A Postcard from Kenya - Georgie's travel story

When I started the conversation with my friend, Gemma, ‘I’m thinking of going on holiday, do you want to come with me?’ she replied, ‘Just let me know the date and I’m there’. With young children and husbands at home, our time together is usually a little bit different. Not wanting to let this opportunity slide, we decided to go big. As in 'Big Five', big. So we packed our bags, said goodbye to the families and headed off to Kenya in search of Safari and Savannah Sunsets.

I’ve travelled in a group before on a previous trip, but this was my first time with Travelsphere. I’ve always enjoyed getting to know everyone and I loved the fact that there was never a dull moment, always a different conversation to be had over dinner but I could tuck myself away if I wanted a few moments to just soak in the sights. This was to be a trip full of "firsts" for Gemma - first time on a group tour and first time on a long-haul holiday - it's safe to say she’s converted! With a brilliant group of fellow travellers and the hassle-free way of travelling, it all led to being one of the most relaxed holidays she’s ever had!

From the moment we landed, it was a feast for the eyes, Nairobi is full of colour and sounds. From vibrantly painted office blocks to the DJ music playing from buses and the unique architecture of the convention centre. Our first day was at leisure so we had the choice to explore Nairobi or relax in the hotel pool and recover from our night of travel.

Nairobi City Market

The next day we set off to Samburu National Park for a two-night stay that included three game drives. The park absolutely blew our socks off, a sensation that never went away for the duration of the trip. The wildlife and stunning vistas in this country were second to none.

Personally, the sunrise safaris were by far my favourite bit of the entire tour, watching the reserve come to life as the sun rose higher in the sky. You haven’t had breakfast yet, you’ve barely rubbed the sleep from your eyes, but it’s worth the early start when you watch a family of giraffes amble through the brush, or catch a glimpse of an elephant and its baby for the first time. We’d come back to the lodge having seen such amazing things and finish the morning with a mouth-watering breakfast. Not much can beat that, in my opinion.

Samburu National Park - Elephant

On our last night in the Samburu National Park we finished an afternoon safari in style. The hotel staff had set up a buffet of nibbles and drinks on a hill overlooking the Ewaso Nyrio River. So we grabbed our plates, filled our glasses and joined the rest of our group as we watched the sun set over this breath-taking landscape. We were lucky enough to watch a family of elephants make their way to the water's edge while enjoying pastries, cheese, fruit and chicken skewers. 

Sunset nibbles in Samburu National Park

Watching the sunset in Samburu National Park

Our Holiday Directors were so much more on this tour! They were also our drivers and game drive guides - we got to know them really well. We loved Jonah and his wealth of knowledge was unbelievable. He could identify nearly every animal we spotted and shared so much information on the animal itself. Having done this for more than a decade, he knew where the best spots are for seeing potential animals and he has an expert eye for spotting the smallest movement. He would also talk to us about the local area and local traditions as we drove from destination to destination.

At this point in the holiday we were yet to spot any big cats, my personal favourites of the Big Five. But that didn’t stop us from racking up sighting after sighting of other magnificent animals. At Lake Naivasha, we got up close (or as close as we dared) to families of hippos who call the lake their home, as well as fishing eagles and giraffes wandering along the water's edge.

Boat trip on Lake Naivasha

Hippos fighting in Lake Naivasha

Setting off on our way to Masai Mara, we stopped at the wonderful Ubuntu community. This community supports local families through several social impact businesses. We were really impressed by the Ubuntu school which provides education for children with special needs, as well as providing an exit journey for the children once they leave school, teaching them crafts and vocations. The school is supported by a café and Makers Studio. We were lucky enough to tour around this studio, learning how these shoes, bags and other accessories were handmade on-site, often by parents of the children in the school. The vibrant colours and beautifully textured fabrics were too hard to resist! And we even topped it off with a coffee from the café before we left.

Cafe Ubuntu

Arriving in the heart of the Masai Mara National Park, we were blown away by the Ashnil Mara Tented Camp. It felt like a little pod of luxury set in the wilderness - it definitely deserves its 4-stars. Overlooking the River Mara, this hotel is teaming with wildlife. We drifted off to the sounds of hippos in the river and laughed as family of mongoose appeared from beneath the ground on the picnic area. On top of all this, the service and food were brilliant. You really couldn’t ask for more! We even witnessed a traditional Masai dance celebration for somebody’s birthday, which was a real treat.

With two nights left we were hoping, wishing, with both fingers crossed, that we get to see the last of the Big Five. And we were in luck! We saw wildebeest, water buffalo, warthogs, ostriches, gazelle, impala, zebra, giraffe, and elephants to name a few. But then, on that evening, we spotted the king of these lands and his pride of lions, almost 20 strong. Nothing can describe the sheer excitement of spotting his stunning mane within the group as we watched the lionesses hunt and care for their young.

Masai Mara Lion

Masai Mara Lion Cubs

Our last full day in Masai Mara was just more icing on top of an already overflowing cake. After finishing a sunrise drive where we spotted a cheetah and her four cubs, we drove to a location not far from the camp to enjoy an al fresco breakfast overlooking a popular hippo bathing spot. Sipping a bucks fizz, with a full-cooked breakfast as we watched these impressive creatures, was a brilliant way to round off the holiday. Before ticking off the final animal in the big five, the elusive leopard on the last game drive of the holiday.

The most surprising part of the holiday was not how much we fell in love with the animals, although we loved every moment we had watching them. But how much we fell in love with the people of Kenya. Always ready to greet you with a big smile and a loud ‘Jambo’ (hello), ready to help you with questions or just simply ready to enjoy a laugh or two with you. Kenya simply stole our hearts.  

So, where to next? This was my first but definitely not my last safari! I may even let my husband join me next time. However, I think my next destination will probably be to India to see if I can spot the Bengal tiger but I also really want to experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans, so that is also an option - the list is long and still growing!

More photos from my tour

We can take you there...

  1. Kenya: Safari and Savannah Sunsets

    Spot Africa's most thrilling animals, including the 'Big Five', on safari in Samburu National Reserve and the Masai Mara.

    • 23 meals: 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 8 dinners
    • Return flights
    • 8 nights in great quality lodges, hotels and luxury tented camps, plus 1 night in flight

    10 days from