Everyone is different. Everyone likes different genres of music, films or series. Some people are adrenaline junkies, whereas some are computer nerds. Some people like the outdoors, whereas some would prefer to go shopping. And some like wildlife. Like me.
If I was told that I would need to spend the rest of my life in a house or tent in the middle of a national park; that I wouldn’t have a TV, electricity only during the parts of the day when the generator was running, and the sounds of lions or elephants or any other animal making their presence known, I would be in my element. Obviously I would need to go into the city occasionally to re stock the pantry/ fridge, and to have a bit of human interaction, but being in the bush, surrounded by these fascinating creatures would be a privilege. I might add that in this fantasy world my partner is with me!
To some, this will sound like hell.
Last weekend I went on a family weekend away to the Maasai Mara with my mum, dad and brother. When you self-drive (like we always do), there are multiple things you need to be prepared for. The biggest one is presuming that you may break down or get stuck. Bear in mind, I’m not saying that you will, but be prepared. Have a spare tyre, a tool kit, a jack, towrope and if you’re going all out, a winch. If you are driving a landrover you most certainly will need all the above! The road to the Mara is horrendous in places, and once you get closer in, the road suddenly becomes black cotton. This is not a joke. Drive carefully and stick to the driest patch you can find. A minibus got stuck and it took six people to get him out, with me almost losing a shoe in the mud and my dad getting covered in mud from the spinning tyres. Another tip for self-driving, always have water and snacks in the car with you and I would go as far to say take a blanket as well. You just never know where you could break down, or for how long you will be waiting until help comes.
However, driving aside, the Mara is a beautiful place and is one of the top tourism destinations in Kenya. People flood out here during the migration to watch the wildebeest make their way across to greener land, and risk their lives crossing the Mara River. It is not migration time at the moment, but we decided to go on a weekend trip while we had the time.
We stayed in my cousin’s house which is next to the Enonkishu Conservancy. We spent a full day in the conservancy (where we got stuck once!) and a full day in the actual park on the Sunday. We saw 6 lions in total, multiple elephants, hippos, hyenas, buffaloes… the list goes on! It rained in the evenings which cooled the temperature right down, and the sun dried the muddy earth during the day.
- Drink lots of water and keep hydrated. For every beer or gin and tonic, have a glass of water
- Wear sun cream. The sun is vicious at an altitude of 4,875-7,052 feet (1,500-2,170 metres) above sea level.
- Don’t follow the minibuses. It is too commercial. Have your own trip and when you do find that lazy lion, you know s/he is all yours to view.
- Take a camera. But don’t be over ambitious that you miss the moment because you are trying to capture it.
- Go with a good crowd. The last thing you want is tension between people.
- Turn your phone off and relax.
- Take a map with you…just in case… and have the gates number in case of emergencies
Park Fees (per person per day)
NON RESIDENTS (US$)
Non Resident Adults Inside the park – US$ 70
Non Resident outside the park – US$ 80
Non Resident Children inside the park – US$ 40
Non Resident Children outside the park -US$ 45
Non Resident Student Adult – US$ 40
Non Resident Student Children – US$ 20
EAST AFRICAN CITIZEN (Ksh)
Citizen Adults – Ksh. 1000
Citizen Children – Ksh. 200
Citizen Student – Ksh. 200
EAST AFRICAN RESIDENTS (Ksh)
Resident Adult – Ksh 1,200
Resident Children – Ksh 300
Resident Student – Ksh 300
Please go to ‘Travel Tips’ for more information regarding the park fees for Kenyan National Parks