My trip to Kenya with Settemari
My trip to Kenya. I just came back after a week in Kenya. I dreamed of going on a safari in Africa from the first moment I set foot in Italy after my trip to South Africa last spring! I was so surprised and fascinated by the beauty of nature that I absolutely had to come back to repeat the experience: I can really say that this was also one of the best in my life! This time I chose an absolutely different country with different geographic and climatic characteristics… Please continue reading to find out everything that happened on my trip to Kenya!
My trip to Kenya: Watamu and the savannah
First stop: Twiga Beach Resort by Settemari on Watamu Beach, one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in Kenya between the cities of Malindi and Mombasa, where is located the international airport where we landed. To reach Watamu we took a 10 hours of flight by Blue Panorama from Milan Malpensa and then 2 hours drive from the airport. Here we spent the first days of the trip, in total relaxation. Twiga Beach Resort is considered among the Kenya’s best resort: it is well integrated into nature, offers many services and a truly enchanting beach. Upon arrival we discovered a very pleasant climate: the sky was clear, a little windy. We discovered that the best time to visit this place is between November and April, where temperatures are around 30°C!
The beach of Twiga Beach Resort offers a truly incredible landscape: at low tide, inlets of sand emerge within the Watamu marine park, reachable by boat or with a walk of a few minutes. Obviously I brought the drone with me to make it fly on this amazing place!
The beach of Watamu is of fine white sand and is surrounded by rows of coconut palms: at the resort you will always find someone willing to climb to catch a fruit, open it and offer you its sweet drink. If you, like me, suffer from low blood pressure, coconut water is a godsend: an all-natural energy drink that has many properties which are good for the body! Plus it’s absolutely delicious!
In the afternoon we left for the first tour of this trip to Kenya: to visit the ruins of Gede, which are located about 4 km from Watamu. Gede was an ancient Arab-Swahili city dating back to the 13th century, with more than 2500 inhabitants, situated within the Arabuko Sokoke forest of wonderful baobabs (with they make a special oil which is an excellent remedy against sunburn, dermatitis and erythema). A Masai guide with colorful clothes accompanied us through the ruins. The Masai are one of the local populations and the only ones, besides the police, who are allowed to carry weapons (a dagger). They also wear beaded bracelets and ornaments: I liked them so much that I decided to buy one for myself!
The ruins are now populated by monkeys, ready to jump on you if you decide to offer them a banana!
The next day we decide to give ourselves one last day of absolute relaxation before leaving for the savannah! Below you will see me in one of the rare times when I have natural hair, dried under the sun after a long and beautiful swim!
The next day early in the morning we board the jeep towards Tsavo East National Park. The park is in fact divided into East and West: the first is mainly flat, with large areas of savannah crossed by the Galana river, the second is more mountainous and humid with also the presence of waterfalls. For those who want to go on safari to see the animals it is advisable to visit the Tsavo East, which, thanks to its exceptional biodiversity, is considered one of the most precious nature reserves in the world! Apart from the rhinoceros, which is almost extinct (there are only more than 20 in total), and the wildebeest, it is possible to come across all the other animal species that inhabit the savannah!
When we look at at the signs placed at the entrance we realized that here, unlike in South Africa, it’s forbidden to leave the track and go off road searching animals: you have to wait for the moment when they decide to pass by! The very first animals we saw were two antelopes. Then a kori bustard, a bird with a predominantly gray and brown color, spotted with black and white. Then finally an elephant! It was a red elephant: the color comes from the color of the park’s land where these beautiful animals love to roll around! Then a male and a female ostrich, and finally a group of gazelles!
The colors of Tsavo are incredibly vivid and beautiful, even more at sunset! I add it to the list of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in my life!
In Kenya there are 24 national parks where you can go on a safari: the most famous are the Tsavo and the Masai Mara, which however was too far from Watamu so I haven’t been able to visit it.
The first night we slept at Ashnil Aruba Lodge in a tent equipped with every comfort. The next morning, I went out on the terrace and found some monkeys playing in the meadow in front of me!
The day at the Tsavo is organized in this way: you make the first game drive at 6 a.m. for a duration of about 3 hours, then you return to the hotel to have breakfast and you leave again shortly after and stay out until sunset (bringing a packed lunch kindly prepared by the hotel staff). We have chosen to do so in order to see as many animals as possible!
During the second day of safari we came across many, many zebras. Then we saw a group of silver-backed jackals resting on the path. A very vain male ostrich waved his feathers with a smug look not far from our jeep. Then there were some iguanas among the rocks. Then a herd of buffaloes and .. A hippopotamus out of the water, a baby one: I had never seen this animal on land, how nice is it?!
On the second night at Tsavo we slept at Swara Camp, which is right on the Galana river.
They explained to me that the recent rains have caused the river to enlarge and have made the landscape very green with tall grass, which makes it more difficult to see animals. But we didn’t lose heart: we had a new higher jeep with open roof and windows, to be even more in contact with nature!
We decided to stand along the river and in this way we could see a group of zebras and oryx that were sharing the same space. This was the first time I saw an oryx (an animal that is the national symbol of the last country I visited in the Middle East, Qatar (do you remember? HERE you can read the related blog post, in case you missed it)!
Unfortunately the weather was a bit bad. It rained a little but then the sun came back (and even a rainbow!)
We decide to stay at Tsavo one more night because we have not yet managed to spot some animals including the lion, the leopard and the cheetah. But we find out that all hotels were booked so we were offered the opportunity to sleep in a Masai tent! Why deny this truly authentic experience? There was no hot water or electricity, but we all ate, drank and danced together near the fire… And it was really amazing!
The Masai who hosted us were of a rare kindness. They are warriors who protect these places but are good warriors, with positive energy. I found out that they never sleep at night, but only three hours from 6.30 am to 9.30 am: they say it’s enough for both body and mind. To differentiate their tribes from those of others, they wear red tunics and sandals made from coppertoni, they have two scars (one on each cheek) in the shape of a coin and no longer have the minor incisors, removed at children age. Over 1 million Masai live in Kenya!
On the last day of the safari we decide to fly the drone on the savannah and follow more closely a pack of giraffes that were a few hundred meters from us! Then we also meet a gray elephant, with a ruined tusk and then a pack of impalas!
It’s time to say goodbye to Alfonso and Hassan who have accompanied us in these days in the savannah…
… And to return to Watamu! We spend the last day of the trip to Kenya in complete rest at Twiga Beach Resort. We choose the pool this time!
In the afternoon we had our last tour to Marafa Canyon. Also known as Hell’s Kitchen, due to the incredibly high temperatures it can reach in the afternoon up to 50°C, it is one of the most beautiful canyons of all Africa. The best time to visit it is at sunset, when the sun colors the rocks and the sand of a thousand shades from yellow to red!
Before saying goodbye to you, here are some travel tips.
Mandatory vaccines are not required, but anti-malarial prophylaxis and vaccines against yellow fever, hepatitis A and B and meningitis are recommended. In my case I made a last-minute booking and I didn’t have time to do them. However they explained to me that this season is quite safe because there are practically no mosquitoes, although it is advisable to spray a repellent during the safari.
A smartphone is not enough to photograph animals. I opted for this lens: Sony’s 100-400 mm f4.5-5.8 GM, on my Sony A7III, and I was able to do the shooting I wanted! The 4.5 open diaphragm is quite bright and in general we found favorable climatic conditions. The only difficulty is that it is quite heavy and I struggled a little to be stable when I was recording videos. With a normal perspective I would not have been able to photograph and film most of the animals that I saw because they were all quite far from the track and, as I mentioned above, at Tsavo, being a national park, it is absolutely forbidden to go off road. My advice is to bring with you a telephoto lens with a focal length of at least 400 mm or bring binoculars! During the safari there is plenty of time to take pictures, until obviously the animals remain near the jeep: it stops as soon as you spot one, it starts again only when there are no more animals around! I was very lucky even though this time I could not see lions, leopards and cheetahs … But even this aspect is the beauty of nature: totally unpredictable!
As always I hope that my travel diary to Kenya and my advice may be useful to you!
Have a nice Thursday!