Being a travel agent is not without its very rewarding experiences! Recently, our agency was named a “Rep Excellence” agency (for the second year in a row) with the American Express travel network. This means that we are one of the top 25 agencies in all of the network. A high honor indeed! Because of this award, American Express took Linda and Steve on a trip to Africa with the other winners. Can we say… jealous Stacey!!?! But for now, I lived this experience through their eyes! So can you. Linda has given us a brief description of her experiences and shared a few of her pictures that I LOVE.
Not everyone has Africa on their bucket list. I didn’t. But I just returned from a Micato Safari in Kenya and it was an amazing experience. I’m so glad I didn’t put it off. Micato is a terrific safari operator. They take care of everything and the surprises never stop! Starting even before we left home, gifts arrived in the mail including duffel bags and special flashlights sent to our home separate of our travel documents. They met us at the airport and quickly and efficiently made sure our luggage was taken and we were escorted to a waiting vehicle just outside arrivals. Our hotels were terrific also. We were shown around Nairobi, a bustling city. Our 2 days in Nairobi were full of exploration. We went to a giraffe sanctuary where we learned about these imposing but quite adorable animals. I even got to hand feed one! Let me tell you… the first time you see the black tongue come to your hand you can’t help laughing. That evening we were treated to dinner at the home of Jane and Felix Pinto, the founders of Micato. They host lunch or dinner at their home on each Micato Safari.
The next stop on our journey was Maasai Mara. The small airport in Nairobi was very different from the large terminals we are used to. We entered a hangar where water and snacks were laid out for us while we waited for our small plane. Once we boarded the plane we noticed in our seat back was a kit with information about the animals we would see and some entertainment for the short flight. Upon arrival, we were greeted warmly and whisked off to our tented camp via a game drive. Our first glimpse of the animals! It was such a thrill. Our driver, Keiffa , drove expertly around looking for each type of animal, all the time telling us something about each type of animal we saw.
Each day we had an early morning game drive before breakfast and an afternoon game drive. On our second day we came upon two lionesses shortly after they killed a zebra. The cubs played under the watchful eye of one of the mommas while the other fed from the kill. We were also treated to a night drive. We went up in a hot air balloon and soared over the trees and the animals. What a thrill that was (And I am petrified of heights!!!)! We saw the whole plain laid out below us as we skimmed the treetops. We saw giraffes and a few elephants, and how small they looked from high up! But the sunrise was the most beautiful I’ve seen. After this exhausting ride, a champagne breakfast was laid out for us to enjoy.
Besides doing a wonderful job as a safari host, Micato gives back much to their community. For every safari booked, they sponsor a child in school (this pays for the required uniforms and books that many families can’t afford). To hear from the students who went through school on Micato’s generosity was very touching. The family also founded a charity organization called AmericaShare dedicated to helping impoverished women and children. The Pinto family and all who work at Micato are very passionate about their charities. We visited a school where smiling little faces shined at us. They sang songs for us and gave us a warm welcome. We were very moved. In the face of unbelievable poverty and terrible living conditions, these little faces were so happy. We had all brought some supplies for the children, crayons, pencils, books and such. It was a touching way to end our fabulous trip.