Last year, we celebrated our 50th anniversary by granting the travel wishes of 12 lucky travelers. Allison was one of them—her winning story about visiting Vietnam with her dad, a war veteran, inspired us to seek out new perspectives when we travel. She chose our Kenya Wildlife Safari tour as her dream trip, so we caught up with her to see how it went. (Spoiler: It was amazing.)
Africa has always been on my travel wish list. I’ve long wanted to see the animals in their natural habitat, and especially do it before the effects of threatened habitats change things too much. I had an idea of what a trip to Africa could be like but there are no real words to describe the wonder of seeing the animals out in the wild.
We were so blessed with the number of animals we saw. Of course, there were all of the zebras and wildebeest of the great migration, but we saw the Big Five, too—elephants, buffalo, lions, rhinos, and leopards. (We also saw cheetah, giraffes, blotched genet, mongoose, serval, warthogs, hyenas, jackal, hippos, gazelle, dik-dik, waterbuck, topi, vultures, crocodile, python, baboons, monkeys, ostrich, flamingos, and many, many other types of birds. Like I said, we were blessed!)
On tour, we were fortunate enough to visit an elephant orphanage, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I was surprised to learn about the number of lost, orphaned, or abandoned baby elephants there are in Africa. It was amazing to see how these babies are being taken care of… and I even adopted one through their program!
The people of Africa were also incredible. It was so special to be welcomed in by a local tribe of the Masai Mara. They greeted us by showing us their custom of jumping and although it was quite the show, I was mesmerized by the smile and pride that was on the face of one of their little boys who was watching. He was so proud and happy to see the men of his group showing us their best. It was wonderful to watch this tradition of the Masai Mara through the eyes of this little boy.
Beyond that, it’s hard to pick a single favorite moment. There are so many to choose from! If I were to pick one to share it would be when our vehicle was surrounded by hundreds of zebras. Our guide turned off the engine and our group stood up through the roof as zebras went about their lives around us. Some were eating, some were playing, and some were resting. There were zebras in every direction you turned and they were happy to let us be there, to watch them go about their ordinary day—but it was beyond ordinary to us.
If you’re thinking about a safari, my first tip is to go! Don’t let any fears or worries stop you. It is more than worth it and the memories you will take home will be lifelong treasures. My other tips are the ones you will read in travel blogs or books: take light-colored clothing you can layer, have a good camera and some sort of back-up in case something happens, and be prepared for dusty and bumpy roads (and know that is part of the adventure!).
I love going to places I’ve never been before. I’m not sure what my next adventure will be, but I do have Russia, India, and Cuba on my travel wish list. I’m inspired by seeing the world… how people live, what makes other places special, and what the places I’ve always dreamed are like in real life.
Have a travel story you’d love to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.