Profile photo for Susan Deslaurier
2049 messages
active 19 hours ago

Susan Deslaurier

My joy is creating authentic and enriching experiences that go beyond “viewing” a faraway land, providing a cultural bridge with local people that leads to life-changing experiences for travelers. I offer extensive consultation and planning services to help you shape an escorted or independent journey of your dreams. With my personal introductions to local people and handling of every logistical detail, you can relax and immerse in the experience. Donations to local projects are part of every trip, providing a sense of purpose in every journey as you explore rich cultures and make new discoveries about yourself.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"East Africa Wildlife safari, conservation, cultural and spiritual adventures, biking and trekking trips, family tours, off the beaten path and custom-made trips. Mixing driving, walking, boating and cycling to vary the perspective. "

How did you get involved in travel?

"My lifelong curiosity about the world, how people live in different ways, and generally soaking up the beauty of the Earth in any way possible, established a theme of travel throughout my life. It became a basic need through the years of raising my two daughters, alternating domestic and international trips each year to round out their education in a real-world classroom. I traveled to more than a dozen countries before my heart was captured by East Africa during a visit as a board member of an education Foundation. I then lived and worked alongside the people of Kenya and Tanzania during yearly visit, where I learned about local culture, challenges faced by the community, and their vision of the future. My relationships deepened within the Maasai community and exploration of the spiritual, cultural, and natural surroundings. Eventually, I left my American corporate job in executive coaching and communications, and established a travel business to share the experience with others. "

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"In my early days living within a Maasai village, I woke in the middle of the night and roamed out to the compound fence, and perched on the small ladder that crosses it, dreamily ecstatic about being in such a beautiful place. In my little bubble of joy disregarded the ruckus of goat cries in the pen next to me, and the scurrying of the puppies as I finally returned to my mud hut to sleep. Some hours later, I hear commotion of people outside, and come out to see that a leopard has come and killed several goats, and dragged one off to eat elsewhere. I ask “How did he get in here?” I’m told “Over that fence ladder”. I caught my breath as I realized that it was all unfolding in the sounds I heard while sitting there, with a leopard likely waiting for me to get the heck off of his exit door. I learned to be more respectful of real-deal Africa after that. "

Susan is part of the following groups: Kenya Travel Agents
Top itineraries and travel advice
Family itineraries
Luxury itineraries

Recent trip reviews for Susan

Hello JosephThank you for all of your work ...
Tanzania | Aug 15 - Aug 29, 2023

W
Wilf M.
Canada | Reviewed on Sep 27, 2023
Hello Joseph Thank you for all of your work in planning an amazing trip to Uganda and Tanzania. All of the hotels/bush camps/lodges were excellent. There was never a hold up/question about entrance permits when we arrived at the National Parks. The airport pick ups were very smooth, even after a 2 hour arrival delay. The meals while basic were plentiful, soup, salad, fresh rolls, rice/potatoes, mixed veggies, meat/pork/fish/chicken, dessert, tea/coffee/cold milk. Alcohol/wine/beer was... Read more

Hello Joseph

Thank you for all of your work in planning an amazing trip to Uganda and Tanzania. All of the hotels/bush camps/lodges were excellent. There was never a hold up/question about entrance permits when we arrived at the National Parks. The airport pick ups were very smooth, even after a 2 hour arrival delay.

The meals while basic were plentiful, soup, salad, fresh rolls, rice/potatoes, mixed veggies, meat/pork/fish/chicken, dessert, tea/coffee/cold milk. Alcohol/wine/beer was available for an additional cost. Breakfast of fruit, cereal, eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, toast was pre ordered the night before and was ready upon your arrival. The box lunch was a sandwich, dessert, yogurt, fresh fruit, juice/water. It was interesting to see how the chef would vary the meal each day by using various spices or sauces. At the Rhino Lodge, one of the items offered at supper was roasted potatoes in a peanut butter sauce!! Surprisingly it was OK!! Some of the meals were a buffet style, some were served, while others were a served buffet. There was no issue if you wanted seconds.

After seeing 100’s if not 1,000’s of animals in Tanzania, I was slightly disappointed with the lack of animals in Uganda (15 elephants and a similar number of zebra/impala) trekking to the chimps and gorilla was certainly a highlight. My driver in Uganda, Nassar from Able Tours, said that Uganda is a farming country and if a farmer comes across a fresh livestock kill, they spread poison the kill hoping that it will poison whatever did the kill. He also said that zebra do not have any natural predators, so they usually die from old age. Driving thru Uganda I was very surprised to see the height and steepness of the landscape. We had to take a short 10 KM detour, due to road construction, it took us thru a large tea plantation and it was eye opening to see the people harvesting the tea leaves, with the wicker baskets strapped to their backs on the steep hills. Watching the person, who took the full baskets back to the processing location climbing up and down the hills, made my legs and back ache!! I am a motorcyclist; it was very surprising to see all the motorcycles that are used to transport all of the commerce. I saw motorcycles carrying 5 people, ladies riding side saddle on the motorcycle, lengths of metal pipe, lumber, live animals, many yellow water pails, large branches of bananas, large 50 kilo bags of beans and rolls of metal roofing. Whatever needed to be transported was done with the small 100/125 cc motorcycles. I saw people helping to push these motorcycles up over the hills as the motorcycles did not have the power to get over the top of the hill when they were loaded. The boat ride on Lake Mburo was refreshing after the long and rough roads in Uganda. The night I stayed at Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge, there was a commotion outside my tent around 11:30 PM. The noise carried on until about 3 AM until it finally subsided. In the morning, when I went down for breakfast, the staff asked how my night was, did I sleep well? I mentioned the noise and the staff just smiled and said, “Yes, the forest was not happy last night.” Apparently something had upset the local monkey group and they wanted everyone to know about it! Nassar told me that we were going to take a ferry across Lake Victoria, to save a 200 km drive I asked Nassar if he could swim, he said “NO, water is meant only for 2 things, cooking or bathing. There are things in the water that will eat you.” The ferry held 8 vehicles, about 300 of my newest non swimming friends and 50 motorcycles. There was no actual landing ramp, you just landed as close to shore as possible. Some of the ladies who had long dresses on would be carried off the ferry by someone so that their dresses did not get wet. I was the only one who was surprised by this, as it apparently is a common procedure. The ferry landed about 1 ½ KM from the Pineapple Guest house. The extra day that I stayed in Entebbe at the Pineapple Guest house was interesting. The guest house has 4 rooms each with private bath/shower and a balcony. There is a out building for families that sleeps 4. The swimming pool was a nice spot to meet other travelers and exchange stories. If you ever visit the guest house, ask for their Pineapple custard dessert. It is actually pineapple upside down cake with a large slice of pineapple on the bottom and a warm sauce that you pour over the dessert. I have never seen a pink pineapple but they are growing right on the property. I walked back down to the landing area (1 ½ KM) the next day and watched the activity at the local market. The Boma Hotel in Kampala/Entebbe was very nice with a swimming pool attached to the dining area. Unfortunately a late evening arrival and an early morning departure did not allow me time to enjoy the pool

The Chanya Hotel in Moshi was my first experience with a tented bed!! There is a swimming pool which was most enjoyable after my Kilimanjaro trek. All of the hotels in the cities are located along a main road, but there was never any noise from the traffic, and each hotel was gated. The Rhino Lodge is located near the rim of Ngorongoro Crater. The balcony faces a mountain range and it was enjoyable to sit and watch the evening sky, while listening to the animals wandering the property. When I went to go bed, I was surprised to find 2 hot water bottles under the covers, warming the bed!! Arriving at the bush camps you are met by the staff who offered hot towels to wash the dust off of your face and also a glass of cool “refreshment.” The rules about the camps were explained and you are given a walkie talkie to contact the main tent. You were told NOT to walk up to the main tent by yourself in the dark. You called the main tent and a guide would arrive to accompany you to the main tent. Hot water was provided for a shower, you told the staff what time you wanted a shower and they would bring you 2 large pails of hot water that was then mixed with the water that was on the roof.

In Tanzania, my driver was Rama from Nariku Travel Experience. He was excellent in spotting the animals that often were hiding in or under a tree. When we first met, before we entered any National Park he said there was 1 rule that I had to follow, that was NEVER get out of the vehicle until he says it’s OK. After seeing a pride of lions lying on their side in the tall light brown grass, I soon realized what he meant. I commented about the lions and he smiled and said that if I was going to go to the bathroom over by the tree that I would probably not get back!! Rama explained about the 2 safaris and asked me what I wanted to do. He said we may be 20 KM away from the camp watching the animals when it is time to return for lunch. If we returned it could take an hour each way plus the time it took for lunch and then we would have to return and find the animals. He said we could take a box lunch with us and stay with the animals. As I came to photograph the animals, that was the option I chose. Rama’s knowledge and experience was tremendous as he was often able to position the vehicle in such away that allowed for some amazing photos. He was more than willing to wait until I was finished taking all of the photos that I wanted and often he would suggest a slightly better location. We witnessed 2 lion kills, one directly in front of the vehicle, about 20 meters away. Rama saw 1 of the lions stalking a gazelle, while the second lion went into the bush to chase the gazelle out. Rama drove right to the edge of a water crossing, where we parked and waited. Shortly after, the lion managed to capture the gazelle. Later that evening back at the camp, some of the other people who had witnessed the kill said, while eating meat with their supper; that was not very nice to witness the lion kill.

The 2 tours were completely different. In Tanzania, Rama stayed with me the entire day in the vehicle, he would stay at the same camps, ate with me or if I was sitting at the common tables with other guest, he would sit with the other drivers. I felt that I had made a friend, we chatted about his family, life in Tanzania/Canada and anything else that came up.

In Uganda, Nassar, was very pleasant, he drove me from point to point, dropped me off with another guide and he would return to take me back to the hotel. He did not seem to stay at the same camp/lodge nor did he ever have a box lunch for himself. The first day I realized that he did not have a lunch, I offered to share mine with him, but he stopped along the road at a vendor selling BBQ meat, cassava, bananas or corn to purchase his lunch. One morning Nassar mentioned that he was slightly sore as he had stayed at a small hotel in town and was able to play football for about 2 hours that evening with some of the local lads. We both laughed and commented about knowing how he felt!! The trip in Uganda was basically a 5 day drive with 2 days trekking to see the chimps and the gorilla. It seemed to be a long uneventful tour, due to the lack of animals.

The overall trip was amazing, I think that had I arrived in Uganda first and saw the few animals before going to Tanzania, there would not have been any slight disappointment. All of the hotel staff were extremely helpful and friendly, more than willing to chat about their life and to learn about my life in Canada.

Thank you for arraigning this adventure, perhaps there will be another longer safari soon!!

Wilf McQuinn
Canada

Local specialist: Susan Deslaurier
Susan
Susan Deslaurier
Local specialist in Berkeley CA and Kenya | Replied on Oct 13, 2023
Hello Wilf, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your trip, with such colorful and detailed stories of all you experienced. We will share with the drivers and guides you mentioned about how much you enjoyed their skilled sharing of the people and places in their countries, they are all such amazing members of our team. We appreciate you trusting us with your trip plan, and hope to see you again in the near future with more trips to Africa…there’s always more to explore across the continent... Read more

Hello Wilf,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your trip, with such colorful and detailed stories of all you experienced. We will share with the drivers and guides you mentioned about how much you enjoyed their skilled sharing of the people and places in their countries, they are all such amazing members of our team. We appreciate you trusting us with your trip plan, and hope to see you again in the near future with more trips to Africa…there’s always more to explore across the continent and we can take you there!

Best wishes for your future travel journeys, with thanks,
Joseph and Susan

Amazing safari experience
Kenya | Jul 13 - Jul 23, 2023

Elif
Elif O.
Vietnam | Reviewed on Aug 08, 2023
Thanks to Joseph and Susan for planning an amazing trip in Kenya. They were very helpful throughout the entire booking and travel process. We spent 12 days and visited Amboseli, Naivasha, Nakuru and Masai Mara. Our guide George was great! He was very experienced and knowledgeable about wildlife especially birds! Each time he found the perfect spot to make sure that we saw all the animals we wanted to see. We loved every place we stayed and always felt safe. We hope to come back soon! Read more

Thanks to Joseph and Susan for planning an amazing trip in Kenya. They were very helpful throughout the entire booking and travel process. We spent 12 days and visited Amboseli, Naivasha, Nakuru and Masai Mara. Our guide George was great! He was very experienced and knowledgeable about wildlife especially birds! Each time he found the perfect spot to make sure that we saw all the animals we wanted to see. We loved every place we stayed and always felt safe. We hope to come back soon!

Hotel Reviews
Sopa Lodge Amboseli Park
Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Naivasha Sopa Lodge
Nairobi
Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Matira Bush Camp
Nairobi
Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Sopa Lodge Nakuru
Nairobi
Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Local specialist: Susan Deslaurier
Susan
Susan Deslaurier
Local specialist in Berkeley CA and Kenya | Replied on Aug 08, 2023

Thanks, Elif, for sharing your thoughts on your safari experience. It was a pleasure to put together this adventure for you and we are happy to hear that you enjoyed your time with George, he's amazing. We hope to welcome you back to Africa soon--there's so much more to do and see!
Until then, enjoy your memories of Kenya.
All the best,
Susan, with Joseph

Outstanding trip. Local guides were amazing a...
Kenya | Jul 24 - Aug 7, 2021

Julien
Julien C.
Oak Brook, IL | Reviewed on Oct 08, 2022

Outstanding trip. Local guides were amazing and the trip was full of adventures and wildlife.

Local specialist: Susan Deslaurier
Susan
Susan Deslaurier
Local specialist in Berkeley CA and Kenya | Replied on Oct 09, 2022

Thanks Julien for sharing such kind words and great photos! We very much enjoyed having your family with us (especially in our Maasai community!) and we are happy to hear that you had a great experience. We hope to welcome you back to Africa again some day.
Ashe oleng (many thanks)

An amazing trip!
Kenya | Jul 2 - Jul 10, 2022

Shana
Shana Z.
Bowie, MD | Reviewed on Aug 21, 2022

My family's trip to Kenya was wonderful! Joseph and Susan worked so hard and so patiently with us to make sure we got to do and see everything we wanted to. Our guide, Alex, was kind and very knowledgeable and we felt very comfortable traveling with him. While we loved all the game parks we visited, the Maji Moto Cultural Camp was definitely a highlight for us all, especially the kids, who greatly enjoyed learning warrior skills. We left Kenya with heavy hearts, but with amazing photos and memories. We hope to return sometime in the future. A huge thank you to Joseph, Susan and Alex!

Local specialist: Susan Deslaurier

A Safari that exceeded our expectations
Kenya | Jul 2 - Jul 10, 2022

Marcia
Marcia B.
Washington, DC | Reviewed on Jul 13, 2022

Kim Kim did an amazing job. Our Safari between July 3 and 10 not only met but exceeded our expectations. Joseph and Susan kept close contact with us from the gecko until the end.

We especially appreciated the consideration given to selecting the base camp in the Maasai Mara as an example of a lodge that is designed to support conservation and to benefit the community.

Our visit to Maji Moto was a very special highlight. Special thanks to Susan for arranging this wonderful stay and to all of the Maji Moto staff.

Local specialist: Susan Deslaurier
Susan
Susan Deslaurier
Local specialist in Berkeley CA and Kenya | Replied on Jul 18, 2022

Thanks Marcia for your kind words, we truly enjoyed having your family with our Maasai community in Maji Moto and we are happy that you enjoyed your safari overall. We are grateful for your support of camps like our Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp and Basecamp Mara where we are working together to preserve and protect nature and culture. And we're glad that you felt our commitment to supporting your journey at every step along the way. We hope to see you again for more African adventures! Ashe oleng, asante sana, many thanks.

Amazing experience!
Kenya | Dec 24 - Jan 4, 2020

M
Marcos G.
Norway | Reviewed on Jan 14, 2020

Amazing experience!

Local specialist: Susan Deslaurier
Susan
Susan Deslaurier
Local specialist in Berkeley CA and Kenya | Replied on Jan 16, 2020

Thanks Marcos, happy to hear that you enjoyed your trip!

Upcoming Trip
Kenya | Aug 17 - Sep 6, 2019

Kristin
Kristin M.
Augusta, GA | Reviewed on Sep 17, 2019
Oh my, what an amazing experience. Susan was just absolutely fabulous. Answered all my questions promptly and just truly arranged an amazing trip for my 50th birthday. Zanzibar was incredible, Stone Town a delight. The hotels we stayed in were to die for. Truly works of art. The highlight of my trip was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Our guides Sinaí and Amsi were amazing, kept my daughter and I entertained and safe. They were so knowledgeable of the área, plants, animals, everything. ... Read more

Oh my, what an amazing experience. Susan was just absolutely fabulous. Answered all my questions promptly and just truly arranged an amazing trip for my 50th birthday. Zanzibar was incredible, Stone Town a delight. The hotels we stayed in were to die for. Truly works of art. The highlight of my trip was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Our guides Sinaí and Amsi were amazing, kept my daughter and I entertained and safe. They were so knowledgeable of the área, plants, animals, everything. They took our oxygen level and heart rate every night to make sure we were safe. Our cook made the most amazing meals, I wish I could take him home with me, and I miss the banana stew, I want the recipe for that, I was so good!! He even made me a cake on my birthday! I couldn't have asked for better porters, they sang and danced for us, and at the end of every day they would meet us on the trail and carry our packs to camp for us. On day 7, summit day, they met us 2 hours from camp and brought hot tea and juice! I miss the crew so much. Our hotel in Arusha had the nicest staff and most beautiful grounds. Albert from DiscoverTZ arranged for an Arusha city tour on our free day and we got to go to the Women's Market and a true highlight for me - see Masaai medicine (I'm an ER nurse in the states) My daughter's favorite part was the safari (which I loved too). Albert was also our guide for the safari and was knowledgeable and took us to out of the way places so we weren't competing with other drivers. He has the best philosophy - its all about the experience, and it was!!! We saw lions, elephants, lion cubs, cheetahs and cheetah cubs - even saw cheetahs in a tree which is unheard of! Our accommodations for the safari were amazing - tent camps where the animals came right up to the tenis. I looked out at one point to see a zebra eating the grass right next to my tent and then walked next to the monkeys cavorting on the pathway. You don't get a better experience than that! I truly miss Sinaí, Amsi and Albert as I have made new friends. A perfect 50th birthday.

Local specialist: Susan Deslaurier
Susan
Susan Deslaurier
Local specialist in Berkeley CA and Kenya | Replied on Sep 18, 2019

Thanks for sharing your experience Kristin! It was a pleasure to plan this special journey for your birthday, and I'm so happy to hear that together we created a great mix of places and people to give you a feeling for the true and varied beauty of East Africa. I've passed along your kind words to your friends here, and we all hope we will see you again soon.
Asante sana, Ashe oleng, Many thanks.

Tsavo
Kenya | Apr 5 - Apr 7, 2019

J
Jenny P.
New Zealand | Reviewed on Apr 15, 2019

The whole experience was great and everything worked like clockwork. Susan was helpful and very efficient in planning and organising the trip. She responded very quickly to all my requests and came up with some very useful suggestions. Daniel, our driver and guide was a carful driver and knowledgeable guide who was also friendly. I particularly rated him meeting me before our trip to introduce himself and go through arrangements. The lodge, the Lion's bluff , was superb, great location, good food and friendly, helpful staff. Thank you Kimkim.

Local specialist: Susan Deslaurier
Susan
Susan Deslaurier
Local specialist in Berkeley CA and Kenya | Replied on Apr 25, 2019

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your trip Jenny. We really appreciate hearing that our local insights and best efforts to provide a great experience was successful in giving you a wonderful adventure. I've shared your kudos with the Daniel and the rest of our team, and hope that we can plan further East African travels for you in the future.
Ashe oleng (many thanks),
Susan

Kenya - Birding & Safari
Kenya | Oct 31 - Oct 31, 2018

V
Virginia H.
Aptos, CA | Reviewed on Nov 07, 2018

Susan was very flexible and patient with numerous changes to our itinerary. She uses fabulous guides and booked wonderful lodges. Her expertise was invaluable in making our trip to Kenya fantastic!!!
Virginia

Local specialist: Susan Deslaurier
Susan
Susan Deslaurier
Local specialist in Berkeley CA and Kenya | Replied on Nov 17, 2018

Thanks for your kind words Virginia, it was a pleasure to work together on creating a wonderful adventure, and to meet up with you in Kenya. All of us here "on the ground" take great pride in making sure your trip is exciting in all the right ways, and peacefully pleasant in all the right ways too. We look forward to welcoming you back soon. Ashe oleng, asante sana, many thanks.

Masai Mara Trip
Kenya | Oct 25 - Oct 27, 2018

E
Elizabeth G.
Long Beach, CA | Reviewed on Nov 01, 2018

Everything was wonderful! Joseph was our guide and his knowledge of the area and animals was amazing. Wilson and William, our waiter and security to and from our tent, where very welcoming and fun to talk to. The views from our Chalet was unforgettable. Sunrise and sunsets were always surrounded my giraffes at Mara West.

Local specialist: Susan Deslaurier
Susan
Susan Deslaurier
Local specialist in Berkeley CA and Kenya | Replied on Nov 07, 2018

Hi Elizabeth,
I'm so happy that you had such a great time in Maasai Mara. It is an amazing and beautiful corner of the world, and it was a pleasure to arrange the experience for you. And it was great to meet up with you as you were passing through my Kenyan home town!
I’ll pass along your nice comments to the Mara West team, and look forward to welcoming you back to your Kenya home soon.
Ashe oleng, asante sana, many thanks,
Susan