Some time ago I discovered @especiallyafrica on Instagram and since then I have had the pleasure to find daily inspiration in the beautiful photos from different extra-ordinary destinations. I could tell this was a person with plenty of knowledge and experience and someone from outside of Africa who genuinely and profoundly appreciates exploring it. So I contacted Sebnem Denktas aka @especiallyafrica, journalist and blogger from Istanbul, and asked her to share her Kenyan story with me and you, and also that she share some adventure that is not so well-known.
I am so happy to share with you Sebnem’s story about her horseback riding experience in Tsavo and her reflections on discovering Kenya. Her words give me goosebumps because I recognize them from my own mind. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I do. If you like me are a nature-lover you will feel great resonance, and horse-lovers… oh you want to read this for sure…
How did it come about that you went horseback riding in Tsavo?
African wildlife is one of my biggest passions in life and so is horseback riding… Two years ago I started taking professional riding lessons just to do horseback riding in Africa. It was my dream. There are not so many places you can do this in the continent. Tsavo West and Amboseli National Parks are among them. So I found ol Donyo Lodge, a Great Plains Conservation camp between Amboseli and Tsavo West, booked my room and made my dream come true.
What is unique about this lodge?
You can see the wild animals like lions, hyenas, giraffes, zebras and elephants on horseback up close by taking half day or full day guided rides with a picnic. Not only professional but also beginner riders can do horseback riding at ol Donyo Lodge. The horses are responsive Thoroughbreds, Boerpeds, Somali ponies and crosses. ol Donyo takes great pride in the training and care of the horses that can safely carry riders of all abilities on safari.
What was the most memorable part of this trip?
I rode horses on the skirts of Mount Kilimanjaro and Chyulu Hills. These are the places where world famous author Ernest Hemingway spent many of his years and wrote his popular book “The Green Hills of Africa.” The landscape was magical… I cannot express the feeling of freedom I had when I was on the horse riding through the hills…
Who do you recommend to go do this thing and how should they go about it to get there?
People who want to mingle with nature and taste the real freedom should do horseback riding safari in Africa. They can do this at ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya. They can fly to Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya and from there they can take a one-hour light aircraft flight direct to Tsavo West.
What attracts you to Kenya?
When I am in Kenya, I spend most of my time in the bush. The roars of lions, the intelligence of elephants, the elegance of giraffes call me and when I am there I can feel that I am alive. When you are in the city you cannot live in the ‘now’. You don’t even realize how time flies… In Kenya you feel every moment, you feel that you are alive and kicking!
Based on your experience, are there things that you have seen and discovered about Kenya that you wish other people knew? What do you wish the world knew about Kenya?
Kenya is a chance to remember that we human beings are an important part of nature and wildlife. This we forgot in the cities… Kenya makes us come to ourselves…
Tell us about yourself…
I am a Turkish journalist and blogger living in Istanbul. But Africa is my one and only love! First I discovered North Africa. I have been to the pyramids, the souks, the desert… All my experiences were marvelous. Then I decided to discover the rest of the continent. My first safari was to South Africa, Sabi Sands and my first experience was a night safari where I saw lions killing an impala and eating it! I never forget the smell of the blood in the air. My ranger was the world famous Lee Bennett. He looked into my fearful eyes and said: “This is nature!” He was right. He was my first wildlife teacher and I was lucky enough to listen Africa from him.
After such a stunning experience, I made up my mind to see whatever I can in the continent. I traveled through East Africa, where safari was originally born. I have been to Kenya many times, also to Tanzania and Zambia. In a few months I will be in Botswana. I do 3-4 trips to Africa every year. I don’t think I will stop! Last year I opened my blog, www.especiallyafrica.com where I write about my travels and suggestions for people who plan to go on a safari. It was widely welcomed and now I am partnering with Be Travel, one of the leading travel agencies in Istanbul. We’ll design bespoke African safaris together. I will be the private consultant and tour guide! Can’t wait for my first trip!
Thank you so much Sebnem for taking time to share your inspiring story and experience with Meanwhile in Kenya. I look forward to seeing more of your adventures and maybe meeting by the lions someday…