Kenya is probably the best destination for game viewing in Africa. Almost 10% of the country’s land is protected by law and turned into national parks and reserves. You will definitely not want to miss out on the vast opportunities here.
The process of deciding which tour operator to pick for the game viewing activities is a whole research project in itself. Subsequently your satisfaction highly depends on the choice you are about to make here. We broke the essentials down for you in 5 steps incl. main questions which will hopefully help you to make this decision.
Step 1: Identify the national parks you want to visit
Although tour operators offer visits to all of the national parks and reserves in Kenya 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 for considerable sections the speed you will be travelling with is far from what you are probably used to in your home country. Prepare for the journey. Make sure you have some podcasts downloaded or music to listen to while the dreamy scenery Kenya’s is passing by.
Step 2: Decide on the sequence of your visits
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 on 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: Assess the budget available
If you are certain about which parks you want to visit and in what sequence you want to orchestrate this journey you should make up your mind about the budget available for this exercise. Usually you will 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 you should calculate in 10-20% for this position. If there are additional exercises you want to book e.g. visiting Masai villages or activities like biking safaris or hot air balloon rides they need to be booked in extra and in advance. Another fact to be priced in is the number of people you will be sharing your van with. It is possible to go for a private tour only for you or to share the tour with fellow travelers. This choice is depending on your personal optimization function subject to two secondary conditions being budget and level of legroom you feel comfortable with.
Step 4: Choose the level of luxury
Usually the operators offer three ranges of accommodation depending on the budget you want to invest. The word “tented camps” used in Kenya for low to mid-range accommodation might occur somewhat misleading. In contrast to their colleagues in Tanzania, Kenya’s operators mean when using tended camps full-fledged tend houses with nice terraces and all the sanitary facilities available. Whereas in Tanzania the word tended camps means literary that – a camp with tents. If you are unsecure about the standard which to expect for a certain camp on your list it is advisable to look it up at booking.com for reviews beforehand and ask for an exchange to another camp in the same range or upgrade to another one if you are absolutely unhappy with the selection. Naturally this should be done before wrapping up the deal.
Step 5: Close the deal
As soon as you are happy on the options and you are sitting on the edge of your chair ready to go game viewing don’t forget to agree on the payment conditions. Some operators ask for a deposit in advance made by bank transfer which 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 to be 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.