Back to Kenya

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May 10th, 2003, 06:45 AM
  #1
LizFrazier
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Back to Kenya

Well, its done. My husband and I will be going to the Masai Mara in September to see the Wildebeest migration. Wanna bet they skip Kenya this year? Oh no! Anyways just hoping the rain falls as it should and the Wildebeest come to Kenya.
We will leave on 3 Sept and fly to Nairobi. Stay overnight, haven't decided which Nairobi hotel yet, should it be Serena, Hilton, Norfolk, or something grander like Ngong House or Giraffe Manor?
We will then fly out the next morning from Wilson to the Mara and stay at Governors Main Camp for the duration. We have the furthest out tent facing the plains. We will stay 5 days there. We will hire a car for three days to be out the whole day with the wildebeests and zebras and lions, etc. One day we will hot air balloon over them and eat our champagne breakfast among them. (If it rains and they arrive.) We are very excited and I would especially like to thank SusanLynne and King for their generous sharing of information since we have not been to East Africa for 10 years. SusanLynne, you reminded me how much I loved Kenya and that is where I actually fell in love with Africa. It was on the Mara, while we were staying at your favorite camp, Mara River Camp. Its too far out for us for this trip though.
I arranged all of this myself. I faxed my credit card to Governor's Camp for the deposit, we wired the airfare to AirKenya, for the flights to and from the Mara. We saved a bunch, from what I got as quotes both from Africatravelinc.com and from a Kenya travel operator. We decided against staying at Rekero after many emails back and forth with them. We thought hiring the car and driver from Governors Camp for three days we could go whereever we chose and just spend all of our time there.
Thats about it. Oh, TravelGuard came through and let us change our other policy to cover this trip and then they refunded $728.00 to our credit card. Can you believe in this day and age that someone did something like that when everyone else seems to grab and hold onto money? So I had my faith restored big time with the travel industry. Not enough though to use an agent. Rocco, thanks to you and your generous sharing of info, I was able to do this small trip myself. It was thrilling! Thanks. Liz
 
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May 10th, 2003, 02:08 PM
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Oh. Liz ... I am so thrilled for you!!! What a wonderful journey it will be. The Mara - one of the few places on this earth that I get a "spiritual" feeling. I will keep my fingers crossed that you get to see a crossing. There is nothing like it in the world. Dusty, chaotic, loud and simply spectacular. I cried with tears of joy and relief when, after a long period of waiting, the wildebeests started crossing. But it was worth every second of waiting. Worry not ... the wildebeests will not skip Kenya. In fact, I'll bet the magnificent Mara will give you everything she has to offer. I am confident the Mara will thank you in her very special way for not only remembering her, but for returning. Keep a travel diary so you can share every single detail with those of us who won't be able to get back there for a while yet. I am estatic that you are going, and by the same token, I am pea-green with envy. Good for you!!!!
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May 10th, 2003, 02:21 PM
  #3
LizFrazier
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Thank you Susan for being a truly marvelous person. You have the true meaning of Africa in you and I am so thrilled to be knowing you. You make me even happier that we have chosen to do this for just the reason of seeing the Mara and the Wildebeests. I will speak your name to the Wildebeests. Liz
 
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May 10th, 2003, 02:36 PM
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I can ony say the same thing. Oh. Liz...

I would go again and again. After two safaris in Kenya I am ready.

Please enjoy every moment. If you would like to read my report I will find it for you. We stayed in the Governors Camp besides other places.
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May 10th, 2003, 02:38 PM
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Liz I'm soooo delighted for you!

I know you were disappointed about not going to Africa earlier in the year but it is important to go with one's gut feelings and I think you would not have been able to fully enjoy the trip for the worries.

This Kenyan trip sounds truly marvellous, and I know it will be another wonderful memory-maker for you.

Can't wait to hear all about it!

Love
Kavey
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May 10th, 2003, 08:12 PM
  #6
LizFrazier
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Gina- Yes, now I remember your report. Still the best! My husband LOVES rhubarb pie, sure hope its on the menu at Governors Camp.
Eveyone here is so nice to comment so positively for us. We debated this at length and almost got it too involved, but we thought if we just concentrate on the Mara and one camp, that perhaps we can go again in February to the Serengeti when the Wildebeests are giving birth. This sounds very extravagant, but this trip is only costing us $2500 apiece as we got our air tickets free from American Airlines FF miles. Of course we will be going coach, but so far the planes are not booked full and we're hoping for an extra seat or two to stretch out in. In February we will have to buy the tickets, probably from 2Afrika.com, and we will rent a vehicle in Arusha, probably from Roy Safaris. We will again hot air balloon over the migration, this time will be from the Seronera area and then go on to Ndutu for a week or 10 days of absolute inundation with the Wildebeests. Having a private car the whole time will really be special. So this is how it came out and these will probably be our last trips to East Africa, but WOW, if we get the two trips, I will feel truly blessed.
I will take copious notes and share when we return mid Sept. Thank you all again. Liz
 
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May 10th, 2003, 11:04 PM
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Liz, I came in late to this forum so I didn't hear about your earlier cancellation but I can hear the excitement in your voice about this trip. We haven't taken our first trip to Africa yet but I'm already dreaming about the migration for a second visit. Your plans sound so beautiful.

We will all be thinking migration...migration in Sept.
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May 11th, 2003, 03:58 AM
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Hi Liz!!!! I was so excited for you and your trip that I dreamed about the migration last night. Some people dream of sex, wild parties - I dream of the migration. What can I say??? And to hear of plans for the Serengeti in February!!! Yes, yes, yes! Several friends have been during that time and they said it is spectacular. Also glad to hear that you are considering using Roy Safaris. I told you a long time ago how pleased we were with their prices and service. Clean vehicles in very good shape, fantastic guides and a genuine enthusiasm for dealing with their clients. My husband and I were the only ones in the vehicle (private safari) and there is nothing like it. You can spend as much time as you want looking at one thing and not have to worry about how others in the vehicle feel or what they want to do. Yet another trip I can't wait to hear about! As Beryl Markham once wrote: "Once you fall in love with Africa, it haunts you until the day you die." I am so very, very happy for you!! Yahoo!!! Yippee!!! Now, I will have to start dreaming of the Serengeti ...
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May 11th, 2003, 06:34 AM
  #9
LizFrazier
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Thank you Clematis for the prayers. I will surely remember you all to the Mara.
SusanLynne-It was your recommendation about Roy Safaris that had me contact them before for a quote. Very honest company in my opinion. If we do go in February, I will have them arrange it for us. It will be private. It was your account of sitting for 2 or 3 hours waiting for the crossing that caused me to reserve the car at Governors for the three days. They charge $250 a day at Governors for a private car and driver. So that kind of added a bit to the cost, but I know it will be well worth it. Thanks again all. Liz
 
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May 11th, 2003, 07:28 AM
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Liz,

Glad I was able to help. Best of luck on your upcoming trip. I will forward with great interest to your trip report.

The good thing about Kenya is that I could probably combine about 8 nights in Kenya with 8 nights in Europe. There will be no need to spend time in Cape Town, as it will be too far anyway. That is about probably the only way that I will find myself back in Africa next year, at least if I expect my wife to accompany me!
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May 11th, 2003, 08:17 AM
  #11
LizFrazier
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Yes Rocco-One thing to consider in flying to East Africa, is SAA flies from J'Berg to Nairobi for $500, they also offer a ticket from the US to Nairobi which changes in J'berg and you can stop off for free. We opted not to go that route because of the added time in transit. It also got too complicated to try to stop off in Botswana, etc. KLM is the only airline that offers a flight from Europe to Arusha direct. You use Northwest from the US to Europe and then change to KLM. That seems the best so you avoid the extra transit visa in Nairobi. Less hassle=better. I am full 100 percent thankful for your postings though, as I would not have attempted this on my own otherwise. Your generous sharing of websites, etc. allowed me to venture out and I quickly found out how easy it was. An interesting thing with Africa Travel Inc. was that I did all the planning and only asked for a price. They added on about $1500 for themselves. I decided to go it alone and it was wonderful and sooo easy.
You might want to look at Ngong House for overnight in Nairobi if you go. Pure luxury! Also Governors Il Moran Camp is really top of the line. We opted for the main Governors Camp for the location and saving on the rooms allowed us to rent a car for what one night in Il Moran costs. We're already looking at the February trip but would like to wait until we return in Sept. to actually book it. Liz
 
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May 11th, 2003, 08:51 AM
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Hi Liz!!! I am going to keep my fingers, eyes, hands, feet everything crossed in the hope that it helps you see a crossing on your trip. Patience is the most important thing. We waited nearly three hours. The massive herd went upriver 1/4 mile, so did we. They went downriver 1/2 mile, so did we. Of course this was a day we did not have a picnic lunch with us, so we were all starving for something to eat. But we ignored our growling tummies and stuck with it - back up the river, back down. Not a word of a lie, we went up and down that river about 10 times. We really didn't mind though, because we were entranced with a lone wildebeest that was on our side of the river crying out for the rest of the wildebeest to join him/her. It was heart-wrenching and fascinating. The wildebeests would make their precarious way down the steep embankment, drink from the river, put their little legs in ... and then run back up the embankment. The zebra would do the same thing. But we stayed there, unlike the minibuses we saw crammed full with people. They stuck around five minutes and then took off. Skipping lunch that day was well worth it - besides, I can stand to lose a few pounds. Anyway, you are going to have a wonderful time!!
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May 11th, 2003, 09:01 AM
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Liz, for many weeks I did not think about going back to Kenya (as Kavey knows we were contemplating South Africa) but after reading your excitement about migration I am ready to go and I want to go soon.

February 2004 or 2005? If we can only fit our February AAAS meeting in Seattle somewhere in between safari to Kenya and Tanzania.
Please give me more details, all details, anything, everything. Thanks

I will never forget tears in my husband's eyes when we silently watched thousands of wildebeests and zebras crossing Mara River during our first safari in Kenya.
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May 11th, 2003, 11:07 AM
  #14
LizFrazier
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Gina-Details when we return? Or details on now I booked it? I'm assuming you want to know how the actual trip went, right? Will do on that. If anyone wants any info on booking things as I did, I'd be more than happy to share, otherwise I won't go over that part unless asked.
If you already saw the crossings in Kenya, and I am forever mixing your and SusanLynnes trips up in my mind, have you seen the birthing of the Wildebeest on the Serengeti? Those sweet little calfs on skinny spindly legs running with such enthusiasm is such fun to see. Sometimes they just run in circles and fall over. We went to Lake Ndutu one year in February,on a camping safari, and of course that year the Wildebeests went directly to Seronera and skipped the Southern Serengeti Conservation Area. We had seen some of them in Ngorongoro Crater giving birth, but others in our group didn't want to be bothered. They were birders, so off we went. Ugh! No more group safaris EVER for me. If you go in February, you will want to stay at Ndutu Safari Lodge. That is just a standard facility but the only one in that area. Serengeti Sopa Lodge is in the Seronera area and a close one to the airstrip and to where they hot air balloon. We would stay the night there when we fly out from Arusha, to hot air balloon. Then the driver would meet us and drive us to Ndutu and stay with us until he delivers us back to the airstrip to return home. I will spend every minute at Ndutu because of the action that goes on there. You can check them out at www.ndutu.com. They have a cute website and many newsletters in their "What's happening" area. Not luxury by any means but just to have a bed is all we really require to get to see the animals. Good luck. Liz
 
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May 12th, 2003, 06:15 PM
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Liz, my husband and I decided to go back to Kenya and to add Tanzania this time. This is a very new plan but if you have any suggestions on places to visit in Tanzania, how to book them or any other informations including websites. Do you think that February (the begining or the end?) would be the best time to visit both places?
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May 12th, 2003, 06:34 PM
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LizFrazier
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Gina- Just a note to say that I will post tomorrow. I've been on the computer most all day and am too weary tonight.
But first-----YAY!!!! I don't know why others awaken what is lying dormant, I think it is just your minds way of jogging you awake and leading you to something that will cause a reaction to do something. (Or something like that.) See I really am tired. haha. Till tomorrow. Liz
 
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May 13th, 2003, 12:39 AM
  #17
 
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Another Yay for Gina!
Gine I'd recommend searching through and reading posts by an individual here called King, who has a wealth of knowledge about East Africa and has shared some of it here in recent months.
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May 13th, 2003, 05:40 AM
  #18
LizFrazier
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Gina- Why not start another topic for your info. I thought all night about it and I thank Kavey for mentioning King. Both he and SusanLynne can give great ideas. Its been ten years since our last trip which was a mobile tenting trip (ugh). If I were going today, I'd have 2Afrika do it for me. Ken puts together private groups as well as his group trips. Best price around. I've noticed he's going in to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia too. I definitely will contact him when ever I need an agent. Learned my lesson on that one!
I just got up so will have breakfast and post more later after returning from the gym. Liz
 
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May 13th, 2003, 05:53 AM
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Good for you, Gina!! Glad to read that you are planning to go to Kenya and Tanzania. I would strongly urge that you think of including Selous Game Reserve in the Tanzania portion of the trip. It is spectacular and a nice way to end a safari. About 75 mins. by plane from Dar Es Salaam, it is really remote and untouched by tourism. I can guarantee that while you are on a game drive there you will not see another vehicle. Also, Selous gives you an opportunity to do things like boat rides in the Rufiji River, where there is an abundance of hippo and crocs. Or fly-camping, which has got to be an awesome experience and one I wish we had done. We stayed at Sand Rivers which was just fantastic. Spacious chalets and entirely open-air. Beds with ceiling fans, huge bathrooms, wonderful staff and right on the mighty Rufiji River. Give it some thought because it is worth the time and effort to get there. Selous is half the size of the state of Ohio, yet receives relatively few visitors. There are only a handful of camps and no human habitation is allowed inside the reserve. There is a healthy rhino population, but as you know, they are elusive for such massive creatures. Lion, giraffe, buffalo, giraffe, dik-dik, crocs, elephant - we saw them all in Selous. Please just give it some thought as it is truly a special place. Have fun planning!
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May 13th, 2003, 06:32 AM
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Liz - congratulations - I am so excited for you!

You are taking the trip I wanted to take this year. But I've decided to get camera gear this year and safari next year. Well, almost decided. The camera and lenses are being shipped but the more I read about all the trips planned I want to change my mind.

I can't wait to read your trip reports because it will be like being there.

~Cindy
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