If you ever get an opportunity to travel to Kenya and go to safari in Maasai Mara, here are a couple of tips and tricks you may need before you travel to Kenya.
1. Getting to Mara
If you are from Kenya, you have two options, you can make a decision to fly into an airstrip or travel by road. I travelled by road using public transport (and got stuck on the way to the camp). If you take the roadway, you would need to take a shuttle / matatu to Narok town. The price range is 600 - 1500 Kenyan shillings depending on where you get the shuttle and if it is high season. Once you reach Narok, you would need to take another small car to head to the Maasai Mara main Gate which is called Sekenani Gate, and whatever hotel you booked may pick you up from there. (the price would range from 500 - 1000 Kenyan shillings, again depending on the season.)
The other alternative to traveling by road is renting a Landcruiser for 18,000 Kenyan shillings ($180), if you have already booked your hotel, that price is for one way, they can drop you off at your chosen hotel. You can also rent a car and drive to the main Gate for Mara and you would have to leave your car inside the gate on the ranger/AP camp at a cost.
The easiest and most expensive way is to fly into one of the many airstrips located in the Mara and most flights are taken from Wilson Airport and the fights range from 16,000-18,000 Kenyan shillngs ($160-$180) for one way. Some travel agencies do have packages that include hotel stays and transport to the hotel. But does exclude the park fees. If you are International, you would need a Kenyan Visa and most of the above methods can be used, but the most convenient way when you fly into the international airport Jomo Kenyatta, you would get an Uber/taxi to Wilson Airport.
2. The Gate and Conservations Fees
There are currently 15 conservations in the Mara. For local tourists, payment of the gate is 1000 Kenyan shillings ($10) per day, for international tourists, it is $70 for adults and $40 for children and the conservation fees depend on where the camp is located. I stayed In Cottar’s 1920 Luxury Camp and it is part of Olderkesi Conservation and I paid 2,250 Kenyan shillings per day.
3. What To Pack
Pack warm clothes, because it does get cold. Where I stayed was on the foothills of the hill so it was constantly cold. With breaks of sunlight, It does get a bit warm. For shoe sneakers or hiking boots are great, and also toothpaste. We forgot to pack ours ended up buying from the camp store.
4. What to Expect on your first Safari
I was told not to go into a safari, with the exceptions of seeing all the animals, that you have seen on National Geographic. Because the truth is you may not see them all…. I was lucky enough to see a herd of elephants when entering the camp (cottar’s 1920’s camp) and the next day on a morning game drive we were able to see 21 lions. The most animals you will see are jackals, Massai giraffes, zebras and antelopes.
If you are an avid photographer because I am one, here is some gear you should carry.
- Telephoto Lens
- Battery Grip
- Extra memory Card
- A drone ( if you have one)
- Go-pro ( I wish I had a couple cause I would have put one inside the safari truck, two on the hood of the car and one to take footage when the truck went into a river)
- An extra camera like a Canon GXii for video
- Tripod and a gorilla grip