A Week On An African Safari: A Guide to What You’ll Discover and Experience in Africa
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Going on an African safari is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding experiences one can have. But the cost of an African safari, as well as the long journey to Africa has made many travelers think twice about taking the trip.
But safaris in Africa can be cheap if you know how to choose the right trips, and the long travels to the continent is nothing short of spectacular – an amazing experience in itself. An African safari is a journey of a lifetime – a journey that not only provides you with a chance encounter with Mother Nature at its best, but also a journey to find true inspiration in a place some would say to be the cradle of humankind.
Your African safari journey begins with a car ride from your hotel to Maasai Mara National Reserve. Along the way, you will pass the Great Rift Valley, a continuous geographic trench that is approximately 6,000 kilometers in length running from Asia to Africa. Along the Great Rift Valley is Narok, a town west of Nairobi. Here, you will stop for lunch.
Other than great samples of African food, Narok is home to the Maasai, one of Kenya’s ethnic groups as well as the most well known ethnic group due to their residence being nearby many reserves and game parks. After lunch, you will continue on your journey to Maasai Mara and once there, your game drive begins.
Your first day at the safari serves as your introduction to the savannah and the ecosystem that supports it. Along with your guide, you will track various animal species and birds endemic to the area. Once nightfall arrives, your will set up camp and have dinner. Enjoy the starlit skies above as you camp amidst wildlife.
Arise bright and early. Your full day of game viewing begins right after breakfast. Maasai Mara is known as one of the best parks to spot wildlife as it has an extensive road and track network that allows for great wildlife photography and close range viewing. Get your cameras ready as you might find yourself face to face with an African lion – a picture perfect moment! Other than a possible encounter with a lion, you will also have the chance to spot large herds of herbivores including wildebeest, zebra and Thompson’s gazelle. For Big Five enthusiasts, the Maasai Mara is known to be home to all of the Big Five animals, and viewing is a possibility year round!
Lunch is served at the hippo pool where you would also have the opportunity to look out for hippos and crocodiles! Did you know that a hippo is known to attack crocodiles when its territory is being threatened? At the hippo pool, you just might be in luck to witness this spectacular show of strength and dominion!
Day 3 and 4
Get your last glimpse of the Maasai Mara before breakfast on a short game drive on your third day here. After breakfast, your guide will take you to Lake Nakuru National Park, also known as the Bird Watchers’ Paradise. At Lake Nakuru, you will have the opportunity to see over 450 species of birds including the beautiful pink flamingo. Lake Nakuru is also a conservation haven for white rhinos – where you will be able to spot these endangered species roaming freely at the park. Other large mammals, including the Cape Buffalo and waterbuck, also inhabit the park, as do over 550 different plant species. Find yourself amidst picturesque landscape and yellow acacia woodlands as retire for the night at nearby hotel accommodations!
From Lake Nakuru, you will next make your way to Amboseli National Park. Located in Kajiado County, Kenya, the Amboseli National park is over 39,000 hectares (396 km2) in size. Amboseli is most famous for being the best place to view and get up close with free-ranging African elephants. Weather permitting, you will also be able to catch a view of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro at a distance.
Aside from spectacular wildlife, Amboseli National Park also provides you with the chance indulge in African culture and understand unique African traditions when you visit the Maasai people at a Maasai village.
Tread Amboseli with caution and be sure to follow its strict rules – created to protect its wildlife – including never getting out of the vehicle except when expressly allowed, and never engaging in off-road driving.
Day 6 and 7
Your final destination on your safari trip is Tsavo West National Park. The Tsavo National Park is split between Tsavo East and Tsavo West due to a railway service that connects Mombasa to the interior of Kenya running through the park. Topography enthusiasts would be delighted in Tsavo West as its terrain is extremely varied – encompassing mountains, hills, savannah bush, semi-arid desert scrub and rivers and lakes.
Tsavo West is home to the largest population of red-skinned elephants as well as endangered rhinos, Cosen’s gerbils and Grevy’s zebras. As with most of the reserves in Africa, it is hot outside so be sure to bring a sunhat, a bottle of water and a pair of sunglasses.
Things to Pack for a Safari Trip
Going on a safari is like going on any other trip, so be sure to pack as you normally would but make room for these few additions:
- Proper clothing that protects you from the elements as well as insect bites
- Insect repellants
- Adequate medication
- Good walking shoes especially if you are going on a walking safari
- Binoculars (optional)
- Sturdy backpack (best used on a gorilla safari)
Best Time to Go on a Safari Trip in Kenya
The best time to view wildlife in Kenya is during the dry season that occurs from late June to October. The Wildebeest migration – also known as the great migration – reaches the Maasai Mara in July, where they will remain until October. Off-peak season occurs during the rainy months of March to May, when certain lodges and camps will be closed. However, game viewing is still possible during the wetter months, and is more likely to be cheaper and less crowded.
Want to mix your safari viewing with some climbing action? Climb Mount Kilimanjaro as part of your safari expedition!