By Adam Bannister
There are many ways to experience a safari; and similarly there are many reasons for making that journey. There are those who like to travel as a family, to throw their kids head first into the adventure, and hope that the exposure to wildlife , open spaces and people from different cultures will help to nurture young minds into brighter, more all-rounded individuals. There are those who like to go it alone - a solo expedition into the great outdoors. A chance to restore, to look out and to reflect within. Safari can be a great way to catch up with a group of friends, to experience a reunion and share good times in the wild. It is the perfect break away for executive teams, bringing people together to align themselves and plan big dreams in one of the worlds most inspiring places. And then there are those who are captivated by the romance; lovers from all walks of life, in all phases of their relationships, who seek the powers of nature to help connect with each other. Whatever the reason, the decision to go on safari will be the best decision of your life. The wilderness is the perfect antidote to everything. It is a calling. A way of life. A truly great safari should in its very essence reawaken your soul.
When it comes to choosing a safari destination, the options are nearly endless. Africa is blessed in so many ways, with so many magnificent, and vastly differing landscapes. From the dry deserts of Namibia, to the flooded inland delta of the Okavango. From the lush forests of the Congo, to the magnificent thunderous waterways of the Zambezi. From the Savannas of the Kruger to the vast open grasslands of the Serengeti - Africa is a playground, waiting to be explored.
However, even having done countless trips across most of Africa's safari destinations, there is still one landscape which continues to enthrall. A landscape so rich in wildlife, beauty, culture and potential that it has me returning daily. The Maasai Mara - Kenya's crown jewel, and without a doubt the mecca of safari.
I made the decision, many years ago, to start working here, living here, and calling it home. It has been the best decision I have ever made. There is no where else which offers such a high diversity of iconic megafauna in such high numbers.
The Mara itself is huge, offering an abundance of microhabitats and a plethora of photographic scenarios. As a wildlife photographer there is no better place to capture as many memorable images, in as little a space of time. The grasslands are a gorgeous canvas, allowing you each day to create artistic masterpieces with relative ease.
As excited as we get with so many iconic species sightings, I can't overemphasise the importance of paying attention to the smaller stuff. The birds, the bugs, the trees and the grasses. Each individual, regardless of how small, is exciting. Everything is connected and it all pulls together beautifully. Go out on safari with soft eyes, drop those expectations and pressures. Be ready to absorb it all, taking it all in and enjoying the present.
A special element of any safari should be the opportunity to learn. Not just about the animals on the ground, but about the heritage and culture of the Maasai community, their customs, their daily lives, and the silent heroes who work tirelessly each day to ensure the preservation of this magnificent ecosystem. It is one of the reasons we encourage guests to get out their cars and take a walk - to feel the ground beneath your feet, and listen to the tales and beliefs of the Maasai people.
It is also with this in mind that we, at House in the Wild, created the Mara Training Centre. A space, and a place, where community and guests could come together to engage in conservation dialogue, to collaborate, train, listen and teach. It's an exciting and dynamic space full of fascinating people, doing fascinating things. From snake handling training, woman empowerment, grass management, rotational cattle grazing, guide training, carbon credit workshops and vaccination campaigns - it's one of the most interesting places in the Mara ecosystem - and we at House in the Wild, are proud of what we have achieved thus far in this space. It wasn't built for show...it was built to facilitate great work.
Another aspect of a safari, often overlooked, is the ability to exercise. To break a sweat and to have fun outside of the jeep. Tennis, cycling, running, yoga, football and cricket are all on the cards when you come on safari at House in the Wild.
Nature is a powerful force, and at House in the Wild, we're always in awe of its unpredictability. Following a period of drought, where the Mara river nearly stopped flowing in February, we're nervously watching the swollen Mara river rise once again. Our team are as well-prepared as we can be and we are all gripped to the forecast, which looks like the sun comes out towards the end of the week.
After we were flooded in 2020 during the COVID lockdown, House in the Wild has been lovingly rebuilt with care, perseverance and passion.
At the lodge, the experiences continue. Laze back on a swing watching the hippos bloat about in the Mara River. Or, set up the croquet, and have a fun game on the lawns. Take a stroll along the new "Birders Trail" looking for the gorgeous Schalow's Turaco, or crack open an ice-cold beer, or a bottle of bubbly. Relax, unwind and enjoy. After all... this is your House in the Wild.