82 – On A Safari We Will Go
Tue 16th Feb, Masai Mara NP, Kenya
The pickup was at 830am, and i realised that i’m going with Kairi tours instead, since New Kenya does not have any safari groups setting off today. There were seven people in total, a Finn together with two kids, a couple of Brit girls, a Japanese girl, and myself. All come from various tour companies. There must be some arrangement in place where anyone anytime can go on safari by getting various companies to group them together. Finally, the other two people in the van were the driver cum guide, and the cook.
The itinenary is as such. Day 1: Drive from Nairobi to Masai Mara NP, spend late evening on a game drive. Day 2: Game drive all day, we travel to the Mara river where the annual wilderbeest migration takes place. Day 3: Game drive in the morning, connect back to Nairobi.
This itinerary forms the basis of most safari tours. For the companies to keep costs low, they enter on Day 1 afternoon and leave on Day 3 afternoon. As park fees are valid over a 24 hour period, entering in the afternoon means they pay for 2 days of park fees. Also, accomodation is located just outside the park, near Mara village, in a stretch with many lodges. This way, tour companies avoid expensive park accomodation fees, yet tourists are still able to stay in comfortable lodging instead of having to pitch tents in the park camping areas.
On the way, we pass by a similar open-top minivan like ours, stuck in the mud on the road to the NP. It had been raining earlier and the road was in pretty bad shape. Reached the Lodge at about 5pm. I expected a budget safari where we need to pitch tents, but this was a nice pleasant surprise. There were permanent safari tents, with adjoining western toilets and hot water (they say, i didn’t have any during the three days i was there).
Ok, the afternoon game drive. Masai Mara is pretty huge, there wasnt’ much time so we went in to have a taste of the park. Wildlife was abundant everywhere, even in the drizzle. There were Thomson gazelles, impalas, plus we caught a couple of male lions and some african elephants. John our guide was excellent in that he constantly manouvered the van to get us the best camera angles.
Dinner was excellent, the cook George brought all the foodstuff from Nairobi, bought a sack of coal for cooking along the way, and made everything from scratch. I’ll be well fed over the next three days i’m sure, i was having double portions since there was so much leftover food (food for 7, of which 2 were small girls and i was the only guy!)