A trip in the continent of Africa would be considered incomplete without a safari tour. It’s a must to have at least one during your trip. The safari lets you experience freedom. You see animals in their natural environment, their natural movements in their own setting. You get to see that as big as they are, they are still small in comparison to their environment.
A safari tour can be quite expensive so it is recommended to make a booking through a travel agent with exceptional reputation. It won’t be a memorable experience if you got swindled into paying for an imaginary safari.
When we think of safari we think of Africa. I have been to some safaris before, but for me a safari in Kenya is the best because here we get to witness the migration of hundreds of thousands of animals. You will also get a checklist of things you should do and should have before going on a safari. I would suggest going over this safari checklist. Once you arrive at your safari lodge, there will be no shopping centers around where you can buy things that you need. The lodges have a shop but they can charge however much they can since they are your only source of supply.
Include a safari on your bucket list
From Oslo we took a flight with Air Brussels. Our route was Oslo – Brussels – Nairobi. Check out the review of Air Brussel’s business class service on www.reiseradet.no . You can also check flights here if you are interested in flying to Kenya. Flights to Kenya land in Nairobi.
Upon landing at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport. Make sure you have enough change for the visa-on-arrival stamp which cost at the time I travelled at USD 50 (can you specify the year). If you do not have the exact amount, you have to wait until the immigration officer is done processing all the other visa-on-arrival passengers. After a long-haul flight, waiting is the last thing you would want to do. Check here if you are entitled to visa-on-arrival in Kenya.
Unfortunately, when we arrived in Nairobi, my luggage is still somewhere and since we arrived late at night, all shops in Nairobi were already closed. As a seasoned traveler, I always have one change of clothes, a pair of underwear, and basic toiletries in my hand carry. We traveled to Kenya from Norway in late November so we were all in winter boots and thick jackets and I didn’t have an extra pair of shoes in my hand carry. Thankfully, there were a lot of ladies in our group and they were all so kind enough to lend me clothes and shoes. I wear a size 37.5 footwear and the smallest available from the group was a size 41. It was either that or I wear my winter boots in the warm Africa. Guess what I chose? The place was so beautiful, just like a scene straight out of the film “Out of Africa”. So it was easily forgotten that I had mismatched clothes and a too-big-a-pair of shoes. I looked like a clown, but I was surrounded by nature and fantastic views, and wonderful colleagues, so who cares. Upon getting out of the airport, you are surrounded by wildlife everywhere!
Zebras were better dressed than I was
The Air Brussels flight lands late at night so it is not possible to take an immediate local connection. We had one overnight at Fahari Garden Hotels which was about 8 – 10 minutes away from the airport. It was an old english mansion and I can say it was 4*, a small bed-and-breakfast facility, but we landed so late at night and left early the next morning, so I was not able to enjoy the gardens. I Would suggest to just book a standard accommodation if one lands late in Nairobi. Breakfast is eggs and bacon so it was european style.
Private transfer on a small plane
We had to transfer to Wilson airport for our safari because the safari we were booked in was a fly-in safari. This means that when you take the flight from Wilson airport, you land at the game lodge’s private airstrip on the Maasai Mara Savanah. There were a lot of people who combined safari with sun and sand, starting first with the safari. If you are flying with a lot of luggage, you may have a problem because the small flights have limited capacity. Inform your travel agent so that they may request their local agent to keep some of your luggage for you. You can then collect it after your safari and proceed to your sun and sand destination. Check my suggested itineraries section for some ideas on combining safari and sun and sand holiday.
The view outside the airport
Short flight to land at And Beyond’s Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp . Don’t let the name mislead you. There are tents, yes, but underneath the tents are luxurious cabins.
The Tented Lodge
You may feel that you are in a tent, except that the facilities are that of a 4-5 star hotel and as most safari lodges, there is a small swimming pool, but we are here for the safari and not for bathing and soaking in the sun. Meals are served either outside or inside, but the view is so fantastic that most tourists choose to have their meals outside. They only eat inside when it rains.
Breakfast With a View
The wake up call is kinda cute. The first safari is before the break of dawn so the wake up call is around 03.30 am. They stay outside your tent and tell you they have coffee and tea and that you have to wake up. They will not leave until you go with them to the Jeep. After a 2-3 hour safari (can you describe what you have seen during the 2-3 hr safari), time for breakfast. What a view! Seeing all the wildlife while eating breakfast is something I cannot describe.
The Masai Mara has a tradition for matchmaking, but it doesn’t take into consideration if the couple is not romantically interested in each other. What happens is the Masai Mara warriors (seen in the picture above) line up on one side. The women line up on the other side, then the warriors jump upwards. The one who jumps the highest gets to choose his bride first. Then they leave the line. Another round of jumping begins. The women get chosen and they cannot contradict. So the last woman who gets married also gets the warrior who jumps the lowest. Just for fun, all of us did this ceremony so all of us ended up getting “married” to a Masai.
Migration is something you see in Kenya and not South Africa. This is why for safaris, I prefer Kenya. The majority is the wildebeest, around 1.5 million of them. The best time is from July to November. Migration happens when wildlife is “chasing” the water. When the Serengeti dries up, they migrate to other parts where they have access to water. It is such a powerful site. You see wildebeest and zebras, danger and the end of life, and the continuance of life. You probably have seen some videos of zebras being eaten by crocodiles while crossing the river Mara, this is where it happens.
Wildlife risking their lives in search of water
We stayed two nights here and had almost all our meals on site. On the second evening, we had dinner at the neighboring Bateleur Camp which was just a short walk away. The meals consist mostly of game meat, which can be buffalo, antelope or any other wild animal, but also European and american dishes.
THE BIG FIVE
When one goes on a safari game drive, one wishes to see as many wild animals as they can, but more importantly, to see the big five game: African Lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. I was lucky enough to share my vehicle with a lady who attended courses in identifying birds, so when we hear or see birds, she would tell us their kind and brief description, she knew all of them. Although not part of the big five, my favorite is the giraffe. I think they are so majestic and cute at the same time. Believe it or not, gigantic as they are, they are not as easy to see when they are in their natural environment, same goes for the other animals.
On our third day we again took the same small plane back to Wilson Airport in Nairobi. Depending on the size of the group, it can be anywhere from a few seats to about 12-15 seats. These small planes are like flying shuttle buses as they pick up tourists from one lodge to the other. This is not always the case. In our case, since we had a fly-in safari, we were flown in to the Serengeti.
Propeller plane used to transport fly-in safari passengers
Back in Nairobi, we had a long day ahead as our flight (to where?) leaves in the evening. If you have a whole day in Nairobi, you can spend it touring the city or visiting interesting places. Check out my tips on what to do in Nairobi while waiting for your flight.
We went to visit the house where Karen Blixen lived in when she resided in Nairobi. It is only 10km from the city center. Within the grounds is a giraffe center where one can see them up close and feed them. The barns where they stayed were of course sky-high as these are very tall animals. In 1985, this house became a part of the National Museum of Kenya.
Price: the price for a 2-3 day safari costs around USD 3.000 per person. This is only for the safari package. Airfare and accommodation in Nairobi are not included.
For others things to do in Kenya, Jane has written a great article about this. Why don’t you check it out.
Keep on traveling.