Our phenomenal 4-day Maasai Mara safari and how we made it happen. Tips on how to organize a perfect Maasai Mara safari. The best travel agent for a Maasai Mara trip
NAIROBI – Young, single, and restless are some of the adjectives I would use to describe my two friends and I.
The three of us worked at an advertising agency in Nairobi and were sampling the freedom that comes with having a new job and few commitments. As a result, we always had plenty of fun on weekends and other short holidays.
However, despite our best efforts, there came an Easter weekend when we could hardly think of something entertaining to do. For me, the time was too short to visit loved ones upcountry in Garissa yet too long to just hang around Nairobi.
Mark and Lisa pretty much shared my sentiments and we resolved to try a 4 day Maasai Mara safari.
None of us had ever gone on safari before and we were thus apprehensive of planning the entire trip ourselves. After all, no one wanted to lose money in shady deals or exorbitant prices.
To overcome this minor hiccup, Lisa offered to take a look at the 4 days Maasai Mara itineraries typically offered by travel agents.
Contrary to our expectations, we found out that spending 4 days in Maasai Mara did not have to be an expensive affair at all.
We could go either as budget travelers, mid-luxury travelers, or luxury travelers. Different companies had different rates.
After comparing their prices online, we decided to contact AjKenyasafaris to find out more about their offerings. After all, they were one of the few agencies that offered a free consultation via Skype.
They also offer tailored safaris, where we could basically come up with our own 4 day Maasai Mara itinerary featuring the activities we wished to indulge in.
I for one was not keen on going on a walking safari (which was one of the items in the pre-packaged itineraries). My aversion to bushwalking tours stems from the fact that I am prone to allergies and can react to random plants.
It is one of the things that unfortunately keep me from hiking and camping.
During our call, James (the agency’s consultant) assured us that we could have all the activities we wanted minus the stuff we did not want. He also recommended some other fun activities which we had not thought of, such as going on a hot air balloon ride.
Our 4 day Maasai Mara safari from Nairobi was getting more promising by the minute! With a little bit of fine-tuning, we were able to structure an itinerary that fell within our budget and also reflected all the things we wanted to do.
The 4 day Maasai Mara itinerary
The main highlights of our safari would be game drives, accommodation in a world class 4-star lodge, a visit to a Maasai village, and of course a hot air balloon safari!
Our trip started on the morning of Good Friday, when a driver was dispatched to fetch us outside the Hilton, Nairobi.
We embarked on a 5-hour road trip to the Mara. Being a lover of road trips, Lisa was besides herself, with her camera always on the ready to capture any fascinating things she saw along the way.
At the Great Rift Valley viewpoint, we stopped for 20 minutes to stretch our legs. Despite having seen the Rift Valley over a dozen times, its breathtaking scenery never ceases to amaze me.
A few selfies in, we resumed our journey, making a non-stop trip all the way to Narok town, where we stopped for lunch. Here, we indulged in some tasty nyama choma, kachumbari and fries.
Roasted meat from upcountry goats always tastes pleasantly different and this too did not disappoint. I also fell in love with their rich fruit juice that had plenty of pulp and low on added sugar.
After that hearty lunch, our driver Peter promptly took us into the award winning Maasai Mara game reserve.
Upon entry into the park, we encountered a pride of lions right off the bat! Observing them up close from the comfort of a 4×4 Land Cruiser was indescribable. They were so large! Of course Lisa’s camera would not stop clicking.
‘Do lions bathe themselves with saliva as most cats do?’ I loudly mused.
Peter laughed and said that they do-even the males and their large manes! That is a lot of hairdressing right there, I thought to myself.
We then checked in at the Mara Eden safari camp which was cozy and had an intimate feel to it. It suited us perfectly.
On the following day, we partook of an early morning hot air balloon safari, an event I had been greatly looking forward to.
It began at dawn, with the three of us trooping onto the massive blimp that would give us an aerial view of the vast Mara. Riding at approximately 300 meters off the ground, we could see most of the animals including the big five down below.
While the game drives were also phenomenal, the hot air balloon is what made my 4 day Maasai Mara safari from Nairobi most remarkable.
During the rest of our stay, we saw plenty of wildlife during our day long game drives. Peter shared plenty of interesting titbits about the animals we saw, making me see our wild animals in a whole new way.
Ours was a mid-budget safari and since it took place during the off peak season, its price was relatively lower compared to that charged during the peak season (July-October).
We opted to use a 4×4 safari land cruiser. However, James mentioned that traveller on a budget can use the budget friendly safari van. Mostly Toyota Hiace or Mazda Bongo with open roof for fame viewing. Those on self-drive safaris can use 4×4 cars such as as the Toyota Prado, Mazda Cx-5, Subaru Forester, Toyota Harrier and others. For city transfers, smallers vehicles such as the Nissan Note, Toyota Premio, and Mazda Demio are used.
On the whole, the entire trip cost us approximately $1,400 per person sharing.
What was included in the price
That price was inclusive of:
- Transport in a comfortable 4×4 Land Cruiser
- Professional driver/ guide
- Park entry fees
- Accommodation at a 4-star lodge
- All activities (except the hot air balloon tour)
- Local beer, cold water, and drinks
- All meals including picnic lunches when on game drives
The only items not covered by the price were tips and the hot air balloon excursion (which costs $450 per person).