My Safari Experience – Interview with T4F CEO

My Safari Experience – Interview with T4F CEO

Tours4Fun CEO Kevin Du recently had the opportunity to experience one of our newest tours first hand, a 7 day Safari Adventure in Africa. I was able to catch some time with Kevin and interview him about his experience on this tour and the details of how Tours4Fun has expanded to offer a truly comprehensive experience in Kenya.

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A herd of elephants on the move, taken on the tour

The interview began with a standard question: What was your first memory while on the safari?

Kevin proceeded to rave about his first hotel stay while in the Masai Mara, which happened to also be his favorite memory. While staying his first night in the Treetops Lodge in Aberdare National Park, Kevin quotes:

“The first group of animals I saw were water buffaloes at the Treetops Lodge. They have a pond there so the animals come at night to drink the water. The hotel would ring to wake you up in the night, and the number of rings signified the size of the animals. 1 ring was very small animals, 2 rings was for medium animals like zebras, and 3 rings was for water buffaloes & giraffes and going into 4 rings for elephants & rhinos. I was woken up by 4 rings and sat and watched. After a moment, a herd of at least 30 elephants came to the watering hole. There were some babies in the group. I saw 1 baby move away from the others when it saw 2 rhinos approaching. The 2 rhinos were not happy about the elephant, and they ended up chasing the elephants away. It was a very interesting exchange between the groups, and the baby was so funny, he did not know if he wanted to be friends with the rhinos or not.”

He then gave us some history about the Treetops Lodge history. In 1952, Princess Elizabeth of Britain took a vacation to Kenya and stayed at Treetops Hotel [it’s official name at the time]. At the time, the hotel was built on top of trees, supported by stilts. During her first night in Treetops, Elizabeth received the news that her father, King George VI, had passed away. That night, Princess Elizabeth took over the throne and became Queen Elizabeth while in Kenya. During political unrest and a war for independence a few years later, the original Treetops Hotel burned down. In 1957 it was rebuilt to what it is today. The lodge now stands very tall to provide the safe viewing of animals for guests. Queen Elizabeth revisited the hotel in 1983 and stayed in the Princess Elizabeth Suite, which was re-designed in the old suite’s image where she had “become Queen overnight”. Kevin was lucky enough to stay in this same room during his visit [seen below]!

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The door to the Princess Elizabeth Suite, inspired by the original room where Elizabeth became Queen of England overnight while at the Treetops Hotel

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Kevin recommends that all who go on this tour should stay at least 1 night in Treetops. He said, “There is a lot of history and it is a very good spot to view animals from up high. A real treat for this safari.”

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The Treetops Lodge today

Q: What was your safari vehicle like?

A: “The bus we had seats 28 people, and there are really 2 guides. 1 drives and can talk to passengers in the front, but the main guide sits with us so we can hear him. The bus has a really good vantage point because it is so high. I think it is twice as high as the Jeeps. Another car in front of us drove by a whole group of lions on the ground because they didn’t see them! We could see more animals on the ground, hiding in the grass because we were so high up. It was an exclusive advantage.”

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Kevin and Kelly (our Sr. Director of Operations) stand on a stone that divides Tanzania and Kenya. So tehcnically they are standing in 2 countries at once! Safari bus to scale

Q: What did you learn about the Great Migration?

A: “Our guide told us about the 1,200 mile circle the animals do to survive, going from Tanzania to Kenya and back around. The best time to go to the Masai Mara to see the Great Migration is May-September; that’s when all the wildebeests cross the river into Kenya. Our guide had caught a video of a crocodile in the river catching a wildebeest. I think to have a good chance of seeing the crossing you have to stay at least 3 nights in or near the park. Hopefully they cross during the day because you cannot be outside in the park at night.”

Q: What was your favorite animal?

A: “A cheetah!”

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Q: Do you think the travel time and flight is worth it?

A: “Oh definitely, no question.”

For one of the final questions, Kevin was asked: What is a life lesson that you learned while on your trip?

Kevin immediately shared some details about the Masai people who are indigenous to the Masai Mara region and Kenya [and Africa as a whole]. As a part of the itinerary, he was able to visit a nearby village by the Masai Mara National Park where the Masai people showed travelers and tourists their culture. Kevin learned about how the Masai still drink animal blood and are naturally nomadic, moving from place-to-place to find resources. They herd animals, live in mud-huts, and essentially live as they have for thousands of years. Technology has not affected their culture, and they still live the “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle – it means no worries [yes, it is a real phrase they use, the Lion King film was right]!

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Kevin alongside the chief of the Masai village next to Masai Mara National Park, wearing a lion’s mane headpiece

“The people look much younger than they are; a man I thought was 50 was actually 70 or so. Very surprising. But the infant and child mortality rate is very high. Their way of life is…totally different from the rest of the world.  It is so peaceful and simple. They have face-to-face communication, there is no technology. Technology and cell phones have changed the whole world, but not theirs. It makes me think whether our civilized world is the way we should live. I just think…this civilized world is just so complex… I mean, do you really need so many items to be happy? Is this the way humans are supposed to live? Maybe a simpler life is better. I don’t know.”

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Masai mud homes

Q: What would you say to those who are apprehensive or nervous about visiting Kenya or Africa and going on a safari?

A: “Kenya is very, very safe. We spent the whole trip with at least 4 locals, and the food was beyond my expectations. The whole trip was beyond my expectations. I would highly recommend a safari – and take your kids too! It is totally different from anywhere you have ever been to…it is beyond words or expression.”

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2 lionesses begin their hunt on a hill as they search for prey
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2 lionesses lead a group of young lions across the grasslands

 

Did this interview inspire you? Take the trip too!

 

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Jenna Goeke

Travel enthusiast and wanderlust sufferer, I have traveled to: Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada, Belize, the Caribbean, Amsterdam, Central & Southeastern Europe, France, Kenya and Tanzania. My dream destinations include New Zealand, Spain, Iceland and Thailand.

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