Kenya Lodges: Maasai Mara and Amboseli

Mara Serena Lodge

Mara Serena Lodge in Maasai Mara was the most unique hotel I’ve ever stayed at. I loved how vibrant the lobby and rooms were, it reminded me of The Flintstones. This was my favorite place to stay out of all of the lodges because it was elevated at a very high point with a view of the safari below. It was like the whole lodge was a viewing deck.

I enjoyed how the animals could come close to my balcony. There was no barrier between us and the safari, so animals could roam up to the lodge. I was informed not to leave my doors open because Baboons come in and steal your stuff. The first day I was there, I was looking out my window when I saw a bunch of baboons rush out of the room next to me with fruit in their hands. I laughed so hard because it was such a unique thing to see.

The restaurant was nice and always had buffet style like all of the lodges I stayed at. This restaurant had the best options of food. At night, I drank cocktails and wine by the bar lounge with live music played by a wonderful Kenyan musician.

The pool was amazing because you could just lounge, tan, and look out to the horizon. I would definitely recommend staying here if you are traveling to Maasai Mara.

 

 


Sarova Mara Game Camp

We drove 8 hours through Maasai Mara to get to this camp. It had glamping tents, a nice pool, and restaurant. The room was cozy with a wooden roof, sides made of tent, and a zipper as a door. At night I would hear the sound of animals but it was quite relaxing.

The restaurant was very large and had a great buffet spread. The camp grounds were spacious and beautiful. The entire camp had a barrier around it to keep wild animals out. I could see the clear difference between the greenery within the walls of the camp, and the desert-like land separated by the fence. This was because the grass and plants were able to grow without animals grazing through them.


Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge

We took a flight from Maasai Mara to Nairobi and drove for 6 hours to get to Amboseli. This lodge was near the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. This lodge had red as its theme, which really fit the dry land that surrounded it. The pool area was relaxing and was near a viewing point where you could see animals grazing just nearby. The rooms were relaxing and well equipped.

I spent my last night in Kenya here and enjoyed the afternoon by drinking wine by the pool and watching the animals.

Julia Quisumbing

Kenya Safari Trip

I grew up watching Discovery Channel and National Geographic because my dad is a nature freak so I became an animal lover. Going to Kenya was a dream come true! Whatever you think Kenya is like, it’s even better!

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I arrived in Nairobi City and took a shuttle through traffic to the local airport to take my flight to Maasai Mara. I flew out on AirKenya and said goodbye to the city and civilization. It was exciting flying over the vast African land because I could see herds of animals below. I landed on the Mara Serena Air Strip and I got an idea of how the rest of my trip would be as I dragged my luggage through the reddish dusty gravel – wild, free, and covered in dust! My destinations would be Maasai Mara and Amboseli for my Kenyan trip.

Safari

Every day, our guide would take us out on a game drive in our jeep. We would do 2-3 game drives a day; morning and afternoon, always returning to the lodge for a meal. I spent around 10 hours of the day in the jeep, which sounds boring but was actually incredible and exciting. These game drives were my opportunity to see the animals and find the “Big Five”; Elephant, Rhinoceros, Buffalo, Lion, and Leopard. I felt like I was in a discovery show because I even found the same pride of Cheetahs that were filmed in a documentary on BBC. My favorite moments of the trip was when I’d spot a mother elephant with a very tiny baby. It was amazing to see them together roaming the land for food and water. We were also lucky when we found a Leopard in a tree on our 3rd day, it was such a beautiful and elegant animal. One of the top moments of the safari was when the sun was going down and we found a beautiful pride of lionesses with cubs. The light was no longer harsh and provided a romantic setting for the experience, and I was able to get beautiful shots.

After seeing the big five, my next goal was to see a predator kill an animal. I know it sounds wrong, but in Kenya it’s nature being natural. I saw lions kill a zebra and feed their cubs and pride. There was a drought in the area, almost no plants in sight, and part of this was due to the large amounts of herbivores. The lions are a key part of the ecological balance.

I was happy to discover that Kenya wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be. The mornings and nights were cold and the afternoons were hot. If you plan a trip to Kenya and wonder what clothing to bring, please read my blog “What to Wear in October in Kenya” to get some ideas.

I thought there would be areas where I could walk around in the safari but I was sad to discover that we could never leave the vehicle, our guide said it was dangerous and against rules. I questioned why I couldn’t exit the jeep in an area that seemed open and safe. A moment after I had this thought and as we were driving with no view of animals, a ditch showed up on the side of the road, and inside the ditch was a very large hyena hiding. I thought to myself, “Oh! That’s why.” And realized I probably shouldn’t be strolling around freely here because one bite from that hyena could kill me, and that wasn’t the largest predator out there. We had to return to our lodges before dark in case we came across poachers.

I brought my Canon 70D camera to capture as many animals possible. I wished that my lens was longer and promised myself that the next time I go on a safari in Africa, I would have an extremely long lens and take National Geographic level photos! Instead, I always had binoculars around my neck to get a better view of the animals in action. I can’t imagine anyone going on a safari without binoculars, it would be so frustrating!

The Maasai

While I was in Maasai Mara, I visited a village where families of Maasai lived. As I saw women walking around hunched over carrying pounds of firewood on their backs, I asked the son of the Chief Maasai what the responsibilities of the women were. He told me that they do chores such as cooking and milking, building and maintaining the houses as well as fetching water, collecting firewood, raising the children, milking the cattle and cooking for the family. So then I asked, what the men do and he said they protect the village and deal with trade. At the end of the experience through the village, we were brought to an open area in the back of the houses where the women were sitting on blankets with a spread of Maasai art and accessories for sale.
Not only were the women in charge of everything in the village, they were also in charge of creating products and selling them to create income.
I felt sad to see the men joking, laughing and sitting around while the women were hard at work. There was no balance in genders in this type of community.
As I spoke to some of the Maasai women, I learned of how strong, independent and inspiring they really were with the situation they were born in. I was extremely impressed by them.

Nearing the end of the trip, all of my personal problems and stress seemed to dissipate. Nothing seemed important anymore and I felt extremely relaxed and happy. I never thought that all I needed to have a clear head was to go, see, and experience what real struggle is in the real world – The circle of life.

Julia Quisumbing

Kenya | What to Wear in October

I went to Kenya on September 28 to October 6, 2017 with my family. A few days before my flight I fumbled through my closet because I had no idea what clothes to bring! I checked the weather and it said it would be cold at night and hot during the day with a chance of light rain. I decided to bring a little of everything. During my time in Kenya, I learned that the whole country is elevated 1700 meters above sea-level so it’s a lot colder than I thought. The coolness was a nice surprise because when you think about Kenya, or Africa in general, you imagine it’s dry and hot. From my experience in Kenya, I’d suggest bringing:

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Below are photos of my family and I in our daily outfits.

 

MORNING

Morning game drives were after breakfast from 7am until 11:30am. The morning game drives were cold, so I wore a top with a September Jacket (Medium/light thickness), pants, closed shoes, and accessories.

 

 

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AFTERNOON

It gets warmer at noon so when you head back to your lodge for lunch, you can switch to a top with the option of a light jacket or button down shirt as a cover up. During lunch to near dinner you can also wear shorts.

 

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I visited a Maasai Village where a group of Maasai people lived. As I saw women walking around hunched over carrying pounds of firewood on their backs, I asked the son of the Chief Maasai what the responsibilities of the women were. He told me that they do chores such as cooking and milking, building and maintaining the houses as well as fetching water, collecting firewood, raising the children, milking the cattle and cooking for the family. So then I asked, what the men do and he said they protect the village and deal with trade. At the end of the experience through the village, we were brought to an open area in the back of the houses where the women were sitting on blankets with a spread of Maasai art and accessories for sale. Not only were the women in charge of everything in the village, they were also in charge of creating products and selling them to create income. I felt sad to see the men joking, laughing and sitting around while the women were hard at work. There was no balance in genders in this type of community. As I spoke to some of the Maasai women, I learned of how strong, independent and inspiring they really were with the situation they were born in. I was extremely impressed by them. #maasaivillage #kenya #maasaimara #africa #experience #learn #travel #world #life #women #strength

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COMFORT

During game drives you will spend all of your time in the car as it is illegal to exit the vehicle near animals, plus you never know when a hyena is hiding in a ditch nearby. Choose to be comfortable as you will be sitting majority of the time.

Don’t forget to bring resort-wear for when you are lounging around your Lodge by the pool or for dinner.

 

 

TIP

I’d suggest not bringing any jewelry/accessories to Kenya. Instead, you could support the local Maasai people by buying their accessories and wearing their beautiful hand-crafted creations!

 

 

I absolutely enjoyed my Kenya Safari Vacation and prefer this over seeing any city. I came home so relaxed and full of energy as I saw life in action. It’s heart filling to see animals truly wild and free. I can finally cross this off of my bucket list!

Also keep an eye out for my Kenya Safari Vlog! I’ll post it on my youtube channel JuliaQuis soon! Thank you for reading!

 

Julia Quisumbing