Before I got on the plane to Kenya, I had a mix of nerves and excitement- what would it be like to travel internationally in covid times? Am I doing the right thing in going? Is it worth the mountains of paperwork? I can now safely say yes it was 100% worth it. Kenya was so geared up for covid it put us to shame. There were face masks everywhere, temperature checks at all hotels and hand sanitiser in every restaurant. The paperwork seemed like a distant memory the minute I set foot on that plane and realised how much I had missed travelling. London Heathrow was a breeze, we checked in with no problems, no extra time needed and were sat in the bar sinking a gin and tonic in no time before boarding our flight.
The next morning we arrived in Nairobi Airport- I was extremely impressed to find our Cox & Kings representative waiting before arrivals to greet and assist us through passport control. Checks done and off we went on safari!!!
Whilst visiting Kenya we experienced 3 very different safari landscapes- the lush green hills of the Aberdares, the dusty sweeping plains of Ol Pejeta Nature Reserve and the iconic vastness of the Masai Mara. The wildlife we encountered was beyond any expectation I previously had- we saw herds of Elephant, Buffalo and Baboons in the Aberdares, 2 of the last remaining white rhinos in Northern Kenya in Ol Pejeta and the mighty Lions in the Mara.
We saw towers of giraffes, communities of chimpanzees and clans of hyenas. The list goes on! Our Tour Guide Danny was one of the best I've ever had, his knowledge on wildlife was astounding, he also knew lots of fun facts which will stick with me- Did you know giraffes have antiseptic tongues for instance?! Or Impala's have scent glands in the back of their knees?! You learn something new every day!
The jeeps used by Cox & Kings were spacious and comfortable, you could flip the top, drive in the open air and stop whenever needed for a photo op- of which there were many! We visited Rhino Sanctuarys, Chimpanzee Conservation projects and Giraffe Manor- I was overwhelmed to see how much the Kenyan people care for the animals and respect them.
As well as Safari trips we also visited several spots that many people would know if you'd ever watched Born Free or Out of Africa- we stopped at Elsamere and learnt more about the Born Free Foundation and we visited the house of Karen Blixen who was very famously played by Meryl Streep in "Out of Africa". We saw the Masai Tribes and visited their village; we learnt about local traditions and saw safe water projects for schoolchildren. We were shown what positive impact travel can have on the world and how many companies help fund projects through tourism.
Hotel wise my favourite "hotel" of the trip was Sweetwaters Safari Camp in Ol Pejeta. The rooms were tented lodges and from your verandah you could see the giraffes and elephants just metres away! The whole camp had a magical feel to it- one night I sat out in the moonlight on my verandah and watched 2 beautiful Impala jump the fence and come trotting past me, not at all worried by my presence- exactly as it should be! The abundance of wildlife at the camp was awe inspiring, there were so many day trips and visits to do from this camp I could easily have stayed longer than a few days.
The staff were exceptional and the main building had an old style colonial feel to it, it was a very peaceful place to relax. The other stand out hotel for me was the Ark. Yes, you guessed it- shaped like an Ark!!!! This was a basic hotel but it had the most amazing viewing platform where at night you could go and watch the Elephants drinking at the waterhole just metres away from the platform. It was comfortable and clean with a real getaway from it all feeling.
Apart from seeing all the fabulous wildlife, one big bucket trip moment was the hot air balloon trip over the Masai Mara Game Reserve. 4am start and off we went- nothing compares to the birdseye view you get of the plains below! Prices start at roughly £400 per person, this is one optional extra you would definitely not want to miss. After an hour’s balloon ride you then have a champagne breakfast set up waiting for you on the ground. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and a must do if visiting the Mara.
Overall it was apparent throughout my trip how much the Kenyan people want to welcome tourists- they had gone to great lengths to make sure visitors feel welcome and safe. We received such warm hospitality from the Kenyan Tourist Board and we were well guided and looked after by Cox & Kings. After what has been a difficult few years for travel I can now say how pleased I am that Kenya was my first trip post covid. You too can experience the same itinerary on the Highlights of Kenya Tour with Cox and Kings, prices start at £2,999 per person. Miles Morgan are here to help sort that paperwork and book those PCR tests so that you don't have to- trust us to look after you and let’s get travelling again and start giving back to those communities.