Kenya Safari Tips: Getting to the Masai Mara

| September 24, 2013

kenya travel tips masai giraffe

Wow, it is hard to believe that three months have gone by since my last post. After several years of blogging I felt like taking a break. 2013 has been a year of really good changes and I felt like I needed to navigate through the changes to see where my mind would settle before picking up the keyboard again. I am happy to say that after all the changes, I am dedicated full time to creative pursuits and am as passionate as ever about travel. We just completed a trip to Africa and Spain and we have two more trips planned…one next April to the Netherlands and Belgium, and a return trip to Tuscany next September.

Further, I have decided that changing this blog to be my business photography site was a bit hasty. I still love the idea of A Day Not Wasted and plan to convert back to that name soon. I am in the process of developing a business photography site that will exist exclusively for business purposes. This blog will continue to support the painting challenges and all things that embody passions in life!

Going on safari in Kenya

This post is the first of a few that will cover Kenya safari tips and our adventure on the Masai Mara. Almost anyone that has been on safari will tell you that it is an amazing experience that can’t be over anticipated. They are right. You can watch Animal Planet all day long and get a sense of what Africa is like but nothing can accurately convey the experience actually of being there.

The journey begins

Our journey began on a Saturday morning in Denver. We then flew to Newark and Zurich before arriving in Nairobi a day later. AndBeyond, the company that arranged our safari logistics, took care of all of our air and ground transportation needs except for the initial flights that took us into and out of Nairobi.

  • Saturday, 8:00am – Depart Denver
  • Sunday, 6:00pm – Arrive Nairobi and stay overnight at the Tribe Hotel
  • Monday, 8:30am – Depart Tribe Hotel for 10am flight from Wilson Field to Masai Mara
  • Monday, 11:00am – Arrive at Kichwa Tembo private airstrip via SafariLink
  • Monday, 3:00pm – Three-hour game drive followed by dinner at the camp
  • Tuesday, 6:30am – Three-hour game drive followed by late breakfast and lunch at the camp
  • Tuesday, 3:00pm – Three-hour game drive followed by dinner at the camp
  • Wednesday, 7:30am – 11-hour game drive with picnic lunch on the Kenya/Tanzania border
  • Thursday, 6:30am – Three-hour game drive followed by lunch at the camp
  • Thursday, 3:00pm – Depart Masai Mara for Nairobi
  • Thursday, 5:00pm – Arrive Tribe Hotel in Nairobi
  • Friday, 7:30am – Visit Compassion International project (self arranged)
  • Saturday, 4:30am – Flight to Barcelona for a week of R&R

Arrival in Nairobi

swiss air nairobi airport

Our final flight lands in Nairobi after a combined 20 hours in the air.

Despite a recent devastating fire at the Nairobi Airport, The immigration process was easy going. The airport set up tents to handle incoming passengers and we got through the process in about 30 minutes.

nairobi arrivals tent

The arrivals tent at Nairobi’s international airport

Unfortunately one of our bags was stuck in Zurich and did not arrive on our Nairobi flight. Fortunately, I predicted our bag would not make it due to the tight connection in Zurich and planned accordingly. We had only packed what we needed for Barcelona in the checked bag and we carried everything we needed for the safari on the plane with us. The bag eventually showed up in Nairobi just in time for our trip to Barcelona!

tribe hotel nairobi

The lawn outside our room at the Tribe Hotel in Nairobi

After arriving at the Tribe Hotel in Nairobi, We crashed for the night and got up the next morning for breakfast at 7:30am. We were then picked up by AndBeyond at 8:30am for a 10am flight from a small airport nearby called Wilson Field. From Wilson Field, we flew to to the Kichwa Tembo Camp on the edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve.

nairobi traffic kenya safari tips

Take a deep breath. Traffic is crazy in Nairobi!

Preparing for the plane ride to the Masai Mara

The SafariLink flights from Wilson Field for the 45-minute ride to the Masai Mara are aboard small prop planes. The weight of your baggage is the thing you need to keep an eye on. For our trip, we had a strict 33lb limit for carry on luggage. Upon check in at Wilson Field, our bags were weighed to verify that we were not over the limit. There were four in our party so they weighed all of our bags together and checked to make sure we were under the aggregate limit of 132 pounds. Because I took an insane amount of camera gear, I was 10 pounds over but the others in our party were under by about the same amount. In total we were only 1 kilogram over, which they said was OK and they happily handed us our boarding passes. Others were not so lucky, having to open their bags on site and start taking things out to get under the weight limit.

wilson field kenya sfari tips

Departing Wilson Field in Narobi for the Masai Mara

The flight was smooth and uneventful with terrific views of the Masai Mara along the way. I must say that the safari company, AndBeyond, has safari logistics down to a science. The efficiency of getting us to the Masai Mara for our safari was amazing.

Arriving at the Kichwa Tembo private airstrip

The Kichwa Tembo Airstrip has a dirt runway and is about 20 minutes from the Kichwa Tembo Camp where our tented accommodation awaited us. Upon out arrival, we grabbed our bag and were greeted by Meme, who would be our guide and driver for the remainder of our trip.

kitchwa tembo airstrip masai mara

Arrival at the Kichwa Tembo Airstrip on the Masai Mara

We were also greeted by Leah, who was an intern attending guide school. After chatting with Meme and Leah and having a few snacks and tea, our safari adventure began. And it began immediately. More on that in my next post!

kitchwa tembo greeting

Meme our guide greets us on the Masai Mara. Note Donna holding tripods. She is the best!


Category: Africa, Photography, Travel