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Ten Tips for a Great Kenya Safari

One of the most popular activities to do while visiting Kenya is to go on a safari. The idea of a Kenyan safari conjures up images of a rugged explorer riding through the African landscape in search of lions, giraffes, or wildebeest. In actuality, a safari, which in Swahili means journey, is more of an organized tour through Kenya’s national parks. However, there are still plenty of opportunities for excitement and adventure on a Kenyan safari. The country of Kenya is home to a large variety of animals, including the “Big 5” of game animals: lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards, and rhinoceros. For those coming to Kenya for the safari experience, you are sure to come across one of these animals during your safari excursion.

Kenyan Safari - Hippos

LeafCanoer, Daijie, recently shared her experiences on a Kenyan safari in her leaf, titled, “Kenya Safari.” From visiting an elephant orphanage to boating Lake Navisha, Daijie’s leaf offers plenty of great suggestions of what to see and what to avoid while on safari.  Every traveler’s safari experience is different. Yet despite the differences, there are still a few tips that travelers can keep in mind to ensure a great Kenyan safari experience.

Tip #1: Avoid the tourist season
Many travelers go on safari either during the hot and dry months of December and January, or the cool and dry months of June to August. However, a better time to go is during the months of March to May, during the rainy season. There are fewer tourists during this time, but there are also more animals out, as the weather is cooler and there tends to be a larger supply of water available.

Kenyan Safari - Elephant

Tip #2: Pack a duffel bag
Most safari tours prefer travelers to have a duffel bag rather then the standard suitcase. The soft sides of the duffel bag makes it easier to pack into a minivan compared to a suitcase.

Tip #3: Bring a headlamp
While most lodges will have some lighting by way of lamps or lanterns, it can get pretty dark in the African wilderness. It’s helpful to have a headlamp handy on those rare occasions when you find yourself alone in the dark.

Kenyan Safari - Flamingos

Tip #4: Get visa on arrival
Visitors to Kenya can apply for a visa prior to arriving in country, however, citizens of most countries can opt to get a visa on arrival. If you’re choosing the visa on arrival option, do expect some wait time for processing your visa when you are at the airport.

Tip #5: Get local SIM card
Wifi is very limited in Kenya. If you’re looking to stay “connected,” a good option is to purchase a local SIM card. You can buy a SIM card that has prepaid data, to allow you to connect to the internet. Local SIM cards can be purchased right at the airport.

Tip #6: Save money by arranging everything in country
Most travelers choose to book their safaris before arriving in country. This ensures that they have a place to stay during their safari, especially for stays at some of the more famous lodges. However, budget conscious travelers may want to wait until arriving in Kenya before booking a safari. You can often get cheaper rates when booking in country, or by going through a local company.

Kenyan Safari - Lion

Tip #7: Stock up on your shillings before the safari
While there are plenty of ATMs in the cities, you’ll have a hard time finding one once you are out on safari. It’s a good idea to have enough shillings on hand before you leave on safari, so that you’re not stuck without any money.

Tip #8: Aim for early morning or late afternoon
To capture the best lighting for photography, it’s best to time your safari excursions for early morning or late afternoon. Coincidentally, this is also when the weather is the coolest, and you can avoid the harsh midday sun.

Kenyan Safari - Zebra

Tip #9: Bring along a field guide and binoculars
You will be seeing a lot of animals on your safari. Having a field guide on hand, or a book that provides descriptions of the animals you will see on safari, will help you immensely in understanding what it is that you are seeing. Additionally, a pair of binoculars will be helpful to view the animals from a relatively safe distance.

Tip #10: Wear casual and comfortable clothes
The most important tip is to wear comfortable clothes. Choose fabrics that are breathable and easily washable, as well as ones that will hide dirt and dust well.

Kenyan Safari - Monkey

Like all travel experiences, a Kenyan safari is whatever you make of it. With luck, these tips can make it into something that is both unforgettable and life changing.

To explore more of Daijie’s “Kenya Safari” leaf, or to explore other destinations, download the LeafCanoe app.

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