Getting Ready for a Safari

As I’ve written about before, my wife and I are taking our daughters (23 and 20) on a Kenya safari trip in January. We actually fly out New Year’s Eve on Qatar Airways and fly back on KLM with a quick daytime stop in Amsterdam. These flights are in business class.

This trip was originally booked in February 2020 for January 2021 (for my 50th birthday). As you can probably guess, it was canceled and rebooked several times due to covid (June 2021, January 2022) before we settled on January 2023. It’s probably the last time we can all go on this trip as our younger daughter will likely be doing something school-related in her next winter break.

As the trip approaches, I’ve been finalizing the last few details. Last month, I worked with our safari company in Kenya to finalize the itinerary. After a midnight arrival, we will be spending the first two nights in Nairobi with a day to see a few sights (and recover from jetlag) before we head out on safari. I’ve opted for an all-inclusive approach where the company will be providing a vehicle and guide/driver for us the whole time. We will be spending a night at The Ark in Aberdare National Park, two nights in Samburu, a night at Lake Nakuru, and four nights in Masai Mara at Tipilikwani. Our last day will be spent driving back to Nairobi and having dinner with our safari company host before our midnight flight to Amsterdam.

I then had to apply for Kenyan e-visas for all four of us. Luckily, I had all the relevant information and pictures because I had already done this around the same time last year before we ended up canceling 10 days before we were scheduled to leave due to the Omicron wave and the testing required on both ends. No more testing is required for Kenya unless you are unvaccinated.

As the trip approaches, I will upload our vaccine info into the online system that generates a QR code. I will print all of these documents just in case I have a phone issue on landing.

I’m also going to buy an eSim for my phone to provide data while we are away. There’s a 6GB eSim that can be purchased for around $40 and I can use the hotspot function on my phone to share this data with the family. It will be important for everyone to download TV shows, movies, books, etc. to their devices as Wi-Fi may be questionable at the lodges and camps.

My safari company friend (because after three years of planning, we are now definitely friends) is telling me to buy a camera, but I’m leaning towards just using my iPhone 12 Pro. I know I give up some zoom, but I like the idea of just having it ready to go at all times, being able to send and post pictures right away, and saving the space in my carry-on. My kids also have iPhone 13 Pros (spoiled brats) so between all of us we should be able to grab some good pictures.

If you are planning an international trip with non-US airlines, you should definitely track your flights in ExpertFlyer. I have notifications set for flight time changes and aircraft changes. The other day, I received a notification that our Doha-Nairobi flight had been changed from a 787 to a 777 with QSuites (hopefully, as Qatar tends to swap out aircraft at the last minute). I was able to quickly go online and select seats for all of us. I decided that after 13 hours in a QSuites four-person pod, we’ll probably be ready for some alone time so I selected window seats for all of us. Our flight times have also changed and tightened our layover in Doha to 80 minutes, so it might be that we have to skip the fabled Al Mourjan Lounge this time.

Finally, I booked us tickets at the Anne Frank Haus in Amsterdam for the morning of our layover. We are scheduled to arrive in Amsterdam around 6:30am so I grabbed 9:30am timed tickets which will allow us plenty of time to get there. After that, we will see how tired everyone is and perhaps explore a bit more before heading back to the airport in plenty of time for our 4:50pm flight to Atlanta.

I’m sure there will be a few more things I have to do before we leave, but things are on track now. I look forward to sharing our trip report and lots of pictures here when we get back. You can also follow me on Instagram at emptynestermiles where I’ll be posting some videos and pics as we travel.

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