Mistakes are the portals of discovery~James Joyce
Do you ever find it hard to admit to your mistakes? 😀 As a rookie traveler, I am learning that ‘silly’, tourist mistakes are inevitable… 🙂
Sometimes I look back and…I can’t believe I did that?! But as Albert Einstein aptly said-“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” 🙂
A short while ago, I joined a group of friends to visit the Nairobi National Park. It turned out to be an interesting episode, with a number of lessons to take home… 🙂
Kenya is well-known for its fascinating National Parks, and vast wildlife… The Nairobi National Park is the most convenient park to visit, being well-situated in the city. It is located about 10 Km from the City Centre, and is easily accessible via Langata Road. (See Map Below)
5 Silly Tourist Mistakes To Avoid at The Nairobi National Park
Here are a few tips to ensure that you avoid some rookie tourist mistakes, and that your next visit to this beautiful park, runs smoothly…
1. Choosing the ‘Wrong’ Vehicle
While choosing a vehicle may seem like a minor detail, it has the potential to define your National Park experience… For your own safety, you are not allowed to walk around the park on foot, thus the vehicle you choose is very important.
During our visit we had a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and while it is perfect for rough terrain, it came up a little ‘short’.
pun intended 😀 The car’s height, and roof proved to be a limitation in viewing the animals…
Well, except for the tall and elegant Giraffes who tower above the shrubs and vegetation.
- Choose to hire a tour van; the open roof will allow you to catch sight of all the animals. It will also allow you to take good pictures, as you can stand in the van
- Carry a camera with a good zoom lens to capture animals that are far off
- Try your best to go in groups to save on cost. Being in a tour van alone is not only costly, but also lonely and boring
- Do NOT get out of the vehicle to try and take pictures, as this endangers your life and others around you
2. Not Hiring A Guide
The Nairobi National Park has done a good job of putting up signage of various routes, to help people get around…. But if you are not well-acquainted with the park, it is easy to get lost.
We were doing fairly well, until we realized that we were not getting to see that many animals… At one point we tried trailing a random tour van hoping it would lead us to the ‘animals’… Unfortunately this did not bear much fruit, as we could not trail them all day.
Later on in the day, we lost our way while trying to leave the park and were quickly running out of fuel. Thankfully, another group’s tour van came our way and gave us directions.
- It is advisable to engage a tour guide, as they know their way around the park thus, reducing the chances of getting lost.
- The guides communicate to their counterparts in the park via radio, on where to find most of the animals
- Make friends with other park visitors, as they can also be quite resourceful
3. Chasing Lions
The Nairobi National Park boasts 4 of the Big 5: the Lion, Buffalo, Rhinoceros and Leopard. It is almost natural to look out for some of the Big 5 when you visit… If you should fail to see one or any of these animals, like we did, you may feel rather disappointed.
At the same time, in focusing on the Big 5, you can easily miss out on all the other incredible animals and birds, in the park. It is home to over 400 bird species, and 100 mammals.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: MARION MITHAMO
We literally spent most of our time chasing lions, which was quite funny honestly. 😀 Apparently, 12 lions had been sighted somewhere in the park, and boy were we eager to find them!
Not only did we miss the 12 lions, but we also got hopelessly lost. 🙁 And when we did come across some lions, they were hidden from our view by shrubs. Tough luck! 😀
- Keep an open mind, and an eye out for all the animals in the park…You are certain to experience some amazing moments with an open mind. 😉
4. Failing to Shake It Off!
No, this has nothing to do with Taylor Swift’s song >>Shake It Off… hehe 😀 It has more to do with those little blood-suckers called ticks. 🙁
After driving around for a while, we came to a picnic site. In this area you can get out of the vehicle and have your snacks.
There is also the option of walking to the river with a guide, where you can view crocodiles. We didn’t get to see the crocodiles, but it was a lovely, green, forested area.
Here, we met a friendly, white old man who turned out to be a bird-watcher, among other things. He warned us to be careful of ticks in the long grass-a warning I should have heeded.
During this little excursion, I made a little ‘friend’ that I did not discover until much later, when I got home. Luckily, I was well covered, and the tick only managed to hang onto my clothes.
- Dress appropriately in trousers and comfortable shoes like Converse.
- Most importantly, check yourself before leaving the park and shake it all off to avoid carrying any unwanted visitors home. 😀
- Carry drinks and snacks to eat at the picnic area
5. Failing to Go With The Flow
You might find yourself in a situation where a few things aren’t working out, as expected. But at the end of the day, what counts is- the experience you have, and not the one you hoped for. 😀
Some of the most memorable trips are made up of things that went wrong but you still had a good laugh at yourselves… 😀
- Just go with the flow and have fun! Each experience is worthwhile- mistakes and all! 😉
Thank you for reading! 🙂 I hope these tips will prove useful during your next travel encounter to our Kenyan National Parks. 🙂
Many thanks to my travel companions who made it memorable and fun!:D
Have you made any silly tourist mistakes….? Share some of your own mistakes and tips that you would add to this list, on the comments’ section below. 😀
In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks~John Muir
Stay Inspired, Always. 🙂
NB: Park Entry Fees-It costs 500 KShs for adult citizens and 300 KShs for children. It costs 50 USD for Non-Citizen adults, and 25 USD for children.