Cairo, Egypt & Kenya Safari Trip Report, Sept. 2011

Sep 16th, 2011, 02:12 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Cairo, Egypt & Kenya Safari Trip Report, Sept. 2011

Cairo, Egypt & Kenya Safari Trip Report, Sept. 2011
Here are some thoughts and highlights about our wonderful journey last week. First of all, thank you very much to all the Fodorites who helped me with the planning process for this trip. Your advice was excellent.

We booked this trip well before the events took place in Cairo last February . Having always wanted to see the Pyramids, we decided to stop in Cairo “on our way” to Kenya. We initially had booked our airfare on Continental, nonstop from Newark to Cairo. This was supposed to be a new route that was beginning in March this year, and it seemed just so convenient for us and our proposed itinerary. Needless to say, Continental never did start up this route; nor did they advise us of this. In the early Spring, I realized this, and after much discussion, I was finally able to change our airfare to Egypt Air. Egypt Air was fine; we had to fly from JFK though, a bit of an inconvenience and extra expense, (as we live in NJ).

Many months ago, we booked Lady Egypt for our tour guiding in Cairo. We were met in the (Cairo) airport and driven to Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel in Giza, which we chose for its proximity to the Pyramids. We actually had a lovely view of the Pyramids right from our room. LE provided us with an excellent driver, a guide, and also a tour manager who was present at certain times. Most surprisingly, we were escorted by a tourist policeman armed with a machine gun wherever we went! The tour manager explained to us that this is a law for tourists of various nationalities. After I quickly recovered from my initial shock, I realized that this was probably safer and I became more comfortable. Our sightseeing included the Sound & Light Show, the Pyramids and Sphinx, a camel ride at the Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum, a felucca ride on the Nile, the Islamic area of Cairo including the Bazaar, and the Coptic area of Cairo. Our Egyptologist was excellent, and he enthusiastically shared with us his expertise, especially in the Egyptian Museum. I highly recommend LE; they were reliable, efficient, and professional.

After 2 nights in Cairo, we flew to Nairobi, Kenya for our fabulous safari. We were met and later brought to Wilson airport, a smaller airport for domestic flights. We flew on Air Kenya, about 40 minutes or so, to the Governor’s Camp small airstrip, where our driver and Land Rover were awaiting our arrival. He drove us on the short ride to Il Moran, our base for the next 5 nights, for our wonderful safari. Il Moran was lovely: our tent was quite comfortable and luxurious, and the staff was friendly and eager to please. The setting was very special, right by the Mara River, with exceptional views from the tent and the dining area! (Imagine lunch while viewing about 2 dozen hippos on the bank directly across the river)!! The whole atmosphere was wonderful, and I especially enjoyed the relaxing hammock on our front porch (but I only wished for a tiny bit of free time to rock, not that I would have wanted to miss any game drive time though).

Each morn we awoke at 5:45am and set out for the morning game drive at 6:30am. On the short walk over to the vehicles, we could see fresh hippo footprints near the tents, explaining the “snorts” we had heard during the night. There were 4 guests in the vehicle, and we enjoyed a bush breakfast each day so that we could stay out a nice, long time, until about noon or so. One of our goals was to see the migration, and we did indeed. There were wildebeests and zebra as far as the eye could see. Seeing a crossing was truly amazing! Of course we were thrilled to see many other animals, including: giraffes (my personal favorite), leopards, lions, cheetahs, elephants, cape buffalo, hippos, a rhino, impalas, baboons, Thomson gazelles, warthogs, mongoose, ostrich, hyenas, vultures, and many pretty birds.... Back to camp in time for a very short rest and then lunch in that beautiful spot mentioned above. The afternoon game drive was at 4pm. Sometimes the driver drove right through a shallow portion of the river, complete with hippos in the not too far distance. This of course was exciting, but quite scary for me. Every turn offered a new, unknown adventure! We loved it, an experience never to be forgotten. Enjoying sundowners daily out on the Mara, while watching such a beautiful African sunset, was indeed a delightful and very special treat! We ended up back at camp daily at about 7pm, and a lovely candlelit dinner was served at 8pm.

What an extraordinary experience taking a hot air balloon ride was! We did this at sunrise one morning, and the views from above were certainly breathtaking. It was so peaceful and beautiful, and we saw many animals and different views of the meandering river and stunning terrain. The whole process of readying the balloon, take-off, piloting it, and finally the landing was intriguing. This was followed by a champagne breakfast in the bush and then a game drive, ending up back at camp. We were very happy that we decided to treat ourselves to our very first hot air balloon ride!

My husband and I truly loved our safari! (This was our second one; we went to South Africa a couple of years ago.) We feel fortunate to have had these “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities, and we appreciated each exhilarating adventure.

These are some of my impressions. I would be very happy to answer any questions any of you might have. Again, many thanks to all of you who so graciously helped me in planning.

Carole
wkwb42a is offline  
Sep 17th, 2011, 01:47 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
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Nice report sounds like you had a great time thanks for posting.
qwovadis is offline  
Sep 17th, 2011, 06:22 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 16
Thanks so much for posting, I had been to Egypt in 2005 and am sorry to hear that the situation has changed to the extent that you needed an armed escort, but that is the way of things sometimes. I am so happy you had a magnificent trip. Thanks for the post, it was really enjoyable!
Watsonsmom is offline  
Sep 17th, 2011, 11:57 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
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Watsonsmom - the situation has not changed in that they NOW need this armed policeman with them. It has been that way for years and years. The Le Meridian Pyrmaids is one of the hotels with police that are watching everything - more than at some hotels - their police are REALLY on top of who is going where with who. LE had to advise the Tourist Police there that they were working with you and then the TP assigned the tag to go with you.
If you didn't get that with your tours, then you either were doing a more independent tour, or the hotel you stayed at had police that were a little more lax about it.
Tourists are always allowed to walk in and out of their hotels on their own without the tourist police sticking their nose into where you are going... BUT leave the hotel in a Tourist Van or with a group tour and the police are going to want to know everything about who you are, where you are going and when you expect to be back. That was part of LE's job to report that to them and thus they get the tag with you.
That may explain to some why companies like LE might not love it if you want to skip out on a tour or leave a tour in mid tour to do something independently. IF something were to happen to you, they would be held responsible and be in big trouble. Obviously they want to keep you with them, until you are safely back at the hotel.
Casual_Cairo is offline  
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