My husband and I have been thinking about our holiday plans over the next couple of years, and we love the idea of a safari trip for our soon-to-be 4 children. We are considering a possible trip next year or the year after, and after much research we really liked the idea of The Safari Collection that has 4 beautiful properties: Giraffe Manor, Solio Lodge, Sasaab and Sala’s Camp. We talk to Tanya Carr-Hartley, owner and mother of 3, about their family-owned safari business and about her life with her family in Kenya, her strong beliefs in organic food, and how her children are so blessed to grow up in Kenya.
Can you tell us a little bit about your family? The names and ages of your children?
My Husband Mikey and I are both fourth generation Kenyans, and have had the fortune to be brought up in East Africa. We both have strong history with wildlife and safari life. Sala is our eldest daughter and is 10 years old, and then we have twins one girl Tisa and one boy Kinna who are six years old.
What is the best time of the year to see the migration?
The best time for the migration is from end June to September. The migration does come earlier sometimes and stays longer towards end of October sometimes too.
Can you tell us about the amazing four properties that your family owns?
The properties we have in our collection are in four totally different regions of Kenya and boast a variety of wildlife, topography and culture. Three of the four have been built by us in locations we feel are a huge compliment to a safari circuit. The fourth is the iconic Giraffe Manor, which is situated in Nairobi.
How did it come about that your family collected these four properties?
After starting our business selling luxury mobile camps, we discovered that we needed lodges/properties to compliment the circuit. We slowly negotiated agreements for land leases in carefully chosen areas in Kenya from the arid wilderness of Kenya’s northern frontier, where we now have Sasaab. And the lush plains and acacia forests of Solio (kenya’s first private conservancy and where we now have Solio Lodge), which is sandwiched between the Aberdare Mountains and Mount Kenya. When you get to the top of the Aberdares it is like being in Scotland with heather and waterfalls. To one of the last untouched corners of Kenya’s most famous National Reserve – The Masai Mara. As both our families have history in wildlife, its capture and care, we have been able to work hand in hand with the land owners to create attractive lodges in these prime locations. With Giraffe Manor it was about timing, bravery and sheer determination. The original owners were family friends and we were lucky enough to be able to buy the property in 2009.
Can you tell us more about how your own children can relish growing up in Kenya?
Our children are so privileged to be able to grow up in this country. Their life is full of adventure, wildlife, culture and a freedom that you only really get in Africa. It also offers them such an incredibly diverse pallet of education – amazing life experiences that give a knowledge and understanding that can’t be taught in a classroom. Sala was only six weeks old when we opened Sala’s Camp, she has grown up much of her life in the bush and has learnt to love guiding, wildlife and has developed an incredibly artistic eye. The younger two, have spent their life on the move and amongst a variety of ages of guests, and so have incredible social skills and of course the flare to love the outside world too.
How would one travel to Kenya to reach the properties from London or Dubai?
Travelling from London to Nairobi is fairly easy leaving either in the morning on a daylight flight or on an overnight flight to Nairobi direct, on Kenya Airways or BA. The flight takes eight to nine hours and there is very little time difference.
Travelling from Dubai is best on Emirates and is only a four hour flight, extremely easy and there are a variety of options daily. Qatar Airways also has different options daily.
You also believe in organic farming – can you tell us about how you have entwined your organic farming into the food served at the properties?
Much of my childhood was on a farm where my grandparents lived, and allowed me to enjoy the benefits of farm life. My grandmother had the most remarkable home garden, growing all her own tea/coffee/fruit/ veg/ lamb/pigs and of course making her own butter and such from fresh farm milk. The taste of fresh produce enriches food so much that I have encouraged all our properties to try and develop an organic garden for our guests to enjoy. We also farm our own honey from bee hives we have had installed in all our lodges.
I have children who are 5 years, 3 years, 20 months and a newborn on the way, what would you personally recommend if we did this next year?
Wow four children, what fun. I think to be honest that you can certainly take a trip next year, and all our properties are so child friendly that your elder children would have a huge amount of fun. The smaller children are really too young to “understand” all elements of a safari, but we would happily be able to offer a “ayah/Nanny” service at a very reasonable rate so that you have time to enjoy relax. Sasaab has a lovely slopping beach style swimming pool… which all of your kids would hugely enjoy and meeting the local Samburu people has all children completely gripped by their colourful clothes and presence. At Solio the game is so intense and easily available that game drives don’t have to be early in the morning, nor do they need to be too long.
Trying to mobilise a family of six for an early game drive could be challenging I imagine!
So Solio is perfect for this. You don’t really need to leave the lodge until 0830 to 0900 and even then you can have a 30 minute drive and see lots. We also have horses at Solio and the children love getting involved in the kitchen.
What can my children expect?
The world’s best play ground!
How many days do you recommend for children under 7 years of age?
I would suggest a 7 day itinerary if you can afford the time?
For families that have children 7 years or older, what kind of itinerary would you put together for them including the number of days?
I would put together an itinerary with less travel, more time on the ground, and a variety of wildlife and culture. Again I think a 7/8 day trip would be fabulous or even more if you have time and means. Depending on the time of year The Safari Collection will provide a detailed itinerary best suited.
Are there concerns about malaria in the area?
None of our properties are high malaria zones. Infact Solio is too high for Malaria all together. You will be recommended to take malaria medication due to the Samburu region and the Mara region, but those who live there do not take it and have not had malaria there either.
How do you balance your time as a mother running the properties whilst managing 3 beautiful children?
This is a difficult and challenging balance. My children spend 95% of their school term in school, and 100% of their holidays in the bush. The days are full….and luckily I love the early mornings and busy days. I think sometimes I should have a bit more time for my family, but my mother was a worker bee and I feel she was a great role model.
If your family had to go to another destination for a holiday where would be your ideal trip?
Of course with young kids a beach destination is always fun, or the ski slopes. East Africa has the most amazing beaches and we often enjoy those. As a family to escape all work related elements we find the ski slopes to be the best “family time” and allows us to turn off cell phones and relax.
For more information, please visit www.thesafaricollection.com or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org where Tanya or one of her team would be delighted to help you with travel arrangements.