Kenya – The Very Very Best

After my recent Rwandan gorilla trek and luxurious Kenyan safari, I have a renewed love of all that is Africa. My visits to Kenya have been numerous and I never tire of the endless horizons and wildlife.

At the request of one of our long time clients we assembled a fabulous trip for an extended family…a small slice of the best of Kenya. Arrive at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where you will be greeted by our Safari by Appointment representative who will assist you through immigration and customs. On clearing customs you will be transferred to your private charter flight to one of the most gorgeous properties in all of Africa – Ol Jogi Ranch, which has been a private Ranch for decades and is still family owned, besides the sumptuous interiors which sleeps up to 14 guests, the wildlife is a private sanctuary teeming with an incredible diversity of game. Including more than 40 of the 790 black rhinos that remain in East Africa, migrating elephants, and 15% of the remaining Grevy’s zebras.

The private compound assures you won’t see another land cruiser ever – hunt for the Big Five and never encounter another vehicle.

Night drives are popular, or take a horse or camel ride among the animals on the plains of this magnificent ranch. private watering hole and salt lick attack numerous wildlife all day long. For a closer inspection head through a tunnel to a hide with eye level windows just a few feet from the amazing wildlife…safe and protected in the hide or rest on the veranda for the parade of wild beasts!

Each compound is personally decorated in elaborate style, but arrive in jeans and sneakers to dinner prepared by the family French chef, who prepares elaborate meals in the dining room or will surprise you with a bush dinner or breakfast during your morning drive. optional excursion that we would recommend for one of your days at Ol Jogi would be to take a helicopter trip to Lake Turkana.  This is a spectacular way to see the rich and dramatic northern landscapes of Kenya. You could stop on the sand dunes north of the Suguta Valley for an early morning coffee break before continuing on to the shores of Lake Turkana for a swim in the ‘Jade Sea’. From the lake you would fly up to the lovely Desert Rose Lodge for lunch, and then back to Ol Jogi for afternoon tea.

Another optional excursion we would recommend would be to fly by helicopter into the heart of Samburu Land where you would spend the morning/day with the Samburu people and wildlife, learning about their traditions and culture. Perhaps even take a ride on quad bikes/dune buggies up the wide open dry sand river beds that run through the Samburu region.Today gives you another opportunity to explore Ol Jogi further, or perhaps take an optional excursion to the stunning lakes on the upper slopes of Mt Kenya for a day/morning of fly-fishing.

Day 6 After breakfast, depart by buggy, quad and safari vehicle (for the faint-hearted) bound for a two night adventure ‘fly- camping’ in the bush of the Samburu Tribal region. Here you will get to spend time with the Samburu tribal people, as well as explore this rugged and beautiful part of Kenya in open buggies.

Day 7  Your activities in Samburu would include village visits, walking, long drives up wide open sand river beds, night game drives, and relaxing in the Fly Camp. The ‘fly camp’ is a very lightweight but comfortable camp set up for us on the wide & dry sand river beds of the Milgis and Seiya luggas in the Samburu tribal area.Day 8 After breakfast, fly by private charter to Ithumba Camp in Tsavo East National Park where the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust sends the orphaned baby elephants to re-introduce them back to the wild once they are too big for the Nairobi nursery. Ithumba Camp, Tsavo East National Park.

Day 9  You will have a unique and exclusive access to these little treasures. It is an incredible project and this is one of our favorite places to visit because you get to spend time with these beautiful creatures in such close quarters, joining them for their mud baths and feeding times.

When you are not visiting the babies you will explore this pristine wilderness for other wildlife including huge wild elephants, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, kudu, various antelope & gazelles as well as lion and the elusive cheetah and leopard.

Day 10 Depart after breakfast by air charter to our Safari by Appointment private mobile camp within Masai Mara National Reserve. The Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of the official natural wonders of the world. The great Migration may be starting to arrive in the Mara, with droves of zebra and wildebeest galloping around.Day 11 Our shaded campsite is on the banks of the lazy Sand River, close to the border with the Serengeti. This is a favorite crossing place for the migration as it moves from the Serengeti into the Maasai Mara, providing some entertainment while in camp during the heat of the day.

Day 12 We have booked a private hot air balloon flight for this morning. Nowhere in the world is there a movement of animals as immense as the wildebeest migration, over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya during July through to October. The migration has to cross the Mara River in the Maasai Mara where crocodiles  will prey on them.  Our days here will be spent on game drives marveling at the Mara’s legendary wildlife and scenery. The Mara also has one of the highest predator population densities in the world, so there is never a shortage of the big cats! Spend the day exploring the Mara and its wildlife.Day 13 After a leisurely breakfast enjoy your last game drive to the airstrip. You will fly by private charter to Nairobi where you will have time to go shopping or visit the Nairobi elephant orphans at the Sheldrick Wildlife trust (optional activity). Return to your dayrooms to freshen up before connecting to your international flight home.Spectacular Safari and always designed to suit your needs – amazing staff, beautiful locations and accommodations – superb dining even off the grid!

Six Senses Zighy Bay – Oman

Touched down for a brief but sensational stay at the award winning Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman, I plan to return and spend more time relaxing and recharging at this off the chart oasis; my stay however, was perfectly timed for leisure following 11 days of gorilla trekking and safari.

Land in Dubai, hotel provides a VIP wing side butler who guides you to a small lounge, sip a cappuccino while your butler fetches luggage and directs you to your waiting car. There are several methods of arrival, actually four once you reach the soaring hilltop above the resort. Arrive by car, one can take flight like a native falcon by paragliding to the beach from the hotel’s top of the cliff Sense On The Edge Restaurant.  Feeling the vibe of the five star luxury?The drive is two hours through the arid desert from Dubai, passing through small seaside towns. Another option is to soar in a seaplane from Dubai and land on the beach thirty minutes from the resort. Or super spy arrival in a speedboat, driver drops you at Dibba Port and you flutter over the sparkling sea for 15 minutes to the mini-marina. So many choices, Bond!

Always wanting to see the lay of the land, I arrived by car service and enjoyed a soaring seaplane flight back to Dubai. The winds were up on my arrival, which prevented me from my planned para-glide to the beach. After teetering on the edge of the cliff where I would have jumped in the tandem glider, I was relieved by the high wind report, but Jad Frem, Director of Marketing and Sales promised a substitute surprise for me…

Six Senses is remote, very remote – located on the rugged northern tip of the Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman. Traveling on a six-mile one lane steep dirt road approach the resort circling up craggy sandstone mountains that resemble dust sprinkled fjords. A scenic treasure, the Musandam fjords are a mere smidgen of the spectacular scenery, from the very highest peak, the breath-taking view of the sparkling turquoise sea is framed by a sandy white beach.

My infinity pool, an oasis of calm!

Dust and heat are relieved on arrival, a moist towel and a chilled concoction of sparkling date juice provide a genuine welcome. Rooms are arranged in an authentic Omani village landscape, narrow sandy paths weave among the private suites and rooms. Typical desert landscaping of dates, figs and palm trees punctuate the paths and bikes are propped up at each sandstone villa. Your personal GEM Butler will buggy you around if biking seems too much. GEM – Guest Experience Managers – at your beck and call, Myrna seemed to appear mere moments after I would ring for her. Always cheerful, reserving spa appointments, dinner, whatever you desire!Recommend a sandy beach front villa, your private infinity pool is carved from natural stone; float, chilled cocktail in hand, transfixed by the vista of the sparkling sea. Privacy screens pivot for the view or shut for ultimate seclusion. Thick stone walls of the villas assure coolness besides lending to the authentic sense of place, the decor is muted, tasteful and restful to the eye. Why try to distract from the spectacular setting with a cluttered interior? Zighy has mastered the zen sense of calm. Each beachfront dwelling is furnished with sun loungers, terrace dining table, outdoor shower and a sand garden which leads to the gently lapping warm sea, the Gulf of Oman.

Little tree climbing goats clamber in the date trees, otherwise, the sound of the sea is all you will hear. The black night sky is brilliant with stars, building on the dramatic sky, the resort is lit with candles and torches enhancing the desert ambiance. Tranquility can be interspersed with scuba, biking in the Hajar Mountains, yoga, gym exercise, or snorkeling, water skiing, hiking with the aforementioned pygmy goats, or canyoning, or end the day with a sunset dhow cruise.

Private path to my villa on the sea.

Don’t miss the superb spa, you deserve it! A refuge and retreat, your pulse drops on arrival, the dimly lit rooms are infused with a smoldering hint of frankincense. I highly recommend the deep tissue Swedish massage, a sleep-inducing signature treatment. What other spa entices you with innovative and ancient holistic treatments from their expert in-house and visiting wellness consultants. No wonder so many awards!

One of the exotic offerings: Royal Moroccan Hammam Cleanse – nourish the body with a personalized experience starting with Moroccan steam and body wash with a black soap enriched with eucalyptus essential oil. The body is then exfoliated on a heated marble bed and swathed with a purifying rasoul clay mask, allowing for impurities to rise to the skin’s surface. It continues with the application of hair strengthening oil, a face and foot treatment; completing with a gentle massage and the application of hydrating body milk.

Who can resist?Dining choices – oh, so many. From the cliff  hugging restaurant serving international cuisine together with spectacular views over the crystal waters of the Gulf of Oman, to regional specialties and a Chef’s Table. Spice Market, Zighy Bar, Summer House, and the authentic Shua Shack, a Bedouin dining experience. Family-style evenings begin with local organic salads, followed by lamb prepared in the underground oven. Oh, did I mention dinner in the wine cellar or roof top turret or a secluded romantic beach feast?

Zighy Bay has a de-salination plant and has created its own oasis – with 11,000 palms, fig trees, coffee plants, henna, and pomegranate, as well as its own vegetable garden. Extended families will love the very private two or four bedroom retreats located on each end of the resort. Beit Musandam, the Private Reserve, 4 bedroom retreat opens to an exclusive entrance and a wide courtyard which overlooks the three buildings that make this a true Arabian Palace of Wonders. With its four bedrooms, the Private Reserve – the largest of its type in the Middle East – offers a variety of separate living and dining room areas for entertaining, a private spa suite, a gym, a yoga studio, a wine cellar, staff quarters, a 17-meter infinity swimming pool and live-in butler.

The Musandam Peninsula is an arid but lovely strip of land that stretches up into the Straits of Hormuz opposite Iran, with the Gulf of Oman on one side, the Persian Gulf on the other.

Six Senses Zighy Bay- Sensational!