Our internal travel advisor, Debra Bernatowicz, recently took an amazing 17-day trip to Kenya and Tanzania. Learn more about her favorite moments, meals and overall impressions from her vacation to East Africa.
Insider’s Tip: Go off-season. The weather was good — fewer Homo sapiens! Learn Swahili. The locals love it!
Overall impressions: All of the Andrew Harper properties were amazing: Giraffe Manor, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Singita Serengeti Sabora Camp, Faru Faru Lodge, Hemingway's Nairobi, Elsa's Kopje and Sirikoi.
Stunningly beautiful. The nyotas (Swahili for "stars") and the planets could be seen with the naked eye, because there is almost no light pollution.
Favorite moment: Too many to record here, but if I had to pick just one, the up-close and personal encounters with elephants.
You can't stop thinking about: A 1-month-old elephant orphan at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Foundation in Nairobi; the giraffes at Giraffe Manor eating out of our hands; the wildlife and wide-open spaces.
Favorite meal: All the meals at all the camps were gourmet and delicious!
Favorite restaurants, museums or sightseeing: The only museum we visited was the Karen Blixen Museum and home in Nairobi. Very romantic.
What to drink: Gin and tonics. They keep the malaria away!
Neighborhood to explore: In Nairobi, the neighborhood to be in is Karen, named after Karen Blixen. In the wild, wherever your guide takes you.
Daytrip suggestion: As many game drives that you can do or tolerate. Some drives can be very rough.
Surprising fact: There were moments of extreme fear and then you all of sudden get used to coming close to a resting lion or cheetah — or a charging bull elephant.
Brought back/souvenir: Beaded jewelry made by the local tribes.
What to pack: Only what you need in lightweight clothing. Laundry is done at every camp. Weight restrictions on the small aircraft apply: 33 pounds including carry-on. Bring one fleece jacket for early-morning drives. A good pair of binoculars, and learn how to use them before leaving. The best camera you can afford. I would consider a GoPro. Also, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, chapstick and insect repellent.
Anything else? If you get the chance to go to Africa, it's the trip of a lifetime!
Stay up to date with all of our globetrotting travel advisors and staff. See more staff trip reports in our Just Back From series on The Harper Way.