Dreaming of the road less traveled. Dying to get back.
Dreaming of the road less traveled. Dying to get back.
Dreaming of the road less traveled. Dying to get back.
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.
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
Singita’s collection of properties : Sasakwa, Sabora(stationary tented camp), Faru Faru, Serengeti House and Explora( mobile tented camp) are probably the finest group of properties in Tanzania, if not all of Africa. Singita has a well established conservation plan, and philanthropy. One of the most successful ongoing community development projects at Singita Grumeti is the Grumeti Horticultural and Marketing Co-op Society (GHOMACOS), supplying the lodge kitchens with a constant flow of high-quality, freshly harvested, locally grown vegetables, herbs and fruits. Lodge guests are often surprised at the freshness and diversity of the juices, salads, vegetables, desserts and sorbets on the menus at Singita Grumeti, given the remote location of the five lodges and camps. Many guests are also appreciative of the fact that the food they’re enjoying is locally grown, benefits small-scale producers, and hasn’t clocked up unnecessary transport miles.
Every detail is perfect, the decor is to die for. All unique, all 5 Star in every way. Singita Saskwa also has the most comprehensive and beautifully equipped Equestrian Centre in Africa. My favorite SIngita Sabora
&Beyond Grumeti River Camp provides a private Serengeti experience with exclusive game viewing in some of the most secluded parts of Africa’s most famous game reserve. The Grumeti Reserve is located in the remote Western Corridor of the Serengeti. Its rustic yet sophisticated safari tents are tucked into the shade of an evergreen forest on the banks of a tributary of the famous Grumeti River. The staff was superb: very warm and welcoming. Food again was outstanding We had some of the best wines selections there. Welcome song from Grumeti River camp.
It is a basic mobile tented camp designed to follow the migration. Bucket Showers, and minimum services. But the staff made it a first rate experience. The food – out of a really basic kitchen -was some of the best we had. The staff was friendly, engaged, and welcoming. I will remember this camp fondly, and plan to return.
Limited to Tanzania and Kenya, the Great Migration is a movement of millions of Serengeti’s wildebeest, accompanied by smaller numbers of Zebra, grant’s and Thompson gazelles, Eiland, and Impala. They move in an annual pattern constantly following the rains, seeking fresh grazing. This November, the migration was near the &beyond Serengeti Under Canvas Camp. Because they are mobile, the camp can move with the migration.
We have flown to the Serengeti to see a different terrain, and to follow the migration. Serengeti Under Canvas is a true mobile camp- everything is folded up, packed and moved when needed and one would never know it had been there. No fooprint!
Ngorngoro Crater is the largest intact caldera in the world, about 30 kilometers across. An estimated 25000 large mammals are resident in the crater, including a population of approximately 6000 resident wildebeest,zebra, giraffe, and around 70 lions. Visiting it should be a must on everyone’s list.
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We had the pleasure of staying at Lake Manyara Tree House, an And Beyond property. Rooms were spacious, luxurious, 5 star in every way. The exceptional staff made us feel so welcome. A complete pleasure and I hope to return.
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.
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.
I stayed last night at the historic Norfolk hotel. It is over 100 years old, but recently renovated by Fairmont hotels. The public spaces remain the same and I really felt like I was in Africa. I love the Veranda and the gardens.
I paid a visit to A&K Kenya to meet all the folks that help me make wonderful Safari experiences. Last year a family from Atlanta came over on Safari and they met the children of the Jacob Loigero school. They were so impressed with the school, they sent with me two HUGE bags of school supplies- one was full of soccer balls. I took them with me today to A&K and they were delighted to get the supplies to the school in the Massai Mara. Such a wonderful gesture from my family and so great of A&K to help.
Best camps are for last and we are on our way to Tanzania to Singita Sabora and Singita Sasakwa. As good as it gets!!! Can’t wait to see them again!
A note about the visa situation: get your visa before coming to Tanzania and be sure to have your Yellow fever shots documented on the yellow card. We flew on by charter, if we had flown in commercially, the visa application line and procedure would have taken a very long time because of the larger line of people. Visas cost $100 cash if you buy upon entry.
As I said, we saved the best for last. Sasakwa is like an English Manor sitting up on the hill overlooking the stunning Grumeti plain. Grumeti borders on the Serengeti. It is a vast plain with unlimited skies and sunsets. When the migration is going on, the plains are completely covered with Wildebeest, zebra, elephants and giraffe. And lots of predators sitting there watching the buffet. Sasakwa has the ultimate stable with about 25 horses in superb condition. Rooms are ultra luxe English cottages with fireplaces, antiques- the works! I could live there, happily. Even better is Singita’s tented Camp Sabora, nearby. Right our of Hemingway’s Africa. The Tents are completely finished with English aniques, Persian rugs, chic mobile safari furniture, crystal, silver and china. I have never seen anything like it. Totally glamorous!
Our trip was planned and hosted by a new ground operator, Africa Inscribed. Partners Dylan Harriss and Gavin Ford are a perfect team. Dylan is the planner, organizer and ultimate detail man along with important input from Gavin. Gavin, formally with A&K, has been a top Safari Guide for all of Africa for 18 years. Together they are unstoppable. The biggest difference about this team is that they constantly check camps, and resorts-personally. So when we want a certain area, we can depend their knowledge and expertise. They have truly been there and experienced the properties. Little details like personal handwritten notes announcing our departure time for the next day along with a framed picture of something we saw that day gave our travels a new dimension. The bag tags they supply are metal with woven metal strings so they can’t be torn off. Very well
thought out. No stone left unturned. Africa Inscribed has a very bright future.
We had such a fun, interesting learning experience, but I have to say the very best part of traveling is walking back into my Home! Home is truly where the heart is. I am so blessed to be able to see the world’s amazing places, but there is no place like home, and nothing more important than family. I got off the plane and went straight to Will’s 3rd TBall game. SO adorable!! He was more interested in drawing in the dirt with his toe than catching the ball!
Next trip is back to Kenya in May. Thanks for your interest.