Help with first trip to Kenya/Tanzania

Old Jul 6th, 2008, 12:21 AM
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Help with first trip to Kenya/Tanzania

I've used this forum a few times for our trips to Europe, but this time we are venturing into Africa for our very first time. I have read many of the threads/posts, and sent emails to some of the recommended companies, but thought I would ask some questions, and get some feedback.
Background: We are in our early thirties, looking for a 2-3 week trip to Kenya and Tanzania in September 2009. We are interested mainly in the safari aspect, though village/culture and a few days on the beach would be great. Since we normally travel on our own (not with tour groups), we are definitely considering the private tour option. Also, we would rather not do budget camping, but at the same time do not require luxury. As for our budget, we are hoping to not go over $7000 for the trip and air fare. Questions..
1. I know this is subjective- but would we be better off booking a trip that the companies already have available, or having a company customize one for us.
2. What places/safaris should we not miss when we are there? We know the Maasai Mara is somewhere we really want to go. How many different safari areas should we go to while there for 2-3 weeks?
3. Should we go to Zanzibar or Lamu for beach time?
4. With respect to our budget/interests, what companies would one recommend?
Thanks so much!
elaineg is offline  
Old Jul 6th, 2008, 06:59 AM
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First, on the budget. As for our budget, we are hoping to not go over $7000 for the trip and air fare. This makes me think the $7000 is total. If about $1750/person is needed for international air, that leaves about half of the budget for the safari or $1750 per person. Over 14 days in Africa, that would be $125/day per person. Even though $7000 is a hefty lump sum, I dont think it will cover a safari such as you are describing, unfortunately. If the $7000 is per person, then you have enough.

1. If you find a ready made to your liking, then there is no need to change. Id start with a set itinerary that looks good and then see if you find a reason to tweak it.

2. 2 weeks in Sept to Kenya for a 1st trip, Id do

4 traveling
1 NBO
1-2 Sweetwaters
2 Samburu
1 Nakuru
4 Mara

for 14 days, notice no Tanzania

or

3 weeks in Sept to Kenya and Tanz for a 1st trip, Id do

4 traveling
1 Arusha
2 Tarangire
1-2 Central Serengeti
2-4 Northern Serengeti, preferably a mobile camp if it fits into the budget.
1-2 Crater
1 NBO
2 Samburu or Amboseli
4 Mara
(maybe you could fit Sweetwaters or Nakuru in here too, depending on how long you stay in the various areas)

for about 21 days

As for what not to miss, if you head to TZ, Id make sure to see the crater.

3. Because you can go to the beach anywhere, I would not include it with your safari. Ive never been to an African beach so no personal experience.

4. If you have more than $7000 for the entire trip: Good Earth, Africa Serendipity, Sunny, Roys, Kiliwarriors, Go2Africa, Africa Adventure. (listed in no order) These have all been used with success. If you look at the sites for Good Earth and Africa Adventure, you can get ideas on a range of itinerary costs.
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Old Jul 6th, 2008, 11:22 AM
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Eastern & Southern Safaris also posts prices on their website and you can get an idea of what a non-camping, non-luxury private safari costs. I agree with Lynn that for what you want to do, $7000 total isn't enough. Tanzania tends to be a little more expensive than Kenya so you can keep that in mind too.
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Old Jul 6th, 2008, 12:29 PM
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Oops, I'm so sorry.. I did mean $7000 per person. Thanks so much for the feedback. It will definitely come in useful as I continue the research. Which is slightly overwhelming I must say... so many options! I think we are leaning towards a closer to 3 week trip. We still might spend a couple days on the beach if it's not too inconvenient to get to from our last stop, and if we can easily find a flight out of there that won't cost too much more. But I definitely agree that we could go to the beach anywhere.
Lynn, I do have a question on your answer- If you were to choose between Amboseli or Samburu, what would it be? My preference would be to go to as different of places/landscapes as possible.. for example, I've read somewhere on this forum that if already going to the Mara, that one could possibly skip the Amboseli with limited time?
Thanks SO much for your time.
elaineg is offline  
Old Jul 6th, 2008, 12:55 PM
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Three weeks certainly isn't insufficient time; in fact, more than most who visit have.

As to Amboseli being like the Masai Mara - no way. The various park/reserve landscapes and vegetation, the game contained within can vary greatly. Some parks are known for elephants, others cats, still others the migration.

September in both Kenya & Tanzania are peak travel season, so prices match.

Read thru the East African Trip Report Index. This should give you an idea of the itineraries many have chosen, the areas visited, the number of days at each, type of accommodations (level of lux or mid-range...lodges or camps).
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Old Jul 6th, 2008, 01:48 PM
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Elaine, firstly, have you see the East Africa trip report index?

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34860283

I would definitely have a trawl through it (be prepared - time disappears as into a black hole!) as reading about the experience of others should definitely help you work out what you do and don't want to do.

It will also introduce you to many local operators - booking with a (trustworthy and reliable) local operator will make your dollars go further.

BTW You've clarified that your $7000 is per person but not, unless I missed it, whether or not it includes international airfare?

I'm about to leave on a 3.5 week safari to Kenya and Tanzania next month. I booked directly with local outfitters using the assistance of a safari planner called Sandi who is also a Fodors regular. Her company name is Africa Serendipity and I've been very pleased with her input and help thus far.

Alternatively, you can work and book direct with the outfitters themselves.

Of course, there is an added layer of protection if you book with agencies/ tour operators in your own country BUT you'll pay a hefty premium for doing so and good travel insurance should minimise the risk.

My own itinerary is posted here somewhere, let me know if you want it.
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Old Jul 6th, 2008, 11:33 PM
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Thanks again for all the input. Yes, I definitely have to go thru the East Africa trip index.. I started, but haven't got very far. Wow.. is all I have to say about that index. I'm sure I will be spending much time there soon. And Kavey, just to clarify, yes the 7000 per person would include international airfare (hopefully!). I would probably prefer to book thru a tour operator/agency from home (Canada/US) vs. making the arrangements myself thru various local outfitters in the different areas we want to visit. I'm sure it'll be a hefty premium, but I'd probably go with it for peace of mind and convenience. I just have to find the right one. And yes, I'd love to see your itinerary, I would very much appreciate it. Thanks!
elaineg is offline  
Old Jul 7th, 2008, 07:30 AM
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I would probably prefer to book thru a tour operator/agency from home (Canada/US) vs. making the arrangements myself thru various local outfitters in the different areas we want to visit.

Just to clarify, one local outfitter can book your entire trip even if you choose to visit both Kenya and Tanzania. Most outfitters have a partner outfitter they work with in the other country and vice versa so that you don't have to have more than one point of contact if you don't want to, although some posters do choose to book their Kenya and Tanzania portions separately with two outfitters. Just depends on your preference.
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Old Jul 7th, 2008, 08:17 AM
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You have asked the Samburu-Amboseli $64,000 question.

It has been brought up before and here are some responses.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34990586
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Old Jul 7th, 2008, 11:23 AM
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Darn, I can't find the thread with my itinerary.
Here it is:

Nairobi 2 nights (which gives us fallback time incase of international flight delays as well as a full day to spend touring Nairobi)

Meru 3 nights

Samburu 2 nights

Masai Mara 5 nights

Arusha 1 night

Tarangire 3 nights

Lake Manyara 1 night

Ngorongoro Crater 2 nights (one at rim and one further afield)

Northern Serengeti 3 nights

Then back to Nairobi for our flight back to UK.

In terms of parks and reserves this gives us the range we wanted though it still leaves much left untouched for another visit.

We splurged on accommodation choices so we went over your budget (which I'm estimating at a little over $5000 per person if we assume international flights may be as much as $1750) but each of these locations has a range of accommodation options for different budgets.

We're also flying between many of the locations whereas driving brings the price down a lot.
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Old Jul 7th, 2008, 11:35 PM
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Kavey, thank you for the itinerary. And thanks everyone else for the input once again. I've been trudging along the East Africa trip index thread.. long ways to go. A couple companies so far (in terms of our budget, popularity on this forum, and the fact that they do private tours) are standing out. Thomson and Micato are definitely a little too pricey for us.. but I'll certainly look deeper into Good Earth and Africa Serendipity. Any feedback on a good and reliable, "user-friendly" and one-stop shopping local outfitter in Kenya/Tanzania that one would recommend?
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Old Jul 8th, 2008, 12:54 AM
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As I haven't been yet I can't comment on whether I'll be happy with my outfitter/operator once on the ground but I'm using Roy's in Tanzania - there is tonnes and tonnes of feedback about them here at Fodors and it's all positive. I'm using Cheli and Peacock in Kenya.
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Old Jul 11th, 2008, 06:25 PM
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Elaineg,

If the outfitter is located in TZ, they'll have a partner in Kenya and vice versa that they'll make arrangements with. You don't need to contact one in each country, unless that's what you would prefer.

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Old Jul 11th, 2008, 07:20 PM
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Check out www.masiatravel,com out of the uUS. We went with them in March to Tanzania and it was great. I found they use the same lodges as everyone else but 30% less. They do Tanzania/Kenya with Zanzibar. They use a local operator Simba which was excellent. Good luck.
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