3 TOP TRAVEL PICKS FOR 2019

We still have 4 months of travel left in 2019, and I wanted to share with you, my top picks for the remainder of the year.

Suspended in mid air

ANGAMA MARA LODGE, MAASAI MARA GAME RESERVE

From your first stay at Angama Mara, it will become your ‘home away from home’. Right from the enthusiastically warm welcome from all the staff when you arrive at Camp (this is a tradition at the Camp), to the wonderfully caring hospitality during your stay, the outstanding cuisine and lovely, spacious tents with unparalleled views of the Mara Triangle below, the Angama Mara experience is outstandingly unique and memorable. Angama takes its name from the Swahili word meaning suspended in mid-air….we take it to mean ‘between heaven and earth’.

In addition to enjoying game drives with your experienced guide in the Mara Triangle below, you can also enjoy guided walks across the plains and in the forest with a Maasai naturalist. A speciality of Angama is their shamba lunch – wander through their one acre kitchen garden, also known as a shamba, pick vegetables of your choice, and enjoy a shamba-to-table lunch, with the vegetables you picked presented as fresh salads and supplemented with loaves of bread, local cheeses and chilled rose wine….all this under the shade of towering moth trees, with panoramic views of the Mara Triangle below.

Visit the Garden of Remembrance and spend a few quiet moment in the chapel, built in the loving memory of the founder, Steve Fitzgerald.

For budding photographers, the Camp has a photography studio on hand, as well as a shop onsite selling some unusual items, including beadwork done by Maasai women on site.

If celebrating an anniversary, the Camp offers intimate picnics for two, on the crest of the kopje which features in the ‘Out of Africa’ movie poster.

OL DONYO LODGE, CHYULU HILLS

Located in the majestic Chyulu Hills, the lodge offers a truly exceptional escape from the mundanity of life. Fly into the airstrip located just minutes from the lodge, and within a short while, you might find yourself in one of the unique features of the lodge – an underground hide located in front of the waterhole. The waterhole is always frequented by game, mostly elephants and you could choose to see them from this vantage point or from the deck of your room, or even while lazing in your plunge pool located on your room deck.

The lodge offers some exciting activities ranging from horseriding on the plains, to exploring the lava tube caves in the hills, guided bush walks, bush meals and day & night game drives in the conservancy. The cuisine at the lodge is top notch (with different settings for each meal) and after a wonderful lunch, refresh yourself by taking a dip in the plunge pool.

You could also choose to spend a romantic night under the stars….!

Last but not least, every room comes equipped with a pair of binoculars and a professional camera body and lens kit for complimentary use. However, if your guide is Jackson Lemunge, be warned….he will not permit you to take photographs on auto mode.

BARAZA RESORT & SPA, ZANZIBAR

For most people, Zanzibar is an exotic destination evoking scents of incense, cloves and other spices. Staying at the Baraza Resort & Spa allows you to enjoy all this, in 5 star accommodations. Located on the south east coast of the island and within an hour’s drive from the airport, and consisting of one and two bedroom villas, the resort offers unparalleled standards of luxury on the island. The experience here is truly 5 star with services and facilities elevated to an extremely professional standard. All villas come complete with their own plunge pools, walk in dressing rooms and a large terrace.

The cuisine here is influenced by Arabic, Indian, Persian, Asian and Swahili flavours, with local spices also used. Using the hotel as a base, you can explore Stone Town and Forodhani Park, Prison Island, spice plantations and Jozani forest among other attractions. Alternatively enjoy the Frangipani Spa with it’s lap pool with underwater music and therapists from Thailand, Bali and India. Or indulge in the vast array of watersport offered at the hotel.

3 TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE RIGHT SAFARI OPERATOR

Choosing the right operator for your African safari can be quite confusing as there are literally thousands of them to choose from. As a participant in the Coursera and North Western University Social Marketing Program , as well as having over 20 years experience in the safari industry as a tour operator, there are 2 articles I suggest you read before making your choice.

The first article is on Wiki How  – How to Choose the Best Safari Operator for your Safari  and it gives you 5 clear and concise tips tips on the criteria you need to use to narrow down your choice of tour operator, including asking the right questions of your operator, and checking their authenticity and reputation.

lion-in-tree

The 2nd article is by Nomadic Matt  – Choosing the Right Tour Company, and although not specific to African tour operators, he shares some very relevant tips on choosing the right tour operator. He addresses the issue of responsible tourism and environmental impact, both of which are a global responsibility today.

In my experience as a tour operator, and drawing on these 2 articles, I have listed 3 critical points to consider when choosing your safari tour operator.

  • Ensure the company you sign up with is actually the company you will be travelling with – this will prevent you from falling for scams
  • Cheapest is not always best – check for hidden costs and costs not included.
  • Check the credentials of the company – most reputable companies are members of their country’s tourism association.

Follow these 3 simple tips to experience a trouble free and great African vacation.

Shaheen Therani is an experienced East African Tour Operator who runs a successful tour company, Wild Destinations. She is currently taking the Social Media Specialization Course from Coursera and North Western University. You can follow her on @WildDestination, https://www.facebook.com/wilddestinationsafrica/ and https://ke.linkedin.com/in/shaheen-therani-32a6b520 .