I came back from Kenya 3 weeks ago, and have been going through over 3,000 pictures, yikes!
That’s what happens when you go to Africa on safari….even non-photographers like me take zillions of pictures because you simply can’t believe what you are seeing.
I traveled with Micato Safaris, a high-end safari company that has been in business over 50 years and has won many, many awards. I generally don’t sing the praises of any supplier when I blog because I like to stay objective and not every company is “one-size-fits-all-clients” anyway. Having said that, the attention and care that Micato extends to anyone who travels with them is incredible. They do a fantastic job of preparing you for your trip as well as building up anticipation and getting clients excited pre-trip.
How? I kept receiving boxes of goodies from them a few weeks before departure, starting with an ‘Out of Africa” DVD with popcorn, followed by a Predator Photo book, a “travelers trove” of necessary items like a Maglite flashlight, field journal, passport/document wallet, and the best was a Marmot rolling duffle! Designed to Micato specs, it will fit all that you need AND meet bush plane weight and size restrictions. I so appreciate their attention to detail!
These thoughtful gifts continue throughout your trip: a handmade wooden box with a necklace inside, silver elephant bottle opener, an African tunic, a Masai beaded neck piece, a beautiful picture frame with a picture of you already inside. There are Micato “concierges” at every stop to take care of anything you might need. This starts right when you land in Nairobi, and a Micato person is there to greet yo and take you through the Diplomat lane at Passport Control, and then to a waiting vehicle with cold towels and water. Forgot your camera at the last camp? No problem. Stuffed too much in your luggage and cant meet the weight requirement? No problem, they have a storage bag for you and will keep your overflow until you need to fly back home. I felt so taken care of, if there were any issues I knew someone would take care of it seamlessly. Totally stress-free. It’s what we like to call “high-touch”. And Micato is the gold-standard of high-touch. Of course, that comes with a cost, but I am a big believer in ‘you get what you pay for’, and do they deliver.
We spent the first day in Nairobi, meeting the American Ambassador to Kenya before continuing on to the Giraffe Rehabilitation Center just outside Nairobi, and then on to Karen Blixen’s house with its view of the Ngong Hills. I loved this, especially after watching the movie again. It has many of her original furnishings, including now-politically incorrect animal rugs with lion and cheetah heads, and Denys Finch Hatton’s travel trunk and the infamous Gramaphone and classical records he brought her. And of course, her German cuckoo clock!
From Nairobi we flew to the Laikipia Plateay area and stayed at Lewa Tented Camp in the Lewa Conservancy, a vast expanse of 65,000 acres that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is an award-winning catalyst and model for community conservation, and features on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Green List of successful protected areas.
Lewa is known for protecting and sustaining the critically endangered Black Rhino and also the Grevy zebra, of which there are only about 2,300 left in the world. Lewa has the largest Grevy population anywhere. It was nice to see several pregnant Grevy zebras while we were there, as well as a young black rhino who was hand- fed by rangers because he was orphaned by his blind mother.
The game viewing was fabulous, even on the drive from the airstrip to the camp–we saw the Big Five (except no leopard) on the way to the camp! Our guide Tom was a super-knowledgeable and personable guide who could also mix a great gin and tonic. The camp itself is small, only 12 tents, and while they have what you need, they are a solid 4-star accommodation, not 5-star luxury. To use a hair dryer, you have to go up to the main lodge and use their dryer in one particular outlet. First World problems.
The food was ok, but the bartender was ON and he made the best Dawa cocktails of the trip!
The game viewing was excellent, we saw lots of rhinos with babies and lots of zebra, including the Grevy’s zebras. We also had a fab breakfast in the bush and a walking safari (with an armed ranger) afterwards……and sundowners one evening on a night t so clear we could see Jupiter and its moons with only binoculars, no telescope necessary.
Here are some pictures from LEWA: