Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means YBC® will earn a small commission if you happen to make a purchase. Thanks for the support.
Hi all! Lauren’s sharing her tips and takeaways from our yoga and safari retreat in Kenya. Check out what she’d recommend, so you can join us on our next trip! Share any other safari/travel tips in the comments! xo -Candace
Going on a proper ‘Safari’ was always a dream bucket list item for me, but like most people, I just assumed I would never really get the opportunity. One morning, three years ago, I was sitting at my desk at YBC® HQ enjoying one of Candace’s famous yogurt berry smoothies, and an email popped up from The Safari Cottages on Oj Pejeta Conservancy. Hum, I thought… this could be interesting!. It was that single email that got the ball rolling, and before we knew it, Candace and I were in the depths of planning and marketing a Yoga Safari Retreat in Kenya; it was so surreal. WE WERE GOING ON SAFARI...and for work too?! Dream. Job.
Fast forward a couple months: I was in the depths of my own personal surprise - I was pregnant. The retreat was scheduled for July 2017, and Hudson was due to be born just three and a half months prior, in April. There was no way I could fly halfway across the world without my 3 months old, so I begrudgingly decided to skip the trip of a lifetime. I was so happy for Candace and the YBC® team, but I couldn’t believe that I was going to miss out on such an extraordinary experience.
When Candace got back to the mainland, I NEEDED to know EVERYTHING. So much so that we decided to plan a second retreat at the same venue for March 2019. That one I. Was. Not. Going. To Miss. For 3 months leading up to the retreat, I was constantly googling for any and all packing/what to expect type lists for a safari in Kenya. I felt like most of the lists were all the same: bring a hat, sunscreen and bug repellant. Don’t get me wrong, totally necessary items, but now that I’m home and have experienced Safari myself, there are a few things I wish I had known, packed or paid closer attention to before jetting off.
ONE: Bring layers. All the layers! Last time Candace was at The Safari Cottages in Ol Pejeta, it was pretty cold once the sun set. Candace couldn’t tell me enough how COLD it gets once the sun goes down - like winter hats and gloves cold. For this reason, I focused on packing heavier layers but completely under packed on light layers. BIG MISTAKE. I could have used a few light long sleeved layers to protect my arms/shoulders during the day. I did bring along this wide-brim safari hat, which helped cover my face, neck and part of my shoulders while on game drives. Another thing I really missed the boat on is bringing breathable, light pants and leggings. I really could have used a pair of these or mesh leggings like this.
TWO: The Sunscreen thing is no joke. I focused so much on bringing heavy warm layers, that I didn’t really pay any mind to how strong and intense the sun’s rays are at the equator. And to add to that, we were at a high elevation, making the rays even more dangerous. From about 9am on, being in direct sun is almost unbearable. After about 3-5 minutes, I could feel my skin starting to burn without sunscreen. I didn’t bring any along and was constantly bumming sunscreen off of everyone around me. Don’t be like me. Bring the sunscreen. In fact, pack it first!
THREE: Bring Lightweight Hiking Boots AND Socks. I actually really love the hiking boots I brought along but I got the socks all wrong. I didn’t really know what to expect so I went with a thicker pair and let me tell you - my feet were BOILING. Once 9:45am hit, I had to take my boots and socks off in the car during our game drives a few times because I just couldn’t handle how hot my feet were! I would have loved a lighter breathable pair like these. I also wish I had brought a pair of slides to throw in my backpack too.
FOUR: Bring your own Binoculars. This is something I didn’t see on any packing list during my Google rampage. Luckily for me, it was something Candace told me about - which I’m forever grateful for. While I came prepared, I never would have thought to bring my own binoculars if she didn’t pass on the tip, so I’m going to do the same. You don’t need anything fancy - I came with these and they were perfect. Small and lightweight but really functional. Because we’re in the wild, we can’t control where the animals are, so it was really helpful to pull out your own pair of binoculars to get an up close and personal view of a cheetah enjoying a fresh kill from afar. Otherwise, you have to pass around the guide’s binoculars and wait your turn.
FIVE: Hone your Bartering Skills. But, really. Most souvenir shops for tourists price their items with the expectation of the customer bartering down. On our drive to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, we stopped at a common/popular souvenir shop to use the bathroom and stretch our legs a bit. I quickly spotted a few items - three, to be exact that I knew I needed to have and happily made my way to the register. On my way over, Candace stopped me and said, “Start at 50% of whatever number they tell you.” I looked at her like she was crazy - what I had in my hands couldn’t possibly be more than $35 - $40 TOPS, and I could afford that, so I wasn’t going to barter - HA. WOW was I taken aback when the total came to over $300 US dollars. THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS. It all made sense now. THIS is why Candace warned me! haha I instantly felt like a fool for thinking I was not going to barter, but also thankful she gave me a starting point to come back with. In the end I walked out of there paying $120; but for unique handmade items I could never find elsewhere, it was worth it.
Check out the travel vlog and get a closer look at what a spectacular experience it all was.