I can hardly believe it, but we are in Kenya! It feels like Dane and I have been planning a trip to Kenya since before we were even married. A little bit of back story – Dane grew up in Egypt, so I’ve been hearing for years about the beauty of Africa. He visited several camps in Kenya when he was a kid and has told me for years and years how badly he wanted to take me. Well – here we are!
The way this trip came together is kind of serendipitous. Dane had been reading an article in MOAA (Military Officers Association of America) this spring about a military spouse named Amy who helped clients plan the African safari trips of their dreams. Right away, he forwarded me the piece and was like “What a cool job!” I randomly started researching flights from Washington, D.C. for the fall since we would be there anyhow for my best friend’s wedding, so imagine my complete shock when I managed to find them for less than $700 (plus a little more since we were traveling from Hawaii and needed to stop for the actual wedding)! On a whim, I contacted Amy, told her a little bit about our background and my flight deal and the next thing I know she was FaceTiming me! Two weeks later, our trip was booked. It all happened so fast, but Amy did exactly what she claims to do — put together the safari of our dreams! I have a whole post coming on why we chose to use a travel professional for this trip, so if you’ve got questions…I’ve got answers! Stay tuned! Today I’m sharing our full Kenya itinerary, what we plan to do, where we plan to stay and more. Make sure you’re following along on Instagram to get a first-hand look at all the awesome sights and sounds while we travel around beautiful Kenya.
Our Kenya Itinerary
Our first stop is Nairobi, since that is where we are flying in. Nairobi is Africa’s fourth largest city and there are some fascinating attractions: its cafe culture, unbridled nightlife, the National Museum, the Karen Blixen Museum and most notably, just 20 minutes from the city centre, wild lions and buffalo roam in the world’s only urban game reserve. Nairobi is also home to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where we will be given the opportunity to hang out with the elephant we adopted, Dololo. We are staying at Hemingways Nairobi, a boutique hotel situated in Nairobi’s Karen residential area with views of the nearby Ngong hills. The hotel offers forty-five luxury suites which include the Hemingways suite, The Blixen suite, 19 Executive rooms and 24 deluxe rooms (where we will be!).
From Nairobi, we will hop on a transfer to Finch Hattons Camp in Tsavo West National Park. Finch Hattons is an eco, luxury safari camp rich in history and committed to conservation. After an extensive refurbishment completed in 2015, the camp features 17 luxury tented suites (where we will be staying!) including 2 two-bedroom suites, and a presidential suite equipped with a private plunge pool, a separate room for a nanny/body guard and a kitchen/pantry.
Why Tsavo West? Tsavo West National Park stretches for over 9000 square kilometres and is one of Kenya’s most rewarding parks. Tsavo West is covered in fairly thick bush but has spectacular natural scenery which includes volcanic cones, swamps, rocky outcrops and lava flows, mountains, river forest, plains, lakes, natural springs and wooded grassland. Although the game is not as easy to spot as in Tsavo East, it’s all here. Natural attractions include: the Mzima Springs, the main source of water for the Tsavo River; the Chaimu Crater; and the Roaring Rocks, offering panoramic views. Visitors can soak up the dramatic scenery, stay at one of the many fine lodges and spot a variety of wildlife.
After several days at Finch Hattons, we will continue on to the Maasai Mara National Reserve, where we will be staying at Sir Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri. The 12 tented suites are unique and the camp sleeps a maximum of 24 guests at any time. The tents are perched on a ridge looking over the valley with a distinctive design adapted to the local climate and terrain. The camp offers luxury and a laid-back atmosphere, with all inclusive meals and drinks, including premium brands. The open bar “help yourself” philosophy creates a welcome, friendly, home from home atmosphere. Expert Maasai guides take guests on 4×4 game viewing and safari walks, in the conservancy, and can arrange to visit the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Why Maasai Mara? The Maasai Mara together with Tanzania’s Serengeti form Africa’s most famous wildlife park, the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The image of acacia trees dotting endless grass plains epitomizes Africa for many, then add a Maasai warrior and some cattle to the picture and the conversation need go no further. The undeniable highlight of the Maasai Mara National Reserve is undoubtedly the annual wildebeest migration traversing the vast plains of the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara. It is known as the largest mass movement of land mammals on the planet – with more than a million animals following the rains. Large prides of lions, elephants, giraffes, gazelles and eland can also be spotted in the reserve. Aside from horse riding safaris and traditional vehicle safaris, hot-air ballooning over the Mara plains has become almost essential.
We will be missing the Great Migration and I’ve had several people ask me why we didn’t go during the summer months in hopes of witnessing it. Plainly – we couldn’t afford it. It was going to be significantly more expensive to travel during those months, plus Amy had told us that it can get extremely crowded on safari, so we opted to go during a shoulder season and we are hoping for the best! 🙂