Kenya and Tanzania are home to some of the most iconic and beautiful reserves of natural wildlife in the world. That drawcard was the main reason I took a 27 hour flight across the world to visit these East African gems.
Despite having been to over 67 countries, I’ve come across very few places that give me the opportunity to observe the raw beauty of animals.
This is (of course) indicative of our sprawling urban development, harmful environmental practices and lack of care for wild spaces. But I’ll save those topics for another time!
We spent a total of eleven days in Kenya and Tanzania. We arrived in Nairobi for a quick overnight stay before heading out to Maasai Mara National Reserve for a few nights.
After that we took a direct route down into Tanzania. From there we spent another quick night in the town of Arusha before heading off to camp in Serengeti National Park.
Time goes by fast in these environments, even when you’re crammed into a jeep or sleeping on a hard tent floor. But the memories you make in Kenya and Tanzania last for a lifetime.
Since we were in some fairly remote areas and primarily focused on animals and wildlife, we weren’t exposed to much of the culture of the local tribes. That being said, we walked for hours in Nairobi and Arusha and were overwhelmed by the kindness of the locals.
We had many great conversations with shopkeepers, taxi drivers and the general public. It was fantastic to get a taste of local life and meet the wonderful people of East Africa.
Highlight of my Trip: Maasai Mara National Reserve
There are so many amazing things to do in Kenya and Tanzania. We only got to experience a small taste of both of these countries. Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya definitely lived up to its reputation as one of the top sights in all of Africa.
The sheer vastness coupled with the abundance of lions, giraffes, zebras, leopards, elephants, cheetahs and so much more made it the most surreal experience. It was like stepping back in time before over-development tainted so much of our natural habitat.
Every morning the sun rose in full colours – raising the mist from the ground and creating awe-inspiring sunrises. We would crawl out of our tents and have a nice morning meal before going off looking for animals.
There’s something magical about experiencing a complete dusk-to-dawn without having to leave the wild natural environment.
Spotting the Rich Wildlife of Kenya and Tanzania
We were super lucky with our wildlife experiences and saw just about every animal you could have hoped for, from lions to elephants to giraffes. That being said, the one animal we didn’t see (which was the animal I wanted to see the most) was a rhino.
Sadly, their environments have been utterly destroyed. They’ve been hunted for their horns for years now. Indeed, rhino populations have taken such a large hit that it’s becoming increasingly hard to spot these beautiful animals on wildlife safaris right across Africa.
The animals we did see though were beyond anything I could have dreamt of. We came face to face with giant elephants that wandered through our campgrounds. We watched cheetahs hunt zebras and baby cheetahs play with their mum’s – frolicking and licking each other.
Lions were everywhere. We got to see them not only hunt, but sleep and lay around with each other during their moments of relaxation. The fact that they are just giant cats becomes quite evident! The wildlife of Kenya and Tanzania has to be some of the best anywhere in the world.
The Key to Capturing Great Wildlife Photography
The key to wildlife photography in Kenya and Tanzania is a great lens. You won’t be able to get as close as you need to when you’re encountering wildlife. So a powerful telephoto (plus a converter) is the key to getting those great bokeh portraits of these majestic creatures.
That, and of course, patience. You might take well over 200 photos before you finally get one at the right angle, with the right lighting and with the right background. But that’s what makes a wildlife safari in Africa so special. If it was too easy it would take away from the experience.
Best Safari Companies in Kenya and Tanzania
We used African Budget Safaris to organize our tour. Honestly, I couldn’t believe how incredible the experience was. For under a $1,000 CAD we got treated with beautiful campgrounds, fantastic transportation, delicious food, and safe, reliable drivers.
Even when there were hiccups along the way (remember this is Africa after all!) everything was resolved quickly with the minimum of fuss.
It’s important to do your research though. We noticed a lot of operators who would drive off the designated trails and chase wildlife so closely that it was borderline harassing the animals.
Kenya and Tanzania (and Africa in general) are the type of places where you should always look carefully over the reviews. Make sure you read the negative comments with the utmost scrutiny as to ensure your trip is a good one. You don’t want to repeat the mistakes of others.
Tips for your Visit to Kenya and Tanzania
Africa is definitely not the place for “beach resort” type travellers. I’m sure if you paid a lot of money you could get quite a comfortable and luxurious trip. But that’s not the reality for most travellers. Sometimes you want to stay in modest places to get an authentic experience.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Kenya and Tanzania are hot places! Temperatures can soar during the middle of the day so it’s important to pack suitable clothing and use sunscreen to protect yourself.
The main cities are loud, crowded with traffic and there are people everywhere. Once you’re out of the main cities, the roads are rough in parts with many potholes to contend with. Africa is also full of hecklers and such trying to make a quick buck. So just keep your wits about you.
Food is another thing you should keep your eye on as you don’t want to get food poisoning. Although the local food is quite delicious if you find the right stuff! With all that being said, the people of Kenya and Tanzania are lovely and the landscapes are out of this world.
You can pretty much get your hands on anything that you could back home. There are pharmacies, cell phone plans for tourists, 4G mobile networks, plenty of shopping districts and so much more.
While you are travelling to a totally different environment, there’s no need for overzealous caution or to worry too much about things like theft.
Kenya and Tanzania are similar to many other travel destinations around the world. Just make sure you use your head, stay alert, be safe and of course enjoy yourself! There’s so much beauty to experience in Africa.
Thanks for reading about my wildlife adventures in Kenya and Tanzania! If you would like any further information about Africa feel free to send me an email or direct message me on Instagram 🙂