Help plan a family safari (5 & 8 yr old kids)

Jul 4th, 2007, 08:17 AM
  #1  
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Help plan a family safari (5 & 8 yr old kids)

I am starting to work on a rough itinerary for a trip to Kenya, Tanzania (or both?) next June, July or August. We are a family of 4, including kids that will be 5 and 8 at the time of the trip. Our kids are really, really into animals (as are their parents!). To start things off, I could use some help with the following:

1) Fun things for kids to do. The Giraffe Refuge and Chimp Sanctuary and Animal Orphanage (where you can pet a cheetah) all sound perfect. Any other "must dos" for kids?

2) Where should we go, what reserves, how long at each, etc.? We want to see as many different animals as possible, but are obviously most interested in the Big 5 and witnessing the Migration.

3) Probably most importantly, what lodges would be best for us? We'd like the kids to share our room, if possible, to save on cost. We'd consider 2 rooms at one or two stops, if location, amenities or activities make it a "must do." We are not looking for a CCAfrica type lodging - much more interested in comfortable places, decent food and great locations.

Thanks in advance for all the help!

PS - based on previous experiences (we are well-travelled), I prefer to get a rough idea of where I want to go, where I want to stay and what I want to do, then start working with a Travel Planner to finalize the details.
Statefan is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 08:19 AM
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Forgot to mention that I *think* I would like us to experience at least one tented camp, particularly one where we can watch animals from the tent and hear them outside at night.
Statefan is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 10:50 AM
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It is my understanding that very few lodges allow kids under 8, and sometimes the limit is as high as 12. You might be better served by getting a list of lodges that allow young kids from your TA and then planning a safari around that list.

Also keep in mind that malaria and preventative drugs have a much worse impact on children, especially a 5 year old. You might want to consider a safari in a malaria-free zone, and return to Africa to see the migration when they are a little older.
hills27 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 11:10 AM
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Most camps/lodges accept children from age 3 and up, at discount prices if staying with parents. Few will not allow children on game drives if they are accompanied by their parents. By age 8, children are certainly able to understand rules/regulations about sitting still, being quiet, etc.

If you're on a driving safari, this shouldn't be much of a problem as your game drives will all be done by the same guide/vehicle; if as you say, your children are well travelled they will do fine in Kenya/Tanzania.

Last year, Heather traveled with her 5/yr old twins and they had a ball.

Some lodges/camps have special programs for children at all ages; babysitters are available if a child prefer not to go out on a game drive with you; also available in evening if you wish a private quiet dinner. You can also arrange early mealtimes, if you wish. East Africa is most welcoming to children and families.

As to the malaria meds, you should discuss this with the pediatrician, but Malarone can be taken by children (dosage maybe different... again, discuss with physician).

Some properties, lodges, especially do have rooms large enough for parents and 2 young children. There are fewer camps that have tents sufficient, but your tour operator can advise on this.

June/July is great for mostly Tanzania with some Kenya, if time allows. July/August is ideal for Kenya with some Tanzania, as time permits. All of these months are peak-season, so high prices. How many days to you plan to be in-country (not incl. intl flights); which airport do you expect to arrive/depart.

A basic driving itinerary:
Day 1 - Arrive Nairobi - o/n
Day 2 - Visit Elephant/Animal orphanage, Giraffe Center, Snake Farm, Water Park... lots of things to keep little ones busy - o/n
Day 3 - Drive to Mt. Kenya - o/n at "salt-lick" hotel where game come to drink from dusk to dawn.
Day 4 - Drive to Samburu; elephants, unique species as: reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, Beisa oryx, gerenuk antelope, Somali ostrich - o/n
Day 5 - Samburu; visit Samburu village - game drives - o/n
Day 6 - Drive to Mt. Kenya - visit Chimp Sanctuary - o/n Sweetwater's
Day 7 - Transfer to Nanyuki for flight to Masai Mara - o/n
Days 8, 9 & 10 - Masai Mara - game drives - o/n
Day 11 - Flight to Nairobi; day-room at hotel; depart evening for home

Above is assuming July/August in Kenya, as an idea from where to start.

Heritage Hotel's Intrepid's Camps have special Children's Adventure Programs to consider. These are tented camps; the Intrepid's Camp in the Mara actually has "family tents."
sandi is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 11:16 AM
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The chimp sanctuary is located at Sweetwaters which has a tented camp with tents surrounding a waterhole and you can spend your down time watching game from your tent. Try to request a front row tent here. I'm not sure if they have tents that can accommodate 4 though.
Patty is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 01:56 PM
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I am a little confused about private guides - do we hire one for the entire trip or will each lodge/tent provide one? We definitely want a car/guide to ourselves. I would think the guide(s) you end up with is nearly as important as the lodging.
Statefan is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 02:01 PM
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If you do a driving safari as most of what I show above, you'd have the same guide/vehicle throughout. If you fly to/from some destinations, you'd use the vehicle/guide from the camp/lodge. As a family of 4, with young children, it's most likely (though not guaranteed) you'll have vehicle all to yourselves.

The above itinerary is Kenya. If you visit instead in Tanzania, which is good for June/July, you'll probably do an all drive itinerary with your own guide/vehicle throughout.

sandi is offline  
Jul 4th, 2007, 03:37 PM
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Thanks for the info sandi. Roughly how much would we pay for the 4 of us to fly between two parks?

What's the average daily rate for a private car and driver/guide?

I'm intrigued with the Intrepids properties - roughly how much are they in the high season?
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Jul 5th, 2007, 04:17 AM
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The price you receive will include just about everything on the ground (except tipping, beverages, personal items as phone, fax, email; malaria meds, inoculations, visas, intl flights, Flyin Docs, trip insurance)

So that would include: room/board, meals, game drives, guide/vehicle, park fees, transfer to/from airports/airstrips.

Air prices will vary if o/w rather than r/t; there maybe discount for the children.

You have to send a request for an itinerary to about 3-4 outfitters/ planners; only then willl you have an idea of your expected costs.
sandi is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 06:26 AM
  #10  
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I am just trying to get a feel for the cost variables so that I can get a reasonably good idea of what I want to put into my itinerary. If it costs us $2k for the 4 of us to fly to Tanzania, I will probably skip it this time. If it costs us $500, however, I will likely include it.

I am interested in the guide costs because I want to see how adding a few people to the trip might impact the costs (my In-laws are thinking about it). I am trying to avoid asking the trip planners to price things multiple ways based on the # of people.

Where can I find out how much the Intrepids properties cost?
Statefan is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 06:57 AM
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Fly to Tanzania from where? From Nairobi, it's roughly $200+ per person one way. You can price the NBO(Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta)-JRO(Kilimanjaro) flight on www.kenya-airways.com (it's a flight operated by Precision Air but can be purchased as Kenya Airways codeshare). You can also fly from Nairobi Wilson airport to JRO on www.safarilink.co.ke and www.airkenya.biz (don't confuse the latter with Kenya Airways). Both websites have schedules and fares for WIL-JRO and also internally to/from/between parks within Kenya. In addition, there would be the extra visa fee for Tanzania at $50 per person. There's also a shuttle between Nairobi and Arusha that costs around $25 per person one way and takes around 5 hours, crossing the border at Namanga.

Intrepids may send you their rate sheet if you email them. I haven't contacted them specifically directly but have other properties and they will usually send rates. What they send you will be rack rates. Tour operators receive discounted net rates and it's up to them how much of that discount, if any, to pass along, but at least you'll have some idea.

Some tour operators post itinerary prices on their websites and that will also give you some overall idea of costs -

www.porini.com

www.essafari.co.ke

I don't think either has 2008 prices posted yet so expect some increases from the 2007 prices. I believe the Porini site has an Intrepids "family safari" which may be of particular interest to you. Either operator can also customize an itinerary.

I wouldn't hesitate to ask operators to price the same safari as both a 4 person and 6 person. I'm sure they're used to doing this. I recently received a quote based on 2/4 and just to give you some idea, it was $37 per person per day less for 4 vs 2 on the same itinerary. The per person cost difference between 6 and 4 will be less.

Hope this helps.
Patty is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 07:01 AM
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Here's the one I was thinking of http://www.porini.com/kenya_family_safari.html
Patty is offline  
Jul 5th, 2007, 07:17 AM
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If you do a drive-itinerary, you will see a price difference if 4 or 6. This is because the cost of the guide/vehicle is distributed by the participants. Unless there is a personal traveling as a single where a supplement is applied, all other participants pay the daily rate for room/board, park fees, activities. As above, for children there is a discount on per room/nt and daily park fee.

If it's a flying itinerary, everyone pays the fees set out for them. Vehicles, guides, game drives, park fees, meals, etc. are all included.
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Jul 5th, 2007, 08:12 AM
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Thanks Patty (and sandi). I have seen the Gamewatchers link and am using it as the foundation for our trip. I am still debating on whether to do Sweetwaters, Samburu or both. Any thoughts from Fodorites (keeping the kids in mind).

Should I even consider adding on a 3-5 day trip to Tanzania? I am really interested in the Crater?
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Jul 5th, 2007, 08:46 PM
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It's looking like this will end being a July/early Aug 2008 trip. Should we consider visits to both Maasai Mara and Serengeti at that time of the year?

I am very interested in Ngorongoro, but can't decide if it makes sense to add Tanzania just for that.
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Jul 5th, 2007, 08:50 PM
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See what it does to your cost...it might quickly help you make the decision.
hills27 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2007, 08:24 AM
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Hi. Here is a trip report from our trip with 2 five year olds. I have to run this morning, but I would be happy to answer any questions.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34848152
HLester3 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2007, 09:17 AM
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Hi. I am definitely having some problems posting, the link above is not the correct one, so I cut and
pasted my report.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I think that 5 & 8 would be a great age. There really is not a day that goes by that my kids don't talk about some aspect of our trip.

The biggest memory is Mark the giraffe at Giraffe Manor. My son talks about that giraffe nearly every day, and we now have a numerour collection of stuffed giraffes. He keeps telling me that he wants to go back to see Mark for his 8th birthday.

Heather


Author: HLester3
Date: 10/30/2006, 11:25 pm
I owe everyone a trip report from my trip to Sabuk/Mnemba/Shompole/Elephant Pepper Camp & Giraffe Manor. I have been so far behind in my work, I haven't had a chance to post much. But here is a small trip report, because I am feeling guilty.

We had a great trip and the kids (age 5) loved it. Every day they ask me if we can go back. At the time I did not realize that it was such a life changing experience for them. Now that we are home, it is all they talk about. I can't believe how much they learned about animals, or how well behaved they were. Luckily we had our own jeep the whole time, since there were 5 of us. [Myself, Husband, Robbie & Madison age 5 and my dad.] They especially loved Giraffe Manor because of the very close interaction with the Giraffe. Every day my son draws a picture of himself and Mark the giraffe doing something different. He considers him close personal friend.

SABUK- Sabuk and Shompole were great lodges. Sabuk has to have been my favorite lodge, I just wish that they had animals like the Mara. Since it was our first safari experience, we got excited to see a lion sitting up on a rock 500 yards away. Are best animal experience there was a bull elephant. We kind of came upon him behind some trees by the road. Luckily he just looked at us and then walked off. I think we probably 10 feet from him.

SHOMPOLE was also a great lodge, but it was really lacking in animals. We spent our three days there looking for any sign of a lion, and we still were not successful after 5 morning and afternoon game drives. The problem was that our guide felt compelled to find a lion for us, and we zoomed past all of the other wild life.

MNEMBA was great. It really is like being on your own private island. The kids especially liked it here. The managers have a son who is close in age to Robbie & Madison so they had a great time play together in the sand and tide pool fishing with him. The sand there is unbelievable. It doesn't get hot and your feet just sink in. The closest thing I can compare it to is Cayman Island, but better. The fish there is really great and that is coming from some who does not usually eat it. They also served warm salted cashews, which were really addicting.

As a side note. I was really surprised by the soft drinks in Egypt and Africa. I am usually a big fan of Coke, but it really did not taste very good. It tasted better as we got closer to Nairobi. In Zanzibar it really had a medicine like taste. I donít know if they use a different sugar or what.

ELEPHANT PEPPER CAMP: I think this was actually our favorite. They have just had a change in camp managers, and brought in 3 relatively youngish managers, two women and a man. They were very friendly and each were in charge of something different at camp. Sam took the kids and my husband on a short bush walk. They are still talking about the dung beetle they saw and the bush toothbrush. I thought they were also very professional, as I was a little bit concerned about the kids going on a walk. After the walk, I found out that they had sent a scout down to the water hole where they were going to walk to make sure there were no animals there. It turned out that there were some Cape Buffalo so they changed walking plans and just walked the perimeter of the camp. The other people staying camp were also the friendliest of the all the lodges. Our guide, Mike was great and the kids loved him. I would really compare this tented camp to actual camping. They have flush toilet, but no running water. Each morning we would get our pitcher of hot and cold water.

GIRAFFE MANOR: The giraffe feeding is great. I have so many wonderful pictures that I do not think I could get any where else. I am still trying to figure out how to post my pictures. We spent the night and had a day room before out 10:00 p.m. flight home. I have a picture of Madison eating her spaghetti and the giraffe sticking his head through the window. He has his tongue out like he is going to start eating her spaghetti with her. The kids really liked being able to get so close to the giraffe. They were so gentle. We went to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage for the elephant tuck in and got to go and hug the cheetahs at KWS. I have to admit that it was a little bit strange to have the cheetah lick your hand, but they were purring.

After we got home I was so tired, I didnít think I was ever going to go all the way back to Africa. Then I started going through all of our pictures and re-living how great our trip was. That and the fact that every day they ask to go back.

The jet was a killer. The kids to get used to the time change again for a week. They were falling asleep at 2 or 3 p.m. and then waking up at 2:00 a.m. and staying up and going to school the next morning. Finally by the weekend we were able to keep them up long enough for them to go to sleep a the right time. I was surprised that I had such a hard time with the jet lag. Of course it may have been all of the red eyes we were taking with our stop over in Cairo.

Now we are thinking about going for another week in Africa at the beginning of June, in connection with a short trip to Paris. It is hard to be ďrelativelyĒ close and not take advantage and going to Africa. I think I will keep it pretty simple with Elephant Pepper again and then add on Little Govís, and of course we have to drop by to see Mark the Giraffe at Giraffe Manor.

I would be happy to answer any questions on any of the above mentioned camps or anything else for that matter. Thanks to everyone who helped me plan this trip. I could have never done it or known which camps to research if it had not been for all of your suggestions and trip reports. Thanks!




HLester3 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2007, 07:06 AM
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Hi Heather - it is very encouraging to hear you had a great time with two 5-year olds.

I think this is my ideal trip. Would love some comments before shipping it off to some Travel Planners:

Day 1 - Arrive NBO
Day 2 - Visit the snakes, giraffes and animal orhpanage
Day 3 - Fly to Samburu for 2 nights at Samburu Intrepids
Day 5 - Fly to Maasai Mara for 3 nights at Mara Intrepids
Day 8 - Fly to Arusha and overnight there
Day 9 - Drive to Lake Manyara and overnight at Serena Lodge
Day 10 - Drive to Ngorongoro for 2 nights at Wildlife Lodge
Day 12 - Drive to Serengeti for 3 nights at the Serena Lodge
Day 15 - Fly to Nairobi, day room, night flight home

Aside from general comments, I'd love to hear about the following:

a) Is it possible to drive from Massai Mara to Serengeti (using a private guide of course)? It does not look to far on a map and would make the trip flow much better.

b) Can you fly from Serengeti to Nairobi?

c) I am leaning towards the Intrepids camps in Kenya instead of Serena b/c of the children's program. I'm assuming Serena does not offer it, but wanted to verify that since Serena lodges are cheaper.

d) Assuming this itinerary, would a start date between July 15-31 be an a very good time?





Statefan is offline  
Jul 7th, 2007, 08:07 AM
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a) You can't cross directly between the two and have to go around to the Isebania/Sirari border to the west. The drive from the Mara to Central Serengeti will take around 10 hours this way. You could overnight in between to break up to drive or you could pick a camp in Western Serengeti which would reduce the drive by a couple of hours, then continue to Central Serengeti, Ngorongoro, etc.

b) Yes, via Kilimanjaro/Arusha and possibly some other stops along the way.

d) If you start your trip mid to late July, I might do Kenya last since the later you go, the better your chances of seeing the migration in the Mara.
Patty is offline  

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