When people think about African wildlife, a Kenya safari is the one that comes to mind. Even the word “safari” comes from the local language Swahili and means “journey”. From the lush and green grassy land of Masai Mara teeming with animals to the vast and arid savannah of Amboseli inhabited by the biggest elephants of Africa against the backdrop of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, from the Pink Flamingos of the Rift Valley Lakes to the pristine beaches full of shells and corals of the unspoilt coast bathed by the Indian ocean, you’ll never get bored of this magnificent country. Our trip brought us 10 days around the country, touching the most famous national parks and reserves.
1° Day: NAIROBI (Nairobi national park, Elephants orphanage, Giraffe centre)
2° Day: NAIROBI – MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE
3° Day: MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE (full day game drive)
4° Day: MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE (full day game drive)
5° Day: MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE – NAKURU TOWN
6° Day: LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK (game drive) – LAKE NAIVASHA (boat ride and crescent island walking safari)
7° Day: LAKE NAIVASHA – HELL’S GATE NATIONAL PARK (game drive) – AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK
8° Day: AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK (full day game drive)
9° Day: AMBOSELI N.P. (morning game drive) – NAIROBI
10° DAY: NAIROBI
Need to know about Kenya
Traveller’s health: click here for more information. Keep in mind that Malaria is also endemic; remember to take measures to protect yourself above all at night by applying mosquito repellent that contains at least 30% DEET.
When to go: the best period for a game drive around the national parks is from June to October and January-February. The rains occur between March and May and October to December but, usually, do not prevent excursions.
For relaxation at the beach, the best period is June to September since the heat is not intense and the days are mostly sunny. From November to March it could be scorching, while from April to June there is the highest concentration of rains.
Wildebeest migration: it’s one of the most spectacular events of the whole Africa and consists in the movement of vast numbers of the Serengeti’s wildebeest to Masai Mara National Park (and back) in search of green pasture, accompanied by large numbers of zebra, Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, eland and impala. The exact timing of the Serengeti wildebeest migration is entirely dependent upon the rainfall. A local guide told us that the most spectacular moment to see the migration in Masai Mara is in July and August when thousands wildebeest cross the Mara river with many predators such as lions, cheetahs and crocodiles ready to catch their preys.
Mean of transport: a van 4×4 with the hatch rooftop with driver rented through a local agency; the vehicles with the hatch rooftop are essential for visiting the parks and have a privileged position when you spot the wildlife.
Warning: if you rent a vehicle and self-drive, be careful and drive safe because the roads are very dangerous. The traffic out of the city is heavy and full of lorries and trucks. All the vehicles always try to overtake each other like in a crazy race. If you want to rent a 4×4 vehicle with the hatch rooftop, you can try with Explorer Kenya Safaris.
Local agencies: the best way to enjoy the country and its amazing Parks is to book a tour (private or shared). Many local agencies also offer Budget safari sleeping in guest houses and tented camps. We booked our private budget safari with Africa Vision safari tour and travel. You can also try with Explorer Kenya Safaris, Centurion Safari, Big Time safaris, Masikio safari, Wildtouch safari, Safari Trails, Karibu Safari, Olive Safaris, Pollman’s Tour and Safari. Alternatively, you can look for your tour on safari booking .com
Shared budget safari: some travel agencies also offer shared budget safari (3, 4,5,6 night). It’s a good choice if you travel alone since you can share the expenses with other people. The average price for a 6-night tour range between 800 and 900 US$ (all-inclusive). The tour runs differently compared with the private safari. After visiting a park, you always reach a specific meeting point where your driver will pick up or drop off some customers. In fact, you could share your vehicle with customers that have a different itinerary. Maybe they only visit a park, perhaps they are going to a different destination and so on. For example, if the first visit is Masai Mara NR, after leaving Nairobi, you’ll stop in a specific meeting point to pick customers up coming from other destinations/tour agencies and where you usually have lunch. After the visit of the Masai Mara, you’ll get back the same meeting point, and from here, after picking up or dropping off customers, you’ll proceed to your destination (probably changing your mean of transport). The program includes the major parks like Masai Mara and Amboseli with a full day game drive and a morning game drive. Unfortunately, the morning game drive is not that worth. It’s usually only a couple of hours because the driver has to come back the meeting point at an exact time. Obviously, two hours in a park are nothing and you can’t spot anything. Anyway, safari booking.com offers a wide range of shared tours as well.
Accommodation: medium range with full board booked by the agency; Miti Mingi Eco camp (Masai Mara), Hotel City Max (Nakuru), Taphe guest resort (Naivasha), Kimana Amboseli Camp (Amboseli). In Nairobi, we booked at the Silver Springs Hotel.
Currency exchange: the local currency is called Kenyan shillings (1 US$ was 103.6 KES – 1 euro was 114.3 KES). There are some currency exchange shops at Nairobi international airport (no commissions); you’ll find ATM at the airport and in the major cities. Anyway, you can easier pay accommodations, activities, parks fee and restaurant in US dollars as well (and most of them with a credit card too). We changed just a small amount of KES for paying our expenses at local markets/shops along the road. So as in all the African countries, remember that it’s advisable to have US Dollars issued since 2010 and in good conditions (no rips, pen stains, scotch tape, etc).
Travel insurance: don’t forget your travel insurance since if something gets wrong, the medical expenses could be very, very high. We made it with World Nomads.
Guide book: we bought our guide with Lonely Planet.
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