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Forget Tiger King, Kenya offers the real deal and here’s how to see it in Out of Africa style

Tiger King on Netflix has been stealing all the headlines, with its crazed tales of ‘big cat’ owners in the States.

It highlighted the startling statistic that there are more big cats in private ownership in the US than in the wild. It was against this backdrop that I set out on safari to see them in their natural Kenyan habitat.

My trip coincided with the 35th anniversary of the release of the Oscar-winning timeless classic, Out Of Africa, based on the memoir of the Danish travel writer Karen Blixen. It stars Meryl Streep as Blixen and Robert Redford, as her aristocratic lover Denys Finch Hatton.

A pride of lions in the Maasai Mara. Lions can sleep for up to 20 hours a day, Frank learned on his safari 

Tiger King on Netflix highlighted the startling statistic that there are more big cats in private ownership in the US than in the wild. It was against this backdrop that Frank set out on safari to see them in their natural Kenyan habitat

Tiger King on Netflix highlighted the startling statistic that there are more big cats in private ownership in the US than in the wild. It was against this backdrop that Frank set out on safari to see them in their natural Kenyan habitat

Deborah Calmeyer, the dynamic founder of the ultra-luxe travel specialist Roar Africa arranged a special five-day Out of Africa Tour. Roar organised Robert Redford’s first return trip to Africa, so if it was good enough for a Hollywood legend, my girlfriend and I were happy to follow in his footsteps.

Kenya, or British East Africa as it was known at the turn of the 20th century, was Karen Blixen’s idea of paradise. She describes moving there in her memoir, Out of Africa, at a time when British and other European colonial land-owners held dominion over vast estates populated with vast numbers of Big Five animals – leopards, rhinos, buffaloes, lions and elephants.

Safari (from the Arabic word meaning ‘journey’) in Blixen’s time, was more associated with big game hunting, a then popular pursuit among the bored and promiscuous aristocratic class, as portrayed in the under-rated British film, White Mischief.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST

The Hemingways Nairobi hotel. Frank describes the hotel as 'a gentle introduction to Africa'

The Hemingways Nairobi hotel. Frank describes the hotel as ‘a gentle introduction to Africa’ 

One of the executive suites at the Hemingways Nairobi hotel. The hotel is located in the foothills of the evocatively named Ngong Hills

One of the executive suites at the Hemingways Nairobi hotel. The hotel is located in the foothills of the evocatively named Ngong Hills

Two kilometres from the Hemingways Nairobi hotel, pictured, is the compact Karen Blixen Museum where the great writer lived for over a decade

Two kilometres from the Hemingways Nairobi hotel, pictured, is the compact Karen Blixen Museum where the great writer lived for over a decade

Frank's trip to Africa coincided with the 35th anniversary of the release of the Oscar-winning timeless classic Out Of Africa, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford

Frank’s trip to Africa coincided with the 35th anniversary of the release of the Oscar-winning timeless classic Out Of Africa, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford 

Danish travel writer Karen Blixen, whose memoir, Out of Africa, became an Oscar-winning movie

Danish travel writer Karen Blixen, whose memoir, Out of Africa, became an Oscar-winning movie 

Ernest Hemingway famously embarked on a three-month big game hunt in Kenya, which inspired him to write The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.

So it seemed appropriate that the first overnight stop on our trip was the Hemingways Nairobi hotel in the garden city of Nairobi. 

‘Jambo’ meaning hello is a Swahili greeting I would never tire of hearing over the course of the trip and it’s always delivered with a smile and a warm Kenyan welcome. 

A beautiful airy hotel with lush gardens, Hemingways is a gentle introduction to Africa. We arrived just in time for the bottomless brunch with a Jazz Band playing to a mostly local African upmarket clientele. 

The hotel is located in the foothills of the evocatively named Ngong Hills (‘Ngong’ is taken from the Maasai phrase meaning ‘rhinoceros spring’). 

Two kilometres from the hotel is the compact Karen Blixen Museum where the great writer lived for over a decade. ‘I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills’ are the opening words from Out of Africa, full of yearning. 

Among other accomplishments, Blixen was a talented portrait painter and her work hangs on the walls, alongside black-and-white photos of her sipping Champagne with Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, and Blixen’s well-worn Louis Vuitton travel cases.

‘In the highlands,’ Blixen wrote, ‘you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.’ 

These highlands are the misty Ngong Hills, and it’s where her lover, Denys Finch-Hatton, a big game hunter, was buried over 10 miles away. Blixen placed a white sheet over his tomb so that she could wake up and see it from her garden and grieve.

SUSPENDED IN MID-AIR OVER THE MAASAI MARA

The breathtaking safari lodge Angama Mara. The name of lodge is inspired by the Swahili word for 'suspended in mid-air'

The breathtaking safari lodge Angama Mara. The name of lodge is inspired by the Swahili word for ‘suspended in mid-air’

Next up was an hour-long charter flight to a breathtaking safari lodge, Angama Mara. As the plane swept low to land at the lodge’s grassy private airfield, there were graceful giraffes and a family of elephants enjoying their pasture in the plains, or mara, below.

The lodge’s name is inspired by the Swahili word for ‘suspended in mid-air’, and that’s exactly how it feels from the 30 tented suites situated 980ft (300m) above the Great Rift Valley.

Each suite, designed like a stylish open plan apartment, has a mesmerising view overlooking the Maasai Mara, the loveliest game reserve on the continent.

The pivotal picnic scene from Out of Africa was filmed in the grounds of Angama Mara. As a surprise for us, Roar Africa (which organises safaris in 13 African countries) arranged a picnic on the crest of the Out of Africa kopje that is featured on the movie’s poster.

BABOONS WITH A TASTE FOR CHAMPAGNE

Angama Mara offers spellbinding views of the Maasai Mara, the 'loveliest game reserve on the continent'

Angama Mara offers spellbinding views of the Maasai Mara, the ‘loveliest game reserve on the continent’

'Each [Angama Mara] suite is designed like a stylish open-plan apartment,' writes Frank

‘Each [Angama Mara] suite is designed like a stylish open-plan apartment,’ writes Frank

We were guided up the hill to discover an old-world picnic scene – canvas safari chairs, a wicker picnic basket, tasty picnic food, checked blankets, comfy cushions, a bottle of bubbly, coffee in a Stanley flask, and of course, that spectacular view. 

A little unsettling was the nearby sound of a wild dog barking, out of sight but circling silently around the picnic area. Maybe we should have got that rabies shot after all.

After finishing the picnic, we kept our eyes peeled as we descended the hill, but our driver laughed as we told him about our fears about being eaten alive by a vicious wild dog. 

He told us that it was just a baboon alerting his family about our presence – it turns out that they are regulars as they hang around to eat the picnic leftovers. Hopefully, the baboons didn’t drink all the Champagne we left behind. 

THE ROCKING CHAIR SAFARI, THE SAFEST IN THE WORLD

Frank embarked on what Angama Mara playfully calls The Rocking Chair Safari - watching the animals from the comfort of rocking chairs on your bedroom terrace with a pair of binoculars

Frank embarked on what Angama Mara playfully calls The Rocking Chair Safari – watching the animals from the comfort of rocking chairs on your bedroom terrace with a pair of binoculars

Guests from Angama Mara on a safari, which are conducted at sunrise and sunset in completely open game-viewing vehicles

Guests from Angama Mara on a safari, which are conducted at sunrise and sunset in completely open game-viewing vehicles

Later, back at the lodge, I opened a beautiful leather-bound copy of Out of Africa and never have Blixen’s words ‘you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be’ felt more appropriate. I picked up the binoculars in the room and sat in the rocking chair on the terrace. 

I scanned the golden expanse of the plains with dozens of zebras and impalas grazing silently. I was embarking on what the hotel playfully calls The Rocking Chair Safari. I was impatient to try the real thing, but for now, I would have to make do with a curious furry rotund hyrax, or rock rabbit, peering into our tent, with the cutest little tusks. 

Despite being little over a foot in length, I was astonished to discover that the hyrax is the closest living relative to the elephant – this one spends most of the afternoon sun-bathing on a nearby rocky ledge.

Safaris are conducted at sunrise and sunset in completely open game viewing vehicles, with canvas roofs as shelter from the sun. Alice, a local Maasai, was our guide for our game drives. She is highly educated and passionate about wildlife conservation. She was constantly on the walkie talkie to her network of fellow guides (from other resorts in the Mara), directing each other to sightings of the Big Five. 

On his safari at Angama Mara, Frank saw a sleepy pride of lions, a buffalo enjoying a mud bath and a lone rhino (stock image)

On his safari at Angama Mara, Frank saw a sleepy pride of lions, a buffalo enjoying a mud bath and a lone rhino (stock image)

So within an hour or two, we had seen a pride of sleepy lions and a lone rhino. The following day we saw the same pride of lions stake out a buffalo that had retreated into the relative safety of marshy water. 

On our way back to the lodge, we passed a triumvirate of ancient-looking buffalo enjoying a soothing mud bath, and Alice told us that they are known as the resident ‘retired generals’.

Alice is a natural story-teller and we learned many surprising facts – who knew that a giraffe’s tongue is blue or that they are insomniacs, usually only sleeping for 30 minutes a night, or that an ostrich is the Usain Bolt of the wild, able to run up to 45 miles an hour? Or that a lion sleeps up to 20 hours a day, and that warthogs are one of the few animals that copulate for pleasure? Baby elephants, meanwhile, comfort themselves by sucking their trunks.

While it is well known that the rhino and mountain gorillas are under threat of extinction, giraffes have been quietly suffering what has been called ‘the silent extinction’, with their numbers dropping by 40 per cent in just 30 years. Hippos are considered to be the most deadly and kill 350 people a year – don’t get between them and water!

A LODGE FIT FOR A PRESIDENT OR TWO!

The restaurant at Angama Mara. The local chef at the lodge serves up delicious meals here with the freshest salads picked from the lodge's shamba or vegetable garden, writes Frank

The restaurant at Angama Mara. The local chef at the lodge serves up delicious meals here with the freshest salads picked from the lodge’s shamba or vegetable garden, writes Frank

Frank describes the look of Angama Mara, pictured, as being 'architecturally dramatic... an almost dreamlike quality'

Frank describes the look of Angama Mara, pictured, as being ‘architecturally dramatic… an almost dreamlike quality’

Angama Mara’s architecturally dramatic guest areas – Maasai brick walls and distinctive cone-shaped buildings -were inspired by colonial-era design in Africa. The beauty of the view has an immediate emotional effect creating an almost dreamlike quality. 

The local chef at the lodge serves up delicious meals here with the freshest salads picked from the lodge’s shamba or vegetable garden. Kenya’s President Kenyatta had only recently departed when we arrived.

But he was not the first President to visit these parts. Barack Obama is half-Kenyan – his father was from a farming family, of the Luo tribe, born on the shores of Lake Victoria in Northern Kenya, his grandfather (a respected Elder) was a medicine man with healing powers. 

When he returned with his family in 2006 he was greeted with signs saying ‘Obama – welcome home’. They went on safari to the Maasai Mara and a popular tourist stop in the Mara is now the Obama Forest, where he planted a tree. 

THE DANCING MAASAI WARRIORS WHOSE WIVES ARE THE HOUSE-BUILDERS

Angama Mara is surrounded by many traditional Maasai homesteads that are built by women

Angama Mara is surrounded by many traditional Maasai homesteads that are built by women 

Angama Mara is surrounded by many traditional Maasai homesteads, or manyattas. We drove there and were greeted by villagers dressed in traditional colourful flowing robes performing the jumping dance (the ‘adumu’) and doing their best to out-jump each other. 

We learned that women are still obliged to be the actual house-builders. All the homes we saw were plastered in dried cow dung, the most suitable material, as it is water-proof. 

It is a polygamous culture, but in practice the husband can only marry again with the permission of the existing wife, and only if the man is wealthy enough to support more than one wife, wealth being measured in the number of cows owned.

Afterwards, on our way back to the lodge, we were relieved when our 20-something Maasai guide Alice told us that her generation is reluctant to embrace polygamy.  

THE TIGER KINGS – FROM THE TOWER OF LONDON IN THE 13TH CENTURY TO NETFLIX

From the 1200s until 1835, the Tower of London was the home of the Royal Menagerie, set up by King Henry III to house a gift of three 'leopards' (most likely lions) from the Holy Roman Emperor

From the 1200s until 1835, the Tower of London was the home of the Royal Menagerie, set up by King Henry III to house a gift of three ‘leopards’ (most likely lions) from the Holy Roman Emperor 

Kenya has impeccable Royal connections. The then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip spent some time in February 1952 at Treetops Hotel in the Aberdare National Park where they saw elephants, baboons and warthogs and witnessed two rhinos squabbling over a waterhole. 

It was at the nearby Sagana Lodge (now used as a Presidential retreat) at the foot of Mount Kenya where the Princess learned the sad news that her father, King George VI, had died and that she was to be Queen.    

Of course, the Queen is not the first Royal to encounter exotic animals. From the 1200s until 1835, the Tower of London was the home of the Royal Menagerie, set up by King Henry III to house a gift of three ‘leopards’ (most likely lions) from the Holy Roman Emperor. 

Henry III’s Plantagenet crest even featured three lions. Who would have thought that Joe Exotic (aka the Tiger King) was actually following in hallowed Royal footsteps as a keeper of big cats?

Present-day royals have continued their love affair with Africa. Prince William spent some of his gap year in Laikipia in Kenya, and has returned several times, endearing himself to the Kenyan people by announcing that he was learning Swahili. 

He even themed his 21st Birthday party bash at Windsor Castle around Out of Africa. In fact, he proposed to Kate Middleton while at a remote lodge at Rutundu in Laikipia County in Kenya in 2010.

Laikipia was our next destination – and Roar Africa arranged for a two-seater Cessna plane to take us on the hour-long journey there. As we drew closer, it was easy to see what attracts the Prince to this part of Kenya. With Mount Kenya as the backdrop, its endless rolling grasslands and thorny acacia trees provide the perfect ecosystem for the Big Five. 

THE CACTUS FENCE DETERRING NIGHT PROWLERS

The stunning Segera Retreat, pictured, which sits in 50,000 acres of wild Kenyan savanna. Guests are housed in six solar-powered thatched villas

The stunning Segera Retreat, pictured, which sits in 50,000 acres of wild Kenyan savanna. Guests are housed in six solar-powered thatched villas 

The gardens at Segera Retreat play host to a superb collection of contemporary African sculpture and installations. There's a nice pool, too (pictured)

The gardens at Segera Retreat play host to a superb collection of contemporary African sculpture and installations. There’s a nice pool, too (pictured)

The truly wonderful Segera Retreat, our lodgings for the next three nights, is a stunning self-styled oasis of luxury in 50,000 acres of wild Kenyan savanna. 

Six solar-powered thatched villas in a lush, landscaped garden give guests access to unparalleled comfort. The gardens play host to a superb collection of contemporary African sculpture and installations.

As soon as we arrived, we were whisked off to a beautiful setting by a stream for a delightful open-air lunch, in precisely the same spot that President Kenyatta and his wife had enjoyed a few months earlier. 

As if on cue, two elephants appeared and go mano a mano, fighting for supremacy. The older and larger one was vanquished and chased for at least half a mile until his humiliation was complete.

Segera Retreat's mission is 'to create an eco-sphere, a sustainable relationship between the local community, the wildlife and its thrill-seeking guests'

Segera Retreat’s mission is ‘to create an eco-sphere, a sustainable relationship between the local community, the wildlife and its thrill-seeking guests’

A bedroom villa at Segera Retreat, which is owned by wealthy German entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz

A villa bedroom at Segera Retreat, which is owned by wealthy German entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz 

Frank describes Segera Retreat as beautiful and luxurious with 'Michelin-star quality meals prepared by local chefs'

Frank describes Segera Retreat as beautiful and luxurious with ‘Michelin-star quality meals prepared by local chefs’

Segera Retreat is owned by Jochen Zeitz, a wealthy German entrepreneur, who founded the Zeitz Foundation, which invests in conservation and community projects, including the Tree of Life reforestation project where one million trees (in the shape of a rhino) are being planted. 

By removing fences and opening migration corridors, Zeitz has transformed Segera Retreat into a thriving wildlife conservation area, with a profusion of extraordinary birdlife and many endangered and rare species including Patas monkeys and Grevy’s zebras.

Instead of a traditional fence in front of our villa to keep out Big Five night prowlers, there was a rather beautiful flowering 12-ft-high cactus tree hedge in front that acted as a deterrent. 

Apparently the big cats are not fans of succulents. Well, at least we hoped that wasn’t true. That night, against the backdrop of a dazzling starry sky, there were the sounds of an elephant devouring one of the trees on the compound and a lion growling. 

It felt like it was at our door-step, but we tried to reassure ourselves that a lion’s roar can carry for five miles, so perhaps he was further away than we thought.

ELVIS THE ROCK ‘N ROLL SAFARI GUIDE WHO WILL LEAVE YOU ALL SHOOK UP

Frank's safari guide at Segera was the 'intrepid and fearless' Elvis, who is 'the man' if you're looking for a thrill-seeking game drive. Pictured is a herd of elephants roaming the Segera conservation area

Frank’s safari guide at Segera was the ‘intrepid and fearless’ Elvis, who is ‘the man’ if you’re looking for a thrill-seeking game drive. Pictured is a herd of elephants roaming the Segera conservation area

Our local safari guide at Segera was the intrepid and fearless Elvis, and he was indeed the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll tour guide. 

If you are looking for a thrill-seeking game drive, Elvis is the man. 

He will enjoy driving you through a herd of 100 giant-horned buffalos that might leave you All Shook Up or do a drive-by of a family of hungry hyenas. 

Just as you are catching your breath, he will veer down a meandering dirt track where you might see a leopard looking languorously from a crooked wind-bent tree until the tracks end at a spectacular waterfall, where a collection of baboons stare enchanted by the light reflecting in the water and creating a vivid rainbow effect.  

It’s as primal a scene as you can get on this earth. There is nothing quite like it.   

THE BIRD’S NEST THAT ATTRACTS A PRIDE OF LIONS

The Segera Lodge boasts the Bird's Nest - a stylishly designed two-storey treetop escape that offers 360-degrees views of the savanna

The Segera Lodge boasts the Bird’s Nest – a stylishly designed two-storey treetop escape that offers 360-degrees views of the savanna

The interior of the Bird's Nest, which is 'perched near a river teeming with wildlife a 10-minute drive from the main hotel'

The interior of the Bird’s Nest, which is ‘perched near a river teeming with wildlife a 10-minute drive from the main hotel’

Karen Blixen believed that ‘there is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of Champagne — bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive’. A glass of bubbly is just what we needed after an exhilarating game drive. Elvis drove us for a sundowner at the beautiful Nay Palad Bird’s Nest.

From a distance it looks like a giant Afro on stilts, but the Bird’s Nest turns out to be a stylishly designed two-storey treetop escape. It is perched near a river teeming with wildlife about a 10-minute drive from the main hotel. It offers 360-degree views of the savanna by day that are matched only by a breathtaking view of the stars at night. 

In the morning, guests awaken to the magical sounds of animals at play below – in fact, a pride of lions has been known to spend the night in the ground floor solar powered shower-room. Never has the lilting Swahili expression seemed so appropriate – ‘Lala Salama’ or ‘Sleep Safely’.  

THE TIGER MOTH AND THE PINK FLAMINGOS

Frank says Segera Retreat is a thriving wildlife conservation area, with a profusion of extraordinary birdlife and many endangered and rare species

Frank says Segera Retreat is a thriving wildlife conservation area, with a profusion of extraordinary birdlife and many endangered and rare species

While not quite a private jet, Jochen Zeitz bought the actual mustard-coloured De Havilland Tiger Moth plane that featured in the aerial sequences in Out of Africa. It is now beautifully restored and sits proudly in a hangar on the estate. 

Our return charter flight to Nairobi (on a Cessna, not the 90-year-old Tiger Moth, sadly) took us low over the Aberdare Mountain Range, past the Queen’s beloved Sagana Lodge and a beautiful freshwater lake, but we did not rouse any pink flamingos like in the beautiful scene from Out of Africa – they prefer the languor of saltwater.

The notoriously hard-to-please Robert Redford said ‘I’ve never travelled like this before’ and I can see why, having sampled the delights of Angama and Segera. Roar Africa’s carefully curated itinerary captured the glamour of Africa and showcased just why Karen Blixen viewed it as her paradise.

The history of Kenya is full of larger-than-life characters – from Hemingway himself to Lt Colonel Patterson, author of The Man Eaters of Tsavo (played on screen by Val Kilmer), and Sir Henry Delves Broughton, who was prosecuted for the murder of his love rival, as portrayed in White Mischief. More recently, Joe Exotic, aka Tiger King, also stands behind bars, convicted of the attempted murder of a ‘Big Cat’ rival.

Tiger King was once described as ‘like a mythical character living out in the middle of bumf*** Oklahoma who owned 1,200 tigers and lions and bears and s***.’ 

Forget about visiting the Tiger King’s G.W. Zoo or Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue. Kenya offers the real deal. And here all your worries will feel like a distant memory. Or as they like to say in Swahili – Hakuna Matata. No worries indeed. 

  • Frank Mannion’s book Starstruck: How To Make it in Movies will be published in autumn 2020 to coincide with the release of his eagerly anticipated film Sparkling: The Story of Champagne.
  • For more information on Roar Africa visit roarafrica.com. 

FCO travel advice: As countries respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice. If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available. 

Wildly luxurious! The £102,000 safari billed ‘the world’s greatest’ where guests fly to plush African lodges in an Emirates A319 PRIVATE JET, which has 10 bedroom suites and a shower spa

It’s being billed as ‘the greatest safari in the world’ – though some might conclude that it’s the greatest holiday in the world. Full stop.

Unsurprisingly, it’s not cheap. You’ll need to find $125,000 (£102,000) to book a place on the ‘Roar Africa Emirates Executive Private Jet Safari’, but for that whopping sum, you’ll go ‘beyond first class’, flown on a bespoke Emirates A319 – complete with 10 private suites and a ‘shower spa’ – to four jaw-dropping African camps and lodges.

And the 12-day itinerary includes Africa’s ‘Holy Grail’ experiences – taking in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls (one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World), the Okavango Delta in Botswana (the largest inland delta in the world), Kenya’s Great Migration, and the world’s last wild mountain gorillas in the forests of Rwanda.

'The greatest safari in the world' will see guests flown around Africa on an Emirates A319 private jet (pictured)

‘The greatest safari in the world’ will see guests flown around Africa on an Emirates A319 private jet (pictured)

The Emirates A319 (pictured) will be the sole means of international transport throughout the entire journey

The Emirates A319 (pictured) will be the sole means of international transport throughout the entire journey

The jet, said Emirates, was 'created for guests who want to go beyond first class and reflects the glamour of a bygone era, when air travel was both exclusive and an integral aspect of luxury travel experiences'

The jet, said Emirates, was ‘created for guests who want to go beyond first class and reflects the glamour of a bygone era, when air travel was both exclusive and an integral aspect of luxury travel experiences’

The trip, which takes place in August 2021 and is being offered to just 10 people, begins with a night at the five-star Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel in Dubai.

The Emirates A319 the guests board the next day for Africa will be the sole means of international transport throughout the entire journey.

They will feel like royalty – if they aren’t already.

The Emirates private A319 has a 'powder room, an expansive lounge which functions as a communal gathering space or restaurant, and a cabin crew committed to providing the highest levels of personal service'. And five-star bathrooms

The Emirates private A319 has a ‘powder room, an expansive lounge which functions as a communal gathering space or restaurant, and a cabin crew committed to providing the highest levels of personal service’. And five-star bathrooms

The Emirates A319 has 10 private suites, pictured. On the safari flight the guests will enjoy screenings of documentaries about Africa from notables such as historian David Attenborough

The Emirates A319 has 10 private suites, pictured. On the safari flight the guests will enjoy screenings of documentaries about Africa from notables such as historian David Attenborough

The 12-day itinerary includes Africa's 'Holy Grail' experiences - taking in Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls (one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World), the Okavango Delta in Botswana (the largest inland delta in the world), Kenya's Great Migration, and the world's last wild mountain gorillas in the forests of Rwanda. Pictured are the suites on the Emirates A319

The 12-day itinerary includes Africa’s ‘Holy Grail’ experiences – taking in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls (one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World), the Okavango Delta in Botswana (the largest inland delta in the world), Kenya’s Great Migration, and the world’s last wild mountain gorillas in the forests of Rwanda. Pictured are the suites on the Emirates A319

The jet, said Emirates, was ‘created for guests who want to go beyond first class and reflects the glamour of a bygone era, when air travel was both exclusive and an integral aspect of luxury travel experiences’.

As well as private suites and a private shower spa, there’s also a ‘powder room, an expansive lounge which functions as a communal gathering space or restaurant, and a cabin crew committed to providing the highest levels of personal service’.

Guests will also enjoy screenings of documentaries about Africa from notables such as historian David Attenborough, conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert, and environmentalist and filmmaker Craig Foster.

All the destinations for the trip – which is being run jointly with ultra-luxe travel firm Roar Africa – have been hand-picked ‘because of their shared vision and commitment to creating a better future, combined with the charm and hospitality of their local communities and residents’.

They’re also extremely luxurious.

The first destination, on August 18, 2021, is Mpala Jena Camp, located in the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe, a few miles upstream from Victoria Falls.

The first destination, on August 18, 2021, is Mpala Jena Camp (pictured), located in the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe

The first destination, on August 18, 2021, is Mpala Jena Camp (pictured), located in the Zambezi National Park in Zimbabwe

All the rooms at Mpala Jena Camp, pictured, boast private plunge pools with views of the Zambezi River

All the rooms at Mpala Jena Camp, pictured, boast private plunge pools with views of the Zambezi River

Its website says: ‘The camp’s guest tents are under flowing canvas, with open (yet netted) views of the river and Moroccan influences throughout the décor, a reference to the early Arab explorer’s adventures up the Zambezi in search of gold in the 16th century. Decking in front of the tent leads to a private plunge pool with views of the flowing waters of the Zambezi River.’

The second lodge, which the guests will arrive at on August 20, is Duba Plains Okavango Delta in Botswana, which ‘evokes the classic African safari style of the 1920’s’ with ‘rooms raised on recycled railway sleeper decking and with stunning views of the surrounding floodplain’.

On August 23 the guests will arrive at the incredible Mara Plains Camp in the Kenyan Maasai Mara. MailOnline Travel can vouch for this one. The author of this story stayed there in 2016, describing it as ‘a camp that specialises in making its guests feel like they’re kings and queens of the savannah’, that ‘takes glamping into uncharted territory with luxuriousness and service I didn’t know could exist in tents’.

The second lodge, which the guests will arrive at on August 20, is Duba Plains Okavango Delta (pictured) in Botswana

The second lodge, which the guests will arrive at on August 20, is Duba Plains Okavango Delta (pictured) in Botswana

Ultra-luxury lodge: Duba Plains 'evokes the classic African safari style of the 1920's'

Ultra-luxury lodge: Duba Plains ‘evokes the classic African safari style of the 1920’s’

The rooms at Duba Plains are raised on recycled railway sleeper decking and have 'stunning views of the surrounding floodplain'

The rooms at Duba Plains are raised on recycled railway sleeper decking and have ‘stunning views of the surrounding floodplain’

THE WORLD’S GREATEST SAFARI ITINERARY 

August 17, 2021 – Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE

August 18, 19 – Mpala Jena Camp, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

August 20, 21, 22 – Duba Plains Okavango Delta 

August 23, 24, 25 – Mara Plains Camp, Maasai Mara, Kenya

August 26, 27, 28 – Singita Kwitonda, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda 

The fourth stopover, on August 26, is at Singita Kwitonda in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

It has an ‘unparalleled position [that] puts life-changing gorilla-trekking experiences within easy reach’, along with eight luxurious suites with private heated plunge pools.

Plus ‘large timber-framed windows that welcome the breathtaking scenery and volcano views inside’.

On August 23 the Roar Africa Emirates guests will arrive at the incredible Mara Plains Camp (pictured) in Kenya

On August 23 the Roar Africa Emirates guests will arrive at the incredible Mara Plains Camp (pictured) in Kenya

The fourth stopover, on August 26, is at Singita Kwitonda (pictured) in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park

The fourth stopover, on August 26, is at Singita Kwitonda (pictured) in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park 

Singita Kwitonda has an 'unparalleled position [that] puts life-changing gorilla-trekking experiences within easy reach'. And nice bath tubs

Singita Kwitonda has an ‘unparalleled position [that] puts life-changing gorilla-trekking experiences within easy reach’. And nice bath tubs

Deborah Calmeyer, founder and CEO of Roar Africa

Deborah Calmeyer, founder and CEO of Roar Africa

The expert chaperones accompanying the group, meanwhile, include Deborah Calmeyer, founder and CEO of Roar Africa, Humphrey Gumbo, Roar Africa’s specialist safari guide with nearly 20 years of professional guiding experience in multiple African countries – and Dr. Ian McCallum, ‘renowned poet, conservationist and psychiatrist who is one of the most eloquent ambassadors for wilderness and wild animals’.

Guests will also ‘enjoy interacting with other seasoned professionals in their respective fields with extensive knowledge of their African homeland’.

Included among the ‘notable participants who will impart fascinating facts and keen insights into the regions visited’ is Zoologist Dr. Lucy King, who will ‘speak to her personal conservation journey with elephants, bees, and villages’.

Ms Calmeyer explained that the bucket list experience is designed to deepen knowledge of the natural world.

She said: ‘It has never been more important than now to curate experiences that facilitate an understanding of how the natural world works. We have curated this strategic itinerary by working from a place of deep insight and acute understanding of Africa’s many strengths and complexities. We have painstakingly selected profound destinations and intimate wildlife discoveries to reveal what must be done to ensure that Africa’s people, nature and animals survive and thrive. 

‘And knowing that time is a non-renewable resource, guests will appreciate the absolute exclusivity and unparalleled ease of travel.

‘This authentic experience not only sets a new paradigm in ultra-luxe adventure and sustainable travel, but is a robust catalyst for change by facilitating active participation and insightful dialogue between informed, conscious travellers and local communities. Our goal is to change the philosophy and worldview of leaders, and I truly believe this is the greatest and most impactful safari experience on earth… it will make your wildest dreams come true.’

The trip will be ‘carbon neutral with high-quality offsets’ and Roar Africa will be donating 100 per cent of the trip’s proceeds to The Great Plains Foundation, which ‘will go directly towards conservation education programs for young people who live in and around the areas visited’.

The Roar Africa Emirates Executive Private Jet African Safari will also be offered August 28 to September 7, 2022, and in 2023 (dates to be determined). 

For more information about the Roar Africa Emirates Executive Private Jet Safari visit www.emirates-executive.com and roarafrica.com.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk