Manns in Kenya – Family Travel Blog

Welcome back to our ongoing saga around the world. After our previous leg (New Zealand, Thailand, India, Nepal, Hawaii), we touched base back in Canada and set out for the mysterious continent of Africa. Apart from Erika’s personal work in Ghana, this was our first experience as a family on this incredible continent. And it all began in Kenya.

Every once in a while, we experience something that entirely recalibrates our own benchmark for life experience. This happened for us, out on the African savannah of Masai Mara. Our safari experience, in a word… extraordinary! Endless troves of wildlife, as far as the eyes can see. Lonely savannah trees, peppered across sweeping grasslands. Gently-breathing beasts, basked in golden light. Flat-topped tree silhouettes, on burning red sunsets. Gourmet meals, beneath star-filled skies. The mystical sounds of wild Africa, filling our tent through the night. And the best damn guide in Africa, to bring it all together for us.

We’ve made a lot of very good (and very bad) decisions throughout our travels around the world, but finding and trusting Ninian Lowis to handcraft a safari experience for us in Kenya, is one of the best decisions we’ve made. His zest for Africa is contagious and his sixth-sense knowledge of the bush, combined with his boundless enthusiasm, led us to see and experience things beyond our wildest imaginations. And because everyone keeps asking, we found Ninian here —> Lowis and Leaky.

All in all, we saw 64 lions (the kids counted), many of them close enough to smell, leopards (and leopard cubs) on the hunt, cheetahs running down gazelles, hyenas feasting on zebras, elephants, too many to count (and too close for comfort), wildebeests in the thousands, giraffes silhouetted on burning red sunsets, hippos splashing in the water right beside our camp, and countless, wondrous animals that we never even knew existed.

Our nights were spent camped beneath the stars, listening to the enchanting sounds of wild Africa. When we say “camping,” we really mean “glamping” (one of our “tents” actually had a hardwood floor)… hot showers, comfiest beds we’ve ever slept in (warmed by hot water bottles), spectacular meals, and coffee to order delivered to our tents along with our 5 AM wake up calls. For a couple of traveling dirtbags, with our roots in remote climbing and ski mountaineering adventures, it was a once-(or-hopefully-more-than-once)-in-a-lifetime amalgamation of wild, rugged experience mixed with blissful luxury. It was an experience that the kids and we will never forget.

Some of our other favourite (and not so favourite) memories from Kenya include…

  • One of the most memorable workshops we’ve ever run anywhere in the world. We had an incredibly multicultural mix of trusting photographers join us from 4 different continents for a 3-day workshop in Nairobi that we’ll never forget (for all kinds of unforgettable reasons that only this group can ever understand). Our lives are richer for having met and shared in that experience with each and every one of those amazing humans.
  • Visiting an elementary school in the slums of Nairobi, made possible by EduKenya. The kids brought a suitcase full of books and school supplies from Canada to donate, and we made class photos for the whole school. This was simultaneously a heart-wrenching and heart-warming experience, but we feel that one of the most valuable experiences we can give Madelyn & Timmy on this journey around the world, is a lens into the way that other kids their ages live and experience life around the world. Finding ways to do this, while also helping (but not exploiting), is an ongoing struggle for us. Thanks to our friend, Tony, for helping coordinate this for us. Here’s how you can donate to this fantastic organization which strives to bring education to kids in extreme poverty.
  • Nairobi traffic… the worst we’ve experienced anywhere on this entire planet (and that’s saying something).
  • Hanging out by the pool and the beach at Diani with our good friends Martina & Nikola (whom we first met and hung out with during our travels in Croatia) and our new friends, Julie, Ronny, and Pareet.
  • The beautiful people of Kenya!

Here are a few photos and pages from the journals of Madelyn and Timmy…