Over the last few months, we’ve been busy working behind the scenes on exciting new destinations to pin on the Llama Travel map. In July 2019, we introduced a whole new continent, Africa. Using our expertise and the same combination of high quality, excellent value and small group flexible tours that we offer in Latin America, our Africa holidays have a mix of amazing wildlife, culture, activities and scenery, paired with authentic lodges and great cuisine. Until now, we’ve only offered trips to Southern Africa, including Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Victoria Falls.
We’re excited to announce that our next country is located in East Africa, sitting on the equator and offering everything from game-filled national parks and picturesque mountain scenery to palm-fringed white sandy beaches. Here’s what our Product Manager, Scott, saw during his time in Kenya - all the photos in this blog are his own.
Kenya was the last place I was lucky enough to visit before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, and I can’t wait to go back again when it is safe to do so. Many people know Kenya for the annual wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara, and rightly so. A safari in Kenya is a magical experience, with plentiful wildlife including the Big Five alongside giraffes, cheetahs, zebras, hippos, crocodiles and rich birdlife. Kenya has more to offer than the Big Five though, and each place I visited offered something unique, from learning about the rescued chimps and rhinos at Ol Pejeta to meeting the children at a local school in the Masai Mara, and spotting rare species in Samburu National Park.
Aberdare National Park
Elephants and other big game can often be seen at The Ark's floodlit watering hole
After a night in Nairobi, Kenya’s buzzing capital, my guide drove me northwards in our safari vehicle to the Aberdares Mountains, where we stopped for lunch in a charming country club and I got my first taste of Kenya’s wildlife, as the property is home to zebras, giraffes and impalas. From here I was driven to my first lodge of the trip: The Ark. Modelled on Noah’s Ark, there are multiple viewing platforms and comfy lounges overlooking the hotel’s own watering hole, where elephants and buffalo regularly come for a drink. The Ark even has its own live webcam so while you’re itching for your departure date to arrive, you can spot the animals from your sofa at home! This was a great introduction to any safari adventure, with the big game whetting my appetite and making me more excited for what the next week would bring.
Samburu National Park
The Grevy's Zebra and Reticulated Giraffe are part of the 'Samburu Special Five'
Continuing north, my guide drove me to one of my favourite locations in Kenya; Samburu National Park. During one of our game drives, he explained that the park is home to the ‘Samburu Special Five’ animals which aren’t found anywhere else in the country – these are the Grevy's zebra, the reticulated giraffe, the gerenuk, the Somali ostrich and the Beisa oryx. A safari in Samburu felt very authentic and special, as there were fewer visitors than some of Africa’s more well-known national parks, so you get the Big Five and beautiful mountain scenery almost to yourself. I ended my time in Samburu with a sundowner out in the bush, taking in a classic African sunset.
Grey headed kingfisher
Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Although not native to Kenya, the chimps live at the Jane Goodall Sanctuary in Ol Pejeta
The next place we visited was one of Africa’s most important wildlife conservation areas; the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Here, I had a tour of the Jane Goodall sanctuary, where chimpanzees and the last remaining northern white rhinos reside. The conservancy also has the Big Five and East Africa’s largest population of black rhino. In the evening, my guide took us out into the conservancy on an exciting night game drive where we spotted lions, leopards and some nocturnal species including mongooses and foxes.
You also get to meet Baraka, a blind black rhino and a brave ambassador for his species
Lake Nakuru and The Great Rift Valley
Lake Nakuru is filled with big game and over 400 bird species
Leaving Ol Pejeta behind us, we headed west towards the Great Rift Valley, where we visited several picturesque lakes including Lake Elmenteita, Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru. The main attraction here is the birdlife, with over 400 species found in and around the lake including flamingos, storks, spoonbills, pelicans, eagles and herons. The national park is also home to lions, buffaloes, rhinos, zebras, gazelles, waterbucks and warthogs. On the way to the Great Rift Valley, you’ll have the chance to stop and visit the spinners and weavers at Nanyuki, a craft cooperative which was set up in 1977 for local women to become employed and live sustainably. This provides a great insight into the daily life of Kenyans.
Egrets are often found sitting on buffalo - they eat insects that are stuck to the skin, so both animals benefit as the egret gets fed and the buffalo gets rid of germs
The Masai Mara
My safari in Kenya ended at Africa’s iconic national park: The Masai Mara. Although I wasn’t here during the great migration season, I was still blown away by the abundance of wildlife around every corner, and the sheer beauty of the savannah, with plains rolling as far as the eye can see, and hot air balloons floating above families of elephants in the distance. We saw all the classic African animals here, including some exciting interactions at close proximity to the vehicle.
A leopard lazing in the treetops
A classic Masai Mara scene
A grey crowned crane
A lion stalking through the grass
Each time we saw something, my guide would stop for a while allowing me to take photos and observe the animals – from leopards lazing in the treetops to lions stalking hyenas in the long grass. Despite having done safaris before, this felt like the perfect end to my Kenya safari, before I hit the beach…
Diani Beach is the perfect place to relax after your safari
The grand finale to my Kenya trip was a much needed few days on the coast. I flew directly from the Masai Mara to the coast, and spent a few days enjoying the white sandy beaches of Diani. There are several activities on offer here, including snorkelling on coral reefs, kitesurfing and making the most of the hotel’s swimming pool, spa and variety of bars and restaurants.
We are delighted to announce that our Kenya holidays are now online, with amazing discounts and flexible booking conditions. Throughout the trip you will be accompanied by your guide in a safari vehicle with no more than six passengers. Flights from the UK, accommodation and transfers are included in the price, plus all meals and game drives during the safari.