As many years as I have been teaching African and African American history I have to confess that I did not know until recently that safaris come in all sizes and a variety of packages. These excursions to observe the animals of Africa in their natural environments are not at all exclusively for the rich.
This fact says so much about how the media shapes our perceptions. A few weeks ago, everyone to whom I mentioned that we were going to Kenya asked if we would be going on a safari. What followed was often a conversation about the exorbitant costs of safaris.
Now I am in Kenya only to find out that, thanks to a progressive government policy, there are national parks that everyone from schoolchildren to foreigners can access at an affordable cost. In fact, it is clear that Kenya as a part of their school curriculum regularly expose their young to these parks on field trips. There seems to have been a longstanding commitment to encouraging young people to be good stewards of this incredible wildlife heritage.
I was happy to find out that one can enter a National Park for about $80 and stay overnight at a campsite from as little as $20. (For comparison, Disneyland is about $90 a day.) Hotel prices also vary from the low end to the high. The greatest challenge is the airfare, but these days, good old fashioned competition is driving down prices. Many airlines fly there including Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways, British Airways, KLM, Qatar Airways and others.
So how do we explain the persistent perception that this is an experience primarily for the rich?
The reality is that Kenya became an independent nation in 1963 (having been colonized by the British) and many of these parks were set up only a few short years after. Lake Nakuru National Park, for example, was set up 4 years later at the height of independence fervor.
The good news is that the safaris of Kenya are accessible and affordable. May many from around the world come and discover all they have to offer.
Here’s a peek of what you will see when you come: