Some people say you should wait to visit Kenya during the migration. Mark my words: That’s not necessary. I’ve seen plenty of animals in Kenya’s Maasai Mara year-round, and with fewer spectators. Being alone in the bush is everything. That’s what’s on my mind as I gaze into the reserve’s seeming vastness in so-called off-season. From my vantage point, atop a kopje, I spy numerous creatures, large and small. Though they look like toys or free-form dots from here, I can easily imagine them in their habitat: hippos in the river, elephants encircling babies, lions atop rocks as focused as sentries, leopards lounging on tree limbs and hyenas sauntering down a dusty road. This morning, on my game drive, I see them all.
Toasting their honor, I sip a bubbly South African wine. I’m sitting on a red plaid blanket, neatly arranged near the cliff’s edge. Together with my friend, I dig into a picnic hamper packed with snacks by my able butler. Though I’m just a short walk from the lodge, I feel a world apart. Essentially in the wild, there’s no guard nor naturalist standing by, nor butler for that matter. It’s just my friend and me on a cliff in Kenya — and we feel strangely surreal and free, as if we were the last people on Earth.
This is how it seems, anyway, as we picnic, surrounded by nature, ensconced in a silence so quiet it seems to hum. We didn’t wander off alone, mind you. That’s a safari no-no of the first degree. Our safari lodge, family-owned and -operated Angama, offers guests a unique opportunity to immerse in nature and romance. Called the Out of Africa experience for the fact Sydney Pollack’s gorgeous movie was filmed on this exact spot, the adventure plunges you into the landscape safely. A guide walks you about 15 minutes from the lodge to a small clearing, amid trees, set on a ledge, overlooking the Mara Triangle. Snacks, libations, pillows and blankets have been arranged in a vintage display worthy of the film. Becoming Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, or whomever you like, you sit down and simply immerse in the ponderous eternity of Kenya.
Angama lies atop the lesser-traveled portion of Kenya’s great park, the Maasai Mara. Slightly elevated, it’s relatively mosquito free, and offers jaw-dropping vistas. Stylishly contemporary, it consists of two identical camps, each with 15 tent-inspired suites apiece. They’re connected by paths, and a common area, complete with pool and cultural center, serves as the resort’s heart. Known for its customized safari days, the resort urges guests to be impulsive, to play and relax at will. Walking safaris, hot air balloon rides, days in the organic garden, game drives, village visits, time in the photographic lab — truly anything is possible. But for me, this Out of Africa picnic trumps everything. Here, I’m part of a dream, somehow connected to Kenya on the deepest level. Just like the animals.
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