Like most 20-something travel addicts, my hit list tends to be shaped by the latest jaw-dropping vlog on YouTube. Mr.Ben Brown is one of the very best and when his adventures took him to Kenya, my fate was sealed. This was happening!
A country full of character, stunning beauty and lots of incredible wildlife capable of ripping your head off, Kenya had a 17% increase in foreign tourists last year. Time to figure out why people are flocking to the heart of Africa.
Getting To Kenya and Getting Around
Getting to Nairobi? No problem. Getting around Kenya? we’ll get to that part!
There are plenty of connections to Nairobi including via Istanbul and Paris. Instead, we flew Emirates via Dubai on each way, spending a couple of days in Dubai on the way home. The journey was everything you could expect of a 5* Airline and booking through USIT’s book now pay later system was a life saver financially. Travel agents are where it’s at.
Getting around Kenya itself is a bit crazy, I’m not gonna lie to you. Lucky for you, these tips we learned on our adventure will serve you well when it’s your turn…
We had arranged many car transfers to and from different places along with one internal flight from Nairobi to Mombasa after the Safari, looking back we would have been screwed without these transfers! They were great but, if your budget allows it would have been a lot easier had we flown from place to place, basically air strip to air strip.
Let me try explain it like this…welcome to Terminal 1 in the Maasai Mara!
The air strips in the Masai Mara (above), Malindi & Diani Beach are just that. Air strips. Nothing else, nothing more. Nothing else needed to be honest. Simple, effective travel between locations that cuts out crazy long journeys on some harsh terrain and some questionable roads. However, if you’re on a budget, flying can be a bit more expensive so ground transfers may be the only option. Whichever you decide, organize everything before you travel!
Exploring Maasai Mari National Park
Finding the right safari company can be a daunting task considering the sheer amount of options available.
Organising it all yourself is a potential holiday ruiner, so be warned.
We settled on a tour company called Asili Adventure Safari’s found via USIT’s leisure network. We paid $500 for a three-day Masai Mara Safari, which was extremely good value believe me! An early morning pick up at our hotel in Nairobi, we headed for the Maasai Mara National park. The drive was roughly 6 hours in length but through some amazing landscapes including the great African rift valley but also through some terrible terrain, mainly just terrible roads.
The kids you pass waving at every car, smiling ear to ear make up for that though. The vehicle was as Safari as it got with a detachable roof rack, chargers for phones and camera gear and an extra supported chassis & suspension which was the most valued aspect as we encountered some bumpy ass terrain! This is no place for your aunt’s Nissan Micra!
Ossero Lodge – The Perfect Place In The Wild
Throughout the three-day safari, we stayed in an open camp lodge called the Ossero Lodge; our rooms were incredible with military style tent with 4 post bed, ensuite with bath and separate shower. The camp lodge had a pool, Bar & fire pit area for guests also. The lodge was an open lodge so you had to be escorted back to the room after meals as you never knew what you could encounter.
If I was to do it again, I would not change a thing with the accommodation as you really felt like you were on Safari and not in a 5* air-conditioned resort. We had breakfast lunch and dinner included in the Safari package and the food was amazing with a different menu every single night.
Searching For The Big Five
Our guide Joseph, collected us in Nairobi and was the 5th member of our group for 3 days, he was a gent and his passion for what he does rubs off onto you straight away and we couldn’t have asked for a more knowledgeable, friendly guide.
He knew the Maasai Mara inside out, there are no road signs or roads for that matter, just dirt tracks and more dirt tracks, and he knew them all. You are out for the full day on Safari chasing the Big Five and any other animals floating about, the drivers are all tuned into to a radio frequency to pass through information about sightings and exciting stuff going on. The Masai Mara itself is the most concentrated area for wildlife and you are guaranteed to see massive herds of elephant, giraffe, zebra, water buffalo & wildebeest. Pride of lions hunting or lazing about we’re common and basically every other animal in the Lion King.
On the second day, we headed for the Mara river to witness the crossing of the wildebeest. The migration had just begun so there wasn’t too much crocodile action but the hippos and crocs were out in force patrolling the river and stomping their territory.
The park rangers offer a guided river walk which takes you right down to the edge of the Mara river itself and along its banks. A couple of steps closer to the edge and your crocodile dinner, makes it more fun. After four genuinely incredible days, it was time for Joseph to get rid of us. As he dropped us back to Nairobi international, it was upsetting both saying goodbye to him and goodbye to the lands from which all of us came from.
Next up for James is China! Follow him on Instagram here.
Kenya is not an adventure to plan without the help of those who have been there and done it, like James. Thinking about an African safari adventure next? Email James.ODonoghue@usit.ie , message him on Whatsapp or head over to our Adventure Tours in Kenya and let’s help you plan it!