4 New Yorkers Adventure into East Africa

  • Jambo! Last month, I visited Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique with my co-worker (and childhood friend), Brooke Garnett, and two of our closest NYC buddies. What unfolded during our three-week adventure was beyond our wildest expectations. There is just something about Africa that seems to leave virtually every visitor in awe–it certainly had that effect on us.
  • Baby elephants stole the show as we began our journey in East Africa at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's orphaned elephant nursery in Nairobi National Park. DSWT is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and reintroduction into the wild of orphaned elephants and rhinos. Our visit was the perfect start to our trip. Since we couldn't take them with us, each of us pledged to sponsor our favorite elephant as a way to keep in touch and support this incredible organization.
  • Trained locals known as "Elephant Keepers" play a critical role in the survival of these gentle giants by filling in for the orphans' natural parents. Keepers provide around-the-clock care (they even sleep in a lofted bed in "their" elephant's stall!) to take care of practical needs like bottle-feeding but also to provide a much-needed emotional connection for these sensitive and emotional animals. Pictured above, Nchan attempts to fend for herself!
  • We continued our journey with a 45-minute charter flight to Campi ya Kanzi in Southern Kenya, taking in views of Mount Kilimanjaro and the Masai Mara's wildlife beneath us.
  • As we approached the runway, a Maasai tracker waved us in, signaling it was safe to land and that there was no wildlife on the airstrip! Nestled in the Chyulu Hills that Hemingway made famous, Campi ya Kanzi is a community eco-lodge that is run through a partnership with the local Maasai in order to protect their cultural heritage and the local wildlife. We quickly realized that we were in a unique and very special place.
  • Parashi was one of the Maasai guides who hosted us at Campi ya Kanzi. While he showed us around his home turf, he mentioned his only trip out of Kenya: New York City to run in the 2009 marathon! Coincidentally, he and our travel companion, JD, finished the marathon within four minutes of each other! In this photo, the two of them reunited for a casual eight-mile jog to Parashi's home village (the ladies cheered them on from our safari vehicle!).
  • Parashi snapped this joyful photograph after our morning hike through a cloud forest.
  • A quiet moment with a young Maasai boy as the African sun set behind us.
  • Nothing could have prepared us for the moment this two-week old cheetah emerged from a nearby bush. She was literally smaller than a football and her mother carefully tended to her.
  • We continued on our circuit to the Lemala Ndutu Camp, where some of our most cherished moments were spent rehashing the days' events over a boma (bonfire) under a sky packed with shooting stars.
  • We continued on our journey to the Grumeti Game Reserves and the three Singita properties, all within 45 minutes of each other, but unique in their own way. Singita Sabora Tented Camp's tennis courts (made from the dirt from abandoned termite mounds!) were a huge hit. Here, Alexis challenges the local staff to a match!
  • We didn't want to leave Singita's Faru Faru Lodge! Whether taking a refreshing dip while overlooking the busy watering hole or getting ready for dinner in our exquisite outdoor shower, it was fabulous!
  • Last stop: Vamizi Island off northern Mozambique. Honestly, I could not imagine a more pristine untouched beach setting. With only 10 villas on this remote private island, the exclusivity is unparalleled.
  • Our fishing guide was so excited to tell us that all three fishing reels on the end of our boat had bites! After twenty minutes and an excellent fight, we reeled in three giant Yellowfin tuna! We could hardly hold up our beauties for our trophy photo because our arms were so overworked - each fish weighed 55 pounds! Dinner that evening was as fresh as it gets.
  • Everyone has their own reason for wanting to visit Africa and each traveler will take away something different from their experience: a stronger understanding of Mother Nature, up-close and personal encounters with exotic animals, rest and relaxation...although our own journey was coming to an end, we knew our time there would never leave us.
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