My Kenyan Safari

My end of year overland journey was filled with wild adventure, local culture, first class amenities, a luxury lodge and a wonderful portable tent camp in the migration path in the Maasai Mara on the banks of the Sand River.

In the last few weeks, the herds have arrived to the Serengeti, with half a million wildebeest competing for grazing with herds of zebra, all will eventually cross the Mara river.

It goes without saying that we provide the best guides and in our portable camp, Stormin’ Norman, the indomitable bush camp chef, turns out soufflés, exquisite appetizers and bountiful banquets. Eventually you beg him to stop serving more food, he doesn’t understand NO!

Our private charter flight sets the stage, a low pass over the Great Rift Valley escarpment spotting herds of Zebra on the plains; we landed softly on the strip not far from Ol Doyno Lodge, which is situated where the Chyulu Hills stretch out to meet the plains.Wedged between Kenya’s Tsavo East and Amboseli National Parks in the heart of the Chyulu Hills, this is a place of timeless wild beauty presided over by the magnificent summit of Africa’s greatest icon – Mount Kilimanjaro. Small but luxurious, the lodge only accommodates 20 guests.The lodge itself was rebuilt in 2008 and sits in thick woodland on a gently sloping hillside with views out over the plains to a distant Kilimanjaro. Designed to merge outdoor and indoor living, a series of unique suites and villas (no two are the same) appear to emerge from the arid landscape on either side of a palatial lounge and dining area. The structures are open to the spectacular view, no walls stand between you and the wild terrain. Eight of the ten private cottages have their own swimming pool while all enjoy roof terraces where intimate “star beds” can be set up, allowing guests the thrill of sleeping in style under a canopy of endless stars. The hide is a delightful viewing spot and the perfect location for sun-downers. Set amid a jungle of fallen trees on the floor of the plain, wild animals meander by mere feet from your perch amid the hide. The watering holes below many of the rooms are filled with recycled water, thus the Elly’s and Zebra know it is a reliable water source and visit, even after dark. As you fall asleep on your star roof, a quiet slurping reminds you that a thirsty elephant is visiting for a moonlight drink.This is cat country, moments after landing, we watched a cheetah mom teaching her five young cubs the stalk and hunt.An authentic Maasai village is nearby for visiting and the Ol Doyno lead guide has family in the village, thus you enjoy a very personal visit.

 Luxury accommodations, exciting game drives, leisurely poolside lunches, afternoon plunge, sun-downers in the hide or atop the tallest rocks in the plain…followed by a gourmet dinner and after dinner drinks in the main salon…Civilized Safari!There is nothing like the broad expanse of a Kenyan horizon. It’s not too late to begin planing an unforgettable African Journey!

Varua Spa At The Brando

Months have passed since my visit to The Brando Island, but not forgotten. I used my fragrant Papaya Body Scrub this morning and was reminded of my late afternoon sojourn at The Brando Varua Spa. A daily spa treatment is included in the Brando amenities; if you have never experienced a Polynesian massage, do schedule for afternoon arrival and every day following!

A brief bike ride beneath the towering coconut fronds and you arrive at the secluded pond, the actual location where the Tahitian Royal family once withdrew to rest and indulge in relaxation routines. A natural haven, the spa villas are hidden amid the dense jungle; dragonflies and enormous Lilly pads adorn the scene from your perch above the pond. There are a few couples rooms including an intricate woven wooden sphere tucked into the tall palm, suspended like a nest in the middle of the deep green jungle canopy.An indulgent treatment included every day for one guest, The Brando and the Varua Spa will truly reset your balance. From the moment you arrive at the spectacular space, your heart rate seemingly drops as you are enveloped in the calm of this natural preserve. Quiet is only interrupted by the splash of a bird in the lagoon; act one – setting the stage for blissful nirvana. Staff silently eases you onto the most comfortable spa bed, drift off with the dream producing ambient music and the treatment commences. From this moment, I lost consciousness and when awoken, relaxed and rejuvenated I had to admit I couldn’t ride my bike back to my villa! My legs were jelly and my brain was calm. I was barely able to navigate back to the changing room to reclaim my Villa key and decided the spa robe was appropriate for the staff aided ride back to my Villa.

Woven cocoon massage room

Waiting for my buggy driver, I languidly observed the geckos clambering across the thatched roof of the pavilion – an overwhelming sense of tranquility possessed me. Generally geckos above my head send me scurrying, today, not so much.The Brando offers an escape unlike any other and the Varua Spa is an essential part of the schedule. The jar of sensual Papaya scrub will add to your luggage weight, but months later when you use it, the luggage tax will be forgotten.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                              The Brando Varua Spa- Highly Recommend!