FAQ

How do I get to Mara Bushtops?

Bushtops is accessible by air and road. We recommend flying in: various airlines have scheduled daily flights to the Mara from both Nairobi Wilson airport Diani and Mombasa. Just let us know your timings and we will arrange your flights for you. If you prefer to charter your own plane this can be arranged with one of the small aircraft air charter companies based at Nairobi Wilson. The flight from Nairobi takes just 35 minutes, whilst Mombasa takes two hours but (weather-permitting) includes a fantastic view of Mt Kilimanjaro. Your destination will be either Keekorok or Siana Springs.

If you choose to come by road, the scenic trip from Nairobi takes you down to the bottom of the Great Rift Valley, but includes some rough tracks. If you have a back problem, it may be better to fly!

When should I come?

There is always something to see at Mara Bushtops. However, two factors are worth bearing in mind: there are short rains from around mid-November to mid-January and long rains in April/May – and the migration tends to be around the end of June to mid-October (depending on the whim of the wildebeest). However, risking the rains and avoiding the migration have their advocates and benefits: there are fewer people around so you get the wildlife and the Mara to yourself.

We’d love to see you at any time!

What is the climate like?

Although the Masai Mara is almost on the equator, Mara Bushtops is 1800 meters above sea level, making conditions consistently very comfortable. All year round, most days see the temperature range between 18 and 30 degrees Centigrade. However, some early mornings (especially in June and July) can be as cool as 9 degrees Centigrade, whilst (exceptionally) it can rise to 35 degrees centigrade by midday.

As for rainfall, a short rainy period from mid-November to mid-January is matched by a longer rainy spell in April/May (and sometimes early June), when there is something magical in the thunder and lightning shows which cool off the evenings. Yet even in the rainy period, warmth and sunshine can be expected to break through.

What should I pack?

Here are a few things we think you should bring, to make the most of your safari experience:

  • Cool, light clothing (cotton is good) in neutral/earthy colours (dark colours attract flies and bugs)
  • Shorts or skirts and short-sleeve shirts, plus long trousers (dinners are smart/casual: formal clothing is not required)
  • A jacket or fleece for the cooler mornings and evenings and night time safaris
  • Comfortable walking shoes, trainers or boots – plus sandals for within the lodge area
  • Swimming costume
  • Sun block, sun hat, sunglasses and lip balm
  • Mosquito / insect repellent and malaria pills/treatment
  • As required, an extra pair of glasses/set of contact lenses (plus solution) • Camera (plus film/memory cards) and binoculars
  • Video camera and a spare battery (which can be recharged in your suite: voltage is 220V)

Each tent is equipped with bathrobes, hair dryer and amenities such as soap, shampoo/shower gel, conditioner and lotions.

How much luggage can I bring?

Assuming you fly in, the allowance is determined by the small plane transferring you into either Siana Springs or Keekorok: it is just 15 kgs, including hand luggage. This can be strictly enforced, so beware of exceeding the limit. You may be able to pay extra per kg but there are no guarantees. Remember, we can wash your clothes at the camp, so it is better to travel light. If you are keen to bring more, you could buy a child’s seat at 75% of the full flight cost – adding a further 50 kg weight allowance.

What medical preparations and precautions do I need?

We recommend you search online for up-to-date national guidance. You will need some form of malaria course, starting before you arrive, so do plan ahead. All tents are fully netted and your butler will use mosquito spray each evening when preparing your room, to minimise intrusion.

Visitors coming from Tanzania to Kenya have to have a valid yellow fever certificate.

You should not need any vaccinations unless you are travelling on to Tanzania, in which case yellow fever jabs are required (but please double check your national health authority’s updates). Ensure you have adequate health insurance. We recommend considering temporary membership of the Flying Doctors, who can airlift you to Nairobi in an emergency.

What are the Big Five things I need to know about Kenya?

English and Kiswahili are the official languages; the currency is the Kenyan Shilling, divided into 100 cents; the time zone is GMT +3; the dialling code is 254; most nationalities can get an entry Visa on arrival at the airport. There are some exceptions; for example, residents of South Africa have to get a Visa beforehand

What should I tip?

We pay all our staff a service charge in addition to their salary. If you want to add a discretionary tip we provide an envelope in your tent, which you can hand to the manager on departure: this is shared among all the staff.

If you wish to reward your ranger, spotter or butler direct, we would recommend between US$5 and US$10 per person per day, but stress that such tipping is entirely at your discretion.

Is it safe to visit Kenya?

In a word, yes. All travel involves some risk, but Kenya is predominantly a safe destination.

Andy and I began our Bushtops adventure because we love, respect and believe in the country. Andy is a third generation Kenyan and together we’ve spent more than 30 years raising a family here and creating safe, wonderful havens in one of the world’s most welcoming nations.

Like most emerging nations, Kenya is subject to occasional instability, but the chances of this involving visitors is infinitely small. That doesn’t stop journalists misreporting the facts and often creating false impressions, turning isolated incidents into scare stories. We’ve been amazed at how distorted, factually inaccurate and simply wrong much coverage has been.

We found this article particularly interesting as it showcases this problem:

http://m.travelweekly.co.uk/Article.aspx?cat=news&id=48212

Security is a priority for the Government and the tourism industry alike. The nation remains safe to tourists, with any incidents tending to be on the north-east border and in non-tourist township areas. The threat to our visitors is incredibly small, provided they don’t venture into townships or get too close to the Somali border.

Our advice is that, unless there is a specific governmental travel warning, never let deliberate attempts to spread fear jeopardise travel dreams. We monitor updates and keep our guests informed, but at the time of writing, there are no restrictions on travel to Masai Mara, or to any areas within Nairobi which tourists would usually visit.

If you have any particular concerns about security or safety regarding your potential visit, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

Claudia Stuart

Claudia.stuart@bushtopscamps.com