A Kenyan safari evokes images of open savannah plains choking full with wildlife. There are lions on a kill in Masai Mara, wildebeest migration across the Mara River, elephants against the backdrop of Kilimanjaro in Amboseli and countless other safari highlights that are found in each of the the Kenya national parks. When planning your Kenya safari it is important that you work with facts and not myths, which will not add value to your Kenyan travel experience. With so many "Kenya safari experts" giving all manner of information, some myths have been perpetuated for so long until they are now viewed as safari facts. To make good decisions about your Kenyan wildlife safari, know how experienced the so called "expert" is; is she an armchair (keyboard) consultant, a once a year safari guide to Kenya or someone who did a few years tour of duty in Nairobi and now passes himself an expert in all Kenya safari matters. Note that many aspects of your wildlife safari may not be changeable once you are on the ground in Kenya. So get sound and credible information before booking your safari.
Know the 4 common Kenya travel myths and their corresponding value adding facts:
1. If you miss the wildebeest migration in Masai Mara, your safari is incomplete.
Now who coined this one? No doubt the migration is a great event but wildlife viewing in Masai Mara is an all year round affair. There are resident herds of wildebeests, zebras, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes and other plains game. Lions, leopards and cheetahs are territorial and they defend their corners throughout the year with or without the migration. Therefore you can enjoy a great safari in Masai Mara throughout the year but the extent of your wildlife viewing experience will depend on the time you allocate in the park, the experience of your Kenya safari guides and their willingness to make your safari complete.
2. Kenya Safari game drives have to be at 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. prompt. The rest of the day, there is no activity.
Makers of wildlife documentaries must consider this as one of the most transparent safari myths. These guys are out in the field all day capturing amazing wildlife images that have kept us glued to our TVs. If all day works for them, not forgetting that they have months to do their filming, why can't it work for you with only 10 days of safari? Besides, the 6 a.m. & 4 p.m. safari game drives create the herd mentality with all safari mini buses going in the park to surround one lion.
3. The more game reserves you put in your wildlife safari itinerary the greater your game viewing experience.
This is a straight forward issue of quality wildlife viewing versus quantity parks. Should your 10 days Kenyan holiday be a whistle stop safari in Amboseli, Masai Mara, Nakuru, Aberdares and Samburu national parks? Consider all these parks are over 100 km apart on rough roads, so putting in a lot of parks means that you will spend most of your productive time (daylight hours) on the road rather than viewing wildlife. The guaranteed way to a quality wildlife safari is by spending longer time is a few national parks and giving them a thorough exploration. Your Kenyan wildlife safari, like all vacations, should enable you to rest and recuperate - which you can only do if you are not daily on long road transfers.
4. That a Kenyan safari is an adventure vacation.
An adventure vacation means that on your body power, you propel yourself to do some activity. The modern safari is in most cases a passive vehicle bound affair. You sit in the minibus, move around the park looking at wildlife and clicking on your camera may be the only physical thing that you may be called to do. Does this qualify for adventure? Active elements such as hiking safaris can be incorporated in your wildlife safari by prior arrangement with your safari operator. Now that we have demystified the common Kenyan safari myths, hit the keyboard and plan your safari based on facts.
Anne Huysman is the co-owner of Ontdek Kenya, an Kenya Safari Operator with 13 years experience of nature themed safaris. Her specialty is guided walking tours, bird watching tours and responsible wildlife safaris away from mass tourism. For a free consultation on your Kenya safari and for inspiring on-safari photos that give you a glimpse of the tours.