Seeing Spots, Stripes & Trumpets with Conservation Experts
Discover Kenya’s rich wildlife and its diverse cultures with Rupi Mangat, a third generation local and a leading Kenyan travel writer who lives in this tropical paradise on the Equator, the denizen of big game – elephants and rhino; lions, leopards and cheetahs; and mighty raptors that soar the skies.
Glam Girls is absolutely delighted to collaborate with Doni Belau Girls Guide to Paris
More about Doni
Girls’ Guide is an invitation to travel luxuriously with a small group of like-minded women.
We meet as strangers and leave as friends.
Who is Doni Belau? An inveterate traveler, I’ve been to nearly 70 countries (and counting). I come alive when I travel, when I’m exploring, and when I’m seeing, tasting and feeling something new. I love to help other women experience this sensation as I truly feel it helps us see a larger world of possibilities within ourselves. Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond is an invitation to travel with me to explore another part of the world while we explore another part of ourselves.
Before Girls’ Guide, I had a long career in television production, stayed at home when my kids were young (and am grateful for that), then tried to make a difference in the not-for-profit arena and politics. I started a not-for-profit in South Africa helping kids in a Capetown township with HIV – one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
I hail from Nebraska, but I’ve lived most of my adult life in New York. 20 years ago, we bought our first home in France; I’ve been trying to live there full-time ever since. However I’m lucky enough to divide my time between Paris, Bordeaux and New York thanks to a gracious husband.
I’m obsessed with food…gourmet Michelin star level meals to aligot at a street fair. I relish finding that unique place with a chef who really cares what he or she is putting on the plate. Plus, I’ll try anything once. Weirdest foods sampled to date: frogs legs (very good~), escargot & foie gras (duh!), eland and zebra (in Africa), fermented shark (in Iceland – GROSS) and fried grasshoppers (tasty!).
I’ve been a brunette and a blond and blond is better! I try to stay fashion conscious but sometimes I just have to throw on the mom jeans. I believe in the motto “Never act your age!”. Oh, and I’m obsessed with gardens and flowers.
- Luxury Safari in three diverse game parks
- Seeing Africa’s big game in the wild, it’s a lot different than the zoo!
- Study Wildlife with three important female biologist and conservationists
- Stay in two unique tented camps, one which is frequented by Elephants
- Visit a unique African village started by women as a sanctuary for homeless women and abuse survivors
- See the Samburu 5, rare endemic animals only found in this particular arid ecosystem.
- Stay in a historic Nairobi hotel where Teddy Roosevelt once slept
- Meet and learn from the founder about Beads for Education, an organization helping Maasai girls get an education
- Have a cocktail on a roof-deck with a panorama of marshlands and Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro
- Visit with the local Maasai and Samburu tribes in their villages
- Indulge in mouth-watering international as well as local cuisine
Imagine waking up every day to a saffron sun rising over the savannah plains teeming with wildlife. Kenya’s tapestry of sweeping grasslands, arid plains and lush swamps with snow-topped mountains is home to spectacular life. Contemplate watching elephants under the gaze of the snow-capped Kilimanjaro and ending the day with a game drive to catch the ‘golden light’. This specially curated safari is for you to be awed by Africa’s big game as well as dynamic scientists – all women – who have pioneered research projects that give you a front seat view of African life in the 21st century with the hope of survival thanks to scientists and people who have dedicated their lives to it.
All camps are luxurious with en suite baths and toilets, spas, swimming pools and gourmet meals.
More on our Host, Rupi Mangat
Rupi is a travel writer with a particular concentration on wildlife conservation and sustainability. She is 3rd generation Kenyan who has been on safari countless times since she started writing professionally in 1998. She works with the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya as the editor of Komba, the magazine to promote wildlife conservation amongst schoolchildren. With her strong connections with conservation organizations like Beads for Education, Grevy’s Zebra Trust and the Mara Meru Cheetah Project which are not-for-profits we’ll be spoiled with the opportunity of meeting with the leaders of these key groups giving you an insiders view of their amazing and often challenging world.
Day 1 – November 6, Saturday
Fly into Nairobi the capital city of Kenya. You’ll be met at the airport by our representative who will guide you through arrival. You’ll then be driven by your driver-guide to your hotel, the Norfolk.
The Norfolk is Nairobi’s first ‘modern’ hotel which opened on Christmas day 1904. (The opening party was interrupted by an elephant that had to be chased away). There’s a lot of history packed into the Norfolk for you to discover. Theodore Roosevelt stayed here before heading out on what was in those days a shooting safari.
The day is at leisure. The Norfolk is a few minutes’ walk to the central business district. Nairobi is a fast-paced city. The core of the city-center boasts early colonial architecture and modern high-rise towers.
You can pop into the Nairobi National Museum that boasts galleries dedicated to prehistory, ornithology, ethnography and the making of modern Kenya including a snake park on the grounds. A guided walking tour can be arranged if you want to see city life or the museum.
Otherwise, relax in the tropical garden at the Norfolk, or spoil yourself at the Pambo spa. The Norfolk boasts fine restaurants including the Lord Delamere Terrace restaurant where you can watch local ‘Nairobians’ pass by. The terrace looks out at the University of Nairobi main campus and the Kenya National Theatre.
We’ll meet for cocktails and dinner in the evening at 7 p.m. at the Lord Delamere Terrace Restaurant (not included in price) with lively chats about your exciting safari before calling it a night.
Hotel: The Fairmont Norfolk
Day 2 – November 7, Sunday
Today the adventure begins. It’s an early start to the day. After a hearty breakfast we’ll fly to Amboseli National Park 250 kms southeast of Nairobi, under the Snows of Kilimanjaro. It’s a 45-minute flight over Karen Blixen’s (Out of Africa) famed Ngong Hills and Nairobi National Park, the only wildlife park in a capital city that today it is still home to black rhinos, the big cats and more.
We’ll be collected from the airstrip and driven to Ol Tukai Lodge at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Amboseli with a game drive en route in our custom-made safari cruisers driven by expert driver/guides.
The 392-square-kilometer Amboseli sits on the border with Tanzania where Kilimanjaro looms. The park is spectacular for its wildlife and tapestry of grassland, forest and swamps fed by the snows of Kilimanjaro which at 19,340 feet is the roof of Africa. Amboseli comes from the Maasai word ‘empusal’ meaning salty dust because of the dry lake bed from where plumes of dust rises.
By now it’s lunch time.
Enjoy your gourmet lunch buffet under the gaze of Kilimanjaro and in the company of elephants that linger in the wetland.
Amboseli is home to the longest studied elephant population in the wild, a research pioneered in 1972 by Dr Cynthia Moss of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. All the elephants in the park are known to the research team with files on individuals dating from the first elephants in the study dating back nearly 50 years.
This pm we’ll leave for an afternoon game drive in search of big game like lions and elephants plus we’ll enjoy the rich birdlife with a short climb up the ancient hill to have a sweeping view the vast Amboseli lands before returning to camp at sunset.
At 7.30 p.m. we’ll meet for a cocktail at the bar and then dine on delicious foods with Kilimanjaro in a blanket of darkness. We’ll exchange the day’s highlights and later be entertained by the local Maasai performing traditional dances with their signature high leaps and throaty chants celebrating love, lion hunts, war and happiness. You may want to join in.
The Maasai have co-existed for many years with African wildlife because both the wildlife and the large herds of cattle owned by the Masai need wide spaces to survive.
Day 3 – November 8, Monday
It’s an early start to the day at 6 a.m. Wake up calls can be arranged.
Enjoy a cuppa coffee or tea and biscuits before you set out for an early morning game drive at 6.30 a.m. This is the best time to enjoy wildlife as well as late afternoons before the sun goes down. It’s the time when the animals are most active before the sun becomes too hot for them and lethargy sets in. The lionesses would rather hunt when it’s cooler but being opportunistic the hunt is on if the quarry is easy. Lions do not have sweat glands and you’ll hear them panting a lot.
By 9 a.m. we’ll be back at the lodge for breakfast.
Take time to relax, swim, read a book and enjoy the grounds.
Later we’ll be joined by Debby Rooney, the founder of Beads for Education, an amazing project which has transformed the lives of Maasai girls using the powerful tool of education. Maasai girls in rural areas are still married off at just 13 years of age. But in modern times, change is coming and Maasai women and girls are embracing it with empowering projects such as Beads for Education.
After an early lunch, Debby will accompany us to the village stopping for a game drive through the park. She works closely with Cynthia Moss and knows almost all the elephants in the park.
You’ll meet local Maasai women and girls and learn about their culture, lives and the transformation that they want to see realized.
We’ll return to the lodge by 6.30 p.m.
Take some time to refresh with a cold beer at the bar or a cool shower.
7.30 p.m. We’ll meet for another gourmet feast while entertained by the local Maasai or with a talk on amazing Amboseli by the resident naturalist before retiring to bed. Having a nightcap by the fire pit is a nice way to end the day.
Day 4 – November 9. Tuesday
After breakfast we’ll depart to the airstrip for a 90-minute flight to Samburu National Reserve in the arid lands, north of the equator with a short stopover in Nairobi.
Have your cameras ready. If it’s clear you will see Mount Kenya on the equator. This volcanic mountain at 17,057 feet (5,199 meters) is Kenya’s tallest. When the first explorers reported of the snow-capped mountains on and near the equator, they were ridiculed – for who had ever heard of snow on the equator?
Samburu is the land of the Samburu Special, wildlife only found north of the equator and adapted to life in the arid lands such as: the Reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, Beisa oryx, gerenuk and Somali ostrich. These species have adapted to life without water, surviving just on morning dew. The life-lung of the land is the Ewaso Nyiro River that is to this region what the Nile is to Egypt.
On arrival at Samburu National Reserve we’ll be transferred from the airstrip to the camp with a game drive en route before checking in and enjoying a leisurely lunch by the River.
At 3.30 p.m. we’ll embark on another exciting game drive through the arid bush and the lush oasis by the river. Look out for leopard, lions, elephants and raptors before returning to camp at sunset.
We’ll be back just in time for cocktails by the campfire before a sumptuous dinner freshly prepared under the stars of the northern hemisphere. If you’re a star gazer, this is the perfect spot close to the equator to see the constellations straddling the two hemispheres.
We will be entertained by local Samburu dancers with the songs and dances of their ancestors.
The Samburu like the Maasai belong to the Nilotic ethnic group that came into present day Kenya from the north along the Nile some five centuries ago. Interestingly, in addition, the Samburu believe that they hail from Venus the planet.
Enjoy your evening and a good night’s sleep in your luxurious tent.
Hotel: Elephant Bedroom Tented Camp
Day 5 – November 10, Wednesday
Another glorious morning in Africa. Rise and shine for an early morning game drive at 6.15 after a cuppa. The landscape is surreal with mountains and rocky insets.
Return for breakfast by 9 a.m.
After breakfast we’ll visit Umoja, a Samburu village started by women for women. It’s an amazing story of the resilience of women against all odds.
Return to camp by lunch.
We’ll be joined by Sheila Funnell or Belinda Mackay of Grevy’s Zebra Trust who pioneered research of the rare equid, the Grevy’s zebra (named after the French president from the 1800’s because Frenchman first described this imperial zebra). She will speak about the project and then join us for a game drive. Before the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, these rare zebra were poached for their skin and meat. Today, the zebra are seen as an asset for the Samburu women, warriors, elders and the children who are now all involved in zebra conservation.
Return for a starlit dinner followed by a night cap by the campfire and finally to a peaceful slumber in your ‘tent’.
Hotel: Elephant Bedroom Tented Camp
Day 6 – November 11, Thursday
After a 90-minute flight from Samburu via Nairobi, we’ll land in the Maasai Mara, after flying over the Great Rift Valley. It’s the planet’s longest valley on land stretching 6,000km from Lebanon in the Middle East to Mozambique in South-eastern Africa, and best seen in Kenya. The flight then enters the savanna grassland in the mighty Mara that is home to the Big 5 – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard (and cheetah). This is lion country famous for its black manned lions and it’s possible to see all the three big cats – lion, leopard and cheetah – in a day.
We’ll be collected from the airstrip and driven to the glam canvas camp with a short game drive en route. After check-in, relax and enjoy an exquisite lunch before leaving for the afternoon game drive at 3.30 p.m. to return at sunset to the camp.
Take a few minutes to refresh before we meet for cocktails on your first night in the Mara, dubbed one of the seven natural wonders of the modern world.
Dinner will be under the stars with lots of lively exchanges and talks with the resident naturalist about the wonders of the Mara.
Finally it’s lala salama, ‘a peaceful sleep’ in Kiswahili.
Day 7 – November 12, Friday
Leave for a morning game drive at 6.15 after a cuppa tea/coffee. It’s the best time for a game drive with more chances of seeing the big cats in the cool of the day.
You may wish to treat yourself to a thrilling balloon safari at sunrise with a champagne breakfast on landing. It’s a novel way of game watching catching an eagle’s eye view of the land and life below. NOTE: Extra charge of $400 USD.
The rest will return for breakfast at 9 a.m.
The morning is at leisure with an invited guest – Dr Elena Chelysheva of the Mara-Meru Cheetah project. She will give some fascinating insights into the spotted cat whose global population in the wild is less than 10,000 today compared to 100,000 a century ago. Kenya is a stronghold for these cats.
After lunch, Dr Chelysheva will accompany us on the afternoon game drive and introduce us to some of the cheetahs she knows identified by their whisker and spot patterns. This is your introduction to becoming a citizen scientist.
We’ll return to camp for sundowners and dinner with entertainment by Maasai dancers on your last night in the African bush.
OVERNIGHT: Masai Mara Ngenche Safari Camp
Day 8 – November 13, Saturday
This is your day to wake up later and enjoy a leisurely breakfast at 8 a.m.
At 10 a.m. we’ll leave for the day for a game drive to the mighty Mara River which gives life to the park. It’s wide berth and flowing waters have been home to generations of the river horse aka the hippo. We will be at the western extreme of the reserve overlooking the Siria escarpment.
You’ll be treated to a ‘bush’ lunch with a giraffe or a harem of antelopes ambling by, don’t worry we’ll stay away from the lions and buffaloes.
Lunch will be followed by a leisurely game drive back to camp with a stop at the Serengeti (Tanzania) and Mara (Kenya) border giving you an opportunity to have a photograph with a foot in two countries and two of the world’s most iconic wilderness parks.
Tonight, we’ll celebrate with Maasai dancers toasting to the lasting memories we’ve made, the mighty animals we’ve seen, the experts we’ve met and the friendships we’ve started. Dinner in the African bush under the stars with candles flickering will be our special send-off meal.
OVERNIGHT: Masai Mara Ngenche Safari Camp
Day 9 – November 14, Sunday
After a leisurely breakfast in the Mara, we’ll fly back to Nairobi to arrive by midday and head to the *Four Points at Sheraton at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for your return flights the next day or that night. There will be a lot of memories to take back home after your amazing African safari with new friends met.
But as Karen Blixen said: “If there were one more thing I could do, it would be to go on safari once again.”
You will be welcomed back.
Ms. Mangat reserves the right to alter the itinerary based on weather, availability as well as exciting opportunities that might crop up!
Alternate hotel in the Mara, Sand River Mara
Not to worry – Vegetarians will be well fed in all camps as well as those on wheat intolerant diet or others. Just let us know in advance.
Trip Cost: USD$8,500*
* All our trips are organized and priced based on single occupancy at all the places we stay. If you’re traveling with a friend/relative, or would prefer to save some money by sharing a room, we can usually organize double occupancy and a reduction in cost.
** You have an option at the Four Points at Sheraton at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport hotel. Because you might be flying back that evening you can book your room as a day room or for the whole night depending on when your flights are. For this reason we didn’t include this night in our overall price. The hotel will transfer you to the airport terminal. Prices range from $128 – $171 and include a transfer to the airport. Lunch or dinner at the buffet at the hotel is around $30.
- Everything stated in itinerary above including all meals plus beer or wine with dinner, except dinner on the first night in Nairobi as people will be arriving at different times.
- All guides, experts and entry fees and all transport including transfers to and from the airport on safari.
What’s Not Included?
- Roundtrip airfare to Kenya
- Any additional spa treatments desired beyond what is described
- Last day accommodation at Nairobi Airport hotel
- Any personal souvenirs or purchases
- Additional wine, beer or spirits beyond what is offered at meals
- Travel insurance (very highly recommended) and trip medical coverage (required for travelers over 50 years of age).
- Tips for the driver-guides and lodging staff.
I’m interested, so what do I do next?
If it’s a Go! after your call, we’ll bill you for 25% of the trip’s cost (less the $250 deposit you already paid) and your place is reserved. This is non-refundable; you’re committed to the trip. The balance is due approximately 2 months before the trip.