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Feedback on Kenya accomodations with a little bit of Tanzania - long post!

Feedback on Kenya accomodations with a little bit of Tanzania - long post!

Jun 7th, 2005, 02:29 PM
  #21  
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I put some flights on hold yesterday, so here's my tentative schedule -

Nov 16 - arrive NBO at 8:25pm on KL565, transfer to Hilton
Nov 17 - visit National Museum, Sheldrick, do some shopping, I have us staying 2 nights in Nairobi as we're flying straight through this time with no stopover in Europe, this will allow us to recover from jet lag and is 'insurance' in case we mis-connect anywhere along the way
Nov 18 - undecided now*
Nov 19 - ditto
Nov 20 - Lake Nakuru/Mbweha Camp
Nov 21 - Lake Baringo/Samatian Island
Nov 22 - Lake Baringo/Samatian Island
Nov 23 - Lake Navaisha/Malu
Nov 24 - Lake Naivasha/Malu
Nov 25 - Masai Mara/Kicheche Mara camp
Nov 26 - Masai Mara/Kicheche fly camp**
Nov 27 - Masai Mara/Ilkeliani Camp
Nov 28 - Masai Mara/Ilkeliani Camp
Nov 29 - Nairobi Hilton
Nov 30 - morning flight to Kilimanjaro, Makoa Farm, afternoon horseback riding around the farm
Dec 1 - transfer from Makoa Farm to Ndarakwai Ranch fly camp for game viewing horseback rides
Dec 2 - full day riding on Ndarakwai Ranch with picnic
Dec 3 - riding on Ndarakwai Ranch, transfer back to Makoa Farm
Dec 4 - horseback riding or other activity around the farm, transfer to JRO for KL567 departing 10:20pm

I still need to confirm availability for all camps and lodges in Kenya.

I'd appreciate any thoughts and comments on the following -

*I'm now thinking of flying instead of driving to Samburu, and since I'm considering flying for this portion of our safari, I'm going to look into the logistics of staying at Il Ngwesi (in lieu of Samburu) using charter flights. Another option that's interesting to us is staying around the Aberdare region at either Sangare Ranch or Acacia Homestay in which case we would drive. Does anyone know anything about the latter? Any comments on those options?

**We're also trying to decide whether to include an overnight fly camping/safari walk option at Kicheche. It would be 3 hours of relatively easy walking each way, departing around 3pm Nov 26 and returning to the main camp approx. 10am Nov 27. Has anyone done anything similar? The walking sounds interesting. I must admit I'm not a big camper and we do have 2 nights of fly camping later on. Their description makes it sound fairly comfy though

BTW for anyone interested the cost of the horseback safari/farm stay in Tanzania including transfers to/from JRO is $1096pp. I thought that was very reasonable. We'll be staying at a private camp site set up for the two of us.
Patty is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 04:00 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Patty:

Don't know for sure, but I'm wondering if the reason you can't drive through Lewa October - December to get to Ilingwesi is because of expected rains. That would be their "short rain" season and the roads may be impassible then.

Jan
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Jun 7th, 2005, 06:42 PM
  #23  
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Jan,
That's correct. Lewa is closed during the short rain period. If we decide to stay at Il Ngwesi, our best option is to charter a flight to/from Nanyuki and I'm looking into the costs.
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Jun 8th, 2005, 11:54 AM
  #24  
 
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Patty,

I'm curious, with the "final" itinerary, were you/are you and your husband able to stay within the $500 pn budget you were initally shooting for?

Thanks,
Leely
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Jun 8th, 2005, 12:42 PM
  #25  
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Leely,
I hope so! As of the last round of changes, our Kenya portion was $2913pp for a 12 night safari including the addition of one more night in the Mara, upgrading to Samatian Island ($83pppn), and the fly camping/safari walk option at Kicheche ($72pp).

We're now going back to a 11 night safari in Kenya (I added one more night to Tanzania). I've emailed my tour operator with some new ideas (the ones I listed yesterday) and am waiting to hear back on the costs for those options. The 2 flying options will probably put us over a bit, but I think overall we'll come close to what we initially wanted to spend. I'm hoping get our itinerary finalized shortly now that we have some actual flight dates.

I'll be posting an update.
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Jul 25th, 2005, 02:18 PM
  #26  
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Here's our 'final' itinerary if I can resist making further changes

Shortly after I put our flights on hold, I decided to add a one night stopover in Amsterdam instead of flying straight through. Since we're using ff miles, the best itinerary they could offer me to depart LAX on Nov 15 and arrive NBO on Nov 16 would have required 3 connections, one of which was just over half an hour in duration (apparently that meets minimum legal connect time at CVG). When I started really looking at the itinerary (instead of just being elated that I got 2 business class seats), I realized how ridiculous it looked and that if we missed our CVG connection, we'd likely miss the remainder of our flights and we still had 3 more to go!

After rational thought took over we decided to fly out of LAX on Nov 14, spend about 24 hours in Amsterdam, and fly to Nairobi on Nov 16. Tip for anyone with future Skymiles redemptions - Delta allowed the extra 'stopover' in AMS even though I already had an open jaw itinerary because there were no business class award seats to fly AMS-NBO on Nov 15. The Skymiles partner award agent I spoke with had to have it OK'd by someone in another department while I was on hold.

I hope we'll luck out and have fair weather in Amsterdam. Not planning to bring winter coats just for one day, so we'll be the couple walking around Amsterdam bundled up in layers and layers of safari attire if need be

Now that we feel better about our flight connections, we'll start our safari on Nov 17 instead of spending the first 2 nights in Nairobi.

Nov 14 - Depart LAX
Nov 15 - Arrive AMS and overnight at the Marriott near Leidseplein. Nothing much on our agenda except I want to try an Indonesian rijstafel.
Nov 16 - Morning flight from AMS arriving NBO same evening and overnight at the Hilton.
Nov 17 - Depart Nairobi for Olea Africana Lodge www.farmurlaub-afrika.de near Mweiga where we'll ease into safari in a slow and mellow way by staying 3 nights (I have terrible jetlag and the first few days are always a bit of a blur). We plan to visit Aberdare NP, Solio Ranch and go on some horseback rides (practice for the upcoming Tanzanian portion )
Nov 20 - Depart Olea Africana for Lake Nakuru and overnight at Mbweha Camp www.mbwehacamp.com. I think this is our only opportunity for a night game drive on this trip.
Nov 21 - Depart Lake Nakuru for Lake Baringo and spend 2 nights at Samatian Island Lodge www.samatianislandlodge.com on an island in the middle of the lake. Here no game drives but rather boat rides, bird viewing and visits to local villages. We may also visit Lake Bogoria on our way to or from Lake Baringo if time permits.
Nov 23 - Depart Lake Baringo for the Lake Naivasha region and spend 2 nights at Malu www.malu-kenya.com in the hills above Naivasha. More opportunities for some riding practice.
Nov 25 - Depart Lake Naivasha for Masai Mara and spend our first 2 nights at Kicheche Mara Camp www.kicheche.com. On our second night, weather permitting, the plan is to go on a walking safari, overnight at Kicheche fly camp, and walk back the following morning. Then we'll transfer to Ilkeliani Camp www.ilkeliani.com for the remaining 2 nights.
Nov 29 - Back to Nairobi and the Hilton, some shopping and a visit Sheldrick if they're still allowing adoptive parents to stop in on late afternoons.
Nov 30 - 10:00am flight to Kilimanjaro where we'll be picked up by Makoa Farm www.makoa-farm.com for a farm stay/horseback safari for 4 nights in the vicinity of south and west Kilimanjaro.
Dec 4 - Evening flight from Kilimanjaro back to LAX (straight through, no stopovers this direction). By my calculation it's somewhere around 29 hours from first flight take off to last flight landing. I'll spend the time alternating between sleeping and planning the next trip

Cost breakdown as follows -

2 business class tickets LAX-NBO/JRO-LAX, 120K Delta Skymiles each plus tax
1 night Marriott Amsterdam using Marriot Reward points
2 nights Hilton Nairobi using Hilton HHonors points
12 night Kenya safari including all transfers $2656pp
NBO-JRO one way flight on Precision Air $202pp
4 night private horseback safari in Tanzania $1096pp

I booked our Kenya safari through Eastern & Southern Safaris in Nairobi which we used last time and confirmed we'll have the same guide (yay!). I booked our horseback safari directly with Elisabeth at Makoa Farm.

If anyone has stayed at Olea Africana or Samatian Island, I'd love to hear your comments. Those are the only two I haven't heard first hand reports about.

16 weeks and counting down!
Patty is offline  
Jul 26th, 2005, 07:59 AM
  #27  
 
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Wow, Patty, this looks like a great itinerary!

We are using FF miles for business class too (120FF miles each on NW/KLM), leaving in November a few days later than you (flying into Kilimanjaro rather than Nairobi though) & we also decided to stay over in AMS overnight on the way there. Hopefully we will be a little less jetlagged as we start our safari.

We are staying at the Sheraton which is connected to AMS Schiphol airport -- decided we'll just get off the plane, dump our bags at our hotel room, then take the train into Amsterdam for some sightseeing and a good meal, then head back to our hotel room at the airport for the night. That way we will already be at the airport for our flight out the next morning & won't have to get up so early (we're not very good "morning people").

But AMS in November is definitely putting a cramp in our packing plans! Didn't really want to bring a coat...
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Jul 26th, 2005, 08:18 AM
  #28  
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lisa,
We debated back & forth over whether to stay at Schiphol or in town too. From the comments I received on the Europe board, it sounded like the cab ride to/from the Marriott wasn't too long. It's been ages since I've been in Amsterdam (and the last time I arrived by train) and will be my husband's first time there, so I thought we'd prefer an in city stay. I'll likely be wide awake at 4:00am anyway

Your trip looks fantastic too! If we only had 3 extra weeks...
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Jul 26th, 2005, 08:51 AM
  #29  
 
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Patty,

Congrats on nailing down all the details. It really looks like a fabulous itinerary, and how wonderful to have the same guide. Let's face it, the guide is the most important thing, and you already know, trust and like "your guy."

Sounds like so much fun. In another couple of years I might just copy this exactly!
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Jul 26th, 2005, 09:38 AM
  #30  
sandi
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Patty -

On our '98 trip we did a stop over in AMS on our way to Africa. We traveled the week of Thanksgiving and while it was still warm in NYC we're glad we took a thermal tee for under a heavy cotton crewneck, a pashmina, pair of gloves, socks and wore a mid-season (for Fall-type temps) anorak.

It was downright cold in AMS, especially early morning and late afternoon into night... and we had rain showers in the afternoon. As with Africa there is no guarantee re weather, but be prepared.

Even though we didn't need any of these heavier items for Africa and then the Seychelles, we're glad we packed what we did or we would have been miserable especially when you see your breath in the air.

The anorak served if we had cool mornings/nites in Africa - which we didn't, the thermal tee doesn't take up space, the cotton crew and pashmina I wore on the plane. So it wasn't that much overpacking.

And we hoped we'd be set when we returned to NYC in December, but sure enough the day we arrived home the temp was in the mid80s!!! Weather, who knows.

Just something to think about.
 
Jul 26th, 2005, 10:11 AM
  #31  
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sandi,
Yep, you just never know with the weather do you? We've traveled in northern Europe in November and have encountered 30 degree Farenheit days with snow flurries interspersed with 60 degree and sunny days on the same trip! We're hoping our one day in AMS will be more like the latter than the former

Then there was the time I was in AMS in August and had to buy a jacket on arrival because it was so rainy and cold.

In lieu of a coat, my plan is to pack a long sleeve silk undershirt, a lightweight cashmere sweater, a light fleece jacket and a cashmere shawl. The fleece jacket and shawl I brought last time and would be bringing anyway, like you said works well for cooler mornings and evenings on safari and on the plane rides (better than the icky polyester blankets they provide ). The undershirt and sweater won't take up much room or add much weight, and I'll probably end up wearing the sweater on the plane also. I'm bringing my paddock boots for riding, so those will double as walking around boots in AMS

Last time we left one huge suitcase full of winter clothes that we wore in Paris at the Hilton, but since we have to fly from NBO to JRO this trip and are limited to 20kg each, I'm trying to pack light (which is not easy for me!). I'm hoping they'll overlook an extra kilo or two

Talk about packing dilemma, it was recommended to us that we bring full chaps to wear on the safari rides. I still haven't decided what to do. If we bring chaps, we're going to have to find other stuff to throw out of our bags. We may compromise and just use the half chaps that they provide. Elisabeth also advised me not to bring my newest pair of jodphurs. I thought it was funny as having never been much of an English rider, I don't own a single pair of jodphurs (don't even really know how to spell the word).
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Jul 26th, 2005, 10:39 AM
  #32  
 
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Geez, it's hard enough to pack for Africa -- I don't know what I'd do if I had to worry about chaps & jodphurs!

Who was it who said "Beware of any enterprise that requires new clothes"? (My father used to always tease my mother for taking up new sports as an excuse to go shopping for the required outfits...)

Funnily enough, even though I'm not much of a "shopper", this does not seem true when it comes to shopping for safari -- I'm having a ball -- as far as my wardrobe is concerned, khaki is the new black.
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Jul 26th, 2005, 10:48 AM
  #33  
 
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OMG, too funny. Chaps and jodhpurs.

And it never even crossed my mind--of course they ride English.
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Jul 26th, 2005, 12:14 PM
  #34  
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lisa,
Lately I've found that the only new clothes I buy are in khaki & olive colors!

Leely,
Makoa Farm told me they have a variety of tack and that we'd probably get Australian stock saddles or some other trail type saddle since we're used to western saddles. I think most of the other riding outfits in that area provide English tack as the majority of guests seem to be Germans and Brits.
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Aug 13th, 2005, 03:05 PM
  #35  
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A couple of business class award seats opened up today on the Nov 15 KL AMS-NBO flight, so I grabbed them! The connections aren't too bad, we fly LAX-ATL-AMS-NBO with comfortable layovers in between. This eliminates our overnight in AMS and is much better than the best straight through itinerary they could offer us 2 months ago. This simplifies the packing a bit. Now what to do with our extra day?
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Aug 15th, 2005, 01:26 PM
  #36  
 
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Good for you, Patty. An extra day...hmm, is it at the beginning or the end of your trip?

I am trying to decide whether or not to build in an extra day or 2 myself. Finger on the "purchase" trigger on NWA/KLM website.

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Aug 15th, 2005, 02:28 PM
  #37  
bat
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Patty:
Congrats on the new ff tickets and have fun planning your extra day. Your itinerary looks great and at such a reasonable price--very impressive.

An ff question since you are so good at it.
How did you learn that the Nov. 15th seats opened up? Did you continue to monitor the NW website that you use? Did they let you change your itinerary without a penalty? Thanks.
bat is offline  
Aug 15th, 2005, 02:56 PM
  #38  
 
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Oh, another ff question, Patty. I've been drafted to buy the air tix for my party of three. Would it be worth it for me to join NWA's ff program even though I don't fly very often? My friends said, "Oh go ahead, join and get our tix for us; you can have the miles."
Leely is offline  
Aug 15th, 2005, 03:29 PM
  #39  
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Leely,
My extra day is at the beginning. We were originally scheduled to arrive in NBO on Nov 16 and now we arrive on Nov 15. As much as I'm tempted to add another safari day, I think what we could really use is a day to just chill after 24+ hours of travel, so we might stay in Nairobi.

There's no reason not to sign up for a NW Worldperks account for each of you. I think SFO-NBO/JRO is almost 10K miles each direction, so that's close to 20K miles for one roundtrip. You never know when you might fly NW again (or any of their partners which you could credit your flight miles to Worldperks). Plus there are all sort of promos aside from flying where you can earn additional miles to top off your account. If you have the time, you can check out the Worldperks forum over at flyertalk.com (I'm not that familiar with NW WP myself). You'll find everything you ever wanted to know about the program and more

bat,
I've been checking the NW Japan site regularly for seat availability on the Nov 15 flight. Saturday was the first time it showed business award seats available, so I called the Delta partner desk immediately to change my reservations. The change fee was $50 per ticket which I thought was worth paying since we didn't really want to spend the night in AMS to begin with, it was just the best routing I could find at the time. Right after I got off the phone with Delta, I checked the NW site again and it now showed zero business award seats, so we got the only 2 seats and my obsessive checking paid off
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Aug 16th, 2005, 09:37 AM
  #40  
bat
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Patty:
I agree completely--definitely worth $50 and obsession can come in handy!

Let me ask you another question since we are both flying Delta/KLM. Delta gave me seat assignments for the Delta flights but told me I had to get my other seat assignments directly from KLM. When I called (in the U.S. it was NW answering) they told me that I had to check back closer to the flight date--I cannot recall at the moment how far ahead she told me.

My only concern is that my partner's and my tickets are booked separately so that the ff miles could be taken from each separate account--and obviously, I definitely want to sit together. So I would like to have that pinned down.

What is your understanding about getting seat assignments for the KLM round-trip? Thanks alot.
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