We are hungrier now more than ever before to marvel at the wonders of the world as the ‘travel drought’ has made our wanderlust that much stronger and given us itchy feet. The time will come when the new normal will once again include some of your old holiday favourites as well as different and more meaningful experiences.
Privacy, purpose, protection, and pampering. These are what the new era of African safaris will need to combine to ensure that when you journey to a faraway destination, you can do so safely, exclusively and in a way that is fulfilling for you and reduces any environmental or social pressure on your host destination.
Travel can be about so much more than simply ticking off a checklist. It can feed your soul with passion and purpose, while giving back in significant ways to those that are lacking in resources. A safari experience at a luxury tented camp or private residence in one of Kenya’s famous private game reserves or parks can be that exciting and inspiring holiday.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic has been brought under control, luxury safaris in Kenya will be the best antidote to cabin fever and the lockdown blues. These are the four principles that will make safaris safe and memorable outdoor holiday experiences.
Luxury safaris in Kenya have always celebrated quality over quantity, with a focus on authentic connections to local people and nature. An emphasis on privacy and exclusivity when traveling gives you and your travel partner real bonding time as you enjoy new experiences together. Off the beaten track, away from the crowds, is where you can really disconnect from the world and tune into the pace of nature.
How much wider and wilder the great outdoors is without a collection of other game drive vehicles in your line of sight while reveling in an exhilarating wildlife encounter. National parks offer broad appeal – and the crowds that come with it – while a private game reserve and conservation area needs only be shared with a handful of other people that seek personal experiences, rather than mass-market attractions.
Whether walking through the bush on foot or sharing a secluded breakfast just beyond camp, your nearest and dearest are the only company you need when in the bush. The only other people you want are those that live and breathe all things safari and have a deep knowledge of your chosen Kenyan game reserve. Personable camp staff and highly trained guides will be able to intuitively read you, making sure you end your holiday with a sense of rich fulfillment of having a truly local experience.
Travel has always been a wonderful privilege rather than a guaranteed given, something which we have all been starkly reminded of lately. By choosing luxury safaris in Kenya that focus on sustainability, you will be practicing the responsibility you have as a traveler by making a positive difference to wildlife conservation and community empowerment initiatives. Purpose-driven travel puts the power to give back in your hands, affording you the opportunity to have a meaningful and mindful journey that leaves your host destination better off for having you come to visit.
The open, green spaces and incredible wildlife of Africa are what convert travelers into avid safari-goers. Without adequate protection and management, endangered species are vulnerable to increased poaching and trafficking, and wilderness areas become threatened by human encroachment. By visiting game reserves within the greater Maasai Mara, your funds support the important work done by anti-poaching units, park rangers and various organizations on the ground.
Purpose-driven tourism is also about contributing to the livelihoods and social development of local communities in ways that are sustainable, empowering and respectful. Travel to foreign destinations should ditch the idea of simply looking and photographing indigenous people. Rather, as responsible travelers, we should be engaging and learning from people that have a culture different to our own.
While tourism will most certainly happen again, it will not simply pick up from where it left off – it will not be completely the same as before. As movement restrictions relax at the national level – and eventually the international level – travel in the time of COVID-19 will continue to see extensive risk mitigation procedures put in place for the safety of you and your loved ones.
Private travel, such as by chartered flight transfers from city to camp, gives you added protection. The luxury safari experience will include social distancing measures, with separation of tents being further than before, strict health procedures put in place, and all camp staff practicing high levels of sanitization.
Meals eaten in secluded locations and privately guided game-viewing by vehicle, foot or hot-air balloon are just some of the perks of luxury camps that have had to up their privacy and safety levels for your protection.
It has been a difficult time for everyone across the world. So once this is all over, a holiday to pamper yourself and your significant others will certainly be well-deserved. There is no better place than the great outdoors to recharge your batteries, refresh your perspective and reconnect with yourself far from the stresses of the outside world. Some indulgent pampering will really do the trick and luxury safaris in Kenya are well-known for piling this on in all the best ways.
Relaxing massage treatments with lotions and oils sourced from nature, open-air bubble bush baths with stunning views, and personal yoga and meditation sessions are just some of the special treats to spoil yourself with. Sipping on chilled gin and tonics while watching the sun set is a Kenyan safari tradition that will most certainly remain on the ‘must do’ list. Simply sitting and gazing into the wilderness or losing your thoughts in the stars that dazzle in the night sky are therapies provided every day by Mother Nature herself.
As we go forward, the need for private and safe luxury safaris that find balance within their natural surroundings and the communities they share it with will be some of the most important principles in travel across the world, Africa and in Kenya more specifically.
Calvin Cottar is Director and Owner at Cottar’s 1920s Safaris. Cottar’s 1920s Safaris is an award-winning luxury 1920s safari camp and private bush villa located in the famous ‘seventh’ natural wonder of the world, the Maasai Mara in Kenya, and owned and managed by the oldest established and continuing safari family in Africa.