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Camps to choose from for family safari.

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Hello,

Our first trip to East Africa - we would be travelling with our 4 year daughter, for about 12 days in Kenya and Tanzania. The broad plan is to go to Mara, then move to Serengeti and Ngorongoro. We then need to choose between Amboseli or fly to Zanzibar for some beach time.
The number of operators and camps is quite overwhelming. I have gone through a lot of info and trip reports on this forum and some camps under consideration are:
- Andbeyond Kitchwa Tembo tented camp, Masai mara
- Serengati options within Andbeyond are really expensive. Here Lamai Serengati or Serengeti Safari camp by Nomad Tanzania looks like good options
- andbeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is again ridicously expensive so alternative accommodation suggestions are needed here
- if we go to Amboseli, Tortilis looks like a good choice.
- if we go to Zanzibar, haven't figured out resort options as yet

Comments on the above camps and suggestions for camps in Ngorongoro crater and resorts in Zanzibar would be highly appreciated. We are looking at not basic tented accommodation. It needn't be opulent but creature comforts and good food is required.

Many thanks.

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    Where do you live that you have ZNZ- in there and know that the beach will easily take 3/days out of your itinerary... so rethink this for now.

    You did manage to select some of the most expensive camps but we don't know your budget and be aware that the animals don't care where you lay your head.

    Also know there is NO direct crossing between the Mara and Serengeti; easily a 10/hr drive or a flight and with a 4/yr old a slightly reduced rate on air as well accommodations. And depending on the month of travel there are different areas of the Serengeti better than others.

    Remember also besides Visas for both countries you'll require Yellow Fever inoc and proof of same for crossing from KEN to TNZ. And, of course, malaria meds for all as well suggested boosters as Tetanus, Hep-A, Polio, Typhoid... all to be discussed with doc and pediatrician. And sorry to say, you can't believe all the CDC or WHO have to comment re medical issues.

    Between KEN and TNZ as well the US and UK there are at least 2000 tour operators who can assist so no need to depend on andBeyond only. You do require a specialist for these countries.

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    Thanks sandi. AndBeyond is way too expensive. I am going to speak to nomad tanzania and gamewatchers to figure a safari package.
    The animals dont care for sure, but with my daughter, we do need more than basic surroundings in the camp. We may end up not doing a safari morning and evenings on all days, just relaxing or swimming etc at the camp.
    We have yellow fever inoc from an earlier brazil trip. My daughter definitely needs the yellow fever shot although she has all the other ones you mentioned.
    We are based in Delhi, India and would be travelling mid-June. Budget would be something like 5000 - 7000 USD per person for the entire trip.

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    You are trying to pack a lot into 12 days. Perhaps you need to drop the beach. I see you are from India and Goa and Kerala are as good.

    I would strongly recommend that you contact Gamewatchers. http://www.porini.com/ They have their own camps on conservancies but can also book you into lodges and other camps. They also cover Tanzania The conservancy concept is explained at http://www.porinisafaricamps.com/responsible-tourism.htm

    I am a real supporter of the conservancy concept for what it is achieving with conservation and community involvement. I suggest you look at http://www.maasaimaraconservancies.com. In essence,vast tracts of land are leased from the Maassai who agree to graze their livestock elsewhere. The local communities are closely involved with the camps and gain additional revenue from working there as guides, camp support etc.

    Some of the key benefit for the tourists are:

    1. excellent wildlife viewing with the ability to get close to the game - real off roading in 4x4's and not mini buses and amazing wildlife. On our trips we have seen some amazing things. Huge herds of elephants (>100) and other herbivores, hyenas making a kill, cheetahs making a kill, lions on a kill, leopards (3 in one day)

    2. no mini bus circus with lots of vehicles crowding the animals - the area is exclusive to the camps in the conservancy and number are managed closely. This is really important as the main park can be really overcrowded in the high season. I think you will find it less so in May

    3. options to have night drives,real game walks and all day drives. Many camps talk about game walks - they are often an "extra" to be paid for and usually are little more than a short stroll around a limited area. In the conservancies you can arrange to do have a real walk and lunch out. However, bear in mind that if you really want a lot of game viewing - on foot is not the best option as you tend to skirt the game rather than drive close.

    I prefer to stay away from the bigger lodges. If do wind up going to the beach you probable don't need a pool on your wildlife safari. If you think this is important then I suggest you mix and match. You could include a couple of nights at the Mara Serena and / or Mara Intrepids both of which have pools and activities for kids. The tented camps are great and the tents are very comfortable. The Porini camps run by Gamewatchers charming and comfortable. Don't expect manicured lawns and hot running water but very comfortable, Visit their website and take the tour. Each tent has a double bed and a single so should work well for you. There are flushing toilets and hot bucket showers available on request. They are now my favorite option for Kenya. The wildlife viewing and the guiding is simply outstanding. You could mix and match, but with the lodges you tend to miss out on the three key benefits noted above.

    I have stayed at Kichwa Tembo many years ago. It was nice but not outstanding. It is just outside the main Mara Reserve and looking at their pricing you can get good value in the conservancies

    After over a dozen safaris in the main Mara National Reserve I have come to prefer the more intimate camps and more exclusive game drives in the conservancies.

    I think the Porini camps are great and intimate and good value for what they provide. Most of the packages are all inclusive. Most trips involve one day out in the main park with lunch by the river to watch the crocs and hippos.

    They also have a great camp in their private conservancy in Amboseli http://www.porini.com/kenya.html?sub=amboseli-porini-camps

    With regard to Tanzania Having done the rounds of camp hopping a few times I now tend to just visit
    Alex Walker's mobile camps http://www.serian.net/thecamps/serengetimaswa.html His camp's move with the game and I have never been disappointed. All Alex's camps have great style and his Tanzania operation is no different great game, excellent guides and if you are "fit and active" you might want to ask for the option of walking and fly camping for a night or two.

    In Ngorongoro the Crater Lodge is great but expensive (especially when converting from INR) I have also stayed at the Serena there and it was good - large and less intimate but nice rooms with great views of the crater.

    For all my East Africa safaris I inevitably book with Gamewatchers and although I have not been to Zanzibar with them they booked a safari plus island holiday for some friends who were full of praise. They are flexible - well organised and really try and match your needs with the places they recommend.

    I see you are from Delhi - as you probably know the Wildlife viewing is very different to India. Also there is much more to do. The game droves are not as rigid as they are in many of the Indian parks (I used to work with WWF India and I am in Indian jungles twice a year) If you contact Gamewatchers they will discuss with you and plan a trip where you can mix lodges and intimate camps.

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    Hi , @shwets


    AndBeyond actually its luxury camp , thus why their prices are extremely higher , but for me i think even Nomad Tanzania are a bit expensive . I was there in last year But i want you try to check with Ngoeongoro Wild life Lodge . And in Serengeti Serengeti wildlife Lodge and regarding transport also check with this agency i used www.swaptours.webs.com . Cheers !

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    And for Zanzibar i recommend you o stay in Double tree or Essque Zalu in Nungwi beach at North side , try to check on this link also www.zanzibarhotels.webs.com , these two hotels are good for family staying , they have even Kids clubs for children to play , and other special program for kids .

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    We are currently working with E-trip Africa and they would be able to handle plans for any of the countries you mention. Ben has been wonderful and their prices are much more competitive. We tried working with Gametrackers and there were minimal options available as they prefer to use their own camps. Although their name doesn't come up much in reviews, E-tri is worth checking into as they break down each item individually--not just the whole package cost. We were originally going to do gorilla trekking, Tanzania Safari and Zanzibar for 9 days. To cut on our cost and travel, we are now just doing Rwanda/Kenya/Zanzibar. There were mixed reviews of the Crater and based on its expense, we decided to forgo that part of our trip. With regards to traveling with your 4 year old, we are looking at Mara Bush Camp because they offer other activities beyond safari. Also was considering Kisima Ngeda camp in Tanzania (outside the Crater)...again because there were daytime options that varied from just game drives. This might be something to factor in and see if a camp can offer some interesting day adventures for your child. I saw one review that said the camp held a tea party for their granddaughters and also one that mentioned craft making. Just a few ideas in reading various camp reviews.

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    Just one last thought...I saw good reviews for Mara Serena Lodge; it is funky looking but has a large swimming pool and bungalows. In Zanzibar, there are many good options at Nungwi Beach. We are looking at Z Hotel but that may not be a good choice for a child -- as others mentioned, you probably want either a good pool, good swimming beach (this is something to consider as many of the hotel beaches have tide and rocky issues), or childrens programs.

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    Hi Shwets, I cannot begin to tell you how fortunate your daughter is to have this opportunity. I took my 4 yr. old on safari in December and it was a magical experience. Knowing that children differ greatly, I can appreciate that you feel a need to have a bit more creature comforts than a basic camp. What surprised me the most about traveling with my 4 yr. old is his tolerance for going out all day and his heightened appreciation for wildlife and nature. Months later, he still recalls the trip, the animals, and guides – he flips through his photo album once a week with a big smile on his face. I don’t know if he will remember this trip years from now, or continue to recall all the details, but what’s impressed me the most is his stewardship for the environment and his care for animals – this experience will carry with him for the rest of his life!

    Now, onto the safari! I agree with the other posters that perhaps you should omit the beach option. Your time is limited and minimizing logistics will help with your child’s tolerance for the trip. The properties you have indicated are expensive – if you are seeking something a bit lower in cost, I recommend looking at Mara Intrepids. It is a larger luxury tented camp facility (30 tents), but they do have family tents and an “Adventurer’s Club” for kids. They also have a nice large pool to have a splash/swim. As it’s in the reserve, you can opt to bring in your own guide and vehicle so that you can have a private experience and go out on safari on your own schedule – budget permitting, I think this is a super option.

    You can also look into the Nomadic Encounter Bush Homes which drives fairly good value. Mara and Acacia House share a common pool and is located in the Mara North Conservancy. This ensures that you are away from the crowds! Further, Mara and Acacia House are booked for exclusive use – meaning that you have the house staff, guide and vehicle at your disposal. The flexibility of private chef and vehicle/guide may be a good fit for you and your family. You can easily spend 4-5 nights in the Mara.

    For your second safari destination, I recommend you select a camp/area that offers good game viewing, diversity of activities (more than the Mara) and perhaps some cultural interactions. My two favorite child friendly options to combine with the Mara are: Ekorian’s Mugie Camp and Sabuk Lodge. Both are owner operated and managed. Verity Williams at Sabuk is a legend and the managers at Ekorian are raising their very own children on property – both are super destinations. Again, you can easily spend 4 nights at either.

    One other thing to consider. Most people arrive into Nairobi for 1 night and depart the following AM for safari. Traveling with kids, you may want to consider spending 2 nights in Nairobi on the frontend to ease into the trip. Space permitting, the Giraffe Manor would be magical, but I also think that something like The Emakoko would be super too!

    Anyhow, good luck to you in your safari planning. My recommendation is to book with a safari specialist who has taken their own children on safari – they can speak from experience and give you the best pointers.

    Best,
    Kota Tabuchi – Managing Director: Africa – Travel Beyond

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    shwets,
    We found basic tented camps suitable for the entire family, including small children. However, for value and comfort(like 3 star hotels) you cant beat Serena & Sopa lodges

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