Outside GO's Trip Designer Shares the Magic of Safari in Kenya
Outside GO's Trip Designer Shares the Magic of Safari in Kenya
Our resident Antarctica expert, Laura Gerwin, is no stranger to Africa—especially after spending time at some of our favorite Outside GO camps in Kenya.
As my red-eye jet-plane blasted off from New Mexico, visions of elephants, zebras, rhinos, and vast open plains roamed in my dreams. I was on my way to Kenya for my first safari with Outside GO.
I’ve traveled all over the world, but I am the newest trip designer at Outside GO and had never experienced Africa. My team wanted me to see this adventure first-hand so that I have “boots-on-the-ground” knowledge to share with our clients, ensuring that you have the perfect safari. So just like that I was off on a whirlwind journey to explore some of the very best camps in all of Africa.
I arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 2:30 in the afternoon, breezed through customs, and was greeted with a smile from my guide in an open-air Land Cruiser. From there, I was on my way to my home for the night in Nairobi National Park. 20 minutes later I really couldn’t believe my tired eyes! There were zebras prancing and playing right there in front of me. The African sun and warm breeze tickled my jet-lagged skin as I stood up out of the open roof and tried to make myself as tall as the giraffe in front of me. I knew I wasn’t dreaming. This was going to be one of the very best adventures of my life!
"The African sun and warm breeze tickled my jet-lagged skin as I stood up out of the open roof and tried to make myself as tall as the giraffe in front of me."
I arrived at the luxurious Emakoko, hidden within Nairobi National Park, and had a glorious bath complete with glimpses of baboons in the trees and a hippo near the pool. Afterward, I met my three traveling companions for the week—other trip designers from around the states. We had the very best Dawa (a Kenyan cocktail made with honey, lime, ginger, and vodka) in all of Kenya as we laughed and chatted like we were old friends.
The next morning, as our low-flying bush plane soared out of the city above the plains and onwards into the wilderness, I was glued to the window with a birds-eye-view of herds of wildebeest and untouched land. I was giddy with glee. We glided onto the dirt runway and were soon seated on pillow-top benches on another open-air Land Cruiser for a game drive to paradise with a 360 degree view. Flip-flops perched on the roof we bounced along, stopping every now and then to gawk at the herds of zebras enjoying the mud holes, giraffes frolicking among the tree tops, and lion cubs rolling around in the tall grasses beneath the setting sun. Sipping sundowners, dancing and singing under the stars well into the night, I smiled in delight at my first safari experience.
"Flip-flops perched on the roof we bounced along, stopping every now and then to gawk at the herds of zebras enjoying the mud holes, giraffes frolicking among the tree tops, and lion cubs rolling around in the tall grasses beneath the setting sun."
Our next several days were filled with laughter, watching wildlife, and interacting with a culture that lives in another world, telling time by the sun and days by the moon as we moved from camp to camp (including GO favorites: Lewa House and Ol Malo). We kayaked in small lakes with families of elephants grazing at the shores. We hiked through the forest on a suspension bridge above the trees and plunged into turquoise pools beneath waterfalls, listening to the sounds of the jungle. We bottle fed giraffes, zebras, and other orphaned animals, learning how their keepers teach them how to live in the wild so they can return them to their animal families. We experienced the courtship dance of Maasai warriors at a very small manyatta, a village unchanged by time made up of small igloo-shaped huts, warmed and lit by fire.
Six days into the trip while staying at Sarara Camp, we had the opportunity to experience the staggering Matthews Range. I felt like I was deep into Africa. Relaxing in the heat of the afternoon with our feet in the pool, I was mesmerized and amazed as one by one elephants joined us. Across the pool, dozens of them had their snorkels in the water for an afternoon thirst quencher. It took my breath away. I was right there, front and center, feet from a herd of wild elephants, with giraffes in the background surrounded by red rocks. This was Africa!
"Relaxing in the heat of the afternoon with our feet in the pool, I was mesmerized and amazed as one by one elephants joined us."
The next morning, we slowly wandered from well to well with the Samburu warriors as they echoed the sounds of drums in song to their cows and goats, calling to the livestock that it was their turn to have a drink of water from the wells. It felt as though the ground was vibrating to the pulse of the planet with the deep hum coming from within the wells and the souls of the Samburu people and the livestock moving in a happy organized fashion to their drinking trough. It was one of the most sacred moments I’ve ever experienced.
That afternoon I sat with women from the nearby village, watching orphaned elephants at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary roll in the dirt with their friends. The women and I didn't share a language, but sitting on the ground beading, laughing, and pointing, we shared lovely speechless moments and expressed similarities via facial expressions (and a little help from the photographs we found in an Oprah magazine). The elephants came back that afternoon to join us for happy hour before we fell asleep listening to the sounds of Africa in the night.
"It was one of the most sacred moments I’ve ever experienced."
After a grand finale in the Maasai Mara at Tangulia Mara and Mara Expedition camps, connecting with the culture and entranced by the wildlife, there was nothing I could do but smile. I had sat in the sun with the Big 5, peered upon a cheetah as it was on the prowl, listened to the roar of a lion and the trumpet of an elephant while enjoying luxurious, eco-friendly camps, and dined on delicious farm-to-table food with my new friends. I fell in love with Kenya and the experience of safari, and now I know for sure—this is Africa with Outside GO!
Are you ready to experience Africa and share your safari story? Get in touch with Laura directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, fill out the form below, or simply give us a ring at 1.888.870.0903.
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Laura's Kenya Trip Report
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