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Help on Kenya Migration Itinerary 2009 for Parents, please

Help on Kenya Migration Itinerary 2009 for Parents, please

Old Sep 17th, 2008, 03:09 AM
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Help on Kenya Migration Itinerary 2009 for Parents, please

Hello

Having just got back from Kenya and Tanzania my dad has asked me to help put together an itinerary for him and my mum to see the migration next year.

To be honest, he could do it himself, he's an extremely experienced traveller indeed and has done a number of safaris to various African countries and all around the world. But he knows I spend so much time on internet that I have a good knowledge about the various options and so on.

Both have been on many, many wildlife trips including previous ones to East Africa. My dad has been to Governor's (with me in 2004) and to the Mara Explorer Camp more recently. Mum hasn't been to the region for many years.

Their priority is to see the migration, including some crossings and then good general game viewing, with an interest expressed in lions, cheetahs and leopards.

All of this, I know, is excellent in the Mara, judging from the 5 days I spent there at end August/beginning of September.

I didn't time my Mara dates specifically for the migration, as I was booking time at Sayari, NW Serengeti for that experience.

First question: What week would be your BEST bet for migration experiences in the Mara Reserve? I know it's a tough question given that this year the migration came early to the Mara but best guesses please?

Second question: Can you give me your pros and cons to the choice of the Mara Explorer Camp as their base? I've suggested Serian, because of the private car, but they really don't like the idea of being outside of the reserve, although we found it was absolutely not a negative, so not worth pushing that one further. Any other suggestions that would trump the Mara Explorer in any way?

Third Question: What other reserves would combine well with the Mara? They'd rather not add the complexity of flights to include the Serengeti so I'm looking at Kenya only. I loved Meru but not sure the lack of game density would suit them...

Samburu may be a good option, especially as we saw wild dog there a couple of weeks ago, though the chances of such a siting are small, I know. I would prefer not to put them in Saruni Kalama but in a camp nearer all the action/ game.

Other ideas for great game and which may suit an active, older and experienced safari going couple?

Note: Incase it's of interest, neither is remotely interested in photography, they don't even bother with cameras on most trips! (Sacrilege!)

THANKS FOLKS
Kavita

PS Impatient as they are, they want to book ASAP, so speedy responses very welcome, thank you!
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Old Sep 17th, 2008, 05:33 AM
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To add to the above, an interest in seeing the flamingoes at Lake Nakuru has been expressed though a comment that they are not interested in Naivasha on this trip was added.

On one hand I'm thinking that they may be best served spending their whole 8-10 days in the Mara area.

On the other hand, taking in Samburu and or Meru and Lake Nakuru would add interest, though, with the internal flights, it would add significant cost too.

Thoughts?
Thanky!
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Old Sep 17th, 2008, 06:02 AM
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Hi, Kavey

We were at Mara Explorer last month and the one potential negative for me in seeing the Migration and TRYING to see a crossing (there was a good 8-day period without a major crossing) is that Explorer is about a half hour drive from the major Mara crossing points. If you use the camp's vehicles and guides, the two morning drives (1.5 hours each) don't really permit time to go back and forth to the crossing. So, to optimize your chances you need a private guide and box breakfast (which is admittedly not as nice as breakfast back at hte camp!) so you can stay out all morning. Even then, no guarantees, as we discovered! That said, Explorer was probably the most luxurious camp we used and definitely had the most groumet cuisine! We saw lots of lion and leopard, but only one much to my suprise!)cheetah.

Since this was our first trip, i can't speak much to other areas. We enjoyed Amboseli (for ellies and lions) but I'd do it only by plane; believe the road is rather brutal.
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Old Sep 17th, 2008, 06:54 AM
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Thanks for that, that's extremely useful info.

Can you recall whereabouts the crossing points were (I should know having also been there just a couple of weeks ago but my sense of direction is apalling).

Do these maps help explain?

http://www.eastafricashuttles.com/ne...s/mara-map.gif

http://www.keniamara.com/Maps/masai_mara_map.jpg

http://www.africa-adventure.com/maps/masai_mara_lrg.jpg

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Old Sep 17th, 2008, 07:29 AM
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I know, I kept getting north and south mixed up when I was then -- felt totally turned around! The four main crossing points were in the vicinity of the Mara Serena, from slightly south (towards the Talek) of there, continuing northward (towards Governors but still quite a distance from G's). The Serena is, of course, a lodge rather than a tented camp; it was on the opposite of the Mara from our vantage point.

We saw a lot of vehicles from Rekero Camp which seems closer on the map (the Africa Adventure Co one is the best one) than Explorer; I think it gets good ratings? The other option would be to go further north, perhaps Little Governors for a smaller camp feel? -- I saw from other people's reports that they DID have crossings up there in the same 8-day period that we had none.
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Old Sep 17th, 2008, 12:44 PM
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For Samburu, they may want to look at Larsens camp which is right along the river.

AFAIK there are no scheduled flights to Nakuru. Closest would be Naivasha served by Safarilink, but it might be just as easy or easier to do a road transfer from Nairobi. I doubt much time would be saved, if any, with the flight + road transfer option.
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Old Sep 17th, 2008, 10:46 PM
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Thanks folks...

Any more thoughts?
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Old Sep 17th, 2008, 11:10 PM
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Kavey,

First guess - First week of September?

Since they want to be inside the reserve - From personal experience I have only been to Governors or KT besides the more recent Serian experience. I am very unlikely to return to either.

If I was to stay at a tented camp inside - I will be tempted to try Rekero or Entim. (no personal experiences)
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Old Sep 18th, 2008, 01:18 AM
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Thanks Hari
I too was looking at Rekero for location. They don't have any particular requirement for luxury, they were looking at Mara Explorer only because that is where they were before.
What is KT? Sorry!
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Old Sep 18th, 2008, 01:22 AM
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Kitchwa Tembo. They have plenty of their own cars going out and when I was in the area in June didn't find that general section too appealing.
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Old Sep 18th, 2008, 01:26 AM
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Oops. I guess technically KT is just outside the gate - so, wouldn't count anyways for your parents' wishes of staying inside.
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Old Sep 18th, 2008, 01:55 AM
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Kavey, here's another data point: I was in the Mara August 15-22 2007, staying at Il Moran. The migration was said to be slightly late that year. There were sizable herds of wildebeest -- I'd estimate 4-5000 head -- and I saw river crossings of 70 wildebeest/zebra. So, it was a very good show, but a few weeks before the peak of the action.

Il Moran only has (had?) 10 tents, so still an ok feel to the camp, and its location right on the river was very good. Always hippos to be seen, plus lots and lots of activity just on the other side of the river.

I am enchanted by the migration, though certainly not by the crowds in the Mara. Hari must have been reading my mind, as I have reservations for Rekero in very early September next year. (My profile might be similar to your parents: early 60s; plenty of travel experience; prefer camps that offer a good balance of game-viewing, guiding, and opportunitiy to enjoy the sweet mellowness and beauty of Africa.)
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Old Sep 18th, 2008, 02:27 AM
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Many thanks again for all the added input.

KT, if it's outside the reserve, will be a no-no.

Il Moran is a possible, though people we met on this trip said they felt the tents were too close together given the luxury nature of the camp.

They aren't particularly fussed about lux though so may not go for Il Moran but then again, location is very good for game. Only downside is that you're sharing the immediate vicinity with all the many Governor's vehicles.

Looks like Nakuru doesn't really combine well, transportation wise. I'm still thinking Samburu would be a good bet for them. Larsens is a possibility as we passed it during our Samburu drives and the location is good - much nearer the heart of the game area.

Thanks again folks, if anyone has any comments/ experience of the camps discussed above or other camps in the Mara Reserve, I'd be grateful.
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Old Sep 19th, 2008, 06:46 AM
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I was in the Mara for 5 days from Sept 4-9 this year. I stayed at Olare Safari Camp, next to Porini Lion Camp. It's in the Olare Orok Conservancy so your parents won't be interested in staying there. The camp is basic, like Porini, but with running water in the showers. However, we could dictate our own schedule, so we were out all day every day. I ordered what to put in the lunch boxes, so it was good stuff in there. Olare SC is very flexible.

I had timed it hoping to see at least one crossing in 5 days, but that was one and a half years ago! and you can't do that with accuracy. All you can do is hope and pray!!! It was not to be. The wildies are confused this year: They arrived early, it's been raining in the Mara, so the grass is green in places; they marched back south early. We saw lots of the migration and the long lines forming, but no crossing. They crossed, but we didnít see it. There are several major crossing points just south and west of OlKiombo (the Mara Intrepids and the Mara Explorer): Paradise and Mara Bridge (Lookout) being the biggest. We searched every day until we found Honeyís cubs on the last day and stayed with them instead from noon to 4ísh. See my post and video in another thread.

However, we saw the aftermath, which may have been even more interesting. At one bend in the Talek, just south of the Fig Tree, hippos had killed hundreds of wildies and it had turned into a vulture fast food restaurant. We first saw it from the balloon, then drove back there. It was a terrible scene.

I think itís important to have the flexibility to stay out all day. Some say that the crossings seem to happen during the heat of the day. Maybe that is because most vehicles are back at the lodges then for lunch and siesta. I donít know. I think Rekero is flexible. Their tents are very basic, no running water etc., but itís my favorite camp in the Mara because of the service and intimacy. The food and the guiding is superb with Jackson Looseyia, being part owner. Yes, thatís Jackson who will be guiding Simon King and Jonathan Scott live in October for the Big Cat Diary. There are frequent crossings in front of Rekero as well, but itís on the Talek and not as spectacular as the Mara.

I think your parents will like Rekero as theyíve been to Kenya before and can handle being away from the big lodges.
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Old Sep 19th, 2008, 09:14 AM
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Thanks safarimama, that's great advice, much appreciated!
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Old Sep 19th, 2008, 09:37 AM
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Wow, my ravings about Serian have had an impact.

I suggested that they combine some time inside the Mara Reserve with a few nights outside at somewhere such as Serian, so that they can go off-road and do nightdrives.

My dad's still leaning towards Mara Explorer as he's willing to get a private vehicle there, so they could go out on longer drives and easily reach the crossing points.

So I'm looking at 1 night in Nairobi, 4 nights at the Mara Explorer, 4 nights at Serian of which at least one, possibly 2 would be at the mobile camp, and then 3 nights in Samburu.

For Samburu I could do with more help on possible camps.

My dad says last time he went there he stayed at Samburu Lodge, which I think may be Samburu Game Lodge. I can't work out how big this place is but have proposed Larsen's Camp. But want to know more about options such as Elephant Bedroom. I think Larsen's will suit them much better than a larger lodge though they're happy to do a larger place if the location is good.

THANKS AGAIN FOLKS!
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Old Sep 19th, 2008, 12:07 PM
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I would advise going to Samburu first as the flight routes Samburu-Mara and not the other way around.

The website for both Larsens and Samburu Game Lodge is www.wildernesslodges.co.ke and according to the website, there are 61 rooms at Samburu Game Lodge. There's not a big difference in location between the two IMO.
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Old Sep 19th, 2008, 12:19 PM
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Aah yes, that makes sense, Patty, as that's the way we did it...

I didn't manage to find room count on that same website, I was checking it earlier, so thanks for that. Pops happened to mention he'd stayed at "Samburu Lodge" last time he was there and liked the location and accommodation etc. was fine but also agreed that they do prefer tented camps with lower capacity.
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Old Sep 20th, 2008, 05:04 AM
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Larsen's gets consistent good reviews. This was the first camp at Samburu, years ago, which eventually closed in disrepair until Wilderness completely refurbished and reopened the camp in '05.

With the recent (last year) opening of Elephant Bedroom, this camp also is getting good reviews. Haven't visited yet*, but can advise price is higher than Larsen's.

*there are a few reviews on the camp of recent visitors who were upgraded to this property.
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Old Sep 21st, 2008, 07:15 AM
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Thank you all...!
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