I’ve been in touch with a number of African agencies recently regarding safaris and the best on offer. There is one in particular that has what sounds like a really compelling, compact itinerary that serves as a marvellous introduction to this type of holiday.
It’s a six day tour beginning and ending in Nairobi, and taking in Amboseli, Nakuru and the Masai Mara along the way. Nairobi has got to be the global hub for safari tours, and on arrival there’s a free day to hang out and take the safari briefing. Once you’ve chilled and got your bearings overnight, you drive across the Athi Plains for what may be your first glimpse of wildlife, giraffes, from the highway if you’re lucky. However, it’s on arrival at the Amboseli National Park by lunchtime that you really up your chances of starting to spot all the fauna you came for.
This tour agency, however, has a talent for reminding you that there is more to Africa than spotting the Big Five, and this park is particularly stunning. The day caps off with a sunset showcasing the beauty of the environment and a choice of safari camp or full board. Take note that in terms of spotting animals, you have a guaranteed window seat on booked safaris and unlimited game-viewing drives per day, to minimise disappointment if the animals don’t play ball on your first trip out.
The third, packed day takes you from Nairobi to the very first place in Africa to be designated a National Park thanks to its amazing bird life, Lake Nakuru National Park. A big draw for me is that the park is set in the Great Rift Valley, which thanks to its prehistoric links with the origins of man has held a romantic fascination for me for many years. The 38 mile long salt lake has flamingos, black and white rhino, pelicans, buffalos and lions and more. There is an afternoon game viewing drive at the lake shore, followed by another choice of tented camp or full board. I must confess I would probably opt for the latter, especially if I took my two children.
The next two days are spent in another legendary location, the Masai Mara. Famed for its beautiful countryside and Masai community, there is the chance to see Sentrim Mara, take another game drive, and then spend the next day, all day, at the Masai Mara Game Reserve.
Any cursory viewing of the Discovery Channel will have informed you that the Masai Mara is famous for its Great Migration of more than two million wildebeest and thousands of Thomson’s gazelle, Zebra and Impala. Even without this grandiose spectacle, there are more than 500 bird species that have been sighted there, the black-maned lion and tons of other exceptional game-viewing opportunities. You can take a balloon ride if you want a higher vantage point on the wildlife, or do what I’d do and visit a Masai tribal village.
All good things must come to an end, but before you transfer back to Nairobi to fly home the next day, there is one final, magical early morning game-viewing drive.
I can’t think of many better, more memorable ways to spend a week than this one.