Ker & Downey Staff Profiles: Jamie Bell

At Ker & Downey, we believe that people matter. It’s the people who make up this incredible company who work to make your journey truly memorable. Over the course of the next year, we’ll be introducing you to the people that make up Ker & Downey. You can also read more about us here

Jamie Bell is a veteran of Ker & Downey, having been with us for over 23 years. As one of our travel professionals, her list of countries she’s visited is long, including Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, and Namibia. She’s also traveled to countries in South America and Europe, plus Nepal and the United Arab Emirates.


Favorite place: My passion and love is Africa. There is no place better to be than out in the bush with nature and the wildlife. It is hard to really say one place is my favorite because each place I have visited has been special. However there are two places that really stand out. One was my trekking in Nepal; I can never stop talking about it and looking at my photos. There was just something that captivated me. The trek was difficult for me but I made it, which was a huge accomplishment since I have a fear of heights. Away from the city life up in the mountains, the people, villages, scenery and their simple ways of life were captivating. Then there was Uganda and the gorilla trekking; what an experience everyone should have! Driving through the countryside was amazing but the gorilla trek was beyond words. Continue reading

Kenya Family Adventure

Embark on a journey designed for the entire family – perfect as an introduction to Africa or an opportunity to return and share the experience. Have breakfast with the giraffes, shadow Masai trackers on safari walks, meet baby black rhinos, and experience the diversity of East African wildlife and culture in some of Kenya’s most impressive camps. Space is limited, contact your Destination Specialist to begin your adventure!


For more information about the Kenya Family Adventure, please contact your Travel Professional or visit us online at Stay up to date on all of Ker & Downey’s online content by “liking” our Facebook page.

The Secret Kitchen

Kista Simmons takes a crash course in regional Chinese cuisine. Read the article in the current issue of Quest Magazine and on our blog today.

It’s a shame that Chinese food has been associated with lonely nights in and hung-over dim sum brunches. The cuisine from one of the world’s most ancient societies is really quite complex, steeped in thousands of years of tradition. In fact, the Chinese are so connected with what they eat that it’s considered medicine. Look beyond the lazy Susan, and you’ll find that what’s cooking in the world’s most populated country is as varied as the regions themselves. A tour through china’s three largest cities—Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai— showcased that directly.

Many locals proudly boast that the Chinese eat everything with legs besides the kitchen table. And it’s true; it’s not at all alarming to find locals skinning eels, deboning chickens, or hacking open juicy dragon fruit as motorbikes whiz by women huddled around mahjong tiles in the local markets.


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Ker & Downey’s Africa Bucket List


Introducing the Africa Bucket List, our curated collection of can’t miss experiences across the inspiring continent. Ker & Downey’s history is forever intertwined with Africa, and together with many of our travelers we relish the opportunity to return again and again to continue discovering, learning, and growing through unforgettable experiences.

Follow our series over the next few months and get inspired to begin your first safari experience, or fall in love with beautiful Africa all over again. How many of these things have you checked off? What’s still left for you to complete? Check off your own personal bucket list with the experts at Ker & Downey.

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Experience the African Bush

We’re continuing our series on the African bush this week by highlighting its uniqueness. Each game drive is special and you never know what you are going to see. Take a journey with us as we go through a typical day on safari.  

The day starts early on safari. A knock on the door or outside your chic tent is followed with a soft voice announcing the arrival of your morning Rooibos tea or coffee. This is your wake up call. Daylight hasn’t broken yet but you take your rooibos tea with a splash of milk as you eagerly dress for the morning, wondering what the day holds. You walk to the main lounge of the lodge to meet your guide and set out in the crisp morning air on your morning game drive. Just like the guide and tracker, your eyes are constantly scanning from left to right, looking for game. Perhaps you happen upon a pride of lions, lounging in the middle of the road.

Lions at Royal Malewane, South Africa

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Italy: Tailor Made

Writer Nell Casey takes a satisfying solo trip to fashionable Milan and the enchanting, jet-setting paradise, Lake Como. She finds the perfect fit. Read the full article here and in the current issue of QUEST Magazine.

Walking into the Armani Hotel Milano feels a bit like walking into the mind of the celebrated fashion designer. This 95-room hotel is as minimal and sleek as one of Giorgio Armani’s iconic suits—and as elegantly determined as I imagine the man himself to be. The whole setting conspires to make you feel as if you’ve been airlifted out of life, that busy and rumpled otherworld. In this spare new realm made up of monochromatic tones of grey and cream and black, there isn’t a single detail that hasn’t been integrated into the clean line of the hotel.

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An Interview with Michael Matera

We’re continuing our series on the African bush this week by highlighting the incredible cuisine and the talented chefs of the bush with an interview with Michael Matera, Senior Sous Chef at Singita Sasakwa Lodge and the 2012 recent recipient of the Tanzania Chef of the Year Award.

If you desire, each meal in the bush is an event and worth every indulgence. A large spread of eggs, granolas, yogurts, pastries, fruit, and fresh squeezed juices greet you upon returning from an early morning game drive while midday meals are light and fresh. Dinners involve several courses and come in the form of private meals under the stars, a traditional meal served in the boma, or gathered around the table, sharing stories from the day’s activities. Each safari lodge serves up their food differently, but the common thread throughout is talented chefs and dedicated kitchen staff who pride themselves on preparing fresh, innovative dishes for our clients to enjoy meal after meal.

Singita Sabora Tented Camp (19) Singita Sabora Tented Camp (36)

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An African Safari: The Thrill of the Hunt

Discover what makes the African bush so unique this month as we highlight its riches in a series of blog posts, beginning with An African Safari: The Thrill of the Hunt while on a game drive. Written by Haley Beham

There is nothing that quite compares to the thrill of being on safari. It’s exhilarating to set out in the crisp morning air in the back of an open vehicle, armed with a camera and, depending on the season, a warm blanket. Whether it is your first time on safari or your seventeenth, the anticipation is always there. What will I see today?

After being away from the bush for nine years, I couldn’t wait to return to a place that feels just as familiar to me as my own home. My South African itinerary began with stops at Tintswalo Atlantic, Birkenhead House, and La Residence, all bucket list properties for me, before I headed out into the bush. La Residence was recently voted the best small hotel in the world by Conde Nast readers, and the award is well deserved. It is easily one of the most incredible properties in the world, set in the picturesque Franschhoek Valley among vineyards of the winelands.

La Residence

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World Traveler: Lubov Azria

“Individual. Effortless chic. Dynamic. Eclectic. Timeless. Elegant.”

Lubov Azria’s favorite words are the very definition of the BCBG Max Azria Group chief creative officer’s personal style—and a mantra for their trendsetting fashion lines’ (including Herve Leger and BCBG Generation) loyal customers. Her resume is packed with accomplishments, from training with the Bolshoi Ballet in her youth to being inducted into the influential Council of America Fashion Designers (CFDA) in 2010. Her roots in Ukraine, Texas and Los Angeles combined with her husband’s background in Tunisia and France, only begin to explain her wanderlust. Which inspires Azria to explore the globe, dig into local art scenes and engage in serious philanthropy. As the wife of the iconic brand’s Founder, CEO, Chairman and Designer Max Azria, Azria is equally passionate about keeping their children and large family tight-knit, despite their addresses all over the world. The Azrias’ regular Shabbat dinners are as epic as their family vacations. So true, the family that works and travels together, can enjoy success together.


Visit Uganda with Ker & Downey

Uganda’s Wild Kingdoms is a life-changing journey that will take you to the mist-swathed forests and the cultural centers in the pearl of Africa. You’ll traverse through all of Uganda’s major national parks, participating in extraordinary gorilla trekking, nature walking, and even a Ker & Downey Philanthropy stop.

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