How we planned our 3-day Maasai Mara Safari from Nigeria
Soon after the lifting of travel restrictions, my family and I were itching to get out of the house, our town and even the country for a while if possible.
We needed a complete change of environment after months of feeling cooped up at home. For my wife and I, the pandemic may have served as a memento mori of sorts, as we were acutely reminded of the fragility of life.
As if reading from the same script, we found ourselves mulling over dozens of things we had relegated to the bucket list over the years. We always wanted to try some things but never quite found the time.
One of these was going on a safari to Kenya. ‘Well, there is no time like the present.’ I thought to myself. And so it began- the most epic trip I have ever been on. Here is how we planned a 3-day trip to the Maasai Mara.
Finding a travel partner
Having never been on safari or an international vacation for that matter, I had no idea what other plans needed to be made other than booking tickets and paying for accommodation.
Even then, how much would it cost us? How could we tell whether there were better deals out there? When was the best time to visit the Maasai Mara? Which were the best hotels for our budget? Most importantly, what was the ideal mode of travel to the Mara?
To help us tackle these issues, we figured it best to consult a professional travel agency. That proved the best decision I made about planning the entire trip.
Not only did we receive logistical support from the agency, but they also educated us on all the governmental requirements and documentation we needed for travel and how to go about getting them.
Part of the logistical support we received also included dependable transport. We had two options for the Mara terrain: a 7-seater 4X4 Toyota Land cruiser or a 7-9 seater Toyota Hiace safari van.
Both vehicles could comfortably handle the Mara savannah. We opted for the slightly costlier but more versatile Land cruiser for our purposes due to the more excellent animal viewing capabilities it offered.
Our travel partner also helped us develop a tailored safari itinerary. They educated us on the intricacies of the Maasai Mara, what we can expect to see there and what activities we can look forward to.
That information was instrumental in helping us decide on the things we wanted to include in the itinerary.
The agency also took care of booking our accommodation. Since we have two children aged five and seven years, the agency was keen on ensuring we enjoyed child-friendly amenities throughout our stay.
Upon landing in Kenya, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the agency had dispatched the lively and friendly Peter, the safari driver who took us to our hotel to freshen up.
Activities and amenities
After some refreshments and brief rest, we embarked on a road trip to the Maasai Mara. Although we could very well have flown from Nairobi to the park, we opted for a road trip instead.
It was a 6-hour journey with plenty to see along the way.
One of the landmark features is the Great Rift Valley, a massive geographic trench that stretches from Lebanon all the way to Africa, right through East Africa up to Mozambique.
We made a brief stop to marvel at this stunning geographical feature which sprawled right below us as far as the eye could see.
We then proceeded on our journey and made another stopover at Narok town for lunch, where we sampled Kenyan delicacies before moving to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
Just past the park gate, we encountered a pride of lions right off the bat! As our driver made his way to our lodge, where we would be staying for the next three days or so, we encountered a giraffe or two.
Upon checking in, we had an hour to freshen up and acclimatize ourselves to our accommodations.
We went for a game drive in the evening, where we enjoyed the majestic sunset views and spotted a couple of the Big Five.
Other activities that we enjoyed while at the Mara include a hot air balloon safari, walking safari, bonfire dinners, a visit to the Maasai village, sundowners and night game drives.
Government requirements for travel
For seamless travel to Kenya and enjoyment of their safari, travellers must abide by various government regulations.
For starters, Nigerian visitors must apply for a Kenyan Visa or permit to travel.
That can be done online on the Kenyan government’s portal at www.evisa.go.ke
You will also be required to undergo mandatory Covid-19 testing within 96 hours before your travel time.
You should upload your negative results on the PANABIOS platform on Kenya’s Ministry of Health website.
Proof of negative results will be required at the time of boarding your Kenya flight and at the point of arrival into the country.
Besides Covid testing, you will also be required to furnish a Yellow Fever certificate. That is a certificate showing that you have been inoculated against Yellow Fever.
Along with the visa and medical certificates, remember to carry your passports and flight tickets with you.
Should you be on prescription drugs, it is a good idea always to ensure that you have all your prescription medicine with you during your travels.
One other nifty tip I learned during my Kenyan trip is to carry along some antihistamines (anti-allergy medication) just in case you should prove allergic to some things on your vacation.