When people plan a safari holiday to Kenya, they usually head straight to the Masai Mara for the BIG 5, but what if I told you there is somewhere just as desirable, more exclusive and without any crowds right next door?
In this guide, I will share with you one of my favourite safari spots in Kenya.
What Is the Mara Naboisho Conservancy?
Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned safari-goer, The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is one of Kenya’s best safari locations, adjacent to the famous Masai Mara Reserve. Expect Lions galore amongst sprawling grasslands, endless wildlife and acacia-lined valleys, along with some of the friendliest Maasai people you’ll ever meet!
Naboisho is not a national park like the Masai Mara. It's 50,000 acres of rolling savanna privately owned by over 500 local Maasai families. With the help of the landowners, wildlife conservationists and local trusts, Naboisho’s award-winning approach to responsible tourism has created a protected area overflowing with wildlife which enhances the livelihoods of the locals.
It’s the perfect example of how nature, local communities and sustainable tourism can coexist whilst benefiting one another.
What Animals Can You Expect To See?
Naboisho is overflowing with wildlife! From the moment we stepped off the tiny propeller plane and onto African soil, we were welcomed by the breathtaking sight of a male cheetah, just casually resting under a giant ac
If you’re hoping to see big cats in Kenya then you’ll definitely see them in the Naboisho! It’s home to over 100 lions, one of the highest densities in Africa! We were lucky enough on one of our drives to sit with an enormous pride of lions as they welcomed the sunrise with an almighty roar! Don't miss my footage on Instagram.
One of the highlights of Kenya for me was witnessing animal behaviours we’d never seen before, from hunting cheetahs to mating lions & tiny cubs feeding on a zebra kill.
Our safari guide like most in Naboisho was a Maasai and able to spot animals from miles away! The next 5 days revealed one after another of spectacular wildlife sightings. Picture herds of elephants to snoozing leopards along with bathing hippos and zebra as far as the eye can see!
Most of my bucket list animals happen to be some of the rarest to spot on safari as they are nocturnal. However, unlike the Masai Mara reserve, you can go out on a night drive in Naboisho! In one night's drive not only did we finally see a bat-eared fox (I'd waited years for that moment) we found a porcupine, zorillia and even an adorable bush baby!
Birdwatching in Naboisho
If you’re an avid birder, Naboisho is an incredible place to get your birdwatching fix! There are hundreds of bird species, from the African fish eagle to the shrike, famed for its weird behaviour of impaling prey onto thorns! Watching the weaver birds tirelessly build nests had to be one of the highlights of our walking safari.
Why Visit Naboisho Over the Masai Mara?
If it's not for the lack of crowds and having the wildlife all to yourself, the best reason to visit Naboisho is for the thrilling walking safaris and night drives. Something you are not allowed to do in the Masai Mara.
Nothing beats walking through the wilderness and losing yourself with nature, especially when a giraffe suddenly appears.
How Safe Are Safaris in Africa?
I get asked this question a lot and the answer is yes! Unless you’re planning on jumping out of the vehicle in the middle of lion territory.
Wild safari animals cannot recognise people sitting inside a safari jeep as the vehicle and people appear as one merged block to them. Although they can come close at times, like the cheetah cubs that used our jeep for shade, I’ve never once felt like I was in danger on safari.
However, when on foot the animals can see us as a threat undoubtedly from years of hunting. Although, don’t let this put you off enjoying a walking safari as the guides have years of experience!
As for nightfall, most lodges will have Masai guards to escort you to and from your room as well as walk the perimeter throughout the night.
Where To Stay?
We chose to stay at the luxurious eco-friendly Asilia Naboisho Camp, a brand we have stuck by over the years as their service, attention to detail and quality of guides surpasses anywhere we’ve ever stayed.
There are of course other places to stay, however, as accommodation is limited to just a handful of camps you're going to want to book early!
Best Time to Visit the Mara Naboisho Conservancy
We discovered the best time to visit is actually during the rainy season (May) which many people tell you to avoid. Not only was our safari camp quieter & cheaper (half the price compared to peak season June – Oct), we could enjoy uninterrupted views of animals and the African savanna without any vehicles around.
If you don't mind the high chance of rain, although it only rained for 5mins the whole time we were there, you can really grab a great deal!
Whilst June to October is what’s known to be the best time to visit Kenya as it’s drier and coincides with the great wildebeest migration, the cost of accommodation is considerably higher and busier.
How To Reach the Mara Naboisho Conversancy | Kenya
We travelled from the UK via the following route:
Direct flight from the UK to Nairobi International Airport
Followed by a small safari plane to the Mara OL Seki airstrip (we used the Safari link)
It’s then around a 30-40mins drive into camp depending if you want to go direct or enjoy a safari drive on the way
Arriving by plane is where your safari starts. Nothing beats that excitement as you spot your first elephant from the sky or the exhilarating experience as you land in the middle of the wilderness.
Safari Aircraft Need to Know Tip
The safari planes aka “bush aircraft” used for internal flights are incredibly small and have limited space for luggage, therefore, soft holdalls, duffle bags and soft suitcases are preferred.