Jane was lucky enough to spend time in November travelling around some of the Elewana Kenya properties, here she gives us her observations on travelling at this time.
Elewana AfroChic Diani Beach
Our stay at AfroChic happened to coincide with Thanksgiving and was an opportunity for us to take some time off and enjoy a beach holiday. AfroChic is a five-room beachfront property on the north side of Diani Beach. It’s very family friendly, with a nice pool area and lovely lounges overlooking the Indian Ocean. The food is delicious whether you order from the extensive regular menu or the daily Chef's Menu. Being next to the ocean, you can expect amazing fresh seafood.
Activity wise, we went snorkeling off a sandbar and had wonderful close up encounters with boxfish, angel fish, parrot fish, clown fish, and even a black-and-white sea snake (but not too close-up — they’re venomous!). We enjoyed a half-day deep-sea fishing excursion where my husband caught a 40-lb king mackerel, and I caught a 20-lb barracuda.
Getting to the coast was easy and all the essential Covid protocols were in use at Wilson Airport in Nairobi including social distancing, hand sanitizer, etc. We were the only passengers on the Kenya Air Flight from Nairobi to Diani, and the only people in the terminals.
Elewana Lewa Safari Camp
I’ve always loved Lewa Safari Camp, because it’s so quiet and because it’s the only place to overnight in the park’s southwest corner (all other camps are in the northern part of the conservancy). Lewa is truly the model for African conservation. We had a behind-the-scenes visit to the conservancy headquarters and operations room where they are using state-of-the-art technology to monitor the 213 black and white rhino that roam the park. If they don't see a rhino for three days, they start to worry.
On three of our game drives, we didn’t see any other visitors and it felt like we had the park all to ourselves. There are lots of animals including black and white rhinos, lions, hartebeest, oryx, eland and elephants galore.
Elewana Tortilis Camp Amboseli
At the moment it is mostly local tourists visiting safari camps and you may be the only non-resident traveller at any given location. That means that weekends are busier than weekdays, especially in camps or parks close to Nairobi. However, even with residents visiting, none of the national parks or wildlife reserves are terribly busy. On weekdays, you may have the park pretty much to yourself. In Amboseli National Park, we were almost the only ones exploring the southwest part of the huge park. In three hours (on a Sunday evening), we saw one other vehicle. What a privilege.
Amboseli has turned pink, or at least the water in the park’s southwest corner, where shallow lakes are full of flamingos. It turns out that the birds have migrated from Lake Natron during the last two years and are staying. The birding in general has been exceptional and seeing as I now mount my binoculars on a harness, I’m officially a “twitcher.”
Amboseli is a gem of a park. Currently the park has a lot of water; the Amboseli swamps are full and expanding. And wildlife is prolific, with elephants leading the pack (or herd in their case). It was magical having the clouds around Kilimanjaro suddenly open-up and see the full peak.
As for Covid’s impact at this time, all the Elewana Collection properties are following protocols. Staff wear masks and guests are asked to wear them when walking around the public areas, which also have handwashing stations. Hand sanitiser is readily available and in addition, Elewana offers you a welcome pack with a mask, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitiser and other goodies. One of the distinct advantages to taking a safari holiday right now is that the wide-open space, fresh air and small guest numbers all lend themselves to natural social distancing.