Vast savannahs peppered with immense herds of wildlife. Snow-capped equatorial mountains. Traditional peoples who bring soul and colour to the earth. Welcome to Kenya. – Lonely Planet
Africa has always intrigued me. My parents were born there and listening them to speak Swahili and sharing memories of their time there, I always knew one day I wanted to revisit those memories.
My research began back in November, when my girls trip group tour to Croatia fell through and I needed to make a quick decision where my annual girls trip was going to be. Of course my whole motto is always “Escape From The Ordinary” so I didn’t want to do the typical South African destination. I decided on Kenya due to my parents history there. One look at the beautiful Masai Mara via my research and I knew this is it! It was my calling. My search began for lodges and I started reading individual property reviews and visited their websites. The one that stuck out from all the rest and had the most amazing views was definitely the Angama Mara. As stated on their website: “Welcome to Angama Mara, a remarkable owner-run safari lodge inspired by the Swahili word for ‘suspended in mid-air’. Located high above the floor of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, Angama Mara overlooks Kenya’s Maasai Mara, considered by many as the loveliest game reserve on the continent. Here guests will find a lodge where everything is as it ought to be: two intimate camps of just fifteen tented suites each, a private airfield and access to the Mara below, tailor-made safari days and a famously warm Kenyan welcome.”
And they were exactly right!
I worked with Tamsin a representative of the property based in Johannesburg. From beginning to end she worked with me to create the perfect package for us that was simply put a Bush to Beach package. Three days at Angama Mara and then Three nights relaxation at the Alfajiri Villas in Diani Beach, Mombasa ( a celebrity hot spot)
Our trip began with our arrival into Nairobi. We were greeted immediately at the arrival gate with a representative from Angama Mara. He helped us get through immigration and customs with no issues. Once out of the airport we were led to meet Alex, another Angama representative who will be our transportation assistance whilst in Nairobi. We booked the Crowne Plaza Nairobi as the reviews and the security at this property were great. Actually it was recommended by Angama and literally the property was beautiful. It had a lobby bar that was pretty packed at 11:00 p.m. and a 24 hour full service restaurant, that served perfect Butter Chicken and hot fluffy fresh cooked Naans.
Our pick up the next morning was arranged with Tamsin and Alex arrived to take us to Wilson Airport, Nairobi’s local airport. It was about a half hour drive from the hotel. Once there Alex had us all checked in, luggage ready to go. Our internal flight was arranged with Safari Link. North Africa’s main airline for interstate travel. Flight was on time and we were ready for our hour flight to the great Masai Mara. Flying over the beautiful landscaped country of Kenya we approach the Great Rift Valley. Upon arrival, I think the girls and I were just in awe as we saw Zebras and Giraffes right by the runway. That moment we knew were in for a great show. Angama Mara has their own landing strip. We were greeted by the smiling courteous staff and whisked away to a lodge, perched on the edges of the Great Rift Valley with the most amazing views I’ve ever seen. I’ve been pretty lucky staying at some of the most luxurious resorts in the world and I have to say this definitely ranks high on my list.
Greeted by their wonderful smiling staff we were introduced one by one to who takes of what. We were taken to the main lobby where we briefed about the property, dining, rooms, laundry, our game drives etc. I don’t think we paid much attention as were still looking at the incredible unbelievable view right in front of us. We were then taken to our lodge rooms. We had three. Two of which were adjoining. Omg! the rooms literally took our breath away. The views looking out and our balcony was enough to say, “hey, I did pretty good!” Where on earth would I take a shower with the most beautiful views on this earth? Rooms were complete with books to read and carafes of Gin and Whiskey, at your beck and call, anytime you wish. The property itself is all inclusive of all meals, snacks, soft drinks and alcohol.
Once checked in, briefed, we all had a bite to eat, we were ready for our first Game Drive. We had a brilliant driver by the name of Sophie, and her smile would melt your heart. Her personality, her experience, her kindness showed us that we couldn’t have asked for a better driver. She maneuvered the Mara with such skill that sometimes the roads were muddy from the nightly rains, but Sophie tackled them and went where others were afraid to go. We literally enjoyed all 6 of our Game Drives with each Drive being different and capturing the Big 5.
Sadera was our butler and catered to our every whim. The food was delectable and I of course had to have the Shamba Salad, a favorite at the lodge. Angama grows and serves all their organic vegetables and seasoning from their own Shamba garden, which guests can visit with a layout reminiscent of Snakes and Ladders. This is definitely no ordinary vegetable patch.
One afternoon Angama entertained us with the local Maasai Warriors with a celebration of song and dance. There is also a craft studio where skilled ladies bead bespoke items and clothing. Of course I needed to contribute to these wonderful women and purchased a beautiful crafted beaded mask. Still trying to find a spot for it in my World Room.
Our last day was a heartbreaking one. To leave this magnificent beauty of the Mara and the new family made, it was literally gut wrenching. We were taken back to the airstrip where a giraffe was blocking the run way and had to be eventually ran off so our plane could safely land. Saying goodbye was hard. Vowing myself I will return one day.
We boarded out Mombasa Air flight to head to the Ukunda Airstrip in Diani Beach for our next segment of the trip, Alfajiri Villas. Our three hour flight with a fly by of Kilimanjaro was a bit daunting, with a bit of turbulence and the compactness and the altitude levels was a bit nauseating. Upon arrival once again we are greeted immediately with a Villa Staff Driver. Boy the minute we got off the plane, the humidity definitely slapped us in the face. Extremely hot. Driving through the streets to get to our villa we were greeted by school kids screaming “Jambo” everytime we passed them. What a beautiful welcome!
Upon arrival greeted by the owner Marica and her staff we were taken to our Cliff Villa. A beautiful 4 bedroom villa perched on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. The property itself consists of 3 villas, The Cliff Villa, The Beach Villa and the Garden Villa. Guests include Brad and Angelina Jolie, Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones and a slew of Sheiks and High Profile Politicians. Our butler Joffrey was at our beck and call, filling our empty endless glasses of wine and champagne. Every morning after breakfast Marica would greet us for our day’s activities. Daily Snorkeling, Massages and a Driver at our disposal were included in our package. And of course we took every advantage of it. We would arrange our breakfast, lunch and dinner menu with Marica daily and to be honest none of which disappointed. Fresh delicious meals with fresh seafood of Lobster and Crab which I devoured! Yum! Three days of pure relaxation was heaven. This is my 6th villa rental and I think I’m definitely spoiled. Some of the girls would have enjoyed more interaction with other guests and maybe some resort amenities. I work and interact with customers on a daily routine, when I’m on a trip I don’t want to see anyone nor talk to anyone. I loved the villa, loved the staff, loved the food, except for the extreme humidity and heat.
Sadly our six day package came to an end and it was time to head back to Nairobi. Our next destination was a three day layover in Paris, France which was completely nixed whilst at the villa due to the Covid-19 Epidemic. We headed straight back home and grateful we did.
Sadly I still have a yearning to go back to Africa. It was an experience like no other. I definitely left a piece of my heart there. Now I understand my parents love of Kenya and the memories held there. In the words of Karen Blixen “Up in this air you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.” An experience my heart will yearn and linger for a very long time. Thank you Africa.
When you think of Africa, you’re probably thinking of Kenya. It’s the lone acacia silhouetted on the savannah against a horizon stretching into eternity. It’s the snow-capped mountain almost on the equator and within sight of harsh deserts. It’s the lush, palm-fringed coastline of the Indian Ocean, it’s the Great Rift Valley that once threatened to tear the continent asunder, and it’s the dense forests reminiscent of the continent’s heart. In short, Kenya is a country of epic landforms that stir our deepest longings for this very special continent.
Filling the country’s landscape, adding depth and resonance to Kenya’s age-old story, are some of Africa’s best-known peoples. The Maasai, the Samburu, the Turkana, the Swahili, the Kikuyu: these are the peoples whose histories and daily struggles tell the story of a country and of a continent – the struggle to maintain traditions as the modern world crowds in, the daily fight for survival in some of the harshest environments on earth, the ancient tension between those who farm and those who roam. Drawing near to these cultures could just be a highlight of your visit.
Kenya is the land of the Masai Mara, of wildebeest and zebras migrating in their millions with the great predators of Africa following in their wake, of endangered species like black rhinos managing to maintain their precarious foothold. But Kenya is also home to the red elephants of Tsavo, to Amboseli elephant families in the shadow of Mt Kilimanjaro and to the massed millions of pink flamingos stepping daintily through lake shallows. Africa is the last great wilderness where these creatures survive. And Kenya is the perfect place to answer Africa’s call of the wild.
The abundance of Kenya’s wildlife owes everything to one of Africa’s most innovative and successful conservation communities. Through some pretty tough love – Kenya pioneered using armed rangers to protect rhinos and elephants – Kenya stopped the emptying of its wilderness and brought its wildlife back from the brink after the poaching holocaust of the 1970s and 1980s. More than that, in places like Laikipia and the Masai Mara, private and community conservancies fuse tourism with community development and wildlife conservation to impressive effect. In other words, if you want your visit to make a difference, you’ve come to the right place.
Via Lonely Planet.