We all have a list of places we would like to see someday. Getting older, we suddenly realise the need to “Just Do It.”
At the top of many “places to see before we die” lists is the majestic Masai Mara in Kenya. It is home to so many species of fascinating wildlife that we have all watched on TV for years. The best way to experience it in real life is on a responsible safari.
When I started planning my safari of a lifetime I soon discovered that, as with many things these days, there is almost too much choice. I had many questions.
Do we fly to camps or drive? Do we stay in tented accommodation or hotel style lodges? Are we better to travel alone or with a group? Is it better to be inside the main Reserves and Parks or in the newly created ‘Conservancies’?
Start With What You Can Afford
A lot comes down to budget. My first piece of advice is to work out an amount that you can afford. Take that as a starting point. The time of year you travel can also have a great influence on cost.
The Migration attracts the bulk of visitors between July and October, but you will find that in low season prices drop considerably. The good news is that during this time there are still plenty of wildlife encounters to be enjoyed.
Fly or Drive? It Depends on Your Travel Style
Flying to the Reserves is quicker and more comfortable than driving, but it can be more expensive. Sharing vehicles with a small group will bring down the price even more. However, for many, especially keen photographers, a private vehicle is a must.
Do You Want a Real Out of Africa Experience?
Tented accommodation gives you the real ‘Out of Africa’ experience. Tents are comfortable, with higher end camps offer all the comforts of home, and more. Imagine a spacious tent with a proper bed and an ensuite bathroom with a ‘safari shower’ opening. This leads to your own deck and overlooks a waterhole or the great plains of the Mara.
Sit with your binoculars and a cold beer and just watch nature unfold before your eyes. What could be more exciting?
Lodges are another option. They are bigger so can accommodate more people. They usually have facilities like swimming pools, spas and entertainment. But ask yourself if that is what you travelled all this way for? You can find all that anywhere in the world. For me, a safari has to be a tented camp. And let’s be clear, I am no camper!
Where to Stay? Reserves, Parks or Conservancies?
Staying in the main Reserves and Parks means you are near to the action when the Great Migration takes place in the Mara. But this comes at a price. You will find hoards of other tourists in the same area. This can create uncomfortable situations where lines of minivans are crowding around the same animals. The feeling is very ‘unnatural’.
The privately owned ‘Conservancies’ have been created to protect the wildlife and to give back to the local communities. The programme has been a great success. There are now a number of accessible conservancies in the Mara Eco system and throughout Kenya. Here you can watch the wildlife and not see another vehicle, giving peaceful and rewarding game drives.
Making Friends Who People Who Love Adventure
Many of us travel solo and a safari is a great way to meet new friends and enjoy company of like-minded people along the way. Customized safari vehicles normally take a maximum of 6 passengers. And these vehicles usually have open sides so everyone has a “window” seat! Likewise, meal times are communal affairs at the tented camps. They often end with much discussion of the wildlife viewing and adventures around a roaring campfire.
If you feel the time is right for a safari adventure, then we have a free booklet on planning your safari in great detail.
Have you ever been on a Kenya Safari? Let us know what is top of your travelling “wish list”. Are there places you have visited in the past that you would like to go back to?