Absolute Travel’s Brooke Garnett spent 15 days exploring Kenya and Tanzania, so maybe you have an idea about the wildlife that stopped her in her tracks. You’d probably guess she’d gush over the moment she locked eyes with a curious chimp who peered out at her from Mahale’s lush jungle, or the family of giraffes taking off for the mountains that she hovered over during an epic heli-safari. She wrote home about both, but who really stole the show were three unexpected residents who we just can’t stop talking about. We’ll introduce you…
Firstly, meet Big Bird, and his footage of quite possibly the world’s best selfie that’s gone viral! Feel great knowing that through our CLICK FOR CONSERVATION campaign, every time someone watches the video, we will donate for conservation.
Who: Big Bird
What: Great White Pelican
Where: Greystoke Mahale, Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania
His Backstory: Big Bird washed ashore on Lake Tanganyika three months ago. The folks at Greystoke Mahale took him under their wing and taught him how to fly again. It’s as if he is one of their own. They fish for him, snuggle with him, and even simulate they flying lessons his pelican family would have provided by running down the beach and flapping their arms. He even has some sass (he stole Brooke’s bikini and flip flops and knows to snap his his beak to get the attention of female guests).
What: African Elephant
Where: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), Nairobi National Park, Kenya
Her Backstory: Teeny Kamok was found when she was just one day old and was brought to DSWT, an organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and reintroduction of orphaned elephants and rhinos into the wild. Brooke noted, “Kamok had recently learned to control her once wayward trunk, and couldn’t get enough of showing it off and poking me with it! Precious doesn’t cut it…she’s in a league of her own.” Trained locals known as “Elephant Keepers” play a critical role in Kamok’s, and the other resident elephants’, survival by filling in for their natural parents, most of whom have been killed in the poaching crisis. Keepers provide around-the-clock care, including sleeping in a lofted bed in the elephant’s stall, to take care of practical needs like bottle-feeding but also to provide a much-needed emotional connection for these sensitive intelligent creatures. We’re proud to give elephants a voice by supporting partners like DSWT and the S.A.F.E Campaign.
Who: Mangoo Choo
Where: Chem Chem Safari Lodge, Tanzania
Her Backstory: Luxury safari lodge owners, Nicolas Negre (former hunter turned conservationist) and Fabia Bausch (a Swiss businesswoman) were focused on high-end safaris and wildlife conservation when they founded Chem Chem and Little Chem Chem. For starters, they chose land that was previously a hunting concession bordering Tarangire National Park, which they flipped to a private reserve. They got rid of the hunting, replacing shooting with shooting photos on safari, incorporated meaningful Maasai guides into the experience, and shifted the focus from not only the expected wildlife, but also other players like the spectacular birding in the area. Little did they know that one four-legged local, smaller than a squirrel, would be the talk of the camp. When they found Mangoo Choo she could easily fit in Fabia’s breast pocket with lots of wiggle room (anyone who has met her knows this would be a designer perfectly-tailored shirt pocket!). This fist-sized wild one moved herself in and quickly became a irresistible feature in Chem Chem’s already undeniable style and charm. Mangoo Choo rules the roost. Early birds note that she is not a morning mongoose (she will not be joining you for sunrise balloon rides…she can barely make it to breakfast).
See more pictures of these legends and others on Absolute Travel’s Facebook page, and get in touch with one of our luxury travel specialists to plan your own private custom journey.
Absolute Travel is an award-winning luxury travel company that creates private luxury journeys in Asia, Africa, South Pacific, Latin America, Middle East and India & the Himalayas. Absolute Travel’s team of luxury travel specialists’ in-depth knowledge, insider access, unsurpassed service, on-the-ground spontaneity, and passion for sharing the best of what the world has to offer result in once-in-a-lifetime journeys that have inspired travelers for decades. In 2013 Travel + Leisure readers and travelers named Absolute Travel the #1 World’s Best Tour Operator, earning the high-end travel company the ultimate accolade.