In October 2017, I spent 12 days in Kenya and Tanzania. It was a life-changing adventure and I hope it inspires you to go on one of your own.
1. What was the main reason for going to East Africa?
We were going to see the legendary Great Migration, described as the greatest wildlife show on earth, a cycle that has been going on for thousands of years. The largest movement of animals on the planet where around two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelles cross the crocodile infested Mara River between Kenya and Tanzania seeking greener pastures for fresh grazing and to have their young.
2. When is the best time to see the migration?
You can always see the animals moving between Kenya’s Masai Mara in the north and Tanzania’s Serengeti in the south. Both national parks are unfenced and animals can move freely. Typically, around July the massive herds start to move north, with river crossings between July and October. Usually at its peak by November, when driven by
the rains, the animals make the hazardous return to the Serengeti.
3. How did you get around?
We took a variety of scheduled small domestic flights and drives between camps. Some of the lodges have their own landing strips close by with flights linking them together. After our first flight into the Mara we were greeted by our driver/guides with morning tea, strong Kenyan coffee and freshly made biscuits. Then we had a 4x4 game drive on the way to our luxury camp. Some roads can be can be bumpy, hot and dusty and we had a couple of longer drives. Flying between camps took the edge off what would have been some long more arduous drives.
4. Where did you stay?
We stayed in stunning lodges and luxury tented camps. They hark back to the golden age of safari exploration but with modern day 5-star service, sumptuous accommodation, huge king beds and lavish showers. A favourite of mine was a baroque château perched on the edge of the famous Ngorongoro Crater overlooking
8,000kms of pristine African wilderness.
☆ HOT TIP
After a safari in the wilderness, you’ll welcome a decadent high tea served in The “T”
Lounge at Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi. It’s very refined. Just make sure you remove your khaki stubbies — no shorts here!
5. How long are the flights?
Closer than Europe — flying from Auckland via Australia you can land in Johannesburg in just over 16 hours (and another four hours up to Nairobi). Nairobi has so many top-class hotels and is one of the most cosmopolitan African cities.
6. What was the food like?
Food was fresh and abundant and beautifully prepared. These were luxury camps after all! At one of the camps all meals were in the main dining area which looked out on their own organic gardens. Drinks from the well-stocked bar flowed freely as we lazed around on comfy sofas reading inspiring books from the camp library about the Mara and the Serengeti.
7. What were your highlights?
A hot bath filled with rose petals overlooking the Ngorongoro crater from our private thatched suite after a long day of driving was something I will never forget. A heartwarming welcome song from the staff brought tears to my eyes as we arrived a one incredible camp. Everywhere we went we were met and warmly greeted with fresh coffee and morning tea, or in some cases, Champagne and roses. The game drives were outstanding and by day two we had seen four out of the Big Five!
Africa did not disappoint — Hearing a lion roar and wondering how far away it was, sitting on your balcony watching an elephant silhouetted by the setting sun — everlasting memories.