Our trip to Kenya via Quintess was truly incredible. Each location we visited was wonderful in its own way. The people at the lodges made us feel like we were visiting family and the food was fabulous everywhere. The safari guides had a genuine interest in showing us the best of their country. What a joy it was for our entire family. Our girls got really into the animals and took the lion's share of the pictures; we sifted through more than 2,000 to share the best with you now, including this one, which we titled: "The Coke Commercial."
When friends ask me about our trip, I say: "We had 30 meals together as a family; in order to get 30 cumulative meals with all six of us together at home you would have to go back nine months." When friends ask my youngest about our trip, she says: "I was able to spend time with my three sisters without them focusing more on their friends rather than me. My dad taught me how to play Gin Rummy and Spades. Oh, and I loved the animals!"
Ol Donyo Lodge is magical. As the plane landed on the dirt airstrip we realized we weren't in the "real world" anymore. There were zebras all around with giraffe and elephant in the distance. Going in June meant that it wasn't crowded and so we truly just relaxed. At Ol Donyo the experience isn't just about morning and afternoon game drives, but all the different ways to get up close to the animals. We did horseback riding, mountain biking, lava cave tours, and my wife slept late one morning and didn't go out at all.
Lewa Downs was the family's favorite! On June 13th we saw the Big Five in one day; it was only the fifth day on the trip so everyone was in shock. We went on a camel safari and did more horseback riding and walking safaris. Because Lewa, which was once a private estate, is now a conservancy, they have so many black and white rhinos, and the beautiful Graves zebra. Lewa also has a really interesting landscape with areas that are more arid and desert - like up the mountain and then areas that are swampy with overgrown trees, yellow acacia and waterways on the valley floor. Overall I really enjoyed the more varied topography.
Masai Mara has one of the famed river crossings of the migration and the hippos soon became a family favorite, too. It is also hard to deny the seemingly endless number of lions; a trip highlight for sure. And we loved the elephants! It was from Bateleur Camp that we did a day trip to visit a Masai village. That is the sort of experience that is better than any European museum; the kids loved the adventure, learning, insight and fun being there in person. (Actually, I'm glad we didn't plan an extension in London because I've heard people have had a hard time packing for such different destinations.)
My children are still talking about the trip. They struggle with whether Africa or Antarctica is their favorite vacation, which is amazing because they have been on so many other vacations and to think that a family trip with an educational background, as opposed to a trip with their friends, is the best ... well, for me, that's priceless.
When Quintess Beyond was first announced, we were already working on a safari with another tour provider (at a lower price point and with a non-refundable deposit, I should add), but Quintess always does such an amazing job that we knew we had to walk away and start planning our trip with Marta Knowles, VP Quintess Beyond. We attribute quality with Quintess, and it was great to have Marta there to help, especially with changing our flights. Quintess' stamp of approval and coordination is invaluable.