Aaack!...need help with short notice safari!

Dec 4th, 2006, 11:46 AM
  #1  
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Aaack!...need help with short notice safari!

Hey Guys-
Here's the situation. Just got word I'll be heading back to Rwanda(and possibly Congo) mid to end of January and want to tack on a couple of weeks to play after I'm finished there.
So what would you do if you could split time between Kenya & Tanzania?
On such late notice, I don't even know what would be available.
I've done the northern route of Tanzania and the Mara and Chyulu Hills of Kenya a couple of times.
I definitely want to visit the Mara again ('cause I can never get enough of it) and want to visit my friends at Campi Ya Kanzi in the Hills.
That would be about a week if I can work those out. Meru has always been on my mind because of Elsa...but I don't know...

What should I do to fill the other week or so...should I try to hit southern Tanzania (selous, mahale, etc.?)
Of course, photography of animals and landscapes a priority. Camps/lodges don't have to be luxury.

Or is it too late to even bother with any of it?

Suggestions and input wanted and needed!

And I promise to do a trip report if it works out...I think! I will admit, I'm such a slacker on that front!

Sandy
divewop is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 12:02 PM
  #2  
 
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Divewop
May I ask a personal question. How old are you?
Mark
Marksafari17 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 12:28 PM
  #3  
 
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last may i planned kenya on about 3 weeks notice and there was no problem (low season?)

why not email a few places and see what they have available?

then once they tell you what's open you can work around availability.

i had 0 knowledge of kenya before my panic trip and everyone on the board helped enormously. it seems you have a great deal of knowledge about what you'd like to see, so why not just check on availability by picking up the telephone or sending a fax or emailing a few operators with whom you've worked in the past?

when i found myself with "spare" days i headed for the beach, but i like beaches and couldn't afford nonstop safaris. one suggestion was contacting nairobi backpackers for their scheduled trips. it was a good one and they were really responsive and i could have joined any one of their mara departures had i opted for that camping option.

i also found that higher end places and larger places had plenty of room, but again it was june, not january. i think if you are willing to spend more, you won;t have any problem getting to see what you want and if you are not fussy about super low end backpackery things those are always being pulled together last second.

the first step is contacting folks in east africa to see what your options are.

kerikeri
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Dec 4th, 2006, 12:34 PM
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Divewop, what a ĒproblemĒ you have! amp;
Just because most Fodorites book their trips years in advance, it doesnít mean itís impossible to find something for February. Thereís not that much accommodation in Meru, but just send some enquiring emails and do the same with Southern Tanzania. Iím almost 100 % sure youíll find something. In the improbable case that all lodges/camps would be fully booked, you could do some camping. Have you been to Tsavo? Itís close to the Chyulu Hills and I can recommend Tarhi Camp in Tsavo East.
Nyamera is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 12:36 PM
  #5  
sandi
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Kampi ya Kanzi is good... go for it. Always nice to catch up with friends.

You can probably still find space in the Mara, just a matter of inquiring, your budget and where.

Elsa's has some space end January, but starts getting tight as you move into February. But it's tres tres expensive, especially for a single at close to $500/pppn rack rate.

Remember that January will be hot, so even if you choose Selous, Ruaha or Mahale (also great alternatives), be prepared for heat, even humidity and there's no a/c.

Keep us posted.
 
Dec 4th, 2006, 12:52 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I can't help you plan your trip but I can say congratulations! I don't know what takes you to Rwanda and Congo (your job?) but how lucky for you!
sundowner is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 01:00 PM
  #7  
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Thanks for the suggestions so far. I've been thinking along the same lines.

Nyamera-
I know it's a good problem to have, having to go to Africa. I'm quite happy to have the problem.
Now if I could win that doggone lottery, I could afford to stay forever.

Second half of the equation is depending on what's going on in the Congo (civil unrest) I may or may not get to go. I know I've got about 7-10 days worth of work in Rwanda and if I get into the Congo, probably another several days.
Scheduling is still tentative.

I have checked with the Campi Ya Kanzi folks, I think they can squeeze me in. Always have to make time for my friends.

Sandi-
No problem with the bugs, heat and humidity. In the ATL, it's our typical summer. This year was brutal too. I love the heat anyway. Between diving in tropical locales and Africa, I'm a glutton for it, most of the time.

Mark-
My age? Yes, I'm over 21 so no worries, I can legally bartend. 8-)
Make one heck of a martini too!
Is that what you needed to know?
You've got my curiosity up now.

Sundowner-
Yes, my new little biz takes me there. BTW...did you get my email?
divewop is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 01:28 PM
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divewop,
Just wanted to say I'm really happy that all the changes you made in the last year or two seem to have worked out so well for you. Congrats, and enjoy everything!
Leely is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 01:52 PM
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No advice but congrats on the wonderful opportunity to fit in a couple of weeks unexpected travel in Africa!

Good for you!

What kind of work do you do, if you don't mind my asking? (Hopefully that's not quite as personal as asking one's age - Mark don't you know a gent never asks a ladies age?!)
Kavey is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 02:39 PM
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Leely,
Thanks for your kind words. They are appreciated more than you know. It has been one heck of a rollercoaster ride for the last couple of years. There are still a couple of more hills to climb but I think they're manageable enough. Time will tell.

Kavey,
To touch on what I will be doing, I will be collaborating with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in the area of photography. Hopefully it will be a win-win situation for all involved. Fingers are crossed! [-o<
divewop is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 02:48 PM
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Divewop,

What a wonderful opportunity! I've been wanting to get to Elephant Camp in Samburu for quite some time, so that's what pops into my head first. But that would not be a budget option.

I loved your bartender quip.
atravelynn is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 03:06 PM
  #12  
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Lynn-
Of course, I had to go and find out about Elephant Watch Camp. It is so totally cool! And very small.
Way, way cool!
As much as I love eles, now I want to go! The $$ doesn't bother me too much, sometimes it's that single supplement that's the killer. Why do us solo travelers have to suffer?!
I'll definitely have to check this out in more detail.
Thanks for the heads up!
divewop is offline  
Dec 4th, 2006, 06:07 PM
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divewop - I sent you an email.

"collaborating with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in the area of photography" - how cool is that!!

sundowner is offline  
Dec 5th, 2006, 10:05 AM
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As far as updates on camps, I have a friend who knows the folks at Offbeat Safaris and can get me into Offbeat Mara and Offbeat Meru minus the single supplement. I checked previous threads and no one has stayed at either of these camps yet.

Should I tempt fate in the Mara, and pass up my usual Governors' camps in favor of trying Offbeat or stick with what I know? I'm so spoiled with animal sightings and great guiding at GC. Or should I be adventurous and change?

Sundowner-
Your email must have gotten lost in email space. I still haven't received it.
If you get a chance, can you resend?
Thanks!

divewop is offline  
Dec 5th, 2006, 10:12 AM
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If you can get excellent guiding at the Off Beat camps, without a bunch of people crammed in the vehicle, I'd try those two--if they offer substantial savings. I wouldn't try them just for their "off beatness" if you are not saving anything.
atravelynn is offline  
Dec 5th, 2006, 11:21 AM
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Both camps are offering considerable savings per night especially since they're waiving the single supplement for me.
And both are small semi-permanent tented camps with only six tents each.
The OB-Mara is outside of the reserve which is an area I'm unfamiliar with. We will have game drives w/in the reserve which is great. But should I be staying in the reserve is the question?
I need my critter fix badly!!

Meru, I'm just plain unfamiliar with. The only thing I'm dying to see there is
Elsa's grave, of course, so I can cry like a baby. I could pitch a tent by her tombstone and easily just stay there.
I totally blame her for my obsession with Africa anyway. It's all her fault.

I've been trying to do as much research as possible but not knowing anyone who's stayed at either makes it a little more difficult.

And then the Elephant Watch camp is so tempting. Thanks, Lynn, for throwing that into the mix! :-s

I'm still trying to figure out the Tanzania portion. I've been to Eben's site looking at all the parks in the western and southern areas and can't decide.

I know Selous is definitely on my list but where do I go from there. Ruaha, Katavi, or Mahale.
Any input on them from anyone will be helpful.

Now, on top of all that, one of the Fossey Fund scientists said I could go relax at her house on the coast of S. Africa where I can watch the pods of whales swim by! Geez...

This is getting harder by the minute.

I think I just need about six months of holiday time to get it all out of my system. May as well just use up savings and get this obsession out of my life.
divewop is offline  
Dec 5th, 2006, 11:48 AM
  #17  
sandi
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If you get it all out of your system at one time... what then? Do it in little pieces. I know how tempting it is to want to do it all, but since your work brings you back regularly, take your time; always have somewhere else in Africa to visit/return.

Unlike during Migration in Kenya/Mara between July - Oct, when visitors are so concerned with being inside or outside the reserve... not so in Jan/Feb. Outside will be just fine as your game drives will take you into the reserve itself, as well as drives in OB's private area.

As to Meru, unlike the Mara, there are varied eco-systems, in a large area with few other vehicles. There is a rhine sanctuary here to visit (believe there may be a small fee, or maybe not). Night game drives can be done thru auspices of KWS for a small fee of about $15/person, so check this out with OB. Elsa's grave is at Elsa's Kopje, but not sure whether just anyone can visit, so check this with OB, also.

... and if the OB folks are willing to give your the regular vs single supplement rate, go for it.

Elephant Watch is a bit over the top as it's so eclectic in design, but also very expensive. I don't believe they'll give you a deal on the single supplement.

It's also important to know that with Jan/Feb being summer, it does tend to be very hot and dry up north; temps can reach into the 100s. I know, ATL... it's just a reminder.

As to Tanzania during Jan/Feb, south and central are the places to be, but there is little space available, much having been booked for months, even a year out. Maybe some of the camps have space, i.e., Olakira, EMC, but expect high prices and the dreaded single supplement.

Hope this is of some help.
 
Dec 5th, 2006, 12:25 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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I think I would try OB in your situation if it seems on the up and up.

I have heard about the interior decorating at Elephant Watch Camp. My only interest in the place is in the exterior decoration. The few comments I've found are encouraging in regards to the elephant tracking.

atravelynn is offline  
Dec 5th, 2006, 01:10 PM
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Wow, sounds amazing! Well done you on the work opportunity AND the extra holiday opportunity too!
Kavey is offline  
Dec 5th, 2006, 01:26 PM
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divewop - I sent the email again. It's coming from my yahoo account.
sundowner is offline  

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