Kenya

Safari in Kenya

Tips and useful links

OK so you’re planning a safari in Kenya? We used a travel agency this time around, but here’s some information that might help you when booking your trip and choosing where to go.

Most important tip

No matter who you book it with, make sure you ask for a proper proper jeep. Trust me this will make all the difference and your back will thank you.

Useful words in Swahili

Everyone speaks English in Kenya (it’s their second language), but I always think it is nice (and polite) to learn a few words in the local language, so here you go:

  • Hakuna Matata – No problems/ no worries (often followed by squash banana)
  • Jambo – Hello
  • Asante Sana – Thank you very much
  • Karibu – Welcome/ you’re welcome
  • Sawa sawa – It’s OK/ Alright
  • Lala Salama – peaceful sleep/ safe sleep
  • Simba – Lion
  • Pumbaa – thoughtless/foolish but also warthog

Where to go?

Maasai Mara – the giant one
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is massive (1510 square km), it has tones of animals (that’s the official number by the way), and is home to the big five: buffalo, elephant, rhino, lion and leopard. Mara means spotted in the Maasai language and once you go on your first ride you can understand why the reserve was named this way: there are loads of small trees spaced out that give it the appearance of a dotted plain.

IMG_3851

The Maasai Mara is very famous for being one of the best spots to see the great migration (happening every year from July to October from its neighbour, the Serengeti). Y’know those documentaries with the wildebeest and gazelles trying to cross a river and falling straight into the crocodiles’ jaw? Yup, here.

But it’s also permanent home, not only to the big five (mentioned above) but also the Maasai giraffe, cheetahs, hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, jackals, and loads of birds (more than 470 species according to Wikipedia). In short, it’s a pretty cool place for a Safari.

Where to stay?
There are loads of different options, the most common being a tent, but not like a music festival sort of tent, a proper massive awesome one.

We stayed at the Keekorok Lodge, a super cool hotel with actual lodges (thank the unicorns, ‘cause I don’t know if I could have coped in a tent!) and a little bridge to a river full of hippos. At night you have to ask a security guard to escort you back to your lodge because of the said hippos, which is both terrifying and fun.

But honestly the place is amazing and the staff is soooo friendly. Judy, the guest relations (or as they say ‘the hostess’), is the kindest, sweetest and probably the most generous soul you’ll ever meet. I mean, who else says good morning adding a “welcome to a new day” in the zenest tone of voice ever?
Also, very important, the food here is FANTASTIC! Breakfast could be improved by adding a toaster and cheese, but that’s just being picky, the food is AMAZING. Make sure to try the ‘African corner’, it is delicious.

You can find loads of info on Keekorok, luxury tents, and Maasai Mara info in general, here.

What to see/do?

  • The big five: lions, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino
  • Maasai giraffes
  • Zebras (loads)
  • Wildebeest, impalas, gazelles
  • Pumbaas
  • Hyenas
  • Cheetahs
  • Vultures and loads of birds
  • Stunning views
  • Balloon safari (it’s a bit expensive, but thought you should know it’s one of the options there)
  • Visit a Maasai village

How long should I stay?
Three days or even longer. The longer you stay the more chances of spotting different animals.

Lake Nakuru – the romantic one

Nakurulodge3Lake Nakuru National Park is a much much smaller reserve than the Maasai Mara, covering an area of aprox 180 square km. It is located in the Great Rift Valley (you know, where the first men are thought to have appeared and all that), 200 and something km (five to six hours in Kenya driving time) from the Maasai Mara. The park is fenced and it is guarded (and managed) by the Kenya Wildlife Service. It is home to the endangered rhinos, victims of years and years of poaching, and the endangered Rothschild giraffe, brought here from Uganda, hence why it needs to be so heavily protected.

The park is absolutely stunning. I mean it is absolutely B-E-A-utiful! There is a large lake surrounded by marshes, woodland and grassland. The view is simply mesmerizing.

Where to stay?
There are several options ranging between camping sites, guesthouses, lodges and hotels, To find the perfect fit for you I suggest taking a look at the park’s official webpage, here.

 

 

We stayed at the Lake Nakuru Lodge and it was perfect! Our room had a view over the lake and valley, and also, the baboons. The restaurant has beautiful views and the food is great.

What to see/do?

  • Lions, buffalo, and rhinos; no elephants here.
  • Rothschild giraffes
  • Birdwatching – there are over 400 species of birds in this park, including flamingoes
  • Maybe spot a leopard
  • Maybe spot a phyton
  • Monkeys and Baboons
  • More impalas, buffaloes, elands
  • Stunning views
  • Boat safari Lake Naivasha

How long should I stay?
I’d say maximum two days, but it depends on what you’re looking to see. If you’re a birdwatcher, maybe allow a few more days here as it has loads of different birds.

Amboseli National Park – the magical one
The Amboseli National Park is a large park that spreads across the border with Tanzania, and it is basically an elephant sanctuary. Here you are guaranteed to get really close to free-ranging elephants. It’s 392 square km of a mix of swamps and dry and dusty plains, filled with animals as far as the eyes can see. The park also boasts amazing views of Mount Kilimanjaro and if you’re into photography you can take amazing pictures here. It is simply stunning.

Why is it magical? Not sure, but something about watching the herds pass by with Kilimanjaro as a backdrop, makes it one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen. Honestly you’ll just stand there in awe of mother nature.

IMG_4018

Where to stay?
You can find loads of different options here.

We stayed at the stunning Ol Tukai Lodge, which I have to say, is the most beautiful place I have ever been to. Mostly because the view from our room was the dusty plain and Mt.Kilimanjaro. This set is basically their backyard. It is unbelievably beautiful.

You can sit in the chairs outside the main building (or in your own private terrace) and just stare at the landscape for hours. You’ll see zebras running one way, elephants walking the other, hyenas running… it is amazing,

And as if that wasn’t enough, the rooms are super comfy (and really cool), the food is DELICIOUS (like, for real) and the staff is super friendly. I could not recommend it more!

What to see/do?

  • Elephants, Elephants everywhere
  • Birds. Loads! Including water birds such as pelicans, kingfishers,…
  • Hippos in the water – how many can you see?
  • Hyenas, lions, giraffes, buffaloes, impalas, zebras…
  • Kilimanjaro views (try to watch it at sunrise, sure it’s early but oh so worth it!)

Which one should I pick?

Ah man, that’s really hard… If you really have to pick just one, and it’s your first safari ever, I’d say go with the Maasai Mara National Reserve as it is bigger, it has all the animals, and you might just spot unique scenes if you go during the migration.

BUT I really think you should go to Amboseli as well. It is honestly the most beautiful place.

1 thought on “Safari in Kenya”

  1. Pingback: Stop 4 – Kenya

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