All Roads Lead To Naivasha For The WRC Safari Rally Action
By Kimberly Jones
The Safari Rally action is already underway in Naivasha and the excitement on the ground is palpable, understandably so as it has been a long time since an event of this magnitude took place in the country.
But why Naivasha? Gone are the historic routes spanning thousands of kilometers – and in their place, an upbeat Safari Rally that ticks all the boxes in terms of stages, distances, and format. What remains unchanged, though is the unique nature of the four-day event that sets it apart as the world’s toughest rally.
The choice of Naivasha as the hotspot for this sixth round of the 2021 World Rally Championship anchors on two main factors: the terrain, and the safety. If you have had a chance to see some of the excitement coming out of the flag-off yesterday, you will agree with me that a controlled environment is the safest option for both rally crew and passionate fans. The strategic situation of the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute and modern service center also makes it logistically possible for the technical crew to support their respective teams.
It’s not too late to make your way to Naivasha for the weekend action
Many travel agencies have special packages for those interested to experience this once-in-a lifetime opportunity.
Euray Safaris for instance has a 3-day package for Ksh 10,500 per person sharing. It includes return transport from Nairobi, accommodation at the Lillypond Safari Eco Tents, all meals, team building activities, a barbeque party and bonfire.
Bonfire Adventures and Events also has a special package: for Ksh 2000, you get transport to and from Naivasha to watch the rally at the spectator zones in Soy Sambu Conservancy and the Hells Gate National Park on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
For Ksh 7500, Kenya Outdoors Tours and Travel will take you to Elementaita to watch the rally action. The offer includes transport, 1-night camping, dinner and breakfast, spectacular stage viewing and an after party.
You also have the option of driving down, though I would advise you consider car-pooling. Remember, to access the spectator zones, you have to be on time (at least two hours in advance).
Where to catch the action
Friday 25 June
Section 2 and 3 starts at 07.15hrs SS3 / SS6 Kedong 1 and 2– 09.05 / 14.42 – 32.68kms. Kedong has hosted stages of the Safari Rally for decades. 2021 is no different being SS3 and SS6 of the event. A new layout of the stage from 2019 has been devised for this year. Kedong will host two large spectator areas. One at the lake end, second adjacent to Longonot.
Saturday 26 June
Section 4 and 5 Starts at 06.55hrs SS8 / SS11 Elmenteita 1 and 2 – 08.08 / 14.05 – 14.67kms Using tracks from Safari Rally of old, the stage takes in roads of the Soysambu Conservancy on the Delamere Estate and features new sections. The Delamere Estate has been part of the Safari Rally for decades and the support the family has for the rally is enormous.
SS9 / SS12 Soysambu 1 and 2 – 09.08 / 15.08 – 20.33kms Soysambu will feature as the WRC Live TV stage. With a large spectator and hospitality area at the start where there will be an opportunity to get up close to the cars before they start the special stage. Soysambu will be host to two large spectator areas. One at the start and one at the finish of the stage
SS10 / SS13 Sleeping Warrior 1 & 2– 10.22 / 16.22 – 31.04kms in the shadow of a hill that resembles a Maasai Sleeping Warrior, the special stage crisscrosses the natural plain before a rocky finish. The longest stage on Saturday it will be tricky for the crews whose tyres will have to cope with high-speed sections versus the coarse lava road surface.
Sunday 27 June
Section 7 Starts at 06.55hrs SS15 / SS18 Hell’s Gate 1 & 2– 08.38 / 13.18 -10.56kms. With perhaps the most scenic backdrop of any of the Power Stages on the World Rally Championship, Hell’s Gate is going to sign off Safari Rally on a high. With the finish line of the final stage alongside the picturesque Ficher’s Tower. A great opportunity for spectators to get close to the action of the final day and Power Stage.
The Crescent Island Game Sanctuary has simple, rustic and beautiful accommodation for six people available up to the final day of the rally on Sunday. You can reach out to the manager on +254759636468.
There’s also the Astorian Grand Hotel located next the Nairobi – Nakuru highway just opposite the Buffalo Mall with prices ranging between Ksh 6,500 – 11,000 per night.
A quick check on Airbnb reveals most private houses are booked this weekend but you can always check. The prices range from Ksh 2,500 per night to Ksh 15,000 for high end houses per night.
With the WRC Safari Rally taking place in the middle of a pandemic, you are reminded to observe the 3W’s – Wash hands, Wear a mask, Watch your distance. For those driving down, remember to observe all road safety rules. We have put together a list of essentials and encourage you to please tick the boxes as you finalize your plans for Naivasha. Happy Weekend.