Exceeding expectations from Sharjah to Nairobi
PACKAGE tours are not generally my idea of fun, but Air Arabia’s introductory four day press trip to Nairobi proved me wrong. For starters, there is the legroom: for a 6’3” individual it is far better than that offered in economy class on other regional airlines.
Upon arrival at Nairobi Airport, for those of us who had to obtain a visa (for $30), it was a surprisingly quick procedure. Tour operator Habib’s Tours and Travel (HTT) met and took us by mini buses on a four hour drive to a designated spot overlooking the grand green Rift Valley.
We enjoyed a welcome drink overlooking the grand green Rift Valley, where we also visited our first souvenir shop - I just could not leave that pink elephant behind!
Another three hour journey brought us to our first stay at the Sarova Lion Hill Lodge within the Lake Nakuru National Park. Comfortable private chalets with a terrace are set in lush greenery and come complete with mosquito nets. After a sumptuous breakfast buffet we went to explore Lake Nakuru, but not after we had witnessed the baboons at Baboon Hill.
At Lake Nakuru we found white rhinos, millions of pink flamingoes, herons, hyenas, waterbuck, Thomson’s gazelle, zebras and more. We could approach these animals from just a few metres away, and the retractable roof of the bus provided us ample viewing points.
On day three we drove towards the Masai Game Reserve, descending to the floor of the Rift Valley, and to see if those warriors Masai Mara warriors were really as tall as they appear to be. Ten Masai warriors, none of which reached my height, were awaiting our arrival at the Masai Mara Sarova Camp, our accommodation for the next night. The five star tent had chalet style concrete wall structures and a zipped front canvas door, canvas roof, king size bed overlooking the savannah, and a bathroom facility with shower.
Despite having seen over 22 mammal and 45 bird species during our tour, the group was thirsty for more, and on the morning of day four we were lucky enough to see a lion enjoying his morning breakfast of a buffalo, while lionesses and brood observed from a distance.
Although we would have liked an air balloon flight as we could see them floating not far from us, we were advised that this activity would be much more enjoyable during the annual migration in August. Instead we visited a genuine Masai Mara village to see how these mighty warriors were living at an additional cost of $20. The price we paid went directly to the education of the Masai Mara.
On the way to the airport we had one last stop – a visit to the famous Giraffe Mansion built during the waning days of the British Empire, where giraffes and warthogs roam around and come up close to visitors.
Nairobi is a new destination for Air Arabia, but with a sizeable Kenyan community residing in the UAE and in combination with a good network to the subcontinent and in partnership with HTT as tour operators, Air Arabia has definitely another winner.
NOTE: Air Arabia offers various tours lasting a few or several days. For a two night package of Dh2045 per person valid until March 31, the prices quoted include return flights with Air Arabia from Sharjah, two nights sharing accommodation in three star hotels, daily buffet breakfast, return airport transfers and all hotel taxes and service charges. The package excludes visa charges, airport taxes and other surcharges.
by Hink Huisman