If you've ever wanted to visit Kenya and the magnificent Masai Mara, our expert, Nick, explains why you should prepare yourself for an emotional safari experience
If African adventures are your thing and you want to experience the majesty of the Masai Mara in Kenya, be warned, this may be one of the most life-affirming experiences you will ever come across. Kenya expert Nick explains why.
“Kenya is real. Real adventure, real animals, real people and culture and real hospitality served up in abundance.”
My feet touched the deep ochre earth – I had arrived. Kenya holds a unique place in my heart and I was excited to be returning for my fifth visit to this particular country, which almost feels like home to me now.
I had been eagerly anticipating this trip, not least because I was travelling with several Hayes and Jarvis staff members who were first-timers to Kenya. This astounding country has never disappointed me – the game viewing is always amazing, but almost on a par with that experience, is seeing people’s reactions to their first safari experience.
It was March of 2015, towards the end of a particularly long dry season and we travelled extensively, over a ten day period, through the key national parks of the country, also including a stay at the world famous Diani Beach on the south coast. All the time we were accompanied by our own private driver/guide – the fabulously knowledgeable Alex. Here we are all below:
Team Hayes and Jarvis in Kenya 2015;from left to right: Me, Nick Wilson, Barbara Clarke, Katie Parsons, local driver/guide Alex, Steph Rock, Taylor Oliver and Grant Jennings, our photographer.
Kenya has so much to offer visitors, with its diversity of landscapes, wildlife and culture, which never fails to amaze me each time I return. Fortunately, the recent relaxation on the FCO advice means people are now flocking back to the country – both on safari and coastal destinations.
The first part of our African adventure, took us into the bustling capital of Nairobi – an exciting city, that serves as a hub for the whole of East Africa and the hustle and bustle is infectious.
From here we hit the dusty roads for the first and perhaps the most poignant part of our trip – to visit a project we had sponsored with our partners Just a Drop, which involved us seeing the completion of a water harvesting tank for a school and village community.
This was the first time we had visited one of our projects and the memories of that day, under the glaring Kenyan sun, will remain with us all forever. You can read all about this and our other projects, sponsored with Just a Drop.
We then continued onto the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Tsavo West National Park, Diani Beach on the South Coast, the Amboseli National Park, and the world famous Masai Mara Game Reserve.
“One thing is sure – if you do decide to visit Kenya then there’s a strong possibility you will want to return again, as it’s hard not to leave a piece of your heart and soul there.”
The trip seemed to whirl by, with each day bringing with it a new and incredible experience; we had many amazing sightings all to ourselves – a leopard for 90 minutes then a cheetah with her two cubs in the same reserve the next morning, again on our own.
A lone male lion running past our 4×4 and a herd of elephants walking slowly past Mount Kilimanjaro in the Amboseli were experienced in perfect isolation. All very special moments that we couldn’t believe we were so lucky to be witnessing and especially as it was such a private experience for all of us.
Our driver/guide Alex was the consummate professional throughout – passionately proud of his country and what it has to offer and rightly so. He not only got us close to the amazing wildlife but also close to the Kenyan people, often stopping in villages where we were greeted by the inhabitants and invariably a gaggle of excited children who were so delighted to see us.
In fact, everywhere we went the Kenyan people were an absolute delight – especially in the lodges, hotels and camps where we stayed as they were so relieved to see Brits travelling to Kenya. Infectious smiles followed us throughout trip.
History runs deep between the British and Kenyan people and this is so evident when you see how everyday Kenyans love spending time with British travellers – whether they are a safari ranger, driver or local guide. It’s easy to see why seasoned travellers to Kenya return again and again.
Kenya is real. Real Africa, real animals, real people and culture and real hospitality served up in abundance with panache and a smile. I hadn’t thought about security at all, as I hadn’t needed to. We felt and indeed were, safe at all times. Now that the advice has been lifted from almost the entire coast, it’s a great time for Kenya as the authorities have worked so hard to instil confidence back in this remarkable country.
One thing is sure – if you do decide to visit Kenya then there’s a strong possibility you will want to return again, as it’s hard not to leave a piece of your heart and soul there.
The Kenya destination specialists at Hayes and Jarvis can provide you with all the information you need to design your perfect African adventure, so give them a call soon. Which leaves me with just one more thing to say “Sarai njema” (have a good trip). And … can I come with you please, to see your reactions?