India Today - - CONTENTS - HOWARD SAUN­DERS Part­ner, The Orig­i­nal Ker & Downey Sa­faris


Not long ago, my guests and I flew into Kenya’s famed Ma­sai Mara na­tional re­serve. Within an hour, I had pulled into a favourite gully fre­quented by an im­pres­sive male leop­ard. As we drove up and saw the big cat perched proudly among the branches of the sycamore fig, to­tally un­aware of the stir he had cre­ated, my guests re­mained stunned by this up close and per­sonal im­mer­sion into wild Africa. Thanks to the se­cluded na­ture of this area, we en­joyed the view­ing ex­clu­sively with­out the usual tourist hordes. Au­then­tic­ity of ex­pe­ri­ence and the op­por­tu­nity to feel the nat­u­ral world in its purest form comes from in­sider knowl­edge. To pro­duce the in­cred­i­ble, an in­ti­mate un­der­stand­ing of my adopted habi­tat—the African bush, has al­lowed me to de­liver these un­par­al­leled wildlife sight­ings.

A cen­tury ago, travel to ex­otic lo­ca­tions was the pre­serve of the rich and fa­mous who drew in­spi­ra­tion from the leg­endary ex­plor­ers of the time. These early trav­ellers sought out the al­most myth­i­cal wilder­ness and in do­ing so un­der­stood that they were ac­cess­ing places that very few could. Today jet set­ters may won­der whether such des­ti­na­tions still ex­ist. But an elite net­work of travel ex­perts at­tests to the fact that they most def­i­nitely do, and hold the keys to un­lock its po­ten­tial.

Where ex­clu­siv­ity is the nu­ance of lux­ury, the ex­pe­ri­en­tial na­ture of travel within this select group is re­defin­ing travel. The Shack­le­ton & Selous So­ci­ety has been evolv­ing the very def­i­ni­tion of lux­ury. The so­ci­ety is com­prised of fel­lows who have de­voted their lives to craft­ing the most fas­ci­nat­ing travel ex­pe­ri­ences avail­able today: a pri­vate tour of Ra­jasthan’s forts; cruis­ing Aus­tralia’s Great Bar­rier Reef; watch­ing ele­phant herds me­an­der in an ex­clu­sive 30,000-acre wildlife con­ser­vancy in Am­boseli, Kenya;

ex­plor­ing Rome’s trea­sures with be­hind-the-scenes tours of the Colos­seum or he­li­copter rides to a hid­den fly-fish­ing lodge in New Zealand. Shar­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence ex­clu­sively with fam­ily and friends, away from busier lo­ca­tions may come at a pre­mium, but with that comes that rarest of finds—au­then­tic­ity.


When I per­son­ally take guests into my pri­vate sa­fari camp on an African sa­fari, my crew and I en­sure that each part of the ex­pe­ri­ence is highly per­sonal and mem­o­rable. With my hands-on ap­proach of be­ing in­volved with the plan­ning from day one, to di­rect­ing the whole jour­ney as a pro­fes­sional guide, I’m able to fa­cil­i­tate life-chang­ing mo­ments that such travel can pro­voke. Each trip is made unique as I of­fer spe­cial ac­cess to Africa’s gems: pulling into a hid­den aca­cia grove where I know that ele­phant fam­ily will be feed­ing; call­ing in the lo­cal lion re­searchers when we want to know more of the story of our camp pride; re­lat­ing the story of my place in the pres­ti­gious 70-year his­tory of our pi­o­neer­ing sa­fari com­pany that blazed the trail of wild lux­ury. And who bet­ter placed to cre­ate, and host any ex­pe­ri­ence of this kind than some­one liv­ing and breath­ing this life each day. Count­less mo­ments of my life have been spent search­ing for those trea­sures within Africa, and de­ter­min­ing how best to weave them into the trip of a life­time.

Ev­ery sa­fari I run is tai­lored to suit the in­ter­ests and time-frame of my guests; no two jour­neys are ever the same, and the magic of each trip is found in the lit­tle sur­prises that are built in. For it is of­ten the un­scripted mo­ments that bring a sa­fari to life, and Kenya’s phe­nom­e­nal wildlife and a guide’s deep knowl­edge of them, pro­vides the key.

And then there are the ac­tiv­i­ties that we plan with the ut­most pre­ci­sion: the hot-air bal­loon ride over the vast sa­van­nahs of the Ma­sai Mara; the he­li­copter char­ter to ac­cess fresh alpine lakes, ex­tinct vol­ca­noes and re­mote tribes; an au­di­ence with a pre-emi­nent wildlife con­ser­va­tion­ist, in the field. Divine cui­sine and fine wines ac­com­pany the time­less com­fort of sump­tu­ous can­vas tents, which pro­vide the ul­ti­mate set­ting for the pri­vate sa­fari.

The cul­mi­na­tion of these can be a life-chang­ing jour­ney through some of the most pho­to­genic scenery, en­tranc­ing peo­ples with the most di­verse wild life that ex­ists on our planet. It took a se­lec­tion of the finest pri­vate guides around the globe to re­alise the value of highly per­son­alised ex­pe­ri­ences that are so fun­da­men­tal to each of our lives. Shar­ing that with the dis­cern­ing trav­eller sim­ply com­pletes the cir­cle.

a lazy pride looks on unim­pressed as the sa­fari ve­hi­cle inches close

this sit-out in the bush is part of the lux­ury camp


a go­rilla in the wild

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