Mums the World recently had the absolute pleasure of meeting Tristan Voorspuy, the mastermind behind the wild texan like horseback Safari. One of Kenya‘s honorary Game Wardens, Tristan has led safaris on horseback in Africa since the 1980’s. After listening to his captivating stories of Big Game and stunning and unspoilt landscapes, we were intrigued to saddle up.
However not quite managing to get there ourselves – just yet – we hunted down a lovely mummy of two, from the good ol’ country of Texas. Lovely Anne is an addict to the game and has taken part in numerous Offbeat Safari adventures, with her next one being in 2016.
Here she gives us a real life account of her experiences to date and talks to us about catching that safari bug! If you too are an adrenaline junkie that loves an adventure, you will love this! If not, be inspired to step out of your comfort zone for your next journey..
☆ Firstly, please tell us a little about yourself & your family?
I’m a 34-year-old mum of two boys, one who is 3 and the other is 6 weeks old. My husband is a healthcare consultant and we are currently based in Nashville, Tennessee, a major healthcare hub. It makes getting to Africa as often as I would like a bit tricky, but I have a big trip planned with Offbeat in 2016 for the boys and I am already beside myself with excitement. I know my littlest one will be too young to remember, but I love that he will be getting an early jump on the Africa love. My 3-year-old is already asking about it daily!
☆ What do you do for a living?
After my first safari with Offbeat in 2009, I caught the safari bug quite badly! Besides raising my two boys, I help put together safari trips for my riding friends and friends with children. I also speak to children at local schools about a Kenya-based charity I am passionate about, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. They rescue baby elephants orphaned by the ivory trade and also run anti-poaching patrols and a mobile vet service for injured wildlife.
☆ How did you hear about Offbeat Safari’s & how easy was the whole booking process?
I first heard about Offbeat from a friend of mine who had just returned from a riding safari. Her trip sounded absolutely amazing and I mentally added it to the list of things I must do someday. A few weeks later I came across an article in a magazine about the same ride across the Masai Mara. In it, the author described galloping with the wildebeest herds as like being in the middle of a kaleidoscope. Something about that line turned the trip from a “must do sometime” to “must do immediately”. I contacted the lovely Charlotte, who is in charge of bookings. Working with her was so easy and she was very accommodating as I kept adding more and more friends to my trip. By the time it was all said and done, I had a bespoke trip planned for 12 of us.
☆ Can you describe a typical day on an Offbeat Safari?
It’s almost impossible to describe a typical day on safari with Offbeat as there truly is no such thing! In the simplest terms, you are awoken with the dawn, spend the day alternating between activities and eating delicious food, and end the day around a campfire. In reality, every day is so wonderful and different. I’ve been on safari with Offbeat 6 times and no day has even been close to the same. Each trip reveals something wonderful that none of the others had. You might spend the morning galloping across the savannah, the afternoon tracking wild dog, and the evening watching lions hunt. Or you might start the day with a huge breakfast followed by a game drive, lunch in the bush, and the afternoon jumping off of waterfalls and frolicking in the river upstream from a pod of hippos. I’ve spent a total of 5 months there now and every day has been different from all of the others.
☆ Typically how many people are in one group?
For the riding safaris, the max is 10 guests and they are usually full. The camps and lodges generally have a max of 12-16 guests, with families and couples going out on their own with their assigned guides each day. Everyone chooses what activities interest them each day.
☆ Did you see any children taking part on the safari’s & did they find it challenging?
I think children might have the best time of all! Everything is a wonder to them, from the animals and their tracks, to the bugs, to the amazing local people and their cultures. Kenyans love children and seem to take a special interest in showing them all of the wonders of their country. Every family I’ve seen on safari looks to be having an incredible time and I must say there’s a distinct lack of whining! I’ve even had a 4-year-old little girl along on one of my riding safaris. The daughter of one of the guides, she was expertly looked after by a kind Maasai warrior who took care of her whilst we were out during the day. She had also been on safari at the age of 2 and still remembered things that had occurred on her first trip. I was blown away that it had that much of an impact at such a young age.
☆ What was the catering like?
In a word: incredible. You could make an epicurean trip out of the food these chefs make over a campfire. It puts my cooking in my modern kitchen with all the bells and whistles to shame. It is truly farm to table; most of the vegetables come from the gardens at Deloraine and Sosian and I’ve seen the staff stop at a local village to buy fresh eggs from the chickens that roam nearby. Everyone raves about the food and eating outdoors under a sky full of stars every night really adds to the experience.
☆ How did you relax on an evening?
Evenings are generally spent around a campfire with a sundowner in hand. The conversation flows with talk of the exciting activities of the day and wild stories from the guides of things they have experienced and lived to tell the tale. Sometimes we jump into one of the land rovers for a night game drive to see if we can spot a leopard or maybe a pride of lions on the hunt.
☆ How many nights did you go for & was it long enough?
My longest trip was nearly 2 months and my shortest was 9 days. I was not ready to leave either time! There is so much to see and do, I think you need a minimum of 2 weeks. That allows for a couple of days in Nairobi to shop and visit some tourist sites like Karen Blixen’s home, and some time at the camps in the Mara and Meru, Sosian Ranch in Laikipia, and perhaps the owner’s family home, Deloraine, near Lake Nakuru and the famous flamingos.
☆ Can you offer any tips on clothing to pack?
Days are hot and nights are quite cool, much like the desert, so I always pack several vests and lightweight shirts with easily rolled sleeves. A polar fleece will keep you warm at night, along with long underwear for sleeping. I think layering is key. If you plan to be in the bush, bring clothes that can take a bit of a beating. Everything is fighting for survival in Africa, including the plants! There are tiny thorns on almost everything. They don’t hurt, but they do snag.
☆ Can you list 5 highlights of the adventure? (other than the adventure itself!)
Oh gosh, only 5? I’ll do my best Just a disclaimer: I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie!)
1) Galloping with thousands of wildebeest on the Masai Mara at the base of the escarpment. They came pouring off of the hillside as we galloped along and their numbers just kept swelling. And yes, it was just like being in the middle of a kaleidoscope!
2) Watching a lone lioness hunt at night and have 2 kills within minutes of each other (the first was stolen by a lazy lion). We were in the land rover bouncing along while trying to keep up with her with wine flying everywhere. It was great fun!
3) Galloping with a herd of over 100 giraffe across a huge open plain. They are so elegant when they run. Their strides are huge, so your horse is giving everything it has, running flat out while the giraffes appear to be moving in slow motion beside you.
4) Stalking a lioness on foot at Sosian, Offbeat’s 24,000 acre ranch in Laikipia. It was such a thrill to lock eyes with her (at a safe distance) and being on foot gives you a real appreciation of how large and powerful they are. We lost track of her at one point until we almost walked into the bush she was hiding in and she snarled at us. I’ve never reversed direction so quickly in my life!
5) Waterfall jumping at Sosian. There’s a huge, 10m waterfall on the property and it’s such fun to spend an afternoon there jumping off of it over and over again and swimming in the pool below. The kids are always the first to give it a go. I stood there trying to get my nerve up for 10 minutes the first time while 3 little boys kept leaping off right next to me.
☆ Did you find it costly whilst you were there or was everything covered in the package?
Not at all. Everything is included, such as park admission, alcohol, and conservation fees. My additional expenses have ever only been tip money for the staff and money for trinkets from visits to the local Masai or Samburu villages. They make beautiful beaded items and I always buy several to take home as gifts.
☆ Were you happy with your accommodation & can you describe it for our readers?
I’ve been happy with all of the levels of Offbeat’s accommodations. Sosian and Deloraine both have absolutely lovely rooms. Deloraine in particular is filled with gorgeous antiques from its heyday in the 1930’s. The tents at Offbeat Mara and Offbeat Meru are also wonderful, complete with en suite bathrooms with flushing loos. The beds are substantial and comfortable and the mesh windows are perfect for when an elephant happens to amble by your tent. The riding safaris are definitely hard camping, but the entire thing is such an authentic experience that you wouldn’t have it any other way. They even put hot water bottles in your bed at night so they are warm when you’re ready to turn in.
Anne – Thank you so much for your valuable insight. You have definitely inspired us for our next adventure! It’s firmly planted on the bucket list…