THE ADDRESS Magazine Summer 2014 - Page 376

other exotic animals. Chimpanzees are a star attraction but can remain elusive on strenuous treks. The experience begins before dawn, led by a guide, to find the Chimpanzees and other primates. This is a challenging search as these primates move quickly and to track them involves keeping up, through hills and canyons in muddy and slippery terrain. Sightings aren’t guaranteed. But for those wishing to explore the rainforest, this is the best way to do it. I opt instead for pampering interspersed with more gentle activity, a rainforest canopy walk and long nature-rich walking trails. The ultra-stylish Nyungwe Forest Lodge is the only plush base near the forest. Set amidst acres of rippling tea plantations, on the boundary of Nyungwe National Forest, the property features all the mod-cons and furnishings, whilst nestling discretely within natural surroundings. A handful of suites are spaced out amidst endless expanse of tea plantation. My highlight is the infinity pool, tucked away between two villas, and backing entirely onto vast open rainforest. The views are sublime, and this happens to be an incredible spot to hear monkeys screeching and to watch African birdlife. The sounds of the jungle resonate and echo all around, as nothing fringes the property. I can’t think of a better way to unwind after long walks and days spent tracking wildlife. I spend several days recuperating here in the fresh cool air, checking into the hillside spa and enjoying breakfasts with unrivalled scenes and sounds. 2. Kenya International hub Everything happens through Kenya’s capital Nairobi, an excellent hub for local and neighbouring country explorations. I fly in and out of Nairobi for each segment of this trip, except for the Mozambique to Malawi crossing on Lake Malawi. 376 Catch the capital - Nairobi Nairobi is an infectious capital. Difficult to love, yet difficult to leave. It gives me the same love-hate dilemma as my home city, London. The pollution, traffic and social issues can be testing, but it’s also edgy, vibrant and successful. Nairobi is a haven of plush properties in which to luxuriate and retreat from busy days sightseeing or working. The legendary Serena Nairobi is a comfortable distance from the airport and has one of the best concierges in town. Serena is synonymous with Africa, and my ideal choice for local luxury, furnished in a real pan-African theme. It’s the best alternative to common international hotel brands where, once inside, you might forget what country you’re in. On my short overnight trips and on longer stays, I choose a Superior Room as it’s spacious and features lounge area and bathtub. The property houses one of my favourite restaurants in the capital, the luxurious fine dining affair of ‘Mandhari’ (heightened several times a year when visiting Parisian Michelinchef is in residence), alongside Elemis spa and poolside Café Maghreb, loaded with heavenly cakes and coffees. Comfort is paramount and once here, I can retreat at leisure. Nairobi serves as a good international hub to transfer to safari destinations, the most popular being the Masai Mara. But to miss Nairobi’s highlights would be a mistake. Spend a day or two to explore the cultural, wildlife and foodie highlights the eclectic city offers. David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage rescues and rehabilitates wild elephants in need. Ranging from babies to adults, the elephants in residence have lost their mothers naturally or through poaching, been separated in the wild, been trapped or injured and more from a range of national parks. These are the lucky ones. At feeding time, gather around the enclosure where they come in for large bottles of milk, fed by rangers. It’s the most heart-warming sight as the little babies stampede in enthusiastically,