Safari is one of those must do experiences for any adventure traveller. Nature is at its best and nothing quite compares to the first time you see an African elephant or a lion in the wild. When it comes to safari there is of course many different countries within Africa to chose from which all have their pros and cons. For pure safari our favourite is Kenya where you can still see animals which are truly wild across huge Africa plains. Kenya is also one of the countries where you can witness the great migration at certain times of the year which in itself is worth making the trip for. And of course the Massai Mara National Reserve is where you can see the big cats along with elephants, zebras, hippos, wildebeests and many more.
Getting there is pretty easy, fly into the capital city of Nairobi where the international airport Jomo Kenyatta International has lots of routes to most major cities. If you don’t mind a stop of the best airlines are Emirates, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Or if you are travelling from the west BA through London is decent.
One of our favourite places to stay is the Sirikoi Eco Lodge located 250km north east of Nairobi in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (62,000 acres) which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A family run lodge in the middle of the beautiful Lewa Wildlife Conservancy on the Northern slopes of Mount Kenya the setting could not be more beautiful. Wake up to rhino having a morning drink across the lawn or to the adopted giraffe who might pinch your croissant at breakfast. The setting is amazing, the comfort and style of the accommodation is perfect and with excellent gourmet food you will feel immersed in the nature. Accommodation ranges from luxury tents, to a private cottage and the most luxurious offering is the Sirikoi House for a group or family. In 2015 Sirikoi Lodge was voted Kenya’s best Eco lodge and is Gold Certified (only 16 hotels have this certificate in all of Kenya) from Ecotourism Kenya due to its extensive eco-friendly set up. From its solar power, to its organic home grown veg and fruit, to its free range chickens and mountain spring water the lodge is as green as they come. And with its strong support for local community you can really feel good about where your money will be used. The wildlife is of course spectacular. You will see all the big game you expect along with the endagered black rhino, white rhino and Grevy’s zebra. The quickest way to get to Sirikoi is to take a 50minute flight on a small plane from Nairobi Wilson Airport, this can be organised by the lodge. Alternatively a 5hour drive which is a pretty beautiful drive past Mount Kenya and through the Kenyan plains.
Our favourite accommodation is Cottar’s 1920s Camp situated south-west of Nairobi on a private 6000 acre conservancy and one kilometre from the Masai Mara reserve. Home to the big 5, the wildebeest migration and know for its big cats the Masai Mara is one of the best and most famous places to safari in the world. Cotter’s Camp is the perfect base located in its own reserve, on the door step of the Masai Mara and you stay in extremely cool luxury tents. The camp transports you to the 1920s and gives you a glimpse of how it would have looked in the days of the great explorers. Cotter’s Camp has 10 tents, five double tents, four family suites and one honeymoon tent all with en suit bathrooms. The family tents include living rooms and fireplaces, but my favourite areas were the two main mess tents for dining, drinking, reading and relaxing. There is even a pool and a spa! Whether a couple, a family, or newly weds Cotter’s is perfect. The food is delicious with plenty of variety and an African twist every meal was great.
Whether at Sirkoi or Cotter’s your game drives will take a similar schedule. You rise before sun rise with maids bringing you Kenyan coffee and home made Kenyan biscuits. Get dress in warm clothes which you can strip off layers as the sun rises through the morning. Hop on board a safari modified vehicle (likely too be a Land Rover Defender or a Toyota Land Cruiser) with your guide and dive out into the bush. The beauty of the African plains as the sun starts to hit the dry grass while it almost glows with the fresh morning air is an experience in itself. You keep your eyes peeled and your driver keeps an ear to the radio to listen out for an other guides that have spotted an animal. One you get the location its pedal to the metal to catch a glimpse of one of the animals. You are pretty much guaranteed to see the majority of the wildlife you would hope to see, take lots of photos but don’t forget to put the camera down for a while and just take it in. While you’re in the vehicle the animals see you as no threat and will get very close, so enjoy being immersed in a pride of lions or heard of elephants. You will usually come back to camp for a late lunch as the head gets very intense and relax for the afternoon. Although it is possible sometimes to have lunches in the bush and carry on in the afternoon. And finally, remember to try a night drive safari. You’ll see new things and its pretty fun searching for wildlife with your flashlight, on a family holiday there is always an underlying competition of who can spot the animals first.
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