Tag Archives: kenya

African Safari: Maasai Mara National Reserve

This is part of our ongoing series on WIT Founders Christina and John’s 2017 African Safari this September. Together with Origins Safaris Christina and John are escorting a group of enthusiastic and safari-loving clients to natural reserves and wildlife conservancies. 

African safari Maasai mara.png

In case you missed them, catch up with our earlier posts on the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Samburu Game Reserve

Christina and John’s next stop escorting their guests on their Kenya/Tanzania tour was the Maasai Mara National Reserve. They’ll spend a few days game-viewing in some of Africa’s most stunning plains capes.

7.Masai_Mara_map

About the Maasai Mara National Reserve

The Maasai Mara is a huge savannah wilderness covering 583 square miles (1,510 square km) in southwestern Kenya, bordering on the Serengeti in Tanzania. First established in 1961, the reserve is one of the richest spots on Earth to admire nature and wildlife in their element. It’s the photographer’s and naturalist’s paradise—with hundreds of species, nowhere in Africa is wildlife found more abundant. Year-round, you may see your fair share of lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, and hippos, with excellent chance to glimpse warthogs, baboons, crocodiles, jackals, impala, waterbuck, foxes and hyena.

cheetah-1083274_640

During the Great Wildebeest Migration, which occurs between July and November for three months each year, you’ll have the opportunity to marvel at 2 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle following the rains and grazing fields.

wildebeest-322089_640

Last week, Christina and John shared a few full days of game-viewing in the Maasai Mara. Visitors can also enjoy night game drives, camping, cultural visits to manyattas (Masai villages), ballooning and dining in the bush. They spent 3 nights in the Mara Intrepids Camp, before moving for 2 nights in Kichwa for a fresh perspective of the reserve.

About the Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp

The elegant camp is known for its open-air, romantic ambiance. Combining bush practicality with refined simplicity, it’s an ideal base to catch the awe-inspiring Great Migration. Enjoy day and night game drives, bush walks along the Mara River or Oloololo Escarpment, hot air ballooning, and breathtaking views of the savannah from your tent bedroom window.

About the Mara Intrepids Camp

This rustic camp rests near the Talek River at the confluence of the Mara’s four game-viewing areas. Each of the 30 luxury tents is furnished in classical safari style, with large four-poster beds, ensuite bathrooms and handsome furniture.

Tune in Wednesday to see where Christina and John headed next on their Safari Expedition!

Origins Safaris will be joining us at the 40th Birthday Bash in December! Hope to see you there!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Kenya

Conscientious Traveler: Origins Safari

It’s time for our favorite episode on responsible travel, Conscientious Traveler! CT is our monthly series in which we showcase a fantastic travel organization that supports humanitarian and/or environmental work. 

The month of August is all about Origins Safari!

Origins Safari organizes unforgettable trips to East and Central Africa. We’ve partnered up with them for years, providing invaluable experiences to travelers with a passion for wildlife and safari adventures. Most of their programs run in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, though they also touch on natural conservation areas in the South Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, and Benin.

Many of the trips that WIT Founders Christina and John escort on their annual African trip are courtesy of Origins.

Green Africa

Origins Safari is dedicated to promoting responsible tourism and cultural heritage. They are members of several sustainable organizations, including:

AMREF Flying Doctors: In 1956, three doctors established groundbreaking medical efforts in remote and rural regions of East Africa. Their vision has spread all over the continent, treating the combined effects of poverty, tropical disease and minimal health services and facilities in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, South Sudan and South Africa. http://amnew.amref.org/

Ecotourism Kenya: This non-profit promotes responsible tourism practices, working with local communities and managing waste, maintaining the natural environment and livelihood of the local people. http://www.ecotourismkenya.org/

The East African Wild Life Society: A membership-based public benefit organization that seeks to promote conservation and the use of natural resources in East Africa. https://www.eawildlife.org/index.php

We Are Africa Travel: An organization dedicated to rethinking old tropes and stereotypes of Africans, and enhance a more modern image of the continent. http://www.weareafricatravel.com/

Just Imagine…

Imagine yourself trekking through Subsaharan Africa with certified guides and drivers, who have grown up in the region and are intimately familiar with the game and people who live there.

  • Spend a day mingling with the tribes of the Omo Delta
  • Photograph Mountain Gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes
  • Chase the migration herds from the crow’s viewpoint in a helicopter
  • Rest up from a day’s safari in your private tented camp

Steve Turner of Origins Safaris, ground operator with whom we’ve worked closely for over 30 years, is our go-to guy and an expert on migration.

Wherever your spirit of wild adventure leads you, Origins can help you get there!

When to Go?

Steve recommends November to March as primary game viewing in Tanzania. Rain tends to the cusp months, so perfect timing is January and February, with an added bonus of birthing seas in the crater in February. From August to October, head to Kenya as the migration should be thick on the Mara.

Two Sample Itineraries

Click on the Tanzania itinerary below for a larger, legible picture: 

Origins comes to Portland in December

Origins Safari will join us on our 40th birthday celebration this December! One of our favorite guides, Stanley, will return to share with you all about Africa and the programs with Origins Safari. He’ll be our official “storyteller”—stories that will have you in stitches before long!

The date is Sunday, December 3 — see our newsletter for more details.

Call Willamette Intl Travel for more ideas and opportunities to travel in Africa! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Kenya, tanzania

A Closer Look: Ithumba Safari Camp in Kenya

blog post (2).jpg

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 5.16.19 PM

Tsavo East National Park, Kenya

Step into Africa…

Willamette Intl Travel Owners Christina and John frequently guide small groups through Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and last year, Namibia. They make it their business to know the ins and outs of safaris, camps and unique adventures in Africa. They usually take 1-2 trips per year with a small group, and over the years, they’ve accumulated a wealth of insider info on the continent. Considering a trip to Africa in 2017 or even 2018? Give Christina a call at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com for the scoop.

ithumba4

Ithumba Hills

Wildlife Haven

On the Kenya 2015 trip, Christina stayed at Ithumba Camp with 3 single ladies. They stayed at the original Ithumba Camp—not to be confused with the 5-star, luxury Ithumba Hills Camp. Both camps are located minutes from each other in the same area of Tsavo East National Park, 200 km SE of Nairobi—a 7 hour drive, or a quick 60-minute charter flight from the city. The park is an ideal safari location, spanning an area of 8,036 square miles–that’s larger than Wales! It’s so remote, the only way to get cellphone reception is to climb a huge boulder and stick out your arm. You’ll truly feel at home in this wilderness, with chances to glimpse a variety of wildlife: giraffe, gazelle, lions, dik dik, and buffalo.

A Luxury Safari Camp

Though close in proximity, the two camps serve different styles of traveling.

Ithumba Camp is located on the flatlands, a rustic and stylish property. Sleep under makuti roofs and shower yourself in sounds of nature. The camp offers just four tents, with en-suite bathrooms and outdoor showers from where you can admire the stunning starlight. Water and light are powered by solar panels. An open communal pavilion with a small roof terrace is open daily for meals; here you can find the game-viewing decks.

Ithumba Hills is based at the foot of Ithumba Hill, with views of the Yatta Plateau. Like the original camp, Ithumba Hills offers 4 tents, sleeps up to 8 people—but its rates are higher due to more luxurious facilities. Since the whole camp must be booked regardless of how many people there are, it can book up surprisingly fast, sometimes a year in advance. And when we say luxury, we really mean it—each tent offers a five-star experience, with en-suite bathrooms, huge shower areas and dressing rooms. Their game-viewing decks are located off the tents, and there is a huge infinity pool built into the rocks.

Both camps are fully fenced, as there are many wild elephants in the area. All food and drinks are driven in by your safari guide from Nairobi, though Ithumba provides the chef and two other staff.

Baby Elephants!

What really makes Ithumba shine, however, are the nearby Orphans’ Rehabilitation Units, an orphanage for baby elephants who have lost their parents to poaching or other means. Both Ithumba camps and unit are owned by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The DSWT initiative fights to save elephant lives and their habitats, with their Nairobi Nursery, Saving Habitats in Kibwezi Forest, and these orphan units in Tsavo East. 

Guests can visit the elephant orphans two times a day, meet the calves and chat with their handlers. It’s a special treat to watch baby elephants enjoying milk feeding times and their midday mud-bath.

Join us in September 2017!

Christina will be returning to Ithumba in September 2017. Call her now to start planning your unforgettable trip to Kenya! 503-224-0180 or info@wittravel.com

“I highly recommend Ithumba Safari Camp… after the amazing experience I had last year, I know it’ll be a highlight for you. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be completely surrounded by herds of wild elephants. You also learn what an incredible job Sheldrick Orphanage is doing in attempts to save these beautiful animals.”

–Christina

ithumba1

Ithumba Hills

Photos of previous trips to Kenya:

Related posts on Africa:

2 Comments

Filed under Africa, Kenya

The Next Best Destinations for 2017

blog-post

Happy New Year, dear Readers! We’ve made past the end of 2016, hopefully with some fun and meaningful travel memories racked up. But what does 2017 have in store for the traveler? Here are our Top Destinations in 2017:

iceland-ship-Isafjörður

Cruise ship in Isafjordur, the West Fjords of Iceland

1. Iceland

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that Iceland has once again made the list. In the past 10 years, Iceland’s popularity as a travel destination soared to immense heights, capping 1 billion travelers to this dynamic Atlantean rock in the summer of 2016 alone. Most travelers have visited the gorgeous Golden Circle and the Glacier Lagoon, maybe even ridden an Icelandic horse or spied the Northern Lights–but what’s next for Iceland in 2017? Traveling a bit more off-the-beaten path, to Lake Myvatn area, to the West Fjords and the Westman Isles. We’ll have to see what this magical Viking isle has in store for us!

zfsykz2dd5w-artem-sapegin.jpg

Lake Bled in Slovenia

2. Slovenia (& the Balkans)

If you haven’t discovered this off-the-beaten-path trek in Europe, what are you waiting for? Slovenia is the oft-cited “playground of Europe,” with a range of activities to attract the thrill-seeker. Spelunking, hang-gliding, jet-skiing are just some of the more popular pursuits. Plus there are few city centers as pristine as Ljubljana’s. A great way to see the Balkan countries is to rent a car and spend a few weeks traveling around war-wounded Sarajevo, culturally bobbing Belgrade, and Croatia’s exquisite Dalmatian coast.

prodpbfq3sy-michal-parzuchowski

Białowieża Forest, Poland

3. Australia & New Zealand

Australia & New Zealand have always been a popular destination for families, couples and backpackers alike. Sydney boasted the “best fireworks in the world” at the Opera this New Year’s Eve. Tazmania might just be the next prime hiking destination, with multi-day excursions and luxury ecolodges. And NZ has an array of fun food-themed fetes to enjoy, kicking off with Auckland Seafood Festival in January and then Marlborough Wine & Food Festival come February. Though the Northern Lights have attracted some fair attention these past few years, the Southern Hemisphere has it’s own bragging right: the unparalleled Southern Cross!

lnojuusjzqm-roman-arkhipov

River Boat sailing through Chicago, USA

4. River Cruises in North America

Domestic travel usually has to offer something unique to attract travelers, and we believe river cruises are that unique option. There seems to be no end to high quality river and lake cruises: the Great Lakes, roundtrip Nashville on the Mississippi River, Montreal and the eastern seaboard, and the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. Themes range from southern style comfort on the Mississippi to the pioneer history of the Oregon Trail. River cruises are small-scale, comfortable, unhurried cruises in American history that often sail year-round–without the spectacle afforded on ocean cruises. Plus one major advantage over Europe or South America: shorter flights to get there (if any)!

brj1yy8fod4-david-marcu.jpg

Lisbon, Portugal

5. Portugal

Warm beach weather, delicious cuisine, and a charming ambiance makes Portugal a global destination. Lisbon has all the Old World beauty of a European small town, and the coastline draws its fair share of beachgoers and world-class surfers. In terms of food and wine, Portugal will certainly peak your interest, and the easygoing temperance of the locals will make you feel at home in no time.

as3ftvzlrvi-oliver-cole

Oslo, Norway

6. Scandinavia

Though oft-cited as the most expensive destination in Europe, Scandinavia remains one of the best “bang-for-your-buck” destinations in the world. Thanks to recent trends following the Northern Lights and Iceland’s natural attractions, the region is receiving all the attention it deserves. World-class restaurants, leisurely cafes, and interactive museums still place it at the top of the list (and the map!). Not to mention how easy and accessible most travelers find Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Reykjavik–most of the population are friendly, curious, polite and speak English.

pd4iy18ahti-nathan-lemon

Reindeer in Finland

7. Finland & Estonia

Finland celebrates 100 years of independence from Russia in 2017, and a spirit of unity will be rampant in every town and city. Wander 39 national parks or visit the laid-back seaside capital, view the Northern Lights or take a dip in the local sauna. Helsinki has the familiarity and design-conscious layout of a Scandinavian town, with a cultural flair that’s uniquely Finnish. Estonia is also growing on the tourist horizon–Tallinn as a leading city of technology and entrepreneurship. Its heritage is part Baltic, with smatterings of Soviet Union and Finnish influence. A popular way to visit is via a cruise to the Baltic region–many of our clients have come back from a cruise excursion with tales of Tallinn’s enchanting city center.

mefihoth27w-bruno-abatti

Paris, France

8. France

Throughout the centuries, France has never lost its charms. Even through recent security issues have scared off some travelers, the Loire chateaux, Bordeaux wines and sun-baked sands of the Riviera are still there and thriving. After a shaky 2016, France is bouncing back in a big way, and tourist bookings have increased exponentially for 2017. Tourists seem to have their eyes on provincial towns and the hidden secrets of the countryside. Is this the time to finally check out the Champagne region, or go wine-tasting in the Dordogne Valley?

n20ljgovwaa-michele-spinnato

1950s/60s Cars in Cuba

9. Cuba

With relaxing entry regulations, Cuba has received quite the attention these past two years. The response from group travelers and cruise ship passengers has been wildly enthusiastic. Over 2 million travelers visited the island in the first half of 2016, compared to just 63,000 in 2010. But that may all change soon–some travel industry experts fear that the Trump administration will restrict travel there in the future. So now might be your only chance in a while to travel to the “Pearl of the Antilles.”

9_9hzzvjv8s-alessandro-desantis

The Majestic African Elephant

10. Africa Destinations: Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and South Africa.

Africa remains an ever-popular destination, with senior couples and large families booking safari trips in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. These regions are still within reasonable budget to catch a glimpse of wildebeest, lions, antelopes. South Africa is world-famous for their natural diversity and local cuisine, catering to all flavors and styles. Immerse yourself on a game drive in Kruger National Park, or indulge in wine-tasting in Boberg or the Breede River Valley. We’re proud also to include Namibia on our list. As some of our readers know, WIT Owners Christina and John guided a merry band through the red sands of Namibia. The landscape is like no other, with miles upon miles of arid desert, dotted with unique wildlife and local tribes who paint themselves with ochre. We expect to see a rise in interest for Namibia in 2017, and now you can receive firsthand travelers’ experience at our office in Portland.

Do you have a favorite travel memory or photo from 2016? We’d love to hear about it! Share with us in the comments!

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Baltic, Croatia, Cruises, Cuba, Estonia, Europe, Finland, Iceland, Kenya, Namibia, North America, Norway, Poland, portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, tanzania, USA

Namibia & the Newsletter


africa-1170055_1920

Christina and John Cooper are leaving later this week to Namibia, to escort a small group through this amazing destination! They will be there for a few weeks. Look for later reports from their trip here on the blog!

Christina is the founder of Willamette Intl Travel and almost every year she and John have escorted groups to Africa: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania. Though they have sent dozens of clients to Namibia via the fabulous ground operator Ultimate Safaris—this is the first group they have escorted to Namibia! So as you can imagine we are quite excited to hear all about it.

Sign up to our seasonal newsletter to receive news on future escorted groups and more!

elephant-1170112_1920

speaking of…

Have you checked out our Summer 2016 Newsletter yet?

Twice a year, we put together a fun and informative newsletter for our subscribers to enjoy. This summer we released our 2016 Summer issue, featuring what’s new and inspiring in the World of Travel. If you haven’t picked up a FREE copy yet, be sure to drop us a line!

The 2016 Summer issue is full with handy travel tips, inspiring client and agent trip feedback, calendar updates, event invitations, offers on sale and more.

Call us to order a FREE paper copy at 503-224-0180

Or click here to read it online

cart-61704_1920

In this issue, you’ll find: 

  • Summer staff updates in the office — new faces!
  • Best place to watch the Sunset in Paris
  • Details on the 2017 Tanzania & 2017 Kenya Escorted Tours
  • Japan Heritage with Amy Osaki
  • Spotlight on Alaska cruises, with Un-Cruise and Celebrity
  • Cuba by Cruise
  • Club Med Punta Cana
  • PLUS Agent trip reports on Stockholm, Panama, Bordeaux
  • & Client trip reports on the Shetland Islands, Galapagos, Viking River Cruises, Tanzania and Antartica with Lindblad Expeditions

antelope-425161_1920

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Namibia

Origins Safaris + WIT Escorted Trip to East Africa

Screen shot 2015-06-08 at 4.09.22 PM

Considering a safari in Africa? For years, Wittravel has partnered up with Origins Safari, providing unforgettable trips to travelers with a passion for wildlife and adventure. Wittravel’s owners, Christina and John, possess a deep love for Africa and are eager to recommend Origins’ tailor-made trips with our clients.

Origins Safaris first had their start as East African Ornithological Safaris back in the ’60s. The organization’s team of specialist ornithologist guides led birdwatching tours all over Kenya and Tanzania. Now, Origins organizes trips all over East and Central Africa. Picture yourself spending a day with the tribes of the Omo Delta, or photographing Mountain Gorillas at the Virunga Volcanoes. Chase the migration in a helicopter or rest up from that day’s safari in your private tented camp. Looking for somewhere special to spend your honeymoon? Why not join Origins Safaris for a week on the savannah, toasting your new life together over champagne as you admire your panoramic view of the stunning Great Rift Valley?

Whatever your niche, Origins can help you find it! Their expert guides lead unique, amazing trips that are specially tailored to your needs.

Screen shot 2015-06-08 at 4.09.42 PM

Safari in Fall 2015! Just about every year, Wittravel Owners Christina and John escort a small group to Kenya and Tanzania with the help of Origins Safaris. They still have limited space on two tours this Fall! The first tour needs to be in Nairobi by 28 September, and the second group departs in October. Give Christina a call at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to find out more. Hurry! These escorted expeditions are incredibly popular!

Check out the full itinerary on page 12 of our newsletter: http://wittravel.com/WIT%20Newsletter%20Winter2015_web.pdf

Or click here to check out the Gallery of one of Christina and John’s previous trips with Origins Safaris!

Screen shot 2015-06-08 at 4.09.49 PM

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Kenya, Tanzania