On Safari with Micato and the Pinto Family

By Joy Phelan-Pinto September 11, 2019

The great migration has concluded… the great Pinto migration to Africa, that is.

Inveterate family explorers, old safari hands, and fearless Micato leaders Dennis and Joy Pinto, along with their college-age children, Sasha and Tristan, made their annual summer migration from Manhattan to Africa to visit with the elder Pintos – aka Micato Africa founders Felix and Jane – for a fabulous three-generation exploration of Africa.

As their safari unfolded, Joy staged what kids today like to call a “takeover” of the Micato Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, sharing the family’s wondrous exploration of beloved old haunts and exciting new ones.

We invite you to scroll through our social channels for a gander at the Pinto Family Safari… and it’s also our pleasure to recap Joy’s bush dispatches below, complete with her original captions. Enjoy!

A family that takes a hot-air balloon safari together stays together. We were so looking forward to that first crisp morning when we could hover dreamily over the Maasai Mara’s grassy savannahs…

…and likewise, we were smiling with anticipation when our experienced pilot, gauging the winds upon touchdown, prepared us for our whimsical sideways landing!

Tucked inside a forest on the western edge of the Mara is Bateleur Camp, more splendid and polished than ever following a batch of fabulous renovations. And the staff here couldn’t be warmer or more thoughtful from arranging bush breakfasts to fueling our mother-daughter morning walks…

..to a surprise celebration of Dennis and my 26th wedding anniversary.
We love catching up with family and old friends during our summer safaris but like many Micato travellers the Pintos also love their solitude…

…and the banks of the Sand River effortlessly lend themselves to these great little moments when you can simply hang out.

The Great Migration began moving through Kenya while we were in the Mara and we found ourselves in a stream of grazing wildebeest. They were rather good natured about letting us photobomb their resolute search for greener pastures.

The sprawling patchwork of Northern Kenya is a treat to explore by vehicle or foot and an absolute thrill to behold by helicopter.


And yes, while the Pintos never throw caution to the wind, those daredevils who stepped out for air are indeed my little ones.

Sasha long ago saw the potential of using a GoPro for adventure photography and her heli-selfies have become something of a Pinto family tradition!

Another safari tradition are our mother-daughter moments that take on a special sweetness when a helicopter brings you to your favorite secret spot in Northern Kenya.

Loisaba Tented Camp has offered many a Micato guest time for reflection and as you can see, it’s the place for it, too. If you’re going to make time to swim on safari – and really, you should – add the private infinity pool at Loisaba to your list.

Our outstanding game viewing in the Mara included meeting up with a cheetah family the same size as ours…who also seemed as prepared to relax as ours!

Meanwhile, life was already pretty fun with one mustachioed man who looks like he’s up to no good half the time, but then along came another. Which Pinto boy wears the ‘stache best? Naturally I need to remain neutral on that question.

While on a private conservancy we discovered a real gem, a former private home that manages to blend the majesty of a 12-century French monastery–with magnificent vaulted archways and stone passageways leading to olive groves and herb gardens–with the majesty of Africa.


With touches like oversized copper bathtubs, British campaign desks, Indian crystal chandeliers, and walk-in fireplaces, the place is at turns eclectic and grand, and absolutely perfect. These snaps will give you some idea of just how divine it is.

The superlatives tend to fly in Micato’s Africa when our guests see the most beautiful creature or discover the most gorgeous view or captivating moment – and they’re not wrong, because that’s just how it is on safari.

So I don’t mind telling you that one of the coolest things we’ve ever done is watching “Out of Africa” while sipping Champagne and dining al fresco at Finch Hattons Luxury Tented Camp in the lovely, legendary Tsavo West National Park.

Celebrating a wedding anniversary easily ranks among the top five special occasions Micato has orchestrated during its last 50 or so years on safari, and very often these two extraordinarily special people have been present to clap or croon or help propose a toast to make many a lovely couple feel truly blessed. So when it came time to celebrate another year of matrimony for Papa and Nana, aka beloved parents and in-laws, aka Micato founders Felix and Jane Pinto, well, we tried to give them back as much love as they give.

The gorgeous lions of the Mara are among the most pensive creatures you’ll ever see…

…and I’m not usually this literal, but there is no better time than a family safari for reflection. If you can indulge a wistful mama for just a moment, it really has been in the blink of an eye that our babies turned into adults. That these two grew up on safari is truly a blessing.

There’s a centuries-old Kenyan adage, “Jamii ndiyo msingi wa kila kitu,” which means, “Family is the foundation of everything. It’s one of the things we’ve learned on safari and when you travel with Micato, you’ll know it like never before.

For joining us on our virtual safari, thank you! And we hope to see you in Micato’s Africa one day soon!

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