Seven days of extraordinary safari in
When Deb Calmeyer, the inimitable founder of the carbon-neutral safari company Roaring africa“Calls, you answer. The subject of the call?” An invitation to join a safari focused on empowering women in northern Kenya. Our travel editor’s response? In ecstasy Yes please! You see, responsible tourism plays a very important role in financing initiatives and protecting biodiversity. This particular ensemble is an excellent example of responsible, impactful and deeply respectful tourism essential to advancing the needle of conservation. And every minute is, in a word: extraordinary.
Below, the friends they made, the spectacular wildlife found (from a safe seat in a rigged Land Cruiser), the extraordinary African women who changed the face of conservation, plus a handy packing list.
TOUCHDOWN IN NAIROBI
ROAR AFRICA excels at over-the-top. The meticulous and attentive team makes everything – visas, Covid tests, flights and transfers – a breeze. This particular safari is annual and personally organized by Calmeyer to advocate for African women changing the face of the traditionally male-dominated safari industry. From the pilots, guides and conservationists to the chefs, night speakers and the anti-poaching unit we met, all women. And the guests were women too: a diverse group of documentary makers, impact investors and entrepreneurs. It’s a tremendously fun and stress-free trip for the solo traveler or first-time safari.
We landed in Nairobi and checked into the airy, old world Hemingways. Both the hotel and the surrounding community feel in what once was Outside Africa Author Karen Blixen’s land on the outskirts of town. The two-night stay was spent adjusting to the time zone change, meeting fellow travelers, and enjoying a private visit to the elephant orphanage at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. (The orphanage is funded through an animal adoption program, which includes annual updates on the progress of the adopted person; reintroducing orphaned elephants into a wild herd is a process that can take up to five years.) After eggs and sparkling cappuccinos the next morning, we headed to a small private airport to fly north to Segera.
SEGERA: WHERE CONSERVATION MEETS CULTURE
Segera is a major conservation success story in Kenya. An overgrazed ranch in his previous life, all 50,000 acres were transformed by owner Jochen Zeitz into a wildlife savanna protected by one of Kenya’s first female anti-poaching units. Each structure – the main lodge, guest suites, group villas, pool, spa, stable verandas, and wine tasting tower – is architecturally state-of-the-art, sustainable, and beautiful. Plus, Chef Violet’s food, largely grown in organic gardens, is worth the trip on its own.
Weather built the property to reflect what the four coined C‘s – community, culture, commerce and conservation. In practice, this means that throughout Segera you will notice the art of local beading and weaving alongside contemporary African art. Segera also has an active reforestation program, a women-only ranger academy, and many other solutions-driven initiatives to conserve land for future generations.
Segera’s hand-carved furniture, Eden-like gardens, well-polished tomes of Peter Beard’s photography, and Kitengela’s glass sculptures will keep your camera clicking. Thatched-roof villas, essentially elegant tree houses for adults, ooze warmth, comfort and character. You’ll love the mahogany four-poster bed, panoramic views of the savannah, and the desk with new notebooks, binoculars, and ranch maps. Oh, and be warned: the mini library of contemporary African authors stacked by each bed is the stuff of reading dreams.
GAME DRIVES, SERIOUSLY GOOD SPREADS,
AND GREEN JUICE
Segera’s outstanding staff takes expeditions, meals, and sunsets out of the park (cocktails … at sunset). Mornings begin before dawn at the blazing bonfire with coffee and watermelon juice before hitting the road, wrapped in blankets, to bask in the sun. After two hours of monitoring (the guides have laser vision, spotting cheetahs camouflaged by the long grasses, lion cubs, and rare birds), return to the lodge for a yoga session and exchange stories over breakfast. Much of the amazing food comes from the property itself, what about the cold-pressed green juice? Let’s say you’ll drink it by the jug.
After breakfast, it is time to choose your own adventure. Head back to bed, get a massage, try the beads, curl up in an easy chair with binoculars or a book, shop or swim (lunches of crisp salads and house-fermented kombucha are served poolside, making for the ultimate perfect place to relax) – it’s up to you. During the afternoon safari, keep your eyes peeled for the more difficult-to-spot species, such as African wild dogs; the cocktail hour back to the lodge is the reward. And no, it’s not a cocktail-type cocktail hour. Expect to clink glasses in your khaki pants, settle into the library for the evening speaker, then a quick change (or not) before dinner.
THE VOICES OF CONSERVATION THAT CHANGE THE GAME
A safari is as much a learning experience as it is a journey. Flying home with a deeper reverence for the natural world, and anxiety for the future of that world, on which we depend for oxygen, climate control, and biodiversity, means you got it right. Daily game drives bring to life the complexities of the wildlife ecosystem and quirks of animal behavior (elephants, they are just like us!). Also, Calmeyer’s line of whip-smart talking zoologists Dr. Lucy King, elephant conservationist Resson Kantai Duffand legendary photographers Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher To name a few, it emphasizes the point that the way forward is with practical conservation initiatives that are feasible and include the local community.
ROAR AFRICA’s annual women’s empowerment retreat takes place in a different African country each year. The 2022 event is planned to Rwanda and will be curated and directed by Calmeyer. Most transfers are by small private jets, which means only one piece of soft-sided baggage per passenger. As our packing list suggests, plan for your convenience and keep it simple.
NEWS PRIMER, $ 198BUY NOW
NEWS PRIMER, $ 38BUY NOW
LEAF PRINT SHIRT
NEWS PRIMER, $ 333BUY NOW
NEWS PRIMER, $ 395BUY NOW
SPORTS MIX SNEAKERS
NEWS PRIMER, $ 345BUY NOW
NEWS PRIMER, $ 110BUY NOW
SLIP MAAS DRESS
NEWS PRIMER, $ 525BUY NOW
GOOPGENES ALL IN ONE
NOURISHING FACIAL CREAM
NEWS PRIMER, $ 95 / $ 86 with subscriptionBUY NOW
NEWS PRIMER, $ 695BUY NOW
ROMAN POET SLEEVE SHIRT
NEWS PRIMER, $ 175BUY NOW
MICHAEL ARMY JACKET
NEWS PRIMER, $ 595BUY NOW
NEWS PRIMER, $ 120BUY NOW
ELLIOTT VARIETY LINK BRACELET
NEWS PRIMER, $ 1,500BUY NOW
ONE PIECE HALO
NEWS PRIMER, $ 220BUY NOW
The organic pharmacy
SUN CREAM SPF 50
NEWS PRIMER, $ 69BUY NOW
CONDITIONER BAR FOR NORMAL / OILY HAIR
NEWS PRIMER, $ 18BUY NOW
SHAMPOO BAR FOR NORMAL / OILY HAIR
NEWS PRIMER, $ 18BUY NOW