This week at Turquoise HQ we were lucky enough to catch up with actor, action adventurer and motorcyclist enthusiast Charley Boorman. From Rhino tracking in East Africa to exploring the beautiful Kenya Coast, here he shares with us his incredible travel tales from his recent holiday to Kenya…
1. We know you have travelled the world extensively by bike and have been on many an adventure, had you been to these parts of Kenya before your recent holiday?
When I did Long Way Down with Ewan McGregor we came down through Ethiopia and into North-East Kenya, but only rode our bikes through- so the opportunity to go back and really explore the area was a real thrill!
2. What was it that drew you to Africa and especially to Kenya?
When I was very small my father who was a film director took me to South Africa and on the way down we stopped in Egypt. As a little kid I couldn’t believe the differences between the top of Africa and the bottom. When I rode through Africa with Ewan I really fell in love with the continent and particularly Kenya. One of my oldest friends moved there years ago so to be able to visit old friends gives you a slightly different aspect too which is really special.
3. I’m sure you will agree that Saruni Samburu is an incredibly special place, how would you describe the experience in three words?
Unique, spectacular and delicious!
4. What was the game viewing like whilst you were staying at Saruni Samburu? Was there a particular game drive highlight you can share?
One of the special moments whilst we were staying at Saruni Samburu was the opportunity to track rhino on foot and so we met up with the rangers who look after these beautiful animals and they track them down using a chip transmitter. When we got to a certain distance we jumped off the vehicles and started out on foot to get close to the majestic rhinos. We got so close that at one stage we were surrounded by 3 and we could see them through the bushes. Thank god their eyesight isn’t that good! A really unique opportunity. The rule is generally to never get out of the game drive vehicle. A definite must!
5. The new Saruni Rhino is a very unique concept and experience, did you enjoy exploring North-East Kenya and could you tell us a bit about the experience and the accommodation at Saruni Rhino?
Saruni Rhino is the first ever opportunity in East Africa where you can track the majestic black rhinos on foot. It is an incredible feeling to be meters away from the twitching ears of a black rhino! The experience runs in a place in Northern Kenya called Sera Community Conservancy and it is the first community conservancy in Africa to own and operate a sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of this iconic species. The sanctuary was established by the relocation of black rhinos from other parks and reserves in Kenya and they are already breeding successfully which is fantastic in helping to increase numbers. It was exciting being back in the area as the last time I had passed through there was with Ewan when we did the Long Way Down. The roads have improved a lot since we bounced our way along the road there! The accommodation at the lodge was lovely, really simple but elegant underneath giant palm trees called Doom palms, overlooking a dry riverbed near a waterhole where elephants come to drink daily.
6. We saw from your Instagram post that you got (scarily?!) close to a black rhino – amazing! How long did it take you to track one, how many were there of you and what were the guides like?
When we came across the black rhino we had driven into the game reserve, picked up the two soldiers with tracking equipment. So there was Olly and me and two of the guys from the Saruni Samburu lodge. We spent about 40 mins tracking down the rhino and then another 40 mins on foot. It was exhilarating! Such an extraordinary way to see rhino. I’ve been on lots of safaris but never experienced something so unique.
7. Many of our clients are interested in conservation and charities who support animal welfare across the world. Could you share a little bit about your time with the horse patrol on Mount Kenya?
The Mount Kenya Trust is a small but highly impressive charity that does lots of great things to help the communities and terrain around Mount Kenya. I had the opportunity to ride out with their anti-poaching horse patrol team, which was set up in partnership with the UK charity Tusk. So I was able to witness first-hand how, by having a simple team of rangers who ride out daily on patrol in the forests around Mount Kenya, they have been able to catch and deter poachers and illegal loggers. Since the patrol was set up poaching in the area has reduced by an incredible 80%. Tusk supports lots of great small initiatives like this and the impact of their work on the ground is inspiring.
8. After an exhilarating time on safari… there is always time for a spot of pampering and relaxation on the beach and we adore Almanara Villas! How did the Kenya Coast differ to other beach destinations you have visited?
We were lucky enough to stay at Almanara and one of the most unique things about that part of the Kenya Coast is its white coral sand and aqua blue bath temperature seas. The sand never gets hot. The seafood that is available is so delicious, from tuna to crab and all served beautifully. You must have a massage there, they’re great!
9. We’ve recently interviewed the wonderful Luke Doig, General Manager and Head Chef at Sails – what was your favourite thing on Luke’s menu?
Pretty much everything is good with Luke but if you like fish or shellfish go for anything with tuna or crab in it! He’s had decades of experience and all of it seems to culminate in the beautiful settings of Sails. He’s such a charming man who will always give you a little bit of his time to talk food.
10. Finally, did you have time to enjoy any activities whilst at Almanara Villas? Sailing, snorkelling, diving?
Whilst we stayed at Almanara they organised for us to go on a traditional fishing boat which took us out to an island on the reef. This old sea dog took us out, he had huge experience and knowledge of the sea. There’s plenty to do there, from kitesurfing to sailing, especially diving and snorkelling from the beach. Or you can just lie on the amazing white sand and do nothing!
Charley’s book The Long Way Back is available at all major bookstores and on Amazon now.
Follow in Charley’s footsteps on a life enriching journey through Kenya with our Supreme Saruni Safari experience. The perfect combination of serenity with adventure, luxury and authenticity, wildlife and culture. Unwind from your exhilarating safari experience with a stay at Almanara for a relaxing break on the beautiful Kenya Coast.