Africa marks our 6th continent. Since Kenya is one of the best destinations to go for a Safari, we picked it as our first country to explore in Africa. It has been on our bucket list for so long and at last, we were about to experience a new continent!
We were excited! Moreover, we were going to see the “Big Five” in the wild! We picked Australken Tours and Travel as our safari company and they thoroughly impressed us! In short, we highly recommend them! They are mid-budget-range, locally owned and operated, flexible, and very, very professional!
In Africa, the Big Five game animals are the Lion, Leopard, Rhinoceros, Elephant, and African Buffalo. The term “big five” was coined by big-game hunters in the colonial past, and it refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on “foot” but is now also widely used by safari tour operators.
That said, we were in for a surprise because on our 7 days safari we saw animals which we did not even know exists (such as the ones pictured below)!
Our 7 Days Kenya Safari
We’ll first share what was on our safari itinerary plan which then follows our experiences!
Day 0: Get to Nairobi
We arrived in Kenya late evening. This is the day where you will mostly rest and meet your tour operators and discuss your final safari logistics and trip plan!
Day 1: Nairobi to Amboseli
Trip plan: Depart from Nairobi for Amboseli National Park. Check-in and have lunch at AA Amboseli Lodge. Later proceed for the evening game drive in search of gigantic elephants the park is famous for, with chances of seeing lions, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, hippos, and different species of birds not forgetting the views of Mt. Kilimanjaro on a clear day. Meal plan (Lunch & Dinner provided)
Our Experience: Jambo, Kenya!
Giraffe and Zebras are everywhere in Kenya! You don’t even have to go to a park!
We woke up early morning (partially because we were jet-lagged and also because we were super excited to begin our safari!) We ate breakfast at our hotel and met Zippy our tour operator. She introduced us to our safari guide/driver, Albanus who has been doing safari tours for the past 29 years!
Since we chose a private safari tour, it was just two of us and our safari driver/guide. After a warm introduction, we were picked from our Nairobi hotel and started our first day of Safari towards the Amboseli National Park.
It was a lovely, sunny day. The warmth of the sun was so energizing. As we started our drive south towards Amboseli, to add to our adventure, our vehicle broke down midway. While we waited for it to be fixed, we saw Giraffe, Zebras, Donkeys, and pretty wildflowers by the roadsides.
Our safari van was fixed in 2 hours and we took some cool photos and stretched a bit and talked about the culture, tribes, and wildlife in Kenya!
Highway to Mombasa
The drive to Amboseli along the Mombasa highway was spectacular. One thing that really stood out at first was the magnificent landscape of Kenya. Red soil, beautiful landscape, cattle grazing, almost everything along the road was something new and different for our eyes!
During our drive, we crossed multiple small towns. It was very interesting to see life in rural Kenya as we drove through these small towns. Many people waved and smiled as we passed through; such a great welcome.
Not to forget the Acacia tree with birds nest and butterflies humming around, it was truly a moment of bliss. Mid-January is the season for mangoes in Kenya, so we also grabbed a bag of mangoes from the street vendors.
Morning view from our AA Amboseli lodge
Finally, we reached our lodge, quickly grabbed lunch, checked into our super cute tent and in the evening we headed out for our first game drive. We saw tons of Zebra very close to the park.
Next, we entered the park and caught a family of elephants grazing. We were surrounded by elephants and it was just so spectacular.
Amboseli is known for its huge Elephant population
Oh, another fun story, while we were entering Amboseli National Park, a Maasai man came to sell us handicraft. We did not want to buy a souvenir on our first day so he proposed bartering since he loved our The Art of Travel wooden watch. We exchanged our wood watch for a Maasai women wood sculpture.
It was the first time in our travels that we have bartered. This was an amazing experience! He was happy and we were happy! What a day! With all these fond memories our Day one of African safari came to an end. What an adventure!
Day 2: Amboseli National Park
Trip plan: After breakfast, we spend the day exploring the park. We also walked to the observation hill for the scenic view of the park and picnic lunch. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)
Our Experience: A spectacular view of Kilimanjaro
Glorious view of Mt. Kilimanjaro
With sounds of rain and thunder, we woke up early morning. The rain had stopped during sunrise and we caught glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro standing tall in all glory. We were very lucky.
After a quick breakfast at the camp, we started our day at the park. During our drive, we saw many new animals.
A Cheetah family
Playful yellow baboon monkeys, a lonely wildebeest, happy family of hippos, family of 3 cheetah all out for their fresh meal hunt, happy flamingo and Pelicans in the swamp, sneaky fox, busy Pumba, cunning hyena, skeptical ostrich, sassy giraffe, curious buffalo, herds of elephants, impala, and gazelle all around the park. Not to forget hundreds of species of birds on the ground as well as flying.
We went to the observation point for lunch where we had 360-view of the park. We ended the day at Masai Mara village where we saw cultural welcome dance and learned how the community functions in the tour through the tiny village.
Maasai tribe of Amboseli
Day 3: Drive to Lake Naivasha
Trip plan: After an early breakfast departs from Amboseli passing via the outskirts of Nairobi en route to the Great Rift Valley where we will have a stopover to admire the escarpment before we proceed Lake Naivasha where we will arrive in time for lunch at West beach camp. Later we will proceed for an hour’s boat ride with chances of seeing hippo and different species of birds. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)
Our Experience: Everything happens for a reason
Early morning we started towards Lake Naivasha from Amboseli. Our van broke down again (Ugh!). So while our van was getting fixed we had some unforgettable moments interacting with the locals.
Our van broke it in front of a local handicraft store which was perfect for us to buy some souvenirs and check out local handicrafts. The lady at the shop was really sweet and she had some really cute collection. We bought a few souvenirs here (pictured below).
We moved along but the car needed more maintenance. We had to stop by a small town. While we were thinking about how unfortunate it is to have our car broken and possibly miss the activity planned for the day we spotted a beautiful Masai mother feeding her little baby girl.
A Maasai with her baby
I was watching her and the baby who was very friendly. The Maasai woman could not speak much English but she looked at us and smiled. I asked if I could take a picture with her and she was absolutely okay. After the photo and some interactions, she said “little money” and I was happy to give some money to the mother.
Next, we realized that there is a street market across the road selling shoes and all kinds of stuff. I was in much need of shoes since my only shoes broke on day 1 of safari (what a stroke of luck, right) so I bought a pair of safari type boots for 400 Kenyan shillings (i.e. $4 USD). It kind of looked somewhat tarnished but it did serve my desperate need since I was in my flip flops.
Shopping for shoes
It also made me appreciate simple things in life and to be humble. I have nearly 50 pairs of shoes back home but all I needed was one.
Moving on to another mishap we were out of our camera’s SD card capacity in just 2 days. We underestimated how many pictures we would take and we needed an SD card which is really hard to find in small towns. Still, we inquired the guy who sold shoes if we can find an SD card anywhere. He directed us to the cyber cafe nearby.
We went to the cyber cafe but they did not have an SD card for sale. Turns out that the guy working there is a photographer himself. He offered us to loan his SD card but we were not coming back there. We asked if he could sell to us and buy a new one for himself.
He was really sweet (and helpful and honest). He agreed to sell his memory card for the price that is sold in the market rather than asking us for an insane amount since we were in high need of that. (Needless to say, we are friends now! When you travel with an open mind you make friends from all walks of life.)
By the time we did all our necessary shopping our van was ready. We were really happy that we used the time and found what we needed. Just when we hit the highway the van started acting up again. The radiator got so heated that smoke and water was coming out, the car stopped again for the third time absolutely In the middle of nowhere.
We had a deep sigh this time because now we are not only missing the boat ride at Lake Nakuru which was planned for the day but we are stuck absolutely out of nowhere. Our driver was thinking and figuring out what to do, what is the nearest town, etc.
Suddenly an old Maasai man who lived nearby came for help, then another young Maasai shepherd came to help. They all greeted us with a handshake and smile. The old man’s wife also came by and got some clean water for the car. They were curious.
The old man asked Salil to let him see things through the camera lens. He was so happy when he could see things far away up close through the zoom lens. It was a moment of joy.
Then all the men pushed the van if it could work after we put the clean water but it didn’t. Luckily since our van was not functioning as well from day 1 another van was on its way from Nairobi. We waited a while and it finally came to our rescue.
We got on the new van and started to contemplate that if our van did not break maybe we would not have such an authentic local experience and get to know how warm, nice, and helpful Kenyan people really are.
We stared towards Lake Naivasha and stopped by Great Rift Valley which was spectacular. Finally, late in the evening we reached our accommodation near Lake Lake Naivasha and ended the day with some really memorable experience and a delicious dinner.
At this time we were thinking that we have made the best of every situation thrown at us. We made lemonade when life gave us lemons for real.
We ended the day at West Beach Camp by the shores of Lake Naivasha! It was a gorgeous lodge and we were the only guests besides one another couple! Both the sunsets and sunrise in Kenya are spectacular.
Sunrise from West beach camp
Day 4: Lake Nakuru
Trip plan: After breakfast, we will depart from Lake Naivasha for Lake Nakuru National park where we will explore the park with a chance of seeing rhino, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, baboon, monkey, leopard among other wild not forgetting a visit to the baboon cliff for the scenic view of the park. We will also explore the shores of Lake Nakuru with the chances of seeing flamingos. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)
Our Experience: Something unexpected
Morning view at West Beach Camp, Lake Naivasha
We woke up, ate breakfast and as planned we headed to Lake Nakuru national park which has the salty lake Called Nakuru. On the way there we saw a lot of wildlife!
As we were exploring Nakuru, out of nowhere, we saw a lone male lion. This was the first time we saw a lion. He was a big male taking a nap under a bush. After about 30 minutes of waiting, he did stand up to watch us. He did not seem bothered at all and we felt the thrill of seeing a huge lion so close.
Next, we saw a huge troop of olive baboon monkeys, the zeal of zebras, heads of buffalo running, mommy and baby white rhino chilling, Waterbuck, gazelle, pumbas playing, and dozens of birds.
It was unreal for us to see a lion, we were not even expecting. We had picnic lunch at baboon cliff where we got a good view of the park and salty lake. It was really peaceful up the hill.
The water level is rising at the park and it’s flooding a lot of sections in the park. The view at Lake Nakuru was unreal; the trees were half under the water and dead, making them home for birds to stop by.
It was a lovely day at Nauru. The camp where we stayed had such amazing food we were relaxed and excited for Masai Mara.
A mother and baby Rhino at Nakuru
Day 5: Lake Naivasha and Maasai Mara
Trip plan: After breakfast, we will continue with our safari to the renowned Maasai Mara game reserve which is Kenya’s premier game reserve. It is the home of the “big five” – lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, and elephant, as well as cheetah, zebra, giraffe and vast herds of plains antelope and numerous other wildlife. We will arrive in time for lunch at Osero luxury Camp followed by afternoon game drive before you return to Osero luxury camp to wait for dinner followed by overnight. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)
Our Experience: Hakuna Matata
We woke up early morning and headed to Lake Naivasha for a boat ride. We were supposed to do the boat ride on day 3 but we did manage to squeeze this on day 5.
Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake, unlike Lake Nakuru which is a saltwater lake. We had a memorable boat ride where we spotted numerous birds singing, cruising, and sunbathing on the trees.
We also saw a lot of hippos here! They are mighty creatures and the babies look so cute!
The highlights of lake Naivasha were seeing green plants grow on the lake, the fishermen catching fish, hippos with their family and an eagle hunting fish from the water. These are some moments we will always remember.
After Lake Naivasha, we headed towards Masai Mara straight. It was a long drive but we could see so much of the country by land. Finally, after a long drive, we reached Masai Mara.
The moment we reached Masai Mara we could instantly feel how different it is from other parks we have been. Not just the size but the landscape. It was interesting and unique. Vast grassland, meadows, small hills around, different kinds of trees (like the sausage tree and fig trees) and scattered acacia trees it was all adding to its beauty.
It was late afternoon game drive we were spotting new animals we have never seen like Topi, Dik-Dik, and Steenbok.
We were driving and suddenly we spotted three young male lions sleeping and fooling around. They were muscular, strong, and powerful. We watched them take a nap and change bushes. It’s rare to see three male lions all together but we were lucky.
Two teenage lions
As it was about time to exit the park we spotted a family of Cheetah. A mother and 3 cubs chilling. This was the first time we saw cheetah so close. They are so lean and curious. They look adorable too.
With an amazing first game drive at Masai Mara, we headed to our lodge. On our way back just outside the park, we saw so many Pumba running around with their tail up. They are so cute to watch.
There was also a Jackal running across the road. We followed him for a while and it ran away.
Our lodge was deep inside the park in the wooded area. We had dinner at the lodge where Maasai people danced for us. They asked Salil to join and so Salil did participate. We’ll share the Maasai dance video on YouTube.
Maasai welcome dance
At night we could hear Hyena howling. We also heard elephants and we woke up to birds chirping. What an experience!
Day 6: Maasai Mara
Trip plan: We will spend the whole day exploring the expansive Maasai Mara game reserve in search of Elephant, Zebra, Wildebeest, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard and other plains game with a visit to the Mara river where we might have a chance to see hippo and crocodile. We will return to Osero luxury camp to wait for dinner followed by overnight. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)
Our Experience: A very special moment
It started with pretty heavy rain early morning in Masai Mara but our guide assured us that it will still be a great game drive because animals, unlike humans, are not bothered by the rain.
We were driving towards the park early morning and the rain started to slow down a bit. On our way, we spotted two Masai kids in school uniform trying to cross a stream and go school.
They were small and after the rain, the stream had got to the road. We asked our guide to stop and offer them a ride to school. They were very happy. We dropped them at their school and they smiled and said ‘Asante’ which means ‘Thank you’ in Swahili.
We had just started our game drive in Masai Mara and thankfully the rain had also stopped. As we were watching some game around the park our guide got a call from his friend. After the call, he said, “guys, sit down. I think we’ve got something.”
Usually, the guides have a radio where they share what animals are spotted or they call and let other guides know about any major game around.
Also until the very end of our safari, we realized that guides usually don’t tell you what you’re going to see next or what can be seen. It totally makes sense because until today we were never told what exactly we are seeing, so every time we saw something we were always pleasantly surprised.
We knew there is something coming up but honestly, we did not pay much attention to what it would be. During that drive, we were just admiring the beauty of the park and landscape.
Suddenly we were on a road where few vehicles were stopped. We then knew there’s got to be something here hence so many vehicles. Our guide said “here is a pride of lion sleeping on the road”.
Our jaws opened wide as we saw 13 lions 8 females and 5 cubs having their siesta time. It was such a wonderful surprise. We luckily got a good spot to admire these sleeping lions on the road. Some cubs were curious and looking at us. Some were going back and forth around the female lioness for milk.
We saw them pet each other, cuddle, nap, stretch, stand, and sleep again. It was just magical. Hard to comprehend in words.
An hour felt like a minute. That mother-child bond and love we encountered was one of the most special moments at Maasai Mara. Our heart was filled with joy.
As of the 6th day of our Safari, we have seen 4 of the big 5 and many other interesting and important members of Africa’s beautiful savannas. Now we were on a hunt for the big cat aka Leopard.
Leopards are very shy animals unlike cheetah and the hardest to spot among the big five. Since it rained all night the road was very muddy. We went on a hunt around a lot of places where we could spot leopards like the fig tree, sausage tree, and the famous acacia tree.
We saw a wildebeest leg handing on a tree. Most likely a leopard must have had its meal there. There were no signs of leopard around and in all honesty, we did not feel sad about that. Nature and animals have their own rule and we cannot challenge that.
This was not a zoo where one can always trace an animal. The wildlife here is part of the vast African Savanna where we humans are no one but visitors in their homeland. With that registered in our brain and with much respect for the wildlife we drove towards the Mara River where the great migration from Serengeti of Tanzania to Masai Mara of Kenya happens.
On the border of Tanzania (behind us) and Kenya (in front)
On the way, we stopped at the border of Kenya/Tanzania. Such an interesting place. We were also thinking about how all these animals cross borders and that nature is not bound by any county or borders.
We reached the Mara river and took a short hike around the river with a ranger. This was our first hike experience at the park. It was beautiful and remarkable to set our foot and walk through the land of some deadly predators.
The famous Mara river full of hippos and crocodiles
We spotted some hippos in the river and the guide gave us a lot of information about the wildlife there. After that, we started our way back to our camp. On the way back we spotted two Waterbucks mating putting in a show for everyone. We also saw a lot of African Ostriches.
By sunset, we made it back to our camp to enjoy the evening. We enjoyed our gorgeous tent, had a wonderful conversation with the Masai guard, and a very scrumptious dinner with our guide. It was a day filled with the most pleasant surprise of all.
Day 7: Maasai Mara to Nairobi
Trip plan: Early morning game drive followed by breakfast then we will depart from Maasai Mara as we continue with your journey passing via Narok town then proceed to Nairobi where we will be dropped to catch our homebound flight. Meal plan (Breakfast provided)
Our Experience: Farewell until we meet again
The last day of our Safari. Just the thought of this made me teary and sad. As I was contemplating over my cup of Kenyan tea about this entire Safari trip and all the beautiful encounters with all different species of wildlife.
With Maasai people
The breathtaking views of the African savannah, the gorgeous Acacia trees, the bushes, the insects, the birds, the view of Masai cattle grazing, the smiles of kids waving, the people, the food, the smell of the air, the red land, everything almost everything that we had experienced in these 6 days will be safely treasured as beautiful moments in Africa.
Our Osero luxury camp in Maasai Mara
We checked out from our camp and went for one last quick drive around the park to bid farewell to the beautiful land and then headed towards Nairobi. We reached Nairobi and wanted to meet our Facebook friend from Kenya at the local mall (we
have never met her in person) we were excited.
Our tour operator also came to say goodbye. She got us a beautiful souvenir. She was very apologetic about the vehicle incident but it was all unexpected and we had nothing but good memories out of the trip. We told her that we’ll be back for more!
The terrain inside the park is pretty rough and with rain gets very muddy. We have seen a lot of vehicles break down as well so it comes with the experience. Overall we had an amazing time and actually we did not miss any activities as planned so we were very happy with our overall adventure in Kenya!
With our friend Anita at Nairobi airport
We finally met our friend and ate our last meal in Kenya together. We shared hugs, laugh, and wonderful conversations. Our friend offered to drop us to the airport, and we had more conversations in the car and such an amazing time overall in Kenya.
With all of this in our hearts, it was time to bid farewell to beautiful Kenya. The memories made in the continent of Africa will always be very dear to us. Back from the trip, we feel extremely rejuvenated, fulfilled, and grateful for all the experiences we had along the way.