My First Time to Kenya – Where to Visit Before the Safari Tour Begins?!

So this year in June, I have finally managed to explore a new continent – Africa! Initially I was only doing some researches for my potential trip next year, but when I was doing the research, I was so drawn to this place that I want to go immediately! At the end, I’ve managed to book everything and had all my injections done within 5 weeks time!

As this was a kind of a last minute, instead of a long trip which I really wanted, my friend and I decided we will do a shorter safari of 7 days. The quote provided by the operator “Heritage of African Jungles” was very reasonable – staying in mid-range lodges and tents, visiting 4 different parks/safaris, inclusive of all meals and park entrances etc comes to USD$1250/person. I was initially a bit skeptical about it was there weren’t many reviews of them, and the price seems to be relatively lower than most other operators, BUT,  not only the owner Naomi was super responsive and helpful (she also ends up being a very forward thinking modern Kenyan woman), our driver Francis was absolutely amazing as well! Thanks heaps guys!!

Must Do Travel Africa Kenya Nairobi Heritage of African Jungles Tour Operator Best
Our 7 Day Itinerary
Must Do Travel Africa Kenya Nairobi Carnivore All You Can Eat Meat Restaurant
Francis – our amazing driver!!

Our flight did not land Nairobi until after noon time, so we were not able to start the safari tour straight away, as most safaris depart very early in the morning around 7am. So we ended up having an extra half day in Nairobi. While there are so many worthwhile places to go in the city, we were only able pick two due to a short time frame – The Giraffe Center and The Carnivore Restaurant.

Upon our arrival of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the first thing we did was to draw some Kenyan shillings from the ATM. The rate is actually better if you draw money from the ATM in comparison to the currency exchange shops at the airport, and you MUST have some local currency with you, as USD is not accepted in some places. Secondly we went and got ourselves a sim card for our phone. I was told that Safaricom has got the best reception, but their service counter at the airport was so super slow, so we ended up buying from Telkom instead (second biggest telecom company in Kenya), and the sim card worked just fine! There are places in the mountains/grass plains where you will have absolutely NO reception, but that goes for all sim cards.

Must Do Travel Africa Kenya Jomo Kenyatta International AirportMust Do Travel Africa Kenya Jomo Kenyatta International Airport

Anyways, once we got picked up from the airport, we went to the office to pay the left payment, then headed straight to the Giraffe Center, which is about 40 minutes drive away from the City Center. We got to the Giraffe Center at around 4pm, and the place is still fairly crowded with people inside and lining up outside. The entrance fee is KSH$1000/person. The venue itself is quite small, but because the giraffes are sooooo adorable and cute, you can literally spend hours here!

Must Do Travel Africa Kenya Nairobi Giraffe Center

 

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Whale Watching in Okinawa during Winter – Departing from Onna

If spending a day chilling on a white sandy beach, or diving into the amazing blue cave are the best things to do in Okinawa during Summer time, then hopping on a boat to go on whale watching tours is a must during the winter.

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Humpback whales migrate seasonally, traveling to cold polar waters during summer seasons and to warmer waters during winter seasons, and thanks for the warmth of the Okinawa waters during January to March each year, it makes it a great place for us to watch these gigantic mammals in action.

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The humpback whales do not feed during the winter months, but breed, and the Okinawa waters is their ideal breeding grounds. During this season, whale breaching is seen often, showing dominance and power. (Though I did not see it myself)

There are many Whale Watching tours that operate in Okinawa, majority of them leaves from Naha or Chatan. However, as my hotel is in Onna area, I didn’t want to spend so much time driving back and forth, so I decided to join this smaller company called the “Onna Whale Watching Association” (恩納ホエールウオッチング協会). They are the one and only company that leaves from the area.

Our tour starts at 8:30am in the morning, and to my surprise, it was quite a small group, there was only about 11 people in total, which made the boat very spacious. We were handed out a flyer when we board the boat, which is a little introduction of the whales, and what behaviors are we expected to see. And because they are the only operator in the area, we pretty much had the whole water by ourselves, no need to fight with other boats.

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It took us about an hour before we reached the breeding area. We waited for around 5 minutes, before we had our first encounter with the humpback whales. They were so close to us!!

We stayed and watch the whales for a bit over and hour, we were lucky enough to be able to spotted the whales many times, although we did not see them breach (I REALLY WANT TO!!), we did see two whales coming up at the same time, so that’s pretty awesome too!

If you are considering to visit Okinawa during January to March, be sure to book yourself a whale watching tour, it’s something you will not regret!

Onna Whale Watching Association  (Japanese only)

NOTE:
– You can ask the hotel front desk to help you book
– The waves tend to be very big during this time of the season, remember to take the sea sick pills before boarding (Even if you don’t usually need it)

Continue reading “Whale Watching in Okinawa during Winter – Departing from Onna”