Warning! Don’t Even Think of Booking a Safari Until You Read this Traveller’s Report!
How often have you read a travel book, blog or watched a video on YouTube only to visit the place and find the experience underwhelming?
Technology has made it really easy for travellers; in one browser window you could have several tabs comparing a number of offers and wondering why a single destination could have such a variance for price. Unlike commodities like smart phone or a smart television where you can stuck specs on performance, longevity, ease of use; a vacation or holiday is about every moment experience.
Imagine, spending days, sometimes weeks, even months behind your laptop, researching as much as possible about a destination. Preparing yourself adequately, booking the best of everything but when your holiday kicks in, things don’t flow as imagined and planned. When you arrive at the airport you are feeling great about yourself but then you learns there are 100’s others who prepared just like you did.. and you stay in line and wait your turn to get served. But you persevere, afterall you have your destination in mind where it will be all warm and the exhausting journey will be long forgotten..
Then you get to your destination, and you are welcomed in lovely, disarming smiles and your troubles quickly dissipate. You start to feel great about yourself, and have a positive feeling that the trip will delight you beyond measure. Shortly, you learn that having paid fullboard, there are certain foods in the menu that you may not order, or find two sets of buffets but you may only serve from the smaller one.. and such little things start to irritate you
The following day you start your excursion, you head to a place that you had read about and you start to realise that indeed this is exactly as you had watched or read about.. You query about more activities related to the place, the guide chews blank as the ‘office’ had not mentioned such. The guide looks at the fuel/gas gauge and answers that such activity would eat into the hour and would need its own day, but you can tell it’s a lie.. so you swallow that since you have a couple more days to look forward to.
The following day, the same stories of activities inadequacy or missed opportunities start to pile, and soon enough, you start to feel some kind of gravel filling the mouth and you want to spew it out.. and you spew it up, your vacation does an about turn and it becomes activism. So you decide to rant about it, but then again the place is not your everyday shop that you wish to have it reformed to improve your daily experience. So you let go, or at some point post a negative review and now you need a new holiday to just to chill and let go the bad vacation.
Introducing: Begin North Adventures
An owner operated tour company, that focuses on the forgotten Kenya’s North that borders South Ethiopia and South Sudan. The North is the Oasis of Intense Culture, History, Breathtaking Topography that is yet to be Chronicled…
The Sun, Sand and Sea of the North
Lake Turkana – Here is to the world’s largest permanent desert lake in today’s history. As the sun sets and it’s rays shimmering on this beautiful lake as the waters billow and fall in warm and cool waves is a view and feel that you have never though of or even read about.
Chalbi Desert – 10,000 years ago Lake chalbi drained it’s waters to quench the craters of Marsabit. A beautiful flatland with salt cover and deceiving mirage is a site to behold.
Sand Dunes – Sand dunes formed on hills barriers and wind activities create sites that awe and suitable for activities like camel riding and photography.
Rock Formations – Near Pyramid size natural rock formations abound on the Ndoto mountains in some springs the algae cover rocks act as natural slides to have endless fun.
Crater Lakes – Numerous crater lakes abound on Kenya’s North, some one can hike to others are reachable by vehicle. They make Beautiful scenes, that you’ll be lost for words to describe the same.
Rift Valley Escarpments – The Samburu county is bestowed with beauty of sunken hills that form part of the continent crossing Great rift valley. The best views are to be found here than anywhere else from Sinai to Mozambique.
Mt Kulal – Like a mega oasis in the desert. Mt Kulal is a UNESCO protected self sustaining biosphere with massive vegetation, ridges, caves and springs. It has an amazing view of Lake Turkana (When I say lake, its not your usual lake, the Turkana is a massive Sea sized lake with islands that have lakes within them). The sunset view from Mt Kulal shimmering on the Lake is a view set to take your breath away..
Suguta Valley – When one thinks of a valley, a low area between two hills comes to mind. The Suguta valley is much more, it’s home to an expansive River bed that carries flash floods, mega rock formations, sand dunes, pink lakes, Lake Logipi (a flamingo breeding area), barrier volcano complex, craters and more. All movie directors who want a pre historic feel in their composition should visit these lands before they do another shoot.
Koobi Fora – Palaeoanthropological and archaeological Sites – In your geography, history and biology you may have read about Homo habilis and Homo Erectus, the ancient man. It’s this place that the saying, ‘we all come from africa’ derives from; for in this single place the hominid gang was found.
The following hominin are to be found Australopithecus anamensis 4.2–3.9 mya , Paranthropus boisei 2.1–1.1 mya, Homo habilis 1.9–1.6 mya , Homo rudolfensis 1.9–1.6 mya and Homo ergaster 1.8–1.4 mya
**MYA (unit) for “Million Years Ago“
Other Pre historic sites include: The Rock arts, the Turkana boy site, The Stone Pillars
The Turkana Islands (Inside Lake Turkana): South and Central Islands are home to the crocodile, flamingo and tilapia natural breeding zones
The Northern Communities
When asked, one is most likely to say that the Maasai are the only tribe that has since preserved it’s culture and traditional lifestyle. Their lands being in Southern Kenya where there is much infrastructure and close game parks means that they get more press. Unbeknown to many is the over 14 tribes and subtribes that dwell in the vast Kenya’s North.
We have the Nilotic group of the Pokot, Samburu and the Turkana people and other are the Cushitic groups of the Rendille, Gabbra, Dasanech, Borana, Burji, El Molo, Watta, Sakuye, Garri and more.
These tribes share clans with the Tribes of South Sudan and Southern Ethiopia. It’s not unusual to find our cultural tours crossing the boundaries in the said region.
There are festivals held periodically by respective tribes: Sorio for example is cultural ritual performed by the Rendille and the Gabbra communities, it resembles the Jewish passover, though practised for 100s of years before the scramble for Africa in 1800s.
Seasonal rites occasions like the Ndimi by Dasaanech, Samburu age-group initiation. Seasonal village age set weddings and more.
There is also the day to day life of these communities, how frugal they are that will take you aback and make you reflect. When nations talk of carbon footprint credits, its these communities that take too little from the environment that indeed deserve the credit.
Singing wells? An ordinary day for the Samburu warriors pouring water in the troughs is an experience worth a gaze.. and much more that strikes uniquely with each guest.
Kenya’s North Travel Packages.
Kenya’s North is expansive: Marsabit County 66,923 km², Samburu County 20,182 km² , Turkana County 68,680 km² exceeds over 150,000 km². It’s like the size of Georgia and Illinois states in the US or about 60% of the UK land mass.
The attractions and points of interest are further apart, the terrain is mostly all weather and some parts rough and rugged. The main cost in these trips is mostly Logistics/Operations. There are also limited luxurious places to stay at. In some places there are no lodges and we depend on Mission or community empowerment centers for accommodation. In this regard, whereas we can have stains of luxury in isolated places, the experience is more of an adventure, because we are not spoilt for choices, sometimes its the only choice we have.
There are 3 types of packages that we craft:
- Star adventures – this calls for us to have a base camp and do our excursions as far as possible and return by evening.. then we can move on to the next base camp depending on guests interests.
- Circuit adventures – This is where we create a custom map with activities and attractions for each day.. and drive through continuously to new places each day until we make it back to our start point. These are popular as a guest will experience a little bit of everything in a short time and in their second trip they can isolate certain places or activities that they want to dwell on more.
- Interest based adventures – Sometimes we have guests who are shooting documentaries, doing research or just want to spend their time with a given community for a month or more. We craft such based on unique requirements
The Ultimate Package to Kenya’s North
As you may have gathered by now, a trip up North is not like a Masai Mara Trip where you have a Lodge to stay in and a driver-guide to drive around spotting animals. It requires planning, local connections, ground support, the activities may differ from one set of guests to another. Whereas you may find some packages online, they are mostly skeletons that lack in activities, neither do they exhaust all attractions in a place.
Off the Rack Packages
For the purpose of planning, the minimum number of days for a trip up north is 5 days. The Ideal Trip is 8 to 12 days. The cost for the trip USD 260/ GBP 200 per person per day based on 2 pax. This includes Transfer between places in a Jeep or other 4×4 Safari vehicle, any excursions within the day. The cost also includes meals and water (had to mention water, because an average person visiting the North needs 3 to 5Liters of water per day) to face the full force of the elements.
Sometimes back we got approached by a group of senior MTB Bikers who wanted to cross the deserts and hills of the North. This would have the bikers cycle for 50 to 70KMs per day in extreme conditions.. we would have lunches in the middle of nowhere.. have first aid trained staff, create and pack camp daily, move to a new place like the nomads. It was such a unique experience that required military grade level of planning and execution. Read about the tour here
Mike Ndegwa the head of operations has done logistics and project execution for NGO’s for more than a decade and has developed an array of ‘on the ground’ local network. He has also been on numerous times, consulted to design and execute northern trips by tour operators based in Nairobi.
Having much passion for the North, the landscapes and the Communities, he started a tour company stationed at the Equator in Nanyuki town, ready to take you North.
Reach out today, let’s craft an unforgettable safari that you will love and live to tell.
Reach out to Mike for a Travel Consultation Session:
Call/Whatsapp: +254748627375 https://wa.me/+254748627375
407, Kio Plaza
Tel: +254 748 15 7774