I have been on safari so many times. I can pack for safari in my sleep. I could practically fly there myself if I needed to. But things were very hectic before leaving this time. Work was hectic. My wife Kelly was out of town and I had our two small boys on my own. My dad had surgery…
Now it’s 6:15 a.m. in Lewa Conservancy and the sky is turning shades of orange, pink, yellow and blue and my troubles have washed away. Emerald spotted wood doves are calling, “work har-der, work har-der, work har-der.” It’s another beautiful African dawn and I am enjoying the strong coffee with hot milk that was delivered to my tent a few minutes ago.
Yesterday was a good safari day. Lewa Downs, as many people still call it, is a 64,000-acre private conservancy just north of Mt Kenya in central Kenya. It is home to the largest concentration of black rhinos in the world and boasts more than 110 rhinos after also counting the white ones. It has three subspecies of giraffe and more than 20 percent of the world’s endangered Grevy’s zebra. The reserve also has abundant elephants, lion, leopard, plains zebra, buffaloes, and cheetah (our group saw three brothers on a eland kill).
Being a private reserve, guests can enjoy game drives, night drives, horse and camel-back rides and walks. This afternoon, we went on a great game walk through the rolling hills, plains, and valleys of Lewa. We saw elephants, bushbuck, impala, zebra and buffalo, but not too close. We hiked a tall hill for stunning views and a sundowner, then drove back to camp for a piping hot shower and a delicious steak dinner. All in all, it was a good day.
In addition to Lewa safari camp there are other more upscale accommodations – Lewa House, Sirikai, and Lewa Wilderness Trails. For more info on Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, visit their website. You can find a sample Kenya safari itinerary including a Lewa visit here.
1. Read your itinerary carefully, paying close attention to the dates before booking your flight! When you reserve your flights, have somebody else double check them, or have us book them for you.
2. Pack a week or so before your safari. That way you won’t be rushed and forget anything important like your camera battery. It also gives you time to buy last-minute items.
3. Pack really light. Besides having to comply with baggage weight restrictions you really don’t need all that stuff anyway.
4. Check that your passport is valid for six months after your arrival date and that there are several blank pages left.
5. Bring comfortable shoes. I have ditched my sturdy hikers for a pair of comfortable (and stylish!) cross trainers.
6. Bring Ambien or another sleep aid and take it right away if you wake in the middle of the night.
7. Read up on your destination before you go. It will enhance your experince.
8. When flying, ask about upgrades or the availability of better seats. I upgraded to ‘enhanced economy’ on British Airways from London to Nairobi for about $150 after asking at the transfer desk. It was a “last-minute special.”
9. Bring an elastic exercise band. They are small and light, take up very little space in your bag, and enable you to work out in your tent.
10. Bring snacks. They are nice to have on long flights, espeially if the meal is particularly bad. Be sure to finish them before checking in to your first camp however; you don’t want to keep food in your tent!