Review: Air Kenya, Cessna 208B Caravan, Ngrende Airstrip – Nairobi Wilson, Kenya

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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.

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Review: Air Kenya Cessna 208B Caravan, Ngrende Airstrip – Nairobi Wilson, Kenya.

Before we knew it, it was time to leave. It was very sad to leave the Maasai Mara as the place sort of has a unique beauty to it. 

We transferred by safari truck from the Fairmont to the Ngrende Airstrip. The Air Kenya aircraft was waiting for us on arrival with the engines off and was loaded with people all ready in transit. It must have been waiting awhile since we didn’t hear or see the sound of the aircraft engines on approach or on our transfer.

Air Kenya on the Ngrende Airstrip
Ngrende Airstip Facilities and Outbuildings

The pilots assisted with loading of the luggage. There was no security check of the bags on the outbound and for unknown reasons, the lounge / souvenir shop that we saw on the way in was closed.

The Duty Free Shop was closed today

Today’s equipment type was a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan. The cockpit featured the upgraded avionics. 

Upgraded Avionics on Today’s Flight
Air Kenya 
Mara Ngrende – WIL (Ngrende Airstrip – Nairobi Wilson Airport)
XAK 952 – single class of service.
4:15 PM – 5:45 PM
November 25, 2013
Booked: Unassigned on purchase
Flown: Cessna 208B Caravan.

Once on board, we had a pre-flight safety briefing by the captain along with the in-flight service of the passing of the mints and Air Kenya branded bottle water. I ended up in a seat one row behind the cockpit, which was not fenced off.

A great view of the flight deck
Air Kenya Branded Water
In Flight Safety Card
My Swahili has always been a little rusty

Our views from our flight out of The Maasai Mara:

We had a smooth flight out of Ngrende at 9,500 feet over the beautiful Rift Valley. The Rift Valley was known as the location of the first discovered Homo Sapien human remains. MrsWT73 enjoyed the Cessna 208 more than the Twin Otter. She found the flight to be more stable overall. Of course, it could have been the better weather with less clouds. 

Maasai Mara Views on the Climb to Altitude
Views of a Portion of the Rift Valley

On our descent, we passed over some of the more expensive residential estates in Nairobi in the Karen neighbourhood. The Karen neighbourhood was named after Karen Blix and made famous from the Hollywood movie Out of Africa. It was at least proof that poverty in Nairobi is not everywhere.

Residential Estates in Karen, Nairobi

Landing at Wilson Airstrip:

We had a straight in touch down at Wilson Nairobi and an immediate taxi over to the Air Kenya Hangar. As can be expected on a smaller plane, the views of the approach were really good.

Avionics for Landing
On Final Approach at Wilson Nairobi
Air Kenya Cessna 208B Caravan on the Ground at Wilson
A Tug is not A Tug unless it’s from a tractor!

The baggage was taken off and carted directly through the helicopter hangar while passengers walked around through the entrance and through the parking lot to the street. We passed by the baggage tagging station with the old-fashioned style baggage tagging with the pre-printed destinations.

Proof Computers aren’t everywhere
Arrival Bench for Air Kenya Wilson Airport

The checked bags were placed on a curbside counter and attended by Air Kenya baggage claim attendants. The baggage claim attendants were attentive in asking if transport had been arranged prior to releasing the bags. I am assuming it is because people get mugged with their bags. As our driver had not turned up, the baggage claim attendant insisted that we call the transfer company prior to him releasing the bags. I went over to the Air Kenya office and the security guard offered to call on my behalf. Fortunately, the driver turned up at that minute and we loaded ourselves up for the Jomo Kenyatta airport via the Fairmont Norfolk to collect our other luggage’s and have dinner prior to a transfer out to Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for our Swiss International Flight Nairobi – Zurich.

My Last Thoughts on Air Kenya:

Overall, like our outbound trip, 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.


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