A guide to… safari for beginners
Going on safari has been a life-long dream. Firstly because I have always had a fascination with African animals and secondly because I love being out in the wild. I was fortunate enough to see a wide variety of animals on my trip to Kenya, including sleepy lions, hordes of buffalo and zebra, giraffes and much more. I am already planning my next trip back.
Kenya is the perfect place to ease yourself into a safari; animals are easily visible on the vast plains of the Masai Mara and the flights to Nairobi are an 8-hour overnight hop from London Heathrow. Kenya also has an efficient tourism structure and a wide array of camps and lodges that can suit all budgets.
Prepare for long drives
To fill your itinerary with all Kenya’s highlights, there is quite a lot of travelling, and, due to being in Africa, these routes are certainly not tarmacked. Wildlife drives tend to start bright and early; some days are extremely successful when it comes to spotting wildlife, while other days you might not see anything.
I was lucky enough to see nearly all of the Big Five during my first drive in the Masai Mara National Park. However, I was reminded by my fellow safari-goers that this was far from normal. Three days later and more than seven hours of tracking one hippo – only to see buffalo – brought this truth home. Patience is essential: your guide might just lead you to sleepy lions dozing in a tree.
Have an alfresco safari breakfast
This is an opportunity to escape the confines of your jeep and take in the beauty of the Masai Mara. After we began the early morning descent from Angama Mara’s main lodge into the Masai Mara, we were greeted with the rustling of dik-diks nearby, as well as the resident vultures circling above. We left the hotel just after sunrise, found shade under a large acacia tree and emptied our brimming picnic basket that was filled with breakfast treats. We had bacon rolls, wholegrain muffins, and even a red-chequered tablecloth!
Meeting the locals
I felt enchanted by the local Masai tribe; a respected group of warriors known as expert herders and brave hunters. With ancestry dating back to the 15th century and land spanning Kenya and Tanzania, their knowledge about the Mara, its seasons and the animals that inhabit it is unrivalled. Don’t be afraid to join in with local activities and ask questions; the tribe’s warm welcome and willingness to share stories is remarkable.
Try a Tusker
‘Tusker Time’ was a phrase proudly coined by our guide. One of my favourite memories is approaching the lodge at sunset after (unsuccessfully) pursuing a leopard with a refreshing bottle of Tusker in hand. I’m still trying to find some in London.
En route for sundowners
Enjoy the view from your balcony
I was encouraged by our guide Wilson to wake up a little earlier and enjoy the wildlife from my balcony. “The sky never sits still!” he exclaimed. I duly set my alarm for 4.30am each morning and I was not disappointed. On one occasion, two baboons circled the terrace of our tented suite and tried to pinch my breakfast! I was also told that zebras often find their way to the lodge’s tents to say hello as well.
The panoramic view
Extend your holiday with a relaxing stay in Diani Beach
Just an hour’s flight from Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Diani Beach is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a busy week of early morning game drives. We stayed at Alfajiri Villas, a luxurious beach-front property with three exclusive private-beach villas comprising of 12 bedrooms. With Ukunda airport just a 5-minute drive away, you are swiftly escorted from the airstrip to the blissfully secluded and tropical surroundings.
Sunbathe on the long, sandy white beaches nearby or explore local bazaars and markets for hand-crafted furniture, jewellery and traditional kikoy scarves. In the evenings, dine alfresco on Italian-inspired cuisine featuring lots of freshly caught seafood and locally grown vegetables. You can take a dhow to the nearby coral reef, where you can snorkel among clown-fish and turtles. If you’re lucky, whale sharks can even be spotted.
Relaxing by the coast
Find out more about Cox & Kings holidays to Kenya here.Share: [Sassy_Social_Share]