As someone who had never been to Africa, the closest I’d come to an African safari was watching BBC documentaries. However earlier this year, I was lucky enough to go to Kenya with a group of travel agents. I went for 7 nights of savannahs, wild open plains and adorable elephants.
Naivasha- Great Plains And A Lodge With Hippos
After landing in Kenya, we spent one day in the capital, Nairobi. I’ll admit, Nairobi isn’t a city I’d choose to wander around. It’s insanely busy and built-up, but I still managed to see a lovely side of it. After feeding giraffes and visiting the Sheldrick Elephant & Rhino Orphanage, I got a tour of Ocean Sole- this organisation turns flip-flop pollution into art! It was amazing to see so much hard work go into preserving the environment.
I was excited to get to Naivasha for my first safari experience- chatting to our driver gave me an idea, but I had to see it for myself. I’d say the sheer space is definitely what hits your first. This national park and lake sit at an altitude of 8,181 feet, so you really get a feel for the Great Rift Valley. Getting up and close to zebras and wildebeest was pretty surreal.
Lake Naivasha and Crescent Island gave me the chance to see landscapes turn from flat grassland to green crater lakes and swamps filled with hippos. Crescent Island has more animals per acre than any other places you may visit in Kenya, so the boat trip and walking safari there was a huge eye-opener. I’ve also never stayed in a hotel where hippos and giraffes wander the grounds. You don’t need to be nervous though, as the staff at Lake Naivasha Spa Lodge escort you to your room for your own safety. The hotel itself is really relaxed with lots of lawns, great food, comfortable rooms and a pool that looked great (but I didn’t have time to use).
Amboseli- Where The Animals Just Seemed So Happy
Our next destination was Amboseli, which we reached by jeep, we each had a window seat so a perfect view. It’s still a safari setting, but Mount Kilimanjaro’s backdrop here just makes it so beautiful. It stretches across from neighbouring Tanzania, and the snow-capped horizons are stunning.
Poaching is still a massive problem on safaris, but the low poaching rate here may have had something to do with how relaxed the animals seemed to be. I saw birdlife and lions, but the standout feature was the herds of elephants. At one point, about 15 or 20 (and their babies) just marched right past us. We got a snapshot of them with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background. Of all the places to visit in Kenya, I’d say this one wins. Even the pool at Amboseli Spa Lodge overlooks Kilimanjaro. Both our evening meals here were great and we slept really well.
Tsavo- Red-Dust Sands And Local Culture
It was about a 4 or 5-hour drive from Amboseli to our final Kenya wildlife opportunity- Tsavo National Park. One thing you can’t predict about wildlife? When they’ll pop their heads out. I’d say the fact that we saw less animals here was the only downer of the trip, but Tsavo definitely had its upsides.
This South-Western part of Kenya is known for its landscape. Red-dust sands here really ramp up the atmosphere, although it turns pretty adorable considering that the elephants roll around in it. I was only here for 2 nights, so I didn’t have time to visit the Mzima Springs or Lugard Falls, but you’ve got 10 million acres of safari here. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot buffalo, leopards, waterbucks and gazelles, but like I said, they seemed to be on their day off. The red elephants were definitely out, though. I’ll never forget the moment when this elephant just stared me down for what seemed like forever.
We also got a really insightful visit to a local school. The kids are really poor here. They’ve got nothing, but their smiles really warmed my heart. They put on a bit of a Britain’s Got Talent show for us and we got a tour of daily life for them.
Wrapping Up At The Crowne Plaza
We finished off with a return back to Nairobi for a stopover night- amazingly, with a super-advanced modern train system that I 100% didn’t expect from Kenya. The Crowne Plaza here is more generic than the lush lodges we’d stayed at (the Naivasha has circular conical huts, so you really feel at one with nature). To be honest though, I never felt that I wasn’t staying in comfort. The hotels were all 4-star, in good condition, and the people were really friendly.
I’d definitely go back. Kenya is beautiful in a raw and unspoiled way. The climate isn’t sizzling hot, so basically, it’s perfect for a wildlife safari. To craft your own safari experience, take a look over our or get in touch for a tailored quote.
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