In 1997, I landed a job with one of the world’s biggest ad agencies O&M, destination Nairobi, Kenya. We rented our Jo-burg house, sold the car and I left to start work and set up home. This was supposed to be a life changing experience. Maplanga Africa had just been born and we had managed to turn this into a good small business supporting one lodge and some activities in Livingstone, Zambia.
My new career was to last for a total of ten days, Nairobi was just a bit too rough for us at that time. I did an about turn and jumped onto a plane and headed back to sunny SA! Jobless, car less but managed to convince an old friend to let me have my house back, he has never forgiven me….
Only one major problem, the family never got there, so with this in mind, we decided that one day we would all return to savour the sights and sounds and decide if we had made the right decision to stay here and start our business (obvious!)
Winter 2010 was in its last gasp and we winged our way to the hustle and bustle of Nairobi, we had booked a self drive Land Rover expedition that promised give us a taste of Kenya: Nairobi, Masai Mara, Nakuru and Lake Naivasha. We chose a self drive trip because it’s the best way to get a ‘feel’ for a country and because it’s the closest we could get to doing Kenya on the same terms as we had previously done ‘our’ part of Africa. The main difference is that this was a camping trip, something we don’t normally do... I must mention that we called it a day on camping after three nights and upgraded to a chalet to escape the rain.
The best way to describe this trip is to publish my feedback letter to the Kenyan operators, here goes:
Hi Debs and Thiemo
Hope you don’t mind but I prefer to give a more “creative” report back on the trips we do, so here goes! Lets start off with the overall, you see I like to do things “arse about face”, from an experience point of view, I reckon the trip rates as one of the top five adventures the “Maplanga’s” have ever done, so you can relax, it was good, very good!
As a seasoned Southern African tour operator I would like to give you some input on what can be done in future, just some ideas.
You need to look to one of my corporate clients for some decent 12V fridges – www.snomaster.com - muuuch better, those Waeco’s just don’t crack it, even after a full day driving the beers were just not there, cold wise. They have the best fridges on the market, affordable and tough for your kind of operation and they get really cold. We never had warm beer however, all the overnight stops offered great pubs and bitterly cold Tuskers!!
Clients need to be briefed on the general condition of toilets in Kenya, not sure how as it’s a difficult one, they are OK for overlanders, for the market you will attract to this trip (there will be many), a toilet brief needs to be done, we have never squatted over a concrete hole in the ground before ... OK...not all the toilets are bad they are just not we are used to, so we are being a bit Jo-burg about this point ;-))
Highlights– Nakuru, Masai Mara, Hells Gate (more time there please), Acacia Pub, the Land Rovers, Francis (The group leader),Fisherman’s Pub, camping gear and Francis again!!! Oh and the game viewing wow!
Midlights – Naivasha, Park Place, Kenbu, food, tents
Lowlights– Kenyan Toilets, thick dust (your favourite road), bad driving (national Kenyan sport), Coolish drinks/beers. Tent discomfort was anticipated and we got what we expected, it’s not your fault, we are big people, even with our hi-tech inflatable beds I am glad we upgraded on the second night at Mara, sleep makes us happy people….
Do you feel the safari was value for money? Yes
Were your expectations met? Yes and exceeded
Would you recommend Africa Expedition Support to your friends and families? Yes and to our clients
Debs as I am sure you will understand, It is not easy travelling with a special needs kid, your guys were great with her and she had an experience of note too, we do push for her to join us and to be honest we nearly took her out of this trip, I am so glad we didn’t.
You have created a unique and very real way of seeing part of Kenya, we loved it, every minute of it. I think your product sits above the general overland experience, my market will be older and more (regularly) travelled in Africa than your general trucking overlander. My clients have different expectations as per outlined above. But also want that transient overland experience and this is key to this adventure. Nat and I have found that the overland market/experience is not “ageist”, we fitted in well with other travellers.
We look forward to sending some of our clients to you next year.
Once again, our thanks.
Author: Chris Wood