Africa Point? Anyone heard of or used them?

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Jul 15th, 2005, 12:48 PM
  #1
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Africa Point? Anyone heard of or used them?

Hi!
I just found this place and you are all so full of great information, I had to sign up!

My husband and I are so excited because we are trying to book our FIRST trip to Africa!
We're planning on going late June 2006 to Kenya. I found this company www.africapoint.com online and there is a GREAT itinerary with perfect $$.
So, has anyone heard anything about this company. They are a travel agency.

The itinerary includes:
1 night Aberdares (The Ark)
1 night Nakuru (Sarova Lion Hill Lodge)
2 nights Maasai Mara (Mara Sarova Lodge)
2 nights Amboseli (Amboseli Serena Lodge)
1 night Tsavo West (Kilaguni Serena Lodge)
3 nights Mombasa (Reef Hotel)

We will start our tip at Victoria Falls and stay there for 2 nights before we begin our safari.

Does this sound like a good way to go?
Any info you guys can give me would be VERY helpful.
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Jul 15th, 2005, 01:13 PM
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sandi
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Welcome to Africa. I hope this is the first of many other trips to this fascinating Continent.

As to the itinerary, you don't indicate whether any portions of the itinerary include internal flights. The reason I ask, is that from Lake Nakuru to the Masai Mara is easily 6-hours on terrible roads. It's also a good idea to spend 3-days in the Mara.

Then from the Mara to Amboseli - are you driving only? If so, that's going to be another very long day in a vehicle. Easily 5-6 hours back to Nairobi on lousy roads and another 3-1/2 hrs minimum to Amboseli.

Also how are you getting to Mombasa after your time in Tsavo West?

As to Vic Falls at the start of your itinerary. From where are you flying to get here? Presume flying into Johannesburg SA, then connecting to VFA. Then how are you getting from VFA to Nairobi? And will you be departing from NBO or returning to JNB?

I gather these are one of Africapoints standard itineraries and you don't mention the cost. Or what you budget is. Your accommodations are in the mid-range for cost... but what stands out is that there are no night at a tented camp. There is nothing like spending a few nights "under canvas"

Some things to consider.
 
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Jul 15th, 2005, 01:31 PM
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Just be aware that starting in Vic Falls prior to a Kenyan safari is akin to spending two days in Alaska before a trip to New York.

There's quite a distance between Vic Falls and Nairobi, and frankly, Vic Falls is not that interesting.

If I had two extra days, I'd much rather add them to the Masai Mara or maybe try to get to Samburu in Kenya.
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Jul 15th, 2005, 01:37 PM
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I'm not familiar with Africa Point but I think this is the itinerary you're considering, right?
http://www.africapoint.com/tours1/va...?vacationid=10

If so, keep in mind sandi's comments on drive times, especially going from the Mara to Amboseli. That day can easily be 10 hours on the road.

I think the itinerary has too many short stays/1 nighters in between all of that road travel. With 7 nights on safari, you could eliminate one of those parks and spend more time at others so that the pace isn't as hectic (unless that's what you prefer).

I would encourage you to contact some Kenya based tour operators to plan a custom itinerary for you. It won't cost you much more than what Africa Point charges (it may even be less), and you'll be able choose which parks you want to visit and where you'd like to stay instead of selecting from set itineraries.

I also agree with sandi that it would be nice to mix in more stays at tented camps. While Mara Sarova Lodge does use tents, with 75 units it's a rather large camp (I believe the largest in the Mara). I'd be more inclined to choose a smaller camp - quieter, less crowds, more personalized service.
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Jul 15th, 2005, 01:59 PM
  #5
bwanamitch
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Hi TravlGrl,

I've been in The Ark some years ago and found it rather disappointing. My recommendation would be The Mountain Lodge (Serena) - it has a similar atmosphere, but we saw much more game here, and you can watch the waterhole even from your room. Also the guests seemed more interested in wildlife than at The Ark.

Sarova Lion Hill: There's no better option in Nakuru NP.

Mara Sarova: Last year, during a game drive, I took a short visit at this lodge - and I found it really terrible. There are two row of tents - from the outer ones you're looking directly into thick bushes (no view at all!), and from the inner row on a dead pool. I would recommend Mara Serena - best location in the Mara Triangle and fantastic view (even better than many of the luxury options).

Amboseli Serena: There's no waterhole anymore, and no view on the plains either. Expect loud "Hakuna Matata" and "Jambo Bwana" the whole evening long, no natural night sounds. However, it's already the best lodge option in the park.

Kilaguni Serena: nice lodge with fantastic view. You can spent the whole evening watching the activities at the waterhole. Very quiet and relaxed atmosphere. My recommendation: 2 nights here and 1 night at Amboseli Serena.

Mitch
 
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Jul 15th, 2005, 02:44 PM
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Mitch,
Have you stayed at or visited Mbweha Camp just outside Nakuru NP? We'll be staying there in November. We'll also be staying at the following places and if you've stayed/visited any of them, your impressions would be appreciated - Kicheche, Ilkeliani, Malu, Samatian Island, and maybe Olea Africana. Thanks!

TravlGrl,
In Amboseli, we stayed at Ol Tukai Lodge earlier in the year. It overlooks the swamp area and you can see game right from your cottage. We didn't get a chance to visit the Serena lodge and it may be better in terms of facilities but I think in terms of setting/game viewing, Ol Tukai may be better. There's also Tortilis camp which is supposed to be very nice but it's a bit of a step up pricewise.

Another place near Amboseli that sounds very interesting to me is Porini Camp. 6 tents located on a private conservation area north of Amboseli. Has anyone stayed there? One of the many places on my 'next' list
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Jul 15th, 2005, 03:16 PM
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bwanamitch
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Patty,

if I'd known about Mbweha earlier I'd stayed there. Whatever, I've only been back to Nakuru to make some photos of Rothschild giraffes, and I will never go back.

I can't help you much with the other places.
Ilkeliani? Don't like the Talek River area very much.
Kicheche? I would like to hear a report about this area. I've heard rumours that the good times of Koiyaki/Lemek group ranch are gone. Even Big Cat Diaries have moved inside the National Reserve. If I ever go back in the Mara it would certainly be Cottar's - or a mobile camp in the Mara Triangle Wilderness Area (the most south-western part, it's closed for minibus herds).

Malu, Samatian Island? nope

Olea Africana??? Tell me more about this.

Mitch
 
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Jul 15th, 2005, 06:07 PM
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Mitch,
I don't know much about Olea Africana myself. It's a small homestay type place somewhere in the Aberdare region, I'm still trying to determine the exact location. We thought it might make a good base from which to visit Aberdare NP and Solio reserve.

TravlGrl,
If you end up staying more than 1 night in Tsavo West, you could also consider Finch Hattons Camp. I hesitated to recommend it earlier as it's another 45 min drive farther into the park than Kilaguni lodge and not really suitable for a 1 night stay. The camp itself is lovely though and set directly over hippo springs. You can watch them, along with other game, right from your tent. It was hard to tear ourselves away from our verandah every day! It's a bit of a drive to Mombasa (if you're goal is to end there), so 2 nights here and maybe 1 night at Satao Camp in Tsavo East to break up the drive a bit.
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Jul 16th, 2005, 03:31 AM
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sandi
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While I haven't seen the changes, I understand that The Ark is under new management and has been completely refurbished. If so, and has greatly improved, I believe it can be another choice in the area. But the advantage of the Serena Mountain Lodge is that you can drive direct to the lodge; whereas with The Ark, you leave your main luggage at Aberdare Country Club and then with only an overnight bag take a 30-40 min ride to The Ark. And again next morning after breakfast drive to Aberdare to continue your safari.

As mentioned by me above - the long drives; and Patty mentioning short stays by the time your drives get you to your destinations - you have more 1-nighters then he 2-days as the itinerary indicates.

Porini is a good choice and most tour operators can book their packages. Located adjacent to Amboseli, they conduct game drives on their private lands and go into Amboseli as well.

You might well, for a first trip (there will be others) you might want to just do two areas and then coastal R&R. Consider:
Drive to Porini/Amboseli for 3-nts;
Fly or drive back to Nairobi, Fly to the Mara for 3 or 4 nts;
Fly from the Mara and connect to an afternoon flight to Mombasa as conclusion of your trip.


 
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Jul 16th, 2005, 06:16 AM
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I think all of the former Lonrho properties (Ark, Aberdare CC, Mount Kenya Safari Club, Norfolk, Mara Safari Club) with the exception of Sweetwaters will be rebranded as Fairmont Hotels properties soon. When I first heard about it, it sounded like a strange addition to the Fairmont portfolio. But then again, they have quite an eclectic mix of properties.
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Jul 16th, 2005, 04:21 PM
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bwanamitch
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Patti,

Olea Africana is already listed on my site, I've just searched for it on the wrong pages. Sorry for my question.

It's located near Mweiga, it's German and the website is www.farmurlaub-afrika.de (with German/English text).

Mitch
 
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Jul 16th, 2005, 04:29 PM
  #12
bwanamitch
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From the Fairmont website:
"TORONTO, May 11, 2005 - Fairmont Hotels & Resorts announced today that it has assumed management of five renowned Kenyan hotels following their purchase by Kingdom Hotel Investments in a joint venture with IFA Hotels & Resorts and Fairmont. The 439-room collection encompasses Nairobi's city-center Norfolk Hotel; two destination resorts, the Mount Kenya Safari Club and the Aberdare Country Club; as well as two premier safari lodges, the Ark and the Mara Safari Club. Plans are underway for US $25 million in phased enhancements to these properties, which will be renamed under the Fairmont banner in mid-2006..."

Mitch
 
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Jul 19th, 2005, 12:44 PM
  #13
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Thank you all so much for your responses! I really am learning a lot about that whole region and the plusses and minuses of the hotels/camps.

I am going to call the company in Kenya and see if they can switch us to a tented camp in the Maasai Mara for the 2 nights we are there. Also, we are trying to figure out if we really want to have THAT much driving. But, it looks like the fly-ins are all just too expensive.

This package for 10 nights is going to be around $1600. Which is pretty incredible, I think. If you know of a better deal or something I should check out, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks!
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Nov 29th, 2005, 06:47 PM
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Hi TravlGrl,
Just wondering if you ended up using Africapoint. We are looking into a trip to Tanzania for next June. Everything sounds good. We just haven't found anyone who has actually returned from a trip with them. Do you know anything more about them?
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Nov 29th, 2005, 09:56 PM
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wisteriagirl

Have a look at this one.
www.funforlesstours.com/africaKenya051606.html

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Dec 2nd, 2005, 11:52 AM
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ttt
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Mar 5th, 2006, 03:30 AM
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My parents used africapoint in 2004 and were very happy with them.
that said we are planning a trip with them for August this year and have had a number of problems with changes in the booking when accomodation we thought we'd booked suddenly wasn't actually reserved and the tents we thought we had at Kitchwa tembo became cottages after we paid the deposit.
We are currently in talks about this so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this all works out Ok.

Kate
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Mar 6th, 2006, 09:33 AM
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I also used AfricaPoint in October 2005 and was happy with the service.
had a few vehicle issues which they resolved.
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