'Jambo!' in Swahili means 'Hello' and Swahili is the widely spoken language in Africa. Honestly, just like many other African countries, we were a bit skeptical before visiting Kenya, having heard of stories about the country being unsafe for travel. Fortunately, Kenya ended up being very welcoming, because it's here that you'll spot the best of the wild and the best of the sunsets!
Right from the time we boarded the home airline 'Kenya Airways', until we said 'Kwa heri' (goodbye) to this beautiful country, we had the time of our lives. Kenya will always remain special to us, as it was the first country we visited together, outside our home, India and U.A.E.
You can follow more of our travel stories and itineraries here.
Best time to visit
We visited Kenya in August, and undoubtedly, it is the best time of the year if you want to see the great wildebeest migration in action at Masai Mara. The weather is amazing for viewing the big 5 of Africa - Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo and Cheetah / Leopard - not too warm and not too cold, just perfect. Considering that it is the peak season, you may encounter a little crowd and higher prices. But it is worth it!
Before you go!
Kenya is a safe destination compared to surrounding African countries, but travelers like most of the places, will always attract unwanted attention from beggars and pickpockets. Don't be afraid to explore your boundaries - just be careful and sensible about it. A little street smartness goes a long way in Kenya, and staying up to date on the local situation is essential no matter where you go. Here are few things you should consider before you plan your visit:
Check on your vaccinations - We got our Yellow Fever Vaccination (YFV) 45 days ahead of our trip (entirely safe, but still consult your doctor). Keep the vaccination card for your records with passport, as some countries do need YFV if you've visited some African countries. Make sure your routine vaccinations are also upto date. Carry an insect repellent - Malaria is a big risk in Kenya. Pack a 30% DEET and some anti malaria pills, along with your general medicines, after consulting your doctor. Stay covered at dawn and dusk, that's when the mosquitoes are most active. Watch out for small insects too. Raw or under cooked food - Our medical travel consultant had clearly mentioned of not eating anything raw and/or under cooked, especially meat. Drink water from your packed water bottles and not from any open source. Don't be flashy - While in city or in rural areas, don't be flashy about your belongings, be it jewelry, cash or equipment. Keep limited cash with you and as goes without saying, a copy of your passports with you all the time.
Kenya is one of the few countries where you can get an e-visa or a visa on arrival with an Indian passport. We chose to go for visa on arrival, as we had read that getting an e-visa before hand does not really make that much of a difference.
The visa on arrival process was not smooth as we had hoped for. It took us two hours of waiting in the non-existent queue with the crowd. You need to fill up the immigration form, even by the e-visa holders, which are placed near the immigration counters. The visa fee can either be paid in USD (50) or EURO (40) or GBP (30). Only cash is accepted.
We used the flight aggregator https://www.skyscanner.net/ to search for best available flights. However, once we selected our flight, we booked directly from the carrier's website. We had to proceed to Seychelles after Kenya and Kenya Airways offered us the best connection and price. It is the national airline of Kenya and it reminded us of Air India (in a good way).
We generally prefer https://www.booking.com/ to book our hotels. It is reliable, with trusted reviews and all the needed information about the property. The reviews are handy, especially if you are on a budget. However, when in Kenya, we would recommended to book a tour rather than only the hotel.
So here is a pro tip - we looked for hotels on booking.com, then contacted the hotel directly and asked them for an all inclusive package (pick-up and drop from airport, all game drives and stay on a full board basis). This way, we were able to save a lot of cost. We prefer booking this way than through the travel agents. We were able to get a private 4×4 for 3 days. We inquired a lot of agents and they were offering only a shared van in that same budget.
We stayed at the Mara Concord Game Lodge. The location was beautiful. There was a river flowing in front of our little chalet, nearby to which was a hippo pool too. Technically, it doesn't really matter where you stay because most of the time you'll be out for the game drives, from the sun rises to the sunsets; but no one ever said no to a good bed sleep ????