One of the main features of Travel Interlink is there is not a catalogue of canned tours

Posted in - Clients on April 5th, 2015

My wife and I have been using Mukesh Gupta of TRAVEL INTERLINK since about 1991.

He has booked customized private tours for us to Bangkok, Nepal and Bhutan as well as private tours to India and private safaris in Kenya. He works with a vast network of local tour operators in each country for these special customized tours. Each of these trips was individually designed with our wishes in mind.

One of the main features of Travel Interlink is that Mukesh does not have a catalogue with canned tours. Each tour is designed with you in mind. Your group can be as large or small as you wish. When you let Mukesh know where you want to go, he will provide a preliminary tour itinerary to get the dialogue started. Then my wife and I decide on which of the places we wish to visit and the amount of time we wish to spend in each place. More often than not, my wife and I also decide on the hotels in which we wish to stay. So if you are particular about the trip and your accommodations and details, Mukesh is the man and will tailor it to your needs. Of course, there are some travelers who look for their travel agent to come up with the entire itinerary, accommodations and all. For this traveler, Mukesh will gladly accommodate also. During your trip, he will keep in touch with the local tour operators to make sure that your trip is going according to plan. Near the time of departure, he provides a detailed description and history of each location on your tour along with your travel vouchers etc… and then Bon Voyage.

Following, are some descriptions of trips he has custom booked for us in Africa:

Mukesh has also booked a few separate customized trips for us and several of our friends to Kenya to go on Safari. We like to land in Nairobi and use the Norfolk Hotel as our base of stay so we can leave luggage there. The hotel just celebrated its centenary a few years ago. It has undergone major renovation and was taken over by the Fairmont Hotels. This hotel drips with colonial history and is a must stay if you can. We like to design the safari to end in the Masai Mara the venue of the greatest show on earth. We like to lead up to it building the anticipation at each stay. In Nairobi you can visit the Giraffe center and Manor, and Karen Blixen’s house with the Ngong Hills in the background. Depending on your safari venues, you can either fly or take a safari vehicle to get there from Nairobi. Your flights within Kenya especially to the parks, limit you to 15 KG weight, and the airlines enforce this.

One place within driving range from Nairobi is the Aberdare Mountain Rnage. There are several mountain lodges there, but they herd you in like cattle, so we prefer the Aberdare Country Club a two hour drive from Nairobi. It is cold and damp at the Aberdares. From the Aberdare Country Club you can horse ride and golf or take a day trip on a 4 wheel Landrover safari deep into the Aberdare range and see some great waterfalls and colobus monkeys. You will see elephants and buffalo which range the mountains too.

If you wish to experience a home-stay at a private game park for animals in Naivasha, the Kongoni Game Valley Ranch fits the bill. There you can find leopard, plains game, giraffe, monkeys and baboons buffalo hippo from the lake, which visit the house all the time! From there you can easily visit Hell’s Gate National Park, Naivasha National Park and walk amongst the game. You can also arrange for a small plane to take you to Lake Nakuru to see flamingo, and if you are lucky, rhino.

If elephants are on the game card, then Amboseli is the place to go. It is a short flight to the southern end of Kenya where, if you are very lucky, Mount Kilimanjaro will show itself. Our favorite place to stay is Tortilis Camp. It is a small camp and the naturalists are very good. Cynthia Moss is the main elephant research there and you may well run into her on a game drive.

To the north there is Samburu, a semi arid eco-system and can be very warm. You can get there by vehicle. It is about 5 hours from Nairobi. Our favorite camp there is Larsens Camp, a small camp situated on the river Uaso Nyiro. This is home to predator and plains game. There are lion and a few leopard that even stalk during the day. There are very few cheetah. There are some elephant too. The most interesting antelope is the gerenuk. The gerenuk is an antelope that stands straight up on its hind legs to browse.

And now the finale… The Masai Mara. From Nairobi, it is a short flight to the Reserve. You should not drive if you don’t have to. Roads can be impassible. The Masai Mara is the northern extension of the Serengeti in Tanzania. The huge mass of wildebeest crosses from the Serengeti into the Masai Mara and back to the Serengeti on its yearly migration route. We love Little Governors Camp the best. It is a small and intimate camp situated on the edge of a marsh and across a river, which you have to cross in a flat bottom boat to get into camp. It is also located in the Reserve which means that a minimum of driving is required to begin a game drive. For some locations you have to drive more than an hour to get to the Reserve, to Governors’ location to start seeing game. It is also an “open” camp, meaning no electric wires to keep animals out. Elephant and even predator sometimes venture through this camp. It is like Africa of old. All the animals are here and if you are lucky you will see all of the BIG FIVE. At breakfast or lunch, you dine al fresco and overlook the marsh. From your tables you can view the game in the marsh. There are always giraffe and many species of migratory birds. Elephant visit the marsh often as well as hippo, sometimes entering camp… it is spectacularly exciting. There are leopard in the woods and cheetah on the plains. There are several lion prides that are resident to the Reserve. You will see BBC’s Big Cat Diaries shooting all the time. This is the Big Show and it does not disappoint.

Steward and Diana Shang (Calif., USA) • 6 trips with Travel Interlink