Africa Month :: Jambo!

safari in the masai mara[trip style = safari]

The Masai Mara At this time last year my husband and I had the great fortune to go on safari in the Masai Mara---a continuation of Tanzania's Serengeti which runs into Kenya.

After attending a wedding in Nairobi, we hopped on a series of small, low-flying planes over the African plains... Nausea tried to set in, but peering out my small window at families of elephants running beneath seemed to remedy the motion sickness.

Overwhelmed by the experience, landing on a dirt runway did me in. Getting off the plane, tears flooded my eyes. Was I really in a land where animals I've only seen in zoos or read about in Nat Geo walk free? Whisked off to my lodge in a Land Cruiser, I was still in a semi-state of shock as momma and baby baboons trotted by...

Jambo An account of my journey from Nairobi to the Fairmont Masai Mara's grounds {see my hotel review here}. Each time I think of our arrival, the word "Jambo!"---"welcome" in Swahili---resounds in my mind. Every single time we entered the resort's front gates, the security guards would exuberantly welcome us with this warm and expressive word. What a way to begin a five-day adventure in the Masai Mara!

Every Friday for the rest of the month is about Kenya. This week: getting there, an adventure in and of itself!

Getting to the Masai Mara laminated air kenya boarding passes {Laminated Air Kenya boarding passes, the adventure started here. An hour later, we'd arrive.}

wilson airport nairobi {Looking out the waiting area's window at our first plane....while holding my laminated boarding passes and reading about Air Kenya's safety record.}

air kenya at wilson airport {Boarding our first plane. Notice the UN World Food Program plane in the background.}

taking off in a plane in the masai mara {When Air Kenya flies into the Masai Mara it's a milk run. Each party is dropped off at different runways coinciding with their resort's location. Here, our pilot is taking off for the last 10-min leg of our trip.}

looking out the plane window + masai mara {The quintissental tourist out-of-plane window shot, in anticipation of what's below.}

duty-free in the masai mara {No joke: the duty-free shop at our landing strip.}

masai welcome {A special Masai welcome for my friend who just got married and was staying at a resort beside ours.}

fairmont masai mara gates {Arriving at our resort/home for the next five days.}

fairmont safari land rover {Our transport/safari vehicle.}

fairmont masai mara entrance {The resort's main entrance. We were greeted with warm towels and mango juice. So apropos.}

Tips for getting to the Masai Mara

  • There are hundreds of resorts scattered throughout the Masai Mara.
  • You'll either fly {up to a two-hour flight} or drive {six to seven hours} from Nairobi.
  • If you fly, have your resort tell you the name of your specific airstrip. There are several, and you need to make sure you either a) book your flight to and from the right one and/or b) have your safari specialist travel agent book the right one.
  • Depending on your final destination, you may take a few different planes and multiple small flight segments to reach your final destination.
  • All flights for the Masai Mara depart from Wilson Airport {not Nairobi's International Airport}, about 20 mins from downtown Nairobi.
  • It is advisable to work with a travel agent to book a secure, trusted transport to and from Wilson Airport.
  • Travel smart in Nairobi: keep windows closed and doors locked at all times.

[images by @tripstyler and @nate_fri]