Ever since I was a child I have dreamed about going on a safari.
I believe the movie and TV show "Born Free," about Elsa the orphaned lion who was raised in captivity and then released into the wilds of Kenya, had a lot to do with my longings. The later film "Out of Africa" and its beautiful scenery only added to my desire to experience a safari.
Now that 2010 is almost over, it might be time to start dreaming about those places again. There are numerous companies that offer tours to the African continent and some of those have actual safari itineraries.
What is a safari? According to Wikipedia, a safari is an overland journey, usually a trip by tourists to Africa, traditionally for a big-game hunt. Today the term often refers to a trip taken not for the purposes of hunting, but to observe and photograph animals and other wildlife.
Micato Safaris is one of the top safari outfitters in the world. It is a family-owned and operated company that was started by Felix Pinto, a ranking member of the former British government in Kenya, on his rambling acreage outside Nairobi. Since then, Felix, his wife, Jane and their children run what is considered one of the top safari companies in the world with industry awards and accolades from "Travel & Leisure Magazine." This is luxury travel at its best.
Although there are numerous options, here is one of their most popular itineraries, "The Stanley Wing Safari" a 16-Day itinerary that starts and ends in Nairobi:
Day 1: Fly to Europe
Day 2: Fly from Europe to Nairobi. Micato staff will meet you to whisk you away to Historic Norfolk Hotel.
Day 3: After a Safari briefing and a lecture by Massai Elder Rakita (one of Africa's most sought after guides) you will embark on a city tour incuding a visit to the National Museum and the home of Karen Blixen (who wrote "Out of Africa" under her pen name, IsaK Dinesen) and a stop a the Giraffe Center.
Day 4-5: this morning you board a flight to the bush country of Amboseli National Park, where dramtic views of Mount Kilimanjaro dominate very vista. Early moning and late afternoon game drives are made daily.
Day 6: Today we drive to Arusha, Tanzania, for lunch and fly to Tarangire National Park. With a permanent water source, the park is virtually guaranteed enormous herds and excellent game viewing including cheetah, lion, leopard and hyena and a herd of 3,500 elephants.
Day 7-8: A lovely drive takes you to Ngorongoro Crater where your lodge sits dramatically on the rim of the crater. The next day you descend into the crater and spend the morning chasing animals. This natural amphitheater is said to have the largest concentration of animals in all of Africa.
Day 9-10: A visit to Serengeti National Park, deep in the heart of the largest and most diverse migration corridor in the world. Creatures of every size and description flood the savanna in droves - mammoth elephant, giraffe, rhino antelope, wildebeest and the comical warthog.
Day 11-12: Today you fly to the Mara via Arusha and Nairobi, and here we find the old Africa of the movies with the rolling grasslands dotted by acacia trees and sweeping planes - ideal for a hot air balloon expedition. A wonderful highlight is the stunning Bush Sundowneres - a glorious al fresco cocktail party overlooking the savanna at sunset. Stay in a tented camp in the Mara.
Day 13-14: Today you fly to Nairobi and continue by air across Kenya's fertile Central Highlands to the Mount Kenya Safari Club. This historic club sits on the slopes of majestic Mount Kenya and offers luxury and relaxation including such activites as golf, trout fishing, horseback riding and more. A two-night stay gives you ample time to explore the surrounding game reserves.
Day 15: Fly back to Nairobi and relax before your departure flight tonight.
Day 16: Your flight from Nairobi to Europe connects to your flight to the U.S.
Tour dates are year-round and start at $10,780 per person and includes the tour and internal air. Airfare from the U.S. is additional.
An African safari is a trip of a lifetime for most, but for some it is a yearly jaunt because they just can't get enough. This is a luxury safari, and as I stated earlier, there are many to choose from. But for me, this will do.
Patty Toppa is a travel consultant with Gadabout Travel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.cruisetraveltours.com.