African Safari Diaries : Spotting The Big Five in The Masai Mara! - Somak Luxury Travel
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African Safari Diaries : Spotting The Big Five in The Masai Mara!

Melvyn and his wife booked a trip to Kenya to experience a safari inspired by their son and daughter in law’s honeymoon. They kindly shared their experience and some wonderful photos with us.

We hope you enjoy reading all about their trip as much as we did! 

1.   What made you choose to go on an African Safari? Was this your first time visiting Kenya and going on safari?
We had no plans to go on a safari, it wasn’t even on our radar. Then our son and his wife went to the Masai Mara and Zanzibar on their honeymoon. They had a fabulous time and their pictures were amazing.
We looked into the possibility of going on a safari ourselves, looking at dates, various destinations and packages before settling on Kenya and the Masai Mara.
2.   How did you hear about Somak Luxury Travel?
We booked through our local travel agents, Premier Travel in St Ives, Cambridgeshire. They showed us a number of different types of safaris, but recommended Somak.
We decided on a direct to flight to Nairobi and Somak were able to arrange that, along with the connecting flights through Safarilink. We arrived in Nairobi at around 9.30pm, but our friendly Somak driver was there at the airport to meet us, and took us to our overnight hotel, The Tamarind Tree. Even though it was late we were able to get a meal at the hotel.
The next day our Somak driver drove us to Wilson Airfield, even going through security to help us check in. All our connections went smoothly, the air hostess on our first flight wrote down the tailplane number of the next aircraft we were due to fly on. In just over an hour, we arrived at the airstrip near our hotel and ten minutes later we were at the Fairmont Mara Safari Club.
3.  Where did you stay whilst on your Safari and what was your favourite property?
We only stayed at one lodge during our five-day stay in the Masai Mara and we are pleased we did. The Fairmont Mara Safari Club was excellent, we were greeted at the door by a member of staff with a warm flannel, as also happened when we returned from every dusty game drive.
Everyone greeted us on our arrival, and on a daily basis, with the greeting “Jambo” (the Swahili for Hello) and everyone had a smile on their face.
Our tent/room was spacious with a large and comfortable bed, shower and toilet, phone charging facilities and a room safe. The latter was essential as the tent had a long zipper for an entrance, which you kept well and truly closed, to prevent monkeys from coming in searching for food (though we never saw one near our tent).
Each tent had a veranda that overlooked the Mara River, with the snorting hippos that seemed to be permanent residents there.
The food in the restaurant was very good, varying from buffet to à la carte, depending on the number of guests in the hotel. The drinks prices were very reasonable too. One evening we were treated to a candle lit barbecue in their outdoor restaurant area, with a performance by local Masai villages.
4.  What were your highlights from your trip?
The highlights of the safari were the game drives, our driver, Mike, was brilliant at finding animals hidden in grassland and bush. In the first day and a half we had seen all of the big five!
I cannot praise him enough, though he did have one drawback, he was an Arsenal supporter. The way he went off-road in the big Toyota Land Cruiser and found us hidden gems was incredible, finding tracks we couldn’t even see, that led to a den of lions or a family of cheetahs.
On one drive we were taken on foot, by a ranger, into some trees to see two white rhinos close up, it was incredible. My wife Jackie also went on a hot air balloon ride, which was expensive, but included a full breakfast served in the reserve and lots of champagne!
Other guests we spoke to agreed, some had been to other parts of Africa and were impressed at how close the vehicles got to the animals in the Masai Mara. Previously they had stuck to well used tracks and only seen animals from a distance.
I think we were really lucky in staying at the Fairmont for both the accommodation, the location and especially the staff. In fact, all the Kenyans we met were really friendly and helpful.


5.  Any advice or tips for anyone thinking of going on a Safari?

I have a few tips for a safari holiday, especially for early morning game drives, take some warm clothes, even gloves. Our game drives started at 6.30am and it was very chilly, I’d only taken thin cargo trousers and I’d wish I’d taken jeans or thicker trousers. Wear layers so you can take them off as the day gets warmer. Fortunately, the Fairmont drivers have a supply of travel rugs in the vehicles, so they kept us warm.
If you are staying at the Fairmont Mara Safari Club, I suggest taking small foam earplugs. The luxury tents are by the river and first thing in the morning around 4.00am the hippos that live there get pretty noisy!
Finally, take a compact zoom camera with you to capture those memories.
You may get close enough to use an iPhone to picture a big cat, but the quality will not be good enough to make enlargements. Take plenty of pictures and delete the ones you don’t need when you get home, don’t risk accidentally deleting pictures whilst still on holiday.

All photos are credited to Melvyn Sibson


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