The MAXIMUM LUGGAGE WEIGHT (weight includes suitcase and ALL hand luggage) for boarding light aircraft in Kenya & Tansania is 15kg PER PERSON. Most luxury travelers are used to bending the rules… but this time its not-negotiable.
Sheira and I are not 15kg baggage people…
THE SOLUTION for Kenya & Tansania: divide your luggage and leave the excess bags in storage in a locker at Nairobi’s WILSON AIRPORT. It is absolutely safe. One thing in your favour: the camps have excellent complimentary laundry service, which makes a shrunken wardrobe easier to bear!
Binoculars - mandatory for game viewing.
(Insect repellent is already supplied in abundance in the camps)
DO’s & DON’Ts
We have learnt over the years that it is mandatory to wear natural fabrics that breathe, in neutral tones that aren’t jarring with the natural bushland palette of greens and browns. Don’t be tempted to go out and buy the head to toe, cliched safari look. Comfortable, light clothing that is easy to wash is just fine.
Often when planning trips ahead from my home base in Australia, I start with a destination then study my accommodation options. But this time, our entire family trip to Kenya and Tanzania worked around my property pick!! I had been intrigued by Shompole for over seven years… I am already a huge fan of open-air architecture - cleverly sheltered yet without walls, integrating an interior with the natural outdoor setting as if you are a castaway (see our OPEN-AIR CHIC list in “TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE TIPS“ for other examples around the world). Shompole looked like a state of the art example, also offering an East African experience for the first time, as we had only been on safari in Southern Africa...
We set off from Kenya’s capital NAIROBI, our international entry point - I suggest spending at least an overnight here first (and transfer the next day on to your safari), there are two great options- GIRAFFE MANOR, just outside of Nairobi, or boutique hotel PALACINA in the heart of Nairobi (See NAIROBI for review of these 2 properties) . WILSON AIRPORT is the name of the domestic airport. It can only be described as simple and basic, but also charmingly low key. Each airline is located in its own hanger and passengers sit outside on a bench waiting to board while their luggage is carried onto the small aircraft.
The pilot of our small 4-seater Cessna aircraft was a lovely man named Gad - he had a natural warmth and kindness that seems unique to African people. Sheira, Zoe and I have no fear of flying in small planes or taking helicopters, for us it’s the gateway to accessing interesting, remote areas, and Gad only added to our experience by making this trip more relaxing and enjoyable.
On the 30-min flight to Shompole - halfway between the Masai Mara and Amboseli, not far from the Kenya/Tanzania border – we crossed massive flat-bed landscapes, mountain ranges, rivers and lakes set like puddles in the dusty plains; we even passed over a glorious flock of sunset-pink flamingos in flight over the Lake Natron, precious water in this arid, drought affected area.
Gad flew us over the Shompole safari-lodge, where the thatched roofs of the villas are artfully camouflaged into hillside and bushes. Landing on the airstrip where a smiling Sammy (our safari guide) waited with the quintessential symbol of safari life - the open land Rover was a true rush of excitement. Even en route to camp, which is in a private conservancy on the edge of the Nguruman Escarpment, we didn’t waste a minute and were already looking out for wildlife. On the 15-minute drive we saw warthogs, various species of antelope, giraffe and were already scanning the plains for the predators of the bush!