Category Archives: Blog

End of the Migration

Posted by Laura Murray | November 13, 2017

As amazing as the height of the migration is, it also means that there are many others thinking the same thing. One of our favorite times to visit the Mara is towards the end of the migration, towards the end of September and early October. This time of year is also spectacular for photography due to the rains, the light they bring and the game viewing is amazing.

The Mara, part of the same ecosystem as the Serengeti in Tanzania and divided only by the country borders, is world renowned. There is no other location in the world where a migration of the magnitude of the wildebeest migration takes place.

We stayed at both of Atua Enkop Africa’s Mara Properties; Mara Ngenche Camp & Tipilikwani Mara Camp. Both camps are in keeping with the Atua Enkop Africa brand, with Ngenche being the more exclusive of the two and literally outside of which we saw the crossing.

Mara Ngenche Camp, situated in the heart of the Mara at the point where the Talek and Mara rivers meet,  has a total of 10 ‘tents’ or rather 5* luxury rooms under canvas… a freestanding bathtub and outdoor shower complement the rest of the room which is finished with a four poster bed. In addition, each room has its own plunge pool with a hammock close by for an afternoon nap while at night you sleep to the sounds of the hippo. The food is flawless and when you visit the kitchen you wonder how this standard of food is served from the small camp kitchen – truly exceptional. Breakfast and lunch are served overlooking the river while dinner under candle light in the dining tent. This should be your choice for a small group of friends, couples or lone travellers who are seeking the highest standard of service in a spectacular setting.

Tipilikwani Mara Camp, situated on the Talek River has access from either Talek or directly from the park over a bridge. The camp is larger with 20 tents however; due to where they are situated you do not realize there are even close to 20. The main area which houses the bar, living area and dining area overlooks the park and you can often see giraffe or other plains game on the banks of the river. The ‘tents’ are huge and offer either a king size double bed or two queen size beds and all overlook the river. The camp has also recently built a swimming pool including a smaller section for children. For families this camp is perfect, in addition for larger groups is ideal as has many locations for different dining options.

Our trip started with a herd of elephants in the most amazing light walk right past our cars. The elephants in the Mara seem to stand out, more so than other parks for some reason. When we turned our heads, two hyenas were killing a baby antelope…gruesome experience if I am completely honest!

We were spoilt on every game drive, seeing the Big Cats each time often either hunting or enjoying their kill. One morning we watched the 5 male brothers (well one ‘step brother’) on the move… followed by a male lion peeking at us from the bushes.  The same afternoon, the elusive leopard was spotted sitting right on the side of the road enjoying his dinner.

The Masai Mara is an unforgettable experience and there is a good reason why, if time allows for only one park during your visit to Kenya, this is generally on the top of the list.

For bookings please contact Ibis Tours & Travel : info@ibistourskenya.com

10 top things not to miss in Cape Town

Posted by Laura Murray | October 16, 2017

1.) Table Mountain

Appearing on most photos you see of Cape Town, this cannot be missed! If you are feeling energetic, take a walk / climb to the top, alternatively, for a more leisurely experience the cable car takes you right up to the top. The views are spectacular; there are short walks once at the top and a decent cafe to grab a coffee or food.

For those thrill seekers, why not abseil down the size of the mountain?!

2.) Penguins at Boulders Beach

The only place in the world you can get this close to African penguins in their natural habitat thanks to the wooden walkways constructed over the beach.

These hilarious and cute birds are unfortunately exceptionally vulnerable nowadays due to a combination of factors threatening their habitat. The funds received from tourists assist in their protection.

For a different experience, try kayaking with the penguins!

3.) Winelands

South Africa is renowned for its wines, produced in some of the most beautiful vineyards in the world. Each region boasts a unique climate, topography and exceptionally fertile soils – the results are wines of excellent quality.

While the well-known vineyards are fantastic and often offer food and wine pairing or chocolate and wine pairing, we would recommend also taking the time to visit some of the lesser known ones slightly off the beaten track as you can often have the chance of tasting some exceptional wines and have a more unique experience!

4.) Sunset cruise

There are many options to choose from,  catering to different tastes, all leaving from the V&A Waterfront. From the romantic champagne cruise, to the more child oriented pirate ship! Alternatively, there are options to rent your own catamaran equipped with snacks, drinks and waiter service.

Whichever you choose, you are on the water, watching the sun setting over table mountain generally with a drink in your hand – the perfect way to end your day!

Warning – it can get quick choppy depending on the conditions so bear this in mind.

5.) Culinary experience

Cape Town offers a true culinary experience with seafood being the star; however excellent meats are also available and fresh produce is always at the core of each dish.

Whether you want to try the local Cape Malay cuisine or have a full experience dining at a Michelin Star restaurant, Cape Town offers it all often with a fantastic view!

6.) Heli Flip

There are a few companies who offer the helicopter tours, our recommendation would be NAC or Cape Town Helicopters.

South Africa is one of the cheapest places to experience a helicopter ride and it is undoubtedly the best way to truly appreciate the beauty of the Mothercity. Whether you opt for a short tour of the city or a longer tour down the Atlantic seaboard or the full Peninsular, we know you will not be disappointed!

7.) Harleys

Ever wanted to ride on a Harley? Cape Town offers you the experience whether or not you have a license to ride! With the incredible views that the Peninsular has to offer, we would recommend taking the Peninsular ride. Sitting either behind the driver or in the side car this is yet another way to experience the breathtaking scenery the Western Cape has to offer while also potentially ticking off an item from the bucket list! An adrenaline filled activity not to be missed.

8.) Sunset at Camps Bay

Located about short drive from Cape Town city center, beneath Table Mountain, 12 Apostles & Lion’s Head lies the sandy beach of Camps Bay which offers an amazing sunset! With so many options of bars and restaurants to enjoy your sundowner, you are spoilt for choice.

It is the ‘place to be seen’ however, and, in the summer months gets exceptionally crowed therefore parking can be hard and reservations or arriving early are recommended.

9.) Farmers market

There are now numerous farmers’ and food markets in and around Cape Town. In our option, this is not only one of the best ways to experience the local produce on offer but also to integrate with the locals as opposed to just visiting tourist hot-spots!

10.) Art galleries

Cape Town offers so much artistic energy throughout the city. However, there are also numerous art galleries stocking pieces from ‘up and coming’ to more renowned artists. African art in general can still be affordable with pieces appreciating in value – with an array of styles on offer we recommend taking the time to visit some of these galleries.

Contact Ibis Tours & Travel to arrange your trip to Cape Town: info@ibistourskenya.com

Gorilla Trek – Feed Your Soul

Posted by Jehan Merali | October 2, 2017

Earlier this year I had the privilege to visit Rwanda and their gorgeous Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park.  Rwanda is stunning and has come a long way after the horrendous holocaust they faced.  The country is clean and the people are happy and look to their future with a determination to make their country strong and independent and most of all peaceful and prosperous.

Along with observing the many amazing developmental strides this small country is making, comes the most wonderful experience you will have in your life.  The Rwandan mountains are home to the fabulous gorilla families whom thousands of people come to visit yearly.  These magnificent primates are indescribable in their beauty, and trekking through the Park to find a family is worth every bit of pain from the stinging nettles and hours of walking through the stunning jungle.  This is a true conservation park, where you will see how the Rangers treat every part of their forest with care and respect.  They are completely in tune with the gorilla families they protect, and some have even given their lives to ensure that poachers do not harm the animals they have bonded with. Watching their dedication to ensuring the Park and its inhabitants are around for many years to come is truly humbling.

Travel and stay in Rwanda is easy and convenient, with the tour company managing the entire trip including all transfers to and from Kigali to Virunga.  Kigali has many new hotels and the city boasts a culture of lights, music, food and fashion that all travellers will enjoy.  There are many great restaurants overlooking the city and there are tours around the various parts of town should one wish to stay a few nights and experience it.

All accommodation in Virunga is spectacular due the stunning views and complete adherence of all the eco lodges to maintaining the natural surroundings.  Waking up in the mountains is an experience I highly recommend! The lodges are well equipped to deal with people who may have forgotten any gear they need for their trek including gloves, jackets, leg protectors and walking sticks, and the staff all around the area are always smiling and ready to help.

This was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget and one that I highly recommend as a way to feed your soul.

Photo credit: Taran Gehlot

For bookings contact Ibis Tours & Travel: info@ibistourskenya.com

Escape to the sea

Posted by Laura Murray | September 18, 2017

It had been years since I had been to Watamu, I wish I hadn’t left it that long, it is honestly an amazing place to go and relax, enjoy amazing restaurants and un spoilt beaches including the marine park. While you are there, I highly recommend a visit to the Turtle Watch Project, the work they are doing is phenomenal.

We were staying at Medina Palms – a complex comprising of a mix of all en-suite 2 – 3 bedroom apartments, 1 bedroom suites and 3 – 4 bedroom villas. Each has its own self-contained kitchen and views over either swimming pools or the beach. All units have been furnished to the same standards, light and airy throughout, however for extra space and location (right next to the cascade of pools and few hundred meters from the beach) I would recommend going for the villa if budgets allow. They also have a roof deck equipped with a dining table, lounge seating and a private plunge pool.
Prior to going, I was apprehensive about a resort like this as like my privacy and felt that if it were busy you would be on top of each other as have seen others like this. I could not have been more wrong, this resort has been so well designed that you often feel you are alone! The property is constantly being kept clean, the staff all so friendly and willing to help at any point; due to the care that is being taken, this is a property which I believe will continue to uphold the high standards they have started with.

The cuisine was spectacular. One night we ate in the restaurant and another ordered room service, with both being of equal standard. However, if you prefer to eat out there are numerous restaurants in Watamu or you can have a chef cook for you in your unit (or cook yourself!). In addition to the great restaurant, Medina Palms’ Long Bar was rated in CNN’s top 10 bars in Kenya! Great to sip a cocktail while watching the sun set across the creek.

For a relaxing holiday where you can have the ‘best of both worlds’ with the option of self-catering or full board in a stunning resort where service is fantastic try Medina Palms. The set up works for a couple, group of friends or family.

For bookings contact Ibis Tours & Travel: info@ibistourskenya.com

Silently flying over the Mara Plains

Posted by Laura Murray | August 21, 2017

Over the years, I do not know how many Hot Air Balloon safaris we have recommended…. It was always a dream to do myself.

The excitement begins the night before when the guides come to brief you, then your (very) early morning wakeup call to then transfer from the camp to the departure site, the bonus is you also get a ‘night’ game drive en route to the departure site!

On arrival, you are welcomed with tea, coffee and snacks – great way to wake up and warm up! The thrill of seeing the fires lit and the balloons inflate is exhilarating and soon after you are in the basket and on your way!

The feeling of gliding silently over the Mara plains can honestly not be described, it has to be experienced. Despite having flown in a plane over the same plains, seeing both the landscape and animals from the balloon is completely different.

In addition to an amazing sun rise and loads of plains game, we were fortunate enough to see a female lion as we were about to descend. Captain Rizwan Jiwa changed the course slightly or we would have landed on her! An amazing way to end an incredible flight….then with a bump on the ground it was over, time had flown so fast.

The culmination of the experience is a champagne bush breakfast. After the flight, this gives you the chance to interact with the people you shared the experience with as well as the captain in addition to an amazing breakfast in the middle of the bush.

Although it is expensive, it is definitely worth the money and an experience everyone should try at least once!

Thank you Hot Air Safaris for an amazing flight.

For bookings, please contact Ibis Tours & Travel on info@ibistourskenya.com

A weekend with the elephants

Posted by Laura Murray | July 30, 2017

After a short flight or easy drive, you arrive amongst the doum palms on the edge of the Ewaso River at Elephant Bedroom Camp. There is a reason this camp runs at high occupancy and is therefore hard to get availability year round – is that it is a truly incredible experience! Return clients are numerous which says a lot!
The camp is built along the river and each tent has river view and includes a private plunge pool. A few years ago there was a severe flood in Samburu and most of the camp was washed away. When the camp was rebuilt (using the same design as before), they opted to have all the tents on stilts in case of future floods – an added enhancement in my opinion!

Samburu is one of my personal favorite parks, there is something special about this park but difficult to put your finger on exactly what it is! Many come here for the abundance of birds but game viewing is also spectacular with many sightings of leopard, cheetah and lions. The animals seem to shine here, maybe against the backdrop of the arid terrain. Samburu is also home to the grevy zebra, gerenuk, beisa oryx and the reticulated giraffe. Some of my best game viewing has been in Samburu from the pack of wild dogs to seeing lions chase a leopard up a tree!

Arriving back at Elephant Bedroom Camp (known also as EB) after a game drive, having a hot shower then enjoying time around the fire before dinner is magical. The staff are exceptionally attentive and the food that is produced from a small bush kitchen is incredible. The tents are huge, only 12 in the camp offering either ‘double rooms’ with king size beds or ‘twin rooms’ with 2 queen size beds.\

In the morning, wake up to elephants in the river and complete tranquility, breakfast is served by the river, as is lunch. Just be warned that the elephants don’t always respect meal times therefore we had to move from our table during lunch to the reception and dining area to allow the elephant to walk through the camp!
For a magical experience be it for a romantic getaway or a trip with family or friends, this is one not to miss.

For bookings please contact Ibis Tours & Travel – info@ibistourskenya.com

An impromptu night in Nanyuki

Posted by Laura Murray | July 15, 2017

We were due to stay in Samburu for the weekend, however, sitting in the office on Thursday I couldn’t wait any longer to get out of the city…

One call to Soames at 4pm and an hour later we were on the road. Although traffic was unusually heavy; we arrived by 8pm (I would advise leaving earlier so as not to drive that road in the dark if possible!).

I had never stayed at Soames before but had heard great reviews from people stopping for lunch. On arrival, despite the late arrive time and last minute booking, everything was ready for us. While my husband was shown to the room to drop our bags, the kids and I were shown to the restaurant.

Simple and elegant, contemporary décor and a friendly welcome, little else you can ask for. Service was quick and soon the kids were tucking into their fish and chips. I highly recommend the steak, they cook it to perfection and it is quite simply delicious! The menu was very reasonably priced also, especially in comparison to the prices you would pay for a meal of equal standard in Nairobi.

The rooms are simple, clean and everything you need for an overnight stay. Despite the late notice, extra beds had been made up for the kids and we all had a great night’s sleep.

I think the best is waking up in the morning and the feeling that you are already on safari! It is so peaceful with sound of water trickling into the pond close to the room and birds waking up.

Breakfast is served to the same standard as dinner. Various options were available from poached eggs to a full fry up using all the best and freshest ingredients.

After breakfast, we continued on our (now much shorter) drive to Samburu.

For bookings please contact Ibis Tours & Travel – info@ibistourskenya.com

Making the most of the long weekend

Posted by Laura Murray | June 5, 2017

Labor Day falling on a Monday means the much anticipated long weekend and my ideal is to get out of the city!

A small group of us decided to head to Finch Hattons in Tsavo West – this is honestly the true ‘Out Of Africa’ experience mixed with modern twists such as the pool area and chandeliers made from glass coke bottles in the dining area. The service cannot be faulted and food was excellent. The ‘camp’ underwent a full renovation a few years ago and apart from the familiar faces of the staff and the same exceptional service, this property has been completely transformed.

The ‘tents’ are huge with all details carefully thought out down to the fully stocked mini bar including complimentary snacks. Extra beds were provided for the kids, though there is also the option of the 2 bedroom suites and well as an impressive Presidential Suite. You have the option of indoor shower though do not know why one would use that when there is a double outdoor shower option also – showering under the stars why would you miss that? If the shower options aren’t enough there is also a free standing bath tub.

We chose to use the weekend to fully relax – some enjoyed relaxing at the room taking photos of the array of birds, others after breakfast relaxed by the pool or in the case of the kids, lived in the pool! The spa and wellness center includes a sauna, yoga room and an additional pool. We opted out of morning game drives but really enjoyed our afternoon / evening ones.

To be honest, people don’t talk of the game viewing in Tsavo as much as some of the other parks – you hear of the elephants but you immediately think of Mara etc. for the cats! This trip made me think differently…..our first game drive had been great, different plains game, some elephant, a giraffe about to give birth! Then, heading back to the camp it was already dark so with the torches we were enjoying a night game drive where you typically see the hares and smaller animals…. until we saw a leopard! He was stunning! We followed him until we lost him in the bushes.

Continuing on the drive, all feeling so lucky, suddenly on the side of the path, lying staring at us was another Leopard!

2 Leopard on a night game drive in separate sightings is amazing. To top that off on the drive out of the park we were waved off by a family of cheetah!

Finch Hattons is truly an amazing experience and truly reflects what 5* hospitality encompasses.

For bookings, please contact Ibis Tours & Travel on info@ibistourskenya.com