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Africa - Romantic, Safari, Tree Houses, Beaches -- possible?

Africa - Romantic, Safari, Tree Houses, Beaches -- possible?

Old May 8th, 2009, 08:11 PM
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Africa - Romantic, Safari, Tree Houses, Beaches -- possible?

Hi all,

My fiance and I are toying with the idea of going to Africa for our honeymoon in mid October. We would like to find somewhere for safari and may be with the tree houses that you wake up to the wild animals hanging out. Also, looking for some relaxing time in the water at some beach.

So far, the suggestions that I have gotten are Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar and South Africa. We want to make sure we are going somewhere safe and not too confusing to get around since it's our first time there and it's our honeymoon afterall. =)

Any good suggestions and recommendations/advices?

Thanks!
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Old May 9th, 2009, 05:56 AM
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Hi Boston

HONEYMOON and SAFARI is a perfect match! Absolutely wonderful!

There are many many Honeymooners doing a combo of Safari in South Africa and e.g. Mozambique Island.

Just give us an idea on your days (without travel/flying) and budget. That will narrow down or open up options!

South Africa is particularly good for first-timers!

I would advise you to go for it! That experience will last for a lifetime!

SV
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Old May 9th, 2009, 06:14 AM
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Many are honeymooning in Africa, especially combining safari with beach or other R&R options. Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa are all excellent and have great offerings to fit various budgets.

As SV says, provide # of days you plan to be in-country, your projected budget, any specific interests, i.e., animals of interest, birds, cities, cultural experiences, etc. If interested in the "migration" this can be found in Kenya & Tanzania during October.

Suggest you pick up a copy of Fodor's Complete Safari Planning Guide for information of the various countries, what they have to offer as well as helpful info to connsider before traveling.
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Old May 9th, 2009, 12:27 PM
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These tree hotels would be the most romantic of the ones I know, both in Tanzania.
http://www.utalii.com/Hotels/Tree_lodge.html

http://www.andbeyondafrica.com/luxur...d_lake_manyara

There is also Serena Mountain Lodge in Kenya
http://www.serenahotels.com/kenya/mo...lodge/home.asp

There are more tree hotels in Kenya, such as Treetops or The Ark, but those are more bustling, and not as intimate and romantic. They might have a plan for honeymooners if you checked, though.

Even without a tree house, there are numerous outstanding, romantic accommodations that would have wildlife around in East Africa and Southern Africa.

October can get really hot, especially in Southern Africa.

Here is a link on Nov. honeymoons. Oct would have less rain so that’s good.

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...n-november.cfm

Congrats on your wedding and on your choice of destinations for a honeymoon.
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Old May 9th, 2009, 03:47 PM
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Why tree houses?

There are many places you can stay where you can view wildlife from your room or tent. There are some places that are elevated but this doesn't necessarily equate better wildlife viewing.
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Old May 9th, 2009, 09:02 PM
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Hi all,

To add more information:

We are thinking about 10 days (not including travel). Don't have a budget yet. But not looking for backpacking or $1000/night either. Probably something in between. Few nights of $200-$300 will be nice (or even lower) and few nights of a splurge of $500 or so for lodging will be acceptable. Please do let me know if these budgets will be able to get us something nice.... we can always revisit the budget.

Haven't quite figured out how the guided tours work. Do we need them in the Safari and if they are part of the lodging cost or extra.... ?

In terms of interest, so far from the research it seems that the migration in Kenya during that time seems quite amazing? We don't really know what to expect ... but just want to be fascinated by wild animals (which I am sure won't be too difficult to accomplish =) ). Probably more on the wild life than birds though.

Also very much want to look for nice clean beach (no seaweed) for R&R. Will Lamu, Zanzibar or capetown have that during October?

Again from the reading, it seems that Kenya and Lamu/Zanzibar will be a great combo. But I am also hearing people that have gone to South Africa raving about Kruger, Cape town, Cape of Good Hope and wine... Very much torned.

Safety is also a great concern.... any advice on that for these places?

@Patty, we just want to wake up to wild animals being around the properties. We thought that would require us to be in a tree house... but it sounds like we don't have to?

Appologize for the many more additional questions but very much looking forward to your replies.

Thanks!!!!!
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Old May 10th, 2009, 05:08 AM
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The water off Cape Town is very very very cold... the South Atlantic Ocean. Off the East African coast is like bathwater... the Indian Ocean.

Lamu is a lovely area off the Kenyan coast, quiet, beautiful beaches; no vehicles rather your feet or donkeys in Lamu Town; varied choices for lodging. Visiting here, you also save extra visa costs (USD$100/person for US passport holders) by not going to Zanzibar Island which is in Tanzania; nor the Yellow Fever inoculation which is required for entry.

Come October, the prices for many properties come down, so you can definitely get a driving safari between parks, i.e., Amboseli (2/nts), Lake Nakuru (1/nt), Masai Mara (3/nts); but then need flight to/from Lamu Island (3/nts).
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Old May 10th, 2009, 05:10 AM
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bostonwa,

With your proposed budget, you can out together a fantastic trip. With 10 days, I would suggest that you find 3 stops: 1 that would concentrate on lots of animals, 1 that would be isolated and romantic, and 1 beach resort.

amny places would be good for concentrations of animals, with the Masai Mara area being among the very best. You have lots of choices and price ranges. For an isolated and romantic spot that would also fulfill your "tree house" notion, you might consider Shompole. Your living accommodations are a deluxe tree house -- no exterior walls, just you and the birds on a mountainside in a beautiful setting.

Just a word about "tree houses": I get the feeling that you're like to find someplace where you'd sleep in the trees, then wake up to find a Garden of Eden-ful of animals wandering around when you wake up in the morning. Unfortunately, I don't think you're likely to find that. For one thing, there are a few too many carnivorous beasts who can climb trees far better than you can, and who would eat you while you snooze. However, there are some camps that offer outdoor, "sleep under the stars" arrangements. Also, in just about any non-fenced camp, animals might wander through any time of day or night. Also, at some camps on river banks, it's very common to see hippos & other beasts at the river.

Happy planning.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 05:26 AM
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As for safety, anything that has been mentioned so far is what is offered by the most reliable, conservative travel companies. These places are committed to safe adn enjoyable tourism. You do not have to risk safety for the things you mentioned you'd like.

A private trip for just the 2 of you would be a big component of a romantic trip. Memorable, special moments shared by just the two of you can occur anywhere and everywhere in Africa. If you are in your own vehicle, then those times can be seen as romantic. Sandi's suggestion would work well to allow for a private safari within your budget.

If you went to Kruger, you can do a self drive that will be within your budget. The reserves in that area are great too, but you'd likely need to share a vehicle with others to mainitain your budget. Elephant Plains or Arathusa would be good, based on the comments of others who havae gone. I believe the EP accommodations are very lovely.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 05:58 AM
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You certainly can find what you want in Tanzania as far as intree lodging is concerned. Take a look at this camp.

http://www.e-gnu.com/tarangire_treet..._tanzania.html

I have friends who stayed there recently and really enjoyed the camp and the entire experience. Actually they use a trap door on a pulley arrangement to keep animals from climbing up at night (or during the day). Nice swimming pool and bar and a nice lounge area. Perfect for a honeymoon.
Ted
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Old May 10th, 2009, 07:16 AM
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No, you don't have to be in a tree house to see animals around. As rizzuto mentioned, any unfenced camp can have animals wandering through.

A private, driving safari in Kenya at that time of year will start around $300 per person per night. That would include your accommodation, meals, game drives and park fees. Costs can go up substantially from there if you choose higher end camps, flights, etc. You'll want to go on game drives so you do need a driver/guide and vehicle which can be provided by your tour operator on a driving safari or by the camp/lodge on a flying safari (in the latter case, you'll generally share the game drives with other guests).

Beach time can cost less than nights on safari. If I had to choose, I'd definitely splurge for the safari and choose a less expensive place for the beach.

Two of my favorite camps in Kenya are located in Tsavo which could be easily combined with beach time on the Kenyan coast. Galdessa in Tsavo East is set along the Galana river and you can watch game come to drink as well as hippos. There are baboons and vervet monkeys around camp and other game that wander through. There are 2 honeymoon bandas that have elevated viewing platforms with day beds. Between the two, I prefer banda A because it's on the private camp side with only 3 bandas and it's located at the very end offering lots of privacy. The other camp is Finch Hattons in Tsavo West with tents set over hippo springs. You could sit on your deck and watch them all day not to mention the incredible amount of birdlife that use the springs as well as turtles and crocs. Again monkeys all over camp and I've seen bushbuck, impala and giraffe wandering through while sitting on the deck. I've seen more wildlife at this camp than any other place we've stayed over 5 trips to Africa. My favorite tent here is #7 an end tent over the main hippo pond. I think both places would be perfect for a honeymoon

Tsavo East and West adjoin each other but are very different. East has more open plains while West has dramatic, volcanic scenery so the two wouldn't duplicate each other or be repetitive. I have more details and photos in this trip report if you're interested http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...rip-report.cfm
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Old May 10th, 2009, 07:22 AM
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I should mention the only thing about sleeping near hippos is that they'll wake you up around 5:00-5:30 every morning but there's nothing better than waking up to the hippo alarm!
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Old May 10th, 2009, 08:24 AM
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Hi all,

Thanks so much for the additional advice!

@Rizzuto, you are right in what you think what I was thinking. And I appreciate you 'pulling me into the reality'. =) You and Patty's confirmation that I don't exactly need to be in a tree to see wild animals is great! =)

@Sandi, thanks for the suggestions on the itineary. Any recommendations on how to go from the Nairobi airport to these camps and from camp to camp? I got info to Lamu so it's more the camp to camp travel that I am not sure about yet.

Are the tour operations in the park? or I have to arrange with them before I get to Kenya? Do they plan all my safari trips? Or do I have to find a tour operation company per camp? (e.g. Sandi's itineary, do i find 2 companies or just 1 that will take care of the safaris?)

@Patty, would going to the camps you suggested still allow me to go to Masai Mara? Or are they in Masai Mara? (Yes... still have a lot of learning to do... sorry)

This is very interesting in terms of places to go. I am leaning more and more on Kenya and Lamu. Since not that many people are trying too hard to persuade me to go to say South Africa (Any suggstion on why might that be?)

@atravelynn, I went on the US travel warning just to double check on security and safety... and what I saw worries me a bit (ok... a lot). http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_923.html
That's more the safety issue that I am concerned about... thoughts?

Thanks so very much again!!!
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Old May 10th, 2009, 09:42 AM
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The majority of tour operators are based in Nairobi. There are also operator based in the coastal areas like Mombasa/Ukunda/Malindi/Watamu. None that I know of based in Lamu since you generally fly to/from Lamu and wouldn't begin/end safaris there.

If planning a driving safari, your tour operator will provide vehicle and guide who will travel with you from park to park. The same vehicle will be used for your transporation between parks as well as your game drives. This would be on a private basis if you've booked a private safari. Taking Sandi's itinerary as an example, you could drive Nairobi-Amboseli (4.5 hours), Amboseli-Nakuru (up to 7 hours with lunch stop in Nairobi), Nakuru-Mara (5-6 hours), Mara-Nairobi (5-6 hours). You could also fly some of the segments. I'd recommend at least one flight at the end from the Mara back to Nairobi.

If you fly from park to park, you'll normally use the camp or lodge's vehicle and guide for game drives. This would be on a shared basis with other guests unless you've paid a supplement for a private vehicle (which can be high). Some high end camps provide each party with a private vehicle but they're more expensive to start with.

There are some exceptions but that's generally how the game drives work.

You can book everything through one operator, particularly if you're planning a driving safari because you'll need one to provide you with a vehicle and guide anyway. For flying safaris, you can book directly with the camp but it might be easier to book everything through one operator who will coordinate the flights, transfers, etc.

The camps I suggested are not in the Mara. They're 5-6 hours from Nairobi in a different direction than the Mara (which is also about 5-6 hours from Nairobi). My idea was that you could do a one way safari toward the coast (Tsavo is between Nairobi and the coast). Doing both Tsavo and the Mara is possible but would require some flying (the roads to/from the Mara are some of the worst in Kenya).
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Old May 10th, 2009, 12:00 PM
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Shompole that rizzotu mentions, which is a great option vs Lamu (or other coastal island). It's hotter down here than the other safari stops; on private lands, with open floorplan houses each with their own plunge pool. Very romantic.

And in the Laikipia (northwest of Nairobi, about 4/hrs by road or 1.5/hr flight) area there are the Starbeds. Here your queen size bed, surrounded by mossie net, is set on a platform (closest you'll get to a treehouse). Just you and the amazing star-filled African sky above. There are only 3/platforms, very private, at these camps and you're hosted by the local Samburu tribe.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 12:36 PM
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If you're going to consider places in the Shompole and Loisaba (where the Star Beds are) price range, you should also consider Elsa's Kopje in Meru. The camp is build high on a rock outcropping with fantastic views and hyrax families running around all over the camp. Here I would request cottage 1 or 2 both located across a swing bridge with sunken tubs on the deck. These places will run approx $500-$600 per person per night not including the cost to get there.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 01:09 PM
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>>Elsa's Kopje in Meru; will run approx $500-$600 per person per night not including the cost to get there.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 01:20 PM
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Oh and none of these places are close to the Mara either but again possible to combine if you fly.

I have some photos and a report that includes Elsa's Kopje here http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...nia-report.cfm

Regarding safety, the State Dept warning has been in place for quite a long time. We've never felt unsafe in Kenya and are going back this Aug/Sep. We were also there in Jan/Feb last year after in election riots and were fine. For the most part, we weren't in any of the trouble spots.

Sandi,
I was going by the rack rates for Loisaba and Elsa's on the Cheli Peacock website of $565pppn and $495pppn respectively for Oct. Also those rates don't include park/conservation fees, right? What specials are they offering?
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Old May 10th, 2009, 02:27 PM
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I think I found it http://www.imagineafrica.co.uk/conte...eID=2922#cheli

10% discount or if you stay a min of 4 nights, 30% discount. Some other discounts listed on that site too.
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Old May 11th, 2009, 06:39 AM
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The 10% discount has expired. There is a discount of about 15% for stay of 6/nts various combination at safari camps (though not all the C&P props are included)... example: 2/nts Elsa's, 4/nts Elephant Pepper or 2/nts each Elsa's, Joy's and Saruni/Mara.
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