5 days in the Eden of Wildlife is undoubtedly one of the best trips we have done in our life. We still remember the adventure in the wild savannah from the trip in 2010. August is the best time to visit Masai Mara to explore The Great Migration.
Day 0: Delhi – Nairobi
Our flight from Delhi departs at 7. 30 PM from the brand new swanky T3 of New Delhi International Airport. The start itself is an attraction since we are stepping into the brand new airport built for the Commonwealth Games. We clicked so many pictures of the amazing creation of our engineers.
The flight is on time and soon we are on air. We flew over Pakistan, Iran to descend onto the pearl of Middle East, Dubai. The famed airport of Dubai specially known for its shopping is an attraction for us. We moved around and explored the vast Duty Free shopping. Particularly we enjoyed the dinner in the restaurant serving Pakistani delicacies.
Our flight to Nairobi is also on time. As a gesture to maintain silence or serenity, there is no announcement in Dubai Airport, instead displays are placed all around. We really liked this initiative.
Dubai – Nairobi: Kenya Airways (Economy Class seats are not at all comfortable) I barely slept for an hour in this flight. I was also not in a mood to enjoy the food also.
Day 1: Arriving in Mara
We landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi at 6 AM in the morning. The views while landing was amazing with vast plains all around the city. My curious eyes were looking for the wildlife from top. Really excited to land on the soil of Africa.
Kenya is one of the few countries in the planet where Indians are lucky to have VISA on arrival. Even then we already got our VISA from Delhi. So we just picked up our luggage and went straight ahead for the immigration. Things are smooth in the airport, which is a stark different from the last two airports (Delhi and Dubai). This Nairobi Airport is still and old airport compared to the ones we saw before this. However the people are good and efficient with smooth transition till the gate.
John was waiting for us at the lounge. We exchanged greetings and sat on the Toyota Safari Vehicle. This is going to be our ride for next few days. Today we head out of Nairobi straight to Masai Mara. The drive from the Airport to the Safari Lodge is approximately 6 hours. On the way our eyes are wide open looking around the city of Nairobi. Outside is cloudy and gloomy. Saw lots of office goers early in the morning moving on foot.
Soon after an hour we checked into a gas station for quick breakfast and coffee. Kenya is a country of high inflation. A liter of water (Dasani or Aquafina) will cost KSh 180 (INR 120); a coke bottle will cost KSh 250; a large packet of Ruffles Lays is KSh 300. We picked up few chips, cakes and hot burgers and coffee for the trip. Soon we are out of the city life in the Kenyan Highways.
Nairobi is located on a higher elevation similar to the vast plains of Masai Mara. Between them the road moves down through the famous Rift Valley. We stopped at the downhill run to take pictures of the famous valley which is widening (the continent of Africa is separating on the fault line). There are numerous souvenirs shops lined up the road in the Rift Valley, selling lots of paintings, wooden art made of rosewood and ebony and many other things.
We reached the Gate of Masai Mara National Reserve at around 12:30 PM. After filling the papers we again moved inside. The road has vanished since last couple of hours and now it’s completely an off-roading trip. The Lodge is still an hour away. Inside the Gate of the National Reserve, moving on foot is not allowed except at designated locations. Also it is not allowed for vehicles to deviate from designated tracks. This is in strict application to take care of the wild and safety.
Suddenly out of nowhere a gate appeared and few thatched huts became visible. We have arrived at Mara Sentrim Safari Lodge. Its late afternoon and nice warm breeze is blowing outside. A couple of local Masai women are waiting with flowers and welcome drink for us.
The smooth welcome and quick transition to the separate hut a little further away from the reception took us by surprise. The hut we are staying is couple of minutes’ walk from the reception through the shades of Acacia tree. The whole property is protected by electrified wires all around. The lodge is simply amazing and completely camouflaged in the wild.
We freshen up on the open air shower just like we saw in TV. The room has all amenities and the feeling of somewhere in the wild is also inside the room. The rest of the day we spent time in the hammock and sipping some local tea. Really feeling excited for the next day safari.
Day 2: Mara
We woke up very early. The breakfast starts at 5 AM in the morning. After a heavy breakfast we packed up and moved into the safari vehicle. The whole day will be spent in the wild. We have to however return before dark as per rules. The lunch is already packed and placed in the safari vehicle. Let the pictures speak for the rest of the day.
Day 3: Mara
Today our plan is pretty much same as yesterday. Only change is that today we will visit the Mara River to witness the famed river crossing. Even though we wanted to do the balloon safari, the extremely high price set us back. We will surely do it in our next trip.
After two days of safari and passing by several safari lodges in the Eastern Masai Mara, we felt that Kekorok Lodge and Fig Tree Lodges are far better in terms of location. Kekorok Lodge in particular will give the awesome savannah sunset view since it is in the middle of savannah grasslands. Kekorok Lodge also has an airstrip. So flying in from Nairobi is also a great option. All other lodges are in the hills near the border of the national reserve.
During evening we headed to the Masai Village. The trip is a different flavor (though not exiting enough) to the daylong wildlife viewing, but can be done if you are visiting for first time. The whole village is surrounded by the huge bushes to protect from wildlife. The people mix well with tourists and there are occasional dance by local Masai women for welcoming the guests.
Day 4: Mara to Nakuru
Today after breakfast we departed Masai Mara. We are not happy since we wish we booked some more days here. Our next destination is Lake Nakuru. The return trip is pretty much the same route till the souvenir shop we stopped while coming from Nairobi. From here we move north wards. The big and beautiful Hells Gate National Park and Longonot National Park is on our left while we move on the Old Naivasha Road. We keep Lake Naivasha on our left and move further north to Nakuru.
During booking of our hotels, we missed out booking the Lake Nakuru Lodge since we were late, but we made sure we get booking in Merica Hotel which is the best property in town. Nakuru is a small town with lots of business coming from horticulture. After checking into the hotel, we decide to move ahead for an evening safari in the Lake Nakuru. The Merica Hotel is less than a km from park gate. The Lake Nakuru National Park is famous for the awesome avian life particularly the flamingoes. We clicked some beautiful pictures of the wildlife around. The trip ended perfectly with an awesome sunset behind the hills of Lake Nakuru.
Day 5: Nakuru
Today after breakfast we departed Nakuru.
We skipped morning safari in the national park. We decided to take a water journey in the huge Lake Naivasha. We never expected that this decision to do a water safari in the lake will come out to be one the better things to happen.
The Lake Naivasha is huge. It boasts probably the largest congregation of wild hippos in the world. Encountering hippos from a small boat is probably the scariest thing to happen. The avian life is breathtakingly close to us. The flying eagle catching fish from the lake is an added bonus. We definitely recommend this lake trip for all travelers.
We departed for Nairobi from here to spend the evening in the city. We stayed at Intercontinental, Nairobi which is opposite side of Parliament in heart of town. After a week travel we found an Indian restaurant in the town. Kenya has a good sizable Indian diaspora courtesy the British rule. Handi Restaurant served very nice tasty Indian food. We have our return from Kenya tomorrow. So we moved around the park near the hotel in evening and spent time in the restaurant of the hotel at night.
Day 6: Nakuru – Nairobi – India
Today we visited a place in the town which serves as a market but a closer look reveals a larger picture. The market is actually a hanger for Allied Forces Airplanes used during World War II. With lots of souvenirs and things to buy, we are unable to decide what to buy and what not. The prices of the souvenirs are much lower compared to the prices demanded in the Rift Valley shops.
After a quick round trip around the town on the car, we headed for the Airport. Feeling sad that we have to leave.
We left Nairobi at 12.30 PM and reach Delhi at 3 AM early morning next day.
1. Game Drive in Masai Mara
2. Lake Nakuru Flamingo
3. Wild life viewing with a failed lion attack on Zebra
4. Sunset with Acacia/yellow fever tree.
5. Lake Naivasha boating and amazing bird life.
Kenya Land package including safari lodges with full board, safari, transfers etc for 5 days will come to approx $1000 per person. This price is full season price for this year. This includes 4 nights in national parks which is very costly.
Souvenirs shops on the road to parks are very costly. They are just like our own street vendors who will say prices out of the world. If you are planning to buy souvenirs, buy from Nairobi in fixed price shops in hotels. They are justified in terms of price. Bargain like anything outside. Starting price may be 27000 KSh for 1 item but it has fallen to 7000 KSh for 3 items together.
Time July, August and September: The time of great migration.
This is the time to visit. Book well in advance for cheaper rates and better hotels. Book balloon safari also in advance. Even though ballooning cost $ 450 per person, it fills up so fast. We did not get booking.