If you don’t know what to expect from a Kenya safari, I’ve decided to write out my day-to-day experience in addition to the posts with tips on everything you need to know to do one!
This should give you a pretty good idea of what the experience is like, and then you can decide which safari to book and get ready for your Kenya travels using these other posts:
My Kenya safari was a 4 day/3 night adventure starting in Nairobi and going to Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru, then back to Nairobi! It was an “affordable” safari (in between budget and luxury) which costed around $490. Here’s how it went down and what I saw and did:
Distance to Masai Mara: 6 hours
I was picked up promptly at 8am from my hotel where I joined 6 other guests (from Finland, France, and Russia) and my guide, Richard. We all fell asleep for most of the trip while the road was still paved (do that), and then we stopped for lunch.
Meals are all traditional Kenyan food buffet-style, and very healthy, with vegetarian options. You can typically expect to see rice, potatoes, cooked veggies, yum flatbread, and a meat option. Several other groups stopped at the same lunch spot. After lunch the road is no longer paved and extremely bumpy, so brace yourself and get used to it!
We arrived to Lenchada Camp around 4pm where we were shown to our tented camps and given tea before the evening game drive. We then got back into the safari vehicle and took a short but super bumpy drive through a Masai village to get to the park entrance.
During the evening drive we saw lions, zebras, giraffes, African elephants, African buffalo, and a bunch of different species of antelope (already 3 of the Big 5!).
We left just after sunset around 6pm, and had about an hour downtime before the buffet-style dinner in the rustic dining area. My group was joined by a few other groups, and after dinner we all chatted by the fire with the local Masai that came by. (Learn more about the Masai culture in this post: ‘Easy Essential Kenya Travel Information’)
I slept really well in the tent…almost too well in the morning since it basically has black out curtains! It was a bit cold in the morning though so my suggestion is to keep your warm clothes nearby!
We were given the option to combine our 2nd and 3rd morning Masai Mara game drives and do an all-day drive instead of going back and forth, so we opted for that. But that meant a 12 hour safari day with a 6am start!
At first I was super nervous about being tired all day, but you’re constantly perked up when you see the animals! We started the morning watching an epic African sunrise, then spotted hyenas feeding… Then we saw lion cubs and adults, elephants, buffalo, hippos, giraffes, zebras, and even a cheetah!
We stopped for a picnic lunch around noon where we were allowed to get out of the vehicles and eat on the Masai blankets they provided. They were bag lunches which looked fine, except I don’t think they knew how to accommodate a vegetarian since I still got roasted chicken in mine, which I couldn’t eat.
After lunch we continued looking for animals, and finally found a leopard in a tree! After five more hours, we finally went back to the camp, and had dinner again at 7pm.
Distance: 7+ hours
I’m not sure if this day went according to plan since we ended up having to drop off four people from other groups along the way. But essentially we left around 8:30am, stopped for lunch around noon, then continued driving for 4-5 more hours north to Lake Nakuru. The whole thing was on a bumpy dirt road.
We arrived at the hotel around 4pm and there was a big local family party going on which I quite enjoyed. I had wine at the outdoor bar and spoke with some locals. The only downside was the pool was super crowded but otherwise it looked really nice!
As I mentioned before the hotel was a typical 2-3 star as far as the actual accommodation. Nothing to write home about except there was definitely hot water, Wifi, friendly staff, and good breakfast. For some reason my room didn’t have a mosquito net (found out later the other people’s did) and I was kept awake by one rude mosquito buzzing in my ear all night.
Distance: 3+ hours
We woke up early, had breakfast, and headed straight to Lake Nakuru National Park. Somehow the very first animals we saw were White Rhinos, and there was even a baby one! You can tell a White Rhino from the extremely endangered Black Rhino because the former had a wide, flat lip (like the bottom of a square), and the latter is more pointed.
We went to the lake but there weren’t any flamingos, but we did see a lot of buffalo and some random hyenas! This park was more green so I just enjoyed driving around and looking at the animals amongst it. We actually got a flat tire so got to get out of the vehicle and sit for a while right next to some zebras!
This park was a lot smaller and had less animals (aside from the rhinos), so we left around noon. We stopped in a really cute area near Lake Navaisha for lunch, then were on our way back to Nairobi!
I was one of the last ones dropped off which I didn’t mind since it was because the tour company had rescued my lost luggage and was storing it for me at their office which the guide took me to get before my hotel.
After camping and driving for four days, I splurge a bit and spoiled myself with a nicer hotel in Nairobi at the Best Western Meridian. It was still affordable-isn, at only $75 per night, but definitely worth it for the clean modern rooms, free wifi, amazing rooftop restaurant, bar, and pool, great breakfast spread, and even a spa!
The long, bumpy drives, and early, cold mornings were definitely worth all of the animals I got to see. I did make the mistake of not asking to switch seats in the safari vehicle so sometimes felt like I didn’t get as many great photos as I could have (granted, I’m talking about with me IN them), but my guide did try to ask if I wanted to.
I was also really appreciative for our guide Richard, who was on point and on top of everything, and constantly determined to get us to see every possible animal in the parks! Plus I couldn’t imagine having to drive so many hours on my own!
If you end up doing a tour with Lenchada Safaris, definitely request Richard (@romeorichie on Instagram).
If you have any questions that aren’t answered on my other Kenya posts, or are about my experience, the best way to get ahold of me is to comment below, or comment on a recent Instagram post which I check more often!
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