Review: Air Kenya, Twin Otter, Nairobi Wilson – Ngrende Airstrip, Kenya
It’s not every day that you get to take a propeller plane into the Maasai Mara. Unlike South Africa, most of Kenya’s National Parks are best accessed by air. This made an air connection essential in order to see any wild animals. This outlines our experience booking and travelling from the city to the Serengeti.
This post is one chapter on our trip to South Africa, a Safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Mauritius. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
Read More from This Trip
- Trip Introduction: South Africa, Kenya & Mauritius via South African Airways, Swiss and Air Canada Business Class
- Vancouver Airport Transborder Maple Leaf Lounge
- United Business Vancouver – Chicago O’Hare
- United Club Chicago O’Hare – Concourse B
- United Club Chicago O’Hare – Concourse C
- United Business First Chicago O’Hare – Sao Paolo International
- Intercontinental Chicago O’Hare
- United Business Chicago O’Hare – Washington Dulles International
- Lufthansa Senator Lounge – Washington Dulles
- South African Airways Business Class Washington Dulles – Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport Dakar
- Dakar Technical Stopover
- South African Airways Business Class Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport Dakar – O.R. Tambo Johannesburg International Airport
- South African Airways Baobab Lounge – O.R Tambo Johannesburg Terminal A Domestic
- South African Airways Economy Class O.R. Tambo Johannesburg – Cape Town international
- Westin Cape Town
- A Visit to Robben Island: South Africa’s Most Famous Jail
- Exploring Table Mountain by Cable Car, Cape Town
- Where the Two Oceans Meet: Visiting Cape Point at Cape of Good Hope
- The Test Kitchen
- Le Quartier Français – Franschhoek
- Touring Western Cape Winelands in Stellenbosch and Franschoek
- The Tasting Room
- South African Airways – Cape Town Cyobab Domestic Lounge
- South African Airways Economy Class – Cape Town – O.R. Tambo Johannesburg
- Hyatt Regency Rosebank Johannesburg
- Soweto & Informal Settlement Tour
- SAA Baobab Premium Lounge – OR Tambo Johannesburg
- South African Airways Business Class O.R. Tambo Johannesburg – Mauritius
- St Regis Mauritius – A Beachfront Suite
- St Regis Mauritius – Le Morne Penninsula, Iridium Spa and The House Reef
- Air Maurituis Amédée Maingard Lounge
- South African Airways Business Class Mauritius – O.R. Tambo Johannesburg
- South African Airways Business Class O.R. Tambo Johannesburg – Jomo Kennyata Nairobi, Kenya
- Fairmont Norfolk, Nairobi
- Travelling the Gritty Streets of Nairobi, Kenya
- Air Kenya – Wilson Airport – Ngrende Airstrip
- Fairmont Mara Safari Club
- Locating Elephants, Rhino’s and Giraffes in the Maasai Mara, Kenya
- Being Surrounded by Lions in the Maasai Mara, Kenya
- Dancing with the Elders at a Maasai Mara Village in the Rift Valley, Kenya
- Air Kenya Ngrende Airstrip – Nairobi Wilson
- Swiss Air Business Nairobi – Zurich
- Swiss Air Arrivals Lounge – Zurich
- Swiss Air Concourse D Lounge (non Shengen) Zurich
- Swiss Air Business Zurich – London Heathrow Terminal 1
- Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge – London Heathrow Terminal 3
- Air Canada / SAS Lounge – Heathrow Terminal 3
- Air Canada London Heathrow – Vancouver International
Review: Air Kenya Twin Otter, Nairobi Wilson – Ngrende Airstrip, Kenya.
Our car transfer service with Pamoja tours arrived to the Fairmont Norfolk about 30 minutes early at the Fairmont Norfolk. The front desk was kind enough to call the room to advise us of their arrival. We headed down and checked out. A different driver was waiting for us today.
There are essentially two major domestic air carriers serving between Nairobi Wilson airport and Ngrende Airstrip: Air Kenya and Safari Link. After a little internet research, we decided on Air Kenya as they had a smaller over weight baggage fee than Safarilink which we felt we may have had to use at some point. You’ll want to avoid Mombasa Air Services (if they are still in operation) after they had a fatal crash departing Ngrende Air Strip in 2012.
The Wilson airport is similar to any private airpark in that there is no main terminal building, but many smaller hangars owned by the various air companies. You will need to provide the air company to the car transfer service as otherwise you won’t find your taxi as the buildings and hangars are quite spread out around the perimeter of the Wilson airport.
On arrival to the Wilson airport, a security check was conducted for all checked and hand baggage. The weight limit of Air Kenya was 15 kilograms per passenger. On our visit, both our bags were weighed together on the same scale (adding together the allotted weight). Those that were slightly overweight, may be able to take advantage of their travel companion’s unused allowance as the cases were weighted together. Curiously hand luggage (laptops bags and purses) were not weighed. The baggage tagging was the old fashioned style with pre-printed luggage tags.
We presented our passports to check in. We were given baggage claim tags and re-useable boarding cards.
We proceeded through a security screening into holding lounge which had a coffee shop and small retail store of mostly women’s clothing.
From the general waiting area, there was a great view of aircraft operations immediately next to Kenyan Police Hangar and a United Nations Canada Air Regional Jet parked on the other. There appeared to be a school tour on today as well…
Time to board. We were escorted out to the tarmac in a large group. Equipment type today was a Twin Otter. MrsWT73 sadly remarked that there “would be no bubbles on today’s flight”. Indeed we were lucky to get any food and beverage at all with today’s catering.
The in flight safety briefing was conducted by captain. Accompanied on this trip with a first officer. Our flight plan today was at 10,000ft. Twelve out of fourteen passengers en route to Ngrende Airstrip today. No 3 letter airport sign here, just GPS co-ordinates.
On climb out, had to wait for several smaller aircraft waiting to use runway.
Climb took us out over Kiberia Slum then westward to Ngrende. Flight was bumpy due to clouds at our particular elevation.
Our in flight service consisted of wrapped sweets that were passed around in a tupperware contained, with bottled water available in the cooler at the back of the plane (self service).
Before we knew it, we were in the middle of nowhere without a sealed road to be found.
Landing at Ngrende Airstrip:
We had a very gradual descent into Ngrende. A hard left turn and we were approaching the airstrip. I deliberately neglected to inform MrsWT73 that we were not landing on a paved sealed runway with an ILS but rather a dirt strip. She dealt with it pretty good. A short stop on the dirt runway with a U turn at the end and we were ready to disembark.
Getting off the plane, we got our first look at Ngrende airstrip. We were met by Fairmont representatives who assisted with the unloading and escorting of baggage off the plane. The plane remained “HOT” during the unloading process with propellers running at idle speed on the right side of the aircraft.
My Last Thoughts on Air Kenya:
Overall, Air Kenya was a great way to get to our safari. Purchase of the flights was handled via the website without incident or complications. The equipment was upgraded with current avionics and their flights operated two man crews (pilot and co-pilot). I would happily choose them again if we returned to the Maasai Mara.