By heeding a call difficult to explain, Skyler Mason, left the reliability of working for the family business and established SKYIN. Believing the most authentic way to experience a foreign destination is to immerse oneself with the locals, he took it upon himself to curate the perfect excursion. During a recent interview with a regenerative travel advocate, Rebecca Thomas, founder of Community Back Pocket, Mr. Mason provided insight to the origins of his company as well as the exclusive options available when traveling with SKYIN.
What is it that you love about Kenya?
I can’t really explain it, but from a young age I was consumed with all things African. My mom said she remembers me playing drums and dancing around the house even as a toddler. At 14, I had the opportunity to visit Kenya with family friends who were from there, and from that moment, I was hooked. The Kenyan people are incredibly kind, happy and accepting. I immediately felt welcomed in this fascinating country. I have continued to visit, living amongst the locals and being taught about what truly matters in life.
What is the origin of SKYIN?
I was a respected member of our prominent family business with a consistent and secure income, but I felt as though I could do more. Having grown up traveling across Kenya and observing the limited opportunities for local communities, I wanted to make an impact and contribute somehow. I determined I wanted to share this beautiful country and its indigenous people with others. By encouraging travelers to experience more authentic and immersive excursions, I hoped to change how local communities were directly impacted by tourism in Kenya. I was keen to share the same warmth and intimate experience of ‘living like a local’ I had encountered. By creating a sustainable presence in the region, I was confident I could create jobs for local families and have a positive impact on surrounding communities.
What is the philosophy behind SKYIN?
SKYIN’s objective is to furnish life-changing experiences for travelers who seek immersive and luxury excursions, while supporting local communities and villages by creating sustainable jobs, and providing opportunities and resources to improve daily life in Kenya. SKYIN curates authentic, exclusive, curated trips for guests seeking immersion into the culture, wildlife, beach, and history of Kenya. Our experiences go beyond what a tourist can see.
Before the journey begins into Kenya, we arrange video calls with travelers and their vetted host family to ensure they arrive feeling safe, secured, and welcomed by familiar, friendly faces. Our host families speak fluent English, undergo extensive comprehensive training and pass rigorous annual government background checks and screenings. Our families share insights into local culture and traditions while providing an intimate view of local life. Homestays are an incredible opportunity to experience authentic culture, delicious food and the gracious people of a country.
Additionally, our visits to the Maasai and Mijikenda tribes are nothing short of extraordinary. We encourage meaningful experiences with chief elders, young warriors, loving mothers and children, learning about their indigenous way of life. All this is achievable due to my long-established and trusted relationships with the villagers. For over a decade, we’ve nurtured relationships with indigenous communities across Kenya. We are entrenched within numerous tribes aiding in the development of communities to authentically share their culture, while creating a sustainable impact.
Another unique opportunity is that our guests can visit local children’s schools and orphanages, allowing an intimate glimpse into a truly joyous and wonderful place. The children have taught me quite a bit over the years and I’m always reminded how incredibly special they are.
Finally, each excursion will offer a variety of unique accommodations: from beautiful suburban homestays in Nairobi, to luxury beachfront resorts on the coast, to elegant safari camps and lodges inside the national parks and reserves.
SKYIN is about taking it all in and getting the most out of the experience. Our tagline describes it perfectly, Travels that Touch the Soul.
What are some of the highlights while visiting Kenya?
Kenya is a bucket list destination for most travelers. But to truly see all that it has to offer, one needs to immerse into this expansive country and its people! From storytelling with tribal elders, unearthing the country’s rich history, R&R on white, tropical beaches, spotting the famous BIG 5 on safari, and engaging with the joyful children at local schools and orphanages, SKYIN curates the adventure of a lifetime. Traveling with us allows guests to safely experience the grandeur of the land and the hospitality of its people. Authentic experiences demand traveling off the beaten path and by doing so you’ll uncover a new perspective on life. Our local host families will guide you through their fascinating culture and country in ways only a local could.
What cultural/behavioral advice would you give that would help visitors to Kenya?
Kenyans are some of the most hospitable and genuine people I know. Some advice I always remember when visiting a new country is to keep an open mind. Allow yourself to try new foods, experience unfamiliar customs and rituals, and don’t hesitate to jump in. Although new to their customs, Kenyans are famous for their hospitality and ensuring you feel at home and one of the family. By allowing yourself to let go and be more open minded, it will give you a much better overall experience and feel accepted! Also, as much as you are there to learn about their culture, don’t be shocked when Kenyans ask you questions to discover about your life back home.
When is the best time of year to visit Kenya in your opinion?
June to October is the country’s dry season which also coincides with the Great Wildebeest Migration so many travelers visit at this time. The mild rainy seasons, March-May are also a good time to travel to Kenya, as there are fewer tourists. The landscape at this time is a striking, lush green rather than the sandy brown of the dry season.
What foods are unique to Kenya that visitors should experience?
Kenya is well known for its locally grown tea and coffee. They also grow the most amazing mangos! Some very well known Kenyan dishes are beef stew and chapati, as well as ugali.
Other than managing SKYIN, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to travel, try new foods, and connect with people. I’m addicted to different cultures… so I love exploring all that the world offers. I believe in another one of our taglines, Don’t Just See It, Live It!
Last modified: August 25, 2023