So, I want to start by putting out a disclaimer, I do not come from the type of Zulu family that considers a Safari a holiday. I’m not sure what I could trace this back to, but both my parent’s individually and as co-parents would have never (once we could afford it) taken us on a Safari holiday… now that that’s out of the way I’d also like to explain to you why until I was in my mid-twenties a Safari holiday has never been appealing to me. I may also explain why I was so wrong (Yes, I admit to being wrong now and then…so you should grab the popcorn!).
Insert all the verbiage you can imagine about growing up in apartheid South Africa….not in exile..in actual South Africa… Holidays were a luxury etc. I could not think of anything less deserving of my time then going to watch animals roam about. Going on holiday was a privilege…One not to be wasted on ..animals…*insert all of the eye rolls*. To this effect I remember getting in to United World College and sitting in our computer lab at Pietermaritzburg Girls High (Good old GHS)… and one of my soon to be classmates asking me about the lions I surely must keep as pets… Yes, I went along with it…I actually had her convinced that I had two lions as pets and one had actually bitten one of my uncle’s hand off so we had to put him down. Please forgive me Aparna.hahaha. To think you went to an Ivy league school after me being able to convince you of such. Why were people so obsessed with these damn animals!?!?! I think I’d seen a lion when we went to the Durban Zoo in primary school once…but I was more interested in the birds and glanced at the “wild animals” on display…
Fast forward, a decade later living in East Africa when all my colleagues kept pushing me to go on Safari…I finally gave in! I had friends coming to visit and what kind of host would I be if I never actually went to these supposed amazing places!
So I blame my ignorance on youth and generally being a poor student who actually couldn’t afford to go to a Kruger or even a B class safari experience. I’ll spare you my terror at taking a 8 person helicopter from Nairobi to the Mara. Really, there are worse stories to be fair…and there are better stories that don’t end with me wanting to hurl my guts!
The Maasai Mara is a treat. It is everything I didn’t realise I needed from a vacation / a Safari. One of my uni besties was down for a visit from New York and ofcourse Kenya had to pull out all of the stops to ensure she had a good time. Fast forward 6 months later and one of my other besties from South Africa came to visit, again, The Mara did not disappoint. Both times we spent about 3 days at the Mara and both at my absolute favourite place – Angama Mara.
Owned by two South Africans, Angama Mara is a slice of heaven. Each meal, villa and activity is tailored to exactly your taste. From 24-hour service to a Michelin star chef preparing all your meals. From majestic views that give the lion king a run for its money to breath-taking wildlife seen from your own private land rover…from sunrise balloon rides to your own private picnics made by said Michelin star chef. I have honestly never been in such awe; and then they rolled out the massages at your own villa overlooking the expansive Mara. I saw my first migration at the Mara..I also saw a giraffe giving birth(this was less majestic and just awkward – did you know they give birth standing up?). Every time I’ve gone it has been sparsely lodged; to be fair at that price range I doubt Angama Mara is a place we can all just YOLO to without saving up. The lap of luxury chose me guys!!!
There are obviously cheaper options than the Maasai Mara and way CHEAPER options than Angama Mara. I can’t recommend a safari break enough. There is such a serenity and peace that comes with being one with nature as our ancestors once were. What I particularly loved about being a Kenyan resident was the fact that the Kenyan Government really encouraged their residents to go to National Parks etc by having both local resident and international prices; this way there’s a discount for all locals and you actually get to enjoy some of the wonders of your own country at a fraction of the price. South African tourism can learn a thing or two from them!
I literally cannot say enough good things about taking some time off and going to connect with nature!
Hit me up for more specific tips! Here’s the first one free – save up!!! Safari’s do not come cheap! Also bring a friend! So thankful that I got some downtime with my besties Zee and Anna over those few days to just unplug and relax!
What have been some of your favourite off-the beaten track Bush adventures? And we won’t get started on the Beach vs. Bush debate – we could be here the whole day! And I personally believe in balance so a bit of both never hurt anyone!