Kenya – our safari time; booked through &Beyond

Safari is a bit of a ridiculous experience. You wake up before the sun to watch the animals hunt before it gets too hot out. You go out for a few hours, then have a nice breakfast and snooze a bit. Then you hang out some more and eat lunch, followed by tea time then off on the evening drive with a sundowner cocktail in a secluded area to watch the sunset. The day caps off with a multi-course dinner and vibrant conversation on what you saw during your game drives. We didn’t expect such a sedentary experience or one that was so full of food. It was really decadent.

Itinerary -  8 days of safari at 2 camps, plus 3 days in Nairobi staying with a friend

Note: we booked our safari through &Beyond - highly recommend them for a high-end experience

Ol Pejeta Bush Camp at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, known for its rhino sanctuary.

We stayed in a beautiful canvas safari tent that lacked electricity and running water. There was a bathroom with a flushing toilet and fresh hot water delivered whenever you wanted to shower. Gorgeous food and communal meals with the owner Alex, a third-generation Kenyan, and other campers. We met some exceptional travelers who inspired great conversations and memories.

Our first drive was during the evening, and we ended it drinking G&T sundowners while watching two lions mate. We off-roaded much of the time to get close to the animals on our own private game drives.

Must Dos

  • Game drives – always go in the morning and evening – that’s when the animals are most active. Otherwise, you’ll just see them sleeping in whatever shady haven they can find.

  • Chimp sanctuary and Rhino facility @ Ol Pejeta. The gorilla sanctuary felt a bit like a zoo, which didn’t compare to the safari experience. The rhinos were incredible. We went the last male Southern White rhino and 3 females, which showed us the sad reality of animal extinction brought about by human poaching. What was the most wonderful was seeing them raise baby rhino named Ringo, whose mother had been killed by poachers. We got to feed Ringo jumbo baby bottles of human baby formula and scratch his belly and behind his ears like a puppy.

&Beyond Kitchwa Tembo in Masai Mara – very upscale safari camp, which was absolutely gorgeous, but felt a bit silly fancy.

We saw lots of action, including several groups of young male lions and female lionesses hunting and eating, cheetahs sunning themselves, and hordes of elephants. We had a rotating group of couples and families on our game drives, some of which lasted for over 8 hours. It was ridiculously nice, but also felt a bit excessive at times.

Must Do:

  • Nature walk, where we had a local Masai guide us up a small mountain to learn about the plants and traditions of the people nearby. We were lucky to see almost of dozen giraffes nearby, too. It was a really nice way to get to know the area and culture more, and move a bit after eating so much camp food!

Nairobi – stayed with Jon’s friend Timbo, visiting the tech center of the community, iHub, and headquarters of OKHi, the startup that Timbo founded.

Must visits

  • David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust + Elephant Orphanage - they rescues and rehabilitates baby elephants whose mothers are no longer able to. It’s also a major education center to teach young children about how special these animals are, to prevent poaching in future generations.

  • Giraffe Center -  another non-profit fund and nature sanctuary for giraffes where you can get up close and feed them grain pellets.

  • We also went to some great Indian food courts and reggae clubs with Timbo, that we wouldn’t have found ourselves.

Recommended Reading

African Wildlife Foundation to learn about challenges of conservation and poaching

NYTimes' Africa Issue 2015 detailing safari in Masai Mara