Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya – Day 3
Off to Maasai Mara for safari with Venture Safari. Take a moment to digest what I just said. The reason I ask you to do this is I think there are very few people that can honestly say “I never dreamt about a safari in Africa.” The land, the safari Jeep, the hat you will wear even, binoculars in hand and, of course, being so very close to incredible game in the wild. Yesterday I got a small taste of what is to come I’m told and, in particular, 4 of the Big 5 are still missing from my repertoire as I set out this morning – elephant, rhinoceros, leopard and buffalo. Oh but not anymore!!!
So how do you get an affordable safari planned in Kenya?
First things first. You’ll want to get a handful of quotes from different safari companies -you would think – depending on how much safari you want to do and where right? Well, in truth, you are going to get a huge range of numbers but will find that all of the safaris offered are about the same across the board in every way accept what they can get you to pay particularly when it comes to budget safaris. What I learned is there are many agencies but they all work together when it comes to safari so while I booked through Venture Safari I don’t think I actually met anyone from this company. I joined group after group of other companies all of which work together to provide the needed services to accomplish Safari ie one company handles the transport, another the camping or lodge accommodations and yet another the food and so on and so forth. So what does this mean for you? Just go with the cheapest quote and haggle that down to the bear minimum. I don’t know if the below quotes would be the same next time but all of these people were on safari with me from different companies and got the same exact experience/accommodation/food just different prices:
- Venture Safari – $680 for 6 days all inclusive (2 days Maasai Mara, 1 day Lake Nakuru, 2 days Amboseli)
- Big Time Safari – $740
- Absolute Holiday Safari – $720
- Karine Safari – $660
In other words, it doesn’t matter who you book with. If you want to upgrade from tent to lodge go ahead but I don’t think your adventure will be any better for it and, for that matter, it might be less authentic. Also, note that all t
hese guys/companies work together. From the top, Albert, at Big Time, is great on down to Richard, James, Bernard and my fave Steven who were all great guides/drivers. Zach was difficult to deal with but I think we were just never on the same page which inevitably means not communicating well but I think we eventually worked it out…sort of… That experience; however, is a rare to non-existent experience throughout my travels. Of course, I don’t often do tours but in the case of a Kenyan safari it’s probably the best way.
So what do you need with you? Comfy clothes, sunscreen, chap stick, binoculars, your GoPro, and, most importantly, your Olympus Digital Camera! I’ve been through a couple cameras on my travels and I saw a ton of them on safari and suffice it to say, my lightweight Olympus with incredible zoom capacity was raved on by all. Why? It took the best photos. Close ups…the eye of the tiger if you will or, in this case, the eye of the leopard, cheetah, giraffe, buffalo, rhino, elephant, hippo, eagle, zebra and, of course, the man eater…the King himself – the Lion. Oh yeah!!! I saw them all as you will see but first things first….
I was picked up by the company at Sarova Panafric (great hotel) and after getting my wings (as always thank you Red Bull) and meeting my group and paying at the company’s office (Venture Safaris), we were on our way to Maasai Mara land.
In route, we stopped at the famous Rift Valley which stretches the entirety of Africa on the east side before having some authentic African dish in Narok of lamb, peas, rice, potatoes and chapati (my fave food here in Kenya – think Indian pan). The food was always delicious which was surprising given the whole budget buffet style feedings!
And as is the norm in Africa I’m learning, we shared the road with a baboon! Of course, Zach threatened to get his “gun” if it came any closer especially since he had his eye on me. That “gun” turned out to be a sling shot and we all had a big laugh.
I will warn you that on safari it can get a little dusty. In other words, be prepared like me (see below). 😉
Upon arrival, we dropped our things at Miti Mingi Eco Camp right outside the park. Joseph, the manager, was gracious and helpful and the tents were great with our own private shower, toilet, beds and mosquito nets but remember there is only two hours of electricity in the morning and two hours in the evening so keep that in mind if you plan to charge those requisite aforementioned devices. Plus, I got my first roommate for my Africa trip – Sergio from Espana, who, it turns out, can speak English but doesn’t understand it so when I asked him to zip the tent, he thought I meant something about unzipping something else (hehehe) as he tried to climb under my mosquito net and into my bed! (Hakuna Matata as we had a good laugh and he got me back as he was the one who convinced me to climb Kilimanjaro!!!!)
We also saw our first game at Miti Mingi Eco Camp….scary huh 😉
Then we set out on our first evening game drive which honestly was a bit rushed and somewhat frustrating as Zach barely stopped to allow us to photograph; however, have no fear my friends as we got a taste of what was to come as evidenced below and believe you me, you want to see what is to come!!! (Especially if the below photos are examples of feeling rushed.)
That’s all for now from Safari Day 1 – Maasai Mara.