Working in the travel industry affords you the opportunity to travel quite a lot. We get to explore lands both near and far, whether it be a new city in the states or a whole new continent (Antarctica, you’re next on my hit list). Working mainly in New Zealand, Australia and Asia, I have had almost no exposure to Africa, except for a quick honeymoon to Marrakech almost a decade ago. When an opportunity came up to explore Kenya, I naturally jumped on it. It’s not too often these days as a travel professional that we are put into a completely unknown and new experience, but this definitely fit the bill.
When confirming the trip, I purposefully limited my research into the destination. I knew that someone was picking me up, dropping me off and telling me where I needed to go and when. As a trip planner, what kind of vacation is it where you have to do trip planning?
So we showed up flying blind, ready to soak it all in.
We arrived in Nairobi late at night, walking off the plane to be met by a hot wind. A great start. I find smell to be a very powerful sense with travel. The smell of jet fuel mixed with nearby cooking fire put an instant, albeit weary smile on my face. We fast-tracked through customs and hopped into a car to Nairobi National Park. Within a half hour, we went from the international airport to being in the confines of the park, arriving to Emakoko, our home for the next couple of days. While I usually despise arriving somewhere after dark, I really enjoyed this transition, as I knew I was going to wake up in the middle of the bush, and I wasn’t disappointed. This was a great start to twelve days of full-on safari. Bouncing from place to place in Cessnas, early morning game drives, bush walks, sundowners, swimming holes and everything in between.
Not ever having experienced a safari before, I really have a renewed respect for what my colleagues do. Planning a safari is a game of minute details. There are so many camps to choose from, and getting the right person into the right camp really is an art. While I was well briefed on the important details by Dan and Yvonne, our planners extraordinaire, I still chose to keep the details light. I wanted the experience to wash over me like a fine layer of dust (and oh God, it was everywhere).
This whole experience will take some time to properly reflect upon, but my first and biggest takeaway is that no matter how well travelled you feel you may be, the world is a truly huge place, and there is always somewhere else that will truly blow your mind.
Calling Mike a rookie is a little unfair… Calling him open-minded is more to the point. He’s your passport to eye-opening adventures the world over, and you can email him directly here.