British colonials who lived grandly in the bush created the first romantic images of safari, (Swahili for journey). With their canvas tents outfitted with campaign desks, leather trunks and hurricane lanterns and their rituals of tea and cocktails served on china and crystal, they made exotic forays into the wild look civilized. Hunters, writers and wealthy adventurers added glamour and shared the drama of their exploits in their writings and photographs. After Kenya became independent in 1963 and into the 1970s, ‘80s and even the ‘90s, Kenya was the African country that advertised the experience to a broader audience, so animal lovers from around the world flocked there for wildlife. While South Africa, for instance, struggled with Apartheid issues and Tanzania focused on socialist reforms, Kenya took the lead in promoting safaris and the splendors of Africa and became the primary African country that tourists around the world associated with game-viewing and photographic safaris. Images of noble Maasai bedecked in beaded jewelry, the vast open plains of the Serengeti with its massive migration and khaki tents kitted out with colonial antiques all came to be symbols of safari life in Kenya. The award-winning film Out of Africa, depicting the romantic life of Karen Blixen in the Ngong Hills, and even Ralph Lauren’s Safari perfume campaign and safari-inspired clothing further cemented the public’s understanding that Kenya was where wildlife journeys in Africa occurred.
Sadly as Kenya’s tourism exploded, bringing tour buses to the parks and cheap development to beach areas, crime and corruption soared. Since 2003 there has been a U.S. State Department advisory warning Americans against traveling to Kenya “in light of continuing threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime.” Last year after the contested presidential elections inspired rioting and shocking tribal violence, Kenya’s tourism was dealt another crushing setback. Many, however, do continue to visit the country’s wonderful safari lodges, and have extraordinary stays. (Read a recent member postcard.) We advise our members to consider Kenya, but to work with one of our preferred operators in the country, as they are on top of local safety concerns.
Read about one of the world’s best family hotels, Giraffe Manor
An Indagare exclusive: For the first-time this summer, you can rent a house of your own in the Chyulu Hills. Set on a 300,000-acre preserve with views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the two-bedroom lodge comes with a Maasai staff, including a chef and safari guide. Since it’s the house of a pioneering conservationist, you can also witness a fascinating lion rescue program.
Read a member postcard on a family safari
Read a Q&A with fashion designer Anna Trzebinski, whose studio in Nairobi is open to the public
For information on traveling to Africa or to book, contact our advisory department by calling 212-988-2611 or by sending an inquiry
Coming soon: more suggestions on special safari lodges.
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