5 Points about Safari Rally Kenya – In Kenya, ask anyone above the age of 40 years what his or her favorite childhood memory was and the Safari Rally subject will begin. By then, the country would be united over the Easter festivity period as heroes and legends were born during the tough cross-country race.

Institutions of learning and businesses would be closed ‘unofficially’ to ensure everyone watched the motorsports spectacle, and if the race happened to pass through your region the excitement would go through the roof. Names like Joginder Singh, Shekar Mehta, Juha Kankunen, Carlos Sainz, Colin McRae, Tomi Makinen, Patrick Njiru, Ian Duncan, Vic Preston and Bjorn Waldegard are forever remembered for their conquests at the event. 

Rallying is arguably the oldest motorsport in the world. Whether it’s a weekend hobby sport to you or being an international phenomenon, rally roots are far-reaching and have tons of die-hard enthusiasts. The contributions it has made to the car manufacturing industry would not be enjoyed today if it wasn’t for the competitive instinct for speed and the desire to win.

Historically, overseas drivers would find it difficult to win, probably because they lack experience of driving in East African tough road conditions. More often than not, local drivers, have won the rally particularly in its early years, but also since 2003, when the only person to break the Kenyan monopoly on the trophy has been the Zimbabwean driver Conrad Rautenbach in 2007.

In the rally’s history, the most successful driver in the event is the late Shekhar Mehta, who won the rally five times between 1973 and 1982, a record most closely threatened by Carl Tundo, who won in 2004, 2009, 2011 and 2012.

The rally and its history

The Safari Rally began in 1953 as the East African Coronation Rally in honor of Queen Elizabeth II, who had ascended to the British crown the year before. She’ had been in Kenya as part of her royal tour when she learnt of her father’s death, King George IV.

The inaugural winners were Alan Dix and his navigator Johnny Larsen in a Volkswagen Beetle. The founder of the Safari Rally, Eric Cecil – who was a legendary adventurer having won the Nairobi-Johannesburg Rally in 1946 – won the 1956 race and wanted an event that would push the car and driver to the limits of physical endurance.

The rally became the East African Safari Rally in 1960 after the coronation fever ended and the independence movement gained momentum across Africa. In 1974, it became the Safari Rally after political disagreements within the East African Community. The rally now remains a sole Kenyan affair. Its legendary status grew with more drivers joining and most of them failing to finish the race.

Kenya’s beautiful scenery and wildlife heritage make it a memorable experience with the competition circuit passing through the wilderness, open savannas, tricky gorges and public roads full of wildlife. Vehicles would navigate past the Big 5 and even cattle. Occasionally, rally drivers would be involved in road accidents the notable ones being Juha Kankunnen hitting a cow and Carlos Sainz colliding with an antelope.

This came with some good news as the rally caught the eye of several international drivers and vehicle manufacturers who then flooded into Kenya in the 1960s to be part of one of the most publicized motor sports events in the world. The grueling nature of the rally meant that a win at the Safari Rally was equated with winning 3 or 4 European rallies.

The Safari Rally became a World Rally Championship event in 1973 cementing its legendary status and making it the most popular rally in the motor sports’ calendar. It became a car manufacturer’s marketing avenue and dream as winning it would prove that you had the toughest and best car in the world.

The rally reputation

Today, although the Safari Rally still has the status of a World Rally Championship event, its reputation as the world’s toughest rally ensures it attracts a fair quota of professional drivers.

Every year in the month of June and for three days, some of the world’s finest rally drivers converge on Kenya to face the multiple challenges of mud, fatigue and diabolical roads in one of the world’s greatest motor sporting events: the Safari Rally. On the trails of the rally crews come top mechanics, team managers, journalists, photographers and spectators who cannot resist the event’s magic.

The rally and tourism

For Kenya to convince the FIA that it was ready to host the event the event FIA looked at the routes, which were scenic and challenging with a power stage at the Hell’s Gate National Park, which is absolutely stunning with it to die for volcanic plugs.

The Safari Rally adventurously and scenically designed route will launches in the heart of the capital city, Nairobi, and continue to the southern shore of the beautiful Lake Naivasha. Chui Lodge and Oserian, both in the Oserengoni Wildlife Conservancy Estate which is home to giraffes, zebras, lions, leopards, giraffes, antelope and buffalo.

From Lake Naivasha, a stretch further north to Lake Elmenteita hosts the next stage opening with Elmenteita’s tracks in the Delamere Estate, followed by Soysambu and Sleeping Warrior section, set in the shadow of a hill that resembles a Masai warrior lying down.

On the grand finale, the rally spans both the north and south sides of Lake Naivasha. The forested Loldia to the north and Hell’s Gate where the rally ends embraced by thousands of spectators and Masai dancers.

The Safari Rally is a heritage event for Kenya and is a major income-generating activity. It is believed that about USD 50 million is directly pumped into the country’s economy and additionally, viewed by millions of people across the globe making it a huge marketing event for Kenya. It is a huge statement why Kenya is optimally positioned as a tourist destination.

Entrust our experts to plan, book your accommodation and help you with execution of your Saari Rally Experience.

Oluokos Signature team will be of great help to you. Make timely arrangements with us now for the last weekend of June 2023 Safari Rally.  

Engage us to plan your accommodation, transport with 4×4 land cruiser so you can maneuver in the nature conservancies with the help of our professional driver guides who know the defined route very well

  • Pre and post wildlife safaris packages to Western Kenya, Masai Mara, Aberdares, Lake Nakuru, Amboseli and other destinations in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo
  • Airport and other from point-to-point transfers within Kenya
  • All level of accommodation reservation and bookings
  • Vehicle hire with our driver at your disposal
  • Local excursions and visitation to other key points of interests

For more details, reach us on +254572533434 or via our website Oluokos Signature