There are beach people and there are mountain people, and I am most definitely the latter.
There’s something inherently peaceful about looking at the countryside from above. Serenity washes over me as if the worries of the day are exhaled along with my breath. I’ve always been drawn to the clouds.
So it’s not too surprising that when on a recent trip to Kenya, I was dazzled by two unique safari lodges with rooms sporting panoramas so stunning it was hard to drag myself away to explore the world below.
My first stop was Ol Malo, a family owned, working ranch nestled in the jagged ridge overlooking the Laikipia plateau in the northern frontier.
My suite, a la Game of Thrones, was cavernous and emerged from the rocks as if it were a part of the cliffs. The view from the giant picture windows extended all the way to the faded outline of Mount Kenya over 50 miles away.
Every morning I greeted the sunrise on the my private two-story veranda, with a diet coke and a tin full of biscuits, and waited for the light to bathe the mountains in pastel shades of yellow, pink and blue.
At the base of the escarpment, a man-made watering hole stood strategically positioned so that every suite had a front row seat. The heat drew leopards, impala, baboons and hyena to the water and I would gape at the various dramas that would unfold from my comfy perch in the sky.
I spent over an hour one day, watching matchboxed-sized elephants graze their way through the rugged terrain to the watering hole. Five yards from their destination, all but the matriarch came to a standstill. Alone, she walked the last few feet and faced the herd. Her giant ears slowly flapping like the wings on a roosting butterfly. She stood in front of the water for a few minutes, the others patiently waiting for her cue, and then when she was ready, in unison, they all moved forward and plunged their trunks into the wet, cool, blue.
The Maasai call it the Oloololo escarpment. It runs through the Mara Triangle along the Great Rift Valley and ascends to over 1,000 feet. At its summit sits Angama.
In Swahili, Angama means “suspended in midair,” and that’s just how it felt. My tented suite was so high that the world took on a completely different quality than what I found at Ol Malo. Gone were the trees and wildlife in toy-like miniature, replaced with what looked like an impressionist painting.
A glimpse of the sunrise would draw me outside like a magnet. I loved to watch the Mara come to life before all the travelers began their game drives. One by one, I’d see the headlights below, floating in the air like tiny fireflies, but until then it was if I had it all to myself.
I’d been to the Triangle twice before. It was wonderfully familiar and I loved that I’d come to recognize my surroundings as if I might actually belong. I knew where to find my favorite watering hole; I could pick out the tree where a leopard sat two years before, and I remembered the spot where I saw my first wildebeest crossing. During my stay, I wistfully relived dozens of earlier sightings as I went about making new memories.
From my terrace, however, it was all fresh again. I had a greater appreciation for the land I’d come to love. It’s immensity. It’s staggering beauty.
I didn’t want to leave.
I was a guest of both Ol Malo and Angama, however, views are completely my own.