I'm just back from an educational, adventurous, FUN family scouting trip in East Africa. With my husband and five year old daughter in tow, we started with a visit of two unique conservancies in the Lakipia Plateau of Kenya. While the wildlife was fantastic with everything you'd hope to see, the properties also gave us a unique dose of conservation experiences and unexpected African art history. In an exclusive environment we were able to hand feed a baby rhino, hike around stunning rock formations, play with habituated, rescued elephants and explore some of Africa's most important art history.
In Tanzania we continued on safari in three distinct northern regions. We explored a few new private conservancies as well as the central Serengeti with our favorite Mango guides. As this was my daughter Stella's first safari in East Africa, we were not disappointed. The wildlife was beyond our expectations.
We watched a buffalo have a baby, a family of ten lion cubs climb out of a tree, cheetahs fighting for territory, and we witnessed the massive herds of the Great Migration.
Our trip finished on the Indian Ocean in Zanzibar where we spent time at a new luxury villa property Mango was eager to see. It was Spring break and the property was full of families and a newly created kids club complete with henna tattoos, face painting, sand castle building and Easter basket creations on the beach. Because many guests were departing on Sunday the resort decided to hold their Easter egg hunt a day early.
The kids staying here from all around the world had a blast searching for eggs among the flowering bushes and beach palapas.
We started and finished the trip in Nairobi where we stayed at a couple of properties, visited with our trusted partners in country and took a game drive in Nairobi National Park - where we saw Rhinos with city skyscrapers in the background. We visited the baby elephants at the Daphne Sheldrick animal orphanage and revisited some of our favorite restaurants. The highlight of the trip was celebrating my husband's Birthday at the iconic Giraffe Manor with a giraffe cake, chanting staff and Stella feeding giraffes out of our bedroom window.
There are so many ways to do Africa, on this trip I focused on luxurious and permanent camps, places where young daughter could safely run around, where we had a bit more of the creature comfort and also places with camp staff or owners living there with their own kids, or where other families were likely to be traveling. We engaged in community projects, visited local villages and anti-poaching units, planted Mango trees and helped the gardeners garden pick the vegetables and quail eggs for dinner that night.
We were able to make this a trip for Stella, and even started a new school project between her elementary school and a local school at one of the conservancies we stayed at. She sat in for a lesson with a classroom of kids her same age and took everything in, noting how different this school was from her own.
While I came home from this trip rejuvenated with love for East Africa, Stella came home a completely evolved child.
In two weeks she had so many new experiences, form learning words and songs of a new language to learning about new cultures, watching animal behaviors, feeding giraffes and learning to drive in the Serengeti. It is so much fun to see how these incredible experiences have shaped her very being!
And even in her groggy moments on the final flights home she was singing Jambo. She made friends from all over the world and lightened the spirits of the staff everywhere we stayed.
It was a trip I will never forget.
I'm so excited to continue planning family journeys in Africa. Please call me when I can help you with yours! -Casey