What are your travel plans for 2020? We want to hear from you! Contact us and share your travel plans, and read on as Ker & Downey’s President David Marek reflects on where he has been, and shares where he’s packing his bags to visit next. 

I’ve been to the continent of Africa probably 125 times.

In the early days, circa 1985, I’d spend six weeks at a time in either Tanzania and Kenya, or Botswana and South Africa. It was a great time to be in Africa, with LOTS of game and very few travelers.

When I go back to Africa now, I’m still looking for those places that give me the “have it all to yourself” feeling. There’s no place like Botswana to give you that feeling. So, at the top of my list is a classic, traditional tented safari experience. I don’t like to use the term “luxury”—there is now such a broad description of luxury that the meaning gets lost.

For me “classic” is the operative term to use. A classic safari is one under large canvas, with classic en suite bathrooms, personal service, great food, and led by a local guide that knows the area intimately. I want to be up at dawn and be the first on the trail of the lion, leopard, wild dog, and others that left their tracks in the sands. I want to smell the crisp morning air as the animals move from darkness to daylight.

“Why under canvas?” you might ask. In my opinion, you don’t experience the fullness of a safari experience unless you hear Africa at night. In a lodge environment, the sounds of the night can be muffled. I want to hear the elephant’s stomach grumble from just inside my tent, or hear the male lion calling for the females, or even just hearing the birds wake up in the morning. It’s all new and invigorating… and outside the life I lead in the USA.

It’s still pretty cozy inside a classic safari tent at Footsteps, don’t you think?

In 2020 I’m traveling with some friends to Zambia, a place that also offers that “have it all to yourself” feeling. We are going in May 2020 for several reasons.

First, the weather is perfect in May. Yes, it will be after the rains and the plains will be green with new growth. May is also the month where the temperatures are perfect. Note: perfect for me is getting up wearing a jacket and by mid-day you are in short sleeves; your mileage may vary.

Zambia is also one of the best places in Africa for walking safaris. So, we will be walking and doing game drives during a beautiful time of year with perfect weather. I can’t wait! The safari properties I’ve chosen are small, with only eight guests per property where we can get that “have it to ourselves” feeling.

Another great thing about Zambia is the price. Our nine days in Zambia will be under $800 per person per day, below average for typical southern Africa safaris.

No “roughing it” in a tented suite at Busanga Bush Camp in Zambia

As for the places I want to go, there are many. My beautiful wife Gana tells me that for owning a travel company, we really don’t travel much! And she is right. We usually take just one trip a year. Why? Because I really want to make sure those who work for Ker & Downey get to experience these destinations first-hand. Going there and having the full experience of the destination is the best way to learn. And anyway, I have a business to run!

My future travel plans include Serbia and Croatia. Our experts have been, and have raved about both, so naturally the excitement is building. And Gana says it’s where she wants to go… so we’ll go.

Gana and me, now and back then…

I invite you to get in touch with me. I’d love to hear from you and learn about your own travels… what’s behind you, what’s ahead, and what’s on your wish list that we can make a reality.

Happy traveling!


David Marek, President of Ker & Downey