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Africa safari trip reviews, Reticulated Giraffe, Sangare Ranch

Want to see a lion as close as your garage? A monkey frolicking on the drainpipe of the park-keeper's hut? A rhino teasing a waterbuck at the midnight waterhole? These are just some of the stunning opportunities a spell with Ontdek Kenya will bring you in an indeed magical way.

I was initially apprehensive of Central Africa, worried about malaria, snakes, and rough conditions, saying as I set off from UK that one sight of the giraffe would be enough, then back to cower in the hotel. I was quite misguided. There were many giraffes, of all three types, with necks like dockside cranes, and elegant babies, rubbing their cheeks on trees very near me and at night the racy, graceful zebra came down into our tented camp (Sangare) to browse over the guy ropes, their gentle munching mingling with the hum of the night-alive bush beyond. On waking, we breakfasted in view of Superb (turquoise) Starlings (see our birds pictures) and other winged and furry tree life - maybe even the shadow of a leopard. When we took the 4WDs, the expert game drivers led us to velvety baby cheetah asleep in the grass and hippo indulging in aqua-aerobics out of reach of the dusky brown crocodile in the sandy river cove.

Yes, we were indeed so near to many of these varied and beautiful creatures, observing their routines of hunting, mating, dozing and dining but this was not only in vehicles. The best days involved walks across the savannah, with pleasant shade, scrub and depth of view in which to spot buffalo forming up for a noonday siesta in a distant clearing, or an elephant sniffing the Masai scent and running off respectfully along his own trail through the reserve. Other walks took us to thronging fruit and basket markets, interesting mixed areas of smaller towns, and little trodden, layered shores of lakes in the Rift Valley where the quality tea and coffee groves flourish.

Ontdek Kenya safari travel reviews, Buffalo, Masai Mara

Our accommodation also reflected quality and variety: modern safari hotels in Nairobi, National Park Lodges, a colonial-style Country Club (by nurseries growing roses for Sainsbury's), and several idyllic, novel, mind-blowing tented camps, where you slept secure rose petals scattered on your bed state-of-the-art bathroom installed with only canvas to shut out the stars.

Africa safari camp reviews Luxury accommodation, Sunbird Lodge, safari lodge

Above all, these game expeditions, rambles and rest periods provided rich human interest: other guests whooping at secretary birds and fish eagles; caring drivers and guides with real insight into their terrain; Masai contacts able to convey the integrity of their culture and show off a hut, a dance so graciously; Paxtu, the last home of Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement. Enduring memories include wide-eyed Kenyan children relishing their hours in primary school, and the African naturalist at Treetops, eyes shining as he described the tribal ways of the wild elephant in the Aberdares National Park.

Just as Queen Elizabeth the Second became Queen at Treetops, so did we come into a special relationship with the kingdom of the animals and the humanity of Kenya through the Ontdek holiday: a crowning delight we too will carry throughout our lives. It was an excellent travel package, with sweet potato pancakes balanced by hikes, and efficiency by human sensitivity: a true discovery of Kenya.

Rosey Feuell - HF Holidays participant in Ontdek Kenya safaris & walks

Cambridge, England
September 2009