Written by and all photos by Rob Shotwell
My love for travel came from my dad, who always used to travel internationally for business and started bringing me with him when school was out. From an early age, I just loved being able to appreciate other cultures besides our own. It gives you perspective on the rest of the world. Fast forward to 2005, a good friend of mine was getting married in Kenya. Being up for the 3-week long trip, I was very excited to visit a new continent that I never thought I would get a chance to visit! Harshil is a good friend that I met in college at Rutgers. He grew up in Kenya and always goes home to visit, and always invites me. This time I was taking him up on his offer!
Fast forward to 2021, and Harshil tells me that he has partnered with friends back home in Kenya who have their own travel company, Kampur Travel, with the idea of making Kenyan adventures available to everyone! I will say first hand, that traveling to Kenya and spending a few weeks there was a trip of a lifetime. If you are planning a vacation, or a honeymoon, consider making Kenya a destination that you will remember forever!
I sat down with Harshil to learn more about his business. The below interview will give you more insight on traveling to Kenya, as well as some of my own photos I took while out there!
Hello, my name is Harshil. I am originally born and raised in Kenya, Africa. I am a third-generation there and I grew up in Kenya all the way until high school, and then came here to the United States for further education, going to Rutgers University for chemical engineering. But I lived in Kenya up until the age of 18, where I grew up with nature and conservation and loving animals and really experiencing the wild… the expeditions and tracking and climbing mountains. We really did a lot with nature.
I met my wife in college and we got married many years later and have two kids now. And one thing I realized is that my growing up and experiencing nature and coming here and going to zoos and different exhibits for animals and stuff like that, it was just never quite the same.
A childhood buddy of mine had started a Safari company about seven years ago and we talked about showing people what really Africa is all about and showing all the amazing experiences and what a secret it is to Americans in general. And this was just a getaway experience for us to really come up with the idea of taking Americans from here down to Africa in a very customized, personalized way that they feel safe, secure, and able to have experiences of a lifetime.
Most Americans probably don’t really think of going to Africa for a holiday, but it is truly, truly amazing and the experiences, not just the safaris and animals, but there’s just so many experiences there. The beaches are amazing. Tracking is amazing. Climbing mountains is amazing. Shopping the local traditional tribes, the food, the culture, there’s just a lot of things to do in Africa. So that’s how we kind of started this company.
Our company is called Connect 4 Safaris (Facebook | Instagram), and we are exclusive partners of a Kampur Travel Diaries in Kenya. They are our local Safari operators in Kenya, and we are both owner-owned companies. Together we’ve partnered up to provide a service to people across the world. Our focus is to take people on experiences in Africa, in a very safe, secure, and excellent way to have an adventure of a lifetime. What separates us from other companies is we are truly personalized where you craft your own itinerary with our experts. Our owners actually meet you when you get there, from the time you land, until the time you board your flight to go back, everything is taken care of for you.
You might want relaxation with a lot of adventure. You might be one of those couples that want to go out every day and see different experiences. Or maybe you just might want to go on a Safari and hang out in an incredible luxury, sitting out on your porch and watching elephants and rhinos just walking by, across your balcony, and things like that. There are tremendous experiences available customized to your need. You may like an adventure at the beach. We have some of the best-kept beaches in Africa and offer all-inclusive experiences, where all your meals, drinks, everything is catered for in beautiful white sands.
We will sit down with you and find out what you would like to do. What kind of experiences do you want to have? What is your budget? How long you want to be out there? We have special events like balloon safaris and night safaris. Maybe you want to track gorillas or play with baby elephants. Maybe you want to go feed giraffes and go eat at a restaurant that has giraffes sticking their heads through the restaurant. It is unbelievable how many different experiences you can truly have. And it’s not all go, go, go. If you want to just relax at your lodge all day and maybe go out for one Safari in a day or not go out for any Safari, you just want to be pampered at a spa, you can do that too! We have game wardens, game guides, experienced drivers, and everyone is fully vaccinated. We recommend experiences based on your preferences. We recommend lodges, hotels, and restaurants. And that’s why we’re truly unique. We spend the time upfront with you to be able to give you an experience of a lifetime.
Kenya is one of the few places that you can really go to all year round. Most people want to see the great migration, but the beauty about Kenya is they have a lot of resident animals so that you can go for Safari and the weather will be phenomenal all year round. It’s almost perfect weather, it never gets too cold, it never gets too hot.
One of the greatest things that we do is give back to the African people. The proceeds for our Safari go a long way for us. We are an organization that believes in philanthropy. We actually spend a lot of our proceeds towards the conservation of animals, conservation of societies, and also the education for all the local kids in these areas, which are remote. And they lack school supplies and education. We really push so that these kids are the future and our future ambassadors for conservation and keeping Kenya truly unique and saving the culture and the animals there. We bring in water well systems with our conservation money. We actually help students and their schools. We have sponsored them to go to school and out of a hundred students, 85 of them passed! Before the literacy rate was under 40% there. So we take the personal time to go and spend time with the children and teach them and give them supplies. We also collect funds and donations from local societies and affluent people and take them out to these folks in terms of supplies, water, food, and educational staff. We also try and encourage red cross relief and things like that, where we take healthcare out to these families and villages. So we truly, truly take care of not only the people there, but we also take care of the environment.