On our route back from the Seychelles to the UK we decided to stop in Kenya for 5 nights. We used the company Big Time Safari (http://www.bigtimesafaris.co.ke/) and paid a very cheap $550 per person. This was the cheapest safari in Kenya that I found and we went with low expectations of the luxury considering the price!!

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We were collected from the airport by a driver from Big Time Safaris who was waiting even though our flight was late.  Our first night was spent in Nairobi, this is a very busy city and we didn’t venture out as we arrived quite late. The hotel we stayed in, Sunset Hotel, was booked through the safari company as an extra, but we wouldn’t recommend it! It was very noisy until about 4am on a Thursday night.

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In the morning we were collected by a driver who took us to the safari office to pay the balance for our trip. We were then put into a minivan to start our adventure.  The first stop was after about an hour at the Great Rift Valley viewpoint, this was an incredible sight as we rounded the corner and saw across into the valley, no pictures could do it justice. There were also lots of lovely little shops here selling souvenirs and some wonderful artwork on walls and signs.

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Our adventure took us further on to Narok where we stopped for lunch.  All food was included in our safari trip which was a bonus. The food at all of the stops and accommodation was not fancy, but there was plenty of it. One thing we had to push for was to ensure that we got water, as our booking stated that water was included, but this wasn’t initially provided and we had to ask.

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We then travelled for a further couple of hours along a very bumpy and dusty road to arrive at the Masai Mara campsite at about 4pm.  We were shown to our tent, which was basic, it had two single beds and a bathroom. The beds were not too comfortable, with a bit of a bow in the middle, and the bathroom was a bit rickety! The electricity was only on for a couple of hours in the evening at the morning.

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During our two nights at the Masai Mara we had one game drive on the first evening, a full day on the second day and then a morning drive on the 3rd day.  We enjoyed our time here and saw the big 5 which was incredible.  Highlights included seeing a cheetah eating an impala, lions with cubs, a leopard lazing in a tree, a lonely black rhino and wildebeest gathering for a river crossing at the Masai Mara – Serengeti border.

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One of the most beautiful sunrises we have ever seen was here in the Masai Mara.

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On the third day we travelled back to Narok where the people in each minivan were swapped around, this is how the company save money. Some people had an awful time having to hang around for hours before making their way, we were quite lucky with our switches only having to wait for a maximum of an hour during our lunch break which was fine. To us this was worth it as the safari was so cheap.  After our lunch break we travelled to Lake Naivasha where we paid an extra fee to go on a boat trip to see hippos and birds. This was well worth the cost as we saw local fisherman and lots of amazing wildlife.

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After the boat trip we travelled to Lake Nakuru where we stayed in a hotel which we were very impressed by.

The following morning we went on a game drive at Lake Nakuru where we were surprised to see two huge male lions devouring a dead buffalo as soon as we entered the reserve. This reserve was stunning, the site of the film ‘Out of Africa’ it had beautiful views and we were able to see numerous white rhinos and lots of baboons!

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Our final night was spent in a hotel near Lake Naivasha, this hotel was clean and sufficient for a night. From the hotel we walked into the town to explore the area a bit. It was nice to experience some of the real Kenya and have a look in a supermarket which sold milk by the bag!

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Our final morning was a trip to Hell’s Gate National Park. We decided to pay an extra fee to have a guide called James who was fantastic and we also hired bikes. This was one of the highlights of our trip. We arrived at about 7am in the morning and were the only people in the park. We cycled past giraffe, wildebeest, buffalo, jackals, zebra and impala, it was incredible to be so close to nature.

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After cycling for about an hour and a half we reached the river gorge which we explored on foot. The rock formations and fascinating. You can see the layers of rock and the beautiful shapes formed from the river carving through the soft rock.  The gorge is also where the Lion King’s wildebeest stampede is based and where Tomb Raider 2 was filmed!

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At the top of the gorge we met some lovely ladies and their children who were making and selling jewellery.

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We stayed at Hell’s Gate until about 12pm before we were driven back to Nairobi and the airport. We were very dusty after cycling through the park and splashed out to use the first class lounge to use the showers before our flight onward to Paris!

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Overall we would recommend Big Time Safaris if you are happy to experience the wildlife in Africa on a budget and are happy to be close to nature!