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Travel Notes – January, 2013

SusanKaribu (welcome) to thoughts and images from cultural expeditions with Susan Deslaurier Travel.

Another year has comes to a close, ushering us into a stretch of new months ahead, filled with wonder of what will come. What will we continue to do and have? What will we shed as no longer useful or fitting? What will be shifted to move us more in line with our growing and evolving selves? The dawn of a new year reflects nature in its truest sense, where nothing will ever happen exactly the same as it has before, even though it may seem to be so for the casual observer. This newness is what intrigues me in every tour season, and every group of wonderful travelers I meet. We may follow a similar route and stay in the same lodging, but it’s never the same trip.

This year’s travelers came for many different reasons… to live a lifelong dream of seeing an elephant in nature, to see a project they worked so hard to fund through their organization, to view more birds than anywhere else in the world (450 species in Nakuru National Park alone!), to deliver medical services to people in remote and difficult circumstances. Each person sought and found their own experience of Africa, and it was my personal joy to be part of it. This uniqueness is why we lead tours the way we do, in small groups with visits to real communities to bridge our differences and see our sameness. As this new year gets underway, I offer great thanks for all who have come along with us in the past, and welcome all others to come and discover your special journey.

Many Different Journeys in 2012

Experiencing the Great Migration

WildebeestAs our safari vehicle inches slowly forward through an endless sea of millions—no really, millions of wildebeest with some zebra sprinkled in, we stop amidst the herd as they fill in to flow around us toward their river crossing. In steady pursuit of better pasture following the cycle of rain through the Serengeti and Maasai Mara, these herds leave a stunning impression of the vastness of their numbers. So close, engine silenced, we hear their honking/snorting conversations. We eventually follow them to the river’s edge, hopeful that we will be lucky enough to witness the pounding, splashing charge across the river as crocodiles lurk nearby in hopes one might miss a step and become easy prey.

Sharing Healing and Learning

Medical TourOur medical volunteers delivered a baby in the Kibera slums, scrubbed in on a spinal surgery near Nairobi, traversed the plains with a mobile clinic for Maasai villagers, and learned about traditional healing in indigenous cultures from Salaton and other healers. It was a varied experience of modern and indigenous medicine in Kenya where there are more than 10,000 people per physician. And of course we enjoyed safari game driving along the way. There’s still time to join us for our 2013 journey in April. See photos of our 2012 experience and check out the upcoming 2013 tour. Contact us right away if you’d like to come along:

Supporting and Celebrating Communities

Jamii Moja leaders and local families celebrate the gift of their bore hole water source.Philanthropy organizations such as Danville Rotary for Rotary InternationalAsante Africa Foundation, Jamii Moja and others traveled with us to visit projects they funded in Kenya, and to celebrate their combined efforts with the people whose lives were changed through access to water, education, medical care and more.

Teaching the School Curriculum

Zoe prepares the students to begin their music and dance performanceWith donated musical recorder instruments in hand, and flowing fabrics at the ready, a mother and her 19 year old daughter provided music and dance instruction as part of the regular curriculum at the Enkiteng Lepa School in Maji Moto. Rather than disrupt the regular teaching schedule, they programmed a portion of the required curriculum for a full week, and gave the teachers ideas for future class activities. They added a performance recital for the community at the end of the week, to the shared delight of kids, parents and teachers. Long after the guest teachers left, the students used the recorders to welcome visiting local dignitaries with an impressive performance. The volunteer experience was capped off with a safari and Indian Ocean beach getaway to add to their Kenya experience.

Enduring Goodness from our Travelers

Enkiteng Lepa students benefit from our tour donationsIn addition to volunteers bringing supplies and goods to the community, all of our travelers supported the communities we visit with 5% of their tour price going to local projects. This year, we supported the Enkiteng Lepa School, where many vulnerable and orphan children are on scholarship so that they receive the same high quality education as children who can afford to pay. Donations also went to Asante Africa Foundation and Jamii Moja for Kenya projects in educating children and transforming lives.

Salaton and the head teacher shop for books that support the Kenya curriculum, funded by a past travelerAlso this year, a newlywed couple from two years ago, who received Maasai wedding blessings during their stay, sent a donation in honor of their newest blessing, a lovely daughter. The community decided to use the gift to buy reading books for every class in the Enkiteng Lepa school, as well as fund training sessions for community rangers in the Medungi conservation program. All are grateful for the ongoing blessings of a new child in our world. Done without fanfare or seeking credit, our travelers are simply doing good while living well.

Salaton in the U.S. Feb 2013

Salaton Ole NtutuSalaton Ole Ntutu returns to the US in February to promote tourism in his community and generate awareness and support for health, education and conservation projects. He is a Maasai chief, shaman, community change leader, and my Kenya business partner in leading cultural expeditions into his community. Salaton will share stories about his life as a child cow herder, then a young warrior, surviving among wild animals in the African bush for seven years, and today serving as a visionary leader on social, economic and environmental issues for his people. These stories and conversations hold inspiring messages about bridging cultures to navigate a future for his people and the natural environment in which they live.

For more information on Salaton, his community and conservation efforts and tourism work, visit his camp website and his community website. You can also connect on Facebook and “LIKE” Maji Moto Cultural Camp to see photos and happenings at the camp, as well as post a review of his camp on Trip Advisor if you’ve visited there.

Public events in February will be listed online. To schedule an event or personal healing and blessing session, contact Susan Deslaurier, at or 925-518-3686.

Featured Travel for 2013

Travel with purpose… understand other cultures, experience the world’s natural beauty, and support the communities we visit.
2013 Modern and Indigenous Medicine Tour
April 2–30 2013

Modern and Indigenous Medicine TourFrom a Nairobi to rural villages, exploring shamanic and herbal healing in a Maasai camp, and a tourist gate clinic providing acupuncture, we’ll be covering a lot of ground as we experience the modern and indigenous medicine of Kenya. We will be on a journey to discover how health care is delivered and received in Kenya where there are more than 10,000 people per physician. We will volunteer alongside medical practitioners for first hand and hands on experiences. There’s still time to join us on this exceptional opportunity for medical students and practitioners.Get more information and contact me if you’d like to come along.

Great Migration
Experience World Wonder on a 10 Day Great Migration Safari

July 26–August 5, August 9–19, and
September 29–October 9, 2013

or contact us to customize an itinerary

The Great Migration Safari, KenyaMaasai Mara holds unparalleled wildlife views. See lion, elephant, hippo, rhino, leopard, rare birds and much more across stunning savanna vistas. Lodging in a luxury tented camp.

Lake Nakuru National Park offers stunning bright pink flamingos against a brilliant blue lake. See black and white rhino, lion, buffalo, countless water birds and other animals. Lodging in a luxury tented camp.

Maji Moto Cultural Camp engages you in Maasai life. Walk the Loita hills and plains with Maasai warriors, experience warrior training and traditional blessings. Learn about medicinal and holy plants, village life, and education and health projects. Lodging in Maasai “manyatta” style cottages.

Nairobi visits to the David Sheldrick elephant orphanage and giraffe center, with options for additional wildlife centers, the National Museum or Karen Blixen House museum. Lodging in a garden setting hotel.

Customize Your Own Adventure for a Private Group Experience

Philanthropy Tours

Rotarians from California and Kenya celebrate the “Rains from America” as the community called the gift of water provided by Rotary InternationalFor organizations raising funds to help communities in Africa, nothing beats an in-person visit to the communities served for a first hand view of projects and to celebrate the benefits of the gifts that were funded. We can put together a group trip that brings you into the community while also providing safari and other cultural tourism that deepens your team members’ understanding and connection to Africa. Volunteers who offer a particular project or professional contribution are also welcome, such as a youth group who would like to plant trees, work in orphanages, or assist with other existing projects, or teachers and medical professionals who wish to support the staff in-country. Contact us to customize a service group or philanthropy organization trip.

India Northern Region Culture, Spirit and Nature
Contact us for date availability

Northern IndiaExperience the cultural richness of Northern India, including yoga, meditation, ashrams, pranic class and ayurvedic consultation. Explore national parks for wildlife viewing, visit a traditional Gujjar tribal community, and walk amid the natural environment. Experience history, nature, healing, and ancient tradition as we travel from Delhi to Rishikesh, following the Holy Ganga River and on to the home of His Holiness Dalai Lama in Dharamshala. See photos of past adventures.

Tanzania, Arusha, Tarangire, MtoWaMbu, Lake Manyara, Serengeti, Olduvai Gorge, Ngorongoro Crater, and Longido

Northern IndiaJoin us for an up close and personal visit to Tanzania, with amazing wildlife experiences through walking and driving safari, along with visits to native cultures of the Chaga, Maasai and other tribes. Dig deeper into the origins of humanity with visits to the sites of the earliest signs of mankind in the world and to the ruins of ancient societies.

Safari njema (safe travels),