While we typically spend the bulk of our time on creating amazing travel experiences for others in our Tribù tribe, once in a while we have one of those unforgettable trips ourselves—a new destination, a unique group, or a property we simply were eager to visit.
This past February, we had one of those experiences: One part philanthropy, one part women in business and a third part safari adventure. This particular safari started with a group of people—specifically a group of women—who were brought together with a common interest to experience a safari in Africa. This quickly evolved into a collaboration with the Nairobi non-profit The Pangea Network. The Pangea Network is an international non-profit dedicated to empowering motivated individuals in Kenya and the United States with the knowledge, skills and an ongoing network of support in order to achieve their dreams and make positive, life-changing contributions in the communities where they live.
Pangea Network founder Nicole Minor, along with Dorothy Ombajo, the organization’s Kenya Country Director; Will Forte, Actor & Goodwill ambassador to Pangea Network; and Colins Omondi, Central Field Officer invited our group of San Diego-based female business owners to collaborate, share ideas and learn from one another while also enjoying a safari experience together. The visit was timed with the graduation of 136 women from The Kenyan Women’s Network. This Pangea program introduces groups of women to a yearlong comprehensive curriculum spanning health and wellness practices, financial literacy, personal development, basic bookkeeping, basic business skills, human rights, and micro-financing program. The idea is that by educating a woman in Kenya, she then can make a major impact on her entire family and community.
The North County San Diego based group was comprised of Tribù Founder Marni Granston; official trip photographer Jessica Davis, of Solana Beach-based Jessica Davis Photography; joined by Heather Aiu, Rachael Soares and Alana Pedro of Aloha Collection, based in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Heather and Rachael are the co-founders of Aloha Collection, which is a line of splash-proof travel bags (check them out here—safari collection coming soon!), and Alana heads up sales. Our group also included from Cardiff, Libby Carstensen, a meditation and life coach who led kundalini yoga practice for the group and who plans to return to Africa leading wellness retreats; and Stacie Devitt from Del Mar, who is involved in both the Immigration Justice Project and Mona foundation, a non-profit organization that supports grassroots initiatives focused on education and raising the status of women and girls in the U.S. and abroad. It was quite a group!
From yoga practice to viewing baby elephants, meeting the recent graduates of Pangea Network’s education program, and being a part of such a meaningful women-helping-women initiative, the experience was nothing short of magical. Tribù’s Marni Granston, shares her experience from their time together in Kenya…
We started in Nairobi, Kenya, arriving late on the KLM flight from Amsterdam and went straight to the Crowne Plaza to rest up after the long journey from California. The next morning we were off to the beautiful suburb of Karen, home of the Giraffe Sanctuary and the endangered Rothschild giraffes. Some sassy and some friendly, the giraffes were eager to meet their visitors coming right up to us to accept food and even giving kisses!
After lunch we visited a few local craft markets before heading over to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to welcome the baby elephants back from their time in the National Park. It was here where we each adopted a baby elephant for a year and were able to begin to experience Kenya’s elephants and one tiny little rhino who are being raised and prepped to go back into the wild.
While in Karen we stayed at Hemingways, a beautiful colonial-style hotel with lush gardens and beautifully decorated suites. Each room featured a historical figure of Kenya and the safari industry.
The following day was an important day for the women of The Pangea Network: the graduation of 136 women who had completed the organization’s business program. This program introduces groups of women to a comprehensive curriculum spanning health and wellness practices, financial literacy, personal development, basic bookkeeping, basic business skills, human rights, and micro-financing program. After completing the program, the women will return to their villages to grow their businesses, which include everything from tailoring and basket weaving to jewelry making and more. Educating a woman in Kenya and fostering the support for starting her own business brings a positive impact on not just her family, but their entire village. Our group was honored and humbled to be a part of such meaningful cause.
We celebrated this evening with the team from Pangea who welcomed us with a traditional Kenyan meal prepared by the local Director, Dorothy, in her Nairobi home.
We continued next to Tsavo West National Park, Kenya’s largest National Park. Here, at Finch Hattons, we experienced a wellness retreat within the bush. The property has a beautiful pool, spa and open-air yoga pavilion looking out toward the Chyulu Hills—which are said to have spiritual energy and served as the perfect backdrop to our daily yoga practice.
The camp was also very culinary focused, with nightly candlelit dinners under the full moon. Each night while on safari, we settled in with a sundowner and learned about the local culture. We were greeted by Maasai warriors, who taught us about the Maasai Olympics. Once a culture for which coming of age involved hunting and killing a lion, today the Maasai are focused on saving the lion population and the Olympics is an event centered around preservation and the importance of conservation.
From there, we flew to the Naboisho Conservancy bordering the famed Maasai Mara national park to stay at Naboisho Camp, a traditional tented camp with views looking out over the grasslands of the Mara. The conservancies in this area lease their land, which was formerly used by the Maasai to graze cattle, from the local tribes. The villages now are more semi-nomadic, settling in the surrounding land of the conservancy, still grazing their cattle but with a deeper understanding of the importance for the conservation of the local wildlife.
The area is teeming with game from a healthy population of resident wildebeest and zebra to strong lion prides, which at times made it feel like there was a lion around every bush! The management of the conservancy helps to restrict the number of vehicles at each sighting, creating a pristine experience with the wildlife and nature. Each day started with an early morning game drive, breakfast and coffee among the grasslands with lions, zebra and giraffe roaming through. We returned to the camp for lunch and afternoon yoga practice led by Libby, followed by high tea, an evening game drive and candlelit dinner. We even got to celebrate my birthday one night, in full with a visit from the local Maasai adorned in their shukas, sharing their traditional song, dance and impressive jumping skills.
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On our last morning, we packed up and said goodbye to the wonderful and hospitable staff at Naboisho camp, and set out for our last game drive. Our guides Daniel and Benjamin had really outdone themselves these past few days with sightings of cheetahs with a kill, multiple prides of lion, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and so much more. For our finale we stopped for breakfast in the bush and were joined by a heard of elephants! We stood enjoying our morning coffee on foot while watching these amazing creatures make their way closer and closer. We ended with a dash into the vehicle as they began to get a little too close, but leaving us with a truly memorable departure from the bush.
This time on safari, disconnected from the pulse of our busy lives, gave us all time to reflect, to grow and to be one with nature—bringing clarity of the connection we all have on this planet. Libby guided our group through a daily Kundalini practice, which helped us open our minds and meditate further on our intentions both for our experience in Kenya and for when we returned.
Our group was brought together organically with an initial common goal of championing the women and work of The Pangea Network and experiencing the renowned safari of Kenya. We returned, all touched to our cores by the experience we had had, the deep friendships made and the power of Africa.
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