Designer Safaris – The New Rage
Face to face with a baby elephant, you turn your lens a little to the left, and smack! You’ve just clocked a Samburu warrior in the jaw. Not to worry though, he’s tight with the local guide, and all is well on the Kenyan front. This is just the type of run-in that comes up in a discussion with Maniago Safaris when mapping out a maiden expedition to east Africa.
Maniago is a Nairobi-based destination management company, run by veteran guides who got their start with Abercrombie and Kent before spinning off. Their promise is to take adventurers beyond the gated wildlife parks and into remote ethnic villages, all without compromising state of the art luxury accommodations.
For the avid photographers out there, Maniago works with adventure photographer Roger Moore to plan photo intensive safaris. Moore takes pride in the nighttime shoots on reserves and teaching low-light technique inside thatched huts of Masaai villagers.
The fun part about all of this is the creative freedom you have in planning your trip. The company has no pre-set itineraries, but they do work closely with a network of partners throughout east Africa to provide endless combinations. Visits to the archeological sites of Olduvai Gorge and Koobi for a bird watching in the Rift Valley Lakes, hot air balloon rides, diving and deep sea fishing are all part of the course when it comes to options.
The days of pre-fab safaris have come to an end. People are wising up, and it's a good thing the guide companies are paying attention. The modern traveler's must make his own way.JW