After getting married last year around July, I only got a short 2 weeks leave from work. Trust me this was so short it wasn’t even enough for the wedding itself let alone honeymoon. I had promised my wife I would get leave in Christmas period and we would go for Honeymoon.
While planning where to go I had seen my beloved wife watching National Geographic often and being amazed by the wildlife. I offered to take her to Maasai Mara and she was extremely excited. Months of researching the best way to get there, I had many options. As I don’t have a 4×4 and from friends and family I have heard severally that Masaai Mara is not for the common Toyota, my first thought was to rent a 4×4. Searching around just the car rental would cost at least $300, yet to add fuel, accommodation and food to that. This seemed like a pretty expensive option. I then thought of just risking my Toyota and going. Looking around for accommodation options in the Maasai mara the cheap ones are not good enough for a honey moon type of a trip and the expensive ones out of budget.
A friend recommended me to get a complete package from a tour operator. Just doing a simple google search brought me a ton of affordable and awesome deals. Ones that covered transport, accommodation, game drives food and all-inclusive at a fixed rate. This seemed too good to be true at first but upon calling and meeting with a few tour operators I decided to go with Bonfire Adventures.
The package cost $250 per person and included everything, transport in a luxury 4×4 tour van, 2 nights full board accommodation in a 4 star hotel (Keekorok lodge), game drives. Basically everything needed for a good safari.
Praying hard that this be a good experience finally the day came. We got to the CBD early at around 7 am, the tour van we were assigned was neat and clean, had comfortable seats and definitely looked like it could easily handle the rough Mara roads.
Driving down the scenic Rift Valley After a 5 hour journey from Nairobi to Maasai mara we arrived at the luxurious Keekorok lodge and were pleasantly welcomed and checked in. The lodge speaks for itself.
We were just in time for lunch. We got to our rooms refreshed and had lunch. At 3pm we were off for our first thrilling game drive. Just a few glimpses of what we got to see:
Back to our lodge at about 6.30pm we got a good 2 hour rest before dinner. In the night you can hear a chorus of different animal sounds as they communicate with each other in the darkness – more than enough reason to visit. You are also not allowed to out of the room without a guard as the lodge is unfenced and visited very often by the wild animals.
After dinner we had to sleep early as the next day the game drive was supposed to start at 8am. The food at Keekorok was just ok. Being of Indian origin I like spicy food which was difficult to find. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all buffets and had lots of variety.
After breakfast we were ready for our full day game drive. Our driver had got us packed lunch from the lodge as we did not want to come back from the game drive just to have lunch. Starting off with common animals such as deer, wild beast, buffalos we slowly got to see more and more animals. We travelled through the vast landscapes of the Mara up to the Mara River where the migration happens, unfortunately we went in December and this is not the time for migration. We did also get to see the other side of the border- Serengeti National park. The scenery and the landscapes of the Mara are amazing. One thing I direly missed was binoculars. Here is a checklist of things to carry for safari just in case you are planning one.
Wherever you go in the vast Masai Mara you will see a frequent amount of wildlife such as Masai giraffe, baboons, warthogs, bat eared foxes, grey jackals, spotted hyena, topis, impala, hartebeests, wildebeest. Elephants, buffaloes, zebras and hippos are also found in great numbers. It is also common to see lions either basking after a heavy meal, or surveying the plains for their next meal. Cheetahs and leopards are harder to spot, but reasonably common.
The game drive lasted the whole day and we got back to our lodge at about 6.30pm having seen the big 5 and many other animals.
Back in the hotel I realized what a big disaster this trip would have been had I brought my Toyota or even a rented 4×4. The Mara is big and wide, the roads are not labelled, mobile networks don’t work in many places, gps is out of question and you can easily get lost and not find your way back to your lodge. People have got lost even for up to 3 days. The full day game drive is also tiring, now imagine driving yourself. It is also not cost effective to drive yourself, consider wear and tear on your car, fuel, high accommodation costs and just the overall hustle. Accommodation offered by tour operators such as bonfire is highly subsidized due to the volume of business provided by them to the lodges and hotels. Planning your next holiday? I recommend: www.bonfireadventures.com
On the third day we were up for an early game drive at about 7am. Although this is a good time to witness hunting we were not able to see any. Back to Keekorok at 10am we had breakfast and departed back to Nairobi.