The alarm sounds before sunrise. Almost tempted to cancel the days plans and go back to sleep. But. Today is special. Today we are going on a wildlife safari in Kenya. An hour later with a couple of cups of coffee in the system we are ready at the gates of the Nairobi National Park.
We pay the entrance fee and just as the first signs of sunrise show on the horizon we drive into the national park for a daylong gamedrive on the savanna of Africa. There are plenty of interesting national parks to explore in Kenya, but we chose the Nairobi National Park for the ease of access just a short drive from our hotel in Nairobi. The Nairobi National Park is one of the smaller protected parks in Kenya but as we soon found out it seems endless when exploring it. You can easily spend a day driving the savanna dirt roads looking for game and enjoying the spectacular nature.
Gamedrive In The National Park
We had only driven the first few hundred meters into the park when a sleepy buffalo crossed the road in front of us. On its way to get a morning drink from a small stream further down. A small flock of baboons were headed from the outskirts of a thick forest in the same direction.
The animals notice our noisy car and head away. It gives us the first valuable hint: Drive slowly, carefully and as quietly as possibly. If the wildlife hears you a mile in advance, odds are they choose to wander off before you get there (unless they are giraffes, in which case they will come running towards you to serve their crazy curiosity)
Slowly and quietly we proceed out of the forest on the edge of the national park and onto the savanna. Tall grass. Scattered trees. The excitement. At any moment an incredible animal may emerge. A gamedrive is a strange mixture of calm waiting for something to happen. High tension as you stare in anticipation. And extraordinary excitement as the animals suddenly appear. Stay alert and have the camera at hand at all times.
Our Gamedrime: The Animals We Met
After spending a long and wonderful day spotting wildlife we have seen more wild animals than in the rest of our lives combined. We met a busy flock of zebras. Plenty of exotic birds graced us by flying by or staring at us from their favorite trees. Several giraffes stopped to inspect us. Giraffes really are nosy. If they are busy eating they might just ignore you, but otherwise they will literally come as close as possible to check out the curious monkeys in the noisy metal box.
We did not spot any lions. Though they might well have been watching us. Pondering if we were lunch. Lions are masters of disguise and the tall savanna grass is perfect for the purpose. We did meet endless amounts of gazelles, monkeys, ostriches, buffalo and many other interesting creatures beside.
Safari In Kenya – Our Experiences
We have pondered our safari on the savanna. Mainly to plot the next ones. This was definitely not our last safari in Kenya. But you might as well share in our experiences to improve your own time.
To put it plainly:
- A national park is NOT a zoo. Respect that this is the wild home of the animals, you are the guest
- Bring plenty of water and refreshments. There are no kiosks or restaurants (naturally)
- Drive slowly and quietly. Scaring away the animals defeats the purpose
- Do NOT go exploring on foot. Lions hide in tall grass. Lions are faster than you. Lions love meat.
- Bring a camera with a good optic zoom. It is wonderful to be able to re-experience it all at home
- Use common sense: Do NOT litter. Do not interfere with the animals (even if the giraffes are itching to mess with you).
- Consider hiring a local guide to drive you. You can drive yourself but a local guide might know the best spots to go