It’s been announced that we will return to Egypt late November 2023. Names are being added to the “Interested” list. Interested? Don’t delay. Old saying, “If you think long, you think wrong”. The list will be maxed out before you know it.
I’ve been going to Egypt continuously since 2010, was even there during the Spring Uprising 2011, lived in Giza near the Pyramids off and on for 6 months, could even see a tiny portion of the Nile River from my bedroom balcony. I’ve made a lot of good connections and friends over the years; especially in my beloved Aswan near the Sudan where the people are the blackest, always looking good decked out in their white garments and referring to me as “cousin”. I absolutely love all of that. The thought of not bringing tourists next year makes me sad as well as the thought of missing out on the best treatment anyone could receive. Tired?? Yes I am but so many of you who have missed out have been literally begging me to return. Next month will be my first trip to the resorts on the Red Sea; Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada. When I saw my sweet suite with private swimming pool at the All Inclusive resort; I practically melted. Most that know me know that I’m not only a foodie but a hotel snob as well. There is no shame in my game when it comes to a fine top of the line hotel. Next year will have the same Egypt program as always but with a 4 night extension on the Red Sea instead of 3. Let’s see how it goes for 2023, who really means business. Next month there will be 26 in the group with 5 of us going to Hurghada afterwards. I can’t wait.
I’ve always been attracted to the “exotic and exotic sounding”. Zanzibar is one of those. 2019 led me there. Been there, done that and intuitively knew I would have to do it again. So the time will definitely come August 2024 if the Lord says the same. Man, it’s such a beautiful place. How did the “interested” list fill up so fast? Well, in a word, “repeaters”. Those that have gone before to Zanzibar and this month to Kenya were eager to say, “SIGN ME UP”. Just like we sold out Tree House this year with only Kattrax guests, that’s my aim for the tented camp in Masai Mara; only us and no one else. If they give me the space it will happen and the reports I’ve been getting since we left, as with everywhere I take my well behaved guests is “They are the best group we’ve ever had the pleasure to serve”.
I’ve been to game reserves over 13 times and I generally only go the first evening drive. This trip I hit them all except one. I didn’t want to miss possibly viewing part of the great annual migration. What’s on the drawing board is 2 nights Nairobi at the Fairmont, 4 nights at a tented camp; Sand River and lastly Arusha and 4 nights Melia Zanzibar. I can tell you now it’s going to be a big ticket item so start saving your pennies now. For those that aren’t familiar with a “tented camp”, see the video that Katrina made of her unit and yes they already claimed #3 and I, #2. A tented camp has tents reminiscent of the golden days of the 1920’s when the rich folks went on safaris. Once the rates and dates are available there will be some removing themselves which will allow those on the waitlist hoping for a taste of this Kattrax luxury to sign up as a definite participant. Please note: there aren’t golf carts to get around the camp like in Pilanesberg so sad to say if you have any mobility issues this isn’t the trip for you. Until next time… Sorry I couldn’t locate the camp video.
Just back from 3 weeks in the Motherland; beginning in South Africa and ending in Kenya. Going to Pilanesberg & Kruger was nothing like Kenya where the Masai Mara meets the Serengeti in Tanzania. In a word, “Amazing”. We go to these places to explore, enjoy but at the same time spread goodwill. 2008, 2009, 2010 our travelers provided funds for the Dalukhanyo Preschoolers in the Langa Township in Cape Town to get warm up suits made in the colors of our beloved Golden State Warriors uniforms. Thank you Clemons family and all those that helped. Those children should be about to graduate from high school now.
In Kenya at the resort on Diani Beach, I was engaged in deep conversation with masseuse Esther who told me of a family of 4 young boys whose mother left them with their elderly father to be with some other man. The boys had no shoes and picked up “jiggers” in their feet WTF? ( worms burrowed inside preventing them from walking properly). I asked how much do shoes cost? She replied the USD equivalent of $7 in Kenyan Schillings. I gave her $50. She thanked me profusely and said she would be able to get shoes, a mattress and some food. As I exited the spa I mentioned it to Katrina who in turn gave her $50. Esther kept her promise to send pictures of the children with their plastic shoes, new mattress & some food. I didn’t expect her to show her gloved hands soaking and digging out the jiggers. Happy to have been able to help even though small, it was great to them. August 2024 Kenya & Tanzania will be back in rotation and without price and exact dates there is already a waiting list. In case you have forgotten 2023 is already a wrap with Ghana, Afro Colombia, Black Paris, Tuscany, Jamaica & Dubai. I’m trying to exit but y’all won’t seem to allow it 😻 Nonetheless, On the drawing board for 2024: March – Vietnam
It’s been a wonderful end to my 3 weeks in the Motherland; from South Africa to the Masai Mara to 3 nights on the Indian Ocean at Water Lovers Beach Resort. Everything was top notch every step of the way. I will miss those fleece covered hot water bottles to warm up the bed at Sand River. So much so that I can’t wait to share with my family. All meals included will definitely be missed from this week in Kenya. The artwork in each Water Lover’s cottage was amazing. Kellea & I were in Elephant and everything centered around elephants. The others were in cottages with names like turtle, hippo, rhino, lion, giraffe and their artwork was just as amazing.
There have been so many requests to return to Kenya; I shall return and the list is growing. Of course there will be a cap on the numbers because more intimate is better. The plan that is being worked on will be Nairobi, Masai Mara & Zanzibar. Thanks for joining me on this journey. We fly out tonight from Nairobi.
Our last full day at Diani Beach and we all separately decided to visit Mombasa. Some chose half a day, some chose the full day option. Even though I was excited a full day would have been more than I could bear. The little kid in me was like “Are we there yet?, how much longer are we going to be here”? I shared a vehicle with Dessie & Kellea. 18 miles seemed like forever to get to the ferry. Even though the ferry ride is only 7 minutes, the wait to get on can be an hour. Vehicles drive on and pay, pedestrians (looked like hundreds walked on and they do not pay). Lord today, it was hot sitting in the vehicle. Once on the other side in Likoni I was ready for the experience or so I thought. Lots of traffic, hustle & bustle, Mombasa is Kenya’s 2nd largest city after the capital of Nairobi. We make our way to Mama Ngina Drive, named after the former First Lady; widow of the country’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta. This drive is about a mile long with the first part packed with stalls on the left and right all selling the same things. So we get to old town, ok. Show me new town, ok well it looks just like old town. I want to see the beautiful new hotels, etc. We go to Fort Jesus, built in 1593 by the Portuguese to protect the port of Mombasa. No thank you, I do not need to get out. We hit a few more corners, passing school children at play and Kenyans conducting their business. Before heading to the giant tusks which were built in 1952 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s visit, we made our way to the craft market and actually ran into the major shoppers in the group. Not my thing but my driver led me to a souvenir shop that had wifi and Boney Johnson, an 80 something Swedish gent who has been living in Mombasa for 7 years. He could tell you all about Muhammad Ali, Grace Manor & Elvis, any of the Olympics, states in the United States and his experience on the longest train route in the world; Trans-Siberian Express from Moscow to Vladivostok. It takes 6 days and passes through several time zones. That my friend was the highlight of my day. Perhaps my expectations of Mombasa were too high. I don’t know but been there, done that, don’t have to do it again. I loved Nairobi, the Masai Mara and will do it again and possibly add a return to Zanzibar in mid July 2024, hoping to see the beginning of the annual migration.
Masai Mara was incredible. There are so many things that will be missed; like our knowledgeable Ranger Guides: Daniel, Joel & Lewis, those fuzzy warm hot water bottles placed under our covers at night that kept our beds warm all night long. I’ve already 5 for my family. Last but not least, the Chef who after I got him straight on who he was dealing with; he came correct. I told him, “Look, our roots are from Africa just like you. We like well seasoned food, we don’t care for carpaccio beef( it’s raw), nor did we come for Indian fare save that for the next group. You don’t want me to come in your kitchen and cook, do you?” He couldn’t help but laugh and he became our new best friend, throwing down til the end. The farewell lunch was the bomb; lamb chops and roasted chicken cooked to perfection so much so that several walked away with his recipes thanks to Katrina’s request. Our Rangers loaded up our luggage and off to the Keekorok Airstrip for our 2 hr flight to Diani-Ukunda Airstrip (pronounced uh-kun-da) not to be confused with Uganda. Our group was split into 2 for the flight; 7 and 7. We’re talking small aircraft of about 16 seats. With Phillip in the co-pilot seat, an hour into the flight he pointed out the top of Mt Kilimanjaro. Our hotel, Water Lover’s Beach Resort on Diani beach was a mile and a half away from the strip. Diani Beach is 20 miles south of Mombasa, sits on the shoreline of the Indian Ocean and has been voted the 22nd best beach in the world. The resort has 8 cottages named after animals, all with superb ocean views. We have Full Board here (breakfast, lunch and dinner) but my treat to the group was cocktails & “bitings” poolside followed by a welcome BBQ Seafood dinner which included lobster & prawns. Tomorrow shoppers will shop, and explorers will explore. My spa appointment of aromatherapy and foot reflexology was made days ago and I’m ready; after that I will sit on my veranda listen to music, meditate on God’s goodness and gaze at the beautiful turquoise water.
From sun up to sundown today was more than amazing. En route to the Masai Village we saw a mother similar to an antelope birth a newborn only hours old, cleaning her up and pushing her to walk alone. Once at the village we interacted with the Masai tribe in song and dance. Back to camp for lunch and a short rest then back on another drive. Being out here is so different from any of the other 15 plus drives I’ve been on including Kruger where you hope to see one or two of the Big 5 but here you see hundreds and if we had caught the annual Great Migration we would see thousands. We surprised the group with an amazing fireside “sundowner” with bottles of wines and snacks that are called “bitings” – meatballs, chicken wings, and samosas. We watched the sunset then back to the campsite for more fireside chats, drinks then dinner. We surprised our honeymoon couple, Michael Simmons & Deb Neville with a cake, and song & dance by the staff. This was our last night and tomorrow we fly to Diani Beach on the Indian Ocean. In closing, ladies if coming to the bush, be prepared with leggins or a dress for easy access in relieving yourselves. It’s quite an experience.
My apologies… in the bush, the internet is spotty and photos would not load properly. Next stop is Water Lovers Beach Resort on the Tropical shores of the Indian Ocean, 22 miles from Mombasa. Hopefully, I will not have any posting issues.