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Old 21st April 2013, 20:33   #1
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Default An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

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It all started when my project went into a lull period and I could take a couple of days off and so could my better half. So we opened up Wikipedia to get a list a countries which offered visa-on-arrival to Indians. And after filtering out East Asian and East European countries we narrowed down Maldives and Kenya. Maldives was peak season and Kenya off-season. So instinctively we decided to take the chance and go off to Kenya. It is rainy season and post the great migration at this time of the year, so tourists are far and few and thus offers a great deals on hotels and flights.

We contacted a family friend who arranges such tours and within a matter of two days all the bookings were done. The bookings were from Nairobi airport and back. We were allotted a Toyota HiAce 4X4 which stayed with us for the whole 4 days in Kenya.It picked us from Nairobi airport and dropped us back there after the tour.

The itenary was as below :

17th April : 0300 Flight from Mumbai . Reaching Nairobi at 0600 local time.
17th April : Nakuru Lake. Travel time : 4 hours
18th April : Maasai Maara from Nakuru. Travel time : 6 hours.
19th April : Maasai Mara.
20th April : 1735 flight out of Nairobi.
21st April : 0200 Landing in Mumbai.

Some info on going to Kenya :

1. Visa on Arrival is offered to Indians at a fee of 50$/person. You need to fill up a white form and a blue landing card and there is a separate line at the Kenyan immigration. You may be asked a invite letter and booking details from the hotel.
2. You need to take a yellow fever vaccine at least 10 days in advance to travel.
3. Kenya schillings are exchanged at 85 to 1USD. But in general USD is happily accepted and it is a little costly.
4. Avoid going out after 7pm in Nairobi as there are incidents of mugging.

Into Kenya.

We landed right on time and the visa process was a breeze and we were out of the airport by 0645. Our driver cum guide Simon was waiting for us with a placard of our name and so within minutes we were driving out of Nairobi airport.

First destination Lake Nakuru.

Lake Naukru lies in what is called the Rift valley, a 9600km long and 190Km wide depression caused along the length of Africal from Mozambique to Isareal in the north. Picture from Wikipedia.

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There are three lakes along the way. Lake Naivasha , Lake Elementia and Lake Nakuru. Out of which Lake Nakuru is salt water lake.

En route Nakuru there is a dormant volcano Mt Longonot. A trek goes all the way up th crater and around it. But this is for the fit and healthy so was a obvious miss for me.

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Simon adviced us a boat ride around Lake Naivasha and have a look at the birds found around the area and not to mention Hippos. The boat ride costs 3000 kenyan schillings roughly 30USD per head. We took that and boy we were more than happy about it. The boat skipper Joseph was a expert in birds and identified a lot of them for us.

Cormorants

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Pied KingFisher

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Giant Kingfisher

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Crested Stork

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Hippo

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Fish Eagle

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After an hours ride in the lake we started off to Nakuru and reached our lodge at around 1300. After a hearty lunch we went on a game drive in Nakuru wildlife reserve at 1600 in the evening. We were able to sight rhinos, flamingoes, antelopes, wildebeast.

Baboons

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Bush Buck

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Bushy Tailed Monkey

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Egyptian Geese

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Flamingo

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Greater Blue Starling

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Impala

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Jackal

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Rhino

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Wild Buffalo

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It also started raining and the tracks were turned into a water streams. Thanks to reliable Toyota we took all of that in ease.

An African Safari into the Maasai Maara-watery-track.jpg
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Old 21st April 2013, 21:05   #2
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Default re: An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

Maasai Maraa

The next day 18th April we woke up at 0300 well we still were on Indian time. Packed our bags checked out of our lodge in Nakuru and headed off at 0700 to Maasai Mara. The road were good except for the last 2 hours which were jungle tracks. The ride was about 6 hours long and we were in Maasai Mara for lunch. We had three game drives for 2 days which we were on the Maraa and each offered us something better and better. I would let the pictures do the talking.

DikDik : The smallest deer no bigger than a small dog.

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African Elephant

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Giraffe
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Hyena
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Lions... The kings of the maraa
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Female Ostrich
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Male Ostrich
An African Safari into the Maasai Maara-ostrich.jpg

Toupee.. Dunno what they were fighting about.

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Warthog
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White backed vultures

An African Safari into the Maasai Maara-white-backed-vulture.jpg
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Old 22nd April 2013, 08:50   #3
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Default re: An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

Some afterthoughts

Kenya is beautiful and there is no doubt about it. But there are some issues we need to really think about.

First and foremost the Maara is a very fragile ecosystem and any imbalance can make the system irreversibly damaged. It faces dangers foremost in terms of poaching and secondly human settlements. Lake Nakuru is a fenced reserve but the Masai Mara is not. So the villages are moving into the reserve and this then causes human-animal conflicts. Hunting for game meat like antelopes and zebra is quite common.

Apart from hunting the major impact humans make is due to cattle and sheep rearing . The sheeps and goats tend to push the other grazing animals into the grasslands and then grazing animals get restricted. Also due to the fact that the shepherds either kill or chase away predators from their sheep makes the situation worse. Wild dogs are the best example which have been driven to near extinctions due to the shepherds killing them.

Lastly another important member of this ecosystems are the Maasai tribes themselves. They have been living here for thousands of years and lived in harmony with the nature. They were basically hunters and gatherers and so they respected the available food. In fact they do not hunt antelopes since they consider it sacred. But a total neglect to conservation of this tribe has lead them to (very sorry to say this) but begging. You jeep waits at the Maasai maara entrance for tickets and these tribals swamp you trying to sell wooden figurines etc. They have names like "Anne" "Sophie" and they will urge you to take a photograph with them for a fee. This really saddened me. Instead of learning from them on how to conserve nature, under the pretext to educating them and bringing them into "mainstream" human lives , we are destroying their culture.

Something needs to be done and fast otherwise coming generations might not even see this beauty that the nature has to offer.
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Old 22nd April 2013, 17:16   #4
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Default Re: An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 22nd April 2013, 17:32   #5
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Default Re: An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

Thank you for providing useful information about Masai mara. This is one of my dream destination and going there soon. Please do not take it otherwise:
1. The moment i saw this thread, i was excited but the pictures shows that you had been there at a wrong time as the mara is famous for the "Great Migration". Any ways lovely pictures.
2. I was checking with doctor about yellow fever vaccine. Does it mandatory to carry the yellow card which will be provided by the hospital, when you take the vaccination. Otherwise, whether the vaccination from Private hospital doctor with a certificate will do?

Thank you for sharing.
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Old 22nd April 2013, 17:55   #6
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Thanks for your response. This trip was on the spur of the moment. Migration is a better time to go there but that means at least a 4 - 6 months plan ahead to get reservation and deals. Yellow fever vaccines can be taken in designated private hospitals but you need to carry doctors certificate and all the bills. While we already had all this from earlier but we were not asked about it during travel.
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Old 22nd April 2013, 18:48   #7
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Default Re: An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

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Maasai Maraa
Can you PM me your agent and other details? I am planning a carbon copy trip and need to check costs and verify such things with you. What camera did you use BTW?
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Old 22nd April 2013, 19:02   #8
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Default Re: An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

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Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
Can you PM me your agent and other details? I am planning a carbon copy trip and need to check costs and verify such things with you. What camera did you use BTW?
I have PMed you the info. I used a Canon 100D with 55-250 lens.
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Old 22nd April 2013, 19:31   #9
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Hi Vikrant,

Thanks for the pics & write up !

I was to do a SA + Kenya during May 1st week but the tour advised me to not do Kenya as the best time to visit Masai Mara is post june coz thats when the migration season is so we can see the herds. So then we canned Kenya & doing only SA for 10 days scheduled fr May 6th)

Whats your take on the migration season bit ?
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Old 22nd April 2013, 20:06   #10
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Default Re: An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

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Originally Posted by karan561 View Post
Hi Vikrant,

Thanks for the pics & write up !


Whats your take on the migration season bit ?
Let me give you both sides of the coin :

During Migration period : June-July / Jan-Feb
Pros :
- loads of animals to see. do not have to go far and wide to spot lions, cheetahs, leopards etc
- you can see hunts
- not raining

Cons
- $$$$$$ loads of it. Hotels and airfare both
- Need to book atleast 4-6 months in advance otherwise all good lodges are taken and you will put up in temporary camps.
- lots of tourist around. Our guide told us at any point of time there are 300-350 vehicles in the maara , so there is no exclusivity factor.

Going there in "off" season
Pros
- No tourist around. We were about 10 vehicles in the WHOLE maara.
- Costs are down
- Get the best rooms in lodges at throw away prices

Cons
- you really have to travel far to spot animals. But you will see them which is obvious from my photos.
- it can rain. but it did not rain in 3 days I was in maara. Rains can cause the trails to be tricky in navigation.
- you will not be able see the hunts
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Old 22nd April 2013, 20:24   #11
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Default Re: An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

Good details and information with some awesome photography thrown in!

Thank you so much for the travelouge!
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Old 23rd April 2013, 01:27   #12
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Default Re: An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

Nice short trip you had.
Nice photos of the wildlife but none of the ride?

BTW, did you find the source of the Nile?
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Old 23rd April 2013, 12:00   #13
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Default Re: An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

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Originally Posted by Subrat Seet View Post
Thank you for providing useful information about Masai mara. This is one of my dream destination .

As mentioned by Subrat - this is one of the dream destinations that I want to travel to at least once in my lifetime. It will really help if you could share your logistical details/planning/agents used together with the costing.


Thanks for sharing and waiting for many more pics of the wonderland
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Old 23rd April 2013, 12:35   #14
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Default Re: An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

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. So then we canned Kenya & doing only SA for 10 days scheduled fr May 6th)
Hello Karan,

Wish you a great trip to South Africa & we will be waiting to read your travelogue. Further as per above suggestion from Vikrant, it would have been great to visit Kenyan safari during off-season.

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Originally Posted by vikrantj View Post
Going there in "off" season. Pros. - No tourist around. We were about 10 vehicles in the WHOLE maara. - Costs are down. Get the best rooms in lodges at throw away prices
Hello Vikrant,

Thank you for this wonderful pictures.

My current client is based in Nairobi, Kenya & they have many times invited our team to visit them. Let us hope for the best so that I too can witness the Kenyan Safari the way you did.

Can you please share the details of the cost of the trip incurred by you? Mainly the flight, accomodation & other rates like transportation. Also did you anytime felt a fear / risk that is normally associated while visiting African countries?

Thanks,
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Old 23rd April 2013, 12:50   #15
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Default Re: An African Safari into the Maasai Maara

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I have PMed you the info. I used a Canon 100D with 55-250 lens.
Can you PM me the details too? Lovely photos.
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