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Diana Castillo - Integra Travel

Austin, Texas Travel Agent

Family Safari and Middle Eastern Adventure

Every year I take my kids, who are 19 and 18, on a family trip. This summer, we chose to combine a safari in Kenya with a trip to Dubai. We began our trip in Nairobi, where we visited the Giraffe Manor, where guests can feed the Giraffes while having breakfast.  We travelled with a private driver to the Masai Mara. Enaidura Camp, partially owned by a friend, was an incredible experience.  Every morning and afternoon, we were taken on private game drives in a 4x4 driven by one of the owners, “Ping”, and other great guides, recognized by Forbes Magazine as Top in Kenya.  Our first day we saw 4 out of the “Big Five”: Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Cape Buffalo.  At night, zipped into our Family Tent, we could hear the lions roar and the hippos grunt. That was fabulous and nerve wracking… we had a sitting area between our sleeping quarters and each room, again, zipped tight! Felt completely safe with the Masai standing guard outside our tent, all throughout the night.  We also experienced the more guarded Fairmont Mara Safari Club, with an electric fence around its perimeter, protecting the luxurious grounds. 

We also had the opportunity to visit a local Masai village. One of the most memorable experiences of our trip was getting to meet some of the Masai children. They were watching us from afar, so I asked our guide if we could say hello. He called to them and immediately we had 20 laughing kids running toward us. I have great pictures of my sons playing with them.   

From there, we went to Ol Tukai Lodge in Amboseli, but before we stopped to walk with Giraffes.  At Ol Tukai,we had a view of Kilimanjaro from our room. It was amazing for our private morning and late game drives as well. On the first day, we had a wonderful lunch at our reserved table at the hotel’s Restaurant, where we could see an infinite amount of elephants grazing. Afterward, we visited Lake Naivasha Resort, one of the bestgolf resorts in Kenya, where one of my sons played golfamong zebras!.  

For the next leg of our trip, we flew from Nairobi to Dubai. The difference between Kenya and Dubai was extreme and unreal. Kenya is like my Mexico in some ways, a 3rd world country in development, with lots of smiles, while in Dubai, everything is glam, everything is gold and all shines. We were there for three nights and stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah. My sons loved going up to the top of the Burj Khalifa the tallest building in the world!  Thru Protravel/Virtuoso we had a Site Inspection of the Burj Al Arab, visited it Presidential Suite and got invited for lunch at their Pool Café.  . We also went to Abu Dhabi to visit the new Louvre Abu Dhabi designed by Jean Nouvel. It was an unforgettable trip.