advice on 1st safari

Old Nov 26th, 2007, 08:26 AM
  #1  
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advice on 1st safari

Hi - I am new to this group. A group of 4 friends (couples) are planning our 1st safari. We are considering the Friendly Planet kenya safari. Does anyone have any info about Friendly Planet, good or bad?

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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 09:09 AM
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aby
 
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Karibu (Welcome) spsalomon

write your itinerary so we can comment

I haven't heard of "Friendly Planet"

aby
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 10:20 AM
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Here is one report on FP

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34561632

Check out Lynda's handy index of all East Africa trips for more ideas.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34860283
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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I did some research on Friendly Planet safaris for a friend. They do group tours all over the world including a couple in Kenya and Kenya/Tanzania. Their group size for Kenya is 30 people and use a "tour coach" in some areas...not exactly the best way to go on safari! I believe their ground operator is Dallago.

If you'd like more specifics, e-mail me at DIVEDIVE99 at aol dot com.
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 11:34 AM
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Thank you for your reply. The ground operators are Dallago. They use tour coaches to get to each lodge/reserve, but once you are in the park there are vans that hold up to 7 people each.

Day 2 Nairobi
Day 3 Samburu Game Reserve, Samburu Lodge
Day 4 Samburu Game Reserve
Day 5 Mount Kenya National Park, Serena Mountain Lodge
Day 6 Lake Nakuru National Park, Flamingo Hill Tented Camp
Day 7 Masai Mara National Reserve, Keekorok Lodge
Day 8 Masai Mara National Reserve
Day 9 Amboseli National Park, Ol Tukai Lodge
Day 10 Amboseli National Park
Day 11 Nairobi, depart
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 11:41 AM
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I would price the itinerary with some Kenya based tour operators to see how they compare. You might be able to get a private safari for the 4 of you for similar cost. This would also enable you to customize your itinerary. A few that have been used and recommended here are:

Eastern & Southern Safaris
Gamewatchers Safaris
WildTrek Safaris

7 passengers in a vehicle can get crowded and means one person would not have a window seat.
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 11:59 AM
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Also - we are planning on traveling June 30.
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 12:42 PM
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You probably want to decide fairly quickly to nab that $600 discount before Dec. 7. I looked at Planet Kenya’s site and have these observations

BBB report is good—this is a longstanding company—started in 1981

Price is great as it includes international air.

Nairobi-Intercontinental is nicer than where I’ve stayed in Nairobi.
The option to allow you to choose Carnivore is good.
Samburu—great park. Samburu Lodge is nice. I’ve stayed there. Unique species found here in this park.
Mt. Kenya—makes logistical sense. Serena properties are good.
Nakuru—flamingos! A few unique species, best shot at rhino here, also potentially leopard. Nice to have a tented camp. Don’t know specifics about Flamingo Hill
Mara—this is the least desirable aspect of the itinerary. Only 2 nights is not enough, though that is common for budget trips. Keekorok or similar may have you in the entrance region with the most crowds.
Amboseli—Ol Tukai has gotten some great reviews for its location. If I go back to Amboseli, that’s where I’d probably choose to stay.

I’d pick the July or the Sept departures.

Ask if you all get your own window in the vehicles. That is crucial. If it is a coach with 30 people, as mentioned by several others, that would be a huge drawback.

2Afrika has some inexpensive trips

If you are 4 you can do a private safari for a reasonable price, but not as inexpensive as FP.

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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 01:35 PM
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I do not agree that the Friendly Planet price would necessarily be cheaper than a private safari.

Friendly Planet's price for the June 30 departure after deducting the early booking discount is $3949 + taxes/fees of $125 = $4,074. This includes airfare from NYC.

Least expensive current airfare available for outbound June 30 and return July 10 (you get back to the US on the 11th) according to Kayak is $1637. That leaves $2,437 available for an 8 night mostly driving safari staying in mostly mid-priced lodges plus 1 night in Nairobi. Considering 4 people sharing a vehicle, I believe that budget is certainly do-able as a private safari.

I'm not saying that's what you should do, just offering it as another option.
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 03:06 PM
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Thanks for all the responses - great advice. They mention the tour coach (up to 30 people) to get to each reserve and lodge. Is that a disappointing factor? If everyone has a window seat will it still be ok? I am looking into other outfitters.
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 03:51 PM
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but once you are in the park there are vans that hold up to 7 people each

With 7 passengers in a van, 6 will have window seats. The 7th person has to use the middle seat in the 3rd row or the seat next to the driver (which has a window but no pop top overhead). That's why some tours limit the number of passengers to 6 max. You could luck out and have less than 7 in your vehicle or everyone could rotate, but it's not ideal.
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 04:24 PM
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You note that you plan to travel June 30. This will put you in Kenya the first two weeks of July. I'm not sure that the Migration will be in the Mara by then. Have you considered going in August or September?
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 05:20 PM
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Yes, we are now considering Sept due to the migration. Could it possibly be less busy in Sept?
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 05:49 PM
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I would drop Amboseli and spend four nights in the Mara. You would not see anything in Amboseli you would not have seen elsewhere, except you may get a view of Kilimanjaro.

When we went last year best prices for best lodgings were from Southern Cross, Eastern and Southern, and African Serendipity.

September would be best but most likely already hard to book.
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 07:17 PM
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Patty's figures show a private safari is within reach, if you were not banking on that $600 discount offered by FP. The other suggestion I would echo may also boost air costs and that is I'd go later than June, closer to Sept.

To answer one of your questions: It will not be less busy in Sept in the Mara than June because Sept. is a more desirable time to be in the Maasai Mara.

The 7 in a vehicle is a deal breaker unless you have members of your group who are not that interested in taking pictures and would not mind sitting in a middle seat or next to the driver. Next to the driver is not that bad because you do get a window, but that person cannot stand up for better viewing like those in the back can.

If you are doing a private trip, then I agree with Stakerk to trade the Amboseli days for 2 more in the Mara. That would be 4 in the Mara and that is good trip finale in the dry season months you are considering. The 2 nights at Keekorok that FP offered really shortchanged you time-wise and location-wise in what should be a highlight of your trip.

If you are comfortable enough with this other couple to spend time with them without a group & you can go potentially higher in price than FP in June with the discount & and you'd like more control over your itinerary, then I'd do what Stakerk
recommends and contact

Eastern and Southern, Southern Cross, and Africa Serendipty.

And I'd do it now because availability is becoming limited.
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Old Nov 26th, 2007, 08:20 PM
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Welcome back, Stakerk. I haven't seen you on the Forum in a while.

As for going in September, the Migration is in the Mara so it's considered high season for a safari there. However, for air travel, it's "shoulder season" and the airfare is about $600 less than it would be in August. Sounds good to me!

Yes, availability is tight in Kenya for next September. I'm going Sept. 7 - 20 and started planning my safari last August(12 people in 3 vehicles). Yes, it's a group, but with only 4 people in a 7-passenger van, that's almost like being on a private safari at group prices. I've still got space available, if anyone is interested (and, no I'm not an agent!)

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