Kenya Travel

Kenyan Dreaming: A First-Timer’s Footsteps – Preparing to Go

Three sleeps to go.

I am considerably more organised and less overwhelmed than I was when I started this blog entry four days ago. This trip falls on my ten year anniversary in the travel industry. A whole decade of selling travel! Surely that is cause for celebration?

Ten years on and I finally get to experience Africa. I also get to gain some of that insider knowledge and traveller’s tips and tricks for a new destination so that I can help make my clients’ future experiences to Africa that much more fulfilling. I’m officially excited!

So what are the must-haves for a journey into Central Kenya and the Masai Mara? This list is by no means conclusive – and I’m sure I’ll want to add and delete things to it once I’m actually there – but it gives a good outline of what is recommended for an escorted, lodge-based stay in Kenya.

Due to the 15kg luggage limit that I have as a result of taking an internal flight from the Mara to Nairobi, I have to pack lightly. If it’s not essential, it isn’t going. It’s easy to say at this point as my bag is still empty and everything I think is “essential” is in various piles around it at present.
It’s November – climate-wise it is the “short” wet season, so while it should be considerably drier than the true wet season (March-May) we still need to prepare for getting wet on game drives. The Central Highlands will be quite cool and night and early morning, but on average throughout the day the expected temperature in most of the areas we are going should be around 23-25 degrees Celsius. I’m told that Samburu will be hotter, while the Masai Mara will be cooler.

In order to deal with the varying temperatures and my limited luggage space, I think the best plan is to pack layers. Alternatively I suppose that I could wear everything that didn’t fit in my bag and go michelin-man style, but I think that taking less might be the better plan! Also, I have been warned that dark colours are a no-no as they attract the tsetse fly – an insect which carries a disease known commonly as “sleeping sickness”. I’ve googled it and even Wikipedia says it’s not a good thing to get, so I’d better take it seriously and try to take as much safari-esque wardrobe as I can. Khaki, beige, off-white, olive green… Fifty Shades of Safari anyone?

OK, so here’s the packing list so far:

  • Light coloured clothes in varying styles for layering – check.
  • Windproof/waterproof lightweight jacket – check.
  • Warm fleece-style jacket – check.
  • Walking shoes/boots – check.
  • Hat and sunglasses – check.
  • SwimsuitBoard shorts and swim shirt so as not to scare the natives – check.
  • Dresses for lodge-lounging in the evenings after a hard day of animal-gazing – check.
  • Camera, extra batteries, extra memory card, tripod – check.
  • Binoculars – check.
  • Sunscreen and insect repellant with DEET – check.
  • Toiletries – check.
  • Half of my local pharmacy, including but not limited to anti-malarials, anti-biotics, anti-bacterial gel, anti-histimines and anti-inflammatories, as well as tablets to stop both ends firing (heaven forbid!) and general first-aid supplies. (I am a mother after all – it always pays to be prepared!)
  • Guide book – I love the DK Eyewitness Travel series – check.
  • Travel pillow for a little extra in-flight comfort – check. (I can always hope that the God of Business Class will smile down upon me and command me to turn left instead of right when I board the plane, but as this has never happened to me yet in my travelling life I’m not being too hopeful!)
  • Phone, charger, headphones, power plug adaptor (Kenya uses British plus) – check.
  • iPad loaded up with music, apps including WordPress and Kindle plus a mindless game or three – check.I think that’s it. Now it’s just a matter of actually getting it in the bag. That’s Tuesday’s challenge.20121104-152417.jpgI also have:
  • …my Kenyan visa
  • …my passport with six spare pages in it and six months validity from when I return to Australia.
  • …US dollars cash in small denominations (primarily $1 and $5 notes) for tipping, bottles of water, village visits and so on.
  • …told my bank I’m going to Kenya so that they don’t cancel my credit card when a charge appears in Nairobi on it.
  • …my international SIM card ready to load into my phone so I don’t get trapped into hideously expensive phone calls and data downloads.
  • …had my yellow fever inoculation (which is compulsory for travellers going to Kenya), plus typhoid and the flu vaccination.
  • …had my immunity for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B checked.

I think I am ready to go.

I typed up a simplified “itinerary” for my seven-year-old son to look at while I’m away. It includes a map of Kenya and a summary of what he will be doing, where I will be and what I will be doing that day. I have to admit I felt a bit bad when I was writing that his highlight for a given day was going to school and getting lunch from the canteen while Mummy will be hippo-spotting… not quite apples for apples, is it?


So now there are just three days left to finish things up at work, get the family organised and pick up a couple of last-minute things.

WiFi depending, I will see you in Kenya!

x Sonia

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