Kenya is a safari lovers’ paradise. From the world-famous Masai Mara and Amboseli to the lesser-known Samburu and family-friendly experiences in the Lewa & Borana Conservancy, the country has a wildlife experience to suit every traveler’s needs.
The major parks in Kenya are unquestionably the top destinations for all first-time visitors; however, the more accessible lodges in the Meru National Parks and the surrounding Laikipia area are also useful.
So “How do you plan for your perfect trip to Kenya?” Here’s how:
1. Consider which part of the country you want to visit.
If going for a safari and wildlife spotting is the be-all and end-all to your trip, then researching and considering the following destinations that include: Masai Mara, Hell’s Gate, Lake Nakuru, Amboseli, Tsavo East & Tsavo West should be on your mind.
And in the event that you want to experience a beach vacation in Kenya, then the beach destinations that include: Diani, Watamu, and Mombasa should be on top of your list.
2. Consider working with a travel agent rather than planning the trip yourself.
If you are a first-time visitor or you are unsure of what to look for, then hiring a reputable travel agent may be the right decision for you. Most travel agents are extremely knowledgeable about the destinations you wish to visit, and they can save you hours of researching by quickly narrowing down the seemingly endless options of hotels and tour packages for you. They also provide you with the reassurance that all of the details listed on your itinerary will be close to perfect.
3. Consider your holiday duration in Kenya.
Visiting Kenya for a safari experience can either be as long or as short as you want it to be. A long trip to Kenya can take 2 to 3 weeks, covering about everything that the country has to offer. A short trip on the other hand takes 3 to 7 days covering one to three destinations. Most visitors prefer somewhere in the middle, for instance a ten-day safari that covers 2 to 4 different destinations and accommodations.
4. Have a budget for your Kenya Safari.
A trip to Kenya can be very costly especially if you do not have a plan and a budget in mind. Some of the things that you need to be aware of before setting up your budget include: How do you want to travel? Do you want to travel solo or join a group? Which season do you want to visit Kenya? Is it the dry season when the cost of traveling is too high or the rainy season when the cost is too low? And finally, What kind of accommodation do you want to stay in? Do you want a budget, mid-range, or luxury accommodation? These factors affect your budget thus helping you to come up with the correct budget for your trip.
5. Understand what the days are like on safari.
Most safaris begin early in the morning with a quick breakfast before departing for your morning game drive. After a few hours in the field, you’ll take a break for lunch before heading out for another game drive in the afternoon when the temperatures have cooled down. Basically, expect to spend anywhere between 6 to 8 hours per day looking for animals. Also, keep in mind that the tracks that the vehicles will be traveling on may be bumpy and dusty. It’s also important to note that you’ll be visiting national parks and not zoos, therefore, you are not guaranteed of spotting any of the Big Five wild animals.
6. Consider the Safety of the destination you intend to visit.
Most safari destinations in Kenya are very safe and there’s a slim to almost zero percent chance of you being attacked by either the local community or wild animals. However, it is advisable for visitors to observe and follow the park’s general rules and guidelines. If you break those rule for instance, and go for a moonlight walk through the bush by yourself, you may end up becoming a midnight snack.
7. Choose safari camps that are suitable to your needs i.e family-friendly.
Safaris are as much fun for children of all ages as they are for adults. They usually entail spending a lot of time in a vehicle, often on bad roads and in hot weather. And younger children will definitely be as engrossed as you if there is a lot of action going on. However, they may also become bored if the pace slows. When traveling with children, look for camps or lodges that have a variety of kid-friendly activities. Some lodges and camps do not allow children under a certain age to stay. And don’t expect to go on early morning game drives every day.
8. Consider your meal plan.
Depending on where you’ll be visiting and staying, your meal plan will be categorized into four types including: Bed and Breakfast basis, Half Board basis, full Board basis and All Inclusive basis. Most remote lodges and camps in Kenya, only offer either a full board basis or an all inclusive meal plan. Additionally, majority of the camps and lodges have a qualified chef and staff, with the emphasis on food being an important part of your safari experience.
9. Know the amount of cash you intend to carry for your safari.
Almost all major expenses, such as meals, activities, and, in some cases, drinks, are typically included in the cost of your accommodation. However, if you need to purchase an additional product or service, you can pay for it with a credit card or cash in most major outlets. If you need to withdraw cash, ATMs that accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express credit cards are available in most shopping malls and banks throughout Kenya’s major cities and towns.
10. Have an idea of what you intend to tip for excellent services.
Tips can be given in local currency, dollars, pounds, or euros, so always ensure that you have small denominations on hand. As a general rule of thumb, the success of your safari depends on your tour guide since most of your time will be spent with him on your safari, and by the end of your trip, he may end up being your new best friend. So, tipping entirely depends on what you want to give. Generally, tour guides are usually tipped at least 10 dollars per day.
Aside from your guide, you may also want to tip 10% to 15% for good service at restaurants and bars where you’ll be dining. Most waiters are paid a pittance, so tips are a welcome supplement.
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