It has been a busy time for tour companies ever since the lockdown was lifted. Most people are now more interested in local tourism as it is the only viable option at the moment. Safaris have become more common and especially to Maasai Mara National Park for the famous wildebeest migration.
Safaris have been an integral part of Kenya’s way before the colonial era. It is reported that the great Arab merchants that mostly did their trading along the Kenyan coast explored to see wildlife. Safari is actually a derived word from the Arabic term ”Safar” meaning to journey.
Then came development and increased population, so animals were kept in reserved areas to avoid human-animal conflict and also keep them safe from malicious individuals like poachers. These animal parks are made to be in the most natural state as possible so that the animals can live long and healthy lives.
Kenya is a hub of a cosmopolitan population. English and Swahili are the national languages and therefore if you speak English you will easily get around. Most hotels have multilingual personnel so as to accommodate a diverse array of guests.
There are 42 tribes spread all over the country but they are all united either by marriage or work or by the simple factor of exploration. Because of the many misconceptions and false information offered by the media and the internet, I have decided to compile some facts about safaris in Kenya. It is my hope that by the time you are done reading, you will be packing for an African Safari in Kenya.
Nothing but fun
I had a German friend who I met outside the borders of Kenya. When she knew I was from Kenya the first thing she asked me was whether it is true that Africans live on trees and have pet lions. It is a common belief especially in western countries about Africa talk less of Kenya. Taking a holiday safari is an excellent way to come and explore Kenya and all that it carries.
Fact number one, Kenya is a fun country. Kenyan safaris are fun activities. From game drives to cultural shows, to camps, bird watching, and market visits. It is a fact that safaris in Kenya are nothing but adrenaline-filled events that will leave you excited and informed about Kenya.
There is more to Kenya than the Maasai Mara
Every time safari in Kenya is mentioned, you can bet that Maasai Mara will come up sooner or later in the conversation. This is because Maasai Mara is the only widely advertised game reserve owing to the fact that it plays host to one of the wonders of the world; the wildebeest migration.
You wouldn’t believe it when I say there are dozens of holiday safari destinations in Kenya. National Parks, lake parks, animal sanctuaries and forests alike. There are so many alternatives to the Maasai Mara.
If you prefer the coastal areas then you can visit marine parks or the mangrove forests. If hill climbing and hiking are your drugs then make a visit to Mt Kenya or maybe Mt Longonot. You can get boat rides and interact with hippos at Lake Naivasha or Lake Elementaita. It is a fact that safaris in Kenya can be undertaken in various places all with the potential of immense fun.
Three types of safaris.
Do you know that we have three types of Kenyan Safaris? I won’t be too hard on you for thinking otherwise. Up to the recent past, I too thought that
taking a safari in Kenya means 4 wheel drive trucks with open roofs, standing under the limited shade of the acacia, as passengers stand to take photos.
Pointing out to the leopard on the branch of the tree a few minutes away, that just wants to sleep but it can’t, because the passengers are noisy and intrusive. But this is nothing but a false fact concerning safaris in Kenya.
There are 3 main types of Kenyan safaris. You can either take a game drive
in the said 4 wheel drive truck, experience the wild on foot in what is commonly known as a walking safari or bushwalk, or lastly, take your adventure up to the air in hot air balloons and see everything from an eagle’s point of view.
If I was to give my biased opinion, then air balloon safaris all the way. I mean, we always walk and board cars all day every day. But hot air balloon rides are not everyday things so when you have the chance to go for it. It feels like the wind is singing your name, the birds are cheering you on and the normally vast and scary animals now seem like ants, but as beautiful and breathtaking.
The advantage of an aerial view, you get to see more wildlife in less time and have immense fun at the same time.
Dense and diverse wildlife population.
What animals come to your mind when you hear the word safari? Let me guess. Lions, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, and maybe cheetahs. But did you know that this is not even one percent of the total wildlife population in Kenya?
One of the major, yet minimally know safari in Kenya facts is that there are over 20,000 species of animals only and over 7000 species of plants? Yes, you read that right. While the media only dwells on the big five, you will be surprised to see just how much there is to see!
From the numerous herbivores to the primates, then to the insects and bugs, and finally to the birds. You will see animals that you didn’t even know existed. And yes! Flora is part of wildlife too. The baobab trees, the famous acacia, herbs, and shrubs. They are all there to fascinate your eyes and mind. So come prepared to see more than just the Kenyan lion!
There are numerous accommodation options to suit your preferences.
I am chuckling as I write this article because it never occurred to me how much myths and misconceptions are out there about Kenya and Africa at large. But I am here to put these doubts to rest and offer you all the facts you need to know about taking safaris in Kenya.
When you come to Kenya for a safari, where you will be spending your days will be totally up to you. Of course, your budget and preferences play a large role in deciding this. There are people who love the outdoors so camps and lodges would be their best choice, while there are those who enjoy the comfort and warmth of the insides, so hotel rooms, villas, and resorts may do right by them.
Most National Parks and Reserves and top tourist attractions in Kenya have
accommodation facilities in or around them so transportation or access will not be much of a problem. If you were worried about whether you will be comfortable, or whether you will be able to have hot showers or your stay will be cursed with bucket baths only, then you can put a smile on your face.
Tourism is one of the main revenue-generating industries for the country’s economy, Kenya has made it it’s business to make tremendous developments in the said sector. There are hundreds of five-star hotels, family-friendly resorts with spas, beachfront retreats and so much more. You just have to make a decision and we will make the rest of the arrangements for you.
Best times for safaris.
Because game drives are the major activities in most safari itineraries, I will use it as the main focus of drawing out the best times to go for a safari. Unless it is during the long rains season May-August, the rest of the year is generally characterized by hot sunny days.
Due to this fact then it is only logical to have your drives either early
morning before 11 am or late evening after 3 pm. Doing this will not only help you avoid getting sunburns but you will also be able to reserve a lot of energy that would otherwise be drained under the heat. Animals may also be inactive in very hot days and only come out when there is a bit of breeze, so you will even be lucky.
Foreign and Local Tourists
You may think that tourism and safaris in Kenya are just for foreigners but you will find so many Kenyan families also in the same tracks as you. This is because Kenyan wildlife is just a phenomenal thing and many people want to experience this first hand.
Since charity begins at home, we choose to visit our local parks before going
anywhere else. Also sometimes everyday life can be crazy and once you get the chance, you just want to get away from the hustle of city life. And where else to find serenity and calm if not in the midst of majestic elephants, and brilliant flamingoes?
Safaris are safe.
Since the beginning of the century, Kenya has received an average of 2 million tourists per annum. If Kenya was not a safe country then it wouldn’t have such high numbers. So put your doubts aside as there is no threat to your wellbeing when you come to Kenya.
Once you decide that you want to spend your holidays in Kenya, contact any of the trusted tour companies and they will do all the necessary arrangements for you. From airport pickups to daily trips, to accommodation planning.
All trips will be accompanied by not less than two trained guides who will not only keep you safe but make sure you have nothing short of an excellent time and all your money’s worth. By the end of your stay here, you will only have nothing but good praises to sing about Kenya.
English is widely spoken
One of the major challenges of visiting a new country is wondering whether you will be understood. Different countries and different cultures all have different languages and Kenya is no different. However, the national language is English together with Swahili and most of the population speaks fluent English.
You will be able to comfortably go about your business whether it is buying things or just taking an evening walk. In case you want something, ask for it in English and you will be okay. In addition to this, some of our tour guides and the staff at the hotels where you may be staying are multilingual so it is a guarantee that interaction will be easy.
Kenyan Safaris are family-friendly.
Remember we said safaris in Kenya are very safe? What we forgot to mention is that not only are they safe, they are very family-friendly. From the kind of transportation used, accommodation offered, and even to the activities set for each day. There is something for everyone. So do not worry about coming with your elderly parents or your toddlers. It is a proven fact that
your whole family will be in very safe hands.
Safaris are not about game viewing only.
If you thought that coming for a Kenyan safari directly translates to you being stuck in a truck all day seeing animals then you have never been so wrong. As much as we adore game viewing because let’s face it, what is Kenya without its wildlife, we are still not limited to them.
Safaris have a variety of fun, informative and family-friendly activities including walking safaris, hiking, mountain climbing, boat rides, fishing, deep-sea diving, snorkeling, and windsurfing, just to mention but a few.
You will even get chances to meet and interact with the locals who most often assist in the running of most of the reserves! Isn’t it a joy to know that you cannot possibly miss at least one thing that will occupy you?
Kenyan Climate and what to carry
Kenya lies within the equator and so there are no seasons. The weather patterns just change from long to short rains. This being said, it is advised to carry light clothes generally. Cotton shirts, khaki shorts, polyester or linen pants, and maybe a pair of thermal underwear if you will be visiting during the cold days.
You should always confirm with your travel agents to get more advice on the kinds of clothes to carry.
Have your passport at all times!
Perhaps this is a more obvious fact but there is no harm done in emphasizing. You should always have your passport everywhere during your safaris in Kenya. This is because your identification will be required almost everywhere. Be it at the hotels or at the park’s entrances, your identification will need to be confirmed.
In order to avoid the wear and tear of your passport, we advise that you have a small sling bag to carry it in. Have your identification items in an easily and quickly reachable place.
I bet that the above list has made you happy but this is the grand finale for you. Take it as a gift from me to you. When enjoying your holiday in Kenya taking the safari trips, you do not have to do anything. Your tour agents will, upon request, take care of everything.
From the moment you set foot on Kenyan soil to the time you go back home, everything you need, they will plan and deliver. All you have to do is tell them beforehand what kind of activities interest you, make a deposit that will serve as your commitment, and let them do the rest.
So there you have it. My version of very important safaris in Kenya facts that you need to know. I hope that you were greatly helped and if you need any more clarification do not hesitate to contact me.
Article written by Damaris Wataka owner Naked Thoughts.