SOMAK LUXURY TRAVEL
TRAVEL RUNS DEEP IN OUR BLOOD
Somak Luxury Travel was founded in Nairobi in 1968, to provide the most exclusive safaris and holidays to some of the most undiscovered beaches, and adventures to some of the most remote locations in Kenya, a country that the firm has a soft spot for.
According to Somak Luxury Travel, Kenya offers some of the most magical experiences on Earth. From seeing the ‘Big Five’ in their natural habitat, to the unspoiled coastline, Kenya really does have something for everyone. For intrepid explorers looking for the best African adventures, Somak Luxury Travel has a very special range of Kenyan experiences to offer.
Kenya is perhaps the most popular place to go on safari–and for good reason, offering an array of adventure holidays as diverse as one’s imagination. Kenya’s variety is near-impossible to match–there are few other destinations where you can experience safaris, dense forests, tranquil beaches and rich local culture all in one holiday.
Is the grass really greener in Kenya? The wildebeest and Somak Luxury Travel certainly think so, and so do thousands of zebras and a variety of antelope that follow in their trail. If you have witnessed the Wildebeest Migration, then you would probably agree that this is one of the most stirring spectacles in the world. A bit like the Olympic Games really, with all the swimming, jumping, running and moments of jubilation and heartbreak.
The route these animals take is not completely without any dangers and they have to overcome many obstacles along the way. They have to cross dangerous–crocodile-infested–rivers, but are also constantly being followed by lions, ready to pounce on the younger, older and injured animals.
Their need for greener pastures is primarily driven by the need to sustain their young. Barely 6 months old (nearly half a million wildebeest are born in the Serengeti each year), they will be accompanying their elders on the long trek north from the Serengeti in Tanzania, across the border to the Masai Mara in Kenya. Many of the older animals don’t make it because of hunger, thirst and just utter exhaustion.
It’s nature’s survival of the fittest, fastest and strongest. And what may seem as a chaotic and tumultuous rampage, is actually quite the opposite. Research has shown that these enormous herds are driven by ‘swarm intelligence,’ a collective and coordinated behaviour to act together to get to the ultimate goal. In the wildebeests’ case, the green savannas of the Mara. There is also no obvious leader in the herd, but as you often see in animal behaviour when they are on the move, smaller herds, tend to move around the main, bigger herd. Zebras are able to sustain, because they eat a different part of the grass than the wildebeest.
Bushra Sultan is MD of Somak in Kenya. She vividly remembers the first time she witnessed the Wildebeest Migration, which was back in 2016 at a crossing spot on the Mara River near Mara Serena Lodge. Describing what she saw, she posits: “It’s indescribable, due to the shock and awe of seeing such a huge mass of animals, like a moving carpet on the grassland spotted with zebras, elands and gazelles. It’s a spectacular gathering on the river’s edges. There’s a sense of wonder and admiration knowing that there’s hesitation, but despite this, they’ll eventually take the plunge and face the consequences of broken bones, and of course the predators in and out of the water. You feel like saluting their immense courage.”
She continues: “In search of rain and grass within the ecosystem of The Serengeti and The Masai Mara, the wildebeest move in a cycle to ensure that they don’t miss out on the water and food. Starting off in south Serengeti in Tanzania, between January and early March, they calve and stay on until April to move again after exhausting the food. They are in the west and north during April/May (the rainy season) and move to the Masai Mara in June/July, where they stay until October. They then start the long trek back to Serengeti in November/December. This trek can sometimes be thrown out of balance, subject to delayed rains, which would mean arriving in the Mara later.”
According to Bushra, one of the best spots would be the crossing adjacent to the luxury Somak’s Ashnil Mara Camp, where the guests are able to view the Great Wildebeest Migration from the camp deck.
Kenya has a wealth of other attractions and unique game parks that the guests can visit all year round. Apart from game viewing, Kenya has a rich culture, friendly people and delicious cuisine.Bushra
Included in Somak’s offerings is the Balloon Safari. Whilst in the Masai Mara, why not indulge in the most iconic safari experience–The Masai Mara Balloon Safari. Experience the vastness of the park in a hot air balloon, watching the wildlife below, and enjoy a bush bubbly breakfast on land. The package includes AMREF Flying Doctors and a donation to the Mara Rianda Charitable Trust.
At Somak Luxury Travel, the firm has a deep affinity for the environment and the local communities that surround all of the firm’s destinations. Somak’s approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) includes supporting initiatives and enriching and nourishing the economies, environment and communities in Africa and South Asia, including some of the following.
Loigero Primary School
The Loigero Primary School is located close to the entry gate of the Masai Mara and serves the Masai community of Talek. The school stems from small beginnings, when its founder, Jacob Nkumum, taught small group of boys under an acacia tree.
It is thanks to the donations and support of local and international businesses, including Somak Luxury Travel, international charities and tourists that the school continues to thrive. The school is now able to offer a meal for every pupil, and the next phase is to build a dormitory so that pupils from neighbouring communities can also attend the school.
The Born Free Foundation was founded by Virginia McKenna OBE and Bill Travers following their starring roles in the classic film ‘Born Free’. Today, led by their son Will Travers, Born Free takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering.
Somak Luxury Travel are committed to conservation, and work with partners like the Born Free Foundation to promote the continued survival and advancement of Africa’s wildlife. Somak cares, not only because the tourism and travel industry rely on wildlife, but also because Somak has seen first-hand the damage that has been done already to the environment in its almost fifty years of existence.
Somak Luxury Travel are working to help the Born Free Foundation to build lion-proof bomas which protect and save the lives of both lions and livestock in Kenya. Somak has also launched two fantastic itineraries which offer the chance to meet the local communities who are benefiting from the lion-proof bomas and to help the fundraising efforts in order to build more.
These itineraries include a Born Free Safari, which offers the chance to visit some of Kenya’s most famous safari destinations, as well as gain insight into how Born Free helps local communities and the surrounding wildlife; and a Born Free Kilimanjaro Climb, offering the opportunity to climb Africa’s highest mountain to raise money to support Born Free’s Boma building projects.
Somak Luxury Travel is a proud Kenyan company, and over the years has grown to be a leading tour operator in East Africa. ‘East Africa is our community, and our home – and we are committed to supporting those that live there’. This is why Somak Luxury Travel includes complimentary Amref Flying Doctors ‘Maisha’ Air Ambulance cover with every holiday to East Africa. ‘For every passenger that travels with us, we contribute $5 to Amref Health Africa, one of the leading health development agencies on the continent. When this cover is not needed, we will donate the full value towards this inspiring organisation’.
Amref Health Africa works with marginalised and vulnerable people across Africa to deliver preventative, community-based health care. Focussing primarily on women and children, AMREF Health Africa work side-by-side with the people living in those communities to build the knowledge, skills and means to transform their health and break the cycle of poverty. Headquartered in Nairobi, Amref Health Africa is a truly African organisation and it is their promise to:
- Improve the lives of disadvantaged people in Africa through better health,
- Bridge the gap between communities, health systems and governments,
- Become a leading voice for advocacy for health system reforms in Africa.
Amref Health Africa does inspirational work in East Africa that Somak recognises as integral to the firm’s region and its growth. This is why Somak is proud to support AMREF Health Africa, and are eager to ensure that those who book with Somak know about AMREF Health Africa’s work, and help contribute to the communities they are visiting, and grow to admire.
No hunting holidays
Somak do not take bookings for those wanting to participate in the trophy hunting trade. Somak remains committed to watching wildlife in its natural habitat, and believe that a modern safari goer shoots the “big five” with a camera, and not a gun.
With controversies like Cecil the Lion being killed by a trophy hunter, Somak is concerned that African tourism is receiving an unfair negative portrayal. This is why Somak feels it necessary to stand up and be counted as an African tour operator that believes in protecting wildlife.
Rest assured that booking with Somak, is a booking with a company that cares about wildlife, and not one that supports, actively or tacitly, the exploitation of the animals and ecosystems that make a visit to Africa so special.
Tusk is a dynamic and pioneering organisation with 25 years of experience initiating and funding conservation, community development and environmental education programmes across Africa. Since its formation in 1990, Tusk has invested more than £25 ($40) million into a wide range of projects across the continent.
Tusk currently supports more than 60 field projects in 19 African countries that not only work to protect wildlife, but also help to alleviate poverty through sustainable development and education amongst rural communities living alongside the wildlife. Tusk’s aim is to forge an inextricable link between the preservation of Africa’s natural heritage and the future of its land, culture and people.
Protection of wildlife remains a key objective with substantial funding being applied towards threatened species such as elephant, rhino, lion, cheetah, gorilla, African wild dog and giant sable.
By partnering with local organisations, Tusk is combining conservation, education and community programmes to make positive change—one step at a time.
HRH the Duke of Cambridge became the charity’s Royal Patron in 2005 and has been a proactive supporter of Tusk’s work ever since.
Somak were more than happy to send three Landcruiser vehicles driven by professional driver/guides who assisted with the transfers of the runners during the 2016 Safaricom Marathon, which year upon year raises great sums of money for the Tusk Trust.
Dreams Come True
In 2016, Mairead was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and was offered the chance to pick the holiday of her dreams. She is a veterinary student with a passion for animals. So she didn’t hesitate to choose a safari in Africa. She spoke with her family and friends and they agreed that Kenya was a very good option, particularly with a relaxing beach stay at the end of the safari.
Dreams Come True contacted Somak to see if the luxury Safari firm could help make Mairead’s dream become a reality. Somak delightedly and passionately organised the safari with the addition of a hot-air balloon ride over the Masai Mara, plus a relaxing 5 nights beach stay in Mombasa. It was beyond a pleasure to work with Dreams Come True to make Mairead’s trip, in her words: “honestly one of the best experiences of my life”.
Somak continue its unstinting work with Dreams Come True in bringing pleasure to unwell children and young adults.
Mara Rianda Charity
Somak remains delighted to be associated with The Mara Rianda Charitable Trust whose ethos aligns perfectly with that of Somak’s.
The Mara Rianda Charitable Trust was founded by Richard Long, who, in 2003, travelled to the Masai Mara and visited the Mara Rianda Primary School and learned about its needs, which were many. Since then, Richard has returned at least twice a year to assist the school and local community. The Trust has since broadened its reach to include maternity and medical care and more educational projects.
Somak Luxury Travel are committed to supporting the Mara Rianda Charitable Trust. For each package holiday booked to Kenya, Somak contributes £20 per person towards the charity and its good causes. This is Somak, the Luxury Travel Firm that is transforming lives and turning dreams into realities for more than 50 years.