Jody van Merode

Travel Designer

For me the travel bug bit when I started at University and visited Australia for a month (way back in 2010!) – soon after Peru and South Africa followed. I fell in love with South Africa (and the continent in general) the moment I arrived. I still remember my first safari as if it was yesterday, and not realising that seeing a rhino in the wild is not all that common. I’ve been back to South Africa many times since and absolutely love its diversity – the people, the food, its scenery – there’s really no place like it! Although South Africa is my first love, I’ve been lucky enough to see much more of Africa since. Meeting the chimps of Mahale and the gorillas of Volcanoes National Park have really been a highlight so far.

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Jody's Favourite Hotels

Arijiju is, simply put, one of the most beautiful houses in Africa. An incredible piece of modern architecture, the private-use retreat sits in the rolling Kenyan hills of the Borana Conservancy as if it’s always been there, borrowing elements from Swahili and Ethiopian vernaculars. Arijiju works very closely with other nearby properties and communities to protect the wildlife and migration corridors. Besides those efforts, the lodge itself is also constructed of local materials and makes use of solar power. Vast wooden doors lead down cloisters and through sun-trapping garden courtyards to a waterhole-overlooking infinity pool and the main house with its expansive living space with a library (which can also function as an office), kitchen, games room and cinema, as well as the grand double-height lounge and dining. Gourmet meals are health focussed, farm to fork affairs enjoyed here, on a sunny terrace, by the pool or perhaps on a rustic picnic or decadent safari dinner. There’s also a charming spa, hammam steam room, gym, yoga studio and hot tub. Arijiju can sleep up to 10 people in its five beautiful suites. Three are located in the main house while two others are in more private buildings a short walk away. Each is unique but all are bathed in light through vast archways of glass, with grand furniture, fireplaces, copper roll-top baths and outdoor showers. There is no schedule for guests at Arijiju and there are a plethora of adventures on offer. From private game drives and walking safaris in the game-rich Borana Conservancy. You can also mountain bike or go trail running accompanied by a support vehicle, ride horses, take quad bikes out to fly camp for the night, explore verdant Ngare Ndare Forest, or take a helicopter flight to see the summits of Mount Kenya. Behind the scenes, 14 staff keep everything running smoothly, the team including butlers, talented chefs, private game rangers, grounds and housekeepers, security and your manageress host Karina along with her two dogs, Lula and Digby.
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