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Guest Articles

Out of Africa
by Hal Powell  |  Ambassador Clients Since 2002
Our trip planning began with a simple query to Gary Pollard about arranging two to three days before and after our cruise from Cape Town to Mombassa. Gary gave me the name of the Africa expert at Micato and things started rolling fairly rapidly. I admit the initial cost proposal was a bit stunning but after a lengthy talk with the Micato agent and some independent confirmation from Gary, I decided to go ahead with the original plan offered. Of course, the result was fabulous and everyone had the time of their lives. I appreciate immensely the effort and assistance provided by Gary. It was done without any prompting from me but made the decision to go ahead a little easier. I may have cut back in some ways without the assistance and that would have been a mistake.

Over the years, Gary has been extremely helpful, reliable, and quick to provide all the details and answers to queries. We all had the pleasure of meeting his parents on our cruise to Australia last year.

Micato Safaris
We immensely enjoyed the game drives. We were especially impressed with the way the Micato staff greeted us and took care of us at every turn from meeting us at the airports, taking us to our hotels, and making sure all aspects of our trip was nothing less than perfect.

We were particularly thankful to our >Cape Town guide, for setting up wheelchair service for our mom while we were in Kenya. I had not mentioned she needed a wheelchair but he, on his own initiative, talked with me in Cape Town, and after confirmation, made wheelchair arrangements for the remainder of our trip.

The Granite Lodge was an over the top pleasure. Our host, Nikki, was absolutely the best. She provided for everything, accompanied us on one of our game drives, and was delightful at dinner. She provided for every detail including cleaning and restoring to perfection one of my sister’s favorite outfits that she had feared was ruined on one of the drives. Until we arrived at Londolozi, we didn’t understand why you would want to bring a swim suit out into the bush but as we found out every lodge has a private pool and mom’s had a waterfall! Melissa suggested the lodge in the original proposal and I’m so glad to have been provided with this experience.

Our driver and tracker in the Londolozi game reserve were masterful in finding anything and everything. It seemed that whatever we wanted to see was provided as if there was a menu and all you needed to do was drive to the specified location. I realize we were very lucky to see what we saw but I have every confidence, that our driver and tracker had something to do with it.

While not quite as spectacular as the Granite Lodge, Bateleur Camp was nothing short of outstanding. Everything from the hosts to the exquisite cuisine and everything in between was excellent. We have been talking and remembering about all the details since we arrived home.  In fact, we are still talking and remembering three weeks later. It truly is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

The chefs at both sites were incredible. I personally thought the chef at Granite Lodge was the best I’ve ever experienced. My sister thought the same of the chief at Bateleur. We all thought that, together, they were the best ever and leaving all our previous favorites far behind.

Additionally, our Nairobi guide was dedicated and helped with everything along the way. I was distinctly grateful at the end of our trip when there was an unexpected turn. Due to a snow storm in London, our flight from Nairobi was cancelled. Our Micato guide stayed with us through a very long ordeal while we rearranged our air travel for the next day. This took nearly four hours but our guide stayed, made arrangements at a very nice hotel, took us there, and returned the next day to help us back to the airport. After another three hours of waiting for ticketing, we were finally on our way and our guide was there the whole time. I don’t know what we would have done without his assistance. The thought of having to deal with hotels and transportation on our own is nothing short of a nightmare. My mother, sister, and I were grateful beyond words for our guides dedicated assistance in this manner.

Our driver in the Maasai Mara, was as equally masterful as our guide in Londolozi. We equaled the feat of seeing the “big five” provided us in Londolozi plus found the elusive cheetah. Our driver happily pointed out every bird and animal and quizzed us about our ever increasing knowledge of what we had seen. I never knew there were so many different groups of animals from herds to stands. Actually I did but sixth grade was a long time ago.

We had a fabulous time and would do it again in a heart beat. The time we spent on the game drives made the cruise a minor part of the vacation even though we only spent five days looking for game and sixteen days on the ship. The memories are many, varied, and unforgettable which is what makes the trip extraordinary.

What made the trip were all the little extra gestures, treats, and events that were provided all along the way. There were little gifts each night. We stopped for drinks that included a full bar and hot chocolate in the middle of a game drive on the savannah. We had breakfast with fresh fruit, champagne, and chocolate crepes in the middle of no where. Another time, we pulled onto a high ridge for an unexpected Bar BQ and cocktails complete with Maasai dancers. We also had an unexpected visit to a Maasai village. The most surprising site was a trail of rose pedals from the entrance of our lodge in Londolozi to the bath room where a hot bubble bath waited upon our return from the game drive.

The fact that we were so close to the game was equally unexpected. Being six to eight feet from leopards and lions was as surprising as it was initially intimidating. Looking eye to eye with any of those magnificent animals is startling, exiting, and beautiful all at once.

Single moments include the unbelievable magnificence of a cheetah surveying his kingdom while sitting proudly on top of a six foot high termite mound, running through the bush at about 25 kph with two rhinoceros’, and watching an eland jump, literally, six feet in a single bound up over an embankment as we were approaching the herd.

Larger than life memories of the vast panoramic scenes in both Londolozi Reserve Park and the Masai Mara will be treasured for the rest of our lives. We will also hold dear all the wonderful people who made our adventure a dream come true.  Everyone made us feel like part of an extended family while entertaining us so luxuriously. A very memorable evening was provided us by Felix and Jane Pinto when we were guests for dinner at their house in Nairob. They even provided a surprise birthday cake to commemorate our mother’s eighty-fifth birthday. The celebration was just another example of their attention to detail and genuine thoughtfulness displayed throughout our trip.

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