The reason we do this job (a trip report from Tanzania & Kenya)

The reason I absolutely love my job, is for emails like this, which kept a smile on my face  for most of my working day:

We are safely back home in Tallahassee, Florida after the most wonderful trip ever!  Really!  My husband and I agree, that of all the places we have traveled, Africa trumps them all.  
We loved each place we visited for different reasons…
Selous Sands River for the hippos and the Rufiji river and croc infested lakes teaming with bird life.  
Sand Rivers Selous

Looking out over the Rufiji from Sand Rivers

The Safari Tent Camp (ed: this was Serengeti Safari Camp) for the simplicity of our accommodations while not sacrificing a bit of comfort.  The Safari drives on the vast plains of the Serengeti were breathtaking.  The wildebeest crossing was a highlight and we were fortunate enough to witness a Cheetah kill! Can’t say enough good about our Nomad guides.  They were tops! The staff and managers at both Nomad properties were very, very good.  
Game drive from Serengeti Safari Camp

Game drive from Serengeti Safari Camp

Gibbs Farm was a delightful stop.  The staff was amazing, the accommodations lovely and the food was delicious!  
Gibbs Farm

Gibb’s Farm

Last but not least …Ol Malo.  Oh My!  I cried when I walked into the lodge!  What a unique structure framing the most incredible views!  The Francombe family couldn’t have been nicer and more gracious.  Visiting a  Samburu village and a Saturday market was so humbling and moving.    What great things they are doing in support of their Samburu neighbors.  We watched the tribal women make their beautiful beaded necklaces and visited the local school.  Our Camel ride was pretty awesome too!
Ol MaloLaikipiaKenya

Camel Safari at Ol Malo

We cant wait to go back!  Maybe in about 2 years.  I will be in touch.  We are thinking Namibia and Botswana with a stop at our new favorite place in the world, Ol Malo!

Thank you Calynne for this lovely report- it made our morning!

A typical day on safari (AKA how to fall in love with Africa)

Quite often, when I meet people at dinner parties, they’re rather cynical about my passion for African safaris, so rather than giving the standard spiel about the night I got stalked by a lion, the way I try to explain to them (convert them to the safari cause) is by telling them about a typical day on safari.

06:00- Wake up. Normally 6am is unacceptably early. I’m generally pulling the duvet covers back over my head and ignoring whoever is attempting to talk to me. On safari I’m lured up by the waft of fresh African coffee and the beaming smile with which it is delivered to my tent.

06:15- On back of open four wheel drive for game drive. Bit chillier than my bed. Air smells of damp dust. Oddly excited.

ame drive in the Masai Mara from Offbeat Mara

Game drive from Offbeat Mara, Kenya

11:00– Back at camp. Can you believe it? We saw a leopard and a family of elephants and had a proper cooked breakfast in the bush.  And an eagle stole my bacon, and we passed a lion cub but it didn’t care, and did you know giraffes don’t make a sound? And, and, and….

13:30- Gosh this lunch is fun. The pasta’s scrumptious, the wine is good, and I really shouldn’t have laughed at that story I just heard but I couldn’t help it and now my sides hurt.

14:45- On bed. Nap is nothing short of utterly languorous.  Half way through I woke up up blissfully warm, utterly relaxed, and listened to the crunch of an ellie eating branches outside my room. Not 100% sure if this is real or a slightly sleepy dream.

16:30- Tea done, cake eaten, off on game drive. Anticipation in the air. Fingers crossed we see a rhino.

Safari sundowners

Sundowner with RPS in Zambia

18:30- Not the remotest sign of a rhino all afternoon. I wanted to see a rhino. Fortunately we saw baby ellies. And while I’m not the sort to repost pictures of adorable animals on Facebook, baby ellies really are implausibly cute. Did you know when they get tired they suck their trunks like a human sucks their thumb? And they rest their trunks on their tusks when they get sleepy? Anyway, right now the sun’s going down, and we’ve stopped to perch on the bonnet of our landrover. Cold beers and cashew nuts, looking out over golden grasses and setting sun. The world is OK.

20:00- Back in camp. Showered under the stars. Sharing dinner with my guide, and some fascinating guests. Roughly this is the best dinner party I’ve ever been to.

23:00 – To bed- night!

23:15- Noises outside. Is that definitely a hippo? Or a lion who might want to eat me…?

Tempted? View our Extraordinary picks.

What is a boat safari like? A personal experience.

The first thing I should admit is that I wasn’t exactly canoeing down the Zambezi. Rather, as the lone wildebeest of the group, I’d been put in the guide’s boat and was admiring his broad shoulders and efficient paddling. And pretending to be paddling hard myself every time he turned around to ask how I was getting along. Obviously.

Canoe Safari on the Zambezi

Canoe Safari on the Zambezi

If you’re considering a boat safari  the main thing to know is that it usually isn’t terribly hard work, even when you’re actually paddling yourself. You’re usually headed downstream, following the current with stops to inspect interesting birds, take a walking safari to stretch your legs or take a snooze on a sandbank. A snooze on a sandbank?  On the ground? Was this safe, I enquired? What about thehipposandthecrocsandthesnakesand….?  Well, nothing on safari is guaranteed safe (though crossing a road in London or New York isn’t 100% safe either), but I can confirm that once I got over my terrors I spent a blissful hour under the trees, listening to the lullaby of a fish eagle’s call and desperately hoping that I hadn’t snored in public.

When we first embarked on our canoe safari we were briefed about how to behave if we fell into the water (“Don’t do it”), but the closest we came to hippo was admiring the mighty tusks of a distant yawn. At night we were advised to keep close to the tents (hippos hop out to graze the riverbanks after dark), counted shooting stars, and chatted to our guides about life in the bush.

Boat safari

Camp on our canoe safari

By day, life adapted a gentle rhythm. A somewhat early start, grumbling offset by a gloriously early sunrise, followed by a morning’s paddling on our canoe safari. Lunch (“Oh- I shouldn’t have a glass of wine. OK, I will then”) and then snooze. Later, a walking safari watching eagles and ellies and eland. (If the latter doesn’t sound too exciting, imagine an animal that can weigh nearly a tonne jumping a pile of logs taller than a man). Later, sundowners, dinner, and bed, being sung to sleep by crickets and chomping hippos.

Zambezi canoe safari

Early evening arrival in camp on our canoe safari

In all- a boat safari is probably something I’d combine with a big-game fix to make sure you get enough cat sightings in, but absolutely magical in its own right and not to be missed.