The African safari is a travel experience in which cheapness is definitely better
To many travellers, including myself, the African safari is one of the top travel experiences. There is something mystical, indeed mind-changing, about seeing the world inhabited by animals, as it was before Earth was populated by human beings.
But not all African safaris are equal in bringing that vision to you. Upon looking for a safari to book, you often are inundated by marketing appeals from numerous African nations whose wildlife is relatively small and occasional. I’ve heard of participants on a safari who witness a hoofprint in the ground, and then spend the entire day following that hoofprint until it brings you to a solitary animal peacefully grazing.
This doesn’t happen in Kenya. There, you are virtually guaranteed to see hundreds and hundreds of animals in the course of a single day, and that number rises to many thousands during migratory periods in the springtime.
On my own recent safari, we witnessed not only peaceful wildebeests in giant herds, but similar groups of elephants, giraffes, rhinoceroses, monkeys, jaguars — and, most thrilling — prides of lions that occasionally would rouse themselves from their daytime slumbers to race after another animal to eat.
Because a Kenyan safari is so full of animals, the travel industry bringing you there is a big one, involving numerous hotel resorts from which the safari is operated. And because it is a big industry, its prices for these objectively better safaris are among the lowest of all safaris offered in Africa.
That price advantage for a better safari has just been improved by the startup of nonstop flights from the U.S. to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, by Kenya Airways.
Unlike most other African airlines that bring you to their destination following an awkward initial flight to a European capital in which you change planes for an onward flight to an African capital, Kenya Airlines now flies you nonstop from New York.
You undertake one flight — and one flight only — from New York to Nairobi, and upon landing in Nairobi, you are met by your tour operator and taken by bus to a resort hotel on the outskirts of the capital city. The next morning, you are flown by air on a smaller plane to a landing strip in the middle of the Masai Mara National Reserve, where you are taken to your lodgings (with dining halls) set in the wilderness. From there, you are taken the same day to the local centre of safari activity, where you climb aboard an open-air jeep or other viewing vehicle to glimpse the world as it was before humans — sans roads, sans buildings of any sort, sans power lines. It is an immense thrill.
Kenya Airlines is apparently doing so well with its nonstop service from New York to Nairobi that it is considering adding another nonstop flight to Nairobi from Atlanta, and a third flight from Washington, D.C.
Next time you crave a thrilling travel experience, you might want to consider this option.
Arthur Frommer is the pioneering founder of the Frommer’s Travel Guide book series. He co-hosts the radio program, The Travel Show, with his travel correspondent daughter Pauline Frommer. Find more destinations online and read Arthur Frommer’s blog at frommers.com.
The southern white rhino is just one of many species of African wildlife that can be seen while on safari in Kenya.