Get Lucky! Have the Most Amazing Safari Experience

Are you addicted to those National Geographic documentaries on Wild Africa where they show lions hunting down a buffalo or thousands of wildebeests migrating across the Serengeti? I have probably exhausted the entire selection on big cats and wildlife shows found on Netflix. So, when I planned my trip to Masai Mara in Kenya with The Village Experience, I was very excited to get up close to the animals, this time in reality.

What I didn’t know was that I would be so, so close! And there would be animals everywhere! We (meaning my guide and I) really didn’t have to drive around looking for them. From the moment we were driving on the highway close to Lake Naivasha, I saw zebras running around. Over the next 24 hours, I saw 70 lions, 3 cheetahs, 1 leopard, and thousands of giraffes, zebras, elephants, wildebeests, impalas, gazelles, hippos, and buffalos!

Some people may think that this is an everyday sighting at a game drive in Kenya. But in fact, I was truly lucky. A few of my friends have been on safaris 4, 10, even dozens of times, and seen only a fraction of what I saw! Some of it may just be luck, choice of season, or my wonderful presence, but there are things you can do in advance to have an amazing African safari experience.

Stay close to the reserve

There are all kinds of tented camp accommodations around the animal reserves, some offer more luxury than others. My lodging at Sekenani Camp were comfortable and luxurious. I had hardwood floors, a deck overlooking a creek and a en suite bath tub with hot shower. I could hear hyenas, lions and birds from my bed all through the night! Don’t worry, there is always a security guard who accompanies you from your tent to the restaurant and around the property so you never walk alone at night.

Sekanani Camp was a 20 minutes drive from the Masai Mara park’s entrance. Being so close to wilderness meant, we really didn’t have to go very far to spot the animals. Zebras and giraffes were roaming right outside our camp.

Hire an experienced guide

I cannot emphasize enough how much a good driver and guide can make or break your safari experience. My guide, Danson Kahuria, was born and brought up near Masai Mara so he was quite familiar with the territory. He had also gone to college to learn about birds and animals, and conducts workshops of other guides.

Danson had a keen sense for knowing where the animals would be and how they typically behave. He could predict when a lion cub was about to yawn, which direction a leopard would walk towards, and which animal a cheetah was about to hunt down. As a result, I got to saw the big cats in action – eating, sleeping, mating, hunting – all in just a few hours!

A good guide will also maneuver the car (following park guidelines) in such a way that you can get the best photo opportunities! Since Danson knew which was the animals were going to turn, we were always ahead of their game.

Have some patience

If you have limited days, (I only had one) it is best to leave early morning for a game drive and plan to stay till sunset. Animals behave differently at different times of the day, so you want to be able to see their moods. My advise is to wear comfortable clothing, carry sunscreen, bug spray, a light jacket and lots of snacks and water for the day. I have heard stories of people going in a group and one of them was hungry so they left the park after a couple of hours. Remember you have to pay hefty entrance fees ($80-200/ person) so make the most out of it! Also, pack lots of extra batteries and memory cards. I took 500 photos and videos in less then a day!

Depending on your vehicle, you may have open roof or sides, to allow good viewing. But it also means more sun, heat and bugs, so be prepared.

Sunsets in the mara are spectacular. Don’t miss it.

Respect the animals

Remember, you are in the habitat of wild animals. Take every precaution to respect that by not getting out of your vehicle, feeding them or attracting their attention. Some people get excited and want to get closer, but park rangers are always secretly watching and will fine you if you get off the marked trails. Also, please do not litter the park.

An African safari is a bucket list for most people. If you get a chance to be one of the lucky ones to see wild animals in their natural habitat, do it right the first time!

Unwind with Pumeli sustainable rituals from around the world

You may not be able to afford a trip abroad every month of the year. But what if the world was delivered to your door? Pumeli is a monthly subscription box filled with teas and
textures designed to help busy women slow down, unplug and give themselves
permission to relax.

Each month, Pumeli delivers a care package of time-slowing rituals that enable women to experience more calm, peace and joy in as little as 5-10 minutes. Every shipment includes artisanal tea to soothe your soul, beautiful paper for your thoughts, and handcrafted goods that evoke mindfulness while empowering artisans around the world.

Pumeli Founder, Traci Pichette
Pumeli Founder, Traci Pichette

Pumeli works with small businesses and craft producers on different levels to bring well-designed and high quality products. They purchase products at a fair market price in order to deliver the highest value to the artisan and support global community initiatives. Each product comes with a story too. A monthly subscription runs at $49.95 or $249.95 for 6 months (with 1 month free). It is a great gift to send to a special lady in your life and remind her each month that you care – moms, sisters, girlfriends, or even your office secretary. See current package with stories behind the box and the products at Pumeli’s website.

The theme for November is “Be Like a Tree.” A tree is a great natural teacher of mindful living. Trees inspire us to stay grounded, adapt gracefully to the present moment, and continuously renew ourselves, and take time to rest. This month’s Pumeli box takes you on a journey through Africa to celebrate the life of trees with the following items.

Pumeli November BoxAduna Baobab Powder – Revitalizing facemark with baobab fruit sustainability harvested in Senegal and Ghana in partnership with several women’s co-ops. The African baobab tree, known as ‘The Tree of Life’, provides 100% organic fruit that dries naturally on its branches. Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants so you can feel good inside and out.

Mud Cloth Notebook – Hand woven in Mali, the mud cloth is treated in baths of leaves and branches, and hand dyed using mud mixture. Traditionally used to share village stories and African proverbs.

Tea Accessories – Hand carved Kenyan teaspoon from olive wood, adorned with colorful beads. JusTea has a direct-trade relationship with Central province village carvers in Kenya.

Jacaranda Wood Ornament – Hand painted giraffe by artisans in Kenya, this exquisite ornament reminds you to be gentle on yourself, just as the giraffe gently chews on the topmost under leaves of trees. Acacia Creations donates 10% of each purchase to animal conservation.

JusTea African Chai – Inside an East African fabric bag, is a 100% natural Masala Chai tea blend with Camellia saneness, cinnamon, allspice, rose petals and more. Each sip directly supports small-scale tea farming families.

Learn more about the artisans at Pumeli.