Once you’ve lived in Africa, it stays in your heart and blood. It implants itself in your soul like a magnet that is forever pulling you back, and wherever you may be, there is always a part of you longing for the vast horizons, the unforgettable smell of the rains breaking, the smiles of the people, the beauty of the flora and landscape and the wealth of wildlife. This yearning is what the Italians call “il mal d’Africa” – the African sickness.
It’s something I’ve lived with for more than 40 years, since leaving Kenya in 1972.
A few months ago I received an unexpected windfall. Having briefly considered putting it away for a rainy day that may never come, I decided instead to seize the day and return to visit the magical country that is Kenya. TOH has never been there, and I so much want him to experience the warmth and friendliness of the Kenyan people, and the thrill of seeing Africa’s greatest mountains and wild animals in their natural habitat.
As it is going to be the experience of a lifetime – I very much doubt we’ll ever be able to do anything similar again – it has to be perfect.
I have a friend of long-standing – I mean really long-standing, Vivien and I have known each other since we were 14 – who organises bespoke safaris in Kenya where she was brought up and has lived for most of her life. She is, above all, a perfectionist in everything she does. Nothing less than excellence is her motto. However, as all her safaris are customised according to clients’ wishes, there was no price list to consult and I expected my requested itinerary would be far more than we can afford. I cautiously enquired “on behalf of a friend.” Oh dear, how awkward we English are when discussing finance with friends!
The price she has given me is less than half of an almost identical safari by other companies, and within our budget. We’ve spent the last month working together to finalise the itinerary and confirm availability of all the accommodation. Vivien has performed miracles in organising this, and it is now done!
Kenya is famed for the warmth of its hospitality, the luxury of its hotels and game lodges, and the quality of its cuisine. Our 17-day full-board itinerary includes stays in Amboseli, Mount Kenya Safari Club, Samburu, Lake Nakuru, Maasai Mara (of which 4 whole days in the unbelievably romantic Little Mara Bush Camp), and a visit to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and a local school for under-privileged children.
We are linking up with members of the 95th Bomb Group Memorials Foundation of the 8th Air Force. If you fancy a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in one of the world’s most beautiful countries, seeing nature at its grandest, full details including itinerary and sign-up forms are available here. The group is limited to a maximum of 20 people. Should you be interested in joining, and wish to discuss anything not mentioned on the site, you’re welcome to email me at doolally dot tap at gmail dot com.
I am nearly paralysed with excitement, because in August we will be on our way to Kenya for 17 days of pampering and wonderment, camera and notebook packed – I can feel a new book coming on!
PS Did I mention that our itinerary will include standing on the Equator?