Since I was a kid, I always had wanted to go on an African safari. Last summer, I finally convinced myself and Elena to do it, now that the prices had become affordable. Last minute, my mom (my true traveling hero) decided to join us, after her plans to go to Ethiopia fell apart.
The only way to visit most Kenyan and Tanzanian National Parks is with an authorized operator, so we had arranged a private 8 day tour through Nairobi-Masai Mara-Naivasha-Manayara-Serengeti-Ngorongoro-Arusha. There are hundreds of companies offering similar services, so do your research and know what you want (parks, type of accommodation, number of people, etc.). Apart from the classic Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor, we used www.safaribookings.com, and exchanged emails with a dozen local operators. You can also book once you get to Nairobi, potentially much cheaper, but we were tight on time. We ended up booking with www.kenyawalk.com, who were very responsive on email and able to accommodate our preferences for a good price. They proved to be great for the Kenya part, but a bit of a disaster for the Tanzania part. Anyhow, most tourist groups that we chatted with were complaining about some aspect of their operator, so realize that you’re in Africa and things don’t always go as planned… don’t let it spoil your experience!
Apart from preparing for your safari, there isn’t much to do in Nairobi: a mosque, a park, non-secure streets, traffic :S A classic with locals and tourists is the restaurant Carnivore, where you can eat all you want all sorts of meats (though no ‘game’ anymore) for less than $30. The three of us enjoyed the hearty meal on our only night in Nairobi.