Landcruiser Safari Masai Mara
The gem that is East Africa - Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda can be placed gingerly in the palm of your hand; shaped, polished and illuminated according to your personal preferences in the form of a customized safari tour by the established, Kenyan-owned Maniago. Maniago, The Destination Management Company, endeavors to show you its home - an Africa of which it is 'fiercely proud' as no other safari tour can.
The Driver-guides of Maniago
Their cheery, native-East-African, multilingual driver-guides escort you through villages which in many cases are their very own, to mingle with the men, women and children who comprise and actively preserve their unique, diverse cultures. Using their warrior aptitudes, the driver-guides expertly lead you through the bush as you fulfill the reality of an Africa you've read about, dreamt of and seen via the eyes of others who have relished in its treasures.
Maybe just as wonderful as what Maniago opens your eyes to is the manner in which they do it.
Masai Mara Explorer Camp
Maniago takes care of all the cooking (vegan? meat-lover? They've got you covered!), water and beverages (who can refuse a sunset cocktail overlooking the Serengeti?), and your stuff (someone needs to schlep those chic khaki outfits and creature comforts!). As the wide African sky takes on a dusky hue, you round the bend to find the campfire lit, illuminating from a distance the white linen fluttering from your canopy bed. Why not hop into a bath (yes, drawn from running water) and clean up before dinner? Worry not about being sent screeching out into the camp by the sight of an uninvited reptile, mammal or insect, the private quarters are sealed off and the Maniago guards keep watch over you. Does it get any better, you ask?
Cottar's Camp in Kenya
Well, good question I say. I haven't actually gone on a Maniago tour. Yet. So you, reader, and I are somewhat in the same boat, or the same land cruiser, just to keep our metaphors straight. Most likely, you've gotten this far because you've always been intrigued by Africa and haven't yet experienced it first-hand, or perhaps you're looking to see more of it, a different side, a deeper layer, another region, in a distinct way. So let's start the decision process together.
Firstly, why East Africa? Well, the spectrum of possibilities includes not only exploring the animal life in the bush and the tribal villages, but also sunbathing or scuba diving along the beautiful coast of Tanzania and Kenya, fishing with the natives on Lake Victoria, ascending Mount Kilimanjaro, and golfing at one of the world-renown 'Big Four' courses. The unparalleled richness of game and the authentic, well-preserved cultures of 42 diverse tribes allow one to truly experience the natural, uncorrupted vitality of Africa.
Masai Mara Village Children
Next step: Now convinced that East Africa is the desired region we want to see, why should we trust Maniago to show the best of it to us, and keep us safe and comfortable at all times? In honor of the expression 'safety first' let's address that. The driver guides and staff of Maniago, being natives of the region have the sights, sounds and sixth sense of being in their own backyard.
Furthermore, all are highly trained, possess over a decade of experience, and speak English amongst other languages. Maniago as a company is very conservative and informed of the activity throughout the region, as relates to both game and human activity, and will not take unnecessary risks. Someone who can show you the land and its inhabitants from a personal perspective, who not only knows the secret spots but has access to the inner circles of the culture, yet knows the rules of the road should something arise' Now this is the kind of person I want showing me around their neighborhood!
The Impressive Mount Kilimanjaro
A critical distinguishing factor of Maniago is the fact that they have no pre-set, published itinerary which they try to sell you on then squeeze you into. On the contrary, the Maniago safari tour is personalized specifically for you and your group. How do they know what you want to see? The start of the process is an interview to determine an itinerary based on your interests, activity level, group size, previous experiences, and travel preferences.
Maniago, as a Destination Management Company, works with East Africa visitors in the organization of Customized Safaris, Special Interest Trips, Cruises, Golf Safaris, Environment/ Community Projects, Incentive Travel, even Film Production in the area.
The spectrum of experiences to be had in East Africa is so broad, it may be eadsiest to start deciding what NOT to see. I personally can cross off Golf from my interests of focus; and though Lake Victoria and the coast look breathtaking, I could probably eliminate water activities as well.
Farmer's Market in Uganda
My dreams of Africa, however distant they may be from the real thing (a tipsy concoction of San Diego Wild Animal Park, Discovery Channel, Hollywood's Out of Africa and a smattering of Peter Beard photos) are fundamentally centered on its people and animals. I'd prefer to catch a giraffe running, track a lion, feed an orphan elephant, witness the blooming hope in reformed schools and orphanages, speak to an African woman about her life at a traditional meal, or be amazed by the flood of zebras and wildebeest as they migrate from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara.
Serenity of Zanzibar Mnemba Island
Though the idea of spending some time at one of the exquisite, ultra-private resorts along the gorgeous coast may be irresistible, why go all the way to Africa only to cross paths with the same celebs you run into in Brentwood or Santa Monica? These are my personal preferences, of course. If I were to organize a work seminar or family reunion, I may select a very different itinerary. Once decided what you'd like to see and do, there are decisions to make about how to do it Safari on foot, on bike, Camelback, or in a vehicle? Lodging in camps ('soft walls') or lodges (fixed walls)? Or Luxury Mobile Camping?
Dining in Samburu Camp
Each person has his/her own grand expectations of such an expansive and diverse region; and without experts such as the people of Maniago to tailor your experience for you and guide you down the path of options, you are almost guaranteed some level of disappointment.
Lastly, the affordability factor. Maniago's tours are the best priced in the middle to upper-end bracket, especially given the individualized attention, the extensive travel experience of the company, the innate expertise of the guides, and the superior quality of the lodging, amenities, food, and service
Kilalinda Lodge - Rose Petal Bath with Views of Tsavo
(they even provide you with a CD of photos from your trip to take home with you just in case yours don't capture the moment as expected!). As they do not cater to the masses, nor run their business at the high cost of the amusement park-style safari tour companies, Maniago is able to offer more value for the price of a particular tour. Ideal boutique safari tourism accessible to those of us who don't happen to be royalty!
So having decided where to go, what to do, and who will be my guide through such an amazing adventure, I have only to await the opportunity ... the brilliance of that gem that is East Africa, with the proper guidance, translates to invaluable personal enrichment of its visitors.
Stay tuned for the post-trip details!
Floating High over East Africa
Maniago Safaris LTD
55 River Run
East Greenwich, RI 02818-0504
1st Floor, ABC Place
P.O. Box 43401-00100