I travelled from Nairobi to Masai Mara on our Nissan 4X4 Safari Vehicle.
The distance from
Nairobi to Maimahiu ( The first town in the route) is about 45 kms : about 40 Minutes
Somewhere before Maimahu is a viewing point and a small set of Curio shops . The sheer drop off to the valley provides good scenic value for photography, and is also a nice place to enjoy a cup of Kenyan Coffee.
Nairobi to Narok ( the last district Town) = 145 kilometers - About 2 Hours
The road till Narok is good and the drive is pretty Smooth. In between you can see the Masai Territory on your left and the undulating Green Savannahs .
Hills border the horizon and adds a special dimension to the vastness of th open land all around you. Tufts of Clouds hanged out all across the sky this November Morning.
The Air was slightly chilly and the drive felt great.
At Narok you find Gas stations and small food outlets. Its wise to have a bite here if you need it. A chicken Sandwich with potato fries tasted pretty good.
By All probability you would have already seen some Zebras, a few thomsons Gazelles and some cattle on the way.
Stock up on your Beers and Alcohol if you want to from here. I did.
We had a few minutes of breather here at a Narok Gas station. Had a bite or two from the local cafeteria, smoked a cigarettee and stocked up on Alcool and some Beer.
There are quite a few curio / gift Items on the road from Nairobi to Narok. Please remember, you can BARGAIN heavily. I bought a Wall-hanging for 1400 KSH when the guy asked 3000 KSH.
Please remember that :
1 USD is roughly equivalent to 100 KSH ( 96 is more precise on Nov 2011).
The first change that you would now find is that you would be bouncing and buping a lot , meaning every few seconds, while you are in this part of the trip.
The next difference would be that there would be far more animals now grazing the fields around. You would be unlucky if you do not find score of Thomsons Gazelles, a few zebras, and an odd Topee.
Enjoy the journey , which is about a 100 Kms and takes around 2 hours to reach the Masai Mara forest Reserve gate.
One word of CAUTION : Do not PHOTOGRAPH the ladies near the MARA RESERVE GATE.
A small Incident :
Our car , a Nissan 4X4 suddenly stopped while on our way from Narok to Masai Mara.
What happened is that one by one cars from both sides started to stop by and give our driver a helping hand. A little bit of rain added to the adventure in the open Savannahs.
Travellers from all these cars also hopped off for a 10 minute break, some enjoyed a small smoke on the sideways. Once it got fixed, we were on our way to the Mara Reserve
In case you do not know, the train from Nairobi to Mobassa has been CALLED OFF / DECOMMISSIONED for HUMAN TRAVEL and now only shuttles as a GOODS TRAIN.( since end March 2010)
So kindly booook your tickets for air-travel.
Safarilink and others fly to and from Wilson airport in Nairobi, and Mombasa, as well as to and from other Game reserves.
Modern propeller aircrafts, the flight in the Cessna from Nairobi into Masai Mara was at the least very interesting and adventurous.
The night before we did this the Mara had a down pour. Already muddy on our previous days game drive, the thought of getting bogged in our overland truck was more than enough to convince me to pay up the big bucks to see the Mara from a hot air balloon.
It was worth it by like 100 times. A once in a life time experience our balloon floated over a herd of about 24 elephants, we saw Lion very vaguely and leopard from the balloon (thus me completing seeing the Big 5) and it was soooo much more comfortable than sitting in a truck going through the mud. The most comfortable mode of transport I've ever been in... aaah floating up with the birds like on a cloud... Soooo Coool.
And of course afterwards being treated to the silver service of a full champagne breakfast in the middle of the Mara was absolutely delish as well. an amazing morning and well worth ever cent.
Not cheap, balloon rides cost about 400 US, but I will never do it again and you only live once right!
The road between Kenya and Tanzania is quite scenic. Masai Mara has a beautiful nature with hills and savannah, patches of bush and woodland. And it is the continuation to Serengeti in Tanzania. The chance to see wild animals on the bus is almost 100%. The bus cross the border between Masai Mara (Kenya) and Serengeti (Tanzania) right after the Mara Bridge.
The safari companies are using different cars from big trucks to jeeps, but the most common cars are Toyota Hiace and Nissan with an elevation roof so the passengers can stand up and see the animals. The cars have two a wheel drive, but it's not a big problem in Masai Mara during the dry season. The cars can go up steep hills and drive through high grass. But if you bump into big rocks as our reckless driver did, you break down the undercarriage of the car. (See the next tip...)
All cars have "PSV" written on the front/back, a kind of registration sign for driving with tourists on safari.
Our driver from Planet Safari Adventures managed to bump the Nissan safari car into some big rocks and break down the undercarriage of the car. We had to go back to an auto repair garage to fix it, and lost many hours with safari. The car could go up steep hills and drive through high grass, but not drive through big rocks. I wish I told the reckless driver to slow down before it happened...
Big overland trucks are traveling through the African continent, and pass through Masai Mara on one of many routes around Africa. They are the biggest specialized safari cars and have sometimes more than 20 tourists.
After arriving back in Nairobi after an exciting 14 days on the "big blue Kumuka Truck," Anne and I changed to a smaller truck to head off to the Massai Mara. The trcks, although old, are very comfortable but most importantly, they are excellent for game viewing. You can spot a lot more game, especially lion, cheetah and leopard, when perched higher up than most people in their small 4 wheel drives.
We love this company so much that we are planning to return to Africa in 2009 to complete another 21 day tour. This trip will take us from Cape Town to Victoria Falls via South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and finally Zimbabwe.
My wife and I hired a 4WD and drove ourselves around Kenya including the Masai Mara. It was awesome to do the safari at our own pace and our own route and stay for as long as WE want with the animals. We used Central Car Hire in Nairobi. See my post under transportation Kenya.
To maximize your wildlife viewing experience get an early start.
Most safari companies will break down their safaris in the following manner:
6:30 - 7:00am departure for first light and early animal viewing
8:30 - 9:00am return for breakfast
9:30 departure for additional game viewing
11:00am return to lodge for lunch and relaxation period
4:00pm tea/snacks with a 4:30 - 5:00pm departure for evening game viewing
6:30pm return to the lodge
You will get maximum game viewing by getting an early start. We were surprised by how few people actually seemed to take advantage of the 1st light viewing and we got to see alot of animals waking up w/out the hassle of being surrounded by so many vehicles.
Make sure you bring a jerry can with filled up. There is only one place inside the park that has a filling station at Sarova Camp near Sekenani Gate. There are plenty of places to fill up along the road from Nairobi to Masai Mara, but top off before you get inside the park.
The best way to get to and go around the Masai Mara by road is on a 4x4 vehicle. The journey from Nairobi takes about 6 hours and bumpy so you should take a more robust vehicle for better driving and comfort. Plus, a 4x4 can go in the Masai Mara Game Reserve where the little tour vans can't
I think I can?t repeat it often enough: the roads (if you want to call them so) in the National Parks in Kenya are quite bad. Gravel and big (BIG!) holes in it.
Use a 4WD or you will get stuck.
If it rains, even this is sometimes not enough. We had quite some rain when we were there and twice made a pirouette in the mud. No harm done, but .... phew. My husband says (of course) it is also a matter of experience. Even the best car drives not by itself....
In the picture you can see the car we had. In the background is a Masai Village, BTW.
Yes, this is Masai country, so it should be no surprise that you will at least once stop here to view and visit a village ...