Kenya is probably the best destination for game viewing in Africa. Almost 10% of the country’s land is protected by law as national parks and reserves. Deciding which Kenya safari tours operator to pick is a whole research project in itself. Obviously your satisfaction highly depends on the choices you make in the beginning. Below we broke down the essentials in how to get to your perfect Kenya safari tours oprerator.
Step 1: The National Parks
Allmost all tour operators offer visits to all national parks and reserves in Kenya. However you need to be aware that significant time will be spend on the road between two locations. Since the roads connecting the parks are also partly under construction the speed you will be travelling with is far from what you are probably are used to in your home country. Prepare for the journey. Make sure you have some podcasts or music downloaded to listen to.
Please visit our blog post on our 5 day Kenya safari tour to learn more about the different national parks.
Step 2: Sequence
Depending on your start and end location you should consider a certain sequence of the visits. Usually the agencies operate from Nairobi so having the capital as start and/or ending point makes very much sense. If the game viewing is only one leg of your journey, agree with your tour operator to drop you off at your needed destination. If you are planning to continue to Tanzania you can use either the Namanga border crossing near Arusha National park or the border crossing close to the Tsavo West National Park. Please note that operators might charge you extra for the de-tour but in any case it might be more convenient then returning back to Nairobi for another night.
Step 3: Budget your Kenya safari tour
The decision on the budget is a very important one. Usually you book a full package including park entry fees, lodges, meals and all other costs like fuel etc. What you need to calculate on top are the tips for personnel in the lodges as well as your tour guide. Depending on the level of your satisfaction at the end you should tip 10-20% of the total tour price to the guide. Also have some small amounts of Kenyan Shilling or Dollars available at all times to tip the staff in the lodges. Sometimes they have a box for tips at the reception where you can drop in some cash upon departure.
If there are additional exercises you want to book e.g. visiting Masai villages or activities like biking safaris or hot air balloon rides you need to book them on top and in advance. Futhermore it is possible to book the van only for youreself or to share with fellow travelers. However you will not have the chance to influence who you will be sharing the van with. The follow travelers will be assigned by the agency.
At this point we need to say that the value you get for your money is extremely high in Kenya. We did safaris both in Kenya and Tanzania. Not only was the total price much lower in Kenya. At the same time the organization and service was much more professional. The lodges had a complete different level of comfort as well. All of them had in room toilet and shower facilites, pools and bars. If you have not yet decided where to do your safari, we highly recommend to do bit more research an the options in Kenya.
Step 4: Level of luxury
Usually the operators offer three ranges of accommodation depending on the budget you have available. The word “tented camps” used in Kenya for low to mid-range accommodation might occur somewhat misleading. Those are not literarelly tents but big house tents with all the neccessities needed. If you are unsure about the standard which to expect for a certain camp on your list, look them up at booking.com for reviews. If you don’t like what you see, ask to change to another camp or upgrade to the higher category. Naturally this should be done before wrapping up the deal.
Step 5: Close the deal with your Kenya safari tours operator
As soon as you are happy with the chosen parks and lodges don’t forget to agree on the payment conditions. Some operators ask for a deposit in advance made by bank transfer. THis might lead to fees depending on your bank’s conditions. It is also possible to pay in cash upon arrival. USD is the preferred currency here but it is also possible to pay by Kenyan Shilling or even by Euros. Make sure to factor that part in with your tour operator before you complete the digital handshake.
If you have further questions on tour operators we have been in contact with please drop us a DM.