Travelling to Masai Mara on Budgets
Masai Mara National Reserve is a dream to many. While there are a lot of Indians now taking it up and making it to Mara, there are still many who just dream of making it there one day.
So, what does it cost to do safaris in Mara and how you get the best experience, even keeping the cost lower?
1. Park Fee : This is the fee that you have to pay to the park authorities - same like permits in wildlife destinations. This cost 70USD per adult per 24 hours if you stay inside the park and 80USD per 24 hours if you stay outside the park. You could calculate the total easily by just multiplying the number of nights you will spend in Mara with the cost. Say for 5nights, you will be paying $350-400 per person.
2. Safari vehicle - There are majorly 2 options available for safaris in mara. the safari vans and the extended land cruisers. I have done enough safaris in mara to tell you, don't don't compromise on this one. GO WITH EXTENDED LANDCRUISERS. The cost of landcruisers can vary between $150 - $300 per day and can accommodate upto 6 people. This cost is based on the company that you work with and majorly on the quality of the guides. A good range to consider is 170-200 band. You will be paying this for the number of days. So for a 6 day trip, the vehicle cost could be USD 1020 - 1200. Split this among the number of people in the vehicle.
There is possibility to get LCs at lesser than 150, but I would not vouch for those as well, as your whole experience depends on the guide that you work with.
If you are going there for photography, depending on the lens and space requirement, you can say share it with 2-4 people max. Don't do 6, when with cameras.
3. Stay and Food - A million dollar question – Where should one stay in Masai Mara? Inside or Outside the park? What is the right cost to pay? And is it a good time to stay at a particular camp that you choose based on the season of the year?
My Honest take, almost all the safari camps and lodges in masai mara will offer you an amazing experience. Some have luxury facilities, while some basic. The choice of cuisine varieties, in whatever camp you choose, will be catered to suit your taste buds, whichever part of the world you are from.
Time of the year does matter with the choice of accommodation. If you choose to prioritise cost and stay at place which is slightly far off from the movement of animals, then yes, the safaris could have a compromise – especially for the photographers.
While almost all would recommend staying on the mara river, it is not the only place that can offer you the best experience. For example, staying at camps in Talek can save you a lot of money, yet allow you enter the park early and exit slightly late - just like how you can with camps inside. And Talek is very famous for its Big Cats.
You can find a place to stay at as low as USD65 per person per night with all meal plan, where as this pricing is just not possible with camps on mara river - atleast not to the first timers and not so regular guests. The costs of camps on mara river can fluctuate quite a lot based on the season and also based on your capacity as a solo traveller, frequency of visits or travel agents.
4. Travel from Nairobi - You can choose to travel by road or by air into mara. By air, consider safarilink or air kenya. they have an online reservation system, where you can book your tickets. return ticket cost varies from USD260 - USD375 depending on the season.
Going by road takes about 6-7 hours depending on the conditions at the time. The first half is a comfortable drive on well laid tar roads and the 2nd half is all mud off road. The cost of one way drive is about 170-200USD a vehicle - depends on which one and can go up to 300, again depends on the company.
Open landcruisers for safaris can't be used on the country roads.so, if you do wish to hire one and still keep the cost lower, hire one directly at mara and ask your driver/guide to pick you at Narok. And you can go on the tar roads to narok in any car service. This is the most affordable option of all.
Overall, if you are paying anything more than USD1300-1400 for a 6 days 5 nights trip, you should highly consider doing it yourself - if cost is the significant factor.
Do leave your comments or message me, i ll be happy to address your questions.
Link to source articles:
https://masaimaratourism.com/2017/09/26/masai-mara-costs-involved/
https://masaimaratourism.com/2017/09/25/stay-masai-mara-inside-outside-park/
https://masaimaratourism.com/2017/10/03/10-things-1st-time-traveller-masai-mara/