Enticing East Africa – A Personal Travel Adventure Unveiled

“We love following the adventures of photographer, writer & social media influencer Robert Michael Poole. His sense of imagery and African travels make the places he visits and experiences literally come alive. ”

“We love following the adventures of photographer, writer & social media influencer Robert Michael Poole. His sense of imagery and African travels make the places he visits and experiences literally come alive. ”

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We love following the adventures of photographer, writer & social media influencer Robert Michael Poole. His sense of imagery make the places he visits and experiences literally come alive. When we knew he was visiting Africa, we reached out and met him in the bar of the trendy new Silo Hotel in Cape Town’s Waterfront. Over coffee he told us all about his recent photographic exploration of East Africa. Get ready to be inspired!

Robert Poole social media influencer surveying East Africa  

Hi Robert, great to meet you! You’ve just come back from East Africa – what highlights can you share from your stays in Kenya & Tanzania?

Kenya was our first experience travelling in Africa, and while the first safari may always be the most eye-opening, I don’t think we appreciated at the time how special Amboseli National Park in the south east really is.
Hugely overlooked compared to other parks, it’s quiet for vehicles and flat so that animals roam freely. The Maasai live nearby too, and wander from there across to Tanzania freely as if there is no border.

We stayed at Tortilis Camp, which our first experience of the Elewana Collection, a group we totally fell in love with. The private tents were so well equipped and the fusion cuisine at every meal was so well prepared and tasty. And the best thing of all, the park has the best views of Mount Kilimanjaro anywhere, including in Tanzania where it’s actually located. It was perfect for taking photos.

game drive in Kenya african wildlife in Kenya elephant herd walk across African plains Marcy Yu and Robert Poole stay at Elewana Collection Mount Kilamanjaro African plains Marcy Yu photographs elephant in front of Mount Kilamanjaro

Can you give us a snapshot of your itinerary?

In Kenya we started in Amboseli, then spent a few days in Nairobi before heading north to Mount Kenya. We made this trip by helicopter, which gave us a real sense of scale and a view of the landscapes like no other. We began to appreciate the diversity or the nation, and it was so cool to stand on the actual equator at the Fairmont Mount Kenya.

From there we went to another very special place – Elsa’s Kopje in Meru National Park, where the true story of the book and film by Joy Adamson, “Born Free” took place. Elsa is buried there. We then went to the Mara and hot air ballooned across it.

In Tanzania we began in the Serengeti, then headed to Ngorongoro and on to the little known Tarangire. We kept edging eastwards to Arusha and a 10-day climb of Kilimanjaro. We then went to Zanzibar and Pemba for some history and island time. The best island though was the private island Fanjove, further south.

Amboseli National Park Tortilis Camp Game Drive firing up the hot air balloon to travel across African plains hot air balloon over African plains hot air balloon over East Africa Fanjove island Zanzibar

Which of the fabulous hotels & lodges you stayed at deserve a special mention and why? 

This is something of a debate between Marcy and I since we prefer different things. Personally I would go for Elsa’s Kopje – the huge open rooms, the balconies overlooking the plains, the incredible bathtubs and infinity pools, and yet it’s all rustically created to merge in to the scenery. This for me was like living in the jungle book.

Elsa's Kopje luxury bathtub and giraffe

Marcy preferred the Angama Mara, again perched high on a cliff edge but this time over the Mara. The opposite of Elsa’s Kopje, this one is ultra-modern and sleek. Expect to enjoy all mod cons but with an African touch, with carefully selected books, art and a luxurious interior design. They had a wonderfully-arranged bomb sundowners here too with local Maasai.

views from Angama Mara Kenya views from Angama Mara kenya

What was your one safari/wildlife highlight in East Africa?

Definitely the great migration in the Serengeti – you get to see tens of thousands of animals all at once, wandering between each other. It felt unreal and we didn’t know where to look. It was like a scene from a BBC documentary!

great migration pioneer camp great migration the serengeti

Did you have any up close & personal experiences with locals, tribes or special moments that were steeped in cultural traditions? 

We met Maasai people on more than one occasion, and each was pretty special to us. The first was in Amboseli, where the entire tribe performed an authentic dance. This was not staged, but a community steeped in tradition that were wanted of us coming, and we got to try the jump dance with the group. We felt so honoured that they welcome us so warmly!

In the Serengeti we then met three Maasai men, who told us that the tradition of young boys being sent out to bring back the head of a lion, to prove their manliness was still a practice that continues. Young Maasai boys are sometimes killed on such missions, and one told us that three of his friends were killed doing this. He showed us an image of a Maasai who had died on the hunt. With this we got a real sense of the Maasai way of life with nature – they could modernise, but they prefer to keep traditional practices.

Maasai girls traditional dress Maasai tribe culture traditional dress Maasai men in traditional dress

The Serengeti & NgoroNgoro Crater are on many travellers’ bucket lists – what was it like to experience them?

The Serengeti would be my first to recommend, since compared to say South Africa, where parks are fenced, here we can see the natural movement and life of animals as it has been for centuries. Ngorongoro has such a vastly different feel. Encircled by the crater, the animals do not move much, and it’s a shock to see them standing still and unafraid. The difference between the two is startling. In Ngorongoro expect to see plenty of other cars, but in the Serengeti, it’s so vast and open, it feels more authentic.

Ngorongoro crater landscape Ngorongoro crater beautiful accommodation Four Seasons Serengeti culture lobby Four Seasons Serengeti infinity pool

You also just explored the beautiful island of Zanzibar – what can you tell us about its’ beauty, your favourite spots and the hidden gem Fanjove Private Island off its shores? 

Fanjove is actually much further south, to get there you need to head to Songo Songo island and take a boat. The property is very rustic and basic, compared to modern and vibrant Zanzibar you can really get off the grid here. The ‘bandas’ are super photogenic in there triangular shape, but expect bugs! At Fanjove your company will be huge crabs, and dolphin pods! 

Zanzibar for us was all about Stone Town. While we enjoyed Kilindi, a resort build by Swedish pop-group ABBA, in a totally unique and quirky style, it was in Stone Town we enjoyed learning about the culture. The Park Hyatt there is incredible, it’s actually an old mansion from the 1600s, and is a designated UNESCO heritage site. Nearby is the house where Freddie Mercury was born! And then you can go to the old slave houses, the museum is extremely informative and very well researched. We knew a lot about slavery to the Americas, but this gave us a new perspective and the impact in the Middle East and India. For me, it’s an essential stop.

blue ocean Zanzibar Kilindi Zanzibar Park Hyatt Zanzibar Stone Town Park Hyatt Zanzibar Park Hyatt Zanzibar Stone Town culture Zanzibar culture in Stone Town zanzibar banda on Fanjove island Kilindi Zanzibar boat and cocktail

Watch out for part two of our conversation with Robert when he shares with us his visual memories of Magical Madagascar.

If you yearn to travel to East Africa – see our upcoming East Africa tour here or inquire with us about your customised East African itinerary here!

 

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