Kenya, The Enchanted landscape

By Shobita Louis

The land of smiles…the land of raw sensual beauty…the land where a Wanderer like me turns into a poet. Searching for paradise had me narrow down on the God’s own playground – Africa. I headed out to the enchanted landscape at the time of the Great Migration – (That time of the year, when thousands of wildebeest start migrating from Serengeti in Tanzania to Maasai Mara in Kenya in search of pasture. The magnificent spectacle that is exhilarating is perhaps, one of the greatest events (if not the greatest) in the world. As you watch helpless and weak wildebeests succumb to the strong gripping jaws of the crocodiles and the raging waters of the Mara River, fighting for dear life – sometimes losing and other times winning, you cannot help but pay tribute to their ‘kamikaze’ odyssey.

The graceful giraffe

The confusion unfolds as the sheer mass of wildebeest, and zebra break into a desperate stampede of survival to greener pastures and calving grounds after four long months of trekking).

The Great Migration was a siren’s call to come out and explore the stage and be witness to the dance between the hunter and the prey.

I landed in Nairobi – wet , grey and cold – the cacophony of the metro greeted me. Far from one madding crowd to another. Nairobi city is just another modern city buzzing with activity. Like any other city in the world, the traffic  signals, congested roads, morning rush hour greets the tourist..

The acacia tree: The Lone ranger in the mara

But, when I flew to the mara – a few hours later, it was akin to stepping into a whole new world. A world where – the magnificent beauty of the plateau, the plane ride (I flew in the smallest plane ever), the first glimpse of the Masai Mara and the majestic giraffe in a distance – opened up its vista to me.

My big five sighting: The lion and lioness

My abode: Sitting above a sweeping bend in the Talek River, at the confluence of the Maasai Mara’s 4 game-viewing areas, the lodge that I was staying in enjoyed one of the most spectacular locations in the entire Mara ecosystem.

My abode: a true flavor of the continent

What more could I ask for…other than heading out for my first game drive – which happened immediately after I unpacked my bags.

My first game drive:

It was in Masai Mara and what a drive it was!

Day 1: First sighting: The lonely leopard

On these wide open rolling grasslands, an incredible variety of different animals at one time await you. A cheetah mother sitting on a termite mound with her punky-looking cubs, while beyond, gazelle, antelope and zebra placidly graze. Giraffes peer curiously through the trees, while elephants pass on silent feet and vultures circle above.

I was lucky to see the elusive leopard and a pride of lioness frolicking in the grass. And this was just my first day in the enchanted land!

My itinerary was a 8 day sojourn – and every day was like opening Pandora’s box of delights. It’s amazing just how close you can get to the local wildlife – a baby hippo riding on his mother’s back, hearing the laugh of the hyenas, shadowing the king of the jungle – the lion, the baboons, the graceful flight of the gazelle – the list is endless when it comes to Africa.

The view of the Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru

A must head out to destination for every wildlife enthusiast.

A long ,treacherous drive up the hill , cutting down the Rift valley  took me to the  Lake Nakuru National Park. What I knew about Lake Nakuru is that it is a shallow soda lake and an ornithologist’s paradise boasting over 400 recorded bird species, the most famous being the pink flamingo.

The sight that greeted me

A breathtaking – surreal vision of a great number of pink flamingos that flock to the lake that, from a distance, it looks like it is encircled by a thick, pink border.

At the Hells Gate National Park

Famously named for its pair of mammoth, red hued cliffs, I was treated to the raw unpolluted flavor of Africa –  an abundance of plains game and birdlife which wove itself so beautifully to the vast canvas.

Off-the-beaten track:

a. My stay in the Kigio Conservancy at the Kigio Camp – for its  awesome rustic type experience (to be fair – the accommodation is anything but rustic though ) , is one of the most naturally beautiful places I’ve ever had the fortune of walking up in! (And I think I had the best night’s sleep ever).

The camp is run by solar power and is an eco friendly venture – with the hotelier working closely with the community. The staff there were also the warmest of all the locals we met.

Breakfast in the bush

2. Bush Breakfast at Kigio – Breakfast out in the open! A very special experience, good food, wonderful smiling service, fresh air – nature at it’s best.

Bon appetite

3. Visit to Malindi   – a quaint little beach town which has all the ingredients to make a vacation truly fantastic. It’s a destination which screams luxury  – private, pristine beaches, tucked away coves, gorgeous Italian hotels, casinos, beautiful homes, vibrant culture – my last night in Africa after my 5 nights in the jungle – from the jungles to pulsating beautiful civilization – the transition couldn’t have been better.

4. The rustic lodges: Where you truly get the flavor of being part of the rich continent.

Gourmet delights:

The food is balanced to suit the western palette and the Indian taste. The most sought after drink for a tourist is the Dhawa, a mixture of local vodka, blended with local herbs, lime and honey.The country also offers rare delicacies like wild boar meat, ostrich meat, crocodile meat and  wild buffalo.

A must try is  the Nyama Choma – a local delicacy


2 – 3lbs Beef short ribs (or other red meat that can be roasted)
2 cloves of garlic
2 lemons (used to make lemon juice)
Some Kenyan curry (Simba Mbili ) or any curry powder turmeric Coriander
Black pepper
(The measure of spices are to one’s taste)

Mix the lemon juice, garlic, and spices
Marinate meat in lemon juice mixture for an hour.
Grill meat over charcoal
Serve with Ugali and savor the delicacy.

The mighty lioness roars…across the Mara plains

The appeal:

The unpolluted wildlife, the natural beauty of the Savannah and more forested areas of Nakuru and Mt Kenya, the warmth and hospitality of the locals especially at the lodges, the laid back balmy atmosphere in Mombasa and Malindi, the interesting blend of Swalihi and Arab customs and culture in the coastal areas.

Best time to travel:

July –  September – this is just after the monsoon and the weather is gorgeous – winter sets in the region, cool soft winds kiss you, everywhere you go – the myriad shades of ‘green’ embraces you. It is also the season of the Great Migration. That is reason enough to pack your bags and head out.
The November – Jan period is a tourist season, but with the onslaught of summer, it could get very warm.

The essence of a Wanderer:

Heading out and discovering the offbeat has always been on my agenda.

Being so close to nature; surrounded by wildlife; witnessing the hunter and the hunted – the raw appeal is so special that you only realize it when you’re actually out in there in the wide open savannah of the Mara – looking at a zebra chomping on the grass or getting a glimpse of a pride of lions – just sitting around enjoying the sun, it’s tawny eyes trained on your lens  – it really is awe inspiring.

The African wilderness is an experience that no one should ever miss!

And staying in offbeat locales and discovering the true Africa – in its camps, the warm hospitality of the people, the smiles – all of it  comes together to make it a perfect Wanderers’ sojourn.

Check out our Kenya package.

Top 5 Monsoon Getaways

“When the skies turn grey and clouds appear, just before the first drops of rain descend, there is an excitement which mounts in the air. The clouds mass in great billows and a Biblical darkness descends as thunder and lightning fill the skies. When the heavens open, the rain does not fall, it hammers. In minutes, the earth is swirling with so much water you feel fish might leap forth. Children dance in the streets. Strangers smile at one another in delight. The aroma released by rain on sun-baked earth is intoxicating. Overnight the landscape is transformed into a lush green vision.”

The monsoon magic continues – on a cool rainy evening over a cup of ‘garam chai‘,  what could be a better time to explore the lush green –  dotted with gurgling streams and waterfalls – a chance to go back to your childhood and play your heart out in the pouring rain like a little kid.

We believe that the monsoons are an invigorating and rejuvenating time –  the rains nourish not just the parched earth but also the spirit. It’s a time to savor nature, replenish good thoughts, relax, indulge, enjoy, give the body a break.

So pack your bags and head out to our recommended destinations for this monsoon to experience the sheer joy of living life the Wanderers way!

Chase the Clouds in the South: Coorg

A tucked away gorgeous hill station – the famous coffee, honey and orange plantation.

Top it with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the soft mist, lush green landscapes, rumbling sounds of rivers and waterfalls, cascading rivers –  all of it just working its magic on seducing you and coaxing you to head out and explore the gorgeous landscape.

There’s just so much that you can do in Coorg – explore the lush forests of rosewood and teak and a variety of butterflies, woodpeckers, crocodiles, elephants and sambars, watching the clouds go by whilst reading your favorite book, heading out to the Elephant Training camp at Dubare, rafting or simply sitting back and letting the sensual blend of vanilla and orange seduce your senses. The misty clouds and the dew drops await you…

Step back in time: Hampi

Hampi in the monsoon is a whole different  world.

Although in ruins today, this capital city once boasted riches known far beyond the shores of India. The ruins of Hampi of the 14th Century lies scattered in about 26 sq. km area, amidst giant boulders and vegetation. Protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and rocky granite ridges on the other three sides, the ruins silently narrate the story of grandeur splendor and fabulous wealth. The splendid remains of palaces and gateways of the broken city tells a tale of men infinite talent and power of creativity together with his capacity for senseless destruction.

Singing magic in Rajasthan during the rains 

Where Jaipur’s dusty grace takes in a subdued color during the rain, Udaipur literally comes to life during the monsoon, becoming filled with a lush green tone and a sense of perfect calm as the seven man-made lakes spill over the dams and through the canals, attracting wildlife and sightseers in equal measure.

Come monsoon – and the desert land comes alive – the colors play on the broad sky – perfectly clear but for a couple of prettily wispy clouds – spend your days catching the rainbows in the sky and watching the arid land paint itself in myriad shades of green.

There’s just something about monsoon in the gorgeous land of color that makes you want to throw away your sensitivities – you just don’t want to bother with your umbrellas or rain-wear – well there’s no point. You’re going to get wet anyway. But so what? You’ll dry off in the bright sunshine that follows. And even if you don’t, there’s something about the rain which makes you feel such a bond with the landscape that you don’t mind at all.

Head out to Rohetgarh (one of Madonna’s favorite) or indulge in the boutique experience at Mihirgarh.

Immerse yourself in the surreal beauty of Pushkar – where the white washed temples around the lake whisper hushed tales about the town surrounded by hills of green.

The land of thousand colors comes alive in Shekhawati – where on a cool evening, you could unravel the million colors that are painted ‘oh-so-gloriously’ as frescos on the walls of the havelis.

Operatic and magnificent monsoon in Goa

Goa in the monsoon is truly magical, a time of year when nature is at its best and most bountiful. The colors form backdrop to everything—the roads, the landscapes, the ubiquitous waterfalls, the stormy seas…

The glorious monsoon has the potent power to seduce the traveler to put up his/her feet and watch the stormy clouds work its magic. Sipping on a cocktail, swaying on a hammock or simply walking in the misty rain – Goa is the perfect getaway for your monsoon.

The perfect getaway: Madhya Pradesh

A step back in time or a perfect retreat for your city stressed nerves – the idyllic Madhya Pradesh is the perfect getaway for the monsoon. Lying on the banks of the Narmada, the rain washed ghats of Maheswar and the ruins of Mandu form an idyllic setting amidst a terrain which is arid most of the year has the monsoon color it with green.

A four day jaunt into the lush green tinted world’ would have you step back into  time – where the age old temples and the ruins have a mesmerizing tale to tell.

And what we love about the place: is the fact that Mandu is untouched by the ubiquitous cola stalls, self confessed guides and well fed beggars, making it possible to immerse yourself in its historical legacy. You can marvel at the Afghan architectural acumen here at Hoshang Shah`s Tomb or compare the great mosque of Damascus with the Jami Masjid, peacefully.Between Baz Bahadur`s palace courtyards to Rani Roopmati`s pavilion view of Narmada flowing through the Niram plains, there is a kaleidoscope of sight and sound living in the city.