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Kenya + Seychelles Honeymoon

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Hi all,

I'm looking at honeymoon options and this is our holy-crap-not-sure-we-can-afford-this-but-what-could-possibly-be-more-amazing option. So, we are putting together a sample itinerary.

First off, is it really that much of a game changer/necessary to use a travel agent or African specialist when planning, or can a trip like this be organized on our own with research? I've sent some package options too but I tend to like to personalize...

Should we spend a night in Nairobi after the long flight to recoup before our safari? Would that be easier logistically? What about between the safari and Seychelles?

ACCOMODATION:
KENYA: After looking at camps, I have really fallen in love with the idea of Kichwa Tembo or Sasaab. They're both "luxury" and romantic and while KT is more moderately priced, The Safari Collection does offer deals for the time of year we are looking at. They're both beautiful!!! I'm open to other suggestions, too. Does anyone have a strong preference/insight? Someone mentioned Ol Donyo, for example. I don't know a lot about it, yet.
SEYCHELLES: Carana Beach Hotel or Hilton Labriz?

Our current plan is 4 nights in Kenya, 5-7 in Seychelles depending on what day we fly in (since flights are only offered between Nairobi and Mahe four days a week). Sound like a good balance?

Last question: We can do anytime in June. This means we may be too early to see the big migration, but I'm ok with that. It's not about checking certain animals off a list for me... I'd be happy to see anything, as long as there is a fair amount of wildlife. I'm interested a lot in people/culture too. Does going in early June v. late June really make that much of a difference?

Anything else you can think to tell a couple of first timers in Africa?

Thank you so much in advance!

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    Do you mean this June or next? You may be a bit late for this year in terms of availability. Most plan for safari several months to a year in advance.

    Re: staying in Nairobi before heading on safari. I'm not sure where you're coming from, but if you connect through Europe on the way to Nairobi, you land too late in the day to head out on safari same day (landing after 8 p.m.)

    While you seem to have your heart set on Safari Collection, I'd suggest talking to other safari planners and see what deals/offers/suggestions they can give you. This is too big an investment to settle on the first thing that strikes you. Try Africa Travel Resource or Gamewatchers or Expert Africa who will likely chime in here. All have extensive networks and connections in Kenya and could facilitate this nicely. Be honest about your budget and time available on the ground and that you want this to be honeymoon appropriate.

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    Hi laurenclark007,

    Congrats on your engagement. A honeymoon to Kenya + Seychelles will be a stunning honeymoon! I will try to address your all of your points one by one.

    First, it is really a game changer/necessary to use a travel agent or African specialist when planning? I’d say that it’s not a necessity, but it can be a game changer. Many African specialists will quote based on published camp rates or what we in the industry refer to as “rack rate”. African specialists have contracted rates with most safari camps and they simply keep the difference between their negotiated rate and “rack” as their commission. Meaning, if you are looking to save money by doing it on your own, it’s not always the case. Further, a good specialist will offer you options based on your parameters and perhaps get you into areas/camps/lodges that will be a better fit for the two of you. And finally, on the rare occasion that something goes astray on your trip, working with a bona fide tour operator/Africa specialist will help protect you financially (if you opt to work with a US Africa specialist, ask if they have bankruptcy insurance etc.). As you indicated, this is a big-ticket item and I recommend you protect yourself and your trip to the best of your ability. Doing things on your own may leave some potential issues unaccounted for.

    Should you spend a night in Nairobi after a long flight to recoup? My answer is always a resounding “yes”. Most flights arrive in the evening anyways and isn’t possible to connect onto safari on the same day. However, shall you arrive on one of the rare early AM arrivals and wish to connect the same day, you technically can, but herewith are 2 major caveats. 1) shall your flight into Nairobi be delayed, you may miss your connecting flight onto safari. Noting that your international arrival will be into Jomo Kenyatta and your safari flight will take off from Wilson – they are two separate airports. It’s very difficult to “catch” up on safari if you’ve missed your flight and given that you only have 4 nights on safari, you’d miss 25% of your safari if you were to be delayed. 2) unless you are flying first or business, you will feel completely wasted upon arrival. Being on safari requires long days and feeling bogged down for such a big element of your trip will be a downer. Having a solid night’s rest before commencing safari will help you feel much, much better. Some people even opt to spend 2 nights in Nairobi and visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphange, Giraffe Center and do some shopping on their “free” day.

    In terms of accommodation, you are all over the map, quite literally. Kitchwa Tembo is in a private conservancy outside of the famed Masai Mara Game Reserve (arguably the most productive game viewing in the whole of Africa). Sasaab is in Kenya’s Northern Frontier District near Buffalo Springs/Samburu. The landscape, game viewing and focus are very different between the two camps and areas. Although both are great, if I had to pick one over the other, I’d opt for the Mara as a single destination to visit in Kenya. The Mara is a must! Ol Donyo, albeit a wonderful product, is also in an entirely different ecosystem in the Chyulu Hills. Game viewing here will feel much more sparse in June compared to the Mara.

    Both Safari Collection and AndBeyond (Kitchwa Tembo) have great rates in June. Kitchwa Tembo is $400/person/night for a Superior Room and they have a honeymoon special where the bride gets 50% off – meaning the average cost of your stay is $300/person/night. That’s an unbeatable price for the level of accommodation and experience. Superior View Room is a supplement of $50/person/night and a worthwhile upgrade. Classic Tents, which I don’t recommend for honeymooners, is $330/person/night or avg. of $247/person/night when the special is applied. One thing to note: Kitchwa Tembo is a fairly large camp. If you are expecting something small and intimate, this isn’t it. However, the size of the property is a part of the reason why they can keep their operating costs down. Just as a comparison, Sasaab with their 30% off special is $525/person/night. You then have to tack on a park fee of $128/person/night which brings the total cost of Sasaab up to $653/person/night.

    If you can swing $653/person/night for your budget, why don’t you look at something more intimate in the Mara to have the ultimate wildlife experience. At $665/person/night, you can get into Kicheche Bush Camp which is in the famed Olare Motorogi Conservancy. Only 6 tents here compared to 40 at Kitchwa Tembo (20 superior, 8 superior view, 12 classic). Kitchwa Tembo is much lower in cost and phenomenal value for money, but if you have the budget for Sasaab, other options open up for you in the Mara. You can also look at Richards River Camp (also in Olare Motorogi) or Ngare Serian (a bit higher in cost, but each booking comes with a private guide and vehicle – meaning you don’t have to share your experience with others for total control over your safari experience).

    Seychelles will be a stunning complement to your Kenya safari. Kenya Airways operates a flight from Nairobi to Mahe on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays departing Jomo Kenyatta at 11:10AM. This means that short of private chartering out of the Mara and flying directly into Jomo Kenyatta over flying scheduled into Wilson, you’d be forced to overnight yet again in Nairobi before heading to the Seychelles. It’s also a 4+hr flight, just a FYI. The two options you’ve noted area great, but both on mainland Mahe. Did you want to consider going to one of Seychelles more remote islands? Something along the lines of Raffles Praslin?

    The other alternative is to look at the Kenyan coast which is stunning and much more accessible. There is a daily flight from the Ol Kiombo Airstrip in the Mara directly to Diani. It’s more of a beach scene, but you can pick a property a bit more removed like Alfajiri.

    In terms of early v. late June, it can make a difference. In Kenya, you get long rains in April and May. It’s hard to predict weather/climate, but if the rainy season is prolonged, it can affect your safari experience in early June.

    I hope this helps.

    Kota Tabuchi

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    Wow! Thank you so much for your detailed response, Kota! That was far more help than I expected to find on a travel forum. Out of curiosity -- how much does a company like TravelBeyond charge to help organize trips like this one? It DOES seem like it would be worth it.

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    And just to clarify, do you think Kichwa Tembo is TOO big? Is it one of those places where 4x4's line up and distract from the experience, or does it still feel somewhat remote/secluded?

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    laurenclark007 : >>Out of curiosity -- how much does a company like TravelBeyond charge <<

    I'd suggest you e-mail them and ask (look at their profile). It is against Fodors rules to 'advertise' and if they gave you a quote/talked about their rates they'd be on the wrong side of that line . . .

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