help narrow down kenya/uganda safari 2019

Sep 8th, 2018, 06:10 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 71
help narrow down kenya/uganda safari 2019

First trip to Africa, mid 30s, just my wife and I, likely early august 2019 but dates flexible, coming from Canada.

I've done some initial research but still somewhat confused planning our safari so help greatly appreciated.

So far wanting to go to Bwinidi in Uganda to do 2 days of gorilla trekking and see migration in Maasai mara. was planning on about 12 days on the ground in east Africa. Would prefer to fly-in safaris, and leaning towards conservancies rather than reserves.

The Uganda part seems like it will be a bit easier to put together, but I'm a bit confused about migration. If we had about 7 days of safari in Kenya, would it be best to visit 1 or 2 camps? How much of a process is getting from A to B within Mara region? There are a handful of luxury tents that look amazing. Any particular region/conservancy of M Mara that would be ideal at this time of year? Was thinking of doing one somewhat more modest camp (ie Piorini Lions, maybe mobile camp, enaidura?) for half the time then one really nice place (ie Cottars) at the end. We trek/backpack so happy to do something unique/active if worthwhile but not just to save money. Any other region within Kenya we are foolish on missing out on for first time or are these two regions enough? I don't want to spend too much time commuting as flights are already long of course

I've reached out to a couple of operators (journeybydesign, iconexpeditions, gamewatchers) with a budget of ~15Kpp w/o int flights; but would like to educate myself a bit more before leading them too far in the wrong direction with ill informed ideas.

Last edited by tdiddy23; Sep 8th, 2018 at 06:25 PM.
tdiddy23 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2018, 07:53 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,995
Hi Tiddy, I suspect I already replied to you on another forum. In case you’re not the same person...changing camps in the Mara is really just a game drive. If you want to split time, either between the Reserve proper and a conservancy or two different conservancies, you just drive between them. I would recommend at least 2 nights at any camp to get a feel for the area and do more than a few game drives there. At least 3 is ideal, 4 even better.

I’ve been to the Mara 3x now and am about to go on my fourth trip back there. I’m doing a “best of” trip combining my favorite places in Kenya. A really nice splurge is Emakoko in Nairobi, which is in Nairobi National Park so I’ll game drive 2 days there and visit Sheldricks Orphanage. I’m only half-joking when I say I want to retire at Emakoko! Then I’ll split my time in the Mara between Enaidura and Offbeat Mara. The trip between Enaidura in the Reserve and Offbeat is a game drive. Offbeat usually has 4 nights for the price of 3 specials, and the game drives there last time I was there were crazy good. Find a good safari planner (Bill Given co-owns Enaidura, and he put my next safari together for me, he’s at Wild Source) and they will have access to all deals like that for you. Note: Bill can also book your Uganda camps since he has experience there too, so he may be a one-stop shop.
amyb is offline  
Sep 9th, 2018, 08:16 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 71
Yes same person (I thought I'd get some fodorites take on things now that its more focused) thanks for replying!

Will take a look at emakoko

Really helpful clarifying the lack of a significant transfer process between camps. Is there an advantage for spending some of the time on the reserve (enaidura) vs two (or more) different conservancies? Is the north/west/east aspect of Mara significantly different or is it more luck of the draw with respect to wildlife, hard for me to have a good sense of place just from the maps.

we don't need luxury the whole time as that's not the point of the trip, so that should help our budget a fair bit, would like to experience one small high end camp for 2 nights I think still

I think I will reach out to Bill Given as I may be a bit down-market from what the first two operators I listed at this point.
tdiddy23 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2018, 09:53 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,995
My personal opinion on conservancies vs. Reserve is this: conservancies limit traffic and access to only those vehicles belonging to camps in the conservancy; no one can just show up and drive in a conservancy, including vehicles in the Reserve. In the Reserve there are far more camps, and larger camps, with more vehicles plus the day trippers from elsewhere. That leads to more crowded sightings. (Conversely, most conservancy camps include a day trip into the Reserve for each stay.) Couple that with the inability to go offroad in the Reserve unless under very special circumstances, and then you have crowding on the road, or a sighting well off that you can't see up close. In the conservancy, you can offroad, the animals are calmer for the most part due to less traffic, you can night drive, you can do walks during the day (with qualified guides).

I've stayed in 4 Mara conservancies now and have had excellent experiences in them all, but find Mara North (where Offbeat is) and Olare Motorogi (where Porini Lion is) to be the best so far for density of cats. But as with anything Mother Nature has a hand in, that can change.

I won't mince words: Enaidura is attractive to me because of their guiding. Ping and Paul Kirui, the two guides who co-own Enaidura with him, are among Kenya's best. They also have guiding permissions at other camps too, so they could stay with you for your entire stay in the Mara even when you change camps. Their guiding is what's pulling me out of my preferred conservancy experience for a stay in the Reserve. See what Bill can do. I know he's in Brazil right now but I'm sure he's checking email or he has his team covering for him. He's a wildlife biologist by trade so he really knows his animals!
amyb is offline  
Sep 9th, 2018, 12:01 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 71
update: yes got the autoreply from wild source/bill, but forwarded to covering person. Been looking through African travel resources website and a few other lists, these camps seem to jump out at me:

mara expeditions, offbeat mara, ol seki, kiteche mara north camp, porini lion, enaidura (will look into guiding you mentioned, also a bit apprehensive of reserve location);

cottars seems a bit out of the way, mara plains maybe a bit over the top compared to mara expeditions to justify price

Last edited by tdiddy23; Sep 9th, 2018 at 12:15 PM.
tdiddy23 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2018, 04:25 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,995
You’ve picked out some very well respected camps. Not sure you can go wrong, although location and size of camp may play a role. I suggested on another thread today also reading Trip Reports on Safaritalk.net...as if you need another place to kill some time! The trip reports there are much more extensive with tons of photos so you can see what you’re in for re: wildlife and camps/tents/lodges. Might be worth a look or posting for help there too.
amyb is offline  
Sep 9th, 2018, 04:28 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,557
Porini Lion - has excellent guides. You get game drives inside the OMC and can also arrange for days in the Mara. If you are on facebook, find this guy, Empaps M Sayialel. He's a guide and has been sharing photos he is taking in the OMC so you'll see what is in the OMC this August. (There may be other guides sharing photos but Ping showed Empaps photos to me so he's the one I'm following. )
.
Enaidura - Ping is an excellent guide. You can see what he's seeing on fb also, Johnson Pingua Nkukuu. Act fast if you want to get Ping as he books up very far out.

These two camps are in different areas of the Mara but both areas were very game rich when we were there 3 weeks ago. We spent 6 nights at Topi House (which is almost within eye sight of Porini Lion but they are not a member of the OMC so all game drives are in the Mara) and 4 nights at Enaduira. Both camps are within game drive distance of each other but there was enough to see each day without driving much out of the immediate vicinity of each camp.

Mara Plains is also in the OMC and more on the luxury end of the scale.

Lots of choices!
sundowner is offline  
Sep 9th, 2018, 06:13 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 71
Thanks sundowner, surprisingly i'm not on facebook but will try and spot some pics at some point

going to add serian to my shortlist as well as the other kiteche camps... definitely lots of choices

great reports on safaitalk, thanks for the tip

The kiteche camps combined with their fly camping package (not sure of the pricing on this, will ask them found this) seems to be resonating with me the most

Last edited by tdiddy23; Sep 9th, 2018 at 06:21 PM.
tdiddy23 is offline  
Sep 10th, 2018, 07:45 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 71
On another note, just so I have an idea of how much time to take off work etc, what do most people do in terms of buffer days for flights?

On our way out, would like to fly Lufthansa via Frankfurt (one stop home) which has flights 5 days/week. It departs at 2230. Would I leave Mara that morning and fly out, or would most take a flight the next day after Safari?

Getting from Uganda to Nairobi is a short direct flight, would I typically spend a day + in Nairobi (seems to be some things to do around there that I still haven't read about yet); I presume it would be too aggressive to consider scheduling flight from Nairobi to coincide with arriving flight from Uganda?

Getting too Uganda is going to be rough, may schedule a stop-over somewhere to break it up.
tdiddy23 is offline  
Sep 10th, 2018, 08:58 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,995
I'm not sure if you're flying from the US or Europe? Ordinarily, the European flights to East Africa (I've been to Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda on KLM and British Airways) land late evening, so you're compelled to spend a night at a hotel there. You can't fly to the Mara in the dark. I've not gone to Uganda, but imagine it is the same? But yes, you'd fly to the Mara the next morning, your first full day on the ground, unless you choose to spend time wherever you land.

I have limited vacation time, so tend to risk life and limb by not building in a buffer. So I leave home on Wednesday, arrive late Thursday, start safari first thing Friday. I also don't stop anywhere en route for the same reason. I just power through and want to get there (and also don't want to take a different wardrobe for stops on the way. I generally go to Kenya in February, which needs warm-weather clothing and any place I'd stop is too cold for that). Same thing coming home. I check out of safari in the morning, fly back to Nairobi, take the midnight flight out that night, home mid-afternoon the next day.

Last year when we changed countries mid-itinerary, I flew Rwanda to Nairobi, landed at 10 a.m. and was on a 3 p.m. flight out to the Mara. It was less than an hour flight Rwanda to Nairobi, but a long day in transit, when you factor in getting to the airport early and waiting around for that flight out to the Mara.
amyb is offline  
Sep 10th, 2018, 10:21 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 71
We will be flying from Vancouver Canada, coming home one stop looks pretty reasonable but getting there is rough. Have to fly Vancouver to Europe then on to EBB in Uganda, almost all involve stop in Kigali or Nairobi, so likely 2 or 3 stops.

Thanks for further insight and all your really helpful replies btw

Probably just book flights later, pricing seems a bit high this far out. But I will plan to leave one of the days we can get a 1 stop flight home. Trip planning is moving along fast
tdiddy23 is offline  
Sep 10th, 2018, 12:49 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,098
kicheche camps are great. we stayed at 2 last year and this year did all 3 mara camps. valley is lovely-nicest tent by far and mika was the most knowledgable guide we have ever had.
plambers is offline  
Sep 10th, 2018, 02:38 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 21,970
Save
ekscrunchy is offline  
Sep 10th, 2018, 04:22 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 8,602
Another Kicheche fan.
Leely2 is offline  
Sep 11th, 2018, 10:02 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 71
Did you guys book directly with Kicheche?

Thanks to helpful forums I've come a long way, now 3 operators getting back to me with suggested plans from my initial board request. Not sure if I should just book direct with Kicheche and Uganda lodge or arbitrarily give my business to one of the operators with a well formulated plan (ie please book Kicheche fly camping package plus this uganda lodge gorilla trek).
tdiddy23 is offline  
Sep 11th, 2018, 10:31 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,098
hi. for both safaris I used sangeeta at chalo Africa. she is in dc area. we have been thrilled with her level of service and attention.
plambers is offline  
Sep 11th, 2018, 03:53 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,995
Tdiddy, you probably could book directly. However, there may be reasons not to:
1) Safari planners have relationships and friendships with safari camp owners and operators. They may get a discount/deal that isn’t on the website. I once got a 6 nights for price of 4 that wasn’t advertised that my planner got for me because he’d previously worked with the camp owner.
2) It’s nice to have someone to call if things go awry. If you miss a flight, have a problem on the ground in Kenya, etc. it’s nice to call someone else and have them fix it. One of my safari friends missed her flight out of L.A., then missed the connection in Amsterdam. While she was en route from Amsterdam to Nairobi, her planner had rebooked all her camps for 2 days later, and it was all set for her when she landed.
3) Since this is your first, you may be missing something in the fly-camp package that you don’t know you need. Unless you’re certain, I’d leave it to the experts.

I’ve used Chalo too, and at the time they were just booking on my behalf with Gamewatchers, which I didn’t know until I’d received my documents. That’s fine but adds a middle-man. You could book with GW directly no problem.

If all things are otherwise equal (itinerary, dates, responsiveness and price) go with the one that gave you the best feeling, attention, etc.
amyb is offline  
Sep 11th, 2018, 08:08 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 8,602
I booked directly with Kicheche twice but those weren't my first safaris.
Leely2 is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2018, 04:49 PM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 71
So I just paid my deposit with Journey's By Design. Wild source was my second choice operator, pricing was very similar, but I had already had a couple phone calls with the first operator so I went with them.

Doing two nights in Rekero Camp to hopefully see river crossing, then 5 days Kicheche split between Valley, bush, and fly camping; then gorilla trekking staying at clouds in Bwindi for 3 nights. Really excited, unfortunately still 10 months away haha. Will be sure to report back. It turns out that coordinating between the two portions of the trip wasn't as straight forward as I thought even this far out, so glad we used an agent.

Booked a flight via Frankfurt on the way there, then Brussels on the way back . Going to have a brief visit to Bruges and Mosel valley, two places I've wanted to visit but wouldn't dedicate a whole trip to anytime soon, hopefully helps with the jet lag on the way over.

Was looking into insurance products. I have good medical coverage including air ambulance evacuation etc. With my Visa I have cancellation insurance up to 5k. Topping this up to the price of the whole trip (obviously not until I pay for the whole amount) will cost $1300 (just under 5%). Seems a bit much for two young people in good health, I can say that the odds of us cancelling is far lower than 5%. Operator has coverage for political uncertainty before trip starts they tell me (ie they will send me to another country for safari if something is happening in kenya/uganda). Am I missing something here?
tdiddy23 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2018, 04:24 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,995
tdiddy, I would definitely question your insurance quotes for sure, if it's $650 per person especially if you're not covering the whole trip? I'm significantly older than you and have never paid more than $400 for a 2 week safari trip, covering everything including international flights (but not including cancel for any reason).

Unfortunate you didn't go with Wild Source, as they offer a significant discount on a very expensive TravelGuard plan (it would have cost me almost $800 to get that same coverage on my own, I got it for $300 through them!) The bonus is that should you need to use it, they have access to the policy and can act on your behalf. See my item #2 above, that was Wild Source that did that for my friend. Maybe ask Journeys By Design if they have such an arrangement? I know the company I booked Tanzania and Rwanda with has a similar relationship with TravelGuard also.
amyb is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
MMML
Africa & the Middle East
11
May 12th, 2015 09:41 AM
cooper0717
Africa & the Middle East
20
Aug 4th, 2012 08:59 AM
robar
Africa & the Middle East
18
Jul 9th, 2007 08:29 PM
fluffnfold
Africa & the Middle East
4
Dec 29th, 2006 09:10 AM
bill_eli_hannah
Africa & the Middle East
13
Oct 22nd, 2005 07:24 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:28 AM.