Images of my some of my favorite past travel adventures. An adventure to Africa is life changing.
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.
Dramatically set on the ridge overlooking the Masai Mara, Angama Mara brings glamour and extraordinary comfort to the vast Park. The Camp is within walking distance to the burial place of Denys Finch Hatton, a fittingly romantic overtone to one’s sense of Out of Africa.
Here you can live it.
The Staff is well prepared to welcome us and tries to accomplish our every request.
Meals and drinks on the vast deck is just sublime. Rooms are huge with glass windows- floor to ceiling -to capture that dramatic view.
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
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.
Highlights of PURE
My focus was mostly on SE Asia and Africa, but I found some incredible new properties and Suppliers from all over the world.
Song Saa-Cambodia- At the top of my list.
Brand new 5 star luxury island resort off the coast of Cambodia. To get there one would fly to Phonm Phen and helicopter, or fly to Siem Reap and fly a shuttle.
Tiger Blue- Indonesia – a beautifully fitted Charter Junk that sails the Indonesian islands.
Some set dates for 2013. Really looks like a spectacular option for SE Asia.
Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio- Uruguay-
Artistic, food and wine experience. Fabulous property combines with its sister resort 5 minutes away on the beach.
Denis Private Island- Seycelles
a lovely private island alternative to North Island, and Fregate. Cottages looked very comfortable, and lots of activities.
In Any Event- UK
Darling ladies that are incredibly connected to any country house or higher up in the UK. They have behind closed door access to private gardens, homes, people,etc.
Baines River Camp- Zambia- Luxury camp located on the Zambizi. Lodgings looked upscale and delightful.
Selous Camps in Tanzania- More authentic Safari experience.
Castiglion del Bosco- Near Siena owned by the Ferragamo family, this villa is done so beautifully and elegantly one could move here.
Villa des Orangers- Marrakech- The place to stay in Marrakech
Camp Ya Kanzi- Chyulu Hills, Kenya- Highly environmental luxury camp with a huge focus on giving back to the tribes that surround them.
Tsawlu Kalahari Reserve-South Africa Relais & Chateaux Luxury Camp on the Kalahari Desert. Everything is carefully thought out. Game drive at your leisure- service is designed to revolve around the guests and their wishes.
Maison des Reves- Morocco- Extraordinary Kasbah and Desert camp experiences.
Please stop by Betty Jo Currie’s home to see all the latest exciting designs from fabulous Kenyan designer, Anna Trzebinski. Wednesday 12-4 and Thursday 10-4. Her husband Lemarti will talk about their Camp, Lemarti’s, Wednesday night. Proceeds go to Tribal projects in Kenya.
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.
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.
We are on our way home, and we routed through Dubai.
Coming over, we stayed at the Address which is downtown and close to the airport. The bar is on the top of the building and the view was outstanding. The hotel was fabulous, rooms beautifully done, and breakfast was one of the best we had on the whole trip.
On the return, we decided to stay at the Ritz Carlton in the beach area. True to form, the Ritz lived up to it’s brilliant reputation. The hotel is done in classical Arabian style, the rooms are airy and classically decorated. Beds are amazing. We dropped off right to sleep. We splurged and
had lunch at Burj Al Arab the hotel that looks like a sail. Now that hotel is fabulous in an over the top way. Lunch was
just incredible. The Al Manturuh was on the 27th floor and you can see one of the Palm residential areas. We also
visited the famed Mall and the Ski Slope! I could not believe
it! Temperature was 3 degrees. It is enormous! We had to put
on boots and ski coats just to go in to the area. Nelson
actually skied, and he is really good! The Emirates Mall is Nirvana for any shopper.
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.
Enclosed is a predeparture form that explains all the limits and requirements for travel on Safari to Kenya. We also have to be concious of shots needed. I recommended they all check in with the CDC requirements. One new shot is Yellow fever and it needs to be documented on a yellow card. One had to have it for Tanzania, but not really for Kenya. I am told Kenya Customs now requires it. Another very important part of Safari is your luggage. Weight can be no heavier than 32 pounds. Bag size should be 12X24/10. It should be a soft duffle type bag because they are going into a very small cargo department. I am checking with ATT to check on international plans for ipads, iphones, and Blackberry’s. Best I can tell, you need to add an international plan to BOTH your iphone and ipad and cut off cellular data on each device. That will allow internet access in WiFi zones only, but it won’t be hundreds of dollars in fees when you return. I have also learned one needs to cut off email push, so your iphone and ipad does not download when you don’t want it. More on the preparations.
I am getting ready for a Safari to East Africa and I thought it might be helpful to write about what to pack. What I am suggesting is equally good for Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. It is important to take into account the other activities one might choose do do other than game drives such as fishing, horseback riding- Singita Sasakwa, and Ol Donyo Waus among others have that- canoeing, hiking, birdwatching, ATV riding , etc. You might need clothing or equipment dedicated to those activities.
The key is to PACK LIGHTLY! Most charter flights won’t carry over 20KG. Which is 44.9 pounds. I found a canvas duffle with rollers from LL Bean. I can carry it on from the US to Nairobi. Then I packed a Longchamps fold up canvas bag to hold camera equipment when I have to check the duffle. Never check ANYTHING valuable, especially camera equipment or medications. In case your luggage gets lost.
4 short sleeved cotton T shirts
3 easy dry long sleeved khaki shirts
3 pairs long khaki pants- mine have zippers to make into shorts
2 pairs of long pants for night
2 pairs long shorts
One dress for night dining
One skirt for night
A really GOOD pair of binoculars
A good wide brimmed hat with a tie so it won’t blow off.
2 pair of sunglasses
Malarone medication for Mosquitos
A really good mossie spray with DEET
a bathing suit
A sarong for both BS and night
2 bright colored pashminas. I use them instead of the plane blankets.
2 cashmere sweaters for night or cold mornings
1 pair of Silver Tory Burch slippers for night
1 pair of sneakers
1 folding fan
All Chargers for phones and cameras
Ziploc bags for makeup and hair products
1 all weather jacket
2 cameras one with long lense attachment, one video. Extra cards.
A fold up bag to use when your carryon has to be checked.
Medjet medical pack
Visa credit card, iPad, and cash.
Just landed in Kenya. My guides, Gavin Ford one of the top guides in all of Africa and Africa Inscribed chief Dylan Harriss were at the airport to Meet and Greet. So nice to see their smiling faces behind a huge group of greeters They sent an airport employee, Lanette, to the plane. When I deplaned, she was front and center to help with carryon luggage and MOST IMPORTANTLY to get me through the Visa registration. I was in a special line! No problems and NO LINE. You’ve gotta love it! We were off to the fabled Norfolk Hotel, I am checked in and hitting the sack. I brought special luggage from a family in Atlanta for a school in the Massai Mara. I will take that to A&K Kenya tomorrow, check out shops, and find out what the BEST lunch place is in Nairobi.
Day 2, we got up early and flew a charter to the chulyu hills. Our destination camp is the fabulous Ol Donyo Waus. Charters are so much fun,because you can really see the landscape. As we were flying into the grass land g strip, I saw elephants, giraffe, zebra, impala, grant and thompson antelope. My biggest surprise wS that the landscape was so green! The area had just had rains and I have never seen such green. The trees and grasslands were amazing. I am sitting by the pool looking at elephants with a giraffe in the background, drinking from the pond below. Welcome to Africa!
Ol Donyo Waus is one of the five star camps I have been wanting to see, and it met all my expectations. The accommodations are top notch. Beautifully designed, the attention to detail is amazing. They have 10 villas- one is a two bedroom for families. Almost all have plunge pools, all have stunning views of Mt. Killimanjaro when he wants to show himself.
Activities include horseback riding, mountain bike riding, hiking, they offer a trek with with the resident bloodhounds( tracking pouchers)and of course games drives morning and evening. After our afternoon game drive, we had “Sundowners” and watched the sunset on the plains.