A fantastic family adventure in July 2014. With two nights in Nairobi, where we spent time at the National Museums, Karen Blixen's house and the infamous David Sheldrick's elephant orphanage.
This was followed by a once in a lifetime night at Giraffe Manor.
3 nights at one of the wildest and family friendly camps I have ever visited in Laikipia, a further 3 nights in the Masai Mara, and to end a trip of a lifetime 5 nights in the pristine coastal town of Malindi. Carlsberg doesn't do family holiday's but fortunately safari365 do.
Giraffe Manor is a beautiful colonial manor house, on the outskirts of Nairobi. Now an exclusive hotel. It also is home to the giraffe centre, where conservation work and information of the endangered Rothschild Giraffe is shared in an informative and expert way. There are a few nature trails also here.
The highlight, as the name suggests, are the habituated giraffe. They are semi wild, but know afternoons and mornings the manor will provide specialised food. This equates to about no more than about 10% of their daily diet, so does not drive dependancy. Whilst at Giraffe Manor, almost any thing that is needed - drinks, cakes, snacks are provided by the excellent staff. The magic happens at high tea on the lawn, when if you are lucky the opportunity to feed, and even have a hug with these incredible gentle giants may happen. We were fortunate to be staying in the Blixen suite, which was an outstanding room with upstairs for the children, and a roaring fire in the living room.
a la carte dining in the garden at night was followed by the breakfast of a life time. This is where you need to ensure you plan NOT to leave before 8:30. the images just speak for themselves.
After hugs and kisses with some wonderful giraffe, we headed North. Passing many local markets, the huge Del Monte Pineapple plantations and stopping off at Nanyuki we crossed the equator, and headed North Wast to Laikipia. A concession that is home of some of Africa's unique or rare species. The Grevy's Zebra, and Reticulated Giraffe to name a few
Laikipia Wilderness Camp
Run by Annabelle and Steve Carey, who themselves have small children, know exactly how to do bush with families. A rustic unfenced camp on a rocky outlet, and a handful of staff will ensure that you get the most of everything they have to offer. From bush walks, game drives, fishing, and canoeing to climbing rocky kopjies and tracking wild dog, this camp has it all. If the weather is good a nights fly camping is also offered.
The boys who never fished before were taught how to cast and fish, and managed to get a nice healthy catch of six fish for dinner that night.
long drives were broken up with short walks and activities, like finding the spear head material - obsidian, or turning rocks (carefully) to fins scorpions and millipedes.
Lunch was served in a different location in the bush daily, with amazing afternoon tea and cakes. They boys even wanted a mud fight in the river and our ranger happily obliged. I really cannot testify to just how awesome Laikipia Wilderness Camp is.
The final day we found the wild dogs, a huge pack of 24 and witnessed their behaviour on foot, before losing them to a hunt.
The Masai Mara
Vast open plains, an over abundance of wildlife, predators. The Masai Mara is exactly what you would expect. Maybe a little touristy compared to many of the private reserves and concessions with mini buses running across the plains. That said is my only criticism of the Mara.
July was fantastic with warm dry days, and the migratory herds of wildebeest and zebra everywhere. We even managed to catch a crossing of several thousand wildebeest at the Mara River. Plenty of cheetah and lion sightings along with elephants, giraffe, hippo and crocodile.
A beautiful moment with black backed jackals and hyena cubs made for a great memory and photo op.
The Ilkeliani Camp is a great spot although just outside the reserve, it has it's own bridge saving time entering the reserve and ensuring you get the first and last of the sightings. One late afternoon we came across an amazing black rhino in the open, and no one was stopping - our guide explained they all need to leave before sun down, but we had the time on our side.
Food, and staff were awesome, although Ethan lost 3 cows betting on football results with one of the waiters.! lesson learnt.
Five nights in Malindi, at the Diamonds Dream of Africa hotel. A two hour flight direct from the Mara, we were met with warm easterly breeze where the Indian Ocean meets the African Coast.
A fantastic hotel, all inclusive and amazing and varied meals. A different theme each night with a mix of A La Carte, buffet and grills. The private beach was welcoming as was the pool area.
The toll of decline in tourism caused partly by fear of terrorist attacks in very specific areas, and Ebola (although Madrid is closer than Malindi to the affected areas) was apparent. The hotel empty and the beaches deserted. in fact the week we were there, there was no more than 12 guests in the whole hotel.
That said it felt like our own private peace of heaven with fresh coconuts straight from the trees, warm waters of both pools and beaches.
Malindi is home to the Gedi ruins, a fabulous 14th-16th century Arabic influenced town and makes for a great visit. Additionally a walk in the Sokoke Rain Forest we caught glimpses of the rarer forest elephant, the smallest antelope in the world (no bigger than a large rabbit) and a pair of golden rumped elephant shrews.
A great way to end a fantastic adventure.
Additional information and resource
Safari365: Based on the ground in Africa, they are experts creating luxury African safari and adventure travel experiences. They tailored this trip and managed all the bookings and logistics, including transfers, internal flights accommodation perfectly for us.
Go to the Galleries page to view all the images from this amazing country
Also the e-book "Ethan and Brett do Kenya" is available from the iBookstore for iPad and iMac devices at no cost.