April 2, 2013

Travel guide and tips of a safari in Kenya

After give you 7 reasons to travel to Kenya, could not pass without telling you my journey through this amazing country and some tips about documentation, vaccines and roads.

Do I need a Visa?

The answer is yes, you need a visa, whether for business or sightseeing. The visa for 3 months, a single entry in the country, is 50 US Dollars.

I got in touch with the Kenyan Embassy in Madrid and I processed the visa without a problem; then they stick it for you in a page of the passport and you can enter the country with it. Another option is to process the visa at the Nairobi's Airport, but do not know how fast you get it and if you would have any problems. If you decide to get it in Kenya, bring the exact money so you won't be in trouble and preferably new bills.

Vaccinations and other recommendations before the trip

I recommend the yellow fever vaccine, although it's not mandatory. It lasts 10 years and serves you if you ever travel to an African country again.

Regarding malaria pill, I did take prophylaxis in my stay in Kenya. I started taking it at home a week before, to check if I had side effects, but I had no problems. Read my post on Tips before traveling, where I explain in more detail the issue of vaccines and malaria.

Transport: Is it worth it to travel by car?

Mainly, there are two ways to get around Kenya: by car or plane. Both have their pros and cons, though, I will recommend the car. From a 4x4 you see everything from another perspective, you can detruck whenever you want to take pictures, go through the villages where you can see first hand, the everyday customs and Kenyan markets, the colorful clothes of women, smiling eyes of children... Quite an experience! Although you have to be prepared for endless hours of dirt roads and continued jumps. Still, I would not choose any other mean of transportation if returning to Kenya.

The advantages of the plane: is fast, convenient, easy, you save a lot of time... but it is much more expensive. Even so, the options are there.

Accommodation: How to choose it?

In this section, there are multiple options. You could plan your trip to Kenya in many ways. In my case I chose Lodges and Tented Camps, because I wanted to experience what it was like the feeling of staying in in large tents in the middle of a national park as the old safaris, where you can see all kinds of wild animals from the bed. Although there are cheaper options where also you can feel nature: campsites. In my post of Out of Africa I explain a bit more the difference between potential accommodation for the night and the advantages of each one.
Money and tourist guides

First, I have to tell you that I always book accommodation, transportation, tour guides and travel in advance; and I always try to contact guides and local agencies, as well as the hotels to organize the trip myself. So when I came to Kenya, I had all paid except food and personal expenses. The official currency is the Kenyan shilling, and I took dollars that I changed at Nairobi's International Airport. Watch out, because many times they don't change pre-1996 U.S. dollars.
Itinerary of a safari in Kenya

Nine days of safari in Kenya is the perfect time to enjoy a tour of this country and discover its Natural Parks and all it can offer you. If you want, plus a safari, take the opportunity to spend a few days on the coast, then you should go 15 days. Well, this is a recommendation of estimated time, of course, if you have more days, the more, the better.

Here's the route I did on my trip, always with a driver that was also my guide:

Daya 1: Madrid – Nairobi

I did the flight with Virgin Atlantic Airlines, with a stopover in London. Currently I think that route is no longer available. What a shame, because the Virgin planes were well equipped, give you away a bag with items for the trip, was so comfortable, as if I was at business class, the seats had individual TV...

That night was spent on the plane, and I got to Nairobi, capital of Kenya, on the following day.

Day 2: Nairobi - Amboseli National Park

We travelled by road, near the Tanzanian border, to Amboseli National Park, and before I reached the Lodge, I crossed with a huge elephant. I had just arrived and I had already come across one of the most important animals in Kenya!

Day 3: Amboseli National Park

We did two safaris, one in the morning (waking up at 6 in the morning, because you have to take advantage when the animals are most active and the weather not so hot) and one in the afternoon

We saw impressive scenes as a TV documentary: hyenas hunting zebras, lions with their babies...

Day 4: Amboseli National Park – Mount Kenia

We did a tour to Mount Kenya in the central region, where predominates the rainforest, home of  felines and elephants. It was amazing to do a walking safari through the forest and to see at night from the hotel window how elephants approached to eat beside us. Such an amazing experience!

Day 5: Mount Kenia - Lago Nakuru

Early in the morning, we set off on the road to Lake Nakuru. Spectacular scenery of the lake full of pink and white colors given by flamingos and other birds. Best part? Lake Nakuru is a black and white rhino sanctuary cause they are highly protected.

Day 6: Lago Nakuru - Masai Mara National Park

We arrive at Masai Mara after a long journey through the Rift Valley on quite difficult roads, women and children with drums and sacks in the head crossing all the time, and zebras and gazelles leaping down the road. But it was definitely worth it. A great sanctuary was in fornt of us, where we watched lions, buffalo, hippos, cheetahs, giraffes and millions of wildebeest crossing the Mara River, where we could see the annual Great Migration.

Day 7: Masai Mara National Park

Also we visited the Masai, wearing traditional customs, that are the most important warrior tribe in the country.

This was one of the best day beacause I could make a sunrise trip on a hot aie balloon.

Day 8: Masai Mara National Park – Nairobi – Madrid

The trip came to an end. I arrived in Nairobi sad as having to go back to Madrid after the incredible safari days, nature and culture that I lived. 

This left me with a tour of the house where lived the famous writer of Out of Africa, Karen Blixen and a tour through Nairobi before returning to the hotel, because the next day, I returned to Madrid.

A great trip that I always recommend when people ask me. The call of Africa is so big that really engage you to come back. Kenya is an incredible country!