I am a European at heart, so I will always be drawn back to places like Italy, France and Greece. But I also love to push myself and travel to more foreign, otherworldly corners of the globe. I want to show my family completely different ways of life that highlight our differences, or even strike a chord in common with far-off people. This kind of soul stirring is always on offer in the endlessly fascinating and ultimately unknowable continent of Africa…
I was raised in South Africa, so I will always have a connection with the African continent. Sheira and I have been fortunate enough to go on safari four times during our marriage (once with our kids), and all within South Africa or Botswana.
Being familiar with safari travel in South Africa I would recommend it for people who want to see wild life in possibly “an easier to get to” environment. Fewer flights, closer proximity between camps and the rest of South Africa to explore.
But I had always been fascinated with the next frontier, EAST AFRICA. The vastness and wildness of Kenya and Tanzania was calling me, especially during THE GREAT MIGRATION, one of the most dramatic wildlife spectacles on earth. Well over a million wildebeest, zebras, and gazelle follow the rains and the green grass over 1800 miles between Kenya’s MASAI MARA GAME RESERVE and Tanzania’s SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK.
Being a runner who pounds the roads and pathways wherever I travel, the thought of not only seeing the tribal Masai people, but setting out alongside these great runners was another dream of mine. So this was the trip where I was going to be my own genie and make my wish come true!
Hopping from one safari experience to another in East Africa is logistically difficult, as all the points you pass through are not always connected directly. Transport options are small-scale (6 to 16-seater planes). I normally plan each leg of my regular travels myself but this experience is best organized through an Africa-specialist travel agency. Each one has its own relationship with the different operators and charters that get you from A to B: …you need them as the gateway.
Alternatively, if the Safari Camp you choose is part of a big group, like SINGITA or AND BEYOND AFRICA they will be incredibly helpful and once you book, will help you organize your transfers …
SAFARI IN AFRICA had been calling me for some time. When the timing was right this year and East Africa’s great migration in August and September coincided with a break in our Australian school calendar, I knew I had found our next great family holiday.
Kenya’s biggest city, Nairobi is the landing point for arrival and departure so I knew we would have to overnight there. There is a really stylish boutique property in the heart of town called PALACINA - just the kind of intimate, design savvy oasis that Sheira and I love. But as soon as I found GIRAFFE MANOR I knew that its unique point of difference was well worth moving to the outskirts of town a half hour’s drive away.
This hotel is a destination in itself, not just a pit stop; it has featured in glossy travel mags and coffee table books around the world. But it’s actually a raw, authentic experience of Africa. I am always trying to create a point of interest as both stimulation and education for the kids. I knew that at Zoe’s young age, seeing giraffes at close hand would give her even more: a real sense of wonderment. And I was happy to get out into nature right from the start.
Whatever your itinerary and entry point into East Africa, INNOCULATION is a necessary precaution. You need to arm yourself against the possible diseases either spread by insects (yellow fever, dengue fever, typhus) or through food and water (typhoid fever and cholera). Check with your own local medical authorities for recommendations and legal requirements.
This may sound a little dramatic, but these precautions are essential, and actually quite easy to take.
Another tip: get your visa before you arrive in East Africa. Even though they are able to be organized on arrival, I witnessed how slow this process is and why waste holiday time with airport bureaucracy?