Masai Mara National Park, Nairobi
We had a 13 dyas/12 nights stay with 8 day private safari around Kenya and 4 nights beach stay in Zanzibar.
We used the agency Masikio Safaris who gave us all the answers (promptly) to everything we needed to know.
We were happy with the overall experience with Masikio Safaris and only have to object about the quality of the 2 recommended camps in Masai Mara : Olumara Tented Camp and Base Camp Exoplorer, both of which were quite below expectations and overpriced (we had to pay extra for these). At the Base Camp we even had to ask for another tent as it was shabby, dark, dirty and lacked any plugs, even for the hair dryer. The shower was also outside, with no cover. The second tent was acceptable and had an indoor shower and plugs. But we only got it on the 2nd day. At the Olumara Base Camp the food was dry, cold, and not fresh. At night, they did not close the bathroom window as promised nor brought the hot water bottle nor the mosquito spray, all which was supposed to be a standard service for all tents. We complained but when we left they did not have the courtesy to forgive a single cent of the drinks consumed in our bill. Drinks had to be paid extra in all lodges and tents.
Our biggest praise goes to the wonderful, knowledgable, thoughtful and cheerful guide we got. His name is Sugar, which greatly suits him. Anyone thinking of going with Masikio Safaris and would like an English speaking guide, ask for Sugar, the best guide we could have asked for.
The first night we stayed at Nairobi, at The Boma Hotel. It's a new hotel, so far well maintained, and the breakfast and dinner were good.
The first park we visited was Samburu Park (my favourite) and stayed at Samburu Sopa Lodge. Good lodge with a swimming pool that was ideal in the hot afternoons. The food options were limited and of inconsistent quality. The animals in the park were easily spotted without having to go to great disctances (even cheetah and leopards)
Next came Nakuru Park where we stayed at Flamingo Hill Tented Camp. The experience of the camp itself was not a positive one for various reasons. In order of occurance: my food had a stone in the lentils and I broke part of a molar cover. The tent had a scorpion in it so they gave us another tent and spent much time gathering up the covers in the bed so no other could climb in during the night. And third, the cocktails had hardly any liquid as it was 2/3 ice 1/3 lemon pieces. Even after asking for one with actual liquid in it, we got the same one. Conclusion: would not stay here again.
The park itself was very beautiful but not well maintained as there was considerable amount of garbage in the lake shores. We did not see as many Flamingos as there supposedly used to be, just a small group on the second day. T seems to be due to the reducing amount of fish in the lake due to thechanging chemical make up derived from its flooding. We say many buffalo, baboons, and many different kinds of birds. Only say some white rhinos from far on the second day.
The third stopover was in Lake Naivasha, where we saw quite a few hippos, even in the garden of our Lodge (Sopa Lodge). The food was quite varied and good (the best of all 5 places we stayed). Beware of mosquitos here and in previous Park due to the proximity of the Lake.
The last park was Masai Mara, with its inmense savanah and, although harder to spot than in Sakuru Park, we say more young, more variety of animals, and many eating their prey (although we didn´t see the hunt itself).
As mentioned before, the 2 camps were not a great experience. We would not recommend Olumara Camp at all and only The Base Camp if you insist on having an acceptable tent such as the one we got on the second day - tent number 5. The food was good but too spiced up (covering the actual taste). The personnel were generally attenntive and friendly.
The 4 day stay in Zanzibar was an ideal finish as we had been quite tired of the dust, short nights, the bumpy roads and long journeys. The 4 say relaxation came in well. We did some scuba diving which the hotel "Dream of Zanzibar" offered. We loved the hotel, its food, its beach, its nightly atmosphere. We would recommend it.
The last day we spent in Stone Town, capital of the island but were quite disappointed. We had a 3 hour walking tour and found the town to be quite dirty, unkept, shabby, and in great need of maintenance of its public buildings, streets, etc. Would not reccommend staying here and would have rather spent that night in the beach hotel. The hotel was called Seyyda - a big let down. Wifi didn´t work, food expensive and below average, no idea of how to make cocktails (Bloody Mary consisted of a moussy pink layer floating over vodka).
Overall, the 13 day/12 night vacation seems quite overpriced for the comfort/quality of what you get. It is a unique and wonderful experience to see so many wild animals in their natural habitat, especially knowing how quickly we are reducing or changing their environment, everywhere in this world. If anyone would be interested in investing such a great expense in such a safari I would reccomend staying a bit less time (maybe skipping Lake Naivasha or Lake Nakuru) and paying for the trip back to Nairobi from the Parks by small airplane instead of doing the long, dusty, dirt road back all over again. Regarding the tents/lodges, do extensive research on it through these types of blogs/websites.
I would have appreciated having the above information when considering making a safari, therefore I hope this will help others chose their safari wisely if they decide to do one after all their research.
The trip through the Great Rift Valley is certainly spectacular and, believe it or not, the 14 hour drive is certainly well worth the effort.
The Great Rift Valley in Kenya is well known as the domain of the Maasai people who live in simple tow or three room mud huts, arranged in a circle and enclosed with a cruedly errected thick round 'fence' of sharp thorn bushes to keep their cattle in and the local lions out!
The Masai Mara National Reserve is relatively close to Nairobi, approx 150 kms from the city centre. Having said that, the roads are the most pathetic, pot hole riddled, dangerous, dusty, back country tracks that you can imagine. Be prepared for a very long 14 hour drive to the "Mara." Yes, that is correct, 14 hours!
It seems very obvious from the outset that the money that is allocated to the maintainence of these roads ends up in the pockets of the corrupt officials that "run" the country.
It is well worth the trip as the people, wildlife and scenery that make up the experience that is the "Mara" will be etched into your mind forever more. Di it, you won't regret it.
The reserve, gazetted in 1961, is located west of the Rift Valley and is a natural extension of the Serengeti plains, in Tanzania. The Mara river, the reserve's backbone, traverses north to south heading for its westbound way unto lake Victoria, through the Tanzanian park. This course is the natural barrier crossed every year by the large migratory herds of wildebeests and zebras which march across the two parks.
During the months of July to September one of nature's most dramatic spectacles occurs, the annual migration of over a million wildebeest and zebra, coming from the Serengeti, to cross the Mara River into the Reserve. At this time of the year you will see a large number of lion, hippo, crocodile and vultures all of which prey on the weak and young migrating animals.
Since it is protected as a reserve and not as a national park, Masai Mara is not managed by Kenya Wildlife Service but by the local authorities, namely District Councils.