Merel of And A Thousand Words was originally a jewellery designer who began sharing her thoughts and inspiration through words and pictures on her blog.
Having lived between Bali and Amsterdam, she now spends her life travelling and capturing jewellery, travel, beauty, fashion and a healthy lifestyle pictures and is one of Citizen Femme’s favourite Instagram accounts.
Preferred name, insta handle, and where you call home?
Merel van Poorten, @andathousandwords and home is Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
What was your most magical moment in Kenya?
While we were on safari in the Maasai Mara National Park, the Fairmont Kenya brought us to an authentic Masai village. The Masai people were very inviting and welcomed us with traditional dances. They even took us on a tour of their homes! Each family had created a tiny gift shop where they sold their handmade products. It was wonderful to see how these friendly people have been able to cherish and maintain their culture over time.
Go on, tell us your approximate luggage count for Kenya?
I am usually terrible at traveling light and this was the first trip outside of Europe where I only took carry-on luggage. I was feeling very proud of myself for that… it was due to the weight restrictions on the small planes within Kenya (only soft-padded luggage and a 15 KG maximum) that I brought my vintage Louis Vuitton 50 Keepall which I found on rebelle.com and my Rimowa 45L multiwheel carry on, with an integrated padded front pocket that fits my laptop.
So I massively downsized, which took quite some planning! The first obvious move was to replace full-sized products for travel-size items. I bought miniature versions of my favourite beauty and make-up products, planned my outfits carefully and made sure to bring a little liquid laundry detergent in case I had to wash something by hand.
Did you take any extra camera kit?
I couldn’t really downsize my laptop, so I had to downsize my camera gear. My regular setup (Canon 5D) is very bulky and heavy and to save space and weight I took my lightweight Canon M5 Mirrorless camera. It’s very compact and with the mount adapter I can still use my EF lenses.
Rundown of camera gear I brought:
•Canon EOS M5 camera
•Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5 – -6.3 IS STM
•Canon mount adapter EF-EOS M
•Canon EF 50MM F/1.4 USM
•Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens
Did you find photographing the wildlife challenging? Any photography tips?
I was so thrilled about how close our guide was able to get us to the animals! We were in an open jeep without a roof and no windows, which was a first for me. Giraffes, lions, zebras, none of them seemed to mind in the least that we drove right up to them. I felt very safe and since we could encounter these animals from up close, it was quite easy to take pictures. We could really take all the time we needed, the animals were completely at ease.
Your one essential for the early morning drive wake-up call?
It was easy to get up everyday, since I was so excited about what the day would bring. One of the best 6am wake up calls I have ever had was at the Fairmont Maasai Mara. Someone called out ‘jambo, jambo’ and next thing I knew, I was served fresh coffee in bed in my tent!
Give us a rundown of your favourite look from Kenya.
It had to be my Auguste the label dress which was so comfortable and flowed so beautifully. I even wore it horse riding!
Horseback riding @fairmontmtkenya was such an amazing experience, with a magical breakfast in the middle of Mount Kenya’s forest as the supreme highlight! // Wearing a dress by @augustethelabel @officialkenyaairways @citizenfemme @spotlight_coms #FairmontMoments #citizenfemme #SpotlightonFairmontKenya
What were your five key beauty essentials for Kenya?
Sunscreen! I love the light, non-greasy texture of the Sisley Sunleya Soin Solaire Global Anti-Age. A big plus, it comes in a 50ml travel size!
A long flight and change of climate means chapped lips in my case. So I love to use the Dior lip sugar scrub. It exfoliates due to the grains of sugar, which melt away leaving my lips soft and moisturized.
The Protect oil by Esse is perfect for my sensitive skin. After lots of travel, long days and little sleep this oil does wonders.
Hair oil by Biosilk, I take it everywhere I go. This is actually the only product I use for my hair. You need only a little drop, so I was so stoked to find these in a 15 ml travel size.
Hand sanitizer is a must after a day in nature, to kill the germs: I love to have clean hands.
MEREL'S BEAUTY ESSENTIALS
Please tell us your can’t-live-without clothes/shoes/accessories that you took to Kenya.
Zara – Large cotton scarf // So many uses!
Heidi Klein – Bamboo duffle bag // Lightweight, looks cute and can fit so much stuff!
Givenchy – Silk scarf // Such a great styling piece! Love to wear it in my hair, around my neck or on my bag.
Linen clothing // This season Zara has some amazing pieces in their collection that are so suitable for on safari. Many earthy colors and linen fabrics!
Auguste the Label – Lucy overall // great for on safari, super comfortable.
Auguste the Label – Maxi wrap dress // To wear during fancy dinners at the Fairmont hotels, or while horseback riding for the dreamiest Instagram photos 😉
What do you wish you’d packed for Kenya that you didn’t take??
I did quite some packing prep and really tried to think about what to bring. But if I had to pick something I forgot, in terms of equipment: a Mophie (power bank), extra plug adapters and a proper telephoto lens. Fashion-wise, it does get chilly in the evenings, so maybe a pair of jeans and an extra sweater would have come in handy.