Safari Please!

Spotted..Not giving a care about us!

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!).

Don’t mind me – future so bright I had to look away…Seriously though – I cannot get over the beauty!

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…

Taking it all in, even the Giraffe weirdly giving birth..which almost made us miss our 4 person flight!

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. 

Architecture to die for!!!

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!!!

Have you seen anything prettier!!!! These views are literally to die for!

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!

When besties come to visit!!!
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Your Ultimate East Africa Beach Guide

And now for my final..and favourite East African beaches! Last and certainly not least…wait for it…wait for it… Part 3!

It is customary to save the best for last, so here we go!

It pains me to write about my last but also favourite beach spots in East Africa…You know when you have a juicy secret and you kind of want to share it but at the same time you know you shouldn’t? This is how I feel. Next thing, everyone is flocking to my favourite beach and it becomes less and less special every single time I go because I see all of you there ALL THE TIME?!?! Let me try and not be selfish.  Where do I even start!

Sunset’s hit different in Lamu

My favourite beach towns in East Africa and Kenya are…In no particular order, but if you follow me on IG (beeinrsa) you will know the exact order:

  1. Lamu
  2. Kilifi
  3. Watamu
  4. Diani

Nestled an hour away by flight from Nairobi you will honestly experience some of the best beaches in the world. Crystal clear water, white sands, ridiculously good Swahili food, the friendliest of people and never-ending sunshine. I’m not making this up, but all 4 of the above beaches have made me feel like I’ve died and actually ended up in Heaven.  The first time I landed in Lamu and I had to take a water “uber” to get to the actual Island I knew that is where I wanted to get married! No boyfriend, no ring, but I was like…One day is one day Lamu (Update two my favourite people got married in Lamu last week and it was MAGICAL)!

Business Class Uber

The area is breath-taking! It is the perfect balance of old coast culture and architecture and modern day ..nothing. You feel like you’ve been thrown into this beautiful time capsule where everything has stood still and you are just a silent observer of people going about their days and lives. From early morning Dhow rides and feasting on Captain I’ll Be Back’s mum’s fish samosas to spending hours at the dinner table gorging on Swahili delicacies and all the Mandazis you can eat.  Lamu is nothing short of magical. It’s the kind of place where you can consume 10 glasses of G&T in a day and not be hungover the next day (and yes this is a proven fact; I attempt to disprove it every single time I go).  The Wi-Fi signal is crap in most houses you go to which adds to the allure of the beach life; unplugging and simply being. There’s arts and crafts, there’s yoga, there’s mangroves and there’s secluded beach bars! It even has a floating bar (A very recent and treasured addition). I really don’t want to say more about the Island for fear of ruining it or spurring you on to see it faster…Useful Hint: like most other beaches in Kenya, the house option is the best option. Hotels are a thing of the past and are limited. They are also extremely expensive. And yes give me a shout, I am happy to give you all of the suggestions on houses to stay at and activities to do and guides to show you the lay of the land. The one thing that is for sure is that Lamu emotionally moves you. I don’t know anyone who’s been to Lamu and not felt some sort of spiritual alignment with themselves.

Watamu and Diana are also very different…Whilst Lamu has an old-world charm mixed in with some strong Arabic influences, these two have the strangest Italian influence. Rumour is this started when Italy had a major crackdown on the mafia and Italian families started emigrating to you guessed it, Kenya! Lo and behold Trump’s favourite, Chain migration started! You spend your days lounging by the beach or a pool and having fresh gelato from one of the million Italian gelato shops! It is truly blissful.  The food is amazing, the people are the friendliest and everyone is extremely content. Again, houses before hotels..book yourself a boat ride on the creek..go snorkeling in Diana…Go tubing in Kilifi…Go skydiving in Diana (I have done this about 4 times now) and try not have a heart attack at how perfect everything is.

A G&T a day

 I really cannot be too prescriptive about these beach destinations…I am however open to answering any and all questions on budgeting for trips, my favourite houses / hotels, my favourite foods, what holiday and beachwear to bring, cultural norms (please do cover up in Lamu as it is a very Muslim town when you leave Shela) and even when is the best time to take this trip! Questions? Comments? Drop me a line on here or on my IG! Slide into my DMs and make your dream holiday a reality!