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.
One of the options available for a safari, is to go up in a hot air balloon.
The view from the balloon is absolutely amazing and you can spot animals not normally visible from the ground, as well as getting a superb overview of large herds.
We started off from a pre-arranged launch site, where the balloon was inflated in front of us while it was still dark. We took off before sunrise and drifted silently above the African plains, watching the sun come up over the horizon. From our lofty perch, we could see large herds of buffalo, still asleep on the ground - that is until the pilot turned the burners on - stampede!
After about an hour of total wonder at the fabulous spectacle beneath us, the apparently never ending savannah, the wild animals, the peace and tranquility; we landed somewhere near the Tanzanian border.
It is not a cheap mode of transport, we paid US$ 385 each, booked through the travel dest at the Sarova Mara Camp. They do accept credit cards, but due to a huigh number of recent cancellations, expect payment with booking.
To maximise the time spent in the Mara, we flew with Air Kenya sceduled service from Nairobi's Wilson Airport to Siana Springs' own airstrip. Although a sceduled twice daily service to the Masai Mara, it will only stop at certain airstrips depending on bookings. There are many various airstrips with the Mara, including the one at Siana Springs Camp.
The 45 minute flights departs Nairobi at 10.00 and 15.00 daily, returning from the Mara at 11.00 and 16.00. The cost is as follows:
Single High Season = US$ 105
Return High Season = US$ 185
Single Low Season = US$ 95
Return Low Season = US$ 170
High Season = 16 Dec - 31 March
16 Jun - 31 Oct
Low Season = 1 April - 15 June
1 Nov - 15 Dec
There is a baggage weight limit of 15 kg which is to include hand luggage, but I will say they didn't actually weigh our hand luggage. The conditions state: " The carriage of excess baggage is at the sole discretion of the company after taking into consideration the type of aircraft and the number of passengers booked." The charge for excess baggage is Ksh 200 per kg.
Check in time is 45 minutes at Wilson airport and 15 minutes at the airstrips.
We flew in a Twin Otter with 16 seats and found the view over the Kenyan landscape absolutely stunning. As there was only eight of us travelling, we all had a window seat.
Many different vehicles are available for game drives in the Mara. We felt we had the best vehicle in the entire reserve! With open sides for optimum viewing and a roof to keep the sun off our pale bodies, tiered seating for additional visability, 4WD for difficult terrain, a great suspension for those bumpy tracks and just eight of us in a 13 seater vehicle, we were happy little bunnies!
When booking a safari, it is worth checking the type of vehicle they offer, and whether or not they guarantee you a window seat.
Hiring your own car and doing self-drives in Masai Mara can be very rewarding. For budget minded travelers (one to two people), you will probably hire a RAV 4 Toyato in Nairobi. Anything from $70 to $90 US per day will be your rate. This includes insurance, which is manditory. If you have a larger group, you may consider hiring a Range Rover or Land Rover, which is more expensive but will give you better clearance and power to tackle the terrain as well as give you more room for more people (three to four people). A Range Rover and the like will probably cost $120 to $150 US per day.
Make sure you look over the vehicle carefully.
Check the tires (don't forget the spare!).
See if the fuel gage works.
Check out the bottom of the vehicle to see if anything is loose and/or hanging.
Make sure vehicle has a sun roof and test it.
Here is who we used: They were honest, but their cars were a little rickity (I think all rental cars are though)
Upgrade Tours and Car Hire
George G. Muriuki, Operations Manager
NCM Building, Opp. Odeon Cinema
Tom Mboya Street
P.O. Box 22129-00400 Nairobi
Our DREAM CAMP land cruiser. Alan from the UK on the left. Our MASAI driver KIM. We had just left the LEOPARD, Kim insisted he saw a RHINO! So, he went through some thick bush. Fine with me ,I love that stuff! Well, we heard POP! We pulled to a clearing and KIM had to change the tire. A good time to get out and feel the MARA under your feet!
ps, still like my LAND-ROVER
To our right where we POPPED our tire. The BUSH where KIM thought he saw a RHINO!
We were all hoping he would come out!
But, to this day I don't believe there was a RHINO! KIM was trying so hard to fine one.
Because, I told him about all the RHINOS I
saw in LAKE NAKURU! He also wanted us to see all of the BIG-5!! We only saw 4!
It was great none the less!!
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 ...
Had the LAND ROVER for over 2wks OF THE 3wks I was in KENYA 2001. The last part
while staying at DREAM-CAMP, we used a
LAND CRUISER! Two times we had to give a HELPING-HAND to some stuck in the mud
MINNI-BUGGER!! THE LAND ROVER is:
Car Talk Top Ten List – Here are some reasons not to rent a car and try to travel through East Africa independently:
1. Tire blows out first day in the Mara
2. Fuel gauge doesn’t work and fuel leaks profusely from the bottom so you have no idea how much fuel is in the tank
3. Security alarm goes off for no reason
4. Terminal on the battery falls off and the car won’t start
5. Muffler decides to fall off and string is needed to hold it on
6. Apparently 4 out of 5 lug nuts are good enough and shocks don’t come standard
7. Seat belts work sometimes
8. Roads may qualify for national park status as the gorges and rifts in the road are magnificent
9. Bridges are an optional construction in the Kenyan Civil Engineering Manual
10. The innovation of road signs has yet to hit East Africa
11. The craft of giving directions is much like playing the Maryland Lottery, You can “let yourself play” but you know you will never win (okay so eleven we couldn’t resist the last one)
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
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.
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.
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.
Lesly & Alan looking on! Nice and funny people. Lost track of them since we met at
DREAM CAMP! But, this was fun! Hoping like a fool something would come out of the BUSH. Even a SNAKE would have been cool to see!