3-day camping safari to Masai Mara

21 Jul

The Masai Mara is the Kenyan part of the Serengeti (Tansania). In Juli and August a huge amount of animals migrates from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara, which is really spectacular when the zebras and wildebeest cross the river (crocodiles are always hungry…) and just walk in kilometer long lines through the steppe.

In Nairobi you can book the typical 3-day Masai Mara safari for around 200 Euros per person. That includes
– transfer from Nairobi (350 km = 6 hours) and vice versa (you can upgrade to a flight for around 150 Euros per way)
– 2 nights in 2-bed-tents in a camp that sustained by original (??) Masai (upgrade to 5-star-lodge for 70 Euros per day)
– 3 meals a day
– guide and driver on approx. 14 hours Safaris (including early morning and evening drive which is when most animals can be spotted)
– entrance fees to the National Park.

Three of us were interested in going and we talked to Jimmie, a local, who had organized safaris for other trainees before. After some phone calls he had booked his driver and cook and we were able to go on tour with him. The usual group sizes when booking with a tour operator are 5-9. So we had lots of space in the safari car.
The advantage when going with a big tour operator is that all their cars are connected through radio and they tell each other which places to come to. Otherwise it can be really hard to spot all the interesting animals in a Park that is around 70 x 25 km big.

In the end we saw wildebeest, zebras, lots of birds (incl. Geier and Strauß), antilopes, gazelles, monkeys, crocodiles, hippos, giraffes, bocks, buffaloes elephants, lions and a hyane. And the usual amount of cows and goets that are looked after by small masai kids.
So we were satisfied 😉

As we were three germans we couldn´t help thinking about the impact safaris have on the environment. Our book recommended low-impact-safaris which work with solar energy. Lots of trees are burnt for heating water and cooking in that area which adds to the erosion of the soil. Our guide had promised us solar energy but the camp was totally based on fire and burning coal. So we were a bit unhappy.
When driving through the National Park we asked our driver 3 or 4 times to stay on the bigger roads and not to go through the nature. “But the other cars also do it” didn´t impress us. But I can tell you that its really tempting to leave the paths after spotting a lion, becase obviously they don´t take their siesta in the middle of the road. And some of the other safari cars even followed the lions around bushes. We couldn´t believe it… what tourists ask their drivers to do just for the best picture. Most of the tourists didn´t even bring binoculars for watching the animals but they just took pictures (standard zoom cameras…) and went again to the next scene.

Whatever… Although sitting in the car for hours and hours was really difficult and we had spend on our whole 6-day-tour as much money as on these three days, we enjoyed the tour a lot. Seeing all the animals you know from films and also the beautiful landscape in the south west of Kenya was just amazing.
Especially watching hippos, lions and elephants (which we hadn´t seen in other parks) in their natural surroundings was impressive.

Below you find some pictures (again the great zoom of mums camera was really helpful). I also have some videos, but with the internet speed here its really not possible to upload all of them. I will maybe add some later.

Enjoy!

One Response to “3-day camping safari to Masai Mara”

  1. Ben July 22, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    Hi,

    here some comments from me to our trip to the Masai Mara.

    If it wouldnt be that far from Nairobi I would really like to do it more often (but only the short morning or evening game drives). A whole day driving around is really exhausting.
    You also need some luck spotting the animals – of course you can always follow the other cars; if there are more than 2 together there is something to see. Around a lion you will find up to 8 vehicles.

    The regular trip includes also a visit to a Masai village. But we didn’t go because the others told us that it was like a zoo or circus with humans who show their tricks (some Masai are on the last picture).

    One thing I cannot recommend is to try what they call Masai Beer. It tastes and smells terrible!

    I should also add that the food in the camp was really good and they had good and warm showers which were actually needed because it was very cold at night.

    On one picture you can see our safari vehicle which is like the normal matatus only with the addittional roof to fold up and to look out. Those cars must be made of stone as the driver was racing through the steppe on our way home (we had to take a detour because the road was closed due to road work and the detour was just a path through the steppe; but you know, you can also drive with 60 km/h in these conditions).

    A nice thing about the way back was also passing a wheat farm. Of course the acres were fenced; only they forgot to get the zebras out which they wanted outside. It looked like they really like wheat.

    But so far I have nothing more to add. It was just the way i expected the Masai Mara from the documentaries i saw on the tv – only in reality.

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