Why share a tour with strangers?

Why share a tour with strangers?

Marloes Elbertsen | Let’s say you’re travelling to Lake Manyara in Tanzania for 5 days and you spend about $ 1,500.00. What you’re looking for are new adventures, new experiences, some rest from the day-to-day life and a bit of time to recharge. Nobody is booking such kind of a trip just to gain new friends.

Let’s call it collateral benefits.

Me and my colleague went on a safari to the Masai Mara one day. It was mind-blowing. We happened to be in Kenya during the season of the Great Migration (where over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya) so we went for it. Took the smallest plane I had ever seen from Nairobi to the Mara and imagined a weekend of game drives, animal watching and hoping to see that one thing: the wildebeest crossing the river. The plane ride was an experience by itself. How amazing all these mountains and savannas are. We were high up in the air, yet close enough to the ground to see the herds of elephants walking from one spot to another. But you have to come down at some point so we touched ground on this non-existing air strip.

There was a little van and hopping into it, we met 5 other people who were waiting for our arrival. Two Kenyans who live at the coast side. One student who did an internship in Nairobi and two others that were traveling to Nairobi for business, just like us. Seven totally different people from different backgrounds. We talked about the amazing flight (or drive) towards the Masai Mara and everybody was extremely excited about the upcoming days. “What do you hope to see?” “I’ve never seen a lion in my life, that would definitely make my day.” “This is actually my first safari so I want to see it all!”

That conversation went on over dinner, during the campfire at night and breakfast early the next morning. So much laughter and excitement and little by little we got to know each other a bit more. I could write a full blog (which I actually will) about the Masai Mara experience, but that’s for next time.

A few weeks after we came back to Nairobi from our trip, we travelled to Mombasa, the largest city on the coast of Kenya. We met with the three other foreign travellers and all together we visited the two Kenyans who opened up their homes for us. It was amazing. Big hugs as a greeting. Laughter from the first second and we just couldn’t wait to catch up again. Starting with a cold drink we all shared the photo’s each person had taken in the Masai Mara. There were many great pictures with leopards, lions, elephants, giraffes and rhino’s. But there were even more pictures with us making silly faces at the wildebeest, group photos with herds of zebras on the background, big smiling faces in the car while sharing funny stories. We didn’t just share the van, or the food, or the camp or even the experience. We shared the fact that we all made new friends during one weekend. Because when you open up to new adventures, you will also open up to new people.

In my entire life, I will always remember the magical trip to the Masai Mara. And the best part is, that I still speak or get together with my new friends every once in a while, to make sure none of us will ever forget.