Arriving into Nairobi at midnight was a pleasure as there was no traffic as I was rushed to my hotel, Hemingways, for an overnight before meeting the group in the morning.  A lovely stately hotel set on beautiful grounds.

After meeting the group at breakfast, we headed to the airport to catch our charter flight to our 1st destination, Loisaba.  Our pilot from Wings Air was an absolute delight and shot us up north in record time.  When we arrived we were met by out smiling guide, Festus, who would look after us for the next 2 days.  Elewana Loisaba Lodo Springs sits on a ridge looking east to Mt. Kenya.  This is an area of an escarpments with rolling hills down into a valley.  There are a variety of activities offered from Lodo Springs so we tried all of them.  You can mountain bike or walk from the lodge, horseback ride (about 20 minutes drive away), game drive or just relax by the wonderful pool overlooking the valley.  Wildlife is diverse but due to it being in a semi arid area is not abundant.  We did see lion & leopard as well as lots of Elephants, Reticulated Giraffe (northern species), Grevy zebra which are a unique species to the area, Kudu, so many dik-diks’ (small antelope) and a wonderful variety of birds.  The horseback riding was about 1 ½ and you ride with a variety of animals (we saw elephant, giraffe, warthog, antelope and a multitude of birds.  Really a different way to see the African bush.

Elewana Loisaba Tented Camp sits just a couple of hills away and is a nice option for families as well as people not wanting the more 'English’ feel of the windows at Lodo Springs.  All activities can be done from all camps.

Boarding our charter again to head a little further north to the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy and the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary.  This sanctuary has a large amount of female carers and rescues elephants, and a few giraffes & other species in need of help in the local area.  You are not allowed to feed the elephants but can have them say hello after, if they want. The center utilizes goats milk from the local community to feed them and so everyone benefits.

The new Reteti House is brand new and it an incredible option for an exclusive use camp.  With 5 rooms and a family room its location allows not only the game drives but also the opportunity to be as active or not as you like.  Namunyak is an incredibly beautiful, rugged and dramatic landscape with towering rocks in the Matthews Range.  For the more adventurous that want to get out of the car and experience Samburu life this is a wonderful option.  Here you can hike in the mountains, walk in the valley, bead with the local ladies, learn how to make metal with the local blacksmith or just hang at the incredible pool.  Game drives are in the valley and, in season where there is little water, visit the ‘Singing Wells’ where the local Samburu people dig holes up to 40 feet deep to get water for their cattle and livestock in the river bed.  We stayed at Sarara Treehouses which is set in the forest with walkways and rooms about 15 feet in the air  - quite unique.  We visited Sarara main camp (which is under renovation) and the famous pool and absolutely loved the feel and rooms.  There are 6 tents but my favorite are # 1 & 2 that overlook the water holes.  All activities can be done from any of the properties.

Now it was time to head to the Mara and Alex Walker’s Serian ‘The Original’ for our next stay.  The lodge consists of 4 rooms and a family tent (2 rooms & 2 bathrooms) all either on the river or overlooking it.  It is such a contrast from the dry rugged dramatic landscape of both Namunyak and Loisaba.  The North Mara Conservancy reminds me of the rolling green hills of England.  As with all the Conservancies the wildlife live in harmony with the cattle and goats raised by the local communities.  Serian has 3 properties, close to each other, along the Mara River as well as ‘s own walking concession area that goes from a that goes from Serian Ngare up the hill.  The walk is not only a great way to get out the vehicle but also to view across the Conservancies and into the Mara National Park from the Escarpment.  The Original has a laid back vibe and a great place to kick back and watch the hippos and crocs in the river.  Crossing the river on a fantastic swing bridge you will find the 4 room Serian Nyare which sits right on the river.  This is a great camp for either individuals or exclusive use.  Large tents with ensuite have unobstructed river access so a constant parade of hippos, crocs and elephants.    None of them have pools and you cannot, of course, swim in the river but that doesn’t detract from the experience.

Moving on we headed to the Olare Motorogi Conservancy and the wonderful Great Plains Mara Plains camp.  Situated on small river with a couple of swinging bridges.  As will all Great Plains camps there is nothing left to chance.  The property is wonderful with a large Middle Eastern flare.  There are 5 large tented suites and the Jazahi Suite with 2 bedrooms, pool and butler/chef.  Each room, as will some of their properties, each suite has it’s own butler who takes care of, not only the room, but everything else that you might need during your stay.

Just down the river is Mara Toto.  A slightly smaller tented camp with only 4 rooms.  It is set in the forest but rooms are very comfortable and perfect for exclusive use with views over the plains.  A little step down from Mara Plains but the service is the great Great Plains quality.

After our short stops we continued onto Noboisho Conservancy and the incredible new Mara Nyika.  Wow, this place is special and an amazing place to end our tour.  There are 6 tents (5 + 1 family tent).  Each of the double tents actually has 3 interconnecting tents (living, sleeping and bathing) and has every amenity that you need.  Again this is the same service that you have come to expect from the Great Plains portfolio.  Also with each room you get the use of a Canon camera & (same with Mara Plains.  Simon, our guide, was fantastic and then surprised us with an amazing sundowner spot in the bush with lions roaring – what a way to finish out trip. Noboisha is very different from both the North Mara & Olare Concessions with rolling hills, valleys and lots more vegetation.  Like the whole Mara region the amount of wildlife is outstanding and the topography makes it easy on the eyes.  What sets the Concessions apart from the National Parks is that you can walk, night drive, drive off road and have much more flexibility.  Since the Concessions are community owned the wildlife has learned to live with the livestock and Masai herders but the blueprint really works well.

Our last flight with Yellow Wings and our very friendly pilot, Simiol, and we were back in Nairobi.  We had a scheduled visit to Shagabagala, the new Gin distillery owned by Alex Walker.  The house is an old stables that has been converted to a 2 story farmhouse with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  You can take it on exclusive use for either for the day or overnight.  It is a beautifully quiet spot to relax before your flight home. Not only was the tasting great but they put on an amazing spread for lunch sitting overlooking the gardens.

A quick stop at Lang  shops for some quality gifts and then onto Cultiva, a farm to table restaurant.  A unique location and certainly worth a stop for some delicious fresh food.

Finally time to say goodbye to Kenya and head to JKIA.  Right now it is quite an ordeal with leave Kenya but a PCR test has been arranged for us while we were having lunch so that was great to not have to do the test at the airport.

To sum up.  Our trip was lead by Shannon from Cheli & Peacock. Shannon, and the whole Cheli & Peacock team, were fantastic with not a step missed.  They are wonderful to deal with and look forward to working with them more in the future and planning an amazing safari for you!