How I Managed My Safari This COVID 19 Period – Craig Beal from Travel Beyond
I just left Kenya by road today and I am now in Arusha. There are no flights Kenya to Tanzania so I was driven over the border at Namanga. It was a 5-hour drive from Giraffe Manor to Arusha. I was on safari for in Kenya Aug 5-9.
I flew Minneapolis to Atlanta to London to Nairobi. It was a Delta ticket and the last flight was operated by Kenya Airways. It was a business class ticket with lay flatbeds and I paid $3700. I had an 11-hour layover in London and was told I could go into the city if I wanted only because I had a boarding pass to leave the UK in less than 24 hours. The two Delta flights were <50% full and <25% full in business class. Kenya Airways was 90% full in coach and 14 of 30 in business class.
My flight into Nairobi was VERY late. It was supposed to land at 5 am on Aug 5 into NBO. It landed at 740am. I had paid for an expedited service at the airport so I was met right off the plane and escorted. I went through a thermal scanner and then directly to immigrations. I had a tourist visa issued by the Kenya embassy in Washington DC on August 1. I was not asked for a COVID test result but perhaps this was because I provided one to the embassy. From the time the aircraft doors opened until I was in a land rover leaving the airport was 19 minutes and 37 seconds. I was the first person off the plane and no other aircraft seems to have landed internationally any time soon before us. The airport was empty.
I went directly from NBO to AMREF near Wilson airport. They have a private clinic and I paid 8700 shilling for a COVID test that I thought I needed to get into Tanzania today. I got the results on Aug 6 via WhatsApp. I went directly from AMREF to Wilson arriving at 930am and taking off at 10 am for the Mara. I flew Safari Link to the Mara and back. The flights were fine and they checked my temp when boarding. The co-pilot even turned around and made a passenger adjust their mask during the flight. From the time I landed NBO until I took off from Wilson was 2hr20min!!
My safari was epic. I stayed at Serian Nkormobo which is in the Mara National Reserve east of the Mara and north of the Talek. It is about 1 hour downstream from Governors. On the first full day, August 6, I did a full day drive to the Lookout area in the southern part of the reserve. I saw about 25,000 wildebeest cross the Mara River from about 130pm to 3 pm. I saw many other animals and lions mating. I can’t post videos since I am in the travel industry, but the video is easy to find with basic internet detective skills. I saw 25 other vehicles in a 12 hour day. In August, I would normally expect to see hundreds. At the crossing, there were 6 vehicles on my side of the river and I saw six on the Mara Triangle side.
On the second full day, I drove around the northern part of the reserve (topi hills, rhino ridge, double-crossing, etc.) in the morning and I drove around the Chinese Crossing, Serena Water Pump Crossing and Main Crossing area in the afternoon. On my second day, I saw 13 other vehicles in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. It was an epic day with several lion prides, leopard, cheetah, and serval.
I skipped the morning drive on Aug 8 and flew back to Nairobi and spent the night at Giraffe Manor.
Serian and Giraffe Manor take COVID VERY seriously.
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