A bit about me
My favourite place
The Mahale Mountains running alongside Lake Tanganyika in the remote western part of Tanzania are breathtakingly unique. The (long!) journey to get there is an experience in itself, which helps the mind rest assured you are quite well away from any beaten track. The wilderness and big open skies are humbling. Sailing by dhow around the final corner and arriving to a white sandy clearing on the lakeshore enveloped by thick forest, it is very heady to know that this is home to a precious population of the world’s remaining chimpanzee. The absolutely masterful trackers who grew up here (most of whom are the grandchildren of those assisting Jane Goodall with her studies) are not only transfixing in their tales of the social and political lives of each chimp but also endlessly entertaining in their mimicking and delivery. Aside from the main attraction, the crystal clear Lake Tanganyika is home to hippo and crocodile – the former can be seen running along the lake bed when out on a dhow cruise – and plenty of other primates, birds, insects, warthog and so on (even the occasional elusive leopard!). Heading into the middle of the lake where it is too deep for hippo and crocodile to venture, diving off the boat for a refreshing swim and returning back for sundowners at the ‘best bar in Africa’ before a candlelit (and starlit) dinner in front of Greystoke Mahale lodge in the sand is unbeatable.
My favourite lodge
To choose only one is nigh-on-impossible but Nomad’s Lamai Serengeti is to me complete and utter heaven. Sitting atop a kopje, it looks out over the Serengeti plains in their most northern reaches. Kenya’s Masai Mara can quickly be reached on a game drive and the Mara River lies very close by. When the wildebeest herds are calving in the southern Serengeti, this area is still alive with resident game and only a fraction of the people to share it with. The lodge is designed beautifully with light, airy rooms and stunning, locally made interiors, with a focus always on the view and surroundings. Waking very early to write some postcards on my final morning in Tanzania, I sat at my desk only by the light from the breaking dawn, looking out through the mosquito netted walls as a leopard walked silently through the grass just below. With the sensational sunrise to follow, this is one of my most sentimental memories in Africa and perhaps is why I have such fondness for Lamai! Mkombe’s House, the private use house here, encapsulates a breathtaking home from home for a group or family – sharing the location and all the best bits of Lamai. It is independently run with its own in-house team to ensure your stay is wonderfully private.
My most memorable experience
When staying for 10 nights at Sosian Lodge in Kenya’s Laikipia – a million memorable experiences were had, including a sundowner and either breakfast, lunch or dinner in a different stunning location every day! With a list of possible activities that even in 10 days we couldn’t exhaust, the standout for me has to be setting off after breakfast on horseback for a full day ride up on to the plains. We rode amongst giraffe, swam across the river (after cracking the whip at some inquisitive hippo!), had lunch and a siesta at Acacia Dam while the horses cooled off in the dam below and finally arrived before the sun was setting to our fly-camping spot. Set up with our sleeping mats rolled out under the stars, a roaring camp fire, bucket shower and loo and most importantly a well stocked bar and the loveliest team on hand, we had the most special evening eating steak followed by delectable sticky toffee pudding and fell asleep under the stars, awaking in the night only to distant sounds of hyena, lion and the odd human snore.