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Alternative to Naivasha

Old Mar 8th, 2006, 11:11 AM
  #1  
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Alternative to Naivasha

Our current itinerary (late July 06) has us starting out from Nairobi with two nights at Llodia near Lake Naivasha for game viewing, horseback riding and a half day trip to Lake Nakuru, before heading on to Aberdare and then to Samburu (Larsen's Camp) and the rest of our trip to Tanzania and ending up in the Mara. Our guide has just returned from 6 weeks in country and reports that the new public road works project out of Nairobi is wreaking havoc on traffic to the Nakuru area.
He reports that the trip to Naivasha is now at least 4 hours with stop and go traffic and heavy truck congestion and the route from Naivasha to Nakuru could take another three hours (from what was once a one hour drive). We are looking for alternatives. One suggestion, if we still want to ride is to go to Sweetwaters and stay at Ol Pejeta. To me, it doesn't look nearly as nice as Llodia lodge. Since these two (or three) days before we go to Samburu are now in flux, does anyone have other suggestions for this portion of the trip that we should consider? Horseback riding, while nice, is not essential. I would appreciate the coolective wisom of this group. Thanks!
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 11:39 AM
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Are you still planning an overnight at the Ark? Would this be for the 2 preceding nights?

What was formerly Sangare Ranch is re-opened as Livingstone's Shangrila. They'll offer riding and the location is close to the Aberdares. No website yet but there are some pics of its former incarnation. I wouldn't call the accomodations luxurious though if that's what you're looking for, and I don't know what, if any, refurbishment has been done. You could be the first to report

http://www.arthearts.com/Sangare.htm

http://www.savannahcamps.com/scl/highmountains.html

There are ranches in Laikipia that offer riding but you'd then have to back track to the Aberdares, or it is possible to change the order of your itinerary?
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 12:10 PM
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Patty-
Personally, I could do without the overnight at the Ark, so as far as I am concerned this opens up the first three nights of the trip, assuming that we want a reasonable drive to Samburu. I am sure we could go from nairobi to the Ark on day one. Spend day two and three in Laikipia and then on to Samburu. Does either Mt. Meru or Loisaba make sense for that time of year?
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 01:28 PM
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Amy,
I haven't been to Meru. There have been a few reports here but from different times of year -

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34540562

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34735217

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34704532

The latter two include reports of Loisaba as well.

One thing to keep in mind is that both Elsa's and Loisaba are more set up for fly in guests in that their rates are inclusive of game drives and this makes less sense if you're coming with your own vehicle and guide (unless you don't care). The camps/lodges on Lewa Conservancy are also set up this way.

Here's a map of the Laikipia region with the location of camps and ranches - http://www.laikipia.org/map-of-laikipia.htm

I would inquire with your guide as to how long he thinks the drives will take (what operator are you booking with BTW if you don't mind me asking?). It looks to me like Lewa would be most convenient on the way to Samburu.

I've stayed at El Karama Ranch http://www.laikipia.org/hotel_elkarama.htm which also wouldn't be too out of the way if heading to Samburu. They offer riding as well as horseback safaris on their ranch http://www.horsebackinkenya.com/index.html

I don't know if their accomodations are too simple for what you're looking for. It's a very picturesque ranch and they were in the process of adding new stone and thatch cottages along the Uaso Nyiro river at the time of my stay late last year. They also have a family cottage which is set farther back from the others.

It's self catered but they provide a cook and ranch tracker who accompanies you on day/night game drives (in your vehicle) and walks. We actually didn't do any riding here, partly because our time was limited and partly because we already had a horseback safari scheduled later in our trip, but I'd love to go back there for some riding.

The first 33 photos in this album were taken on the ranch - http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&x=0&y=-r5e7ji

More details can be found in my trip report - http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34719569

Good luck with your decision!
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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 05:15 PM
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Amy,
Patty has covered most of the options. However, very uncharacteristically she didn't mention one - she has not been posting for a while so she is clearly rusty

Assuming places like Lewa Wilderness, Loisiba and Sabuk are within the price range you are looking at for these three days, the trip is quite do-able. You can fly there, one way, and then have your driver pick you up and start your road safari from there. I am pretty sure it would be much more complicated and more expensive to go to these locations by road - we dropped Lewa from our itinerary this year for precisely this reason (and are instead going to Shaba - and you could be very popular here if you came back with the first trip report on Jpoy's Camp; opening in June). Lewa has a scheduled flight while the others have only charters I think(cost difference is probably a hundred plus dollars each, but don't hold me to that!)

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Old Mar 8th, 2006, 08:51 PM
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Re. Livingstone's Shangrila, there doesn't appear to be any change from the old Sangare Tented Camp - just a rebranding. They even use the same pictures on their current promotional material. However it is now priced at not that much more than a Serena, which is pretty good given that there are only 6 tents and a range of activities are included.

Some might be interested to know that they do reasonably priced transfers from Nyeri and Nanyuki, so it's now on the list of places you can feasibly visit using public transport, without missing out on anything.

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Old Mar 9th, 2006, 02:52 AM
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Hi AmyH

I have stayed at Sweetwaters on 3 different occasions and I would always return there.

My best night-game drive experiences have been there, including......

- a lion kill
- great leopard sighting, posing under the spotlight for photos
- a large herd of buffalo (300+) attacking a pride of lions
- black rhinos at night
- striped hyena and other nocturnal animals.

These were the highlights of 3 different night game-drives at Sweetwaters. I find it a very nice camp overall.

Gaurang
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Old Mar 9th, 2006, 07:15 AM
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Thanks for all the advice! And I am glad to hear positive experience at Sweetwaters. Maybe it weas reading about the fenced orphanage area that turned me off or just comparing Ol Pejeta to the Lolldia Lodge that gave me a negative vibe. I'm no Rocco, that's for sure, but we have chosen pretty high end camps and lodges for the trip.
Since we are going to both Larsen's and Sarara, I think we have decided that adding more nights in the same area might be a little redundant. Thinking now of starting out of Nairobi and heading to Tsavo West before heading north in order to experience a different ecosystem. Will now search board for Tsavo West recos and report back.
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Old Mar 9th, 2006, 08:22 AM
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I love Finch Hattons camp in Tsavo West. Here's my report from Feb last year with photo links at the end -

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34566072

But that's a long way to go in a different direction from Samburu. Would you be flying?
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Old Mar 9th, 2006, 08:27 AM
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Hi AmyH

I stayed at Sweetwaters Tented Camp, which was basic but nice and comfortable. Nice surroundings and good food. The elephants at Sweetwaters haven't been told what a fence is for, and so are always walking through them.

But I always prioritise game viewing over comfort/luxury
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Old Mar 9th, 2006, 08:37 AM
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Patty and Africa-
Yes, I think we would be adding another charter. If it is a choice between Sweetwaters or going to Kilaguni Lodge in Tsavo, another Serena property, I think I would stay with Sweetwaters and not spend the extra airfare to get to Tsavo. If we could get in to Finch Hatton's or Campi Ya Kanzi or Ol Donyo Wuas in the Chyulu Hills, I may enter Roccco land and say what the heck, we have already so overspent on this trip, might as well keep going.
Africa-- We are actually reserved at Ol Pejeta, the lodge at Sweetwaters and not the tented camp. Any insights on the accomodations,location at Ol Pejeta v. the tents?
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Old Mar 9th, 2006, 08:54 AM
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Go for it, Amy. Pull a Rocco
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Old Mar 10th, 2006, 09:58 AM
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I think we have decided on adding the charter and going from Nairobi - Chyulu Hills/Ol Donye Wuas (crossing my fingers on availability)-Ark before continuing on to the rest of the trip as planned. Here is my next crazy thought and tell me if I should put this in a separate thread -- skipping Nairobi! Our BA flight arrives in Nairobi at 7:30 am. Rather than spend a day touring Nairobi, overnight at the Norfolk and then getting up in the morning to go back to the airport for the flight to Chyulu, I think I would rather just board the charter and get right to Chyulu and get started. Is it crazy/heretical to skip Nairobi. We will have a few hours on our last day coming back from the Mara before our night flight back to London, but we would for the most part be skipping Nairobi. Any thoughts?
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Old Mar 10th, 2006, 10:37 AM
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Unless there's something specific you wanted to do in Nairobi, I vote for heading straight to Chyulu Hills and starting your safari. Please report back on Ol Donyo Wuas and have a great trip!
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Old Mar 11th, 2006, 04:51 AM
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Amy just joned your thread. Have just been to Ol Donyo Waus again recently it is magical. Riding across the palins with Kili in the back was just one of those lifetime memories. We flew directly from Jomo Kenyatta airport with yellow wings and never even stopped in Nairobi.
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Old Mar 13th, 2006, 08:32 AM
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mzeetembo-
Still waiting to hear if Ol Donye will be possible at this late date. Can you expand on your time here? Our guide has told us that while beautiful, restful, relaxing and ability to horseback ride, we will have to drive about an hour at least into Tsavo to actually have good game viewing. I don't mind this at all since we have plenty of time on the rest of the trip but wonder if that was your experience. Any impressions you have would be most appreciated.
A
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Old Mar 15th, 2006, 01:52 PM
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Help!
I guess I should have known that Ol Donye would be booked along with Campi ya Kanzi. There is availability at Galdessa, but the add on to the trip for the lodging and charter flights is just too much as Galdessa is even further in air time than Ol Donye. We could stick with the Tsavo plan and go to Kilaguni, but it would be starting with the largest and most modest accomodation of our trip and I don't think that is a good way to start.
So, to stay at Lolldia in Naivasha or switch to Ol Pejeta at Sweetwaters before going to Aberdare, Samburu (Larsen's), Sarara and the rest of the itinerary. Any thoughts?
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Old Mar 21st, 2006, 08:42 AM
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Did you make a decision yet? There's a recent report on the Tripadvisor Kenya forum stating that the drive from Nairobi to Loldia took 2 hours and from Loldia to Nakuru 2.5 hours. Perhaps you could skip the day trip to Nakuru but still stay at Loldia. This would allow you to drive through the Aberdares from the Naivasha side to get to the Ark.
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Old Mar 21st, 2006, 10:14 AM
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Thanks for following up Patty. We decided that Naivasha without Nakuru would mean that we would be in East Afrcia for almost 4 days without any real game viewing. So, we decided to add Tsavo to th itinerary. Unfortunately, Ol Donye and Campi Ya Kanzi were both booked, so we are flying straight from Nairobi to Kilaguni for two nights. We will then fly back to Nairobi and drive up to Aberdare, so we can do the full circuit of Aberdare the following day, overnight at the Ark and then pick up the rest of our itinerary. It is not ideal for me as we are starting out at the largish and touristy Kilaguni but our guide has convinced me that I will love the verandah and the setting at Kilaguni as a great intro to Africa. If anything at Ol Donye were to open up, hoever, I'd be there in a heartbeat.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 07:38 AM
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Another change in plans and Nakuru, Naivasha and Loldia Lodge are back in the itinerary! Our guide just returned from six weeks in Africa and experienced lots of delays with the British Airways flights into Nairobi, a bit of disappointment in the worn down state of the Aberdare Country Club and a general concern about trying to go from London-Nairobi straight to Tsavo. He strongly encouraged us to reconsider a first night in Nairobi. I agreed, but told him that we would not be up for 4 single night stays (Norfolk, ACC, Ark, ? ) before ending up at Larsen's. Nothing enjoyable about that to my mind.
The roads up to Nakuru and Naivasha are indeed still a mess and will be for some time, so we settled on a first day and night in nairobi (overnight at the Norfolk)followed by a morning charter flight to Nakuru, where we will be met by our vehicle and go right to a game drive, picnic lunch. We will leave in the afternoon for what he says will be a 90 minute drive on horrendous roads to Naivasha and Loldia. A free day at Loldia to horseback ride, visit Cresent island, etc. and then we will leave the next morning for a full day in the Aberdare and a night at the Ark before continuing with the rest of the itinerary, as planned. Although it was a lot of back and forth, I am excited to have Nakuru and Naivasha back in the line up.
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