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First Safari July/August '07; Kenya or Kenya/Crater Combo?

First Safari July/August '07; Kenya or Kenya/Crater Combo?

Old Oct 30th, 2006, 06:56 PM
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First Safari July/August '07; Kenya or Kenya/Crater Combo?

Proposed itinierary, beginning July 25 or 26, 2007:

Nairobi
Overnight, Giraffe Manor*
(Alternative, Ngong House)

Masaai Mara
3 nights, Cottars
(Alternatives: Saruni, Il Moran or Little Governorís)

Laikipia Plateau
2 or 3 nights, Sabuk
(Alternative, Ol Malo)

Meru
2 or 3 nights, Elsaís Kopje

Chyulu Hills
3 nights, Campi Ya Kanzi
(Alternative, Ol Donyu Wuas)

South of Chuylu, TZ Border
2 nights, Shompole
(Alternative, Lake Naivasha, overnight, Dodoís Hippo Point**)



Hello Everyone,

This is my first time posting but Iíve been reading the forum for some time now. Iím planning a safari with my husband and three college-age kids in July/August 2007. We have 15 days and want to see lots of animals, as opposed to seeing lots of people looking at animals.

With that in mind, I hammered out the above fly/drive tour of Kenya featuring mostly intimate, private lodges and camps with flexible game viewing options.** I worry that we will regret bypassing the Ngorongoro Crater, however, so I decided to call on your collective wisdom at this point.

Game viewing is a high priority but I donít want to judge the success of our trip by the number of big five we see. Iím hoping to experience something deeper and more meaningful. Whatís most important is that we make a human connection while weíre there and that, whenever possible, we stay in camps and lodges that operate in harmony with the local people. That said, we would be disappointed if we didnít see a wild dog or Grevyís zebra. Silly, I know, but we love dogs and our last name is Grevey.

Other considerations include sequence of travel (being in the right locations at the right times); having knowledgeable, experienced guides who drive roomy vehicles (husband & kids are tall); and having enough menu diversity to accommodate one person who doesnít eat meat and two who wonít eat fish.

Whew, i's taken me months to get this far. Though I have a pretty high threshold for paralysis, I need to shop this around soon or risk being locked out of my favorite places. I welcome your helpful advice and suggestions.

Sandy (not that Sandy)

*Can't miss the chance to meet my fosters at Sheldrick's Orphanage.
**Given a choice, I'd select camps or lodges that permit triples.
*** Was seduced by Hippo Point Towerís architecture, though I doubt I can justify expense.



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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 05:08 AM
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caterchik - Sandy (from this Sandi)

Based on when you'll be arriving and with herds maybe first arriving in the Mara probably not till August, I'd suggest you leave the Mara close to the end of your itinerary, concluding at Shompole which is a wonderful place to chill before returning home.

Giraffe Manor is good (if space available) - Ngong or House of Waine good options for 1/nt.

Then
- head south to Chyulu/Tsavo at Campi ya Kanzi, Ol Donyo Wuas or a relatively new and lovely small property in the Taita Hills, Ndolwa Camp for 2 or 3/nts.

- north to Meru at Elsa's for 2/nts.

- to Laikipia at Sabuk, Loisaba or others here that have availability for 3/nts.

- then Masai Mara. Cottar's is good and a wonderful lux camp, but I feel a bit too far southwest. For the price of a stay at Cottar's you can consider Explorer which is right in the middle of the triangle on the Mara & Talek Rivers. They don't do night drives though. Since I'd suggest at least 4 - 5/days in the Mara, you may want to consider splitting your time between two properties: options as a second to Explorer can be Saruni, Elephant Pepper or Olonana. All will provide night drives, bush meals, game walks, visits with local Masai who live/work in harmony with these camps.

- conclude at Shompole; though not as much game as in the Mara, a visit to Lake Natron and late late night game drives (from 10pm - midnight) can be quite interesting. And because it's hot here year-round, each enkaji (house) has their own private pool for 2/nts. their minimum requirement.

Believe this is a smoother routing.

As to food and allergies, as long as the company arranging your trip knows what you will/won't eat for any reason, you shouldn't have any problems. Camps will accommodate vegetarians, kosher, hallal; fish or no fish and shellfish; allergies: peanut, dairy, strawberries... you name it.

Space is closing quickly, so I wouldn't wait much longer to book and having options at these destinations is a very good idea.

Hope this helps.
 
Old Oct 31st, 2006, 07:04 AM
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aby
 
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Sandy
i like your views on different isuues.

but<i><b>we would be disappointed if we didnít see a wild dog </b></i>
well, prepare yourself to be disappointed...
though u have a better chance of seeing the wild-dogs than winning the lottery.
You love dogs - focus on Bateared foxes, try for Side-striped Jackels
Black-backed (/siverback) Jackals i can promise you
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 07:07 AM
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sorry - premature sending...


I agree with Sandi about Mara's timing

aby
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 03:38 PM
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I think Sandi has steered you well with her suggestions/revisions and Aby is right about wild dogs being an extreme rarity in Kenya. But hyenas and jackals are a good bet.

I think the places you have chosen would fulfill your goals. Nice choices.

Sandi, Late night drives at Lake Natron sound interesting. Never heard of those. Do you tend to see something different when going later? Or do they appeal to those who don't get up very early the next day anyway?
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 09:18 PM
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Sandi,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply to my post. I incorporated your suggestions into my itinerary and sent it to several tour operators. I'll be sure to let you know how I fare.

I appreciate your tip about positioning the Mara at the end of the trip. I had charted the route in a linear fashion to avoid back-tracking --- the sort of thing that makes sense at the moment but you want to slap yourself for later. Per your suggestion, I substituted Mara Explorer for Cottars but I don't mind telling you, Elephant Pepper looks a little funky for my taste. Could be the pictures. I couldn't find much on Ndolwa Camp. What do you think of Borana, Elephant Watch and Rekero?

I like your suggestion of splitting our time between two camps in the Mara to take advantage of night drives; however, I wonder of all that packing and moving around will get to us. We have a lot of two-night stays in this trip. What do you think?

I'd been vascillating about Shompole for weeks. Your characterization of it as a good place to chill was just the push I needed (night drives at Lake Natron?!). For some reason those last two days were the hardest to pin down.

Aby and Atravlyn,

I really don't expect to see any wild dogs -- that was said tongue-in-cheek (likewise, the remark about Grevys zebras). But jackals and bateared fox sound lovely, and I'm as fascinated with hyennas as I am wild dogs. Or any dogs. Two years ago, a worker let three of my dogs out of the house and they haven't been seen since. It was heart breaking. We suspect foul play in an adjacent neighborhood but couldn't do anything about it. We tried. Since then I've felt a strong afinity to animals, all kinds (I'm not a bag lady, really).

Anyway, I appreciate that you took the time to post.

Sandy
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 09:43 PM
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There were great reports around these boards on both Elephant pepper and Rekero, recently. Do a search.....

Hari
 
Old Nov 1st, 2006, 05:06 AM
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Packing/unpacking - hey, this is Africa where everyone lives out of their duffle bag. Those 2/gallons ziplocks are great for separating and find what you need, besides they do laundry wherever you're staying (included in the price). Two or three days are not unusual at stops/visits, but if you wish to extend, then something has to be left out.

Pick-one! Either Meru or Tsavo.

How about,
- Tsavo/Chyulu Hills
- Loisaba
- Masai Mara
- Shompole

The Mara is the place that will have the most game, so the other destinations will include more walks, camel safaris, local village/school visits.

And at Shompole yes, it's quite interesting to go out on real late game drives... still no guarantee on the game found, but they're out there. At this hour you don't travel all the way down to Natron... a bit too dangerous, but this is a great stop in the morning or afternoon. Then there are bike rides around the reserve at Shompole and if sufficient water also canoeing.

Elephant Pepper has redone all their tents, they're larger, it's very private, we had some of our best meals with beautifully set tables, and the bush meals were a hoot. If days are correct you can even get over the the market where Masai come from everywhere.

Like you, I don't like backtracking, but for some destinations you have no choice as there aren't hourly flights to many of these places (usually morning only, though the Mara has 2/flights - am &amp; pm). Unless you choose private charters. Besides, flight times average 45/min to 1/hr... not bad.

If this the case, then omit Tsavo and go north - Meru and Loisaba, then the south Mara, concluding going East to Shompole.
 
Old Nov 1st, 2006, 04:16 PM
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Hari,

Re/Elephant Pepper &amp; Rekero---I do f-forum, trip advisor &amp; google searches on every property that interests me but I must have done these at the beginning of my learning curve. That, and I find it hard to resist asking Sandiís opinion.

I took your advice, though, and searched again. As you said, there was ample information on both, including feedback from Sandi. Thanks for the reminder!

Sandi,

Packing/unpackingóyouíre right. Iím over it.

Elephant Pepper---I probably just stumbled on pre-renovation pictures. I like what you said about bush meals being a hoot; itís back on the list.

BTW, I pulled up the much-recommended Mara map (thank you Eben) and see what you mean about Cottars. How did I miss that?

Thanks so much for your time and smarts.

Sandy
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Old Nov 3rd, 2006, 06:29 AM
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Hi All,

Sent out a dozen-plus requests for price quotes last week and heard back from three. Working with Gamewatchers &amp; Royal Safaris online &amp; am about to return a phone call to Unchartered Outposts. Found Rocco's incredibly helpful post on safari planning last night so I'm armed and ready.

Actually, possessed would be a better term. I've been chained to my mac for weeks, work is piling up on my desk &amp; my house looks like a bomb zone. Is this normal?!! The trip is 8 long months away and I haven't even talked to a planner yet! Sandy G
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Old Nov 3rd, 2006, 06:53 AM
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It's normal caterchik. For many the obsession does not end with the completion of the trip. I think you've been bitten before you've even left!
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