A bit about me
I grew up in south-west England and first visited Africa on a holiday to Zambia when I was 13. Ten years later and I was happily navigating the vaguely existent bus routes between Nairobi and Johannesburg accompanied by a bulky back pack. I’ve also explored quite a bit of South America, Asia and Australasia. I could never tire of being on safari, and always keep a sketch book on every trip, a great way to remember all of the adventures.
My favourite place
Kenya has so much to offer every variety of traveller. The attention to detail in all of the camps I’ve visited was amazing, the people who run the camps and lodges are all incredibly enthusiastic and will move mountains for their guests (perhaps not literally). Plus the food is phenomenal! The North offers spectacular views and glimpses of some of the world’s rarest species, the South, unrivalled game-viewing and beautiful scenery.
And then of course there’s the beaches..… The Mathews Mountains Range for me is a particularly special location, you feel so secluded, and it is very untouched. The Samburu people are shy and extremely traditional, and the forested mountains themselves are just breath-taking. Herds of elephant congregate there and safari is done on foot. There is no running water and tents may be “simpler” than some but this just adds to the feeling that you are on an authentic adventure.
For safari it would have to be Mara Plains, situated in the Olare Orok Conservancy which borders the Masai Mara, for pure decadent luxury. They’ve taken “style in the bush” to a whole new level. Or perhaps Elephant Pepper Camp – beautifully and traditionally designed with a well-deserved Gold Medal eco-rating. Kinondo Kwetu in Diani is the perfect place to relax after an action-packed safari. The owners are fantastic hosts, and the team really make you feel at home. You can spend the day riding their horses along the beach, fishing and diving and spend the evenings sipping cocktails while playing backgammon, or dining high up in the water tower looking out to sea.
My most memorable experience
We were watching a cheetah in with her two grown-up cubs having a snack one evening when a lioness crept up on them and proceeded to chase them around the plain. Needless to say the lioness couldn’t catch any of them, but seeing the two species running together was unforgettable. We saw the same pack of cheetah catching and eating a hare for their breakfast the next morning, equally as exciting.
My top tips are
- Consider staying in the conservancies around the Masai Mara Reserve if you prefer a quieter and more exclusive experience.
- Don’t make a tick list of animals you want to see, you will have a much more rewarding safari if you learn to appreciate that all of the animals, trees and birds are interesting in their own right. And the big 5 are waiting around most corners in any case.
- Don’t miss out on trying traditional local food. Most camps will serve ugali and curry once a week, but do request it if you aren’t going to be there on the particular day.
- Be patient, East Africa works at a different pace to most places, but if you sit back and just go with the flow you might find that the slower pace suits you!
- Ask your guides and camp managers as many questions as you like, they are always brimming with knowledge and enthusiasm, and you can learn so much about a country through the people who live there.
- Keep your camera on you for the internal flights – the views from the small planes are insane.