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When going on safari is a luxury

Updated: 2014-11-28 11:22
By Hou Liqiang in Nairobi (China Daily Africa)

Hospitality companies are working with Chinese tour operators to promote their exclusive - albeit expensive - services to big spenders in the Chinese market.

Such high-end customers can fly to exclusive lodges on chartered flights to avoid bumpy car rides.

The service of Governors Camp Collection from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi to Masai Mara National Reserve, for example, costs $2,550. Masai Mara is about 250 kilometers from the airport.

The Cessna Caravan aircraft in service can seat 12 passengers. The price is subject to change. Every passenger is allowed to take 15 kilos of luggage in soft bags, according to Justin Grammaticas, marketing director of the company.

The lodges are usually small and with a limited number of rooms. "Our most luxurious camp is called Governors IL Moran Camp (located at Masai Mara National Reserve) with only 10 suite tents," says Grammaticas. The price per day for an adult sharing rooms is $795 per person from July to October in 2015. The April to June low season price is $435.

If you want to enjoy a hot air balloon flight at Governors Camp, the price ranges from $354 to $440 per person depending on the season.

The company has hosted an increasing number of Chinese at its Mara camps since 2012.

"We would definitely like to attract more high-end Chinese clients, families and groups to our properties. We are working very closely with Longren Tours in the Chinese market," says Grammaticas.

Loisaba Wilderness, 260 kilometers north of Nairobi, offers its African Star Beds. It has only six star beds in two of its camps.

"Guests staying in one of the Loisaba star beds have the opportunity to sleep out right under the stars," says Yoyo Volak, relief manager of Loisaba Wilderness.

"Built out of local materials with minimal environmental impact, at 1,650 to 1,800 meters, right on the equator, with no ambient light pollution, Koija and Kiboko (the two camps) star beds offer you heaven on Earth with a sky full of stars in a safe, comfortable and exclusive location," she adds.

Moreover, the star beds can be wheeled outside onto an open platform. "Here, from under your thick duvet, your ceiling becomes infinity, your dreams can take flight and the sky is, quite literally, the limit," Volak says.

While being close to animals, which is the biggest motivation to visit the wildness, tourists also will be able to be close to local tribal culture, as all staff and guides at Loisaba are recruited from the local community, predominantly, Samburu, Boran and Turkana tribesmen.

Besides game drives, a common attraction at parks, customers can also choose to walk or ride horses or camels to enjoy the view in the park.

"Being accompanied by Samburu guides with an exhaustive knowledge of the local flora and fauna, history and culture of the area makes a bush walk an informative as well as exhilarating experience," Volak says.

She adds that they have had several Chinese guests visiting Loisaba. "I am sure more Chinese visitors will come to Loisaba, and our marketing and bookings office works closely with international clientele."

For the star beds, adults pay $463, which includes full board and accommodation, Loisaba airstrip transfers, limited laundry and taxes. The rate is per person for a shared room in the high season from July 1 to Sept 30 and Dec 21 to Jan 2, plus $90 in conservancy fees.

The Safari Collection, which runs the famous Giraffe Manor, is now "working exclusively with an agent called Kenya China Travel and Tours (a Chinese company) in Kenya" to attract Chinese tourists.

The Giraffe Manor is famous for its closeness to giraffes, which often visit the manor and poke their necks into windows of guests' rooms hoping for a treat.

 When going on safari is a luxury

The star beds in Koija and Kiboko camps can be wheeled onto an open platform. Provided to China Daily

(China Daily Africa Weekly 11/28/2014 page8)

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