What’s it like? The Ultimate Wildlife Experience: On Safari in East Africa

Elephant on road300pxBeing on Safari is a little surreal. It is the ultimate field trip.

All safaris begin with a briefing at your start point typically in Nairobi. You meet your drivers who will be with you throughout the safari. The drivers go over the daily procedures and get to know passengers. The passengers can also go over any concerns and unanswered questions.

The vehicles are then loaded and off you go to your first lodge or camp. Each vehicle accommodates up to 7 passengers plus their luggage.

You can arrange your safari to visit as few or as many game reserves as time and money allow.
Each location features it’s own environment and sometimes specific species. The Grevy Zebra and the Reticulated Giraffe for example are only found in Samburu, north of Mount Kenya. Lake Nakuru in Kenya and Ngorongoro Crater are home to the brilliant pink flamingoes.

Every inch is used300pxBetween reserves you usually travel 4 to 8 hours through diverse countryside. Admittedly the roads in Kenya are rugged. In every case we and our passengers have made a point to remark on the state of the roads but at the same time observe that traversing the country by road connects you with the country and its people.

This comment really hits home as you travel through the vast countryside and through the villages as you move from lodge to lodge on safari. Everyone plants their own crops around their homes making every inch on their property productive with organic produce. It is not unusual to see a child tending the family’s small heard of 6 or 7 goats when not in school. Locals walk everywhere and frequently with jugs of water or baskets of food on top of their heads. If nothing else it certainly makes you think about your own activities and definition of necessities at home.

Vervit monkey250pxMy personal favourite safari experience started out to be a quiet moment. We were in Samburu and I had gone back to my cabin after breakfast which was after our morning game drive. All lodge rooms, cabins or tents have a porch and mine was inviting me to sit to just take in the atmosphere and view while I made some notes in my journal and checked over my maps. I had my notebook, a pen and highlighter on the table. I was aware of what sounded like several small monkeys screeching and calling and then realized they were getting closer. As I sat on the porch, pen in hand 4 or 5 Vervet monkeys came running across my porch. There was a low tree right in front of the porch and they all ran up the tree and were having a great time playing like rambunctious little children, screeching, jumping, falling and generally making a ruckus. Then they noticed me and 4 of them climbed up on the rail and looked right at me. The smallest one came right onto my table and picked up my highlighter. It was my only highlighter so I quickly grabbed it back and he looked at me as if I had been very mean and joined his friends back on the rail. They soon got bored and were off again screeching and chasing each other down the path. Wow –my own personal encounter with wild animals, I’ll never forget it.

Once you arrive at your next lodge/camp you can expect a refreshing buffet lunch and a short rest before the late afternoon game drive.

Game drives are done twice a day, early in the morning and late in the afternoon. The idea is to search out animal activity. They forage for food at these times and take cover from the midday sun.

So, the day begins early on Safari. You get up by 5:30am and make your way to the lounge in the lodge/camp where coffee, tea, and biscuits are served and meet your driver to go out to see what you can see. The drivers are well educated on the species, habitats and their habits. You will have a personal species list and it’s great fun to check them off as you see them.
Once an animal, or group of animals is spotted the idea is to quietly sit and just watch it, as they go about their foraging and or interaction. Invariably this is where we all become like wide-eyed children. I am always in awe to watch these magnificent creatures doing what they have been doing for millennia totally free in their own environment.

After about 2 hours and as the temperature starts to rise we head back to the lodge where a full buffet breakfast is set up and everyone compares notes on their particular sightings.

After breakfast you are welcome to rest on your own porch or the spacious lounge or even enjoy sunbathing by the pool.
Lunch will be served around 1:00pm.

Around 4:00pm everyone is gathering again for the late afternoon game drive.

In this region it is always dark by 6:30pm so you will be back at the lodge by this time.

Dinner is served around 7:00pm.

Three meals a day are served at the lodge, almost always as buffet. Food is plentiful and well prepared.

Bottled water is always available at the bar and onboard the safari vehicles.

There is very little walking required, except on specifically designated ‘walking’ safaris. The most walking you can expect to do is between your room/tent and the main lodge. Accommodations are always at ground level and the individual units are spread out through the grounds.

The lodges and the drivers are always connected with each other by radio. They can communicate instantly to check on each other and how everyone is doing. In the case of an emergency, East Africa has a wonderful flying doctor service available and even the most isolated location has access to an airstrip.

To immerse oneself in this natural world is a most rewarding experience and one of those special once-in-a-lifetime trips.
To learn more, check out our blog “What is the Mysterious Allure of Africa” and also view our 2017 Classic East Africa Safari tour.

Debbie Lloyd