First time family safari

Old Oct 31st, 2023, 03:38 AM
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First time family safari

A big thanks to all fodorites and especially amyb for her advice in planning the trip.

Here's quick recap of the itinerary and details that might hopefully help others in planing their trips.
We travelled with two teens and parents, a total of six. We did a mix of the safari circuit and camp experiences to keep the budget manageable and had a fabulous time. We had a full day to recover in Nairobhi where we chilled at the hotel. Next morning, we were picked up by a safari jeep and guide at 7am who did our game drives at Nakuru and Ol pejeta and all of our transits between the parks.

It was a 5hr drive with the last 2hr being a very rough ride to North Mara conservancy where we were dropped off at Offbeat Mara. (would fly this leg if doing it again) Mara was the highlight of the trip. The staff, manager and the guides were absolutely wonderful and it was also the best food of our trip. We had four wonderful nights here and pretty much saw all animals at very close proximity and especially lions to our hearts content. Picnic breakfasts and the extended game drives into the night were brilliant. The tents were lovely and we did get used to the bucket showers. The guiding was unbelievably good! Offbeat mara is highly recommended!











We were picked up in the morning for another 5hr drive to lake Nakuru which was a last minute addition due to having to move dates around to get availability at Mara. It was a night at Sopa lodge where we did appreciate the full showers and the lake view and had a chance to encounter our first white Rhinos of the trip by lake Nakuru. Had our fill of pelicans and Flamingos and also saw the lovely Rothschild Giraffes.

Next morning it was a 45 minute easy drive to Lake Elimentaita Serena Camp which was a brilliant stop. Fantastic food, lake views and was a great place to relax and recover midpoint of our trip.







Next up was another long drive ,4.5hrs to Ol pejeta sweetwater Serena. We had 2 nights here and quite a bit of rain. It was a much larger camp and the tents were not as luxurious as in Mara but the waterhole at the hotel had a parade of animals coming by. The first evening it was a mum and a baby black Rhino, impalas and buffalo. The following day, we had 5 black Rhinos visiting and in the evening a couple of elephants with a baby. Due to rain, the conservancy wasn’t brilliant for animal sightings, except for the white and black Rhinos we came across at almost every corner. This was completely unexpected, as I had thought it's quite difficult to see Rhinos. There were rangers watching over the Rhinos and it was great to see the conservation effort being a success at Ol pejeta. We visited the chimp sanctuary and Rhino sanctuary when the weather wasn’t brilliant. Also encountered a pride of lions stalking a buffalo but had to return to the camp before dark as per the conservancy rules. The following morning, we came across the remains of the buffalo being devoured by jackals. Some other notable sightings were hartebeests and the reticulated giraffes.







Our last stop was a 2 night stay Saruni Samburu, a 3.5 hour drive from Ol pejeta. It was an absolutely stunning location on top of a rock, luxurious rooms, fabulous staff, guides and good food. However, the temperature was really hot in mid October and we were unable to enjoy our rooms until the sun went down, so had to opt in for an afternoon game drive even though we would have preferred to have relaxed at the camp on our last afternoon.
One thing to note is that there were no animals in the conservancy where the camp is located, due to the lack of water. So, it was a 45 minute drive each way to get to the reserve which was not brilliant. Once you get to the reserve there ware plenty to see. The special Samburu five were a highlight together with the large herds of elephants. The guide was fantastic and got us to the best position to enjoy the animals every time, just like at Mara. Although it was a great end to our trip, I do wonder if there would have been a better camp choice for us in the reserve itself, giving us more time to relax at the camp and avoid driving 1.5hrs extra for the 3 game drives we did in Samburu. However, our absolutely fantastic guide made our Saruni stay a great end to the trip.

On our last day , it was a 6 hour drive back to Nairobhi with a stop at trout fish farm restaurant for a fantastic lunch, which was a great spot to break journey. The journey was easy as it was on well-maintained roads.







We enjoyed the varying scenery/ local village views on all our drives between the parks. It was lovely to include Nakuru for the flamingos and the rift valley lakes. The highlight of course was the staff and the fantastic animal encounters we had with the brilliant local guides at the smaller camps at Mara and Samburu and the hordes of Rhinos we saw at Ol pejeta. It was definitely a trip of a lift time!

Last edited by nikidi; Oct 31st, 2023 at 03:46 AM.
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Old Oct 31st, 2023, 06:48 AM
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Great report, niki! I’m so glad your trip went well. I’m very jealous of all the babies you saw in the Mara! Looks like you had some great sightings and you got some wonderful photos! Your report offers important details re: transfers and camps that will be helpful to future travelers, so thank you for including that.

It’s good to include Ol Pejeta if you want to see rhinos. Ol Pejeta and Lewa in Kenya have very strong, successful conservation efforts and it’s worth including them if you’re interested in rhino, unlike in the Mara for example where it’s near impossible to see the few that are resident there. I’m really glad you had so many good sightings there.

How did your kids like it? Were they ok with the game drives and all that?

Great report!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2023, 03:27 PM
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Thanks Amyb. We were really lucky with the spring babies. Absolutely loved seeing them everywhere.

The kids had the most fabulous time! They didn't want to miss a single game drive.(FOMO!) and were thrilled to see all the animals so close up. We waited and watched eles at the river for ages and the cheetah/lions with the cubs etc. Ticking off the big 5, the ugly 5 and the Samburu 5 was fun. Also, the visit to the masai village was a nice change and there were board games and painting etc. at the camps to keep them busy.

Kenya definitely won over our hearts!
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Old Nov 4th, 2023, 10:11 AM
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What a wonderful trip you had! Thank you for posting your trip report, beautiful photos and helpful comments. Isn't Africa amazing?
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Old Nov 8th, 2023, 02:15 PM
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Thanks KTtravel. it was amazing! Cant wait to go back.
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 10:38 AM
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Thanks for taking me back to Africa with my noon lunch.
We went last year and long to return. Your itinerary sounds magical so I’m making notes.

I love all the photos….my favorite is the giraffe leaning over for something on the ground because it’s so different. All my photos of giraffes are when they are tall and stately.

Over the years we’ve traveled many places but Africa is the most memorable of all.
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Old Nov 13th, 2023, 01:48 PM
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It had rained after 7 months in Samburu, so there were some puddles here and there and the giraffe was having some water.

We really did enjoy all our stops and would have loved to have an additional day in Samburu.

Last edited by nikidi; Nov 13th, 2023 at 01:53 PM.
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Old Nov 14th, 2023, 01:35 AM
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Thank you Niki for sharing such a great report and I am also glad you enjoyed the trip.Going by the pictures, I must admit that I admire your attention to the small details and the level of enthusiasm you had while on the trip.

Last edited by Moderator3; Nov 17th, 2023 at 03:37 AM. Reason: Removed reference to clients, to close to advertising
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Old Jan 19th, 2024, 01:39 PM
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Hello nikidi,
Fabulaous post! Amazing pictures.
Which months did you go?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2024, 03:02 PM
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Hi, it was mid October.

We had a couple of heavy showers in Mara and also in ol pejeta. It didnít really affect our sightings in Mara but we didnít see many animals at ol pejeta due to rains. (except the many Rhinos!) it was also very hot in Samburu.

if youíre not time bound by school hols, September would probably be better.
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Old Feb 17th, 2024, 05:04 PM
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What camera and lens did you use?
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Old Feb 18th, 2024, 12:45 AM
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Hi, it was a 70-300mm canon and a 15-85mm canon lense.
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Old Feb 18th, 2024, 09:13 AM
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Thank you for that info Nikidi ! Your pictures seems to be all in bright daylight. Am I right? Sometimes its hard to tell time of the day if the camera compensates for low light. (Hmm Just speaking for myslef)

My wife and I have booked a Tanzania safari. We are spending about 2 weeks (second half of July). I am a novice when it comes to photography but would like this to be a memorable one for me and my wife. We are both seniors. (70 and 65)

I am yet to buy a camera but leaning towards Canon R7 (kit lens 18-150 mm and a 100-400 mm ). Reading through many posts in this and other forums dedicated to safari, I gather its not advisable to change lens while on game drive. Was that your experience too?
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Old Feb 18th, 2024, 11:41 AM
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HI Naper54, It will be an amazing trip and sounds like you have timed it brilliantly for the migration too.

The photos above were during decent light, some taken at 6 am /late evening were also ok and I didn't get a chance to edit them before positing here. The hippo with the baby was later in the evening, when we got back to the hotel after a game drive. However, this was a very close sighting, so wasn't on the end of the zoom range, which may have helped.

I took only my 7D canon camera with the 2 lenses and definitely changed the lenses many times on drives, as I needed to switch to the wide lens when the sighting were too close. I mostly changed it when we were parked by the animals but I'm sure it is not the correct thing to do!!, and may have ruined the lenses.The expert photographers here on the forum can advise you re the camera and lenses but taking 2 cameras would be ideal with one wide and one long range lens, so that you don't miss anything while changing the lens.
I also realised after a couple of days that the camera was very dusty, although it didn't feel dusty on the drives, so then kept it under the blanket when not using it. Hope that helps.

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Old Feb 18th, 2024, 02:29 PM
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rhino - not hippo . was half asleep when typing the above.
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Old Feb 19th, 2024, 02:48 AM
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I don’t think it’s wrong to change lenses when the vehicle is stopped during a game drive unless there is dust or rain in the air, but if you have a good quality camera in your smart phone you can use that for closeups and leave the long lens on the main camera. I used to carry a high end point & shoot camera along with my SLR until my latest iPhone made a P&S pointless.

Last edited by Heimdall; Feb 19th, 2024 at 02:57 AM.
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