After 36 hours in Nairobi where got a glimpse of Kenya´s Capital City (you can read all about it in my previous blog post), we took an early flight to Masai Mara for the next leg of our African adventure. All the different camps throughout Kenya are connected through small 12 people planes that operate like Uber Pool between the different camps in Massai Mara, they make quick stops at each campsite dropping off or picking up and sometimes you have to wait in the airfield for a smaller plane to pick you up and fly you to your final destination, it´s all part of the adventure and it doesn´t hurt that while you are waiting for your next flight there´s zebras and giraffes hanging around. When we landed we were picked up by our private guide and spotter they were our hosts for our entire stay. I can´t say enough about these two awesome guys who made our experience extra special and super fun! They quickly found out that our family has a dark sense of humor and started making practical jokes, which comes in handy when you spend 8 hours cramped up in a car.
We were not prepared for the amazing level of service we got from the moment we stepped down from the aircraft. The guides had set up a bar right there in the field for us to have a refreshment before heading out for a quick drive to the base camp. We were blown away! I mean I was drinking champagne in the middle of nowhere... little did I know at that time that this was just the beginning of an amazing trip and these amazing people that can turn any remote place into a bar, picnic area or fancy lunch. I still can´t figure out how they can pack some much in those cars. You can literally have lunch and dinner with zebras and wildebeest for company and go to sleep listening to the sounds of the whooping Hyenas and hear lions roaring from your bed (not nearly as scary as it sounds I promise).
We stayed at the Mara Bushtops tented camp nestled in their own private wildlife conservancy in Massai Mara. Upon our arrival at the hotel, the staff and manager greeted us with you guessed it more champagne! welcomed us, showed us everything and immediately made us feel at home. The lobby area opens up to impressive views of the Mara and an infinity pool and from here we went down to see our rooms.
The tents have a deck overlooking the savanna where you can be within 10 meters of a Giraffe, zebras, elephants... you name it! It has a hot tub that your guide can arrange with the hotel so it´s ready for you when you come back from the Safari tired and grubby hahaha.Although is a tent is not your childhood campground, these tents are amazing! Plush king size bed, indoor/outdoor shower and all the comforts of a regular hotel room with the perks of being in the wild. The camp is right in the middle of the reserve so anything can stroll on in; We could hear footstpes and all kind of sounds at night from our tent needless to say wandering around after dark and in the day are a no-no; there’s strict rules when you’re going to and from your room and you’re always escorted back and forth after dark by one of the Masai´s guards which only makes the whole thing feel more exciting.
The camp has a delicious restaurant with a la carte menu and delightful waiters and chef that will always go the extra mile to make sure you are having a great experience. There´s a big terrace outside the restaurant near a salt lick so there´s always different animals around creating the perfect view while you sip south African wine and eat delicious food.
When we booked our trip some of my family members where a bit anxious about the number of days we were going to spend in each camp "doing the same" since we are always used to city trips and being always on the go seeing new things every hour but oh boy were we wrong... once we got into what we called "Africa time" it becomes the most memorable trip of our lives. Every day we will see different animals or the same ones but with a different routine, also the peaceful and quietness that we experienced while in the savannah was unparallel.
Here is what you do on a typical safari day:
Early wake up call so we could catch the predators while having their breakfast. They will give us coffee, tea, fruit juice and cakes before we would head out on our daily game drive. We will then rush to get to the park before sunrise (be there by 5:30 am) so we could spot the lions, lionesses and other predators hunting for food before they went for their nap. Afterward, we will stop and they will set up an amazing breakfast spread, were we could stretch our legs, walk around and take awesome pictures. Once our bellies were full we will continue the game drive and look out for specific animals and work out our hunger for another stop for a bush lunch with crisp white wine and sometimes even a quick nap. We usually would be back at the hotel around 4 pm to rest, use the pool, gym, spa or simply read a book on the terrace. At night we will go to the dinner tent for cocktails and a lavish dinner before heading out back to our tents for a much-needed sleep.
While at the camp we also did a night game drive which was exhilarating and nerve-racking... picture this: pitch black environment in an open side car with a hyena walking right down your car so close you could hear her (I´m pretty sure it was a she LOL) breathing... we only stomached to do the night safari one, they also have night vision cameras so we could see in the built-in screes in the car what type of animals were crossing by.
One of the highlights of the trip was visiting a Masai Village. We had an eye-opening and meaningful experience here. We were received by the "warriors" of the village with dances and the males of our group had to join and afterward, all the ladies of the village welcomed and invited us to dance with them and we all went inside the village. The chief of the village explained to us their magnificent and simplistic life philosophy where the entire community is seen as a family and contributing to the wellbeing of all. We learned how to make fire, did some shopping (amazing craftsmanship) and just spent a wonderful afternoon filled with laughs and love.
We did a sunrise hot air balloon safari which I recommend greatly! Although we had to get up at 3am it was a fantastic experience to see the sunrise from the air and fly above the animals. It´s so quiet and peaceful. I felt like I was transported to this dreamy world where everything stands still for a while.
I´ve probably written a lot of adjectives like awesome, wonderful, incredible and great... because this place deserves all of these and more and I´m no writer so I cannot think of better ways to describe the best trip of my life. The best part of Kenya is its people! Never met more kind, friendly and happy people. I left a part of me in Kenya and I can´t wait to go back!