Travel in the world of Covid-19 has certainly set its limitations and disappointment upon us all, and yet the desire to take off into the great unknown is stronger than ever. Wide-open, untouched wildernesses, sensational views, exceptional wildlife and a diversity of cultures are waiting to be explored. The pent-up dam of holiday demand is at its bursting point – and we are here to help you navigate these new waters, with an emphasis on supporting local communities and wildlife. Here are our top tips on how to see the best of Kenya safely and responsibly with Governors’.
For those of you who are ready to embark on that holiday of a lifetime, the one that you’ve spent a good year dreaming about, we encourage you to plan wisely, think carefully and make sure that you are in good hands. After all, Covid-19 is clearly here for the foreseeable future, but a vacation is still possible provided that you adhere to your destination country protocols and book with a company that allows some flexibility with your booking.
Meaningful travel: Explore with purpose
After more than a year of lockdowns, curfews and travel restrictions, it’s understandable that your next trip must not only top the charts in every way possible, but should also inspire and grip the very core of your soul. The pandemic’s impact on travel in general has been profound in all corners of the world, but industry surveys indicate that consumers are more than willing to travel again and that there is a deeper sentiment towards ‘responsible’ and ‘sustainable’ tourism, with many would-be holiday makers specifically focusing their attention on destinations that are actively pursuing these altruistic goals.
Our Mara camps are eco-rated and we are forever making significant operational changes in order to protect the sensitive areas in which we operate. Conservation and community tourism is certainly not new to Governors; in fact we have been working hand in hand with our guests, partners and local neighbours – before ecotourism was even a word. It is our policy to support local communities and conservation initiatives in our areas of operation and for the last 48 years, we have delivered real results that we are very proud of.
People are a huge focus for us because we know, that in order to conserve these unique wildlife areas of Africa, communities must benefit directly from tourism. As soon as the pandemic struck in March 2020, we set out to facilitate emergency food drives to those most affected by the downturn in tourism – nobody was left unaffected. Every month since, we have delivered food packages to communities in our four locations – work that could not have been undertaken without the critical funding of our benefactors. The positive impacts of these large-scale food drives have been far reaching, with thousands of people receiving basic food and hygiene supplies.
Travel safely within the Governors’ ‘bubble’
Understandably there are still many hurdles and the obvious concerns surrounding global travel, but the good news is that the natural environment and the luxury of space and distance at each of our camps, offers an excellent opportunity to reconnect with family and friends in extraordinary setting – which is why a safari with Governors’ is massively appealing at this time.
We are pleased to say that the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out is well underway in Kenya, with most of our staff having already acquired their first dose, while in Rwanda, all our staff at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge have received part one of the vaccine.
On top of this, we now have a full year of experience in this new world of travel and we are constantly tightening and improving our measures along the way. Our dedicated, Covid Response Committee reviews all procedures, operations, staff and the guest experience – ensuring that health and safety are at the forefront. Ultimately, it’s important to know that we take our company protocols extremely seriously and that you can enjoy a safe experience at any of our camps, aircraft and hot air balloons.
Fly regionally with Governors’ Aviation
Travel requirements for visitors to Kenya
Kenya is our choice of inspiration for this write up – after all – this is a country that has not once or twice, but repeatedly, won ‘Africa’s leading destination’. It’s a true story. First timers might ask ‘What are the best wildlife areas and where can I find that no shoes, no news kind of beach experience?’. Well, read on for our top safari picks which of course feature all the wonderful Governors’ properties (how could we not) as well as a couple of our favorite spots along the coastline.
The first thing to note, as you plan your trip, is that visas are no longer available on arrival; all travellers must obtain an approved e-visa in advance which you can purchase online via this link http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html
Visas aside, there are of course the considerations and complexities of flying during Covid-19, but, if you are aware of the rules and requirements ahead of time, it’s actually quite straightforward and makes a whole ton of sense. Take a look at our International Traveller Updates page where we have laid out the processes involved in entering and exiting Kenya during this time, but please note that whilst we have made every effort to ensure our information is accurate and the fact that this is a constantly changing scenario, we do suggest that you check the latest travel requirements on the Kenya government website and also contact your Foreign Office before you book or begin your trip.
Now that the semi-complicated stuff is out of the way, here is the inspirational and exciting part – where we get to tell you all about the wild adventures, our magnificent camps and amazing moments that await you! Be prepared to be blown away ….
Live and breathe the magic of the Masai Mara
The Masai Mara is one of the most famous game reserves in the world – and for good reason; it’s a year-round destination that never disappoints. If you are hell bent on seeing the Great Migration, when around 2 million plains game make the journey up from Tanzania’s Serengeti into Kenya’s Masai Mara, then make sure you visit us between the months of July – October for the best chance of seeing a river crossing and all the accompanying drama.
If cooler temperatures, baby animals, big cats, space and solitude are your deal breakers, then you should consider a trip during the green – or mid season – as it is sometimes referred to. Trust us when we say that an ‘off peak’ safari is just as alluring and thrilling as a high season trip – and in some ways – more beautiful with flowing rivers, carpets of wildflowers and stunning pastel sunrises. The added bonus of traveling during the ‘quieter’ months is the lower rates and being away from the madding crowds.
Fall in love with our charming Mara camps
For many, a wildlife safari is all about finally figuring out that new Nikon and spotting all of the Big Five – but a few nights at any of our award winning Mara camps offers so much more. Each camp is positioned in what is widely considered to be, the best wildlife location of the Masai Mara – tucked away in a stretch of riverine forest that hugs the winding banks of the Mara River. An endearing cast of characters in the form of resident warthogs, banded and dwarf mongooses, Blossom the elephant and the occasional curious giraffe, can all be found wandering through any of the camps at any time of day and together with our brilliant team of staff, make up the Governors’ family. Once you have stayed with us, it’s highly unlikely that you will ever go anywhere else; we welcome a high number of repeat guests and for one couple, a 27th visit is on the cards!
Governors’ Camp is the perfect option for families, couples, weddings and special interest groups. Custom-designed family tents allow you to keep your little ones close at night and our much loved Mongoose Club provides endless entertainment for our younger guests.
Perhaps our biggest drawcard here is the fact that this camp plays host to many renowned wildlife photographers, filmmakers and documentarists; after all, this is the home of Animal Planet’s Big Cat Diaries and Big Cat Tales, as well as BBC Earth’s Dynasties and most recently, the Discovery channel’s Serengeti series. With the famous Marsh Pride of Lions residing in the nearby Musiara Marsh, which is their core territory for much of the year – you could not ask for a better location to live out your safari dreams.
The filming of Big Cat Tales – photo credit The Big Cat People
Little Governors’ overlooks a seasonal marsh area teeming with birdlife, wallowing hippos, basking buffalo, waterbuck and a variety of other species that come to drink. Another favourite for elephant families who love to wander directly through the camp, guests at Little may have to abandon their lunch and make a dash for the mess tent – another highlight of staying with us! Little Governors’ runs entirely on solar power and has been awarded a gold eco-rating from Eco Tourism Kenya for its sustainable practices in place.
Solar power and a ‘cast of characters’
For those in search of that extra bit of luxury, look no further than Il Moran – often regarded as the premier property in the Masai Mara. With just ten tents, it’s small and intimate, with added touches and jaw-dropping interiors that place this camp at the top of the safari accommodation range.
The main deck area provides a wonderful al fresco dining experience and a sunken fire pit is lit in the evenings – the perfect spot to sit back with your cocktail of choice and gaze up at a blanket of stars.
As with each of our Mara camps, Il Moran is unfenced; resident warthogs graze the lawns and you have a high chance of elephants visiting you here too. In November last year, we watched as a lovely old female elephant ambled through right through the reception area, taking the potted canna lilies with her!
For Private Camp, we picked a spot on a picturesque bend of the Mara River where hippos congregate in dense pods, stealthy crocs lie in waiting and elephants bring their calves for a playful dip. Only seven tents ensure total peace and seclusion, with personal attention being the very hallmark of a stay here. This camp would be the best option if the throes of the pandemic have you seriously considering a totally private safari. Why not book it out on an exclusive basis and enjoy a truly authentic safari experience – under canvas and immersed in the wild.
As pioneers in the tourism industry, our offerings would not be complete without the option of hot air ballooning for our guests. Not only are we the first company to provide balloon safaris over the course of the Mara River, but we are also the first to re-green degraded areas of the Mara by working with Seedballs Kenya; our passengers can throw handfuls of tiny charcoal covered seed balls, from our baskets, over suitable sites below – in an attempt to restore biodiversity along the river.
For a totally different perspective of your wildlife safari, a sunrise flight with Governors’ Balloon Safaris, gently floating across the open plains, forests, river and animals below, followed by a delicious cooked breakfast on landing, is simply an experience not to be missed.
Find out what we mean by Mugie Moments
In March 2020 we opened our much-anticipated Governors’ Mugie House, and while the timing could not have been worse, we are certain that once travel opens up and the word gets out about how fabulous this property is, Mugie will become a flagship destination and the most popular extension to a Mara safari. Within the private Mugie Conservancy, guests can enjoy a remote and pristine wilderness all to themselves – right off the beaten path. The area is home to some of northern Kenya’s key endemic species such as reticulated giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeest and Grevy’s zebra while the conservancy also supports cheetah, lion and wild dog research. In fact, one of the highlights at Mugie is to visit the anti poaching and tracking units at work, for real ‘behind the scenes’ safari experience.
Conservation highlights aside, Governors’ Mugie House is beyond beautiful – an amazing combination of design and construction, sometimes described as a ‘modern aristocratic home’ perched on a hill in the middle of the wild and rugged Laikipia expanse. There are eight individual stone cottages, with high floor-to-ceiling French windows, allowing for plenty of natural light and sensational views of the open plains below.
Spend your days exploring the conservancy’s vast acacia-dotted savannahs and olive forests, which are crawling with heavyweight game species and a healthy population of big cats. Guided bush walks, bush meals and sundowners at some breathtaking, secret spots of ours, are all part of the unique moments and memories to be made at Mugie. Our infinity pool could not be better positioned for views of Mount Kenya, while a few rounds on Mugie’s nine hole golf course (which is Kenya’s most northern course), is a bucket list experience in itself!
Explore the wonders of the Great Rift Valley
The Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift provides some of Kenya’s most dramatic natural scenery alongside Africa’s most memorable wildlife. This region is so breathtakingly beautiful that we highly suggest a couple of nights here, either at the start or end of your full circuit itinerary – just so that you can relax, unwind and taste the pleasures of up-country life.
Book our lovely settler-style home, Loldia House, shaded beneath giant fig trees and tucked away on the quiet northern shores of Lake Naivasha – this is a great base to set off in search of rhinos at nearby Lake Nakuru National Park, photograph flocks of flamingos in their thousands and discover all the hidden delights of Eburru Forest – home to the critically endangered mountain bongo.
Flop and drop on Kenya’s coastline
An East African adventure is simply not complete without an obligatory ‘dip of your toes’ in the Indian ocean and although the pioneering spirit of Governors’ has not quite reached the palm-fringed beaches of the Kenyan coast, we do of course have a couple of favourites that we would be delighted to share with you.
Manda Bay is the perfect escape for families, couples and solo travellers who are looking for a secluded location where they can switch off from the rest of the world. Located on the northern tip of Manda Island in the Lamu archipelago, this is an unspoiled paradise where guests are encouraged to be as busy or as quiet as they like.
Manda Bay – photo credit Manda Bay
Another dreamy option is Kinondo Kwetu which is laid back, heavenly and a first choice for families with young children. Situated at the far end of the remote Galu Beach, this is an all-inclusive boutique hotel, run by a lovely Swedish family who ensure a ‘home away from home’ kind of experience.
Is it too early to start planning your next trip?
Now that we have covered how to see the best of Kenya safely and responsibly with Governors’, it must be time to inspire your next holiday. Rwanda and its endangered mountain gorillas, rolling landscapes, wild forests, magnificent volcano range and friendly people are calling.
Plan your next trip with us!
And guess what? Governors’ did in fact pioneer this little corner of Africa too, by opening up the country’s first ever community-owned property in 2006 – Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge. By staying with us here, you are directly contributing towards the protection of the Volcanoes National Park and therefore the survival of the precious gorillas. But that’s a story for another day, so stay tuned …
By Jessica Savage for Governors’ Camp Collection.
The Governors’ Camp Collection comprises seven award winning camps and lodges – set in the heart of the best wildlife viewing areas of Kenya and Rwanda. Book your safari now firstname.lastname@example.org