Categorized | Adventures, Africa, Kenya

Plan a Perfect African Safari in Kenya: 7 – Getting to Maasai Mara

Posted on 06 June 2012 by David

Today, we are on the last part of our seven-part “Plan a Perfect African Safari in Kenya” series.

To reach the safari camp in the Conservancy, your itinerary will have two major components.  The first is getting to Kenya.  The second is making your way from wherever you are in Kenya to the camp.

Typically you would fly into Nairobi International, take ground transport to Wilson Airport, and then take a prop plane out to the Maasai Mara.   Our around the world trip took us through Turkey on Turkish alines and we landed in Nairobi around one in the morning.

Arrival at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport

For the most part you will need to fly into Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (airport code: NBO).

Kenya Ministry of Health regulations

Here's a sign with info about vaccinations. Please double-check this with the Kenya Ministry of Health for the latest info.


Waiting in line to buy a visa

Kenya allows you to purchase a visa on arrival. Make sure you have enough US Dollars or Kenyan Shillings to cover the cost of the Visa as the ATM's around in the international arrivals area may not be working!


If you’re flying out to Maasai Mara, you’ll most likely need to go to Wilson Airport.  Wilson airport doesn’t open until the morning daylight hours.   This presents a dilemma if you arrive very late at night or really early in the morning into NBO.  Should you stay at NBO and wait around until it’s time to head to Wilson airport for your departing flight or should you book a room at an hotel?   It’s up to you but we decided it was not worth the time and expense to go to an hotel for only an hour or two of sleep.  We decided to tough it out at NBO.  We arrived at 1am and were out of baggage claim around 2am.   Our driver picked us up to go to Wilson at 6am.

One tip, if you decide to wait around the airport, try to not exit the baggage claim area.  We made the mistake of exiting out into the arrivals hall to find that there are almost no seats available once you exit baggage claim!

Cafe in NBO arrivals hall

These are the only seats you’re going to find in the arrivals hall. It’s a little dark here so only take a nap if you have family or friends with you who can watch over your belongings.


NBO arrivals hall

This is the arrival hall. It's quite sparse but reasonably lit. Money exchange booths open around 6am. There are a number of ATMs here but every one we tried was out of service.

Nairobi Wilson Airport

Prior to us landing in Nairobi, we booked transportation with a well reviewed car service operator.  He picked us up at 6am from NBO.  Nairobi has very bad highway congestion and it took us an hour to reach Wilson Airport.

When flying out of Wilson Airport you will by flying on a small aircraft.  Do note that there is a weight limit but  if you have too many bags you’ll have to leave it behind.  Fortunately you can rent a locker with Air Kenya at Wilson airport when you check in.   We left our large duffel bag there  and we had no issues picking it up on the return.


Air Kenya aircraft

Air Kenya prop plane.


Air Kenya lobby is comfortable but can get crowded quickly.

This is the Air Kenya waiting area. There is a small cafe upstairs. They both get crowded quick so it's good if you get there early.


Mara Landing Strip

Air Kenya landing strip

The landing strips in the Mara are busy with aircraft coming and going quite frequently.


On landing you’re met by a representative of your camp.  Depending on how far the camp is, this becomes your first game drive of your safari!


That’s it for our series on Kenya.  We couldn’t cover everything so if you have questions let us know!

Also if you have an idea on a location you want to go, but not sure how to plan it all out?  We have traveled around the world so if you have a question about a place, we probably have been there.  =)   So leave a comment below. Your destination may just be our featured location next month.

Our entire seven part series of our “Plan a Perfect African Safari in Kenya“:

  1. Introduction
  2. 10 Must-See Animals (including the Big 5)
  3. Five Tidbits about the Mara Crossing You Should Know
  4. Our Wildebeest Crossing Experience
  5. Choosing When and Where to Go
  6. Kicheche Camp Review
  7. Getting to Maasai Mara (Current Post)

You may also enjoy our Picture of the Week:

  1. Maasai Warriors Jumping Contest (Adumu)


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Sudha Says:

    Can I book a safari at the Jomo Kenyatta airport on arrival, to go straight to Masai Mara. I am thinking of cost, and I am hoping that if booking s done at the airport it could br cheaper…..unless you can do it now for the same price as at the airport.
    Arriving to Jomo Kenyatta Airport on 22nd June at 6:30 am.
    Planning to fly to Asia Mara on 22nd, stay there 2 nights, fly back on 24th, go straight to Nakuru for one night stay, and drive back to Nairobi on 25th around 3-4pm.

  2. David Says:

    @Sudha – I don’t recommend booking on arrival as it will be luck of the draw with the Safari with the operator you get. We did not see any travel agencies catering to safari goers at the airport. Furthermorw what you might save on a safari you might lose on purchasing a last minute flight out to Masai Mara. Flights to Masai Mara isially depart from a smaller airport which is about an hour away in traffic.

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