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Is a safari boring after 8 days?

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Help. I am in the process of planning a safari, my dream vacation. I picked out a 12 day Kenya & Tanzania safari, wanting to see as much as possible within my land budget of $7000-8000 for 2 adults and a child. I have spoke to many people and naturally have gotten totally different advice. A couple of people said that it is too much to go on safari for more than eight or nine days, one said it would get boring. I can't imagine this, though I never done it so who knows. We are people who don't mind being on the move. My itinerary involves minibuses and in Tanzania 4 wheel drive vehicles. Is driving to the following really tough? Are we spending too much ime in a car and will all the traveling get to us? So here is the schedule:

Day 1 Nairobi-Aberdares - Treetop Lodge
Day 2 Abedares-Lake Nakuru National Park -
Day 3 Lake Nakuru - Maasai Mara National Reserve
Day 4 Maasi Mara cont.
Day 5 Maasai Mara-Nairobi-Amboseli
Day 6 Amboseli
Day 7 NgoroNgoro
Day 8 NgoroNgoro Crater
Day 9 NgoroNgoro-Serengeti National Park
Day10 Serengeti National Park
Day 11 Serengeti - Lake Manyara National Park
Day 12 Arusha Nairobi-fly to Zanzibar
Day 13-15 Beach
Day 16- Nairobi-fly home

Has anyone done a similar safari, or have advice? We are leaving June 25 - July 18. Thanks.

  • Report Abuse

    Personally I don't think 8 days is too much safari - especially if this is something you have long dreamed about.

    I do tend to prefer all my stays to be a minimum of 2 nights and it looks as if all yours are.

    I find long road transfers hard on the joints (but then I have arthritis) but on the other hand they are essentially further game viewing opportunities.

    There is so much expertise about Kenya and Tanzania right here on this forum, I'd definitely advise you to invest as many hours as you can searching for and reading relevant threads posted here in the past and also composing your own specific questions.

    Unless there's a hurry to book you can take the time to make sure this is just what you want.

    Happy travelling!
    Kavey

  • Report Abuse

    Cronen - As to the question of whether there is ever too many days game viewing/safari-time, my answer is clearly no. However, on this apparent revised itinerary you list, there will be lots of time on the roads, roads that aren't always in the best condition.

    That said, driving has it's benefits versus air in some instances, especially in Kenya as we got to see the country and people at eye-level which gave us a better understanding of the people and country.

    However, with the itinerary you now list, one of two things are evident - 1) you definitely want to see these reserves/parks, or 2) Raylene (or whatever other operator you are using) won't deviate from their set itineraries.

    If it is the itinerary you want, these are my comments and suggestions for modification:

    Day 1 - going to Treetops can be interesting for a child, if they can stay-up late to see the animals here; often the animals don't show till midnight earliest and even as late as 2-3am in the morning.
    Day 2 - Ok for 1-day, and it's a break in the long trip to the Mara.
    Day 3 - This is a long road trip, about 6-hrs, though the scenery in places is beautiful.
    Day 4 - at the Mara, sorry, but 2-days just isn't enough time (especially after a 6-hr drive the day prior, and then on
    Day 5 you'll be doing another 6-hr drive returning to NBO and then continuing onto Amboseli. Again, too much road time, and the road to Amboseli isn't a road, rather a rutted path with boulders that your driver has to navigate very carefully. The 20-miles from the Namanga border can take 4-hrs to drive. You'll all be basketcases upon arrival at your camp/lodge with all those hours on the road.
    Day 7 - The drive from Amboseli to Ngorongoro, also will be long, driving that same rutted road to Namanga (border) into Tanzania via Arusha and Lake Manyara onto the Crater. You'll be wiped-out and will certainly sleep well that night.
    Day 9 - to the Serengeti, you don't indicate where in the Serengeti which is very large, but if going much further then the center of the reserve, it is another long drive to the northern or western areas of the reserve. Here too, 2-days just aren't enough time; this should also be a 3-day stay. And I would recommend that from the Serengeti you FLY to Lake Manyara (instead of the very long drive back).
    Day 11 - Lake Manyara, 1-day here is fine.
    Day 12 - to Arusha by road. You indicate onto NBO to fly to Zanzibar, WHY? Zanzibar is in Tanzania, you should be able to get a flight from Arusha/Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar.
    Day 13-15 Beach - OK
    Day 16- From Zanzibar, you're fine with the flight from here to NBO and then home.

    The above is based on our own experiences driving and/or flying and where driving works, and where flying is/would be a better alternative.

    All I can do is make these suggestions based on experience. If you choose to consider some of these and Rayleene (or whichever tour operator) won't make changes, I'd look for someone else, someone who would.

    But in the end, it has to be your choice.


  • Report Abuse

    Dear Sandi,

    Thanks for your advice. It was just what we were looking for. We were unsure of the time between each place, as going by miles doesn't work on rough road! We learned that in Costa Rica. A drive /fly seems like a better way to go. I'm curious how much it will add to the trip. By the way, any suggestions on hotels in Zanzibar?

  • Report Abuse

    My first trip to Kenya was for close to a month and we drove everywhere and only stayed 2 nights at each place, except for the Mara where we stayed 3 nights. I cried when I had to leave. Everything is new to you and its your first trip and the driving, though long is still seeing the country and deciding if and where you will want to come back to. Enjoy. Liz

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    First of all, hello Liz!:-D

    Cronen: Your trip is very ambitious and while there is a great deal of driving, the parks you plan to visit offer their own "special" reason for visiting. Aberdare is a forest, Nakuru is a black and white rhino sanctuary, the Mara will be a complete contrast with its open plains, Amboseli (with Mt. Kili serving as a dramatic backdrop) will offer a plethora of elephant encounters, the Crater is a wonder unto itself, the Serengeti and, of course, your beach time. Each are different. To reiterate what Sandi said, I would have to agree that two days (really 1 1/2 when you consider your drive time) is not enough in the Mara. And I would say that as well about the Serengeti. Having said that, however, it depends on what time of year you are traveling. While the Mara is an extension of the Serengeti, the time of year plays a vital role in what you will see as far as wildlife. The Mara is known for the massive herds of wildebeest during our summer months. The southeastern section of the Serengeti (near Ndutu) is best for Jan. and Feb., which is historically the wildebeest calving seas. Our first trip to Tanzania and Kenya was a "dream come true" for me, so I wanted to make sure that I visited those places that I had heard of and dreamt of. Subsequently, I decided on a custom safari, with me determining how long I stayed in the areas I decided to visit, the type of accommodations - in essence what I wanted to do, rather than what many of the tour companies offered. I agree 100% with Kavey that eight days on safari is not too much. In fact, our next trip for October is three weeks (except for a total of three days). Never enough, never enough! And again Kavey hit the nail on the head when she pointed out that unless there is a rush, you should make this the dream trip that it should be for you and the others. Do as much research as you can, study as many maps as you can and then decide what is most important for you to go and see. Then, see if Raylene can do what you want at a price you are comfortable with, if not, I would consider another operator. Good luck with your planning!

  • Report Abuse

    I am not sure how old your child is but beware that age restrictions apply at Treetops.

    Having taken my children on safari several times, I would suggest you choose places which are child friendly and have children's activities which will keep your child interested all the time. My experience is that children need variety and will really get bored if you only do game drives.

    A good tour operator should be able to advise you properly on a family trip and my feeling is Rayleene may be inexperienced.

    Ideally, I would do Tanzania first and leave Kenya towards the end, especially as the migration will be arriving in the Mara around July. If you do Mara in June you will definitely miss the migration. However, as you want to go to Zanzibar, it is a bit awkward coming back to Kenya from Tanzania and then flying to Zanzibar. However, depending on your international airline, this routing might actually work out cheaper if it is included in your international air and therefore you might be better off starting with Tanzania.

    However starting with Kenya and keeping to your 15-day plan:

    Day 1-2 Sweetwaters. Has a chimp sanctuary and a conservation center, interesting for the child as well as adults. Spending 2 days in one place will give you a chance to recover from any jetleg
    Day 3-5 Mara fly from Nanyuki. Mara Intrepids camp or Kichwa Tembo are very good for children. I would spend 3nts here.
    Day 6 Fly to Nairobi and drive to Amboseli (4-5hrs)
    Day 7 Amboseli
    Day 8 Drive to Lake Manyara
    Day 9-10 Serengeti Serena( try and catch the tail end of the migration heading for Masai Mara)
    Day 11-12 Ngorongoro
    Day 13-15 Fly from Arusha to Zanzibar

    Starting with Tanzania
    Day 1 Amboseli (4-5hr drive)
    Day 2 Amboseli
    Day 3 Manyara
    Day 4-5 Ngorongoro
    Day 6-7 Serengeti
    Day 8 fly to Arusha then to Nairobi
    Day 9 Drive to Sweetwaters
    Day 10 Sweetwaters
    Day 11-13 Mara (fly from Nanyuki)
    Day 14-16 Fly to Nairobi then to Mombasa or Zanzibar

    However, I feel that with the above plans, there is too much game viewing for the child so I suggest you cut down the game parks you are visiting. For example, Serengeti is probably not necessary after visiting the Mara. The child will definitely find both very similar. I also find the Kenya camps more child-friendly then the Tanzania ones.

    My most successful trip with the children so far has been:

    Day 1-3 Fly to Masai Mara ( the children were so excited to see the big game in the first few game drives but their enthusiasm was waning a bit towards the end - not easy to get them up early morning for the game drives).
    Day 4 Nairobi staying at Macushla House, visiting the Giraffe Center and also Daphne Sheldrick's orphanage the following day (something different for children to do and it worked)
    Day 5 Ark (they loved the experince of staying in an enclosed 'ship' and exploring it)
    Day 6 - 7 Sweetwater's (the chimp sanctuary and the rhino center were a big hit)
    Day 8 - 10 Wilderness Trails (expensive but worth it. The people who own it have their own children who got on well with ours).
    11-13 Fly to Nairobi, then to Mombasa or Zanzibar. For the beach Mombasa is equally good and Voyager's Beach Hotel is very child friendly with lots of activites.

  • Report Abuse

    Dear King,
    I also heard that the giraffe center was interesting for children. Did you do a custom itinerary or did you go with a planned safari? Any recommendations on who to use? I find all of it overwhelming. At first I was considering Botswana, but was told by several people, that Kenya with children was the place to go for the first visit. Having then set my sights there, the decision becomes whether to use a tour operator from here or like many seasoned travelers suggest, use a local operator from the country your going to visit. The prices vary so much and it is hard sometimes to find the differences, unless you know what to look for. Finally, what safari to choose? I have gone on well known operators sites to overview their safaris to get an idea, but it is still seems like TMI (too much information). Everything sounds great!

  • Report Abuse

    Here is the Iternity we chose. It is with a Nairobi based company. My sister used them last year. I have been in weekly contact with my rep changing my plans over and over again. She, Plilomena, never became frustrated with me. In fact we have plans to meet for a drink personally, to thank her for all her hard work. My husband and I wanted a private safari so we weren?t obligated to others interest or schedules.
    Is all inclusive of meals and some drinks, there are 2 game drives each day in Kenya: We cut our cost by 2/3 by contacting them directly. Go2Afrika uses them as their alnd operators


    Day 1: 25 June 04:
    You will be met and collected by a Suntrek representative. Transfer and overnight at the Hotel Intercontinental.
    Day 2: 26 June 04:
    After breakfast, morning at leisure. In the afternoon, you will be taken to the Giraffe Centre and the Karen Blixen Museum. After that you will be taken to the Carnivore Restaurant for dinner. Overnight at the Hotel Intercontinental.
    (Breakfast & Dinner provided on this day)

    Day 3: 27 June 04:
    Dinner and overnight at the Amboseli Sopa Lodge,
    Day 4: 28 June 04:
    Full day in Amboseli. Dinner and overnight at the Amboseli Sopa Lodge.
    Day 5: 29 June 04:
    depart for Mountain Lodge.
    Day 6: 30 June 04:
    drive and head north to the dramatic semi-arid scrubland of the Northern Frontier. luxurious Samburu Serena Lodge.
    Day 7: 01 July 04:
    Further exploration of this fascinating reserve awaits you. overnight Samburu Serena Lodge.
    Day 8: 02 July 04:
    depart to Sweetwaters Tented Camp - a overnight at Sweetwaters Tented Camp.
    Day 9: 03 July 04:
    depart for onward journey to Nakuru. overnight at the Lake Nakuru Lodge.
    Day 10: 04 July 04:
    depart for Masai Mara - Sopa Lodge for overnight stay.
    Day 11: 05 July 04:
    overnight stay at the Mara Sopa Lodge.
    Day 12: 06 July 04:
    depart for Nairobi. On arrival in Nairobi you will be transferred to the airport to connect your flight to Mombasa.
    MOMBASA SECTOR:
    Day 12- 18: 06 July 04:
    On arrival in Mombasa, you will be collected and transferred to the Voyageur Beach Resort -
    Day 19: 13 July 04:
    Morning at leisure, transfer to the airport to connect your Mombasa flight to Nairobi. On arrival in Nairobi, change to Terminal 2 and connect your flight home.

  • Report Abuse

    Dear Katj,
    Sounds like a great itinerary. I have considered just doing Kenya to reduce all the traveling. How did you go about researching where you wanted to go. Did you choose it by animals or lodges, etc. How did you finally decide? Who knows, we may cross paths as I'll be these at the same time!

  • Report Abuse

    Hi, I have spent months researching the animal patterns during that time of year. We are not big bird watchers so we chose a more rapid pace, seeing all the different animals that we could. Like my husband said, we are not going that far not to see lions, tigers, elephants ect. As you will find, most tours use the same lodges or simular. We did request a night at the Sweetwaters tented camp so we could "Sleep Under Canvas" on night. Other than that it was my sisters reccomendation on the Suntrek Safari Co. and what type of vehicals we could tolerate (A/C 4x4's privately owned) Be careful. Some don't use their own vehec. and you could get stranded for hours without any back up (roads less than OK) Some of Ambrocrombi Kent Budget safari's cost 5 or 6 times what we paid. They stay at the same Lodges,where the food is all the same. OK we don't get the sun hat! My savings of over 9,000 will provide me the oppertunity to buy my own! We are not expecting The Ritz Carliton but a true safari experence in lodges rated 4*. BTH, we told our operator that we wanted 2 nights in Nairobi at the Intercontanental Hotel so we could get our witts about us and see a few things there before setting off on our journey. They include in our package dinner a Carnivors, Giraffe Center and at the Museum .

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    Hi,

    I hope you have a great experience. Please post back on the board when you come back to let everyone know how it went. I am researching away, and hopefully will get the ideal safari. Thanks for the info about the cars. The operator I have been dealing with doesn't have their own cars. I didn't realize that if the car broke down it could be hours. If it is with a company who has its own cars the response time would be better I assume. These are all things one needs to know. Thanks again.

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    Cronen

    I have always used Vintage Africa who are a reputable company and work with many American operators I believe. Their staff and guides are excellent and their service fantastic. You will find them competitive as well. With them we always receive the safari hat and other goodies (different everytime). They also have their own safari manual which is complementary and contains detailed maps of wildlife reserves, wildlife checklists, information of various East African habitats and other general information.

    There are other operators which have been mentioned here that you may also wish to contact. In my opinion it would be better to contact companies that people have already experienced rather than are on the verge of experiencing.

    All my trips are customised, however, they work out slightly more expensive than joining a group, but booking direct definitely brings the cost down. I tend to use 4WD Landcruisers for my Kenya and Tanzania trips although they work our more expensive than the minibuses. However, there is nothing wrong with minibuses and in fact they are more comfortable on longer road journeys. In June and July minibuses would be fine.

    My advice for you would be to cut down the number of game reserves you are visiting as your child will get bored and instead focus on fewer reserves and more variety. Also stay longer in the Masai Mara if you can.

    Perhaps your itinerary could look like this:
    Day 1 - 3 Masai Mara (fly to avoid a long drive after a long flight)- stay at Mara Intrepids which has children's activities. You could increase Mara by another night.
    Day 4 - fly to Nairobi, stay at Macushal House, visit Giraffe Center
    Day 5 - visit Daphne Sheldrick (check opening times), drive to Lake Nakuru
    Day 6 Ark (age restrictions)
    Day 7-8 Samburu Intrepids
    Day 9-10 Sweetwaters, visit chimps and rhino center and take a trip to Mt. Kenya Safari Club
    Day 11-13 Drive back to Nairobi, fly to Mombasa

    Most people usually leave Masai Mara to the last but I find that with kids it works better to have it first. However, as July is the start of the migration season you may wish to leave Mara to the end.

  • Report Abuse

    katj232 - You state:

    >>we are not going that far not to see lions, tigers, elephants<<

    Please know you will not see Tigers o your East Africa Safari, because "there ae NO TIGERS in Africa" (except, maybe in a zoo); Tigers are found in Asia and India.

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    Liz it's so good to see your post!!

    The paved road between Arusha and Ngorongoro (in fact, it might go as far as Nairobi to the Crater) is now almost complete, so it will not be the challenging rutted road you'll experience in much of Kenya.

    As everyone else stated, no matter how long your trip is you'll most likely leave wanting more. I too cried when we left (glad to see I'm not alone). My opinion about the Mara is that it can be done in two days of game drives. We had three days and I felt I knew the park pretty well by that time. Though it looks like you might only have two days worth of game drives, which is about perfect. Not sure how much time you'll actually be spending at Ngorongoro Crater, but one day is all you'll need. In fact, I'd spend only one night at the Crater and more time in the Serengeti. On the drive from the Crater to the Serengeti, you can stop at Olduvai Gorge and Shifting Sands for something a little different, and game drive along the way (that driving time would be well spent). Your time at Lake Manyara is about right -- one day is perfect.

  • Report Abuse

    Well, taking everyone's advice I have revised my itinerary where I think it will be less driving. How does this sound:
    Day 1.Aberdares-treetops
    Day 2.Lake Nakuru
    Day 3.Masai Mara
    Day 4.Masai Mara
    Day 5.Mara Mara extra day may not be necessary though advisable if you have
    enough time.
    Day 6.TAKE MORNING FLIGHT DEPARTING MARA AT 1100 HOURS ARRIVING NAIROBI AT
    1200 HOURS LUNCH AT NAIROBI AND DEPART FOR AMBOSELI-NOW ROAD VERY
    GOOD.Ovenight at Amboseli Serena.
    Day 7.Full day in Amboseli -Overnight at Amboseli serena
    Day 8.not long driving distance from Arusha to Manyara.
    Amboseli to Namanga to Lunch in Arusha proceed to LAKE MANAYARA SERENA
    LODGE.
    Day 9 .Ngorongoro Serena
    Day 10.Ngorongoro Serena
    Day 11.Ngorongoro to Serengeti distance shortened-overnight Serengeti serena
    lodge
    Day 12.Full day in Serengeti -Serengeti Serena lodge
    Day 13.Another full day in Serengeti -Serengeti Serena lodge.
    Day 14-TAKE MORNING FLIGHT TO ARUSHA.LUNCH IN ARUSHA AFTERNOON FLY TO
    ZANZIBAR.

    I'm not sure about staying the third day at Mara Mara. My daughter is requesting a visit with giraffes so I'm thinking of going to the giraffe center for a day. I'm wondering with the increase in cost if flying is worth it?

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    Just a couple of comments -

    Have you considered the Tortillis Camp in Amboseli? A bit pricy - but, oh so worth it! Definitely my favorite place!

    For your child - make sure you bring along lots of snacks (I brought mine from home -not wanting to rely on airports or local stores). Having them in the jeep during the daytime rides was a life-saver.

    Don't feel bad about letting your child play with a GameBoy after the 2nd or 3rd day. As exciting as the animals, scenery, environment is for us grownups - be realistic - after you've seen 30 giraffes - number 31 just isn't THAT exciting!!!

    Have fun!

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    ooops, forgot to ask about Samburu and my last posting. I am taking advice and consider Samburu as it seems to have different animals. Especially the giraffe, as my daughter is into this. Any suggestions on what I should switch with to rearrange? Is it something a child would be more interested in? Thanks again for all the suggestions and advice, it really helps.

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    Cronen -

    Though you mentioned you already have your international air tickets, you've never mentioned when you arrive in NBO on Day 1. If you arrive in the morning, I would suggest you spend the first day in NBO and overnight there first night. By doing this, you can, after you've checked into your hotel, arrange to drive out to the Giraffe Center. Here you will all, especially your child (by the way, how old?), be able to see giraffes "up close and personal" and even hand feed them.

    Your little one will think you are the best! A prince of a man! And you two adults will enjoy this also.

    Afterwards, you can just relax from your long flight, have dinner and a good nights sleep - and ready for your adventure the next day.

    On your last itinerary, I noticed you had 3-nights at Ngorongoro crater. Too much, you only need 2-nts, the one on day of arrival, the following day you will spend in the crater, then that evening = 2 nts. Then head into the Serengeti.

    Also note, that a day at camps/lodges is from Lunch thru Breakfast following day, and so on. So if flying from the Mara and having lunch in NBO is good, but realize you still have a long haul after lunch from NBO to Amboseli, especially on portion from Namanga into Amboseli.

    hlphillips - good to hear the road to Manyara/Ngorongoro has been paved.

    anyone - Cronen indicates on his latest itinerary that road from Amboseli/Namanga or vice versa is paved???? I don't think so. Can someone clarify this for Cronen and myself.

    I know that the road from NBO to Namanga to Arusha is paved and from Arusha to the Lake Manyara cut-off is paved; and with hlphillips recent info above paved onto Manyara to Ngorongoro.

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    Sandi:

    I drove from Amboseli to Namanga the end of January. They were working on the road with large graders leveling it off and moving the rocks but there was no pavement at that time anyway.
    It was not a bad drive.

    Jan

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    Cronen: I do not think two days is enough for the Masai Mara. We were there for four and I could have stayed longer - however, we were not traveling with a child. This is especially true depending on what time of year you are traveling there. If during the Migration (which July is - depending on the rains, of course) I can guarantee that if you spend only two nights there, you will be disappointed that you did not stay longer. If you are traveling in July, I would skip the Serengeti and spend the time in the Mara. Fly into the Mara and stay at a camp furthest from where most of the drive-in safari goers stay. I would suggest the Mara Serena area, Kichwa Tembo, Governor's Camp - in those areas. Less crowded than other areas of the park. Good luck in your planning.

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    Jan - Thanks. Glad to know that something is being done with the Namanga to Amboseli road. A simple dirt road is sure better that what many of us have previously experienced. Now lets, hope that this dirt road doesn't turn to mud during the rains! LOL
    Maybe one year they'll actually pave it!

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