Dear Advisor Partners,
As many of you know I was born in East Africa. I’ve had the privilege of going on safaris since the age of four. 40 years later, I still get emotional going back to visit my childhood friends, being back in the bush, and every single visit, I always see something new. I love seeing areas I grew up around that were simple residential areas, now coming to life with new hotels, new restaurants, or new experiences. As I watched the video accompanying this blog, which I think is one of our best ever (our team is getting really good at these), I began thinking about all the changes over the last 40 years in my personal connections to Kenya.
For starters, my closest friend Sunil, who I have known since we were 3, went on to become a finalist on the Great Kenyan Bakeoff. How he went from riding bikes in the woods with me in Nairobi, to being a local celebrity will always amaze me. Having him still in my life really makes this four decade old friendship very special. Even more jaw dropping is seeing areas we explored as kids that were not developed, now becoming either residential areas or in one case, having a US embassy built where roads barely existed in the past. On a visit in 2019, we ended up at Mint Shack, a local restaurant that is now a favorite for me, for our entire team, and for those who were in Kenya with me on that trip and subsequent trips. The fact that it was built so close to where I was born brings back fond memories. In fact, one of our valued partners, Sandy Staples of Artistico Travel, just came back from Kenya with us where she was celebrating her husband’s birthday. Sunil, recognizing Sandy’s posts where she had tagged me, made it a point to go say hi and share a photograph. Special thanks by the way to Sandy for sharing some of her pictures for the video.
Now an African safari must include the great wildebeest migration of course, following the herds across the Mara into the Serengeti in Tanzania, understanding how something as simple as rain can have such a profound impact on the entire circle of life. From the simple dung beetle to the zebra, gazelle and wildebeest, to the mighty cats. What I love about East Africa, is that there is so much that you want to see even beyond this phenomenon. Where you stay depends directly on what time of year you visit. My favorite part is the safari by e-bikes, we sure didn’t have those 40 years ago! What we did have was the Sacred Singing Wells of the north, a must for anyone looking for pure cultural immersion.
The two areas I am most excited about are the hidden gem in the Mbulia Conservancy, deep in the heart of Tsavo where I was earlier this year, and the Kenyan Coast. They say Cardamom is one of the most common ingredients in cooking, it has an unmistakable flavor that you know exactly when to use. Cardamom House, newly opened on the Kenyan coast is just that. Growing up, this area was only known to local residents and fishermen. Seeing this historic property opening here will mean so much to the local community, representing a beacon of sustainability in a part of Kenya that sorely needed it. Just like all flavors lead back to Cardamom, all the conservancies in our new President’s Pick East Africa program lead back to Cardamom House.