Written and Travelled by Claudia Church
All I wanted to do was to get back to Africa. We had not left it yet, but when I would wake in the night I would lie, listening, homesick for it already"
The roar of lions in the night is wholly addictive. It is a sound and a vibration you feel deep down in your gut. You know you are safe, yet your heart pounds with excitement. You look forward to the next night, wondering who and what you will hear in the dark. There is something so alluring, so all powerful, so visceral about being in Africa. Those that have been know exactly what I’m talking about. Those who have not yet been have so much to look forward to.
“Mal D’Afrique” – that longing to get back to Africa - is a real disease. So much so for me and my great friends Stephanie Capuano and Lanné Tucker, that we created &Three, a boutique travel Company specializing in Africa. We formed &Three because we hadto -- the tug of connecting people to Africa just wouldn’t relent.
Claudia - NY/ Stephanie - London/ Lanné - Sydney
While &Three operates all over East and Southern Africa and her islands, as well as Morocco, Kenya has stolen a big piece of my heart. Kenya is MAGIC.
Kenya is all about a vibe. It is romantic and nostalgic and hypnotically beautiful. Each region boasts its own unique landscape, eco-system, wildlife and ancient tribal cultures. Kenya has a way of drawing you in -- for reasons known or unknown – when you need her most. The country is, above all, wild and free. Kenya is a spiritual place, even for those who aren’t spiritual. And it is devilishly fun – flying in small planes, exploring remote places, galloping on horseback through the bush, throwing back traditional Kenyan “Dawas” around a fire, and swapping stories into the wee hours.
Game driving in Kenya is fantastic. For starters, you ride on TOP of the vehicle which is fun in itself! The variety of species that coexist is startling. The majestic beauty and intelligence of elephants, the so-ugly-they’re-cute wildebeest, the comedy of warthogs. It’s hard to pick your favorites. I love hippos – that unmistakably strong smell of sulfur, the stink eye peering out from the water, the impossibly loud honk. Oh and to catch a glimpse of a rhino! There are too few left. Or a leopard! With a kill it has dragged up into a tree. Or a cheetah! My GOD to see a cheetah run. To witness the action of the Great Migration is to get a real-life lesson in survival. It’s impossible not to root for everybody. And I always love a staring contest Cape Buffalos, dubbed the debt collectors, because they look at you like you owe them money.
Happy and protected elephant herd in Northern Kenya
What to Do
The best thing about Kenya, in my opinion, is that there is so much to do OUTSIDE of the vehicle. Jump in the muddy Ewaso River and tube through its currents. Hike through the Ngare Ndare forest and dive into it’s turquoise pools. Mountain bike on the plains. We love quad biking through dry riverbeds. Go running with Maasai or Samburu warrior. Good luck keeping up! Visit a local nursery school. Learn from your guide how to make a fire or throw a spear. Travel to remote places accessible only by helicopter … jump into the sand dunes or go fishing for Jade Giants. Ride a camel.
Evening Family Camel Ride
Where to Stay
Accommodations in Kenya are incredibly varied, and that is the fun part! I always like to stay at a mix of properties. Depending on how you like to travel, there is everything from fly camping beneath the stars to the most exceptional private houses in Africa. Some of my favorite places to stay are “owner run” farms in Kenya – not only are they set in stunning locations but spending time with the people who have lived on the property for generations is such a bonus. Home life is so unexpected and foreign– a zebra may poke his head in your room. Elephants will come drink at the pool. Baboons will try to steal stuff. But perhaps one of the best ways to experience Kenya is by traveling in mobile tented camps. This is old school safari style – under the canvas and at one with nature (with Turkish rugs). When you travel in this manner, your team of guides, staff and chefs become like family. Kids love coming “home” at the end of the day to see what’s for dinner and get involved in the cooking. Truly! Kenya resonates with those in search of the beautiful, the adventurous, the travelers who want to feel authentic Africa in its many forms.
A Favorite Private Residence
What an honor to be experience a bit of the ancient Maasai and Samburu tribal cultures. Such beautiful, warm and friendly people. We are so lucky, though our Kenyan partners, to have wonderful relationships with members of both tribes who welcome us into their lives with open arms. You will be so powerfully and spiritually moved by the people you meet and interact with along your journey. And you will laugh nonstop. There is so much to learn. I love listening to stories and history passed down from generation to generation. You will hear tales that move you to tears and people who will inspire you in ways you cannot foresee. Your children will experience things that will impact their lives forever.
What makes &Threestand apart from the crowd is our collective input and our collaboration with our partners on the ground in Africa – the true experts by birthright, those born and raised on African soil. Together we take the time to listen to how you like to travel, what moves you, what you hope for and what you want to avoid at all costs. We hand pick our guides, as a guide can make or break an experience. When you travel with &Three, you travel as friend not as a tourist. We wouldn’t have it any other way. If you don’t return from Kenya transformed in some way, well then, we haven’t done our jobs.
We set the stage but the story is yours.
And just for fun, my favorite image of all time. Our Kenyan partner, Paolo, set up a go-pro at a watering hole. A yellow baboon came up, swiped it and ran. Paolo chased after him, the baboon eventually dropped the GoPro, but not before taking this selfie. It now hangs in my office, to remind me that travel to Africa is all for surprise, adventure and wonder.
Kelly's Packing List- Kenya
A packable hat for sun protection is a must when on Safari, this one from Stetsondoes the job perfectly. Layers are key on drives, as the mornings start out very cold and gets warm by noon. I love this sweater-weight ribbed tank from Ann Mashburnas a base layer. Nili Lotan'scropped military pants are cuffed at the ankle, keeping bush sand out. It's all about neutral colors on the drives, and this Hernoreversible puffer packs easily. Good walking boots are a must for the rugged terrain, these Asoloones are comfortable and practical. A simple grey cashmere hoodie from James Persekeeps the tone neutral, and you warm. I always like getting out of my bush clothes and into something a little more feminine for evening, this Ulla Johnsondress would be a perfect option. You cannot bring hard sided luggage on these trips, and most Safari outfitters will have very specific limits on weight and size of your bags. We used our Dolci + LimoniWeekenders on our trip to Namibia and Botswana, and their stain resistant canvas made them easy to clean after lots of time on dirt runways. Lastly, I love this mineral-based sunscreen available through Onda Beauty. There is not much sun cover when you are out on the plains, so sun protection is an absolute necessity.