"Each morning as the tent flap was drawn it was as though the curtain of the theatre had risen. But the drama that unfolded outside had neither a script nor a guaranteed conclusion."
Robert Vavra - Tent with a View.
When you think of safari we usually think of Kenya. While well known for its extraordinary wildlife, Kenya also plays host to a magical coastline, to a large proportion of The Great Rift Valley, to the Central Highlands, and to a ribbon of stunningly diverse lakes. Populated by a people as varied as its terrain, it is a place of dreams, and it is here that we support - in partnership with local communities - a number of specialist Kenya luxury safari destinations.
With some notable exceptions, Kenya's parks and reserves have all suffered a decline in wildlife numbers in the last forty years. A recent study has shown - contrary to what is generally thought - that these losses are not any more gradual in parks and reserves than those measured in unprotected areas. The reasons for this are a combination of climatic change (drought), human population growth and land management practice. With the formation of protected wildlife areas, and the establishment of borders between human and wildlife habitats, animals have been denied essential migration corridors. Animals used to long ranges - elephants, for example - are stuck in zones unable to support their foraging habits, and wooded areas (together with woodland species) are being eradicated.
The solution to the problem is by no means easy, but big picture conservationist thinking points to the need for interested parties coming together in the name of maintaining ecosystems that precede borders, human settlement patterns and cash crop economies.
Something like this already exists on the Laikipia Plateau, a vast unprotected tract of land situated in Central Kenya. Here, as a result of flexible land management practices, porous wildlife borders and low density eco-tourism, wildlife numbers are on the increase, and endangered species are beginning to flourish. The future of wildlife - in the rest of Africa, as well as Kenya - may well rest in picking apart what makes places like the Laikipia tick.
A long term safari destination, Kenya offers much by the way of type and experience, from luxury to frontier. Largely avoiding oversubscribed destinations, we concentrate our fly-in itineraries on owner-run homes, or in specially designed camps. Small and beautifully managed, the camps are built in such a way as to grow, so to speak, from the land itself, and yet, at the same time, provide for the most sophisticated of tastes. Their backyards are the bush: vast and largely untouched swathes of privately run land that offer an exclusive and untainted image of wild Africa.
However, while we are obviously big fans of this type of journey, and everything it offers in the way of low density travel, Journeys by Design is also very much involved in the more established wildlife areas, and run the same kind of safari in the most conscientious of Kenya's parks and reserves. Indeed, for the first time visitor, whose main aim is to experience wildlife, we would recommend an itinerary that makes these territories their primary destinations.
Away from the more single lodge orientated options, the mobile safari remains one of the most authentic ways to travel, taking its inspiration from the nomads of Africa, who, through necessity or by choice, live closest to the land; and from the early European traveller, whose attention to detail made for lavishly organised tours of the wild. Adventurous, professionally led, our latter-day caravans have been created with two things in mind: to expose the traveller to the real outdoors, and to do so in a style that beggars belief.
As well as being one of Africa’s finest safari destinations, Kenya also possesses an extraordinarily beautiful coastline. Avoiding the better-known tourist destinations, our aim in journeying to paradisiacal backwaters like Kiwayu Island, or to Arabic Mombasa, is to give the traveller a taste of the real Swahili land. This timeless coastline, with its mosques and forts, its wild beaches, its glittering seas, is a place of simple joys.
Best time to visit is either June through to mid October, or early December through to end March. The long rains start end of March and run through to the end of May. Northern Kenya sees most of its heavy in rain during the short rains in November. The wildebeest migration is active between July and October. The coastal areas are best visited between August and end March.
To find out more about holidays to Kenya and to arrange your tailor-made trip, get in touch with us today.