If you are a backpacker, independent passenger or more experienced safari-goer you might be considering your accommodation sources of your next stop by at Kenya. This article offers advice about the different types of accommodation and whether it is better to stay guest house booking in a nearby town when visiting the national parks. The answer does somewhat depend on your definition of “better” : in terms of quality usually it is not better, but in terms of cost it usually is. My recommendation is to stay not in the park but on the gate where you can usually find campsites and cheaper lodges than inside the park, but still enjoy the convenience of staying at the park.
For many backpackers and independent travellers, “better” can frequently mean “cheaper” so let’s start with that as a definition to decide the best place to stay. Although the cost of the accommodation in the towns will be below accommodation inside the parks, you also need to consider the cost of transport between the town accommodation and the park. Sometimes camping surpasses dim local guesthouses and can be the same price. Camping inside the parks is expensive, but just about parks in Kenya there are campsites on the park entrances that have good amenities (including cold beer) for about US$6-10 per person per night.
Aside from cost, there are more experiential updates of “better” to decide where to stay. Guesthouses in towns can offer a deeper insight into local culture and if you get lucky with your fellow guests it’s rather a very good experience. You have more freedom to explore when you are on the action. You can go out to find a local restaurant and again have a more local experience with your meals. Public transport to towns in Kenya is readily available so getting to your accommodation in a town is easier.
To counter these features, there are some things to consider. Local guesthouses are often co-located with a restaurant and bar so it can be quite raucous at night, especially if there is a big football game on. They also may not have products you can facilities that we might expect at home. While the overall cleanness might look OK, the attention to detail is often lacking. Many local establishments have squat toilets or even just a hole in the ground. If there is a lavatory, there is often not a lavatory seat. On the shore you will be hard-pressed to find a domestic hot water shower and national the domestic hot water showers are electric (so you have to make sure motion picture the switch to get hot water). If mosquito nets are provided, sometimes they have holes within them. Because most travellers do stay closer to the park, you also need to be prepared to be featured at as you will be a technique improvement (especially women).
If your priority for visiting that area is to see the wild animals in the park, then it is far more convenient to stay inside the park or just not in the gate, rather than in a nearby town. Realistically, the best towns are just not that close : for Maasai Mara you would be staying in Narok which is two hours away on a corrugated road, and for Samburu you would be looking for somewhere to stay in Isiolo which is over around 30 minutes away.
If you do want to stay in a local guesthouse then i suggest doing as much research as you can. Sites like Trip Counsellor may not be so for small local places, so you are in all probability better asking people who have been before : perhaps expats or Kenyans in Nairobi who have to travel to that area for work. It will help to find out the types of people who frequent the accommodation (is it based around business travellers or bus/truck drivers) and if there is anything to be especially aware of (i. e. some guesthouses act as the local brothel, which is only known to locals, not unwitting tourists).
Even if you prefer travelling independently, when visiting national parks in Kenya it is often much easier to go with a tour agent who can cater to your allowance and needs. Your safety and security is much higher with an agent and their information about the accommodation options means you have more choices available to you. But if you still prefer to go it alone, then hopefully this article has provided you to comprehend awareness about the disadvantages and benefits of different accommodation options.