Our gorgeous clients Ben and Jenna just came back from Kenya, and left us the loveliest trip report.
Sorry- very long email- the short version if you’ve read this far is that “it was wonderful, thank you.” If you want to use any quotes for your marketing/testimonials please feel free, or let me know if you want me to expand on anything. It really was fabulous.
It was a fantastic trip, thank you. Obviously missing the first 24 hours on the beach was a bit of a shame, and we will be claiming from Kenya Airways for this. Other than that, all was wonderful. We had extra leg room seats on the outbound flight- thank you if that was your doing- it really made a difference! We also really appreciated the service from the ground team at NBO. I wasn’t expecting to be met before passport control and whisked through the Priority lane- a nice surprise!
The airport hotel was nice and transfers to Diani all went smoothly. Asha was a great hotel- we had a lovely room with a sea/pool view, and we had a blissful stay there. We had no guilt whatsoever about lack of exploration there; I did want to visit the monkey sanctuary as I love colobuses but one kindly visited the garden, so that meant no need to leave the hotel grounds. We took a snorkelling trip with the hotel’s boat out to the nearby reef which was spectacular.
I also managed to find a small family of pipefish further down the beach, which was wonderful although slightly hair raising as I hadn’t anticipated so many sea urchins. The sea in front of the hotel is clear of them, but a few hundred metres away they are everywhere. I’d love to go back for more snorkelling and relaxation.
As for safari, both camps treated us very well indeed- the staff were really lovely at both. Basecamp Explorer was pretty simple, as you had said- however I wasn’t anticipating such a pretty view either from the tent or the main camp and our tent was comfortable. Eagle View was simply stunning. Unfortunately our arrival at Eagle View coincided with the arrival of the rains, and they were fairly torrential all afternoon and most of the night. As a result, our evening game drive was cancelled (and it was a bit cold for a couple of days). However, we had an extended drive the following morning, with a bush breakfast, which more than made up for any disappointment.
All of our drives were productive, both in the main reserve and Naboisho. I didn’t keep count but we must have seen around 40 different lions at 8-10 sightings. On our drive from the airstrip to Basecamp, we had a great view of a leopard stretched out on a rock in full view, and then saw her the following day (or the one after- I forget) with a carcass. The second viewing was too crowded for comfort (20 vehicles) but I was impressed that David kept his distance and didn’t block her exit, as many cars were doing. We also had a third leopard sighting, but she was very deep in the bush- I think we saw an ear and half her head.
We also had two cheetah sightings, both mothers with cubs, and I was really pleased to spot one chasing (and then, out of sight, killing) a warthog piglet from the public area at Eagle View. I had never seen a cheetah before and it was absolutely wonderful to see them; such stunning cats. I was very impressed David took us down to get a better view of them feeding even though we’d already had a long drive with him that morning. We also saw a hyena take a baby impala from the camp viewing point, plus lots of interesting animal interractions (lions mating, zebra fighting, hyena cubs tumbling around etc…)
Other highlights- the huge number of hyena in both the reserve and Naboisho. Wonderful creatures to watch. I was thrilled to see my first secretary bird, and then 4 more- as well as my first ever wildebeest (lots of them!) Bat eared foxes, eland and spring hares were other favourites, and Jenna loved the hippos. We saw everything we wanted to see (except rhino, which we knew were extremely unlikely and which we’d seen a few years ago in Nairobi NP) and then lots more besides. No elephant in Naboisho, but we saw two families in the reserve. The night drive following a big pride of lions on the hunt was especially thrilling.
The walk we took was lovely- great to get some exercise- but as I suspected it was very much more an ‘exercise walk’ rather than being a really informative guide to nature, like I experienced in Zambia. That was fine though, it was nice to get the opportunity to walk further rather than stop at every skull and piece of dung. David and Fiona (a trainee guide who joined us) were really lovely and helpful and both great company. We had them to ourselves most of the time- a nice surprise; I’ve never had a private game drive before. We did occasionally join with other guests which was fine too.
We were really pleased with the guiding and service at both camps- it wasn’t exactly slick but was delivered with real friendliness and warmth, which was perfect for us. As for the destination, the Maasai Mara was exceptional. I have never seen such vast landscapes, with so many animals- a really different experience to other safaris I’ve taken. The reserve and Naboisho have different enough landscapes to make visiting both really worthwhile, it didn’t just feel like ‘more of the same.’ Other than that one leopard incident, I didn’t find the Talek area too overcrowded or busy- we had several interesting sightings to ourselves, and plenty of times where no other cars were visible. There were some cattle grazing in both areas (and a herder who seemed particularly interested in peering across the river at Basecamp at the outside shower!) but I didn’t find the presence of the village annoying- if anything it just showcased the realities of conservation. We did visit a Maasai village as well, which was slightly awkward but an interesting experience and, I think, worthwhile.
We had a fairly eventful flight back to Nairobi, stopping at 2 airstrips on the way. On the first (short) hop, we had the plane to ourselves. Then had a chat with the co-pilot on the tarmac while waiting for other passengers to arrive. The chosen conversational topic was air disasters, which was slightly surreal. At the second stop, the plane’s battery ran out of voltage (?!) and so we couldn’t take off. We were beginning to wonder about how to get to Nairobi for the following day’s flight home, but Safari Link called another plane to come pick us up. Fortunately it had enough seats free for us. We made it to Nairobi in time to use the hotel pool. I can’t imagine BA or Ryanair being that efficient!
Thanks for organising everything- it really all went very smoothly and it felt like a real luxury to know that all details were being taken care of without ever having to think for ourselves. That sounds really lazy- we both are fairly capable travellers and enjoy exploring by ourselves- but for this trip it was so nice just to be looked after at every step of the way. Although it was a relatively short trip, the time passed slowly (in a good way) so that, even though I’d quite happily stay for another few weeks/months, we didn’t feel like we’d missed anything, or had regrets about not doing x, y or z. 5 nights on safari felt like a good amount of time- I don’t think ‘too long’ would be possible, but it didn’t feel too short.
We’d love to do another trip and would definitely get in touch with you first. Unlikely to be 2023 (though I am not giving up hope). I don’t think there is anything of note I’d change about this trip; we’d be very happy to return to any of the hotels/camps in future; especially Eagle View which was a real highlight. For me it was my first ‘proper’ safari- flying in, not sleeping in a dome tent- and it was the best. More importantly, other than that one drive in Nairobi NP while on a long layover, it was Jen’s first safari, and it really exceeded her expectations and fulfilled her safari dreams. She agrees it’s not a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience and something that we need to do again. Thanks for delivering such a great experience for both of us.