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Kenya’s Top 10

Kenya is home to the original safari and has much to offer travellers.  Here are ten of the top attractions Kenya has on offer.

  1. Lake Baringo

Home to approximately 450 species of birds, Lake Baringo is a bird watcher’s paradise where the highlight is to take an early morning cruise as the world wakes up.  The hippos wallow in one vegetated corner and African Jacanas step lightly among the lilies.  Fishermen are out in dugout canoes collecting the catch to sell at the market later.  They compete with the magnificent fish eagles for food; the sight of this large bird swooping gracefully down to fetch breakfast is amazing.

Lake Baringo, Kenya Safari

  1. Lamu

Experience true Swahili culture on Lamu Island.  Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, the Old Town is the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa.  The simple architecture of the town is characterised by inner courtyards, verandas and the famous wooden doors with their intricate carvings.  The Lamu Festival in November is a highlight in the island’s calendar.

Lamu, Kenya Safari

  1. Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests

Kaya Kinondo is one of 11 sacred forests and has been set up as an eco-tourism project by local villagers whose ancestors used the sacred forest for traditional purposes.  You can walk through the forest, learning about the ancient culture and rituals while soaking up the sense of how special this place is to local people.  UNESCO has also recognised the importance of these forests that spread some 200km down the Kenyan coast.

Kenya Safari

  1. Community projects

Founded by a group of young Kenyans, Amani Kibera works with young people in Nairobi’s slums.  They have established a football competition, a women’s group and a library.  The library hosts book clubs and tutorial sessions for students, while the women’s group helps get girls back to school.  Meeting Kenyans is the only way we can get a true understanding of Kenya, and visiting projects such as this is a great way to engage with locals.

Kenya Safari

  1. Tsavo eco-system

Tsavo East and West form the largest national park in Kenya, and together with Taita Hills and Lumo Community Wildlife Sanctuary, provide a vast refuge for animals.  A great project operating in the Tsavo eco-system works around the human-wildlife conflict.  Recently a donation allowed them to purchase desks, shoes and uniforms for children in the village, bringing huge joy to the community.  Afforestation and de-snaring elephant traps are important activities that visitors can get involved with.

Kenya Safari

  1. Amboseli

Watching the sun rise and Mt Kilimanjaro come into view is one of Kenya’s most magical experiences.  Surrounded by Maasai villages, still living their traditional lifestyles, a visit to Amboseli provides a good mix of wildlife watching and culture.  The national park, nestled at the foothills of the highest mountain in Africa, is a top destination in Kenya for wildlife.  Indeed, one of the classic images of East Africa is that of a herd of elephant strolling across the plains with the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro in the background.  It is to catch this sight that people flock to Amboseli National Park.

Kenya Safari

  1. Samburu

In Northern Kenya, we find many different species of animals to the southern parks.  These include gerenuk, Somali ostrich, Beisa’s oryx, Reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra.  The Samburu eco-system comprises three national reserves: Shaba, Buffalo Springs and Samburu.  The landscape offers amazing variety from open savannah to scrub desert to lush river foliage, offering fantastic opportunities for excellent wildlife encounters.

Kenya Safari

  1. The Great Wildebeest Migration

Each year approximately 1.3 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebra, and 500,000 Thomson’s gazelle travel an 1800 kilometre circuit around Serengeti and Maasai Mara.  The rains from November to June create a magnet for game into Maasai Mara.  Between January and March about 400,000 wildebeest are born in Serengeti.  The trek begins in April as the plains dry up; herds gather and move north-west, joined by travelling lions, hyenas, and vultures.  Only one in three calves will see Serengeti again.  Herds arrive in Serengeti’s western corridor and feed until late May, then move into Maasai Mara.  By June they prepare to cross the Mara River.  Animals that cross first wait for the rest of the herd, encouraging them.  They spread out through the Maasai Mara and return to Serengeti by the end of October.  (Timings are approximate and change according to specific weather patterns for that year)

Kenya Safari

  1. Mount Kenya

Also featured on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Mt Kenya is Africa’s second highest peak after Kilimanjaro.  The extinct volcano stands at 5199 metres but at its peak of activity it is thought to have risen to 6500m.  Even though it sits almost right on the equator, there are 12 glaciers on the mountain, although they are all receding quickly.  The rugged mountain forms an impressive backdrop to surrounding national parks and reserves, as well as providing a good challenge for intrepid climbers.

Kenya Safari

  1. Lake Turkana

This unlikely lake in the middle of Kenya’s northern desert provides a stopover for migratory water birds.  Surrounded by three national parks, the lake also serves as a major breeding ground for crocodiles, hippos and various snakes.  UNESCO has listed Lake Turkana as a World Heritage site for its incredible amount of fossil remains and the opportunities to study plant and animal communities.

Kenya Safari

Tips for Going on a Solo Backpacking Trip

Tips for Going on a Solo Backpacking Trip

Travelling solo can be one of life’s most eye-opening, mind-expanding, joyful experiences.  This article will give you some suggestions to overcome the trepidation you may experience, especially as a woman, when deciding to venture forth on your own.  The best advice: Go for it!

5 Ways to Set Yourself Free and Travel Solo

  1. Make smart decisions

You make smart decisions at home everyday about what to spend money on, whether a situation feels safe, who to trust or not, etc.  Bring these smarts with you on your travels – don’t sell your brain for a plane ticket!  Even if you are on a budget, sometimes it is better to spend a little extra to stay in a more secure hotel or take a taxi at night.

  1. Meet people

Most of my travels have been solo, yet I have rarely felt lonely.  Using networks like Couch Surfing has helped me connect with fellow travellers and hosts who have been happy to hang out and show me their home town.  In backpacker hostels, the communal spaces provide opportunities to strike up a conversation and even in hotels there is usually a pool or a bar to linger at to find someone to chat with.

  1. Use a guidebook

Lonely Planet, Let’s Go, Rough Guides, DK, Bradt…. there are so many guidebooks on the shelves of your local bookshop there is no excuse for not being well-informed about a place.  It’s true that not everything should be taken as gospel (indeed prices are often out of date even before the book is published) but it gives you a good idea of what to do, where to stay, where the good food is, where to find banks and most other information you want when you get off an overnight bus/train/plane.  Often they have some sample itineraries to help you get the best of a destination.

  1. Join a tour

If the thought of doing everything yourself and fumbling your way through a destination is totally off-putting, there are plenty of tours all over the world to suit any taste, style, and personality.  Depending on the type of tour you choose, you will be issued with six or sixty travel buddies to keep you from getting lonely during your travels.  Often taking a tour will put your family’s hearts and minds at rest as you embark on your solo trip … but don’t feel forced to take a tour if you really want to experience total freedom.

  1. Take time out

Travelling solo can be exhausting as you are making all the decisions yourself, you feel like your guard must always be up, and you are often putting yourself in uncomfortable situations (going to restaurants alone, striking up conversations with strangers, etc).  So it’s important to take time out to nurture yourself.  It’s supposed to be a holiday as well right?!

Twelve years ago I travelled solo for the first time and experienced incredible freedom that changed me forever.

Being quite shy, stepping out of my comfort zone to meet people was a massive challenge.  Couch Surfing has been my staple travel site since 2006 because it gives me the opportunity to connect with local people and get to know a place on a deeper level.  Through this network, I have made life-long friends who I know I can call on the next time I might be flitting through on a long layover.  Armed with a guidebook and a local, I feel like I get to see the best of a destination – both the tourist sites and the best restaurants, bars and other bits of ordinary life.  When I travel, my focus is on connecting with the culture, and so this style suits me.  Of course when meeting locals online one must be careful, but reading profiles and references thoroughly and trusting my instincts has kept me safe and provided me the most wonderful opportunities and experiences.

Have you travelled solo? Or are you considering taking a trip but have some worries?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

A wonderful great experience

Last August Matthew and Mathilde came to Kenya for their honeymoon and we were honoured they chose us to take them to Amboseli for the special occasion.  This is what they said about their trip:

“To start our honeymoon, we spent two days in the stunning Amboseli National Park. Tracey and Francis took wonderful care of us, and booked us into an amazing room at the Amboseli Serena Lodge. The elephants were a highlight of our whole trip, and getting up early to see Kilimanjaro was well with it.

I have only good things to say about making the arrangements for the trip. Tracey always respond quickly to my emails, and we’re really pleased that we chose OTA.”

2014-08-03 17.14.56

And this year in May,Ashton and her mother Sandra travelled with Francis to the Maasai Mara, describing it as a “Great experience!”.

“We traveled with OTA for 3 days from Nairobi to Masai Mara and back and overall it was a great experience. Tracey had sent us all possible information before our trip and was very helpful and flexible with planning. Francis was extremely informative and helpful during the trip – plus the lunches that he set up under the trees overlooking the plains was just a lovely little touch. Would definitely travel with them again!”


We are so grateful for your positive reviews and for supporting our company and Kenyan tourism!  We hope more of our friends and fans will come for a safari soon!

New reviews!

Thank you to Bo who wrote this 5 star review for us on Trip Advisor:

“We’ve been on two separate tours with OTA. First we went to Sweetwaters Tented Camp in Ol Pejeta Conservancy. We had a great trip, Francis was a very knowledgeable guide and everything was taken care of. And they were absolutely the cheapest offer we got for the exact same trip.

Second time we went to Lake Naivasha and stayed at Simba lodges. Again OTA was the cheapest. This time we had Tracey as our guide. She was super helpful and made sure we had a great trip.”


Thank you to Richard who wrote this five star review for us on Trip Advisor:

“Last month we went on a safari trip to Sweetwater. We we went with OTA for the safari as they gave us the best all incl. price and they gave quality. Tracey and Francis really made this the best safari ever for us.”

Stefanie Thijssen


And finally, thank you to Pam who wrote this five star review for us:

“It was wonderful to be with Tracey and Francis and be able to have quality time with them. Especially in the evening ,dining with them to talk about the day and learn more about culture and general information about the country. It was a lot of fun!!”


“Fantastic Family Trip for Christmas & New Years 2014”

Ashley and her family travelled with us over Christmas and New Year.  We had so much fun with them, from Nairobi to Lake Naivasha, to Maasai Mara and finally to the coast.  Here’s what she said about the trip:

“My family and I had a fantastic first experience of Kenya with Tracey and Francis. From Nairobi to Mombasa we had an incredible time, visiting various NGOs and CBOs that OTA work with as well as going on safari in the Masai Mara and seeing a lion, elephants and buffalo.
On Christmas day we spent a few hours cycling around lake Naivasha with John who showed us all of the wildlife including giraffes, zebras and warthogs. We took a boat ride spotting hippos and even managed to get close to a leopard!
New Year’s was spent with the inspirational Mama Mercy who runs a women’s empowerment group and orphanage, another part of our trip that did not disappoint.
For a family of six. aged 9 to 50+, Tracey and Francis ensured that there was something for all of us! We couldn’t have asked for more out a family holiday. Hopefully we’ll be back again someday to see a rhino!”


My 3 Favourite Recipes From Kenya

My 3 Favourite Recipes From Kenya

With 52 tribes in Kenya, extending from the coast to the Rift Valley lakes to the central highlands to the northern desert, the cuisines found in this country are many and varied.  There is also a strong Indian influence as the spice traders started coming to Africa centuries ago and have remained to trade in various other goods since.  Here I present three dishes commonly found around Nairobi.  Two – the matoke and mukimo – are traditional Kikuyu dishes from the central highlands, and the chapatti is from the coast.


Ingredients (makes 15-20 chapattis):
½ litre cold water
1 kg flour

Mix water with flour, add a handful of salt, a bit of sugar and a bit of oil (the oil makes the chapatti turn golden when it cooks).  Divide the mixture into balls the size of a child’s fist.  Roll out each ball to a flat circle about the size of a dinner plate.  Fry on a very hot, oiled chapatti pan (flat fry pan) for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Chapati; OTA Kenya Safaris


Plantains (these are green bananas that are starchy and not sweet)
Cooking oil

Peel the plantains and potatoes and soak for about half an hour.  Meanwhile fry onions, tomatoes, parsley, capsicum and salt.  Add potatoes and plantains to the fried tomato mix.  Cover with water and add salt to taste (the salt also helps soften the plantains quickly).  Stew over medium heat until the plantains and potatoes are cooked through.
To cook minji (peas), maharagwe (beans, usually red kidney) and njahi (black beans) follow a similar recipe.  Boil the peas or beans for several hours until soft.  Fry up the tomato mix described above, add potatoes and water.  Finally add the peas or beans and mix together over low heat.

Matoke; OTA Kenya Safaris


Beans (red kidney beans usually)
Maize kernels

Boil beans and maize (generally equal amounts of beans and maize) until soft, this usually takes a couple of hours.  In another pot, cook onions, tomatoes and potatoes until soft.  Then add the beans and maize.  Now you have githeri another popular Kikuyu dish (my favourite!).  However, to get to mukimo, cook the stew for another 30 minutes before mashing it all together.  The maize is tough to mash so don’t worry about the kernels staying whole.  The beans and potatoes will mash easily though.
Some versions of mukimo do not use beans; instead use a leafy green vegetable such as kale or spinach which mashes with the potato to make the mukimo green.

Githeri; OTA Kenya Safaris

The quantities depend on your taste and how many you are cooking for.  Generally for mukimo you want equal quantities of beans, maize and potatoes with the onion and tomato simply adding some taste.  For matoke the plantains should be more than the potatoes, about a 2:3 ratio.  Again the tomato fry mix is simply to add taste so you don’t need too much.  For the chapattis the flour should be twice the amount of water with sugar and salt to taste.

I would love to hear about your experiences with Kenyan food – whether you have cooked it yourself or been cooked for.  Please leave your comments below.

Explore 3 Kenyan Parks with OTA

Explore 3 Kenyan Parks with OTA

OTA is launching a series of weekend trips especially for Kenya’s citizens and the expatriate community.  This will give people living in Kenya the opportunity to explore this country’s top parks easily, conveniently and safely.

OTA's weekend trips to Maasai Mara, Amboseli and Samburu

Throughout 2015, OTA will have three-day trips departing every Friday to Maasai Mara, Amboseli and Samburu.  This is an excellent opportunity for both Kenyan citizens and expatriates to explore Kenya in the comfort of a safari vehicle fit for photography, game-viewing and touring.  Starting from 16,300KES inclusive of meals, accommodation, transport and park entry fees, these trips are affordable and fun.  Prices vary according to group size and you can visit for more information.  Any group size can be catered for with transport in safari vans or overland trucks.  All trips are accompanied by an experienced English-speaking driver-guide.  For reservations and enquiries, contact Tracey and Francis on

Francis Wamai, Founder and Director of OTA, says: “After a week of work, these trips offer Kenyans a great way to relax and explore their country.  Boring weekends at home are a thing of the past as you can come and meet other people and see the beauty of Kenya.”

These weekend trips give expatriates and Kenyans the opportunity to explore Kenyan parks affordably.  For more information, visit or contact to make a booking for you and your friends this weekend.

OTA offers trips in Kenya where you can experience the local culture, stay in villages, and engage with community development organisations as well as view the amazing wildlife and spectacular natural scenery in this amazing country.  We can cater to groups (large and small) for any budget, offering a range of accommodation from camping to luxury lodges.  Visit for more information.

OTA's weekend trips to Maasai Mara, Amboseli and Samburu


Bev’s Trip

Bev’s Trip

In June 2014 Bev arrived in Nairobi to start a month-long journey through Kenya and Uganda.  One of the main reasons for her visit was to meet Jared, a Ugandan university student who she had been sponsoring for the past 18 months.

Bev’s timing was perfect: the Lake Turkana Cultural Festival was to take place a couple of days after her arrival in Kenya and so that was the first destination.  Moses and Laura, friends of OTA and owners of Mara Explorers camp in Maasai Mara, were in Nairobi and were cajoled into joining the trip north.  They then invited Scott and Helene, a British couple driving their Land Rover around the continent while they figured out how to spend their retirement.  And so our small band of intrepid travellers started the two-day journey to the far north-western corner of Kenya.

OTA Kenya Safaris

We encountered a few sceptics who were dubious about the ability of the OTA van to get to Loiyangalani and to cross the desert to Marsabit.   But Francis handled that Toyota like a true professional despite the rain, mud, steep ascents and descents, loose stones and every other obstacle imaginable.  In Maralal we had to find our police escorts to accompany us further north.  There were only a couple of times when Bev found the need to gently push the young soldier’s gun away from pointing directly at her – he was very relaxed about carrying such a weapon, but we perhaps would have been more comfortable had he been a little more attentive.

OTA Kenya Safaris

The first morning of the Turkana Festival was fantastic.  Fourteen ethnic groups from northern Kenya gathered in Loiyangalani, each setting up a traditional house, donning traditional costumes, dancing traditional dances and singing traditional songs.  The atmosphere was fun as each tribe tried to out-sing and out-dance each other.  Unfortunately, this was the first year the Marsabit County Council was running the festival and it seems that they did not take much advice or assistance from the organisations who had been involved previously.  The program was ignored and we found ourselves doing the scheduled 8am hike up a mountain to see rock art in the heat of the midday sun.

OTA Kenya Safaris

The second day was even less organised as we all waited for Deputy President Ruto to arrive before any activities could start.  His scheduled arrival at 11am didn’t occur until 3pm and the scheduled activities turned out to be a political rally – it was great for the locals who do not often see their MPs, but for foreign tourists it was not the most exciting “cultural event”.

OTA Kenya Safaris

From Lake Turkana, we headed east to Marsabit where we had a slight accommodation disaster but a great food find.  While Bev, Francis and Tracey headed into town for dinner, Scott cooked at camp for the rest of the group, including our police escorts.  Pasta with vegetables – not quite what soldiers in northern Kenya are used to and they were a little nervous about this mzungu food.

OTA Kenya Safaris

Continuing south, the next stop was Archers Post where Bev spent some time at the Umoja School.  It’s a brand new school with only 14 students, and so Bev spent the morning teaching science to the whole school.  They made rockets and learnt about air pressure.  In the afternoon Francis took Bev into Samburu National Reserve where a lion walked not five metres past the vehicle!

OTA Kenya Safaris

We said good bye to Scott, Helene, Moses and Laura in Nairobi before travelling west to Busia.  There we stayed with Chrisphine and spent half a day at the Blue Bells School, again dragging all the students outside for a science lesson.  A lot of education throughout Africa is taught straight out of the text book, sitting in class and answering questions.  So to get away from the desks and try things out for themselves was a bit of a novelty.

OTA Kenya Safaris

Crossing into Uganda was something of an event with Tracey nearly getting arrested thanks to the Kenyan insurance company failing to fill in the Comesa insurance certificate correctly.  We still need to express our thanks to Amaco Insurance for putting us in that predicament!  However, after a few hours we were able to clear the border and get to Jinja.  After the stress of the border crossing, it would have been wonderful to get a good night of sleep, but it was not to be.  Normally Tracey can sleep through anything, but a bagpiper wandering through the campsite at midnight managed to wake her.  Sticking her head out the tent, she asked “Really?” and the bagpiper apologised….. only to start up again!!  Is it necessary to say that we may have lost our tempers a little bit?

OTA Kenya Safaris

The next day was much better though with a boozy lunch cruise on the Nile.  The birdlife was spectacular and the new camera has proven itself to be an excellent purchase.

OTA Kenya Safaris

In Mbale, on our way to Sipi Falls, we finally met Jared.  Bev and Jared had been communicating extensively via email for 18 months but this was the first time they were to meet in person, so it was very exciting.  We got lunch and continued the journey to Sipi as the two chatted in the back of the vehicle.  All seemed to be fine – which was a relief!

OTA Kenya Safaris

At Sipi Falls we met Punky the cheeky Turaco.  At first we felt incredibly privileged to have this beautiful bird come so close.  Then we realised that the only privilege being afforded to us was that we had been able to eat the majority of our breakfast before Punky came to greet us!  Having fallen out of the nest as a chick, Punky has been raised by Minette and Andy (managers of Sipi River Lodge) but has freedom to fly away now he is fully grown.  But it seems he has too much fun bullying the dogs and cat so he stays.

OTA Kenya Safaris

Jared, Francis and Tracey hiked two of the three waterfalls that make up Sipi Falls.  The third involved ladders and steepness that we decided wasn’t necessary – we got a fine view from where we were.

OTA Kenya Safaris

Across Uganda to Murchison Falls National Park where we enjoyed a cruise and a game drive.  The Nile thrusts itself through a 7 metre gorge, creating the most powerful waterfall in the world.  And we saw it!

OTA Kenya Safaris

In western Uganda we spent a few nights in Fort Portal where we ate pizza and played cards.  We also did a hike in the Rwenzori Mountains up to a school.  The guides took a look at Bev and said the school was too far and we probably wouldn’t make it.  But we did and kudos to Bev for pushing her comfort zone!  We were trying to be quiet so as not to disturb the children in the classroom, but curiousity obviously got the better of them and just before finishing time, suddenly they all rushed out to greet us.  Bev got bombarded with children wanting to shake her hand and just generally be near her.

OTA Kenya Safaris

The next day we went chimp trekking, but did not have much luck.  Our guide was a little gung-ho in the beginning and the chimps were on the move rather than sitting somewhere convenient for us to take pictures.  We saw three black blobs moving through the bush over the several hours we wandered in Kabale National Park.  Once we told the guide we were OK with not seeing any chimps, he relaxed and even cracked a smile.  He cracked more smiles as we neared the end: we asked how far we were from the road and he said “About 600 metres”.  After about 2km, we asked again and he gave the same answer.  After a few repeats of the pattern we just had to laugh and ask him “So only 600 more metres?”

OTA Kenya Safaris

Driving south, we passed through Queen Elizabeth National Park and were quite shocked at the speed several police trucks were swinging themselves around an escarpment, especially as they passed by a school.  We stopped at Uganda Lodge, a project started by a Ugandan man and British woman where there is a school and a new clinic.  Bev taught a few more science classes and we went with some volunteers to deliver bananas to the children’s ward at the nearby hospital.  Jared is studying public health and was very keen to visit the hospital and ask lots of questions.

OTA Kenya Safaris

Finally we reached Kampala where Bev was to spend her last week seeing Jared’s life.  We dropped Jared at his home where his aunt gave us two of the biggest avocadoes you have ever seen and a bunch of sweet bananas.  Then it was back to battle Kampala’s peak hour traffic to get to the hotel for a final dinner together.  There we met Ishmael, who was to take over driving responsibilities for Bev’s week in Kampala while we rushed back to Kenya.  From all accounts, Ishmael became as much a part of Bev and Jared’s week and we had been a part of their holiday.  Jared showed Bev plenty of universities and hospitals, he invited her to his house for a meal, his family came to town for another meal and they went to a school sports day and cheered on the Parrots…Ishmael joined the cheering as well!

OTA Kenya Safaris

What a journey!  Bev and Tracey had travelled together for five weeks in 2009 from Beijing to Istanbul and here again was another month of new experiences, incredible memories and plenty of laughter.  Bev and Jared have cemented their mother-son relationship and Jared’s university education is assured (so long as he keeps getting good grades!).  And we all look forward to Bev’s next visit….or will it be Jared, Francis and Tracey coming to Australia to visit Bev?!

OTA Kenya Safaris

Book Review: Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux

Book Review: Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux is the story of the author’s overland travel from Cairo to Cape Town with all the adventures, people and places he encounters throughout the continent.

Paul Theroux travelled Africa from north to south in the first half of 2001.  Beginning in Cairo, he travelled down the Nile in Egypt, through Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland.  He travelled mostly by public transport including trains, boats, bush taxi, buses, cattle truck, rented Land Rover, canoe and hitch-hiking.  As a young 20-something-year-old, Theroux had come to Africa to teach in rural Malawi as a Peace Corps volunteer and so this trip 40 years later was partly a sentimental journey but also to see how much has changed since.

The book starts in Egypt’s capital Cairo and heads south into the land of the Nubians, Sudan.  Theroux travels all the way down into Kenya and then heads west to Uganda.  He catches up with friends in Kampala where he had lived several years earlier.  He takes a ferry across Lake Victoria to Mwanza in Tanzania and then the train to Dar es Salaam.  Another train gets him to Mbeya in southern Tanzania before entering Malawi where he visits the school where he taught as a young man.  This is probably the most demoralising point of the whole trip as he assesses the impact of foreign aid over the 40 years since he was there.  After the treatise on development (or lack thereof), he travels via the Zambezi River into Mozambique.  The next country is Zimbabwe where he experiences the effects of Mugabe’s regime on white farmers.  Finally he reaches South Africa and the luxury of the Blue Train between Johannesburg and Cape Town.  Theroux’s summary after this journey reveals a disappointment in the “help” foreigners have thrown at the continent but also the joy he experienced in meeting people as he travelled:

Africa is materially more decrepit than it was when I first knew it, hungrier, poorer, less educated, more pessimistic, more corrupt, and you can’t tell the politicians from the witch doctors. Not that Africa is one place. It is an assortment of motley republics and seedy chiefdoms. I got sick, I got stranded, but I was never bored. In fact, my trip was a delight and a revelation.”

Dark Star Safari is an interesting account of Theroux’s travels, especially as he travels in Africa by means not dared by most.  He is very negative about the work of foreign development organisations, which is not entirely unfair I will agree.  Throughout the book however, Theroux’s style remains witty and entertaining.

Paul Theroux’s account of his overland journey from Cairo to Cape Town in Dark Star Safari follows his other stories of epic overland trips such as Riding the Iron Rooster in China and two books about the Silk Road.  You may enjoy contrasting Theroux’s wit and insight with Sihle Khumalo’s Dark Continent My Black Arse.  Khumalo also travelled the length of Africa from Cape Town to Cairo by public transport, but he has quite a different perspective being a native of the continent and focuses more on the travelling than the impact of foreign intervention.

When Is the Best Season to Travel in Kenya?

When Is the Best Season to Travel in Kenya?

People often ask us about the best time of year to come to Kenya, so we decided to put together this guide to help you plan your own safari.  There are pros and cons for every time of year, so it largely depends on what you want to see and how you prefer to travel.

The high season in Kenya is the dry season which runs from July to September.  The grasses are low so you can get better animal sightings and you can access more places when it is not raining.  The biggest highlight at this time of the year is the Great Wildebeest Migration when massive herds cross the river from Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in Kenya around July.  This is Kenya’s most popular attraction and, as it conveniently coincides with summer holidays in North America and Europe, it is the busiest time of year.  This results in higher accommodation prices and of course many more tourists.

Travelling in Kenya; OTA Kenya Safaris

Conversely, the low season is also the wet season, beginning in March and finishing around June.  The main reasons to visit at this time of year are the reasons you wouldn’t want to go in high season – lower prices and fewer people.  During this period, you might even find a lodge safari at the same price as a high season camping safari.  However, the rains mean the grass grows quickly and thickly making animals harder to spot.

That leaves the shoulder season between October and December.  This is a nice period to visit as the wildebeest herds are still in the Maasai Mara, although they start to leave in November or December.  Some lodges drop their prices somewhat between the high season and Christmas.  However this season is also defined by the “short rains” (it rains for a short period of the day, as opposed to the long rains in March to June where it rains for a long period of the day) and if you end up staying at accommodation that retains a high rate right through to Christmas then putting up with a bit of rain may not be worth it.

Finally the Christmas period from December to February is marked by hot and dry weather and a high concentration of wildlife in the major parks.  The best feature of this season is the migratory birds arriving in Kenya in their millions.  On the other hand, the mass migratory herds have usually moved back to Tanzania by this time.  Christmas and New Year supplements are often charged on accommodation.

So given all that, what’s the verdict?  If pushed to make a recommendation, we suggest September to November.  The rains are not so bad, you can find accommodation that has reduced prices, the migratory herds are still in the Maasai Mara (usually until around November), there are not so many tourists because the summer holidays are over, and the migratory birds start to arrive in November.

Travelling in Kenya; OTA Kenya Safaris

Has this helped you to decide the best time of year to come to Kenya for a safari?  Visit for some great itineraries or contact to kick-start the planning of your African adventure.

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