In today's blog post, we interview our partners from Wild Africa how they started their tour company and what a typical safari tour is like.
Why did you decide to settle in Kenya? How are Kenyan national parks different from those in other parts of Africa?
Before settling in Kenya, we've spent almost a year travelling through twenty different countries of Africa. We've mainly focused on East and Southern Africa, as these are the countries with the best preserved wildlife. However, we've also peeked into a few unique places in West and North Africa, as well. In Kenya we found the perfect balance between unspoiled nature and the well developed tourist infrastructure. Kenya is the birthplace of modern safari with the tradition being established more than hundred years ago when, inspired by famous explorers like Livingston, Stanley and Selous, many rich Europeans and Americans, including celebrities like Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway, flocked to Kenya to see (and shoot) the wildlife. A lot has changed since then, including a complete ban on hunting animals, and shoot to kill policy against poachers. Kenya is a pioneer in wildlife conservation, years ahead of neighboring countries, which means that wildlife in Kenya is plentiful and, most importantly, not afraid of humans, allowing close-up viewing. At the same time, while Kenya has a well developed tourism infrastructure, it hasn't lost its authenticity, while some other countries have "Disney-fied" their parks by building paved roads and fast food joints.
Why did you decide to become tour guides?
It just happened. Traveling around the world, we've kept a blog of our adventures. And while we had some faithful readers, when we got to Africa with our biologist friend, the number of our followers had skyrocketed, and many people who read our blog at the time started asking us to take them on a African safari. At first, we were reluctant, as no matter how much we loved the nature of Africa, doing business here seemed nearly impossible at first. But, eventually, we decided to give it a try, and I'm glad we did. Because so many of our guests later wrote back to us to say that the trip to Africa had changed their life.
How many days is a typical safari tour?
Most tours last 4-10 days, with a typical tour taking 6-7 days. Kenya has more than 40 national parks and reserves, as well as many private reserves. A typical tour visits the three most famous national parks in Kenya: Amboseli with huge herds of elephants on the backdrop of Kilimanjaro, Lake Nakuru known for huge flock of flamingos and one the best places to see the endangered rhinos, and the Masai-Mara - the best place to see big cats and the site of the annual Great Migration.
What is the schedule like when on a safari tour?
Most days start early with a wake up call at 6 a.m., followed by a full English breakfast. By 6:30-7 a.m. we are in our safari vehicle heading into the park in search of animals. These early morning hours are the best hours to watch the wildlife, as the animals are the most active during this time. Hot afternoons are spent either relaxing in the lodge by the pool, or driving to a new destination, with lunch at the lodge served from 12:30-2:30 p.m. In late afternoon, 3:30-4 p.m., we're back in our safari vehicles searching for more animals. Like morning gamedrive, these are the best hours to see the wildlife. Just before the sunset at 6:30 p.m., the entire savanna and animals is painted with a beautiful shade of gold. It's common to stop at a nice viewpoint with a beer or gin and tonic for a "sundowner" before returning to the lodge. After supper, a few drinks in the bar sharing their sightings with other travelers, and enjoying a most amazing starry sky, most people are in bed by 10 p.m., resting for another eventful day ahead.