camp. The staff is so warm and welcoming, food is amazing, and the setting is unforgettable. Main dining area is off the Lodge right next to a water hole. So there is always action right in front of your eyes. Decor is impeccable with an organic garden that rivals anything we have seen. All food comes directly from the garden. Sirikoi is a hard place to leave.
Both Relais & Chateaux and Virtuoso, Ol Donyo Was is an amazing Lodge in the Chyulu Hills of Kenya. One of the few Lodges with it’s own blind, Ol Donyo affords spectacular safe viewing of wildlife, up close and personal. Suites have huge glass doors open up to the plains and unforgettable views. The staff is highly trained and delightful. Our guide Elijah taught the children how to make bows and arrows out of tree branches. He was amazingly good with the kids. They hated to say goodbye. Perfect place for children on Safari, activities include horseback riding. The day of riding was a huge highlight.
What a thrill!!
We found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the migration on the Grumeti plains.
We saw thousands of wildebeest, and zebras. I did not realize there was a such a sound factor to the migration- all those animals talking at the same time. We very lucky to see river crossings, and lots of interaction between the masses of animals.
Highlights from ILTM Africa
We found some fab new vendors and renewed friendships with our favorite suppliers that are clearly a cut above. Here are some of our favorites:
In Residence – Cape Town New villa concept. Pieter Brundyn is the founder.
Camp Kuzuma, Botswana – delightful husband and wife team running the beautiful camp.
Royal Portfolio properties :
The new Silo Hotel -Cape Town,La Residencia – Franschhoek , Royal Malewane Camp – Thornybush, and Birkenhead House -Hermanus
Delaire Graff estate near Stellenbosch
Makani Game Lodge South Africa
Mara Engai Lodge Kenya
Elewana Collection – so many great properties in the Elewana Collection
Chitwa Chitwa Camp
Cape Grace -Cape Town
Ellerman House – Cape Town
Groot Bos Lodge
Some of the great Elewana properties:
Tarangire Treetops -Tanzania, Loisaba -Kenya, Arusha Coffee Lodge among others
ILTM Africa – Small But Mighty
Vendors and Buyers alike agree that ILTM Africa is a hugely successful show. It a small show and because of the size, we as buyers can really get to know our prospective suppliers. The quality of the vendors is top notch. The show is carefully vetted, and we know we are talking to tour operators, camps, lodges, resorts, intra country airlines, helicopters and villa companies that can do a top quality, reliable job. For travel advisors focusing on Africa, it is a must see.
A Safari has a thousand moving parts.
Planning a seamless safari requires extraordinary knowledge, passion, experience, ability to anticipate all possible problems, patience, good taste, a sense of humor, a touch of supernatural forecasting, and a lot of love. Dylan and his partner- private label guide extraordinaire, Gavin Ford are constantly on the move checking camps, hotels and resorts. Staff and service are observed with an eagle eye, nothing is missed.
Details like which tent or room is best for a birdwatching client, or where a giraffe might be drinking out of a plunge pool are carefully noted.
Based in South Africa, they cover Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Madagascar, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia in their search for the best possible choice for a guest. Our guests!
He loves sharing his continent.
When presented with an inquiry, Dylan usually returns with a first quote and proposal within 24-48 hours. He asks for as much information about the client as we can supply. These safaris are completely tailor made. He usually follows up with a conference call between the client and consultant to gage the best options and give the client important information. Such a win, win.
I had a blissful recent experience with his travel planning – all absolutely amazing.
As a guest or mostly as a travel consultant that wants the very best, he is the greatest.
He makes us, Brownell consultants look like stars.
Thank you Dylan.
I visited Cape Town to attend the International Luxury Travel Market. Meeting with suppliers from the best hotels, safari camps, African resorts, tour companies, ground operators, flight companies from all over Africa gave me the opportunity to establish continued connections and find out about new exciting properties. Some of the highlights for me were Mount Rochelle, recently opened by Richard Branson near Franschoek (the wine lands), Grand Dedale- another beautiful bed & breakfast in the wine lands, Residence in Zanzibar, African Elite properties ( privately owned villas that are a cut above), Residence on the Rocks in the Seycelles. The most exciting new camp is Angama Mara, a new safari lodge being built on the edge of Africa’s Rift Valley and overlooking Kenya’s Maasai Mara. Set to open in a few months, this camp will be a must experience! Can’t wait to go!!
Another exciting opening is Royal Portfolio’s fabulous new hotel in Cape Town : the Silo. A completely new build. The Silo hotel will occupy an old Silo on the waterfront. The lower floors will house the new African Contemporary Art museum. The mock ups of the rooms and public areas are spectacular. All glass, the views will be unforgettable.
4000 talented travel consultants, suppliers and press converge in Las Vegas one week each year to connect, learn and enhance their clients’ travel experience. The energy and passion for this travel connection is immense. Classes are offered by the top travel experts in the business- highlighted by Helen Nodland, and the always delightful Ann Scully. An active network called VAST offers an all day exposition to better learn about the latest and greatest offerings in the active travel industry.
We meet hotel General Managers, heads of hotel marketing, destination management companies, tour operators, safari operators, airline representatives, destination wedding suppliers, and sales directors from all over the world – 396 meetings over a four day period. We meet before the general meetings, at specialized luncheons, cocktail parties and dinners, in addition to the 396 presentations. By the time the week is over, I can say I am thoroughly ensconced in travel information. I came home energized, inspired, armed with the best information and fabulous new connections to enable me to make my clients dreams come true.
I think the most important thing when choosing a property in the Mara is it must be on a concession within the park….this will allow good game viewing with limited vehicles around as well as having the option of going into the actual reserve should the guests want. We really like Mara Plains and Cottars for this reason.
I am writing about camps in the Maasai Mara that afford comfort and great game viewing. Copying from the Maasai Mara site:”Maasai Mara (Masai Mara) is known as Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Reserve, situated in southwest Kenya. Famous for the abundance of lion, the Great Wildebeest Migration and the Maasai people, well known for their distinctive custom and dress, it is without a doubt Africa’s most famous safari destination. Maasai Mara National Reserve stretches 1,510 sq km (580 sq miles). The terrain of the reserve is primarily grassland and riverine forest with clumps of the distinctive acacia trees.”
The problem with the Mara is the amount of people visiting. I encountered 6-7 jeeps stalking the same game. Not an exclusive endeavor in the Mara Game Reserve. There are some camps that are situated nearby and the game viewing experience is completely different.
One is Mara Plains. Mara Plains Camp is a small, high quality, seven-roomed camp under canvas and on raised decks with sweeping views across Kenya’s notable savannahs. It is among the smallest and most personal camps in the Mara region. As one of just three camps currently operating within the Conservancy, which boasts the region’s lowest vehicle density, no mini-buses and only one guest room per 700 acres. It is possible to avoid the high tourist density of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve proper, if desired.
No other camp in the greater Maasai Mara Game Reserve or Olare Orok Conservancy has the privilege of traversing opportunities of Mara Plains Camp. Guests are able to traverse three areas as part of their stay at Mara Plains.
Another camp that affords great game viewing is Cottars 1920’s Camp. The camp situated in the Maasai Mara, bordering the Serengeti and Loliondo reserves in an untouched exclusive concession guaranteeing privacy and an abundance of wildlife.
The camp accommodates up to 22 guests in authentic white canvas tents, which are spacious and luxuriously furnished. They incorporate original safari antiques from the `20`s, private en suite dressing rooms, bathrooms the main bedroom and a verandah.
Other favorites of mine are Bateleur, Il Moran, and Mara Explorer. All beautifully appointed and very comfortable.
I recently visited one of my favorite safari camps in the Masai Mara, Olonana. The tents are huge, and the decorative details are extremely well done. Number 14 has a white bathroom with a dressing alcove complete with blow dryer. Lighting for once is wonderful. I think the biggest drawback with a tented accomodation is the lighting. Forget makeup or drying your hair where you can actually see. And trying to find something in a duffle is a big challenge. The tents are close to the lodge and the walk dinner or lunch is not a long walk. Olonana is a Sanctuary Camp- part of A&K and the service is tip top. Food was outstanding as with all high end camps-I don’t know how they do it. The major drawback with Olonana is the road to the camp: extremely rutted and bumpy. A difficult ride especially if one sits on the back row of a jeep. We discussed the road with the manager, and he assured me that they are working on smoothing it out as soon as the rains fall.
A sensational new camp in the Northern region of Kenya is Sasaab. Located in the arid Samburu region, Sasaab offers tranquil views towards the Laikipia plateau and Mt.Kenya. Nine tents and the main lodge have a distinct Moroccan design influence. One of the many activities is camel riding.
Other divine camps in the area are Borana Lodge, Sanctuary at Ol Lentile, and Sarara.
Continuing my look at spectacular new camps in Kenya, Sirikoi ranks up there at the top. A new breed of comfort, sophistication, yet keeping the feeling of a wildlife camp, Sirokoi is spectacular. It is situated on the Northern slopes of Mt. Kenya surrounded by the Lewa Wildlife conservancy. Your game drive experience will be private and always exciting. I am enclosing pictures of the villa, grounds and main house. They also have 6 tented accommodations facing the conservancy. Activities include game drives, helicopter excursions, biplane excursions, lion tracking, horseback riding, they also have a 200m pool.
ol Donyo Lodge is in the heart of the 275,000 acre Mbirikani Group Ranch, located on the slopes of the Chyulu Hills National Park between the Amboseli and Tsavo West National Parks in southeast Kenya. Its location is unrivalled with full views of Mount Kilimanjaro and in the path of traditional wildlife migration routes. It is a lodge rich in history, passion and conservation.
ol Donyo Lodge is a 20-bed lodge, rebuilt and redesigned in 2008, and perched on a hillside, with no two suites or villas the same. What is consistent is the attention to detail, the comfortable yet utterly luxurious décor and the tradition of greatness. Regarded as one of the most attractive lodges in East Africa, ol Donyo Lodge is a place to call home for at least 3 nights.
There is a range of activities available – from cultural visits, “Big Five” wildlife viewing and tracking, horseback riding and mountain biking – ol Donyo Lodge is a holistic experience. The only negative in the resort is the internet connection- slim to none. Hopefully they will improve that. And most people will be happy to disconnect!
I have enclosed some pictures of the suite I stayed in. It is a great place to start your trip to Kenya. It has a great stable, and horseback riding through a journey of giraffes is an experience to remember.
I enlisted Taylor McCleskey from Atlanta, to help me polish up my blog appearance, and I really like it. I would love to hear what you think.
Looks like my next trip is a visit to the Hamptons to visit a friend in Montauk in July. It is one of my favorite yearly trips. We work on his next year travel plans. Always stimulating and lots of fun.
Then I will be off to Shanghai for a look at the Ritz Carlton Hotels.
Hard to beat Ritz Carltons! I am flying American so I am interested to see their flying experience. I am a Delta girl from birth.
A quick word about the company that put together our trip: Africa Inscribed. New on the Luxury Safari scene, AI is gaining a well deserved outstanding reputation. The two owners, Dylan Harriss and Gavin Ford are working night and day to make our Safari Clients happy campers. They constantly travel to camps around Africa. We were most fortunate to have Gavin guide our trip, one of the top guides in all of Africa. His depth of knowledge and charisma made our trip unforgettable. Bravo to AI. I look forward to working with them again very soon. Outstanding job Dylan and Gavin. We all thank you both.
After we finished our heavenly Champagne breakfast on the Plains, we went on a drive. Immediately our driver, Benson, picked up a huge male lion. We tracked him for about 40 minutes because he looked like he was hunting, and there was a huge herd of zebra across the river. He would stand, smell the air and listen to the honking of the zebra herd. Finally he decided he was hot and just dropped down in some long grass. As we drove along we noticed vultures fighting over a kill, and two lappets dropped in. They were a spectacular sight, they land feet first and their wing span is around 6 feet across. we came upmto the river and watched a herd of 600 zebra. We thought we would see a crossing, but there were three huge crocs in the water. We saw one zebra get attacked, but he kicked the croc, and got across safely. Fabulous! On the way back to the lodge, Gavin, our brilliant hawkeye guide spotted a leopard in the bush and we turned around to watch him cross a swamp. Hard to top a day like that.
5A wakeup call. We were driven to the ballon launch site after coffee and tea. The balloon was such a spectacular sight when it was filled. We got off before sunrise in the most incredible silence. All we heard was the jets of hot air occasionally filling the balloon to give it height. It was a divine experience silently sailing over the treetops, the Mara Plains gliding below. We saw rhino, giraffe, elephants, hippo, impalas, zebra herds. We actually flew over 30 kilometers and upon landing we were treated with a full on Champagne Breakfast.
That was just the beginning of a brilliant game drive.