Itinerary – New Dates! Feb 17 – March 4 2019
Join our “Women’s Journey to Kenya: Beauty in the Unexpected”, a personalized journey for caring, curious, and adventurous women! This 16-day small group tour offers exclusive insights and personal access to courageous women lifting up thousands, women I have worked with for 15 years.
As a performer and artist, I’ve created a travel experience with a woman’s eye for beauty - the splendor of village dance, indigenous artistry, stunning wildlife, and spirited children. Take it all in, while enjoying safe, secure travel and first-class accommodations.
Excite your heart! See our itinerary.
- See a global showcase for girls’ education, hailed by Pulitzer Prize journalist, Nicholas Kristof, BBC, and Clinton Foundation
- Spend an afternoon with the woman behind an historic victory for girls’ rights
- Escape to the sprawling high desert on a two-day safari to see Kenya’s magnificent wildlife
- Experience tribal life first-hand with Samburu women
- Celebrate life with the earth mothers of a remote rural village
- Relax each night in beautiful first-class accommodations
Welcome to Kenya
You’ll arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya’s bustling capital and East Africa’s commercial and diplomatic hub. We’ll be waiting to welcome you and whisk you away to the Fairview Hotel, a beautiful historic British lodge at the edge of the City Centre.
Day 1: Dizzying Display of Indigenous Craft
After a leisurely breakfast where you’ll meet fellow travelers, take a short cross-town drive to the Maasai Market, Nairobi’s most authentic artisans market. Meander through colorful stalls where you’ll see traditional women artisans producing and selling their crafts.
Day 2 : Women’s Market of Machakos
Discover a gem in the heart of the city of Machakos, two hours from Nairobi, where you’ll meet dozens of village women selling traditional wares at the central open-air market. Home to the Kamba tribe, this region is known for its rich rolling farmland and exquisite crafts.
Day 3 : Deep into the Heart of Kenya
Leave behind the teeming metropolis of Nairobi. Escape into the tribal lands of central Kenya and its rolling countryside dotted with isolated villages. On our drive, we’ll pass along the slopes of Mt. Kenya, “the dwelling place of the gods”, from which the nation derives its name.
Our five-hour drive will take us to Meru, a regional capital and agricultural market. Meru (Maasai for “Quiet Forests”) will be our home base for the next eight days. Each day we will set out for adventures unavailable on conventional tours, and each night you’ll rest in the first class comforts of the Alba Hotel.
Day 4: Girls Make History
In the morning, cross the threshold of the beautiful Tumaini Center (”Hope” in Swahili) and enter one of Kenya’s only rescue shelters for sexually abused girls. In May, 2013, this shelter won an historic landmark case in the Kenyan High Court upholding girls’ rights to police protection.
Spend personal time with some of the girls and social workers and learn why “The 160 Girls Project” was hailed by the New York Times, the BBC, and the international press as a critical turning point for girls’ rights across Africa. Take the morning to breathe in the sweet air of the center’s protected country setting. Listen to stories; connect and play with the girls. Hear from steely women leaders as they fight on the frontlines to change a culture of impunity while healing these precious children.
Day 4: A New Start for Babies
After lunch, step into joyful chaos of 35 rambunctious babies, toddlers, and school kids at the New Start Center, a showcase for rescued children. A model of excellence, witness how African women practice the adage “It takes a village!” because that’s what it takes to raise three dozen children under one roof.
Feel free to lend a hand to the nannies in their daily routine—bathing, feeding, or playing with any child you can get to sit still. During naptime, listen to the story of how this oasis of hope was started by the spark of a global friendship and how its success grabbed the attention of the Vice President of Kenya. Spend in-depth time with the nannies caring for the children and hear why they feel they are the luckiest women in the world. Then retreat to the hotel for a relaxing dinner (and possibly even a stiff drink.)
Day 5: Books and Pens Change the World
Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, inspires us with her clarion call: “Let us pick up our books and our pens. These are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” Discover the power of this magic combination in an elementary school for 200 kids bursting with energy.
This morning, step into one of Kenya’s finest examples of elementary education where kids from all walks of life—from professional families to village orphans and rescued teens—soak up top-flight instruction within a progressive learning environment. Join a school-wide sing along “African style” as the children celebrate the start of their day. Attend a class (where kids actually listen to their teachers). Try your hand at teaching for a few minutes to kids in rapt attention. Then over a cup of Kenyan tea, explore with the director and teachers a hot topic for women across the globe: How do we better educate our kids?
Day 5: A Life of Passion
In her lovely country home, spend an afternoon with Mercy Chidi Baidoo, one of Kenya’s top female activists for children’s rights. Discover one woman’s life of passion, courage, and vulnerability. Listen to the new frontiers she is exploring, as she relentlessly pushes her country to protect its children.
In 2002, the AIDS pandemic was ravaging sub-Saharan Africa. Mercy, then a social worker, witnessed the devastation in her hometown of Meru. Springing to action, she flew to the US on a one-way ticket with a simple but powerful vision: to find support to rescue as many orphans as she could reach. Today, Ripples International, the organization she founded, reaches thousands of vulnerable children in central Kenya and is one of East Africa’s most innovative children’s welfare operations.
In 2012, Mercy courageously pushed her passion for kids to new heights. Teaming up with Canadian human rights attorneys, she won a landmark case for girls in Kenya, holding the state accountable for the police treatment of defilement claims. The New York Times hailed it “A Victory for Girls and Rights” across the African continent.
Day 6: Women Farmers, Earth Mothers
Travel 90 minutes from Meru into the lush, undulating farm fields that ring Mt. Kenya. We’ll spend the day with spirited farming women from the remote village of Athwana to see how women like these are feeding the African continent. Enjoy singing and dancing alongside this glorious community!
Experience a typical day in the fields, sowing seeds and hoeing the land. These women farmers sustain indigenous knowledge about seeds, soil, climate, and medicinal plants. Athwana women know Mother Earth—her rhythms and her cycles—and work in harmony with Her to feed their families and communities. See why powerhouse donors like the Gates Foundation are garnering knowledge of the land from Earth Mothers like these.
Day 7: Voices from the Streets
The very mention of “street children” evokes images of rebellious ruffians in “Les Miserables”, hands outstretched, eyes pleading for the tiniest handout. In Kenya, almost 300,000 children call the streets their home. Go behind the scenes and talk personally with a few of Kenya’s street children whom we have personally rescued and mentored.
Listen to their colorful, witty, and salty stories of survival, resilience, heartache, and humor. We’ll then travel 45 minutes into rolling banana plantations to spend an afternoon at the Harambee Street Boys Home. Here two big-hearted visionaries have rescued and rehabilitated 30 boys off the streets. Talk about heroic work - it doesn’t get better than this!
Day 8 : Many Faces of a Village Girl
Village life for a girl in Africa can be tough; gender and poverty conspire to make life challenging. Yet rarely do we hear stories that reveal the virtues and values of rural life. Discover the very personal story of one Kenyan woman who retraces her journey from village to prominence.
In a special invitation to her home, join Lucy Mukaria, director of national women’s networks, campaigns, and a champion of education. Listen to her recount the deep sense of belonging that comes from being raised by an entire village, as well as the thrill and gratitude of getting that one new dress each year at Christmas! Hear about growing up as the only girl to graduate in her village and how treasured memories and inherited cultural values shape her woman’s way of leading change in contemporary Kenya.
Day 9 : Unlocking Hope in a Forgotten Valley
This morning, take a short drive into in a remote farming valley where you’ll visit the Ribui Elementary School, the intrepid little “school that can”. Learn how the power of one woman has ignited hearts across the globe to break the cycle of poverty for rural children and a forgotten community.
Many years ago, Lucy Mukaria became the first girl to graduate from Ribui Elementary School. Rather than move on, she became a champion for the little valley school, vowing to keep its doors open. You’ll hear the remarkable story of Kenyans and Americans working together to give children hope for the future. And you’ll meet the 230 students who are now flourishing and forever grateful for Lucy’s compassion and determination. After a special celebration in your honor, enjoy a tasty traditional school lunch, and then settle into a classroom to experience a typical school day in rural Africa. We’ll be sure to head home at dusk, before the elephants take to the trails for their night feeding!
Day 10 : Splendors of Tea, Women, and Song
This day is packed with delicate flavors, visual delights, and enchanting songs wafting from the emerald-green tea fields of Kenya’s highlands. In a country with one serious tea habit and a global market begging for its famed aromatic leaves, we’ll take a factory tour led by local producers.
Explore the delicate secrets that make Kenyan tea so savory and sample flavors the world is craving. Trek into the rolling plantations with the women harvesters singing their traditional work songs while balancing baskets on their hips and babies on their backs. So that you won’t feel left out you’ll also get a chance to try your hand at picking tea! Our special guide for the day will be Esther Mbaabu, a musician and gifted vocalist, who will explain both the meaning behind the songs and the importance of music in the daily lives of Kenyan women.
Day 11 : Safari and Samburus
On this two-day excursion, escape to the unspoiled natural beauty and indigenous cultures of one of Kenya’s great wildlife parks, the Samburu National Reserve. We’ll go on safaris in the morning and evening to see elephants, zebras, giraffes, and gazelle peacefully co-existing on the expansive high plateaus. After all the excitement, treat yourself to spa services at The Ashnil Lodge.
You’ll stay in a luxurious tented lodge on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River (”The Big Muddy”) miraculously running through the desert. Fall asleep to calls of the wild.
Day 12: Safari and Samburus
By special invitation, enjoy a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in a Samburu community where tribal women reveal ancient customs and local life. The women will honor us with a guided tour through their desert village of earth-walled huts, and makeshift shops and a school.
Discover the tension between deep rooted resistance to the acceptance of the rights of women and girls and the courageous strides some are making to assimilate their culture into the 21st century. This is not a tourist site. Access is made available through Ripples International which has worked closely with the community for many years to build a trusted relationship.
Day 13: Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers
Today, we head back to Nairobi via the regional city of Nanyuki, home to the Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers. On Day 3, we will stop to take in their age-old traditional craft of lasting beauty. Discover how village women gracefully card, dye, weave, and spin wool by hand with traditional tools and looms.
Learn the secrets behind how they create dyes from native plant materials gathered from the nearby Mount Kenya highlands. Their delicate shawls, clothing, rugs, and wall hangings can be found in stores from San Francisco to Chicago, and fortunately they’re all on display in their showroom. Lunch is nearby at the famous Trout Tree Restaurant built in an enormous Fig Tree along the Burguret River.
Day 14: African Spirituality with Wahu Kaara
Sit poolside over a leisurely lunch for a woman to woman conversation with Wahu Kaara, one of 1000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Her long-standing political and peace activism helped shape her country’s history.
However, in our time together, she wants to connect with your global heart and explore what women around the world have in common and how together we’re unstoppable. In the Presence of wisdom and humor, breathe in her exquisite African spirituality that runs deeply through her DNA. Don’t be surprised if you, also, meet her granddaughter. This future leader wants to learn from you and hear what’s going on in your corner of the world.
Day 15: Mathare’s Kids: Survival to Dignity
In Nairobi’s sprawling Mathare valley, poverty is everywhere. But some kids are finding a way to reach for the stars because of one woman, one Good Samaritan. Mama Mercy, as she is affectionately known, gives aimless children off the streets whatever she can—food, shelter, warm hugs, and best of all, education and hope.
Mathare is one of the toughest places in the world for a child to grow up. For so many kids over so many years, Mama Mercy has served as their bulwark of stability. In her Good Samaritan Children’s Home and Rescue Center, look for beauty in the unexpected. Tucked deep inside this crowded, yet vibrant shanty town, you’ll discover why kids living in abject poverty are beaming with pride because one woman dared to care. Our trusted guides, who grew up in Mathare give expert and personal insights, taking us safely to places few Westerners ever go.
In the afternoon, you’ll have time to select among several optional outings within Nairobi. At night, we gather for our closing dinner…and let our hearts do their work.
Day 16: Girl Power in Kibera
Take a short, unforgettable guided walk through Kibera, Kenya’s largest shanty town to visit Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO). Learn why global leaders such as the Clinton Foundation, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Nicholas Kristof, and CNN hail SHOFCO’s innovative and far-reaching model for girls’ education and social services.
Spend personal time with some of SHOFCO’s emerging women leaders and hear the remarkable story of Jessica Posner, an American woman who traded in a life of privilege to co-found SHOFCO with her Kenyan husband, Kennedy Odede. Meet the school girls, teachers, and parents flowing through the school, clinics, shelters, and library. Then return to the Fairview Hotel to refresh before heading home to the States on a late evening flight.