Cheli & Peacock Safaris Blog

How to master the perfect safari wardrobe with Caroline Hickman

Posted on 25.07.2014 by Liz & Stefano Cheli
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Dear friends and partners,

As part of our series of interviews we are talking to Caroline Hickman, owner and designer for the safari clothing label Hickman & Bousfield. Providing high end, classic safari clothing globally, Hickman & Bousfield pride themselves on always using the best quality natural fabrics. Here Caroline shares her invaluable advice on how to ensure you travel with the perfect safari wardrobe.

Very best wishes, Liz & Stefano

Advice on how to master the perfect safari wardrobe from top safari outfitter Caroline Hickman of Hickman & Bousfield.

Firstly, we all know what safari colours are – but why does it actually matter what colours we wear on safari?

Animals generally don’t like bright colours. It is well known that in East Africa the Tsetse fly like blue, so you should definitely keep clear of this colour on safari in that area. Black is too hot. It’s best to stay neutral and blend in and of course, some of the fun of safari is looking the part. Another bonus to a neutral wardrobe is it is much easier to cobble together at 5am when a lot of morning game drives depart.

What would be your top tips for putting together a safari wardrobe?

Layering is extremely important. It can be freezing first thing in the morning and then temperatures can soar. The sun is also very powerful as you are generally in close proximity to the equator, so I would highly recommend covering up rather than exposing skin to the sun’s intense rays. Leggings and long sleeved t-shirts are great staples. Ensure that your shirts are long enough for regular clambering in and out of safari vehicles. Don’t pack too much; most camps have an excellent laundry service should you need it. My last comment would be dress as yourself, but just adapt the pallet.

What fabrics would you recommend?

Cotton and linen. They are both easy to wash at the camps; they look better with age and breathe well. They also still look good when they are crumpled and sweaty, and you may not have an iron easily to hand in the bush!

One article of clothing you should never forget to pack?

A wide brimmed hat is essential. For ladies, I would say a sports bra. The terrain on safari is often rough and journeys can be more than a little bumpy.

Is there a clothing etiquette on safari?

Many parts of Africa are deeply religious including large Christian and Muslim communities. Dress respectfully and cover up. This is also sensible for practical reasons due to the strength of the sun.

Safari clothing is quite an investment, so are there other occasions for wearing items you purchase for your holiday?

All our clothes are versatile enough to wear at home. Linen shirts and our bush jackets in military green look great with jeans and our moleskin jackets sell extremely well for use in the UK. Safari clothes can be incredibly durable and our linen shirts will last for up to 10 years. I would always recommend that guests mix their safari clothes with items from the high street. You can pick up fantastic neutral chinos in stores like Gap and Zara. Mix safari items with your own clothes to avoid looking like you have been hit with the safari stick.

Where do you source your fabrics/materials?

The linen and cotton is mainly sourced from Italy. Cotton drill and moleskin comes from the Lancashire Mills in England as the quality is undisputed.

What inspired you to set up Hickman & Bousfield?

When I moved to Botswana three and a half years ago, I noticed a real lack of availability of quality safari clothes in natural fabrics. There was also an issue of year-round supply; you might get lucky some months with mainstream designers incorporating safari colours into a season but not necessarily for all the seasons. I was pregnant and had time on my hands so I took inspiration from my husband’s safari kit and durable military gear and set up Hickman & Bousfield.

What is your favourite animal?

It has to be a leopard. Sadly they keep evading me and I have only had a couple of sightings.

Hickman & Bousfield are offering readers of the Cheli & Peacock blog a 10% discount. Please quote the code hb-cp when ordering.

Please come and see Cheli & Peacock at the Rutland Birdfair from 15th to 17th August, 2014 and meet Stefano Cheli, and where there is also the opportunity to win a stylish yet practical Hickman & Bousfield moleskin jacket worth £395.

Behind the Scenes with Virginia McKenna

Posted on 26.06.2014 by Liz & Stefano Cheli
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Dear friends and partners,

We have decided to introduce a series of interviews to our blog with personalities that are of interest to guests, passionate about wildlife and safari. Over the next few months we will be talking to designers, producers and wildlife experts.

Our first ‘Behind The Scenes’ interview is with actress, author and wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna OBE. We are privileged to count Virginia and Will among our friends; they share our passion and dedication for the wilderness of Kenya. Virginia’s personal experiences of working with Joy and George Adamson in the sixties, to create a film that transformed the general public’s understanding of wild animals, as not “wild beasts” but as creatures that we can empathise with – are priceless. She has always been a loyal supporter of Elsa’s Kopje and Joy’s Camp, and her kindness and generosity has gained her firm friendships with all those in the Elsa’s and Joy’s community! 

With very best wishes – Liz & Stefano

Virginia, this year Born Free is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary. What are your proudest achievements?

I don’t think I ever think of things in that way. Projects we do, rescues we undertake that succeed are rejoiced in. What I personally feel is gratitude. That we have been able to give animals a better life. Rescuing some from existences of loneliness and often shocking conditions is always a cause for rejoicing. And, also, the fact that ‘wild animals in captivity’ is now an issue is immensely heartening. Not that many years ago it was just taken for granted!

What would you advise guests to ask when booking a safari to ensure that they are helping with conservation efforts?

It is always a good idea to check that the travel company is as ‘green’ as possible. That their ‘footprint’ is a gentle one, that perhaps they support a local school or community.

How has Kenya changed since you were filming Born Free and what are your fondest memories of the country and its people?

Of course many things have changed since we filmed there in 1964. More people, tarmac instead of dirt roads in many areas, more fences, more buildings. But some things remain the same. The warmth and hospitable welcome of the people, the ever-changing cloud patterns, the breath-taking beauty of the hills and mountains, the cool mystery of forests, the glimpses of animals and birds, the calm brought to you by sitting quietly by a river or watching a sunset.

What is your favourite memory from filming the film Born Free?

If I am honest my most treasured memories of that time are walking with a lion (sometimes two) with my husband Bill, and George Adamson on the plains near Naro Moru in the early morning. About two hours of sharing that clear cool light, watching the lions run and chase, and sometimes ambush us – and then at lunchtime, sharing a picnic out on the plains with whichever lion we would film with that afternoon. These were the personal moments that no one can ever spoil – as they were deeply important in creating enduring trust between us and the animals.

Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers with George and Joy Adamson on the set of Born FreeVirginia McKenna and Bill Travers with George and Joy Adamson on the set of Born Free

What are your packing recommendations when travelling on safari?

A bottle of water, a hat, a bird book, a note book, a camera (but don’t be a prisoner of it!). These items, of course, are for driving in the park. But in the suitcase I suggest cotton clothes (no synthetics) socks – especially for the evening as the mosquitos love ankles.  And, if you are visiting a school – the children love biro pens, maybe a blow-up football.  Above all, go with an open mind, forget the BIG FIVE!

What are you most looking forward to seeing on the Born Free 30th anniversary trips in October?

What I look forward to most is travelling to a country I love very much with some people I have travelled with before, and are now friends; and the opportunity to make new friends. To be far from the hustle of life and be in the bush, glimpsing the animals, seeing old friends who work at the camps we are staying in. Perhaps most of all, driving to the grave of Elsa the lioness in Meru National Park and sitting quietly nearby, sharing memories of how the Born Free’ story began; we sit and have a bush breakfast prepared by the wonderful team at Elsa’s Kopje. The place which, apart from my own home, means more to me than anywhere in the world.

Virginia McKenna at Elsa's Grave in Meru National ParkVirginia McKenna at Elsa’s Grave in Meru National Park

How has the world of animal conservation changed in the last 30 years, are we facing different threats to wildlife?

We are, indeed, facing many new and increasing threats to wildlife since I first went to Kenya in 1964. The current and most striking are the poaching of elephants and rhino, the killing of lions and vultures, the kidnapping of primates and baby cheetah, the trapping of birds. The horrors of the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade are well-known, but appear to be flourishing in spite of strenuous attempts to catch the poachers, protect the animals, educate the misguided thousands who crave the ivory trinket or the powdered rhino horn’s so-called ‘cure’. The poisoning of lions is increasing as their own wild environment diminishes. As our human population burgeons, the wild becomes more grazing land for cattle and goats. The survival conflict needs urgent attention but it is complicated, and yet another challenge facing governments – who often have their own priorities.

But many countries rely on wildlife viewing to attract visitors. Will they continue to come if the animals have gone?

What other events are taking place to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Born Free? 

These are some of the events still to come to mark Born Free’s 30th Anniversary – We are currently running a Children’s Poetry Competition. There is a celebrity Art Exhibition in early November. A Christmas Tea with music at Goodwood House, a Golf Event and dinner in Surrey and my son Will Travers is leading a Kilimanjaro climb in October. (See our website).

How can people get more involved in the Born Free charity?

We hope people will want to know more about what we do – you can go online at www.bornfree.org.uk and read about our involvement in fighting the illegal wildlife trade, keeping primates as pets, rescuing animals, keeping up the pressure to ban wild animals in circuses, trophy hunting and dolphins in ‘entertainment’, and helping schools in Africa that are near the wildlife projects we support. We value every member and are grateful for their support however small or great.

There are still a few limited spaces on the Born Free anniversary tour with Virginia McKenna travelling from the 22 to 31 October where Virginia will host the group at Elsa’s Kopje. The fully hosted group is now sold out.

Itinerary: 22nd – 31st October 2014

22 October 2014 – Charter to Meru, Elsa’s Kopje x 3 night

25 October 2014 – Drive from Meru – Shaba, Joy’s Camp x 3 nights

28 October 2014 – Charter to Amboseli, Tortilis Camp x 3 nights

31 October 2014 – Charter back to Nairobi, Dayroom & dinner at The Boma Hotel, departure 

Cost is US$6,345 (approx. £3,810) per person and includes full board at all three camps, charter and scheduled flights within Kenya, airport and airstrip transfers, conservation and park fees, game drives in 4×4 vehicles and membership to the flying doctors society. Excludes international flights and drinks; based on two people sharing. Single supplement is US$665 (approx. £400).

Please contact Caro (caro@chelipeacock.co.ke) at C&P for more information!

Stefano becomes a Knight – or better, a Cavaliere!

Posted on 03.06.2014 by Cheli & Peacock Safaris
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We are proud to announce that Stefano Cheli received the “Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia” – The Italian equivalent of Knighthood!

On 2 June 2014, Ambassador Mauro Massoni, the Italian Ambassador to Kenya, awarded the honour to Stefano at a ceremony on the lovely grounds of the Italian Embassy in Nairobi. Granted by the President of the Republic, the award represents the second highest civilian honour of the State, and is given to those who have achieved special merit in the “promotion of national prestige abroad”.

In Stefano Cheli’s case, the award commends his lifelong commitment towards conservation in Kenya and his outstanding achievements as a front-runner in Sustainable Tourism, together with his wife Liz, who together founded Cheli & Peacock Safaris in 1985!

Stefano comments: “I am honoured to receive such recognition from the Italian Government, and I would like to add that without the great team work within Cheli & Peacock, we would not have achieved what we have been able to achieve since 1985. We started this adventure almost 30 years ago because we wanted to show people what an authentic safari is all about – and this remains our mantra!”

Stefano served on the Kenya Association of Tour Operators Executive Committee for over 15 years and successfully lobbied the tourism community to place a moratorium on development in the Mara in 1998. He worked on the founding of the Kenya Tourism Federation in 1998. He was the driving force behind the formation of Mara North Conservancy and helped found the Ecotourism Society of Kenya to put in place Africa’s first tourism eco-certification scheme. In 2013, Stefano Cheli joined the Board of Trustees of the Northern Rangelands Trust, is on the board of the African Conservation Centre and he remains the Chairman and Director of the Mara North Conservancy.

We at Cheli & Peacock congratulate Stefano!

Best wishes,

The (hugely proud) Cheli & Peacock Team

Tortilis Camp goes 100% solar!

Posted on 30.05.2014 by Liz & Stefano Cheli
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We are proud to announce that Tortilis Camp is now the first camp of its size in Kenya, if not, Africa, to operate on 100% Solar Power!

After months of hard work filled with calculations, negotiations, and installations of over 190 solar panels on a site larger than 500m², we are finally there! These panels power 48 batteries, each weighing 216kg. By going solar, we will be able to reduce our use of diesel by 28,000 litres a year, dropping our CO2 emissions by approximately 60 Tons per year!

Stefano & Tortilis Camp manager Andrea in the Solar Control RoomStefano & Tortilis Camp manager Andrea in the Solar Control Room

The panels are positioned unobtrusively & are only visible from the air, so clients can enjoy silent, green 24 hour energy!

Tortilis Camp was one of the first ‘eco-lodges’ of its kind in East Africa winning the Tourism For Tomorrow Award after only one year in operation. Kitich Camp in the Mathews Range and Elephant Pepper Camp in the Masai Mara also run on 100% solar power. All our camps have either a Silver (Elsa’s Kopje, Kitich Camp, Tortilis Camp, Lewa Safari Camp) or a Gold eco-rating (Elephant Pepper Camp & Joy’s Camp).

In our pledge to be a leader in Responsible and Sustainable Tourism, we continue to strive for Gold at all properties and there are plans to extend 100% solar energy amongst the entire portfolio of camps, so watch this space…

Stefano & Liz