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Traveler’s Corner: A Whole New Level of Travel

June 21, 2024  By: Gretchen

Mark and Carol S. chose to visit Kenya and Rwanda to see some of East Africa’s most incredible highlights including the wildlife of the Masai Mara, gorillas and golden monkeys after a neighbor told them about her trip to Africa. It was a bucket list item spectacularly fulfilled! Wildlife sighting highlights included watching a pride of lions maneuvering and organizing for an attack on herd of zebras. It eventually became too dark to see, but the next day they went back and saw the cubs and mother guarding a hollowed out whole zebra.

giraffes crossing river

They also witnessed a river crossing of about 30 giraffes.

“We thought they were coming down to the river for a drink as we watched. Our guide William realized they wanted to cross, not drink, so he moved the vehicle out of their path. They all started lining up as we watched them nervously approaching the edge and nudging each other with their necks as if to say ‘you go first’.”
cheetah cubs

Their guide William at Kicheche was another highlight of their trip. They were given a private vehicle and during their stay and William was with them throughout.

“His knowledge of the animals and birds was tremendous, and we got the feeling he was going above and beyond the entire time.”
cheetah walking

After their experience with a private vehicle and guide, Mark and Carol heartily recommended upgrading like this for some or all of a safari.

“You really get to know each other’s backgrounds, and I feel like we made a real connection with William. It was late in the day when we saw the zebra kill, and a call came in that a cheetah was spotted 30 minutes away, and he kindly asked us if we wanted to head back or see the cheetah. We chose the cheetah, and after a ride across the conservancy, he got us there to see the cheetah marking its territory, just in time for our sundowner.”
Carol and Mark at Gorilla Guardians

During their time in Rwanda, Mark and Carol went to visit Gorilla Guardians, a non-profit that aims to improve the lives of reformed poachers and communities around Volcanoes National Park. They weren’t sure about the visit before going, but ended up enjoying it immensely, especially the reenactment of a Rwandan wedding.

“The tour was so interesting…it started with a Penn State connection. Three of our children went to Penn State, and at the first hut they talked about Edwin Sabuhoro (now a Penn State professor) and how he worked with the locals to transition from poaching to tourism. The conversation was amazing, and we met former poachers who are now working at the camp. Carol and I were the only two there at the time, so we got a personal tour, and the wedding ceremony was just over the top fun. They treated us like kings and queens. Their enthusiasm and energy, and their willingness to share their history and culture had us interested and smiling the entire time. It was an experience we will never forget, and so much fun.”
The Bishop's House staff

Their accommodation in Rwanda was another stand out. They felt that the staff at Bishop House treated them like personal friends during their stay.

“The removal of our muddy boots, and the foot massage after hiking to the gorillas and golden monkeys was totally unexpected and over the top cool. The boots covered in mud were returned the next day cleaner than the day we bought them years ago. They lined up and hugged us when we left. This got a couple of them and we all choked up. The service overall was like nothing we have ever experienced… truly unexpected.”
couple at Equator

Mark and Carol had only worked with a tour operator once before, for a trip to Italy. On their experience working with Africa Adventure Consultants, Mark shared this.

“This was on a whole other level, from the time we arrived and were escorted through the diplomat line in Nairobi, to the bush flights and drivers, it was totally seamless. We even had our flight cancelled an hour before we left for the airport. A quick email and call to the team and we were back on track in a couple of hours with a better flight, only missing 1/2 a day of the itinerary in Nairobi. So many nice touches with cards, wine, email, and making sure the trip was going great. It was so personalized, we sometimes felt like celebrities the way we were treated. I can't think of a single thing that would have made this trip better. It was truly the best trip of our lives. I would recommend Africa Adventure Consultants to anyone who wants to go to Africa.”

Mark and Carol have some great advice for others who are considering a safari adventure…

  • Believe when they say pack light; our wash was done every night.
  • We felt like traveling off peak got us special attention, and avoided crowds.
  • Combining the gorillas with the safari was so worth it. Choosing Rwanda for the gorilla experience and hearing the genocide history was very special.
  • Our travel insurance came in handy for the cancelled flight and itinerary changes.
  • Make the most of your time, go on all safaris, and take advantage of options like bush walks.
couple by elephants

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Photos courtesy AAC Livingstone Club members Mark and Carol S. and The Bishop’s House