Somak Luxury Travel at 55! A Look Back At How Travel Has Changed Over The Last 5 Decades - Somak Luxury Travel
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Somak Luxury Travel at 55! A Look Back At How Travel Has Changed Over The Last 5 Decades

Established in Nairobi, Kenya in 1968, a lot has changed in the travel industry since Suresh Sofat first founded what was then known as Somak Holidays, 55 years ago. 1968 was also the year Boeing rolled out their famous 747 jumbo jets, completely changing how we fly across the globe.
Mr Sofat started the company when he identified a gap in the Aviation industry for flights between London and Nairobi.  Dubbed the “Lollipop flights,” these carried British school children and their parents between Kenya and the UK.
Somak Holidays has grown over the last 5 decades as a result of Mr Sofat’s strong desire and passion to share his love of Africa and its unforgettable experiences with travellers across the globe. His sons Ash joined the company in 1986 and Anil in 1993.
Somak Holidays success is attributed to its vision, its adaptability, flexibility and customer centric focus. It has established relationships with partners across the African continent as well as airlines enabling it to tailor-make bespoke itineraries for its customers, some of which have remained loyal Somak customers for decades.
Let’s take a look back at how travel has changed over half a century!


Did you know that up until 1990 people were able to smoke cigarettes on airplanes. Today if you were to perform the same act, you could face a hefty fine!

Remember when safety demonstrations were solely a live demonstration by the crew?  The first video for pre-flight safety demonstrations was actually approved for flights in 1984. They would eventually replace live demonstrations on many flights.

Love watching movies on the plane? Did you know Airplanes began installing individual screens on the back of passenger seats in 1988?

Today we value convenience and speed greatly when it comes to travel. The rise of e-tickets have made travel so much quicker and more efficient!

It’s hard to believe that just ten to fifteen years ago, every single person at the airport would need to check in at a desk to get their ticket printed physically before boarding a flight. Now thanks to technology, we can even download our airline’s mobile app and scan our boarding pass!


Luggage itself has also changed a lot throughout the last 50 years. For example, most suitcases nowadays have wheels that can turn in any direction, making it easy for travellers to walk side-by-side with their bags instead of dragging it behind them.

Travellers also have a lot more options in regards to luggage styles, colours, and luggage tags. Some carry-ons even have USB ports where you can charge your phone while waiting in the airport, a problem that many people commonly run into when traveling.


Thanks to smartphones, we’re able to take photos with just a single tap of a button. Not only that, but they can be uploaded in the blink of an eye to social media platforms such as Instagram or Twitter or to WhatsApp groups.

Back in the day you would need to rely on stand-alone cameras which were expensive and photos were captured on a film, which required processing at a studio.

Types of Safaris

Just as Safaris have evolved over time from traditional tours by road in minibuses, open window luxurious 4x4s to flying safaris, so has Somak’s fleet of Safari Vehicles which are all 100% Land Cruisers and offer a luxurious and comfortable experience.

Types of Accommodation

Basic tents that used to be lit by hurricane lamps and not have electricity are replaced by a wide range of accommodation available ranging from luxury tents, lodges, mobile camps and exclusive luxury lodges.
Did you know that the oldest safari camp in existence is Cottars 1920s Camp in the Masai Mara and the first established tented camp solely for photographic safaris was set up in the 1960’s in Tsavo National Park?
Today there are a wide range of accommodation types to suit any discerning traveller from boutique lodges to expansive camps, as well as hotels to suit any budgets across the destinations we cover.


Over the last 55 years technology has had an impact on the safari industry from the types of booking systems used starting with the Telex machine, then fax machines and now bookings are researched and completed on the internet.

With the invention of the internet and cell phones, travel has become so much faster and convenient!

Somak has ensured to keep up with the latest technological advances to make the booking process and overall travel experience slick and seamless for both agents and consumers.

Transport and flight connections

An increase in flights and connections worldwide and internally in destinations have meant that safari offerings and itineraries can include multiple game reserves as well as multi-country destinations.
We have had the pleasure to put together some amazing bespoke itineraries over the years!

Types of customers

Our Somak clients today range from families, honeymooners, couples to solo travellers.
We are also pleased to have a lot of loyal repeat clients, as well as multi-generational family travel bookings.

Somak Luxury Travel Today

55 Years on we are still a family-run business with a personal touch. From our beginnings in Kenya, we have expanded into a truly global organisation, offering holidays to East and Southern Africa and South Asia and with clients booking with us from all around the world.
In 2020 we rebranded and become Somak Luxury Travel, with a new visual identity that speaks to the quality and unique nature of the adventures that Somak has spent the last fifty-plus-years creating.
Somak Luxury Travel is proud of its rich cultural heritage, and continued commitment to excellence – crafting bespoke itineraries to some of the world’s most inspiring places, using only the finest hotels, operators and airlines, as well as a fleet of modern safari vehicles, fully kitted for our guests comfort.
Today we offer a comprehensive range of safaris, tours, self-drive holidays, beach holidays and a full tailor-made service, plus weddings, honeymoons and groups. It is our aim to provide each and every guest with the holiday they’ve imagined, and so much more.
Our teams of travel specialists span across 3 continents with offices in London, Kenya, South Africa and India, giving that extra level of specialisation to our packages.
Reading about the past 50 years in regards to travel not only gives you an idea of how far we’ve come, but it also lets your mind fill with wonder about the future.
If we can achieve this much in 50 years, how much will we have achieved by the year 2068?


Somak Luxury Travel
Somak House
Harrovian Business Village
Bessborough Road
Harrow On the Hill

Tel: +44 20 8423 3000
Fax: +44 20 8423 7700

Opening times

Mon - Fri : 9am to 6pm
Sat - Sun : Closed