We chat with Charl Grobler about all the activities that guests can choose from including new electric bike safaris and running tracks, cultural tours, and visits to spice farms just to name a few.
Most people think that safari is all about the game drives, can you give us an overview of other activities on offer.
It really comes down to the area and National Park or Conservancy. In East Africa, there has been a push to diversify activities even in National Parks where until fairly recently you were limited to game drives only. Things are changing and we are now able to offer a wider range of experiences.
For the larger conservation areas, Serengeti offers an array of alternative activities such as walking safaris, rhino tracking with the rangers in Moru Kopjes, Dorobo, and Maasai rock art. You are fairly limited in Masai Mara, but the game viewing is exceptional, and you don't really want to do anything else, but a Balloon Safaris is highly recommended and on most people's bucket list.
The conservancies in Kenya offer a wider range of activities and are probably better suited for longer stays or families that want to keep their kids entertained. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy offers, walking safaris, cultural visits, horse riding, Ngare Ndare forest visit, camel riding, and a behind the scenes - see how the conservancy is protected and meet the tracker dogs. Loisaba has similar experiences as well as mountain biking.
For a break from the beach, what activities would you recommend for the Elewana coastal properties
For Kilindi, I would definitely explore Stonetown, wander around the Old Fort, the Palace Museum, Darajani Market, Freddy Mercury House and get lost in the narrow streets, and admire the architecture. Outside of Town, visit one of the spice farms or the giant tortoises of Prison Island.
For golfers, Afrochic has an 18-hole golf course a few minutes away. For those that want a unique safari experience, visit Shimba Hills National Reserve and search for one of Kenya's last populations of Sable antelope. The reserve is scenic with open grassland and subtropical forests.
What is the most unusual activity on offer at the Elewana Camps
Some people are surprised to find we have a running track at Loisaba tented camp and at Lewa Safari Camp. We are introducing e-bikes in Loisaba and walking safaris at Serengeti Pioneer Camp in July. One of my favourites and certainly unique activities would be to spend a morning with the Hadzabe tribe. We leave The Manor at Ngorongoro after breakfast and drive along the Rift Valley to Lake Eyasi. The Hadzabe are one of the last true hunter-gatherers left in Africa, and if you get your season right, you can ask them to search for wild honey. The area has regular honeybees and stingless bees, fresh honey from a wild hive is an amazing experience.
What activities can guests participate in that will give back to local communities
When guests stay at Tarangire Treetops within the Randilen Wildlife Manage Area, a portion of your conservation fees goes straight back to the community. The land belongs to them, they have grazed their livestock there for generations, but they now benefit from conservation. During the dry season, they do still take their cattle into the area to graze, but this area is seen as a "grazing bank" only used when all other grazing has been exhausted. It's well managed, and livestock, people, and wildlife benefit from the same land.
Another great project would be the Maasai Boma near Tarangire Treetops. The boma supports Maasai grandmothers from the local community who live there. Our guests get a wonderful insight into Maasai life by visiting them, you can see how they do their beadwork or even try their local delicacy of cow blood mixed with milk.
What would be your must-do recommendations in Tanzania and Kenya
Tanzania - You will need great timing, but a morning Balloon Safari over the wildebeest migration and an afternoon watching the Wildebeest crossing over the Mara River is unbeatable, you could experience both from Serengeti Migration Camp.
Kenya - Searching for leopards in Loisaba. Loisaba has become a mecca for Leopard sightings, and if you are extremely lucky, you might get a glimpse of the melanistic Leopards found in this area of Laikipia. It takes early mornings and a keen eye, but if you are dedicated Loisaba will deliver a unique experience.