Sh13.7 million private jet trip to Kenya


Tourism Secretary Najib Balala (left) with guests at the Maasai Mara. PHOTO | POOL

The super-wealthy are seeking new travel experiences in Maasai Mara, Laikipia and Samburu, following an Emirates private jet deal, a trend that is expected to boost boutique hotels in Kenya.

After the turbulent 2020 due to Covid-19, the rush to travel to unique destinations has grown and the super-rich are planning holidays to the wilderness, to tour African cities with interesting architecture, to eat dishes that they have not eaten before, and to help the underprivileged while at it.

The Ministry of Tourism has partnered with an African travel company, Roar Africa in curating the A-list wildlife destinations and city’s architectural designs for global elite travellers.

Part of the Emirates Executive Private Jet Safari, will be wealthy holidaymakers staying Angama Mara and Cottar’s, tented camps in Maasai Mara, Segera Retreat, Ol Jogi, and Arijiju in Laikipia and Finch Hattons in Tsavo.

“We have painstakingly selected profound destinations and intimate wildlife discoveries to reveal what must be done to ensure that Africans, nature, and animals survive and thrive,” said Deborah Calmeyer, CEO Roar Africa for South Africa.

The holiday package is targeting 10 travellers with interest in preserving Africa’s wildlife, wild spaces, and communities while having fun.

As the sector recovers, the wealthy are opting for the seclusion of private jets, which carry fewer people and have personalised service, to avoid coronavirus.

The itinerary includes a visit to Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta in Botswana, experiencing Kenya’s Great Migration and trekking with the world’s last wild mountain gorillas in the forests of Rwanda.

The 12-day safari is priced at Sh13.7 million ($125,000) per person.

The journey from Dubai will be on Emirates A319 private jet with 10 private suites, a private shower spa and powder room, an expansive lounge that functions as a communal gathering space and restaurant.

“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,” said Ms Calmeyer.

“Our goal is to change the philosophy and their worldview. I believe this is the most impactful safari experience on earth and it will make the wildest dreams come true.”

Luxury travel in Kenya has been constantly evolving in the past years with operators developing different packages to suit high net worth travellers.

The new product targets travellers who want to be involved in conservation and communities, contributing to people projects, sponsoring students, or are philanthropists.

Part of travel time is spent in schools, animal orphanages, feeding schemes, planting trees, or providing water to communities. It could also include visits to jewellery makers, glass-making industries, furniture making and handbags.

“If the travellers are into design and architecture, we take them to Nairobi or Kigali. New York designers would travel to see what fabrics are being used or source different products,” Roar Africa chief operating officer PJ Scott said.

“These days, tourists are not coming to Africa for just traditional experiences. They want to have fun, enjoy an authentic experience while still protecting the environment and conserving climate,” Mr Scott said.

The company joined the luxury industry in 2005 with most of its clients being from North America, Europe, and the Middle East.

According to Mr Scott, Kenya receives predominantly US luxury travellers, with trips ranging from Sh2.19 million ($20,000 per person).

Wausi Walya who works with Kenya Tourism Board says luxury travelling has been happening in the country, but this is the first product with premier airlines offering end-to-end travel.

Most luxury companies opt for single destinations, which was also accelerated by a pandemic with the closure of borders and international travel.

This is despite the market for the experience.

“What is exciting about this new product is that it is an itinerary package for the high-end group from one destination to another. Most of the other companies tend to do just to one destination,” she said.

“Kenya is ready with both the travellers and destinations. Some people fly to Maasai Mara for just lunch or stay for two days. There is a class of Kenyans who can afford these places,” she adds.

Three years ago, NatGeo also organised a Sh10 million per traveller Africa jet excursion. Departing from Nairobi’s Boma, the Kenyan expedition included two destinations—Chyulu Hills where guests can do horseback riding in the hills and Olare Motorogi conservancy, a private conservancy in Maasai Mara, which houses four of the most luxurious tented camps at the game reserve.