Friday, April 3, 2015

The safety (and immense pleasure) of being on safari in Kenya

3rd April 2015.  Jacopo's birthday.  Today he is 8 years old.  His Maasai name is Leshan, the one who brings the rains.  And today it rained, which is always magical in Africa.  Here is what my eyes were seeing just a few minutes ago.


But no celebrations.  Only compassion.

That is the only word which comes to me in this moment.  Compassion for the Kenyan families devastated by yesterday's terrorist attack in Garissa, near Somalia.

I would also like to share another kind of compassion: empathy for those hundreds of thousands of Kenyans whose lives depend on tourism.  Those hard workers who have kids, who need to pay their school fees, who need to bring food to their tables each day....

This blog is a window onto the world, and I would like to open this window to reach out to you: yes, you, exactly you.  It is up to you to support these hundreds of thousands of peaceful Kenyans and to understand how terrorists are targeting our lifestyle everywhere, not just in Kenya.  It just happened at a cafĂ© in Copenhagen, at a kosher market in France, in Paris, in Tunis....

You can enjoy a safari in Kenya in total safety. 

It takes two days to travel to Garissa from where we live.
 

So, can it be “business as usual”?
Can you still consider Kenya as a holiday destination?
My answer is a no to the “business as usual” question and a loud YES as to the safety of coming on safari with us.

No, it must not be business as usual.  We need to stand up and support Kenya by visiting its safari destinations.  All very safe, all hundreds of (and up to a thousand) kilometers away from the troublesome border with Somalia.

YES: it is absolutely safe to be on safari in Kenya.  In the Maasai Mara, in Amboseli, or here in the Chyulu.


What is meaningful for a conservationist like me is that conservation needs tourism.  What is even more significant is that hundreds of thousands of Kenyans depend economically on tourism.  And so do thousands of wild animals, whose protection without tourism is simply unaffordable, even in the National Parks.

So, most substantially of all, if we want our children to be able to enjoy lions and elephants in the Maasai wilderness when they have their children, we must act now. 
Act by saying no to “business as usual,” and support Kenya with tourism. 
Act by understanding that YES, a safari here is safe.

Why?  Here are three direct reasons: 
- Our Maasai reservation is 15 miles from Tanzania.  It would take a two-day journey to get to the areas near the Somali border;
- Your hosts here are the 15,000 Maasai landlords, whose children go to school, whose sick get medical assistance, and whose livestock are protected and compensated for when predated, thanks to your $101 conservation fee paid for every day you spend with us; 
- Lastly, because we employ 101 Maasai rangers, making this paradise on Earth probably much safer than your home is, given the madness of today’s world….

Choose Kenya for your coming holiday.  Choose the community-based Campi ya Kanzi for your safari: it will be one of the most serene trips you ever have. 

Can I now use the window provided by this blog to have you look into our world?  Why don't you look through the eyes of those who have been here?

Let these images talk to you....

Mia Camargo, age 5, last year, walking hand in hand with Parashi.  I bet she will remember this for a long, long time....

A walk in the Chyulu Hills last week.  (Photo credit: 7 Mila Miglia Lontano)

From my bedroom, a couple of days ago...


Warriors, as seen by my brotherly friend Nicola Tonolini

The happiness of Maasai children, again seen from the camera lens of Nicola

This is what it is to be on safari....
And much, much more...

Come and enjoy it... here, in the Maasai Mara, in Amboseli, wherever you like.  Do not leave Kenyans alone.  Make a difference and come on safari to the home we all come from: Kenya....

Friday, February 20, 2015

Kenya: Over and Above - A New Ten-Day Air Safari!

Soar over the African savannah on a ten-day air safari hosted by three of the finest boutique lodges in Kenya: Saruni Samburu, Saruni Mara, and Campi ya Kanzi.  Enjoy abundant wildlife, diverse landscapes, and cultural connections on an unforgettable adventure through the Kalama Conservancy, the Maasai Mara, and the rolling Chyulu Hills.  Add an extension to Saruni Ocean to experience the Kenyan coast on the quiet, pristine beach of a top-notch resort and spa.

   
Saruni Samburu | Days 1-3


Explore the vast, unspoiled wilderness of the Kalama Conservancy at the stylish and exclusive Saruni Samburu.  Enjoy game drives and bush walks with knowledgeable Samburu warriors, then relax with a massage or a refreshing swim before sipping a glass of wine at sunset.


Saruni Mara | Days 4-6


Witness the Great Migration in the world-famous Maasai Mara.  Take a hike, a game drive, or a hot air balloon ride before settling down for a spa treatment and a dinner under the stars.


Campi ya Kanzi | Days 7-10


Hike in Ernest Hemingway’s “Green Hills of Africa” with local Maasai guides and enjoy a stunning view of Mount Kilimanjaro from a community-owned eco-lodge that has a passion for conservation.


Saruni Ocean | Optional 3-Day Extension


Unwind at the end of your safari by adding three days of bliss at Saruni Ocean.  Bask on the sands of Msambweni beach, snorkel and dive beneath the waves, and rejuvenate at the Sarunity Spa.


For more information about the air safari, please contact bookings@maasai.com.

To learn more about each destination, check out the following websites:
Saruni Samburu - www.sarunisamburu.com
Saruni Mara - www.sarunimara.com
Campi ya Kanzi - www.maasai.com
Saruni Ocean - www.saruniocean.com

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ithumba: A Safe Haven for Elephants

For elephant lovers, it is hard to imagine a paradise more perfect than Ithumba Camp in Tsavo East National Park.  Owned and managed by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the camp operates a reintroduction program for orphaned elephants.  Guests at Ithumba have the extraordinary opportunity to interact with young elephants who trust humans but are progressing toward life in the wild.  Guests can watch the elephants safely from a short distance and can even feed and pet them if the elephants allow.  Wild elephants also join in on the action, mingling with the orphans and tolerating human presence in a safe and welcoming environment.  Ithumba has had extraordinary success in rehabilitating and releasing elephants, and it plays an important role in elephant conservation in Kenya.

Two elephants share a tender moment at Ithumba.

Founded in 2005, Ithumba was designed as a conservation initiative to protect all wildlife, not just elephants, in the northern area of Tsavo East.  Its construction was funded by the proceeds of the BBC Elephant Diaries series.  The camp is self-catering and has relatively low maintenance costs, so most of its income is paid directly to the Kenya Wildlife Service to support conservation projects.  It only has four tents, so it provides a truly intimate experience for visitors.

Guests at Campi ya Kanzi can request an overnight excursion to Ithumba as a special added activity.  A guide, cook, and pilot will accompany the guests to ensure their comfort and enjoyment as they embark on this magical experience.  We have made several excursions to Ithumba in the last six weeks, and we are delighted to share some of our photos and videos with you.  Scroll down to see heartwarming pictures by Stefano and to watch Luca kiss an elephant!

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The young elephants at Ithumba absolutely love their milk bottles!
 
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Like humans, elephants drink with their heads upright.
They use their trunks suck up water and then squirt it into their mouths.
 
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Have you ever wanted to kiss an elephant?
Watch Luca feed one directly from his mouth!
   
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Wild elephants mingle with the orphans at bath time.
  
The elephants love their midday mud bath.

A refreshing swim helps the elephants to stay cool, clean, and parasite-free.

A host of happy elephants rush into the water at bath time.

This photo-friendly elephant is ready for a close-up!

The young elephants loyally follow one of their caretakers on parade.

Stefano made a new friend!

The young elephants are perfectly comfortable with Pashiet.

Parashi poses with the elephants.

The main lodge at Ithumba is remarkable for its bold architectural design.