Go to Africa
The sunset on my first night in the Serengeti. Photograph by Adriaan Louw.
One of the best parts about travelling into East Africa, for me, is the time spent flying low in small planes. Those noisy little things make me feel like a real little adventurer. Peering down over rough and rural terrain and hopping between quaint airports and deserted airstrips, all the while knowing I’m flying in or out of some of the best nature reserves I’m ever going to experience.
Africair. Waiting for a plane in Kenya.
The first time I went to the Serengeti, I thought I’d never experience anything better but the bug bites and then it’s Uganda, then Kenya, then you find yourself going back to the Serengeti and onward to Zanzibar and before you know it, you’re in an intimate relationship with the whole continent. In truth, it would take a lifetime to know East Africa, let alone the whole of Africa but once you know even a part of it, all of it is in you and you’ll keep seeking it out again and again and again.
An "airport lounge" in the middle of Africa.
But those planes… I love the informal safety briefings from pilots, the stash of water bottles that are always stored at the back of the plane, the crouching down to shuffle through to your seat, greeting fellow safari-goers who caught the plane at the last airstrip. Unless of course you’ve gone private ;) I love the outdated airport lounges (if you can even call some of them that) with their water coolers and conservation posters on the walls, and the occasional hole in the wall canteen selling the world’s greatest nuts (it’s a fact) and maybe some almost-expired chocolates.
It is this movement, this traveler-in-transit pace, that I have loved most about each and every trip I have gone on. I love it more than the game viewing and everything the luxury lodges have to offer. And what makes it even more of a treat to experience is that no one tells you about those parts of the trip. You discover all these details as you go along.
Flying over the spectacular rolling hills of Uganda. Photograph by Adriaan Louw.
Travel agents to Africa can sell us on the tangible stuff, the food, the interiors, the animals that we can expect to see. They are full of knowledge. They know the name of every airport. They have a map of every route. They know the history of every lodge and perhaps even the future of them. They know the exchange rate, the weather, the mosquito threat. They know everything you will need to know and they can arrange for someone to physically guide you along every step of the way. But what they don’t know, what they couldn’t even possibly begin to explain to you, is how you’re going to feel when you’re on your way there. And how you’re going to feel when you leave to go home. Although they can place a bet that it’s going to be a bitter-sweet departure because you are now a better person than you were when you arrived and you’ll undoubtedly try your damnedest to return.
Flying over the Mara River in Kenya's Maasai Mara. Photograph by Adriaan Louw.
What I love about Ker & Downey® Africa and why I chose to work with them is because the people who founded the company, those who sit at the helm, and each and every one of the people who drive the business forward, first fell in love with the very same things that I did. They loved experiencing East Africa (and every part of travelling to and from it) SO MUCH that they wanted to show other people what they had discovered and enable them to experience it too.
The traveller-in-transit, the adventure traveller, the intrepid explorer, is in motion. He doesn’t arrive at a luxury lodge, he moves through it. She doesn’t go on game drives to see the big 5, she spends time in nature. They don’t want to say they’ve seen the Great Migration, they want to feel the energy of a natural phenomenon as it surrounds them. The motivation is different. And thus the pursuit is different, which makes the outcome different.
No one else will ever be able to put what the experience feels like into words for you. It can only be felt.
Go to Africa.
Pure joy is the only way I can describe the feeling I have when looking down from these tiny planes.
Photograph by Adriaan Louw.