INTO AFRICA

Written By: Robert Cocuzzo | Photography By: Catherine Porter

Summer Resident Stephanie Capuano is taking Nantucketers on mind-blowing African adventures.

When Stephanie Capuano drives down Milestone Road headed to Sconset, where her husband’s family has summered for four generations, she always makes sure to gaze out the window at the Serengeti. For her, the sight of Nantucket’s sprawling Middle Moors conjures vivid memories of her recent adventures in Africa, where she organizes luxurious, high-end safaris for a company called Tin Trunk Safari.

afr1During summer cocktail parties on Nantucket, it’s hard for Capuano not to gush over what a remarkable continent Africa is, but she inevitably gets asked the same question: Is it safe? “I wish I could shake everyone and say, ‘It’s not a scary place at all,’” Stephanie said. “Once you get there your mind is just blown. It’s the most humbling experience in the world because of its vastness and its beauty. You look out at all the land and the animals and you realize you’re this tiny speck in the world.”

Stephanie became involved with Tin Trunk Safari through a longtime friend, Nella Nencini. Twelve years ago, Nella, a half Italian, half American academic went on a safari in Africa. The experience changed her life dramatically. Nella ended up moving to Kenya where she became a bush pilot and started a safari company offering high-end luxury tours. Three years ago, Nella asked Stephanie to join her.

afr2“We put together totally bespoke safaris,” explained Stephanie. “It’s based on what you want to do, how many people you are traveling with, what your travel style is, and how adventurous you are. We put together a perfect trip based on what your desires are.” You can trek in search of gorillas in Rwanda or go on a classic bush game drive in Kenya or Tanzania. If you want a seaside adventure go to Mozambique. Looking for a walking tour? Then Zambia is your place. Or if you’re just looking for total luxury, South Africa is the way to go.

What makes Tin Trunk Safari different from other high-end tour operators in Africa is that Nella and Stephanie do not own the camps where they operate. This allows them complete flexibility to create experiences in practically any corner of the continent. And Nella Nencini is there every step of the way.

afr3“She’s considered an African specialist and what she does is travel with you as a co-guide in support of the local African guide in whatever country we’re in,” explained Stephanie. “She micromanages your safari. She is almost like your personal assistant, babysitter, nanny, whatever you need. She makes sure you have your favorite drink at sundown, that you have enough pillows, whatever it is, she plans each day perfectly.” Being based in Kenya, Nella incorporates a local element into each trip that Stephanie says you could not experience if you booked through a travel agent. Moreover, Nella plans surprises along the way for her clients who may be celebrating honeymoons or anniversaries.

“It was my sister’s fiftieth and we surprised her with an overnight helicopter camp out,” says Stephanie. “She and her husband woke up to get ready for a game drive at six in the morning, watching the sunrise, having their coffee when two helicopters came, and hovered in front of the camp. Nobody knew what was going on.” The pilots told Stephanie’s sister and her husband to grab their bags, and whisked them off to an uninhabited island in Kenya where a luxurious camp awaited them.

This VIP treatment wasn’t just reserved for Stephanie’s own family. Every guest who books with Tin Trunk gets the complete star treatment. Just ask lifelong summer resident, Virginia Robinson Mahre, who booked Tin Trunk for her honeymoon in 2011. “Nella planned every detail of the honeymoon that followed our Nantucket wedding in September of 2011,” said Virginia. “It was truly the trip of a lifetime, custom tailored to our every wish, and unique in every detail.”

afr5Over the course of eleven days, Virginia and her husband trekked with silverback gorillas in Rwanda, visited an elephant orphanage in Kenya, and even witnessed a crocodile eat a zebra. “‘Amazing’ doesn’t cut it,” Virginia said. “I could hit the thesaurus button all day and never find the words to adequately describe what it is like to sit three feet from a Silverback Gorilla — or 15 or so as was the case.” And that was just scratching the surface. Nella planned surprise breakfasts, dinners, and massages. Despite often being in the middle of nowhere, Virginia and her husband always found themselves in the lap of luxury. “My husband and I have traveled extensively the world over and this experience was the one that stands out above all else,” she said. “Like everyone we tell about our trip, we think everyone should go and experience Africa. You will never be the same. Africa stays with you. If you have the means to be introduced to Africa, the way Tin Trunk does it, then you will have an experience which will surpass your wildest imagination.”

The only thing Stephanie asks of her clients is to come with an open mind: “Africa is a magical continent of awe-inspiring landscape, incredible wildlife and the warmest people you’ll find outside of Nantucket.”



THE TRIP ADVISOR

How Much?
Prices ranges from $500 to $1,500 per day per person depending on the location, the activities, and the style of tour.

Where To Go?
Tin Trunk offers safaris in East and South Africa, namely Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda and South Africa.

When To Go?
Ideally, book a year in advance so that you can stay at Tin Trunk’s top camps. As for weather, because of Africa’s location near the equator the weather is always warm.

Need a Visa?
Valid passports are required everywhere. Visa requirements vary country-to-country. American citizens generally have easy access to most African countries. For those countries where visas are required, they are easy to come by and many can be purchased upon arrival.

Need Any Vaccinations?
It’s best to check with a travel doctor and the embassy of the countries to which you will travel to determine what is required. Tin Trunk will advise you on this based on where you are travelling. Tin Trunk will send you an extensive list of requirements and a packing list before travel.

How To Book?
Contact Stephanie Capuano at TinTrunkSafari.com

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