Best Safari tour operator

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Jun 16th, 2005, 01:07 PM
  #21
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Join Date: May 2003
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Patty,
I have emailed Eastern/Southern a couple of days ago for info and have not heard back. Does it usually take a while to get a response? Also, is there much of a chance they would back out of a reservation once its made? I just want to be sure they are reliable.
So far they are the most reasonable, price-wise. We are thinking about doing the ESSK014 with some minor changes if we reserve with them.
Still considering African Serendipity since they have offices in the US as well as Africa
As far as our dates go, we are flexible, so if you think that September would be too crowded or anything let me know. I just want to go when there is a lot to see and it is not too hot.
Thanks for your help,
Annie
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Jun 16th, 2005, 02:14 PM
  #22
 
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Annie,
Serah usually replies to my emails anywhere from the next day to one week depending on the complexity of my itinerary/questions. I would wait another day or two and if still no response, then email again just to make sure that your original email was received.

They're reliable, don't worry. Once you've decided on an itinerary and they've confirmed that the changes you want are possible and you tell them to go ahead and book it, they'll send you an itinerary confirmation and ask for a deposit by credit card or wire transfer. It's possible that they may not be able to get firm rates from the lodges/camps for September 2006 at this time. Many of the accomodations don't publish rates this far in advance so you might have to wait until later this year to find out. Ask them about this. I haven't booked anything this far out so am not sure how this works.

Jul-Sep are the high season months (along with late Dec-Mar), so naturally it would be more crowded. However this is also the season to see the migration in the Mara and are the cooler months of the year, so it's tradeoff. Perhaps someone else who has traveled this time of year can give you a better idea. Other than the migrating wildebeest herds, the game should be plentiful year round.

Another deciding factor may be the availability of award seats. I used ff miles last time and will do so again this trip. I had a difficult time finding seats in the summer months as this is high season for air travel on both routes from US to Europe and from Europe to East Africa. I found that it was much easier to coordinate award seats in the months of Nov-Mar. But I'm using Delta Skymiles and have never tried to book 331 days in advance (I usually book 3-6 months out) so your experience may be different.
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Jun 16th, 2005, 03:02 PM
  #23
sandi
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I'm coming in on this after a few postings.

As to the return flight from Amboseli - and your Amboseli guide/driver - as I recall with similar routing, while you fly, your guide/driver will drive back to NBO (with your luggage if you're scheduled on a real small plane) or w/o luggage if sufficient room on the plane. In NBO you will be met at Wilson airport by another driver who will take you to Sheldrick (as you mention) and to lunch. Your original guide/driver will meet you after lunch and you will then be on your way your itinerary.

I just took a look at the Eastern/Southern itinerary and notice that the Day 1 starts in the morning heading to The Ark. There is no accommodation should you arrive the evening before. If coming from the US, you won't arrive NBO till about 8pm or early morning (depending on your routing). If at night you will need a hotel room. If in the morning, do you really want to start your safari with no time to refresh or "sleep?" And with The Ark your first stop, it's not likely you'll get to sleep early. The objective here is to stay up and wait for the animals to come to the salt lick. You probably won't get a good night sleep until you arrive at Sweetwaters. And at Sweetwaters they offer night drives, which should you decide to participate in, you still won't get to sleep until the 3rd night, hopefully.

Also, on the last day returning from the Mara, you arrive NBO about 12:30pm and no day-room is provided at a hotel. Unless you have an immediate connection homebound (most flights depart late evening) - do you want to be without somewhere to refresh, relax and/or put your bags? With a half-day, you can go shopping, take a half-day tour, go to the Norfolk hotel for "sundowners" and dinner before heading to the airport.

Also, is this Eastern/Southern itinerary "independent" or will there be other passengers?

Things to think about.
 
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Jun 16th, 2005, 03:18 PM
  #24
 
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sandi brought up some good points and these are all things that you might need to add to any itinerary (overnight/day room accomodations in Nairobi) depending on what time your flights arrive/depart.

Also keep in mind that the itineraries listed on their website or any in country operator site are just examples. They can alter/customize the itinerary any way you want or you can completely create your own itinerary (as long as it's logistically possible). You don't have to follow any of them.
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Jun 16th, 2005, 03:45 PM
  #25
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Sandi,
Are you the Sandi of African Serendipity? I am assuming you must be.
If I do use Eastern/Southern I was going to make a couple of changes, so the itinerary would be similar to the one you suggested. This would be an independent (nongroup) safari as well. Are you saying if I went with Serendipity I would have the same driver throughout, even when flying? I assume it would be different in the Mara.
I still have not decided and probably won't make a firm reservation for a while because it is so early, but I wanted to do my research ahead so I can make an informed decision. Does Serendipity have offices in Africa or do you deal with someone else there? About how many safaris per year would you say you have planned? I do feel more comfortable having someone in the US I can talk to.
Thanks,
Annie
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