Tips for Kenya trip

Planning for Maiden Kenya Trip:

During August month, I made my first trip to Watch & photograph African wildlife. Being our first trip our obvious choice was Kenya. As I was planning this trip on my own, I spend many hours on internet and got feedback from friends who already been there. Advantage when you plan your own trip to a new place is that,  as you read about various parks, animals & habitats, so before hand you  get fair bit of knowledge about place.

As we were traveling during great migration time as we wanted to give more time to Masai mara so our changes of seeing river crossing increase. Our tour itinerary was, Lake Nakuru for two nights & Masai Mara for 5 nights.

I want to share some information about Kenya which might help other who wants to travel in coming months. I strongly recommend every wildlife lover should make at least one trip

Weather & best time

Months

Season

Note

Advantage

Mid March- Mid June

 Rainy

I understood from my guide is rainy season at Masai Mara is not like monsoon in India. It can rain for few hours and then  no rain next day

Being off season, you get the best deals. Which can be as low as 30-40% of peak season

June

 

Grass will be tall, but sighting will be there

Shoulder season

July- Sep

Pleasant day,  cooler night

Time when millions of wildebeest & Zebra arrive in Masai mara plans from Serengeti Tanzania, to graze fresh grass after rainy season in Mara.

Peak season, if watching  river crossing your wish list , then this is right time

Mid October - November

Mild rainy season.

With migrating herds of wildebeest back into Tanzania.  Can’t expect much action during this  period

Shoulder season

December

pleasant

Because of Christmas & new year holiday, again there will lots of visitor

High season

Jan – Mid March

Dry season

Less water, less prey. So time to watch lots of action between predators. With limited prey, predators going for prey which normally they avoids.

If migration is not your wish list, then this is the best time to visit Masai Mara.

Main National Parks:

  1. There are many national reserves in Kenya, if you are going first time then Masai Mara is must, keep minimum of 3 days. Second most unique park is Samburu (as this park is north of equator, has its own unique five animals which we will not get south of Equator).
  2. Lakes, there many lakes along the Great Rift Valley. From Nairobi they are in following order:
    1.  Naivasha ( fresh water)  Good for water birds, KF, African fish eagle etc
    2. Nakuru ( salt water) As most of the website claims it got Millions of flamingos, but that is not true any more as last few year because of water level increasing alkaline level is not suited for flamingos they moved to other lakes, but there will be hundred of them if not lac anymore. Other then flamingos there will be hundreds of other bird species. But I feel this lake is best to photograph Rhinos, both Black & white and Rothschild’s giraffe. 
    3. Lake Bogoria (salt water) Hot springs and chances of getting lac of Flamingo is more here then at Nakuru. Very less tourist comes here.
    4. Lake Baringo (fresh water) farthest from Nairobi.

If you are already been to Nakuru, in next trip can plan Bogoria & Baringo.

  1. Ambosili – Very good for Elephant. If your dream shot is of Elephant or Giraffe crossing vast plans against highest  peak of Africa  Mt Kilimanjaro in background then this the must visit park, else most of then animals are common to Masai Mara.

Planning:

  1. There are two ways of booking your trip, if you are planning to visit only one park, then you can contact camp or lodge directly. If you are traveling to more then one national park, then go through safari travel agency. They will give you per person cost; depend upon no of person in each vehicle.
  2. If you book through travel agency, your guide will receive you at airport  and drop you back to airport as your trip ends. He will take care of your check in – check out, your packed breakfast or lunch. He will plan your daily trip as per your interest. There are many agencies out there. I was negotiating rates with Sunworld & Suntrek. Finally I took services of Suntrek.
  3. If you compare the variety of species and photography opportunity we get in Africa safari, the cost in not much. You can have your life time wildlife dream trip of 8Days between $2000- $3000 depend upon number of people in one vehicle & choice of camps you made.
  4. There is direct flight from Mumbai to Nairobi by Kenya airways. Flight time is around 6 hrs. Comfort level is better then our low cost airlines. Return ticket cost around $600
  5. Visa can be obtained on arrival, but if you want to leave airport early and save 20-30 min of your time better get it before in India (cost Rs2600). Immigration form you can collect in-flight, fill it and submit at Nairobi immigration counter.
  6. If you have too many camera gears, better carry a typed sheet with equipment Serial No and before security check at Mumbai airport, there is customs counter, fill the form and get it sealed. 
  7. Yellow fever vaccination is must.  When you return back at Mumbai at airport they will check for sure. Kindly visit following address and get booking as there will limited vaccine they give.  Public Health Institute (Opp: S.J.Polytechnique college), Near Atria Hotel / K.R Circle, Bangalore-560001, Karnataka . Phone Number:080-22210248
  8. Camps: Broadly there are two types of camps in Masai mara, large one with 70-100 rooms/ tents and small one with 8-15 tents. Both types have there advantage. Big one will be good for big group, family. There will be more choice of food, with swimming pool and more safe.eg Mara Serena, Fig tree, Keekorok, Ashnil( we stayed for 2 nights) etc you never go wrong with any of these camps. Small camp will be at great location, most of them will have no fence, animal roams in camp at night, less option of food, but personalized service. Host will call you by your name etc Most of these camp are expensive and seasonal (Bush Mara camp, we stayed for 3 nights). If you are staying for more then 3 nights in Masai Mara, its better you chose two different camps in different location as this Park is really huge and you will be able to cover more Area this way.
  9. Safari Vehicle: There two main option, Land cruiser or VAN. Before making this trip I was very keen to have land cruiser for our trip. But during trip I saw many Van (Toyota & Nissan) they looks more comfortable and also 4X4. 

Few tips:

  1. Once you reach Nairobi, there is Safari.com mobile SIM card counter.  SIM card will cost 200 KES  and 500-800 KES talk time will be more then enough to keep updating your family or friends back home about each & every sighting ( 1Rs= 1.5KES)
  2. Tryout coffee as much as you can, Kenya coffee is superb so as Tusker beer.
  3. Network connectivity is superb each and every corner of Park we were getting network. You can click with your smartphone can immediately up load on facebook.
  4. Try to be in your safari vehicle as early as possible as sun rises very quick and sets very fast. Sunrise and sunset are very amazing out in grass plains.
  5. Carry your breakfast packed as there will be possibility that you might witness a hunt if you hang on with predator for little longer…
  6. Road between Narok and Masai Mara is very bad. (There is no road) about 70-80 km you are going to have tough time. So those have back pain issue can check flight from Mara to Nairobi, it cost between $150-200.

I know am not expert, but I thought of writing down all what I have in mind, before I forget. At least it will be helpful to me when I plan again some time….hopefully…

 

Comments  

 
0 #1 Sathya Narayanan KD 2015-01-08 17:07
Great Info Yashpal.
Quote
 

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