I covered the the initial key aspects in Part 1 to look into when planning your safari. In this post I will cover less integral aspects but still quite good to consider. I will base this post on different trips I have taken to the Maasai Mara is the last couple years 🙂 My favourite place in the Maasai Mara – Encounter Mara can be seen on my previous post
5. Travel Period
The tourism travel season unlike most countries does not revolve fully around the weather. It is mainly influenced by the Great Wildbeest Migration and partly by the weather and holiday. The Peak season – ideally the most expensive are July – Oct and Dec 20th to Jan 5th. The December time is obvious its the Christmas and New Year period hence prices are inflated. July to October which is partly summer period in the Northern Hemisphere is the coldest ( Kenyan standard) time of the year in coincides with the migration of the wildebeests from Tanzania into Kenya. It is a spectacular phenomenon to experience. April – June is the cheapest time to travel as it is the rainy season where we find a lot of the camps close for renovations or due to low numbers of guests. If you are looking for a cheap deal and the river crossing is not up in your list, the June would be a good time to visit as the number of animal are starting to increase and prices are still low.
There is much more to your safari experience to seating in the vehicle and practicing your “spotter” skills. For sure this encompasses most of your safari and the most important part – how else will you get you killer photos that will make your friends green with envy.
However there are other things you could do while on safari such as a Maasai Village Visit. This can be booked at your hotel for US$20(kes 2,000) – US$ 30 (kes 3,000) per person. I would recommend confirming what kind of village the hotel will use. The best kind are those that the money for each guest is given to the village on monthly basis and on condition that they do not change the village into a market and sell souvenirs to tourist but instead live their life as normal and give the guests a real representation of their intriguing day to day life.
A Hot Air Balloon may need you to part with US$ 450 (Kes 45,000) but it is one that gives you a perfect aerial view of the Maasai Mara and a champagne breakfast that will put breakfast on a totally different level.
Sundowners and Night Game Drives are some activities that can be down in conservancies where you are allowed to do game drives after 6.30pm. For the sundowner this would be combined with an evening or night game drive where you will stop at have a lovely drink as you watch the African sun disappear into the horizon. After this you would proceed into a night game drive where you would use red filtered spotlights to spot some night action.
Bush walks are also interesting as you walk with a guide who may or may not be armed and you explore some Savannah flora, insects and animal footprints and other interesting things you may not pick up on your regular game drive.
Fly Camping is a great activity for someone who is not keen on camping but would like to experience camping. The camp would take you, a guide, a cook and move around whilst setting up a camp per night where you stay and then keep moving. It is the luxury version of camping. I love camping if I have paid to stay in tented camp, I ain’t going to leave my nice room to go camping and pay more 🙂
This could be divided into 2 main section, the 1st one is really all about how much the hotels is offering to how little it is offering . The 3 main options are Full board, Ground Package and All Inclusive. This could once again be tagged to costs and level of the hotel. most budget hotels offer full board accommodation only then all others are extras that can be arranged and paid separately. Most mid range hotels offer both an option of full board and ground package and you can pick what works best for you. High end properties offer either a mix of ground package package and all inclusive or solely all inclusive. Full Board accommodation – is 3 meals and teas only and your room, ground package is airstrip transfers (if any), full board accommodation, game drives , and in some cases drinks while all inclusive has Ground package, all drinks, sundowners, conservancy/ reserve fees, bush walks and sometimes Maasai village visits.
The other form of exclusivity is whereby some conservancies take it a notch higher and opt to not have self drive or vans allowed to access them so as to ensure the highest level of game viewing experience. By only having the camp vehicles operating within the conservancy they are more lenient on off road driving and there no cases of drivers with less knowledge of animal etiquette misbehaving.
While at eagle View we were booked on Ground Package and whilst at Basecamp we were on full board and had our own driver/ guide do the game drives.
8. Child friendliness
I am definitely not an authority in this field but it is common to find that some camps will have a policy where children below 5 are not allowed or cases where some hotels have family tents that allow the children to have their own room independent of the parents but one that has an interconnecting door. Some hotels with swimming pools and activities for children such as archery and warrior dances may be more attractive to families.
With this 2 cents of mine I hope you are slightly better equipped to embark on your safari to Maasai Mara, Kenya.
Happy Kenya Travels,