Kenyan Safari – Questions and Answers

If you are thinking of going on a Kenyan
safari
you’ll probably have a number of questions.  Hopefully
these questions and answers will help you to decide whether it’s for you.

What’s a typical day on safari?

Normally you’ll be woken just before dawn.  After
tea and biscuits you’ll meet your driver and guide for the first game drive
of the day.  The early session is often the best – with great light, you’re
likely to see predators with their nights kill.  After returning to camp
for breakfast you can relax by the pool or however you please.  Keen
naturalists might go for a second late morning drive before lunch.  After
lunch take a walk in the lodge grounds, keeping your eyes pealed for some of
Kenya’s 1,400 bird species.  Later in the afternoon head out on another
drive.  You’re more likely to see a leopard or hippo in the river. 
Back to the lodge for dinner, and sitting around the fire sharing the day’s
stories.

What do you recommend for a first safari?

Kenya has a lot to offer, but a tented camp or lodge in
the Masai Mara, ideally on the Mara River itself, is a great option. 
Follow this with a few days on a private game ranch run in cooperation with the
local community.  It’s best not to do more than 7 days nonstop on safari,
as it gets tiring.  Try and include a relaxing beach break in the
trip.  Also consider taking a short safari from the coast.  Somewhere
like the Shimba Tree Hotel in the Shimba Hills National Reserve is perfect.

Is camping safe?

Yes.  Camping has always been the traditional
safari way, but it isn’t the only option.   Today tents are usually
large, permanent structures with wooden floors and rugs, and plumbed in
bathrooms with hot showers.  Experienced guards and staff keep wildlife out
of the camp area, but the proximity of animals at night is the big attraction
for many people.  You can always stay in a lodge.  These are
essentially large hotels in the bush.  They often have wonderful views, a
pool and a first-class kitchen.

What is the typical Safari transport?

Safari vehicles are normally open-topped and/or
open-sided so that you can stand if you want to.  The vehicles are
safe and tailored for the trips.  You can also do a game walk with an armed
ranger or a hot air balloon trip (recommended).

I like animals, but doesn’t it get boring?

It’s unusual for someone not to get a thrill from the
Safari experience.  The experience isn’t just about the animals
though.  You’ll drive through Kenyan villages and meet lots of local people
who are sure to fascinate.  By the coast there is a rich mixture of history
and culture.  There are ruined cities to visit and lots of watersports on
offer at the beaches.

How long do I need for a Safari?

You can get a good taste in a week, but it’s best not
too rush things in Africa. Ideally aim for a fortnight, or 18 days if
possible.  If you are visiting whilst backpacking then try to find ways of
cutting costs and spend a good deal of time in the area.  Once you’ve met
some local people you may find you have more options and more reasons to stay
longer.

I’ve been to the Masai Mara, are the other reserves the
same?

No.  Kenya’s diversity is what keeps bring people
back time after time.  Other reserves are equally enticing.  Aberdare
National Park is mountainous, with the lower forested section home to the famous
Treetops Lodge, where you can keep watch above the floodlit waterhole, waiting
for the animals to come to you.  There are several other reserves, each
offering something different.

How green is a safari holiday?

Fairly, and things are getting better.  Local
people often benefit directly from profits generated from the tourist
visitors.  Kenyan lodge owners and tour operators are becoming more
eco-conscious.  Many new camps and lodges source supplies locally and use
solar panels and water conservation and recycling systems.

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