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Trip Report Mr. Carry-on and Family Go on Safari: A Porini Migration Adventure

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WHO WE ARE:
Two adults (one a luggage nazi) and two boys, 16 and 19. We are grateful that our kids still want to vacation with us, especially as we become more and more eccentric. We have the annoying habit of organizing distant, complicated journeys at the last minute, causing stress to everyone involved. We are very fortunate to have now visited six continents as a family, shockingly without owning decent binoculars. This was our first time in Africa (other than Egypt for me), and our only previous safari was at a game park in Sonoma County.

ITINERARY – MID-JULY 2010:
(Organized by Gamewatchers)
2 nights Nairobi - Macushla House - Fadhili Cottage
3 nights Amboseli Porini - Selenkay Conservancy (by road, then onward by plane)
3 nights Porini Lion - Olare Orok Conservancy (by plane)
1 night Mara Intrepids – (wanted four nights in the Mara and Porini Lion was booked)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Amboseli Porini: Kili views, all-day walking safari, private village visit, hundreds of elephants, cool night drives
Porini Lion: Lions mating, two cheetah kills, wildebeest stampede, zebra crossing, wildebeest crossing, hippo fight, school visit

FLIGHTS:
LAX-BOS-LHR-NBO-LHR-JFK-LAX (long layovers at LHR and JFK on the return)
Mr. Crosscheck has a strict rule requiring us to use mileage on all big vacations…a true challenge for this trip because we didn't start planning until mid-May. To complicate things even more, we had to change our dates for work reasons a week after we booked. We ended up setting a new record: Utilized all classes of travel and all methods of payment. We flew on three separate tickets - First and Economy on AA, Business and Premium Economy on BA. Transatlantic segment were award tickets, US domestic legs were purchased with AA vouchers. One upgrade was achieved with miles/status, the other with cash.

BACKSTORY:
In May, some very generous friends invited me to join them in July on their posh Tanzanian safari - Sasakwa, Katavi, etc. with a famous guide and a chartered plane. Our friends pitied me because for years Mr. Crosscheck has been saying that he had no interest in going to Africa, and it was no secret that I wanted to see the Great Migration somewhere other than on 60 Minutes. But when I told Mr. C about my opportunity of a lifetime, he suddenly changed his tune and suggested that we go as a family instead.

His parameters:
1) Twelve days max...and, of course, we would have to use mileage for part of the trip (traveling through Europe during peak travel season).
2) Boys would have to rearrange their summer jobs, programs and internships.
3) No Afro-chic/nothing over the top – he imposed a budget that was less for the four of us than many safari-goers spend for one.

Add to the above list my requirements:
1) Remote tented camps; excellent guides; a private, open vehicle; cultural encounters and a way to give back to the local community.
2) Had to get the migration to arrive a month early.

Somehow we pulled it off - a spectacular, authentic, classic first-time safari as a family. And the wildebeest cooperated with our time constraints.

NEXT - PACKING STRESS: FORBIDDEN COLORS AND LUGGAGE INDECISION

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