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Value for money wildebeest migration safari at the Maasai Mara

Disclaimer: I am under the assumption we all know what the wildebeest migration is, if you don’t, please read this nice article first.

Each year, thousands of tourists – both international and domestic, dash to the Masai Mara to witness more than a million wildebeests crossing over Mara river as they embark on their migratory journey back to the Serengeti. The wildebeest’s dilemma is caused by the presence of Lions on land and crocodiles in the water. This as you can imagine, makes for amazing wildlife viewing.

It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact day when the wildebeests suddenly grow balls and attempt to cross over. However, the guys at discoverafrica have made it possible to track the wildebeests all the way from Tanzania by loading data received from pilots flying in the area on an interactive map, this map ; http://www.discoverafrica.com/herdtracker/ So before choosing when to travel, you might want to check out that link to increase your chances of witnessing the crossing over.

It’s normally considered peak season by hotels from June – October at the Masai Mara, which is the period when the migration happens. Hotels charge between 130 USD to 350 USD for rooms on full board basis. That’s why most people can only afford to stay for 2 nights, hence the famous 3 days 2 nights safari packages largely advertised by many tour operators. Transport is also a huge expense. To enter the park, you need a 4×4 van or jeep with a seasoned driver who has experience locating the animals which are very good at hiding. I’ll discuss this costs shortly. And finally you have the park fees; 80 USD per day for non-residents and KES 1200 for East African residents.

To hire a tour van costs KES 12000 a day and a 4×4 Landcruiser costs KES 22000 a day. Both vehicles can accommodate 8 persons comfortably excluding the driver. The problem is that most of the safari vehicles touring the Masai Mara travel with empty seats. We sometimes see vehicles carrying 2 or 3 passengers, others even 1 person. This means the safari costs more because the 3 persons or 2 persons end up paying a sum intended for 8 persons. More cars are also a nightmare when it comes to finding a good spot to view wildlife.

Tourists viewing wildlife

Too many cars. Tourists fighting for a spot to view the migration.

This is where we come in. This year, before driving off to the Masai Mara, visit dandiaa.com and auction off any empty seats in your car. If you need us to assist you in finding a group that best suits you or assist you in finding an affordable hotel or a vehicle for hire, simply fill out this form and we’ll sort you out in no time. We’ll do this at no charge to dandiaa subscribers and charge a KES 1000 to non-dandiaa subscribers. Subscribing is 100% free, click here to subscribe.

Contact us at: hello@dandiaa.com for more details.

Related: What is dandiaa

Travel

Top 5 Christmas destinations in Kenya

Finding a unique and creative way of celebrating Christmas holidays can be challenging. Most Kenyans spend Christmas eve at either at home, their parents home or grand parents home. In Nairobi it’s business as usual, most shops are open, public transport functions and apart from a few mentions from vendors wearing Santa costumes, the Christmas spirit is generally muted.

If you are visiting Kenya during Christmas, or you’re a Kenyan family looking for new ideas to spend the holidays this year, here are 5 top destinations that guarantee an unforgettable experience.

Mombasa

Probably the most common destination for Kenyan residents in December, Mombasa offers beautiful vast white beaches along the Indian ocean with Diani beach on the south as it’s crown jewel. There are tens of hotels bordering the beach and hundreds more a walking distance away. You’ll have plenty of water based sports and other activities to chose from, and get ready to witness a sunset like no other. It doesn’t snow, if there’s a Santa he’s probably black and gift giving is more of a courtesy than an obligation, other than that, Mombasa is a top choice.

Lantana Galu Resort

Image Credit: Lantana Galu Resort

Rutundu

This hidden gem on the slopes of Mt. Kenya is a perfect choice for a foreign family stuck in Kenya during christmas. It can also be a worthy choice for a Kenyan family seeking an alternative choice.

Rutundu log cabins are set off the beaten track on the northern slopes of Mount Kenya in an area of pure wilderness and breathtaking beauty. These cozy cabins are the perfect destination for an adventurous rough-luxe getaway. Enjoy hiking in the incredibly fresh mountain air or try your hand at trout fishing in the well stocked nearby Lake Rutundu, or at Lake Alice an hours hike away. You can bring your catch back to cook and enjoy the tranquility of this exclusive and remote destination. From your balcony you have an incredible view of the open tundra with some unique local flora and fauna. Bigger game like buffalo, leopard and zebra can also be seen.

Camp Carnelley’s Naivasha

Beautiful spot with one of the “coziest” dining areas I have ever seen in the country, the staff are friendly and the entire compound retains an aura of relaxation and serenity. There is a camping ground available for fathers looking to toughen the young ones, careful though, the camping ground is located on the shores of Lake Naivasha which is home to hundreds of Hippos. There is however an electric fence securing the camp and a guard always on standby. If you wake up in the middle of the night, you are guaranteed to see the hippos as they often step out of water onto the land to feed.
Camp Carnelleys

The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille

Recommended to those who have exhausted other safari destination in Kenya, or, anyone who wants some peace and quiet in the bush and thinks Masai Mara is too mainstream.

The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille

Image credit: The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille

The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille is a collection of four private, full-service, fully staffed houses for the discerning few.   The Chief’s House has three double bedrooms, sitting and dining rooms, and kitchen. The sitting room has a charming open fire, as well as a plunge-pool on the outdoor deck.  The Sultan’s House has one enormous double bedroom, a huge sitting/dining room and a kitchen. The space of this house is such that it can be converted to a two bedroom house if you prefer. The Colonel’s House has two double bedrooms, sitting and dining rooms, and kitchen. Each bedroom has a dressing room and a sunken bath. The courtyard has a plunge-pool.  Finally, The Eyrie has one bedroom, a sitting and dining room with open fire and kitchen. It is seductively furnished and perfect for honeymooners.

Keekorok Lodge Masai Mara

Arguably the best lodge in the whole Masai Mara, the rooms are fantastic, the service is exceptionally professional, the food is yummy and everything shouts Africa. The comment below from TripAdvisor sums this up pretty well.

 keekorok

 If your excuse for not visiting this amazing resort is price, this guys have an offer of only KES 20,000 for 3 days.

Hope you benefited from this post, from us here at Dandiaa, we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Travel

A bag-packers guide to hitchhiking in Kenya

The Kenyan transportation system consists of a complex labyrinth of routes that are known only by locals. As a tourist, it’s almost impossible to travel long distances on your own without sensing the need for a professional guide sooner or later. Maps are available, but in most cases, the routes documented on them are either outdated or better undocumented options exist elsewhere.

For most bag packers, transport is the main “unknown” while planning a budget. This is where hitchhiking comes in handy, but is it safe hitchhiking in Kenya? The lonely planet in its book; The Kenyan travel guide says it isn’t, This guy sort of disagrees and since I work for Dandiaa, an awesome ride sharing online service in Kenya. I suppose my opinion is ruled out on account of bias.

Most vehicle types in the country are forbidden from carrying unauthorized passengers, this includes NGO vehicles, trucks, all government vehicles, most company cars and professional safari vehicles. Which leaves private vehicles as a hitchhikers best option, but with the state of insecurity in Kenya, you may end up sticking out your arm for quite a while before flagging down any car. I feel tempted at this point to mention Dandiaa as a solution since it’s basically a meeting point for travelers interested in sharing transport, but I won’t.

Here are 3 simple tricks you can use to better your chances of successfully flagging down a car in Kenya.

Make sure you are respectfully dressed

While hitchhiking, approaching vehicles have less than one minute to deduce their judgment about you. Your choice of clothes can serve as a clue to your personality. If you are a youthful lady dressed in revealing clothes, you are more likely to attract men than women, this might also put your life in danger as such men might be perverted. On the other hand, if the same young lady was dressed in a burka, she’d probably have a chance of flagging down a car carrying muslims than any other group, which lowers her chances further.

Regardless of your faith, dress decently and you might increase your chances of success. It doesn’t have to be a boring outfit, but wearing clothes that are neither revealing nor too conservative can work in your favor. If your body is covered with tattoos, you might want to cover them up since marking the body is considered a taboo by some tribes in Kenya.

If you’re white, try writing your placard in Swahili

Kenyans will find humor in almost any Swahili sentence coming from a white man. If there is a white man standing on the side of the road with a placard reading “saidia mzungu kusafiri” which directly translated into English means “help this white guy travel.” That may very well add some weight to his plea. While jokes can add a positive effect to a hitchhikers attempt, it is important to keep the volume of the joke to a minimum, you don’t want to be the white guy holding an insulting joke in the middle of nowhere in Africa.

Remember to smile while holding the placard, without a smile, the sentence on your placard might be received as a message rather than a joke.

Discuss money before hoping on board

Nine times out of ten, a car will only stop for some profit, after thanking the driver for stopping, remember to ask if it’s a free ride or if the driver expects some payment. Some drivers consider white hitchhikers a jackpot and assume those are hundreds of dollars stashed in your enormous bag-pack. Public transport costs between KES 1000 – KES 2500 for every 100 Kilometers, knowing this might assist you in negotiating in the event you have to pay for the ride.

Visit: http://hitchhikershandbook.com/ for general advice regarding hitchhiking.