A wild charm – Lewa Safari Camp

I descended from the ‘green capital of the sun’ as Nairobi is fondly called to the lush greens of the Lewa wildlife conservancy, Kenya’s largest private wildlife conservancy, and the canvass of this place was enough to transport me to a different world. The safari started before I could unpack. As the land rower bumped among the half an hour drive from the conservancy gate to the Lewa safari camp, the animal spotting began. And even before reaching ‘the other paradise’ in this paradise land, I had clocked a family of elephants, herds of bachelors’ impala, Masaai ostriches and many reticulated giraffes.

Lewa Safari Camp - Triple Tent

Lewa Safari Camp – triple tents

I breathed in the moment as I reached the Lewa Safari Camp. Both stories of conservation and royal romance followed by a fairytale engagement of Prince Richard brought me to this place. Situated against the dramatic backdrop of the imposing, snow-covered Mt Kenya, in the midst of the rolling grasslands interrupted by occasional acacias and thorny bushes, Lewa embraces you in its wramth as you enter.

Lewa Safari Camp is a busy place. A main lounge constructed of cedarwood, houses the dining area, and the hidden shacks and wooden columns double up as playgrounds for its avian visitors. I say your mini game drive starts here, with weaver birds, spotted doves, skinks, large mongoose and even dik-diks, coming out from some corner to say ‘hi’ to you.

Weaver bird@Lewa conservancy

A main lounge constructed of cedarwood, housing the dining area, is busy and frequently visited by avian visitors. Here’s a weaver bird weaving a nest to impress female.

The recipient of several awards, Camp has on offer twelve en-suite safari tents, accommodating up to 27 guests at a time. Each thatch-covered tent is well equipped with modern amenities, embellished with impeccable décor, roll-up canvas walls to maximize game viewing and has ensuite bathrooms with power showers. The designing adds to the natural charm of these luxury tents. My tent faced east to make an album of moments of memorable sunrises and sunsets for me. And add the fervour of seeing the green and flat tableland.

Such a view and the serenity that wraps you, turns you a dreamer. I pictured myself on a hot air balloon that could take me over these lands, looking at families of reticulated giraffes making a move, their graceful limbs moving in slow motion or herds of grant’s gazelle chased by the ultimate chase machine of Africa, families of elephants and rhinos and the big cats – keeping an eye on their activities from above. Every little detail, amplified. Oh! The thought.

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A family tent (photo credits – Lewa Safari Camp)

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By the swimming pool (photo credits – Lewa Safari Camp)

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Camping with lions in Masai Mara– II

From the beginning, I was sure, day 2 was going to be as exciting as day 1. We had by now, tick marked three of the #bigfive of Africa and we prefixed our agenda to first lookout for the remaining two of the big five and then try our chances on the migration yet again. And to a certain degree both looked achievable. We soon added a third wish to this list – spotting a Cheetah. And James smiled, the sort of smile only Gods or elves are allowed to have.

Confession: Two of our wish were fulfilled.

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So we filled our tummies to the extent possible with left-over fruits and sandwiches and every variety of edible thing available with us and set off to second round of our incredible journey. With full day in hand, we were pretty confident of having all our boxes tick marked.

James wanted to start the morning with Rhino spotting or else we would miss the habitat. We spent almost an hour in the morning to spot a rhino but we weren’t just getting lucky. We however, spotted a big herd of hundreds of buffaloes; the day before we had mostly spotted lone buffaloes. Driving through the grass as they stand mooing was a sight.

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Camping with the lions – I

From our camp we could watch baby hippos splash and swill in the waters, while the adults watched us with suspicion. This was my first experience of camping in the wild, and we started with choosing the wrong place. It was only when Leena said “What if hippos come this way to graze?” that we realized, we were way too near the mighty hippos. And in Africa, you don’t mess with the hippos. So we shifted, to a safer place, near the Serena hotels, with the researchers of Hyena Research Center as our neighbors; and practically in the territory of the hyenas. We again smiled at our choice, but our experienced Masai guide James was convinced.

And then setting up of camps begun. Candidly for the first time campers it’s an experience and especially when you are not given enough tools to set up your camp and you have to manage with twigs ‘that can easily bend’ to use instead of iron rods to set your camp. Anyways you don’t learn to manage, you get infected with this art, as you are hit by safari-bug.

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The great migration of the animals was in place, and it was a treat time for the Mara lions.

And once we were done with setting our camp, we were off to the thing we were there for – game drive. Continue reading

Sandsational Zanzibar

A ramshackle fishing village, now sidelined by an ever increasing number of hotels, bars, guesthouses and bikini clad backpackers; drawn by pristine white sand beaches, turquoise sea, sparkling sunshine and an ever-lasting sense of liberation; Nungwi village is among the biggest draws in Zanzibar. By day, the sunbathing tourist slumber, indulge in lemongrass massage or join the locals for some reef fishing when the tides are low or passively cycle through the old fishing village to soak in some rustic freshness of this beach village, perhaps the largest in Zanzibar Island. And as sun sets, this sleepy village buzzes with party spirit. Beach bonfires, music and cocktails blaze the village till dawn. Aging couples, honeymooners, gap year students, cool dude and backpackers from across the globe are drawn to this beautiful beach village.

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An hour long drive (costing upto USD 30) brings you from stone town to Nungwi village. Check in one of the numerous hotels (of all sizes and prices) and set off for an exotic holiday romancing with cool sea breeze and sparkling white sand beach. Continue reading