Just Back From… East Africa: Kenya & Tanzania
Trip Duration: 2 weeks
Flight Plan: We flew from NYC to London to Nairobi and on tiny bush planes (like flying school busses) while in Africa. Carry-on essentials include: a Kindle, an over-sized scarf to stay warm on the plane, rosebud balm for lips and nose (40,000′ gets dry!), and a hard copy of “Out of Africa” to read by flashlight at night. Travel gear is laid back, like an easy pair of Theory pants I got at Hampden Clothing this spring and seem to wear on every trip, a J. Crew chambray shirt (which I wore virtually everyday on Safari), our new SS17 scarves which perfectly dress up any outfit, Dieppa Restrepo chelsea boots, a Lizzie Fortunato Safari Clutch for my passport and wallet and our favourite canvas carry-all for the airplane.
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Tour Group: We toured with Micato Safaris, a phenomenal tour company focusing on East African Safaris. We loved the family-run and boutique-nature of the company (both elements we champion in our own business) and could not have fallen more in love with our tour guides, the people — and the animals! — we met. We traveled with our mum — promptly re-named “Mama Safari” — for her 60th birthday, along with our brother Alex (who was the trip’s chief photographer), and our fiancés Peter and Nick.
Where We Stayed: The Fairmont Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi for a day of exploring Kenya’s capital city. While there, we visited Karen Blixen’s house, where she maintained a coffee farm and gathered inspiration for her novels, most famously Out of Africa. Then, we took a tiny bush plane to a tiny dirt air strip (attended by exactly zero people) in Kalama. From here, we drove to Samburu Game Reserve, where we stayed at Larsens Camp, a rustic and beautiful camp with 20 tented rooms. We loved sitting on our porch between game drives and watching baboons play a few feet away while elephants and antelopes drank in the nearby river. Our last stop in Kenya was the famed Maasai Mara where we stayed at the Fairmont Mara Safari Club. The rooms here were beautifully appointed: hardwood floors, full baths, and canvas tent walls. From our rooms we could hear hippos and lions at night and watch alligators bathe in the river below. A highlight of our stay here was a 5 am hot air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara plains, following herds of gazelle, zebra, giraffes and elephants.
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From Kenya we flew (in another 15-seater) to Tanzania where we stayed at our favorite —and the most remote—destination: Serengeti Migration Camp. Despite being insanely remote (miles from civilization) and in the middle of the wild (we had to be accompanied by a guard to our room each evening to avoid roaming hippos), the rooms were perfectly rustic-chic. We could have stayed here for days. Like our prior destinations, we woke up early everyday for morning game drives where we spotted lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, hippos, rhinos and more. The vast landscapes were breathtaking and it was humbling to feel so small in the midst of such majestic creatures. Our final lodge was the Manor Ngorongoro situated in Tanzania’s Great Rift Valley and next to the Ngorongoro Crater, known as the “Cradle of Life”. Unlike our other destinations, we weren’t in a tent but in an exquisite lodge, surrounded by 700 acres of coffee farm—Best. coffee. ever.
Best Thing We Ate: Pancakes at Larsens Camp in the middle of the wilderness; homemade soups at almost every meal; and most memorably, a 3-course lunch in the middle of the Serengeti.
Best Hang Out Spot: The bar and common room at the Manor Ngorongoro in Tanzania where you could mingle with other travelers and hear a multitude of languages being spoken, drink the local coffee by morning and their signature Dawa Cocktail by evening, which is made up of vodka, ginger, honey, lemon or lime. You can get lost here watching the roaring fire and reveling in the adventures of the day.
Best Daytime Activity: Game Drives! The rover left early: 6:30a.m. to catch wild animals en route to their morning meal.
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Best Night Out: You can’t really go out (for fear of getting attacked by a lion!) but there were many evenings of South African red wine and conversations with our local guides and the other travelers, who became fast friends.
Trip Highlight: A hot air ballon ride over the Maasai Mara followed by breakfast in the middle of the savannah, surrounded by no one except the rising sun and gazelles. Also, visiting a local village where we stocked up on kanga fabrics and beautiful beaded necklaces—materials that will certainly inspire our FW17 collection.
Could not Leave Home Without: An adjustable charm necklace for good luck and to dress up any safari outfit; my Aunti Oti washed kashmir scarf for chilly mornings and evenings; a one-piece bathing suit for afternoons by the pool; and these Jesse Kamm pants in khaki — the only hue you need for safari! For beauty: Kloraine Dry Shampoo, NARS bronzer, and RMS lip2cheek. This was definitely a low maintenance beauty trip…
Most Inspiring Aspect: Hearing (during the course of our travels) China’s groundbreaking announcement that they would be banning ivory trade in a major step against poaching—one of the major threats to elephants and rhinos in East Africa.
We wish we had…Seen a kill! On safari, the ultimate coup (despite sounding morbid) is watching a leopard chase down its prey in the savannah.
Favourite Shopping Trip: A local Samburu village where we found beads and insane necklaces and a small shop in Nairobi where Lizzie picked up a mud cloth table runner (she’s a textile fiend!)
Why a Safari? Because experiencing the wild up-close-and-personal is the most extraordinary thing ever. Because the light here is like nowhere else in the world. Because the people were the most warm, hospitable, and welcoming that we’ve ever encountered.