17/06/2024

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Insider Tips: Kenya and Tanzania

5 min read
Insider Tips: Kenya and Tanzania

Kenya and Tanzania offer a diverse tapestry of safari adventures, natural beauty, vibrant cultures and beautiful people. The region offers a wide variety of alluring attractions, from the iconic Maasai Mara and Serengeti, to the cultural richness of cities like Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

Sarah’s Take on Kenya

African Elephants on the Masai Mara, Kenya, Africa

Kenya’s brilliant landscapes and varied terrains will enthrall you with inspiring sights and jaw-dropping views. The country’s protected national parks and community-run conservancies guarantee a grand spectacle of wildlife. Sarah paints a pretty picture of what you can expect here:

“In Maasai Mara, watch wandering elephant herds, giraffes and gazelles graze in its immense plains. You’ll come upon scores of pink flamingos feeding and frolicking in the waters of Lake Nakuru. Camp in luxury and comfort amidst the wilderness in Tsavo, one of Kenya’s largest national parks, and catch a glimpse of Mount Kenya’s jagged peak on a misty morning.”

Top Picks in Kenya

Sarah wholeheartedly recommends two places that you must visit when in Kenya – Il Ngwesi, and Cultiva Restaurant.

Il Ngwesi Eco-Lodge

Il Ngwesi sits atop a hill with spectacular views of the wilderness and the surrounding area. Enjoy magical sunrises, while the songs of wild birds add to the serene atmosphere of this remote and peaceful eco-lodge, which is run by the Maasai community. The accommodation consists of beautifully designed thatched roof cottages with adjoining open-air showers. Some of the rooms have an extended terrace, and sleeping under the stars is an experience that you should not miss out on. 

Il Ngwesi

A large sitting area and the swimming pool overlook a watering hole, where animals such as elephants, zebras, impalas and waterbucks gather to quench their thirst. Some of the activities visitors can do here include visiting a local Maasai Cultural Boma to learn about the community’s way of life, and enjoying local dancing and music.

Cultiva Restaurant

Cultiva

Cultiva, located in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi is a fabulous farm-to-table restaurant. They grow their own vegetables, microgreens, herbs and edible flowers, which are then served alongside a selection of proteins. Cultiva’s acclaimed menu changes depending on what is in season, and you can even request a tour of their farm to learn about their commitment to sustainable gastronomy.

Sarah’s Take on Tanzania

Tanzania wildlife

Sarah promises that you are in for a treat in Tanzania as well, saying, “Some of the largest national parks in all of Africa await you. Arusha, in Northern Tanzania, is a popular wilderness safari destination and a gateway to some of the best-known national parks in the country. In the Serengeti, witness the Great Migration, one of the most moving natural spectacles on earth. Countless swathes of wildebeests, hundreds of thousands of zebras, gazelles and other animals traverse the endless savanna, while hungry predators lurk nearby and wait for an opportunity to pounce!”

In addition to Arusha, Serengeti National Park is equally stunning, and even the smaller reserves like Tarangire, Selous, and Lake Manyara are worth a visit.

What’s Special in Tanzania

Sarah’s top picks for places to stay in Tanzania are the Africa Amini Maasai Lodge, and Olakira Camp.

Africa Amini Maasai Lodge

Located on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro near the Ngabobo village, the Africa Amini Maasai Lodge consists of earth houses that are arranged in the style of a Maasai village. The bungalows blend traditional architecture and modern amenities, and you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding 200-hectare nature reserve and Mount Kilimanjaro. 

Insider Tips: Kenya and Tanzania

The lodge’s restaurant offers a variety of traditional Swahili and international dishes. While you are here, try your hand at spear throwing, go on nature walks and learn about the Maasai way of life through interactions with the locals. After a memorable day of sightseeing, you can make a beeline for the massage room or enjoy a relaxing dip in the pool.

Olakira Migration Camp

Sarah’s other pick is the Olakira Migration Camp, a mobile tented camp that offers an intimate experience of the Serengeti. The camp follows the route of the Great Migration, which enables you to witness this incredible event up close. Each of the nine tents is spacious and comfortable, and you can gaze at the stars through their mesh roofs. The tents also have a net that enables you to enjoy a 270-degree view of your amazing surroundings while remaining comfortably indoors. You can enjoy activities such as game drives and off-roading, bird watching, and picnics.

Camp fire at Olakira Migration Camp Serengeti (Northern), Tanzania

What to Pack for Your African Safari

Packing right is the key to having a comfortable and enjoyable vacation. Here are Sarah’s recommendations on how to go about it.

Pack Light

Keep your luggage to a minimum as space in vehicles and light aircraft would be limited. Pack whatever you need into a small bag that weighs up to 15 kilos, which is the luggage limit for many local airlines. But with most safari lodges and camps offering same-day laundry service, you can rest assured that you will not run out of fresh clothes to wear.

Clothes

Insider Tips: Kenya and Tanzania

Pack clothes that are casual, comfortable and easy to walk around in. Sarah recommends neutral-colored clothing or earthy tones like khaki, beige, and green because they help you blend into your surroundings. Bright colors tend to scare the animals away.

Long-sleeved shirts and trousers are a must to protect you from sunburn and insect bites. The evenings and early mornings can get chilly, and so it is good to pack a lightweight sweater or jacket. Also carry a windcheater or waterproof jacket, which will come in handy in case it rains.

Footwear

There might be a fair bit of walking to do, which makes it advisable to bring sports shoes or trekking shoes. Ideally the shoes should be ‘broken in’ so that you can move around without any trouble. For relaxing at the lodge or camp, comfortable footwear that can be easily worn and removed, such as sandals, slip-ons or flip-flops are ideal.

Accessories

It can get quite sunny and hot during the day, so remember to carry sunglasses, a sun hat, a scarf and a water bottle. Two items that Sarah says everyone must bring are sunscreen and bug spray. If you are a light sleeper, a set of earplugs can be helpful in dampening the various sounds from the surrounding forest.

Swimwear

Many hotels, lodges and camps have swimming pools, and so it is a good idea to pack your swimsuits. The experience of enjoying a dip in the pool and watching the sunset while sipping on a refreshing cocktail is a memorable one indeed!

Camera and Binoculars

Remember to take your phone or digital camera to capture the fabulous landscapes, wildlife and other memorable moments of your African holiday. A pair of good binoculars can help you spot interesting animals or birds from a distance.

Sarah was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, a volunteer with ‘Kenya Make a Difference’, and ran a non-profit organization in Rwanda to promote gender equity. Through these varied experiences, she was able to explore and understand these African cultures on a deeper level. If you are looking to travel to Africa, rest assured that Sarah and her team have the knowledge and expertise to craft the trip of a lifetime for you.

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