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Eat Pray Love – The Angama Way

Elizabeth Gilbert had to travel all over the world to accomplish these three things, but all Charlotte needed was just two weeks, a COVID test and some very stretchy jeans
Above: If you look closely, you'll find my heart left somewhere in there

Happily, I made my way to Nicky’s house on 9 June with my small carry-on luggage, wide-brimmed hat, and camera bag. It wasn’t long before my bag disappeared under a pile of heavy material needed for the bathroom vanities at Angama Safari Camp. My hat was squashed into a bag carrying an assortment of exciting and mysterious items for the lodge, and I had to add another 15kg suitcase to the hold.

Perhaps not quite travelling in style, but no complaints here if it means going to Angama

Slightly weighed down, but as excited as ever, we arrived at Wilson Airport with great pomp and ceremony. I say this because I was travelling with Nicky Fitzgerald and it appears that anybody who has anything to do with tourism in Kenya has enjoyed a long and fond friendship with her (it was this, and maybe the mint chocolate cake we bought along as a luggage overweight peace offering for the airline team).

I remember thinking on the flight, “It doesn’t get better than this,” as we flew over the Mara in all its glory. My, oh my, how wrong I was.

It was a delight flying over Nairobi and then the Mara with all sorts of interesting things to see from the air, including elephants and Maasai manyattas

You know how they have those cameras at the most terrifying section on a roller-coaster? Well, I think Angama Mara should have a secret camera hidden for when people see the view for the first time. Luckily, I had Azei next to me to help pick my jaw off the floor.

The view at Angama Mara makes you feel as though you're flying
You will often be in the company of eagles and other big birds on the escarpment as they soar at eye level

And good thing too, because that jaw was put straight to work with ‘The Best Burger in the Mara’. This was something of an embarrassment because I had “trying to be a vegetarian” as my dietary requirement but in my defense, it was called the best burger in the Mara for a reason.

The culinary treats just kept coming, from homemade ice-cream to curries that warmed the corners of your tummy. To say I was in heaven is an understatement. I tried my best to eat the Angama chefs out of house and home but they reveled in the challenge and won outright. I will happily go for round two though, this time with even stretchier jeans.

These are some of the very few pictures I managed to take of the food before I gobbled it all up (doing a happy food dance, of course)

The pray and love part of my story at Angama are inextricably intertwined. There is a quote from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner inscribed on a plaque under Denys Finch Hatton’s (movie) tree near the Pavilion that reads “He who loveth well prayeth well”. If that quote is true, then I was in the company of all the spiritual entities those two weeks because, my goodness, did I love. My meditation was our 8:15am daily guest briefing; my rosary, the binoculars slung round my neck. Each morning before the sun rose, I faced eastwards as the balloons progressed on their gentle sunrise float across the Mara.

The early mornings were my favourite part - the serenity is indescribable

It was at Angama Mara where I finally understood what Elizabeth Barrett Browning meant when she wrote: “to the depth and breadth and height, my soul can reach”.

Before I left everybody in the Joburg office already knew I was a goner, and they were right - I fell head-over-heels in love with every single person I met
I spent quite a bit of time with Diana Bannister and Azei in the neighbouring communities – I could not have been more warmly welcomed or more enthusiastically included

In Eat Pray Love, a quote goes, “some days are meant to be counted, others are meant to be weighed”. I spent a day with Kina in the kitchen and she put me to work on weighing out the dough for the bread rolls. When I think back to my time at the lodge and look at the days as little mounds of dough all weighed up, I know that Kina would be proud of how my bread rolls turned out. The days I spent at Angama will keep me full for years to come.

Now all I need is some Maasai honey.

When Nicky interviewed me for the job, she very generously gave me a cook book in which I immediately spotted Kina and her brownies - I knew we would be fast friends
It's always a toss-up between saving space for the delicious (and very generous) meal that is to come or devouring approximately four of these more-ish rolls

Filed under: Inside Angama

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Angama Mara , Angama Team

About: Charlotte Ross Stewart

Charlotte may be the youngest member of the team, but she is a storyteller wise beyond her years. Tasked with sharing the stories that flow out of Angama on social media, blogs and beyond, her love of people, literature and nature make this the perfect role for her.

Browse all articles by Charlotte Ross Stewart Meet the angama team

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