In December 2019, we made a safari trip to Kenya to see big 5 at their home. It was one of the most amazing places we’ve visited. To see all those cats, elephants, giraffes, hippos and 100s other animals in pure nature, that was insane. I personally absolutely loved that. If you’re considering going to Keyna for a safari, here is some info you might find useful.
It has been on our bucket list for a while and as I am getting older, safari got higher and higher priority. I wanted to see what I know from ZOOs in real nature (and I actually had no idea how something like that looks like). We got Kenya recommended by several friends and because we were in Tanzania before (and we wanted to check a new country), it was pretty straight-forward to book tickets to Nairobi.
How did you book it?
We booked flights from Dubai to Nairobi and then we did some research about camps and safaris. We knew we have only 5 days so we wanted to stay inside or near the parks where we would do the safari (game drive). We ended up booking (directly, via their websites) Mara River Camp for first 2 nights and then Eagle View Basecamp Explorer for other 2 nights.
Mara River Camp is near (the entrance to the park is 15 mins from the camp) Masai Mara – probably the largest national park in Kenya, which is around 300km from Nairobi.
Funny fact #1 – 300km is not 2 hrs drive in Kenya. It is between 5-7 hrs. That’s why most tourists usually take domestic flights from Nairobi (every camp will get this organised for you).
Funny fact #2 – the flight from Dubai lands too late to catch the last flight from Nairobi to Mara so you have 2 choices: sleepover in Nairobi and fly in the morning or go by car. We chose the night ride as we didn’t want to waste half a day in Nairobi. But…
Funny fact#3 – they call the roads in Kenya “African massage” for a reason. And especially during the rainy season. After spending 2 hours in the traffic on the way, we knew we will not make it to Mara that night. The road there is far from solid after rain and you don’t want to get stuck in mud in the middle of the night, do you? 🙂 Our driver and camp arranged a hotel in Narok which is is the last city on the way to Mara with the solid road. Good start! 🙂
Where did you stay?
Mara River Camp
Regardless of the struggle on the way there, we were in love with this camp from the first second. It’s surrounded by Mara River and has around 20 tents if I remember well. When we arrived, maybe 2 of them were occupied. The place was perfectly quiet, relaxed. Everyone in the camp from the manager to the chef was absolutely amazing, really kind people trying to make your stay memorable.
Our tent was just in front of the river. It’s under the trees and we were told not to freak out when a monkey jumps on top of it during the night. It didn’t 🙂 We felt out of this world when we went out of the tent and there were hippos swimming in the river and crocodile chilling on the other bank.
Eagle View Basecamp
The other 2 nights were in Eagle View in Naboisho Conservancy. It was around 2.5 hrs drive from Mara and the camp had to arrange permission for us to be allowed to go in. When we arrived, the manager welcomed us with the words “Welcome to the best view in Mara”. The guy was not exaggerating. The camp is on top of the valley where you will see zebras, giraffes, antelopes and other animals hanging out, eating, playing. Just living their wildlife.
The camp was way fancier than Mara River (so was the price), we felt it was even too luxury considering we’re in the middle of wild Africa. But the staff were again amazing, food delicious (actually thanks to the chef at Eagle view, we try to copy his recipes and started cooking soups at home). Given the camp was not fenced, they paid a good attention to our security and during the night there was always someone to escort us. Look at the view from our tent in the photos.
How was the safari?
In general, every camp has its cars and guides to take you for safari. Usually, they do half-day or full-day trips. In most camps, this is included in the room rate (but check it before the booking). In Mara River, we were with the driver who picked us up from the airport in a mini-van with an openable roof. This was probably more comfortable for longer drives and rough weather. On the other hand, you’re way more separated from the outside.
Mara North Conservancy is a really huge “park” and you can probably spend a few days without seeing the same spots twice. There is an entrance fee of $80/adult per day. You pay this in cash to guards when you enter the park. The fee helps the local community to protect the conservancy and fight with poachers.
In Naboisho, the park is way smaller. Also while our first driver was really nice and made us see many nice things, we found helpful to have a local driver who knows every corner of the conservancy and actually even the animals. Derek, our guide at Eagle View, was able to spot animals kilometres away and always knew where to look for cats we were most excited about.
What was absolutely insane was morning “Walking-safari” where we left the cars home and with the group of Masais (local people) we went for 2hrs walk. I’ve never imagined something like that.
If you’re a photographer, you’ll be in heaven. There’s always something happening and the cats… they’re like models – well, take a look yourself in the galery at the end of the article. By the way, all cars we used had power sockets so you don’t run out of power.
Would you go again?
Oh yeah! Right now. We would probably consider a different time of the year or a different place (e.g. Serengeti park in Tanzania which is just across the border). The great thing was that in December, many animals had babies and that made it even more special. On the other hand (especially in Mara North), given most of wild animals already migrated to Tanzania, it would be interesting to see it before that.
Were 4 days enough / too much?
If you go for a safari only, probably yes. Of course, you can do a safari for one day only and it will still be amazing. I personally loved the fact that we had enough time for everything we wanted. Every time we saw something interesting (like fighting zebras or antelopes), we just stopped and kept watching as long as we wanted.
Was it safe?
During the whole trip, the most dangerous thing was the group of drunk Irishmen on the plane from Dubai. 🙂
But really, I didn’t feel unsafe for a second. Both our drivers were very experienced, knew when they can afford to go closer and when the animals are not happy with it. Even during the walking tour, there were more guides then tourists 🙂 When you’re in the car, animals are either afraid and run away or they just don’t care (especially lions – they totally ignored us). If you don’t do anything stupid (“What if I throw bacon to that cheetah?”), there is nothing to be worried about. The guides will take care of your safety as well as the animals.
And that’s all I’ve had in mind – but if you have any questions about safari in kenya, feel free to ask.
Last but not least..few more photos 🙂
I love the airport buzz, planes and most of all – the feeling when you discover or experience something new. Together with Anna, we launched our gift voucher platform Ithara.ae. Photos are usually taken with Canon EOS 4000D, my Huawei Honor phone and DJI Mavic Pro.