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Yoga retreat in Kenya

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An interview with Wander Africa and Keri Bergeron

An African safari is a life-changing experience. Anyone who’s ever had the good fortune of spending time in the bush, communing with unadulterated nature, realizes they’ve experienced a bit of nirvana. This sampling of nirvana, no matter the size, is infectious and leaves most, if not all, wanting more.

Yoga draws many parallels to an African safari. It allows one to look within, to relax, to disconnect from the rest of the world. It draws upon a wide range of postures that build strength, flexibility and highly-refined awareness in body and mind. A yoga retreat and safari are a natural fit.  

If you’re considering a yoga safari retreat but aren’t sure what it entails or if it’s the right fit for you, read on. YAS interviewed Jay Parmar, owner of Wander Africa, and yoga instructor, Keri Bergeron, to find out more about their upcoming yoga retreat in Kenya, 2020.

Lion in Masai Mara

YAS:

Is this the first yoga/safari combo you’ve offered?

Wander Africa:

Keri’s retreat is our fourth one currently being offered. Our first sold out retreat of 12 people is to Zimbabwe in November, and it was met with a lot of enthusiasm from the participants, the host and the properties we will be visiting. Keri’s retreat is slated for end of the October, so technically that would make her the first instructor to host a retreat with us.

Leopard in Tanzania

We have been researching and educating ourselves on the inner workings of retreats for at least two years now. There is so much that goes into planning and executing a successful retreat, especially within Africa. Curating a luxury safari is a task in itself and throwing in the retreat element only adds to the complexity of the process.

YAS:

What was the impetus behind this retreat? Do you and/or your wife practice yoga?

Wander Africa:

Africa is a magical place, there is no denying that. No matter what country you visit, you will feel an energy more powerful than you can experience anywhere else on earth. You are drawn to the earth, grounded in your thoughts, revitalized in your body, your heart is filled with warmth and the smiles of the people embrace you. Add the element of the wilderness to this, the untouched lands, the wildlife in their natural habitat, and you experience mother nature in her rawest most authentic form. It is powerful. With all the incredible energy to surround you, it was a calling to figure out how to share this with others, and to incorporate a yoga or meditation practice into this environment.

Jeep in Masai Mara

Brandi has been consistently practicing yoga for about 10 years now and will be getting her YTT, yoga teacher training, this year. As for me, I have only just recently gotten into it and truly enjoy my practice. Together, we meditate almost daily, and do our best to live a clean lifestyle.

YAS:

You offer safaris to 12 countries. Why did you choose Kenya?

Wander Africa:

Kenya is my birthplace and was my home growing up. It holds a very special place in my heart. We have such a strong network within Kenya that allows us access to exclusive places. In Keri’s retreat, the first four nights will be spent in the Lolldaiga Ranch, a 50,000 acre private wildlife conservancy in the Laikipia region of Kenya, and it is exclusive to Wander Africa. With our local partners in Kenya, we will build our own luxury eco-camp specifically for the retreat, complete with a private chef, armed guides, luxury en-suite tents with hot showers, and include an immersive cultural experience with the Maasai elders. This is something that can’t be done anywhere else.

Elephant in Tanzania

We do plan to continue curating these experiences to the other countries within our portfolio. Based on the budget, the instructor/host and the time of year.

YAS:

Why October?

Wander Africa:

October is considered the high season. During this time the pricing at all places are 30-50% higher and the crowds are greater but, with Lolldaigas, we have the same price year-round. The weather is great (right before the rains), and the wildlife viewing in the Masai Mara will be spectacular. It will be at the tail end of the Great Migration.

YAS:

What will a typical day on safari look like? What sort of ratio of game drives to yoga activities will there be?

Wander Africa:

There is no typical day on safari, especially this safari, because we picked properties and locations that allow for freedom of schedule and activities. While in the Lolldaigas, they have access to unlimited game drives, guided safari walks, and as many yoga sessions as the host can handle. While in the Masai Mara, they will have access to day and night game drives, horseback safaris, Maasai village visits, local school visits, guided walking safaris and all the sundowners and sunuppers their hearts desire.

Keri doing yoga

The yoga sessions will be held in a different space each time, as far as we can help it.

YAS:

How much yoga knowledge/experience should guests have? Will you be catering to beginners and advance levels alike?

Keri:

This experience will be very much focused on cultivating a sense of wonder and awe. It will not be achievement-based yoga. There will be simple yoga asana, the postures, breath techniques and meditative practices as well as journaling and discussion to foster community and to share our common experiences. While this will not be introduction to yoga, it will be accessible to all levels otherwise. My goal is to highlight the feeling, the miracles all around us, and to create connection beyond the shapes.

YAS:

Do guests need to bring their own yoga mats, or will they be provided? 

Keri:

Mats, blocks and straps will be provided.

YAS:

Will this be your first time in Africa? If not, where else have you been?

Keri:

This will be my first time in Africa! It has been on my list for a very long time and what an incredible way to experience it, being in awe together and using the practices of yoga to register the impacts via many of our external and internal senses.

YAS:

What animal are you most keen to see and why?

Keri:

I can turn any hike into a discovery channel special. I get excited about the resilience of trees and the places they can thrive, the instincts of animals that many of us humans have lost, and a rock can capture my attention and be carried in my hands for hours. All that to say, that I can’t wait to see them all—to let all of my human “busyness” fade away and to be absorbed in the magic of it all.

Keri yoga pose

YAS:

C’mon, surely there’s one animal you’re particularly excited to see.

Keri:

Okay, I’ll admit I’m crossing fingers for elephants. Their intelligence, communities and playfulness make me feel such admiration for them!

YAS:

Do you have future locations in mind for the next retreat?

Wander Africa:

Absolutely, we are already working on retreats for Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

About the Wander Africa | Keri Bergeron yoga retreat safari

Wander Africa’s yoga retreat safari, hosted by Keri, takes place October, 2020. Guests fly into and out of Nairobi, Kenya. For the full day-by-day itinerary, click here.

To find out more about Keri and/or to book, visit https://www.wanderafrica.com/keri

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