Safari Camp Owner, Moon Hough, Lolldaiga Hills, Kenya

Moon Hough

“I find the best way to keep positive is to be active. It can be easy to sit at the camp and mope, but getting out even for 20 minutes can make you feel so much better. I know that we are so lucky to be able to get outside, and for those who have to stay indoors it is very hard. Getting the body moving, going some exercise, calling friends or even just watching something funny all helps.”

Moon Hough, her husband Ed, and their five month old baby daughter Romilly are quarantining in Lolldaiga Hills, Northern Kenya at their safari camp, The Safari Series. They’re missing their dog which is currently stuck back at their permanent home in Nairobi, but they’re making the best of the situation by baking homemade bread each morning, gardening, and appreciating the moments that truly make life worthwhile — like listening to local zebras splash through the lake their camp overlooks. Read more of Moon’s COVID-19 Chronicle, below.

Some content may have been minorly edited for clarity or punctuation.

Baby Romilly gazes out at the herd of wild elephants

Where are you living? Is this where you permanently reside, or is it a temporary living situation due to the pandemic?

“Hello everyone, thanks for reading and taking an interest in our lives đŸ™‚ Myself (Moon), my husband (Ed) and my five month old daughter are locked-down in our safari camp in Northern Kenya. The camp is called The Safari Series and is based in Lolldaiga Hills, a stunning 50,000 acre private wildlife conservancy that is home to four of the big five (that means elephants, lions, buffalo, leopard and cheetah) and also lots of zebra, giraffe and gazelles. We even saw a huge puff adder the other day (although this is so rare — the first snake I have ever seen here!). 

The camp is our business and home, and usually it is a buzz of activity with guests from around the world and a team of ten staff members working to look after them. We live here all the time, but in the low season we often go back to Nairobi to visit our house we built — an amazing container house that hangs off a cliff! 

To be honest, staying wasn’t a decision we had much choice in! Kenya’s government implemented a lockdown, meaning travel between cities was no longer allowed. To stop a mad rush of people fleeing the big cities to go back to their home villages (this is often where older residents live and therefore most at risk) the lockdown was put in with only two hours notice. Saying that, we have a pretty special place to be during this mad time! Yesterday the lockdown was extended for another three weeks. I asked Ed if there was a way we could smuggle our dog from our house in Nairobi up to the camp! Unfortunately, he is quite large and hard to hide… A Great Dane x St. Bernard x Rhodesian Ridgeback!”

Dog separation during quarantine

What has your community been doing differently that you think impacted the rate of transmission?

“I am so proud of the way Kenya has reacted to Coronavirus — the government has been swift and fair. Kenya (and most of Africa) would be truly screwed if Coronavirus hits as hard as it has elsewhere, as we have far less hospitals. In Kenya, masks are now [mandatory]. Every shop — from the large supermarket to the tiny vegetable store in the village — now has hand-washing stations with soap and water. Not only does this stop the virus, but also improves the health of the people. So far, Kenya’s Coronavirus rate is very low with only 355 confirmed cases (as of April 27th) and 14 deaths. Of course, the numbers aren’t counted as properly as elsewhere, so it is likely to be high[er], but even so it is low.” 

What has been your daily routine so far during the pandemic?

“We are taking the time to do a number of tasks around the camp, including a lot in the garden. The long rains are here so we are making sure we use them the best we can! We also do some emails and social media for the business. 

Ed also makes a fresh loaf of bread every morning in our superb Cookswell charcoal oven! He is getting to be a real baker these days. 

Every evening we go on a small game drive with a flask of tea and see if we can spot any animals. Last night we had a large herd of elephants just above the camp, including a number of babies. So cute! We make sure to be back from the game drive by 6pm so Romilly, our daughter, can have her dinner (she just started to eat solids) and go to bed by 7pm. She sleeps in her bed in our room at the moment, not really sure where she is going to move to once we have had enough and want our room back! Someone suggested a little pop-up tent next door?!” 

Home

What have you been doing to keep your spirits up on a day-to-day basis?

“It’s hard to be positive every day, especially when you think about what life was like before. My sister has never met Romilly and her and my mum were meant to be coming to Kenya on a holiday the day the lockdown started, so I feel sad about that. It’s also hard as the camp is fairly new and we felt like we were making real progress and now everything is standing still again.

I find the best way to keep positive is to be active. It can be easy to sit at the camp and mope, but getting out even for 20 minutes can make you feel so much better. I know that we are so lucky to be able to get outside, and for those who have to stay indoors it is very hard. Getting the body moving, going some exercise, calling friends or even just watching something funny all helps. I also have a “no news after 5pm” rule — I stay away from the news, and don’t discuss Coronavirus after 5pm, otherwise I just get so worried about it all!” 

Has this travel ban/quarantine situation impacted any important plans you had laid out for the near future?

“Of course — hasn’t it for everyone? My family meeting our baby, our whole business being put on hold, friend’s weddings, holidays… But life will resume again, and I feel lucky that we have technology to connect us through it all. I would never have met Molly and her wonderful website if not for Coronavirus!” (Editor’s note: Right back at you, Moon!)

Is there anything you feel that this experience has taught you that you’d like to share as inspiration for everyone going through this together?

“I think the thing Coronavirus has taught me is how unaccountable the world is — I think governments, big corporations, the wealthy have all suffered for the first time and it is us — the small people at the bottom just trying to make it work — who are expected to help them out. Companies that pay no in-country tax, businesses that make billions every year, corrupt governments expect us to bail them out now that they are in trouble?

From now on, I hope I can buy local, support small businesses and work with awesome partners who are making the world a better place. It is always an honour to welcome people to our camp who are taking that once-in-a-lifetime trip or coming somewhere they never thought they would — they put their faith and trust in us, and we hope to make it 10 times — no, 100 times better than they could ever expect! And by doing that, they can see that instead of staying with a “big brand” which they already know, they can have a bigger and better impact with little known companies working out there to keep the world a good place :)”

Anything else you’d like to share?

“Right now, I can hear zebras drinking from the lake that the camp overlooks! I can hear them splashing about and having a good roll in the water. :)”

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