Feedback requested on Mara safari itineraries

Old Feb 7th, 2024, 09:11 AM
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Feedback requested on Mara safari itineraries

My wife and I are planning a safari trip this September with our two children, ages 7 and 10.

We've narrowed our options to two itineraries — we would greatly appreciate feedback from safari veterans. Partly the choice is difficult because the itineraries are quite similar, but we also have some questions that I'll list at bottom. Itinerary 1 is about $2,000 more than Itinerary 2.

Itinerary 1
3 nights Lewa Safari Camp — private guide possible but not guaranteed
3 nights Saruni Dik Dik House accessing Mara North/Lemek conservancies — shared guide
4 nights Enaidura in Mara National Park — private guide

Itinerary 2
3 nights Porini Rhino — shared guide
4 nights Porini Mara — shared guide
4 nights Porini Lion — shared guide

With Itinerary 1, we'll have two opportunities to enjoy a private guide and being based in the national park presumably increases our odds of seeing a river crossing (though we understand that such sightings is unpredictable and we still may not see one). On the flip side, part of the fun of travel is spending time with fellow travelers and we're not intensely focused on seeing some specific animal or place, so perhaps the shared drives would be fine for us. We've also seen people remark that the national park crowds significantly diminish the experience.

Itinerary 2 not only includes another day in Mara but twice as much time at private conservancies, giving us more time to try the range of safari experiences (walking, night drives, etc.) that we're also excited about. Adding a hot air balloon ride, which I imagine the kids would enjoy, would make its cost about equal to Itinerary 1.

Our questions:
- Is the private guiding experience so much better that we should preference Itinerary 1?
- Is more time in conservancies so important that we should preference Itinerary 2?
- Are the differences between Lewa and Ol Pejeta so stark that we should preference one itinerary over the other? (It seems not but just curious.)

Which itinerary would you choose?

Last edited by jdstraveler; Feb 7th, 2024 at 10:03 AM.
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Old Feb 8th, 2024, 04:47 AM
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we have stayed at the Porini's and they are some of our favorite camps. The only heads up I'll give is that they are not as "luxurious" as some other camps - cold running water, safari showers, etc. vs. some that have hot running water. However, most of their vehicles have a driver AND a spotter, where others may only have a driver. The drivers are good, but it is nice to have a second set of eyes only looking for wildlife.

Click on my name and I've done a few trip reports that may help.

I understand you are concerned about private vs. shared drives. Also ask how many people go in each vehicle? We are a family of 5 and only one time (in multiple games drives, over 2 different trips), was someone else in our vehicle.

The other thing is about crossings. We went in August - hoping to see a crossing. That happened to be a wet year and the closest we got was watching the topi (I think) get to the water's edge and reverse. We love the cats (lions, leopards, cheetahs) and the elephants, and had way more fun watching those animals and the prides and the interactions between the baby lions and the teenage lions and the parents than seeing a crossing. We loved watching the baby elephant trying to figure out its trunk and fumbling about. And the little one that fell and an older elephant that helped it up. So for us, those are the moments that we remember.

We loved the hot air balloon ride, but it is painfully early. Have to be going up at sunrise, and it was like an hour drive in the dark before sunrise to be there on time, so if you have 'sleepers', it could make that less than ideal.

good luck! you have multiple great options!
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Old Feb 8th, 2024, 12:38 PM
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We had a wonderful itinerary with Porini in Kenya. Loved the camps, the guides and other staff, the food, the game drive experience. We had a glitch in our travel caused by the airline but they could not have been nicer about us, let us stay an additional night without extra charge. I can't compare to your other choice but I have no hesitation to tell you itinerary 2 will be great.
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Old Feb 8th, 2024, 08:44 PM
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I can't really compare your two itineraries because I haven't stayed in Porini camps. However, I have been to both the Lewa Safari Camp and at the Enaidura camp. We had excellent guides at both locations. The Lewa camp was a bit more deluxe with really delicious food. We had sightings at Lewa of animals that we didn't see elsewhere. The Enaidura camp was started by Kenyans who also focus on hiring and training nearby villagers. Our guide at Enaidura was a humble man who has lectured all over the world and is a legendary guide. At the Enaidura camp, everyone ate together, guides and guests, so we felt like we got to know each other even though we did separate game drives.

Whichever itinerary you choose, I am sure you will have a terrific time.
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Old Feb 9th, 2024, 08:45 AM
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Can I make a suggestion? We have gone on 2 Kenyan safaris and have always stayed at Kicheche camps. A bit more upscale that Porini I believe. They guarantee a private vehicle for a party of 4, which we were as we also went with our teens. A private vehicle is key...
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