ChaCheetah's looking at Mara

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Aug 6th, 2007, 06:12 PM
  #1
chacheetah
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ChaCheetah's looking at Mara

Hello all, everyone was so helpful in my first days of planning my Sept. 2008 trip that I wanted to run an itinerary by the forum and specifically ask about a lodge in the Mara that was recommended. It is Mara Intrepids. I read some reports that it has been updated; but I see it is a bit larger than most of the camps the fodorites use. Can anyone give me the pros and cons of this camp. I believe it was recommended as it was not as pricy as some others - Governors, Explorer, etc. Any help would be appreciated. So far we are thinking 3 nights Amboselli(Tortilis); 3 nights Loisaba (sp?) 3 nights outside of mara and 3 nights inside of reserve (near river) for migration. Including Mara Intrepids the cost is about 6,600 pp - not including international air - (so its over my 6,000pp budget!) but I did not think about 6 nights in Mara utilizing game drives outside and seeing migration in. Any thoughts are most appreciated. CC
 
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Aug 6th, 2007, 07:18 PM
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ChaCheetah,

My two trips to the Mara in 2001 and 2002, i stayed at Kitchwa Batleur and Lil'governors. Of the two, i would return to Lil'governors which is in a great location for wildlife.

I have no personal experiences at the other camps you mention........but, the Mara would be amongst the best spots for your cheetah sightings!!!

Being Cheetah obsessed myself, i would devote my entire Kenya trip to the Mara if i was to return. However, i have Serengeti on my mind for Feb or March 2009.

Rgds,
Hari
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Aug 7th, 2007, 04:34 AM
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chacheetah
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Thank you Hari: as much as I'd love to spend my entire trip looking for cheetah, I more than likely won't be going back for awhile (afterall this is a group effort to get me there!) so I wanted to see some other areas and Amboselli and Loisaba were recommended as special areas I should not miss. Lil Gov's looks and sounds delightful but not sure if its in my budget; already gone over it going to Mara Intrepids. That is why I asked if anyone could give me some details on it; all I hear is large re-done tents.I was interested in area, guides, people, food, etc. that all encompases a camp experience. I could probably drop one of the first lodgings - which one I do not know - any feedback out there on dropping Amboselli or Loisaba in favor of putting the money into a different camp in Mara?? Thanks all for any and all help. CC
 
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Aug 7th, 2007, 06:52 AM
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CC,

Lots of people on these boards seem love the Samburu area and the diversity there....i haven't been there, but, hopefully someone will advice you appropriately. I think they have several interesting species that aren't present in the Mara like Gerenok, Grevy's Zebra, Reticulated giraffe etc etc.,

Rgds,
Hari
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Aug 7th, 2007, 07:01 AM
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cha -

Amboseli and Samburu both offer the elephant experience. Amboseli is also mostly flat and can be quite dusty during the dry season; also has the possibility of views of Kili 30/miles south in Tanzania. Samburu on the other hand has species you won't find elsewhere as reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, gerenuk, Beisa oryx, Somali ostrich; I find a more interesting environment with more green. Between the two, I'd go for Samburu.

The Laikipia area is lovely, but requires a more expensive private charter to get to/from.

Mara Intrepid's is a lovely recently refurbished tent camp, but yes, larger than often mentioned smaller camps. Main Governor's is large as Intrepid's. Explorer is smaller, but also more expensive as would be Lil Governor's or Governor's Il Moran. So, it comes down to your budget, whether you stay at camps inside the Mara or outside.

Why not post the itinerary you currently have so we can comment and offer suggestions.

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Aug 7th, 2007, 07:08 AM
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CC, I haven't been yet, but have heard/read good things about all the camps you mention in the Mara. Guess it just depends on what you want - small camp vs larger camp, willing to spend for smaller, etc.

I also inquired about the Tortilis camp at Amboseli and was told it is quite pricey. I opted for Ol Tukai Lodge there. Don't hear a lot about it, but those that have stayed there seem to really like it. Think it's pretty reasonably priced, too.

My original plan was to stay at Mara Sarova camp, but have changed to Mara Explorer. Explorer was only $40pppn more than Intrepids so we opted for the smaller.

Like I said, not speaking from any practical experience, just what I've heard/read/learned in my planning.
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Aug 7th, 2007, 09:15 AM
  #7
chacheetah
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Thanks all and I will post what I have been offered thus far:
Day 1 flyin --overnight Norfolk
Day 2 -3 fly to Tortilis o/n 2 nights
Day 4,5, Fly Loisaba o/n 2 nights (recommended that I add a night but have not)
Day 6,7,8, fly to Elephant Pepper - 3 nights outside Mara Reserve
Day 9,10,11 Mara Intrepids- 3 nights inside Reserve
Day 12, Return to Nairobi - day room Norfolk and a tour of Nairboi
PRICE: 6,500pp/ not inc. international air so, 10 nights on "safari"; one night flying in.
I was not yet given specifics on "flyins"; this was just to see if the areas a fit for me; I liked all, but was not sure of the SIZE of Mara Intrepids..would too many people in camp spoil any ambiance..just wanted to get an opinion of anyone who has stayed there - food, service, staff - I just imagined the larger the place, the less personal service..hope I am wrong and someone can help with that. Thank everyone. Also, does the price seem in the ballpark for these accommodations and the timing (September) ChaCheetah
 
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Aug 7th, 2007, 09:28 AM
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Chacheetah,
Mara Intrepids has an excellent location, at least when there aren’t rains that are heavier than normal and I like the vehicles and guides. The tents are tented palaces, there’re warm water bottles every night (in July) and the food is outstanding. The size of the camp doesn’t bother me that much, but the fence does. There’re only small animals like dik-diks and vervet monkeys inside the camp. No animals, except the vervets that are very clever, can get inside the tents. I’d prefer that at least the bathrooms were more open.

The price sounds extremely high. I’d change the Norfolk to something more affordable and go by road instead of flying everwhere.
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Aug 7th, 2007, 09:52 AM
  #9
chacheetah
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Thanks for imput Nyamera; I wish I could travel as you do but at my age these old joints need to wait for game drives before getting in a rover. I am traveling so far that I will pay to fly from camp to camp; maybe l0 years ago I would have driven, but not anymore!
Could you go into more detail about the bathrooms; did you want them open to the view; or what did you mean? Thank you and I have really enjoyed your trip report! CC
 
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Aug 7th, 2007, 10:07 AM
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The bathrooms are closed like hotel rooms. I like it when there’re frogs, bats and stick insects.
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Aug 7th, 2007, 10:09 AM
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I like frogs too. I think they eat bad insects; maybe I can catch some and put them in my room. Other than that was it up to date and have electricity and all. Thxs Nyamera; you have such a good outlook on your travels! ChaCheetah
 
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Aug 7th, 2007, 10:26 AM
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There’re lamps everywhere and a very visible outlet for charging batteries. After staying at a camp without electricity it felt a bit unnecessary. It’s like a newly renovated luxury hotel room, but with canvas walls. The canvas is kept “open” at the front and there’s a see-through net kind of wall.
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Aug 7th, 2007, 10:29 AM
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Cha -

Loisaba is the most expensive of the places and also includes private charter flights. You also have a road transfer between Elephant Pepper and Intrepid's.

When you consider all but Intrepid's (a larger camp, but still expensive), the daily park fees and flights, NBO hotel, touring and transfers, the price is about right.
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Aug 7th, 2007, 10:46 AM
  #14
chacheetah
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Sandi - thank you for your valuable assistance. Do you recommend I replace Loisaba with somewhere else (I did not know of it, I just thought it looked nice on web site!). Should I go to another area or keep the area and request another lodge to bring the costs back down a bit. Do you think it will be too hot and dry for Tortilis or is it like that all the time - well except in wet season? I thought that seemed to be a quick stop near Nairobi with beautiful views and elephants. Perhaps I should spend most of my time in the Mara and try not to get so many places in. As you might know this is a gift and I do not want to disappoint those who are sending me so I am trying to see as much variety that I have read about. I also do not want to do a tour group even though the price would be less because we need to be away on our own for a while. If you have any alterations to this itinerary I would indeed look into it. As I said this is the first one I have received. We also want smaller more intimate camps because it is a bit of a reprieve for us. Thank you again for your advice. CC
 
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Aug 7th, 2007, 11:01 AM
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Forgot; my typing is faster than my mind; do you think I should replace Loisaba with a place in Meru? would that be easier to get to and just as nice? Thanks
 
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Aug 7th, 2007, 11:43 AM
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There are scheduled flights to Meru but they depart Nairobi in the early morning, so you wouldn't be able to fly back to Nairobi from Amboseli in time to catch it. Meru has similar northern species as Samburu and is great for getting away from it all (very few visitors). The accommodations in Meru are also on the expensive side, though all are less than Loisaba. I think Offbeat Meru camp is the least expensive option, followed by Leopard Rock, then Elsa's Kopje.

There are also scheduled flights linking Meru with Samburu/Shaba, Mara or Lewa/Laikipia.
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Aug 7th, 2007, 01:08 PM
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Hi Patty, thanks for the info; how far is Meru from Samburu - are they totally different parks or in the same area with different names. Is Elsas in Meru? Getting a bit confused; better find a map! Thx CC
 
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Aug 7th, 2007, 01:22 PM
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Looking on a map, they don't appear to be that far apart, but actual driving time from Archers Post gate in Samburu to Murera gate in Meru takes about 4 hours (add to that the distance from the camp to gate and vice versa).

Samburu/Buffalo Springs and Shaba are the reserves that are adjacent to each other.

Yes, Elsa's Kopje is in Meru, along with Leopard Rock and Offbeat Meru. In Shaba, there's Joy's Camp and the Sarova lodge. In Samburu, there are the Serena, Sopa and Samburu lodges, as well as Intrepids, Larsens, Elephant Watch and Elephant Bedroom camps, and a few other new ones that are opening.
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Aug 7th, 2007, 01:46 PM
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A Meru, Samburu, Mara combination is easier as the scheduled flights cover all three. It's smooth routing. And, if you want lux, then Elsa's here would meet this, and a bit less expensive than Loisaba. Besides, you wouldn't need the private charter flight. While the flight schedules for a few routes have changed (mid-year) in order to connect to the 10am flight to the Mara, the flight to Meru is still very early and even with an earlier flight out of Amboseli, you wouldn't make the connection. Besides, as I mentioned in another post, if choice between Amboseli and Samburu, I'd go with the latter.

Believe me, the Laikipia area where Loisaba is located is lovely and quite different than the other parks under discussion. The Sabuk Lodge, also on the Loisaba conservation land is lovely and fun and a bit less expensive. But generally, most (not all) of the properties in Laikipia are up there when it comes to price.

As above, you'll save a few $$$ with the "trifecta" of Meru-Samburu-Mara. And you can still split your time in the Mara between two areas.

From those who have been to Meru, staying at Elsa's all seem to agree that 3/days is a must. While 2/days is fine, they all seem to wish they had done an extra day. And then 3/days in Samburu, with the balance in the Mara. This slows down the pace, gives you the opportunity to really enjoy your surroundings, camps, game and overall experience. There is no rule that says you have to "see everything."

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Aug 7th, 2007, 01:47 PM
  #20
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Patty, thanks for your amazing knowledge! If you had 2 or 3 nights and could only choose one of those areas to supplement the Mara Experience of six nights - KNOWING you most likely would not get back (unless someone else offers you a gift!) - which area and/or lodge would you choose? I was told not to miss Amboselli because of the backdrop and elephants, and of course the Mara, so I am at a loss as to which of the myriad other parks to choose. I really cannot spend 4 to 5 hours on the road, get there and do game drives. So flying is my only alternative. I'd hate to spend the money on a charter when there is someplace as nice, or even nicer that has a scheduled flight. I just assumed all flights were scheduled; but then again I have not been told what the price of a charter is - is it $200; or $1,000. I am just told "its expensive". To someone who can't ride then the $200 would not be expensive; the $1,000 of course would be! I guess I need to drill the operators a bit more and not just accept on paper what they tell me. Is there a web site for charter costs? Thanks so much for helping me sort this out. Sometimes I feel I should just stay home and rent "Out of Africa"! CC
 
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