© 2019 by Geoffrey Clarfileld.

THINKING PERSON'S SAFARI - JANUARY 2019

The 5th Annual Thinking Person's Wildlife Safari to Kenya - 12 Days and 12 Nights - $8500 U.S.

Dear Fellow Traveler:

Welcome to the Thinking Person’s Safari, 2019. Our reservations and transport are now locked in. Here is our itinerary, some things to think about and, some things to read.

 

DETAILED ITINERARY - January 10-22, 2019

JANUARY 10

ARRIVAL AT THE FAIRVIEW HOTEL - AFTERNOON AND EVENING

You will be flying into Jomo Kenyatta Airport, just outside of Nairobi. There you will be met by a driver who will take you straight to the Fairview Hotel. The Fairview Hotel was started by an expatriate family who came to Kenya before WWII. I got to know them when I lived and worked in Kenya. The architecture is an adaptation of rural country England, adjusted to the tropics. It has a fine swimming pool, health club, gardens, indoor and outdoor restaurants and a gracious staff. I first stayed there in the 1980s and I go back whenever I am in Kenya or going down to Tanzania. I was there last Spring.

 

You will have the afternoon and evening to unwind and then get a good night’s sleep. We are not strangers there.
 

JANUARY 11

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM, KAREN BLIXEN’S HOUSE AND A WOMEN’S PROJECT THAT WORKS

I was Director of the Department of Ethnography at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi
from 1990-1995. It was a dream job and I enjoyed every minute of it. It is the country’s chief
natural history repository and many of its findings are open to the public. These include its
ethnographic and ornithological galleries, not to mention Joy Adamson’s tribal and floral
paintings (remember Born Free?).

This is where the stones and bones that have been collected by the Leakey family during the last century have been kept and that attract the international research teams that have shown that our genetic origins are East African. Given the enormous publicity that came to Kenya during and after the making of the film Out of Africa, the Danish government cooperated with the Kenyan government to turn Karen Blixen’s house into a museum. After our visit to the National Museum we will drive to the suburb of Karen (named after Blixen) to get a taste of European life in Kenya from the time of WW1, visiting her house where she wrote her notes on life in Kenya and that later became the literary masterpiece “Out of Africa.”

The urbanization of East Africa has created large, capital cities where there is not enough employment to give every able bodied person a job. And so many Kenyans are dependent on their extended families for support. One person, with one job, may provide the basics of life for five to ten people. Then there are those who fall out of the system, often single mothers and widows. As they have low literacy skills they must find work.

 

One of the few, sustainable projects that give employment to these women in the Karen suburb is the Kazuri bead company. There you will see employed women creating things of great beauty. You can also do a bit of shopping for gifts.

JANUARY 12

FLY TO THE MASAI MARA (THE NORTHERN SERENGETI)

After a good night’s sleep at the Fairview, we will rise early, have breakfast and drive over to Wilson Airport (below left). Wilson is the airport for internal flights in Kenya. It follows international standards, but it still has a 20th century feel about it. It is modest and quiet and once in flight you will be able to see the savannah and hills of the Rift valley as you peer out your window. On one project, I used to fly in and out of Wilson every other week for two years. I never tired of seeing the beauty of the landscape from the air. The commentary for this experience was best written up by Beryl Markham (below right) in her remarkable book, West with the Night. The routes that she pioneered include the ones that we will take as we go up and down the Rift Valley.

Arrival in the Mara

We will fly into a local airstrip where we will meet our driver and jeep. We will be in the Mara. We will take a leisurely drive towards our lodge.

The Mara consists of plains, riverine forests and hills and is home to a wide variety of wildlife-elephant, giraffe, lion, buffalo, cheetah, zebra and about seventy species of antelopes.

We will then have lunch after we settle into our camp. We can also take an afternoon game drive before the sun sets.


We will be staying at the Mara Serena Lodge. The Mara Serena Lodge is a unique property set in the midst of Masai land and often surrounded by wildlife. We will go in and out of the park from here.

The Lodge is a part of a chain of hotels that are owned and managed by the Aga Khan, the spiritual and temporal leader of the Ismaili community of East Africa.

In addition to the myriad tribes of Africans that have made Kenya their home, as well as Europeans and their descendants, the third part of the ethnic puzzle of East Africa are the “Asians” as they call themselves and are called locally. These are the descendants of the cheap labourers that the British brought to East Africa from India to build the railway to Uganda, “The Lunatic Express.” They have worked hard and prospered. The late dictator of Uganda, Idi Amin expelled them from Uganda and many of them came to Canada where they continue to prosper. It is best to read about them within the best, easiest to read, one volume history of East Africa that is available, The Lunatic Express by Charles Miller.

 

Suggested Reading

 

Understanding the Masai:

The number of anthropological studies of the Masai are legion. They are numerous, long, detailed, technical and usually read like an engineering text book. The best description of their life and culture is surprisingly to be found in a beautiful coffee table book, put together some years back. There is nothing like it. The author is himself a Masai. Best to read before you go as it is very heavy, but has beautiful photos:

 

Then of course there is my favorite book on the Masai by David Read. I had the honor and privilege to spend an afternoon with him.
https://quillette.com/2018/09/14/barefoot-over-the-serengeti-a-visit-with-david-read/

 

We will have dinner and sleep at the Mara Lodge.
 

JANUARY 13

DO NOT MISS THE DAWN CHORUS!

A day of game runs in the Mara with breakfast, lunch and dinner at the lodge.

Depending on your sleep patterns you may want to rise with the sun. If you do, and the season is right, you will hear a short cacophony of bird calls just before and as the dawn sun rises. It is worth trying to hear and I call it the “dawn chorus”. This day we will go in and out of the lodge, into the wildlife areas to see the big and the medium size game.

There are scores of scientific and popular articles about the wildlife of East Africa. Everyone reacts differently to their first sightings. Just remember not to raise your voice when you see your first group of elephants or lion. They will hear you and most likely walk away. As they are habituated to humans inside (not outside of) jeeps, you can photo and film at your leisure. These animals have been well studied and the following are in my opinion good field manuals:

A special naturalist’s guide to the Mara:

Author John Fanshawe used to come to dinner at our house in Nairobi when we lived there. He was and is the most reserved of Englishmen, preadapted to watch birds for hours on end in complete silence. I do not expect you to do the same, but his guide is a classic:

Bird Song

There is nothing to stop you from ordering a CD of East African bird calls. Or, you can buy one in Nairobi. We used to put recordings of Kenyan birds on a cassette, when our youngest son had trouble falling asleep in Nairobi, many years ago:

We will then fly up to the lake country. Most international tourists do not go to the lakes of Kenya. I do not understand why as they are quite unique. These include Naivasha and Elementeita where we will be staying at the Soysambu Conservation area, a mixed cattle ranch and wildlife reserve close to Lake Elementeita.

 

There is a different feel to this part of Kenya. I find it magical. It is hard to describe it, but it is unique. We will arrive at our camp, have lunch, go on a game run or a game walk and enjoy the sundown. The next day we will rise early, drive to Lake Naivasha, take an early boat to Crescent Island park and walk among the animals. There are no lions on this island.

 

Many years ago, we were invited to a simple sports club on the shores of Crescent Island. I had yet to learn how to windsurf. I thought, “that is easy” and was up within minutes. As I began to move out into the water I got closer to the hippos. Just as I successfully negotiated my turn back, I was greeted by a rescue mission by boat as the instructor had realized he had not taught me how to turn. We will not windsurf on Lake Naivasha.

JANUARY 14 & 15

THE LAKE COUNTRY

For those who are very keen, we can arrange a crack of dawn game run before we leave the Mara. For those who want a more leisurely morning, no doubt after breakfast on the ride to the air strip we will have a chance to see more game.

Lake Naivasha was home to Joy and George Adamson, pioneers of what is now called “Restoration Ecology.” They were real characters. Here is the Disney film link for Born Free (you can probably get a better version on Netflix):

But here is the real story which I think is much, much more interesting:

Joy was an Austrian, spoke English with a thick German accent, and to her credit, she was a dedicated anti-Nazi, unlike the famous Lord Erroll of “White Mischief” fame who was sympathetic to the Axis powers.

 

Here is a link to the dramatic film about Lord Erroll, White Mischief:
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094317/

 

This morning we will fly up the Rift Valley. We will get off north of Mount Kenya and we will drive to Intrepid Safari camp on the edge of the Uwaso Nyiro river. For the next three days and nights we will be based here, with breakfast lunch and dinner and all the game rides we can handle. We will also visit Samburu homesteads.

 

We will take game runs, tribal walks and take in the desert sites and sounds. We will be embedded in Samburu territory and truly within a rhythm of life that characterized Africa before the coming of the Europeans, one hundred years ago. This is as close as one can get to time travel. It is also Baboon country and we can read about the secret lives of baboons in the following book by a gifted American scientist.

 

Following in the footsteps of Jane Goodall comes American scientist Shirley Strum, a behavioural ecologist who has spent years watching and conserving a troop of baboons in the drylands of Kenya. In her book Almost Human, A Journey Into the World of Baboons, Strum gives us a blow by blow description of what it was and is like to study the social behaviour of primates such as the baboons.

 

Strum's research turned most of the scientific consensus on baboon behaviour on its head, as she found that these animals were much more thoughtful, emotional and social than anyone had ever imagined. She also showed that male aggression was not the dominant theme of their life and, in a very touching few chapters, she describes her successful relocation of her troupe to a safer location in the drylands near Mount Kenya just south of Samburu.

JANUARY 16, 17, & 18

TO THE NORTHERN FRONTIER: SAMBURU

Kenya is really two countries, one south of Mount Kenya and one north of Mount Kenya. South of Mount Kenya was the land of Karen Blixen, Bantu tribes, well-watered farms; a place of missionaries, settlers, commerce, and Western education, all triggering the nationalism that brought Kenya its independence in 1964. But the north was a closed area until then, as it is a savannah woodland desert, populated by nomadic tribes whose names include the Turkana, the Pokot, the Adjuran, Borana, Gabra, Rendille and Samburu, cattle, camel or mixed livestock herders who move with the rains and their herds. Missionaries, literacy and the “state” were late arrivals here and so the lives of these people have changed little and there is still much wildlife in their tribal territories.

Today's Samburu is Yesteryear's Olduvai

The relevance of baboons to human evolution and imagining the life style of our ancestors at famous archaeological sites like Olduvai, is that they live outside of the forest, in open areas. Although they are not as genetically close to us as chimpanzees are (2% genetic difference between chimps and humans) they do inhabit the kind of landscape that our ancestors did when they moved from the forest into the open grassland. Therefore, their social organization and family structure, foraging styles, bonding and conflict give us profound hints of what our ancestors' lives might have been like, when we left the life of the forest behind, so long ago.

One of the intriguing things about the trip and most of the places we will visit is that we need to remember, when traveling across the rivers and grasslands of the Serengeti or, the desert woodlands of Samburu, and then contemplating world famous fossil sites like Olduvai in nearby Tanzania, that Olduvai once looked like the Samburu area today, even wetter. It was an area of small lakes and rivers, with forest and grasslands that moved away from the water points. Some ancestral species of ours, in between the behaviour of modern hunter gatherers, and primates such as the baboons, must have formed the template of early human behaviour. If the evolutionary psychologists are to be believed, much of our behavior (but not all) is still driven by these same biological templates.

 

For better or for worse, it is from this kind of combination of evidence from which we must imagine and reconstruct the behaviour of our ancestors. And, it is for that reason that ongoing research in northern Kenya, the Serengeti and at Olduvai Gorge, are just two parts of an ongoing and wider "thought experiment," one that is continuously modified by new discoveries in these two places of the world that are so fascinating in and of themselves.

 

To better understand the “Stone Age Mind” that we still carry within ourselves and that evolved here I suggest the book by William F. Allman called The Stone Age Present and which I have read with great interest. Here is the link:

Finally, here is a relatively recent update on the paleontology of our ancestors in Africa written by British journalist Martin Meredith. This is the simplest and clearest guide to a complex scientific mystery. It is an easy read.

On January 19 we will drive north. We will leave the arid lowlands of Samburu and drive north and upwards into the foothills surrounding Mount Kenya. On this day we will not see the snowy peak as it will be covered in cloud, but if we rise with the sun the next day, we will see it in its fully glory while drinking coffee in front of our tents.

JANUARY 19 & 20

OL PEJETA - SWEETWATERS

This is the land of the Kikuyu tribe, made famous by their Mau Mau revolt against the British during the 1950s and which then triggered Kenyan independence. We will arrive at Sweetwaters, settle in, have lunch and go on a game drive. But this game reserve is different. It is vast but, it is fenced and, it protects some of the last species of rhino in Kenya and breeds them with rhino in zoos from around the world. At the same time, Ol Pejeta is a refuge for Chimpanzees whom we can visit on a site that mimics their natural habitat in central Africa. This may be their future as they are being poached out of existence in their homeland in the Congo.

Finally, Ol Pejeta will bring us face to face with the problems of conservation, here in Africa and at home in North America where some argue that we should introduce African megafauna to selected sites in North America to replace those large animals who mysteriously died off 12,000 years go. Joy and George Adamson wanted wild animals to be “born free.”

However, in order for them to survive as species many of them need the protection of sanctuaries in order to be “home free.”

 

Here is an aptly titled and provocative book - Resurrection Science:

 

The Remarkable Argument for Rewilding America:

Rewilding North America: A Vision For Conservation In The 21St Century

 

Lectures - The following lectures will be spread across the Safari


1) The Search for the Nile and the 19th century origins of East Africa
2) What it Means to be a Hunter and Gatherer
3) What it Means to be a Tribe in Kenya-The Case of the Masai
4) The Remarkable Tale of John Henry Patterson
5) The King of the Kikuyu, Another Remarkable Tale
6) The Improbable Life of David Read
7) Conservation and the Enigma of the Rhino

 

JANUARY 21

FLY BACK TO NAIROBI

After a leisurely breakfast we drive to the local airstrip to fly to Nairobi. We return to Wilson airport where a driver will take us back to the Fairview. There you will have a day room and access to the facilities there after being driven to Jomo Kenyatta airport for your next flight.

Enjoy this exciting Safari experience with us!!

 

NET PACKAGE COST OFFER INCLUDES

  • Two nights at Nairobi Serena Hotel on bed and breakfast

  • Two nights at Mara Serena Safari Lodge on full board

  • Escorted Nature Walk, Visit to a Maasai “Manyatta” Village, Hippo Pools Breakfast and Exotic Maasai Dinner

  • Two nights at Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp and Samburu Intrepids, on full board

  • Excursion to Lake Naivasha, visit to Crescent Island and Boat ride Three nights at Saburu Intrepids, full board with accompanied nature walk

  • Two nights at Sweetwaters Serena Camp on full board

  • Visit to the Endangered Species enclosure

  • Game drives as per itinerary in 4x4WD Safari vehicles on exclusive use

  • 06 pax maximum per vehicle with guaranteed window sear for game viewing

  • Park and Conservancy entrance fees

  • Lunch at Café Maghreb Restaurant as per itinerary

  • Nairobi/Maasai Mara scheduled flight

  • Private Charter flights: Maasai Mara/Soysambu/Samburu/Olpejeta/Nairobi

  • Airport and Airstrip transfers with meet and assist services as per itinerary

  • International Escort

NOT INCLUDED

  • International Flights and Visa entry charges to Kenya

  • Samburu stay and activities (Own arrangements)

  • All items of personal use i.e. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, gratuities/tips to driver guides and hotel staff, personal travel insurances, etc.

 

VISA AND HEALTH

Why the eVisa
Most governments the world over are moving towards digitization of their operations. Online application now makes it possible for visitors to get their visa in advance hence removing the anxiety of whether one will be able will get it or not at the point of entry.

The Online Application is NOT complicated
The application procedure has now been modified and simplified in a user friendly mode that takes three simple steps. The E-Visa portal now has its dedicated website: www.evisa.go.ke. Visa approval is done real-time.

 

Yellow fever certificate required

 

*Please note, the ban on plastic bags in Kenya took effect on Monday 28 August 2017. Please do not bring or carry any plastic bags during your visit to Kenya. Opt for bags made of biodegradable materials that include canvas, polypropylene and cloth.

 

WHAT TO BRING

Space will be at a premium on your international flight, light aircraft transfers and safari vehicle so with that in mind, the safari packing list below will help you to pack only the necessary and correct items.

 

It may look long at first glance, but depending on your personal circumstances and the type of trip you are going on, some of the items won't be applicable to you and you can safely ignore them.

 

SAFARI GEAR

  • There are specific clothing mistakes that many people often make when they go on safari. Find out how to avoid them...

  • Safari hats must do three things well to be effective.

  • Clothing in neutral colours: khaki, light brown/green, tan. Avoid bright colours & white for improved game viewing, especially when on foot. Not as important in a vehicle.

  • A safari jacket is a very handy accessory to take with on your trip.

  • Comfortable short- and long sleeved safari shirts (2 or 3 of each)

  • Comfortable shorts and long trousers (2 or 3 of each)

  • About 5 sets of underwear

  • Pyjamas

  • Swimming costume

  • Flip-flops or sport sandals (public showers, airing feet)

  • Comfortable safari hiking/walking shoes (not white). These are very important on a walking safari.

  • About 5 pairs of socks

  • Extra shoelaces

  • Do not forget a warm coat, better a light ski jacket for highland Mount Nyiru at night.

 

SAFARI SUPPLIES

Some of these supplies might be available in the first aid kit that every safari company should carry, but make sure before leaving them off your safari packing list.

  • Insect repellent/Mosquito Coil (do not use coils in a tent)

  • Mosquito netting - Your safari company might supply these so find out from them first

  • Sunblock and after sun lotion

  • A travel towel is light and takes very little space

  • Skin cream

  • Malaria tablets (very important) - speak to your travel doctor

  • Citronella or other body soap/shower gel

  • Sunglasses - make sure they have polarized lenses.

  • Biological Water Filtration Bottle or you can stick to the bottled water

  • Wet wipes/hand sanitizer or no-water/antibacterial soap - very handy in the safari vehicle.

  • Pocket Knife (Swiss/Leatherman type)

  • Small scissors, if not on your Leatherman/Swiss knife

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/dental floss

  • 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner

  • Tweezers

  • Lip balm

  • Q-tips & cotton balls

  • Razor & shaving cream/gel

  • For younger women-birth control medication (enough to last your trip)

  • Sanitary requirements (shops are sometimes few and far between, and very basic)

  • Contact lens solution & extra set of disposable lenses

  • Band aids & moleskin

  • Vitamins

  • Painkillers

  • Antiseptic cream

  • Motion sickness tablets

  • Heartburn remedy

  • Anti-diarrhea medicine

  • Re-hydration salts

  • Pen/pencil

  • Small unbreakable mirror

  • Plastic bags (wet washing/muddy shoes/organize clothes in suitcase)

  • Small compass

  • Deck of cards/travel size game

  • Books to read between game viewing and other leisure time-see list at GeoffreysJourneys web site

  • String/rope (washing line, tying sleeping bag, multitude of uses!!)

  • Cold/flu tablets

  • Allergy remedy

  • Some people take a basic antibiotic in case

  • Prescribed medicine (enough to last your trip) - keep packed in your hand luggage in case of baggage delays

SAFARI LUGGAGE

The thing to remember when choosing safari luggage is mobility. You will probably be moving between several different modes of transport (airplanes, cars, light aircraft, trucks, boats) so plan accordingly. Suitcases with wheels don't work very well in the African bush but they are adequate if you don't mind carrying them. (Our safari company will probably have someone on hand to carry your luggage for you). A daypack is very handy to transport the items you need while driving around in the safari vehicle or walking through the bush.

 

SAFARI EQUIPMENT

  • Safari Binoculars. Essential for a successful trip. No safari packing list is complete without them.

  • Flashlight or headlamp

  • Camera, memory cards, extra batteries, battery charger and lens cleaner

  • Read the free "Better Safari Photography" ebook for information on the best safari cameras and lenses to take with.

  • Small bean bag to substitute a tripod

  • Travel pillow, or you can use your polar fleece/windbreaker

  • Small calculator (or if you're taking your mobile phone) for currency calculations

  • Money belt

  • Washing powder/travel soap for laundry

  • Plug adaptors - generally in Africa its 3-prong round or square

  • Lighter/waterproof matches

  • Travel alarm clock

  • Mini combination locks (keys get lost)

  • Mini sewing kit

 

DOCUMENTS

  • Passport & correct visas

  • Emergency phone numbers

  • Africa travel insurance policy

  • Travel diary book - to write your journal and record the wildlife you see. Also includes a hard copy safari packing list

  • Guide book(s) covering the area you're visiting - it should include animals/birds pages for easy identification-you can get them at the shop at the Fairview but it is better to bring them with you

  • Your itinerary

  • Addresses and mobile numbers (postcards/e-mails/texts)

  • Any vaccinations certificates

  • International Youth Hostel card (depending on your type of trip and accommodation)

  • Phone card and international access numbers

  • Extra passport photos

  • Copy of your passport, kept in a separate place than your passport

  • Medical history

  • Copies of prescriptions

  • Small stickers to label your used films, if you still use film

Follow this safari packing list and you will never have to worry about the frustration of leaving something behind or taking something that you won't need on your African safari.

 

Print the safari packing list out and tick the items off as you go along to make sure you don't miss anything.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

CANCELLATION

In case of cancellation, the following charges will apply on the entire tour price:

  • Between 90 - 30 days 25%

  • Between 30 - 15 days 50%

  • Between 15-7 days 75%

  • Within 7 days 100%

 

COMPLAINTS

Should a problem occur, please advise both ourselves and the supplier of the service in question immediately as most problems are resolved most easily on the spot. Should you remain dissatisfied, please write to us setting out the complaint in detail within 28 days of the end of our services under the contract. We cannot accept responsibility for any complaints which are not notified entirely in accordance with this clause.

 

FORCE MAJEURE

"Force Majeure" means those circumstances where the performance of our contract with you is prevented or affected by reasons of war, threat of war, civil strife, industrial dispute, terrorist activity, natural or nuclear disaster, fire, adverse weather conditions, governmental actions and all similar events beyond our control. In these circumstances, we shall not be liable to pay any compensation or otherwise be responsible for any expenses or losses you might incur where we are forced as a result to cancel, delay, curtail or change your arrangement in any way or where the performance or prompt performance of our contractual obligations is prevented or affected.

 

BOOKING

In order to make a down payment to reserve your place on this trip, or, for any other logistical, trip related questions, please contact:

 

Debbie Vandermaas, Senior Corporate Travel Consultant
DIRECT: 519.438.0899 
DIRECT TOLL-FREE: 1.866.448.0362  
DIRECT FAX: 519.668.0784
www.DebbieDoesTravel.ca

 

Travel Professionals |International
203-1131 Nottinghill Gate, Oakville, Ontario, Canada L6M 1K5 | 905.896.6948


 

'We carry with us the wonders we seek without us; there is all Africa and her prodigies in us.'