My first trip to the East Coast of Africa brought me to Masai Mara in Kenya. New countries, new continents, and tons of animals roaming free. .What more can I ask?
Immigration in Kenya
I arrived in Nairobi via Amsterdam. KLM has a daily service here. The immigration in Kenya is pretty simple IF you have requested your e-visa upfront (check) AND if you bring that with you, printed (oops…). Without the paper, I had to go to an immigration office in the transit zone, where they printed my visa confirmation. By that time, the whole Boeing 747 of KLM was in line for the immigration desks, so I had a bit longer than expected of a wait. The universally unfriendly immigration officer stamped my passport, and I was on my way out. If we don’t count a small visit to Djerba (Tunisia) many years ago, my first real steps in Africa!
Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport
I spent my first day in the Four Points by Sheraton near the Nairobi airport. The certainty of a good bed, a warm shower and an (expensive) gin & tonic are the excellent base for many adventures!
Let’s get this circus on the road!
At 7 am, Paul was waiting for me in the lobby. I had no idea how intense the experience would be I’d live with him in the next days. Paul has been a guide in the Masai Mara area for over 15 years
We left the airport area and drove via the large ring road westwards towards Masai Mara park. Paul had to stop for gas, and we made a stop where his colleague Mary could jump in the 4×4 to collect the fee for the safari services.
The roads, they are changing
160 miles took us a little over 9 hours. While we started on the newly paved roads of the airport, we already started swerving on the ring road around Nairobi to avoid massive potholes.
The roads became smaller, and parts were not covered in any concrete at all once we were 4 hours on the road. When we drove past the constructions sites for new road and train infrastructure, they all had Chinese signs and flags. Paul explained to me how the Chinese are
While we still several hours away from the Masai Mara wild park, I noticed animals on the plains we were crossing. Even here, outside of the protection of the park, zebras, giraffes, and wildebeest were
The road had now deteriorated to a path where we had to cross rivers. Paul was experienced at this and maneuvered our van with brillo over the river, watched by young men on motorcycles. These men stood at the rivers, waiting for a car or truck to get stuck so they could offer
Around 4 pm we made it to the camp. Local Masai, who work here, helped to get me settled in my tent. Paul gave me the time to grab a cup of coffee before we headed out for the first of our many explorations of the area.
Kenya Safari – Masai Mara
In the days I was in the area, we spent much of our time roaming the land. While you see many other four-by-fours, there’s no moment where you feel being surrounded by them, unless when there’s a very spectacular sight. The guides communicate by radio and help one another when they spot a pack of lions or a herd of elephants.
I had chosen to have my own vehicle, and that proved to be the right call. I met vans that had up to eight people in them, making it an uncomfortable drive and a crab’s basket when they were trying to see the environment or the animals. If you ever make it out here, press the operator to limit the number of people in your car. Four would be the limit I’d settle for if I had to.
I have spent three days in the park here, and with the local Masai. So more stories to come. About animals, about meeting the Masai and about unexpectedly being in the hands of the local healthcare system…
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.