Going to Africa and doing a safari has been a dream since I was a kid. It can be a little overwhelming to plan the right safari specially if you are going solo as I did so in this post I want to share a little bit of my experience and give you some tips that can be helpful in your first safari.
It was my first time in the African continent and I really wanted to explore more than one country, I also wanted my first safari to be at the Maasai Mara in Kenya and then I wanted to do a safari in Tanzania but since I had in mind other countries in Africa I had to pick only one to not break my budget. I chose the Maasai Mara safari which was surreal and one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
I flew to Kenya from Morocco and stayed a couple of days in Nairobi before going to the Maasai Mara. I did a lot of research to see which safari tour was better for me but it wasn’t until I arrived in Nairobi that I booked one.
It depends on the season and how many people you travel with, I was by myself so I guess it was easy for me to find one quickly once I was there. If you want to book a safari until you are in Kenya you should have some safari tour options in mind just in case you can’t find anything else you like better.
The safari tour company I chose was Phoenix Safaris located in Village Market in Nairobi. I found it thanks to a friend from Costa Rica that lived in Kenya for a few years and she recommended it to me. When I was in Nairobi and went to their office for more information I really liked it and decided to go with them. You can ask for Dipa, she was very helpful.
I was ready and super excited that everything was all set, finding a safari that you really like and feel comfortable with is essential. They picked me up at my place at 6 am, you can choose to drive or to fly to the Maasai Mara, I chose to drive because It’s cheaper than flying, it takes around 5-6 hours while flying takes around 45 minutes.
Since I was by myself I thought I would be joining a small group for the safari but it turned out to be only one other guy and me besides our driver/guide Richard, and this was perfect because that meant more space during the game drives (the term used for the trips into the wild to see animals in their own environment).
When I arrived at the Mara Siria Tented Camp they gave me a warm welcome and then showed me my home for the next days. One thing I really liked about choosing this safari and their accommodation was that it’s an eco-friendly safari tented camp and the tents are really nice besides the stunning view of the Mara River and the Mara plains just a few steps away from your door.
After I settled in my tent and rested a little the first game drive was about to begin. We arrived to the Maasai Mara to start the safari magic. It was such an incredible and unbelievable feeling being there in the middle of the African Savannah surrounded by all kinds of animals, a dream come true really. My guide Richard was great and had a lot of experience, as soon as we got in he spotted a lioness that just caught a zebra, it was a little sad to watch while it was eating it but well it’s the course of nature.
We continued looking for more animals and hoping to see the big five in the first game drive and I almost did except for the leopard, that according to my guide sometimes it’s hard to spot them because they’re usually sitting in trees.
After a few hours at the Maasai Mara and being able to see so many animals, we went back to the camp to have some drinks with the rest of the people in the camp and then dinner.
The next day was an early start and I couldn’t wait to continue seeing all the beautiful creatures around. The second day was great, it wasn’t long in the game drive when I got to spot a leopard over a tree so that completed my wish of seeing the Big Five at the Maasai Mara 😀
After that the guide parked in a spot where other people was also parked waiting for something… that something was the wildebeest migration which was another thing I was really hoping and dreaming to witness and after around 45 minutes it happened.. it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen and I was so grateful for that moment, it was impressive! There’s a little video I posted on my Instagram a few posts back if you want to check it out.
The rest of the second day we spent a few more hours at the Maasai Mara and went back to camp to eat and to hear all the stories from fellow travelers. The third day of the safari was also amazing but kinda sad because it was the last game drive and I didn’t want to finish it, I was getting used to being surrounded by animals as part of my day. The whole experience was so full of magic, it was what I expected and more and I wish I could put it better into words ♥
Here are some things worth to mention that could be helpful and you want to keep in mind if it’s your first safari:
- Start planning with time ahead. Unless you have a lot of money to spend on a safari is better to start thinking what you want and what fits your budget, there’re a lot of safaris in Kenya it all depends how much you want to spend, it could go from $500 up to $10.000 or more.
- Check if you need a visa and if you do make sure if you have to get it before or on arrival. Costa Rica citizens need a visa, the process can be done online or on arrival.
- Try to go the months when the wildebeest migration happens. This is one of the most impressive things ever, is actually one of the 7 natural wonders! It would make your safari experience even more amazing if you get to witness it.
- Bring your own binoculars. Even tho the safari tour have some available during the game drives you have to wait on other people to use them so you want to have your own and don’t miss any action in the safari!
- Visit a Maasai Mara village. This is a very interesting activity where you can learn a little about the Maasai people and see how they live, you can even participate in one of their dances :O There’s an extra fee you have to pay besides the safari but it’s worth it.
- Wear comfortable clothes. Bring neutral colors and be prepared for changing temperatures, it could be really hot and then it could be really chilly just a few hours later.
- Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get to see the big five or other animals you really want to. Remember you are entering into their life, nobody has control on them or nobody can be completely sure where they are, sometimes it can happen that even tho the guide has a lot of experience some animals are not around while you are in a safari.
- Make sure you have all the vaccines required for the country you are visiting. Prevention is super important and is your duty to make sure you take care of it before leaving home.
- When you are booking your safari specify that you would like a window seat because a lot of safaris offer only window seats but some of them don’t. Being able to always be on the window seat during the game drives it’s definitely way better.
- Bring insect repellent. This one is very important, don’t forget to bring a good one, take it also to the game drives.
- Bring snacks. The game drives usually take hours and even tho you get breakfast, lunch and dinner at the camp, snacks and water/beverages are necessary.
- Don’t forget to tip your guide/driver. They take you on the safari, try to make you see a lot of amazing things and explain all the questions you have for them, at least mine was like that so don’t forget to tip them at the end of each game drive.
I hope this post helps you a little if you are planning to do a safari, it’s a lifetime experience and one of the most magical things I’ve ever done. If you have any questions comment below or if you have any recommendations please share!
Hakuna matata and happy adventures 😀
Photos by me