Safaris can be a once in a lifetime trip. For me, it is a destination that has no end to the discovery. At each age, you take this journey with a different eye and perspective. The thrill and joy mixed with beauty and serenity is boundless. If there is a trip that connects you to nature and the amazement of our beautiful earth, this is it!
Safari is more of a constant conquest for me. I have been on three, and I am always planning my next!
It all started as a college student working as an accredited reporter for the UN Decade for Women conference in Nairobi. (That summer job is a blog in itself…) The conference ended and our group tacked on a student rated A&K trip into the Maasi Mara and the Serengeti. Our mouths hung open as we discovered the sheer awe of the “bush”. The quieting power of seeing the African animals in their own habitat and living amongst them was nothing short of spectacular. The land itself is jaw dropping. The sunsets are like nothing you have seen before! It is an experience which you never forget.
As soon as I had a family, I knew that I wanted to share this splendor with them. Good news! My wonderful parents, who had taken the rest of my siblings on safari (whilst I worked…) decided to share their love of the African bush with their grandchildren for their 50th anniversary. We started in Cape Town and had a three week trip that included South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Victoria Falls with three generations, 2 in their 70’s, 6 in their 40’s and 8 over 9 and under 18. My parents went all out and we stayed at the finest camps in the areas we visited, complete with tent butlers and dipping pools! Absolutely stunning trip! Over the top, by any measure. Most of the bush camps we stayed at were Wilderness Safari, which offers top notch service and experience. There are a couple of outfitters at this level. The thing that is most important is the service.
The safari experience, if you have not been, has a similar pace to it no matter how you go - top notch or super campy - you must live the hours of the animals to see them in their habitat. Each morning starts with a pre dawn coffee or tea (if you go with the Wilderness Safari package that arrives at your tent with your butler!) everyone shuffles out to see the morning feeding in open jeeps (WS gives you hot water bottles and blankets to keep you snuggled) , sometimes you can find a “kill” which is a constant hunt!
Your guide, who is very experienced in their areas, communicates with others in the area to bring you to the most interesting animals and activities of the bush that morning. Most of the time you are driving you are the hunters - keeping a keen eye out for the discovery. This is so amazing when your kids recognize that they are not just an observer, but an intricate part of the days adventure! You return to the camp to be joyfully greeted by a warm breakfast and to make a plan for the day. This is a great time to relax on the porches - there is always time for reading and relaxing. Many tents are in the open bush, so your guard will let you know if there is a “visitor” (lion or elephant), but you are always on the lookout!
The days activity can be another drive, a walking safari, a boat out with the hippos, a punting outing on a mokoro canoe, or a big family style picnic and games day in the bush, to name a few. The food is always plentiful and wonderful.
The evening drive is very special. It is always, and I mean 100% of the time, highlighted by a SUNDOWNER.
The drive starts with your groups (5-6 a jeep) out hunting for animals. 20 minutes before the sun goes down, the jeeps converge urgently - like in a movie - and quickly throw together a impromptu cocktail party at the best site of that day, which is always different from the day before. Drinks, snacks and conversation about the days finds all happen as you watch - what you must see to believe - the African sunset! Stunning.
As quickly as it starts, it is packed back up and off we go for the final hunt of the day. Back at the camp, they are planning a fantastic dinner and you can sit on the porches and drink wine by a campfire as long as you please. Your cozy bed awaits with the pre-warmed hot water bottle welcoming you to sleep as you must be prepared for the next days finds!
The final trip I took a couple years ago for a week long Spring break. I lived in London, so it was quite easy and we did a mini adventure to one camp in Kenya. It did not disappoint! Kenya has an abundance of animals and the land is beautiful. We saw a giraffe give birth and watched the baby walk within the first 10 minutes! It was a wow!
Mostly I had a shot of the tranquility that I love about being in the African bush and being cared for by the staff of these camps that know and love their land and want to share it with the world.
These are times with your family that are uninterrupted and special. In a pinch you may find some internet, and there is connection in the main office of the camps, but this is not a trip that you want to be worried about that. It is a time for conversation, books, and all eyes up to enjoy the African adventure and beauty!
When Mark and I speak about retirement plans, I always say "My goal is to take all my grandchildren on safari. We need to plan for that!"
When can you find that time? Can we Chart your Path?