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Safari itinerary suggestion

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Hi, we're planning a trip to Kenya in feb 2016. We are working with East Africa Adventurea and Tours. Anyone with experience with them? They designed us the itinerary below:

Day 1: Nairobi to Amboseli. Lodge: Amboseli Serena

Day 2: Amboseli. Lodge: same above

Day 3: Amboseli to Lake Nakuru. Lodge: Flamingo Hill Camp

Day 4: Lake Nakuri to Masai Mara. Lodge: Mara Sarova Tented Camp

Day 5 & 6: Masai Mara

Day 7: Masai Mara to Lake Naivasha to Nairobi.

Price quotes for 4*4 jeep is $2,500/pp.

Since it's our 1st time doing safari. Any input re the company, itinerary, and the price is greatly appreciated. Thank you all

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    Hi Jamhugs,

    Kenya is February is absolutely stunning! I’ve been to Kenya multiple times during different times of the year and I’ve got to say that “green” season is my preferred time of year. You are going to have a stunning trip.

    The itinerary that your tour operator put forth – is that a private tour or will you be joined by others?

    I don’t know where you are traveling from, but a 1 week trip to Kenya is a short trip indeed. They’ve also got you driving from park to park (rather than flying) which equates to lots of time in logistics/less time enjoying the parks/wildlife. My sense is that you trip is going to feel very fast/rushed. One simple way to correct this would be to consider omitting Lake Naivasha and flying between the parks. Something to consider: flying is also much safer than driving – one of the biggest threats to tourists in Africa are road accidents!

    In reviewing your itinerary, it sounds like you will also have a private vehicle and driver for the duration of your trip. Did you know that almost all safari lodges/camps provide vehicles and qualified guides? Meaning – you don’t have to have your own vehicle and guide to enjoy a safari – you can fly into camp and enjoy the camp vehicles/guide who know the area best. KPSGA also rates the guides from Bronze, Silver to Gold depending upon their qualifications – if you decide to go with the private guide option, it’d be good to know the qualifications of the guide taking you through Kenya.

    As for Amboseli Serena and Sarova Tented, these are both massive properties (50+ tents/rooms) which often equates to impersonal service and large environmental impact. Granted, large hotels/lodges/camps tend to drive good “value”, but I feel that the quality is compromised. Based on my past 15 years’ experience on “being on safari”, I believe that the 3 key ingredients to a great safari camp/lodge are: 1) quality of guides 2) location of camp 3) management/hosting.

    Luckily for you, in the “green season” many properties/camp are offering stunning specials/value. Based on a “value” minded trip, I recommend something along the lines of the following:

    4 nights Spekes Camp in the Masai Mara (small intimate camp, offering pay 3, stay 4 special with each tent being offered a private vehicle and guide!). Rates are $360/person/night + $80/person/night park fees before specials are applied.

    3 nights Offbeat Meru in Meru National Park. Stunning area, very little visited by tourists. Rates are $380/person/night + $95/person/night in park fees.

    Offbeat Safaris is also offering a 7 nights for the price of 6 during green season to combine Offbeat Meru with Offbeat Mara (in Mara North Conservancy). This may be a good option as well.

    All of these options will bring you north of your $2500/person budget, but I feel that the quality of the experience will more than justify the experience.

    Best wishes,
    Kota Tabuchi

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    What are your goals for the trip?

    If an overview on a budget, then I'd say you have it, provided the price is reasonable.

    -Possible Kili views in Amboseli and good for eles
    -Lakes with hopefully some flamingos
    -The famed Maasai Mara and you get to stay in a tent, though more like a hotel tent at Sarova

    Agree 7 nights is a short amount of time. Ask for the drive times between. I'd estimate

    4.5 hours to Amboseli
    6.5 hours Amboseli to Lake Nakuru
    5.5 hours Lake Nakuru to Mara
    5.5 hours Mara back to Nairobi

    During the majority of those drives you don't see animals. As suggested, flying between saves time, but it costs more.

    Though I loved Meru, it is not a typical first trip destination because the wildlife is not that abundant. It is a beautiful park for landscape and it does have cool species that are hard to find other places like the Lesser Kudu. Even some Grevy Zebra were there when I went, but not sure they are still there. Also the Somali Ostrich.
    I also did see eles, some big buffalo herds, and even 2 cheetah in Meru.

    But if you are looking for remote (I think I saw 4 other vehicles in 3 nights) and you can tolerate tse tse flies then Meru will offer you seclusion and vastness and sightings with no one else around that you won't find at the other spots on your itinerary.

    Offbeat Mara would be less busy and bustling than Sarova as well.

    In general, my rule of thumb on itineraries is any itinerary that includes less than 3 nights in the Maasai Mara is more of a budget zip around trip than a quality experience for a discerning traveler. I personally would never do under 3 nights in the Mara (probably not under 4-5) but if the trip for you is an overview of different geographic areas with animals and zip around is ok with you, then go with the 2 nights in the Mara. It all depends on what you want.

    I know nothing about the company.

    East Africa Adventures Tours & Safaris is a member of KATO.

    Kenya Assoc. of Tourism Operators.

    Have a great trip.

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    To atravelynn's point about getting between the camps, if you are driving, I'd add days on to each destination. On the safaris I've been on, when we fly (not drive, flying is far more efficient) between locations, which can be only an hour flight or less, I find we lose about a half day between transfer to the airstrip, the flight, getting to the camp and settling in with camp introductions and all that. So that's essentially a lost game ride in my mind. I've been to the Mara and did 6 nights last time and didn't feel it was enough. 2 nights is barely scratching the surface, especially if part of those 2 days includes getting there and settling in. One day is surely in the reserve and if you have access to a conservancy you'll definitely want more than one day there.

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    A theme is showing up: Can you spare more than a week?

    If not, go, you'll have a blast even with long drives. Maybe the bug will bite you--the Africa travel bug that is--and you can plan longer, more leisurely and in depth trips in the future.

    If you have time and $ for more than a week, then spend both. And if some of this holiday is beach time, nix it and stay in the bush. I'm sure you have beaches at home.

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