Twelve years ago, Nella Nencini-Hutchings traveled to Kenya, Africa and never returned. Instead, she armed herself with a pilot’s license, a safari guide license, a Cessna 185 plane and a mission to uncover the most magical places on the continent. Tin Trunk Safari was born out of Nencini-Hutchings’s passion for adventure, luxury and sharing her beloved Africa in entirely new ways. Part of Tin Trunk’s mystique is that it’s something of an insider secret among those in the know. Lucky for us, their U.S. Ambassador is Bedford, NY, resident Claudia Church. She recently sat down with Serendipity to explain why, if there was a little black book of exotic travel, Tin Trunk would be the first entry.
How did you first hear about Tin Trunk Safari? I first heard about it through my friend Stephanie Capuano in London, who, at the time, was the sole ambassador for the company. Year after year, I would see her beautiful and moving Instagram posts and I wanted in! Soon after, I hosted [founder] Nella Nencini-Hutchings (right) on a visit to New York. I was in awe of this woman who is a modern-day adventurer like Beryl Markham.
I was enamored with her lifestyle and her stories of Africa.
What is your role as an ambassador? Tin Trunk Safari is an anomaly. By design, it operates by word-of-mouth only. My job is to connect people with Nella so that together they can curate an experience that is perfect for their family and group. In 12 years of operation, no two safaris have ever been the same and every client experience is personal.
What’s a typical day on safari like? The beauty of Tin Trunk is that there is no typical day. You may find yourself on a horse galloping alongside giraffes. Or sliding down a natural waterfall. Or trying to keep up on a run with a Samburu warrior. You might hike to the top of a mountain that is covered in baboons. You might set sail in a dhow boat. If you run into a leopard cub, you may choose to just sit and watch for an hour. You will eat well. You will drink well. You will sleep in the most unique and beautifully designed places in the most varied ecosystems as time allows—perhaps in the trees, possibly along the riverbed, maybe in the forest or on the vast plains.
When is the best time to go and length to stay? The seasons in East and Southern Africa differ tremendously so the truth is you can plan an amazing safari at any time of the year. I would recommend anywhere from 10 days to two weeks on the ground. You should plan a year, sometimes two years in advance (this assures availability in our favorite spots, many of which are quite small and intimate). That said, I just witnessed Nella pull off an incredible itinerary in East Africa with six weeks notice. But if you have Africa on the brain, get it on the books.
What types of trips are most travelers looking for these days? The trend is toward exotic, customized travel. People are seeking unique and meaningful experiences in more and more remote locations. We also think an important element to travel is introducing people to ancient, local tribal cultures and customs. Recently we had an active family of eight who spent 12 days in Northern Kenya. On one particular day, they woke up early to walk to school with local Samburu children. Later, they joined a beading project before setting out for a walk to the Ewaso River. There, they were surprised by a beautiful picnic lunch and inner tubing down the muddy waterfalls. At the end of the day, the family drove back to camp among the great wildebeest migration and also saw a pride of 24 lions (with rambunctious cubs!). They arrived home for a sundowner by the pool followed by a bonfire and dinner under the stars.
What’s the ideal age to bring children on safari? Tin Trunk believes children are fearless explorers. Seven years-old seems to be the right age—it’s when you’re able to foster a love of nature, wildlife and adventure, which is a gift that will continue through life.
Any parting advice for those on the fence about taking a trip? Make it happen. Don’t let the trip to Africa sit on your bucket list for another decade. You will want time to return!
For more information on booking a trip with Tin Trunk Safari, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or tintrunksafari.com