Itinerary Crunch, Help!

Feb 21st, 2010, 07:43 AM
  #1  
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Itinerary Crunch, Help!

We've been planning and are just about to book the following itinerary. Flights are on hold, we have final pricing and want to make decision this weekend. Technically we have a two days before pricing expires.

NYC Departure - overnight flight
London layover - 7 hours, no overnight stay
Cairo - Sheraton - 1 night (want to see the Pyramids)
Masai Mara - Siana Intrepids Camp- 3 nights (via Nairobi, no overnight in Nairobi)
Lake Nakuru - Kigio Wildlife Camp - 1 night
Amboseli - Sopa - 2 nights
Nairobi - day to see sights, no overnight stay
London Layover - 12 hours, hope to see sights, no overnight stay
NYC

Last minute, my husband has a panic about the intra camp travel in Africa and the multiple overnight flights. We are considering scrapping Lake Nakuru and Amboseli. Instead we would add one night in Cairo, one night in Masai Mara, and one night in London.

Here are some of our concerns. We are concerned about the long drive times between camps (with a teen) but don't have the budget to fly. I also have heard some talk about Amboseli wildlife suffering from recent weather conditions. Will extra days in the Mara increase the chance of seeing the migration? I guess my biggest concern is will we miss out on some diversity in landscape and wildlife if we only see the Mara?

Thank you all for expert advice and I'm looking forward to reading your replies.

Chris & DH
long2travel is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 09:09 AM
  #2  
TC
 
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Dear Chris, I know you will get lots of good advise from others more versed than I, but for my two cents -- the above itinerary seems way too ambitious. I've made two trips to Africa. Once doing the Northern circuit of Kenya/Tanzania and once doing Southern Tanzania. On the first trip we moved every two nights. On the second we stayed put for 4 nights in each place.

On our first trip we were constantly packing up and moving on. Most of the driving between camps didn't produce much game, so we would have time for only two game drives in each location. It went something like this: arrive late afternoon, sometimes evening, sleep, game drives twice the next day, sleep, and move on. We saw wonderful things and stayed in great places, but it felt disjointed.

On the last trip, staying 4 days in each camp gave us time to get to know the guides and the area. We didn't need to hurry on after each sighting to get more in before departing for the next camp. This time - when we found a pride of 22 lions, we spent a couple of hours with them watching all the interaction of adults with babies, males and females, we watched them hunt impala, we watched them at a water hole. And when we found them again a few days later (because we knew them to be in the area) we had time to sit again for hours watching them play in a shallow river. This kind of observation happened over and over on this more leasurely trip.

I know the anticipation and nerves involved with making these decisions, but at the end of the day, you will see wildlife wherever you go -- a lion, is a lion, is a lion, etc. You'll see elephant and zebra and all the others. My experience taught me that a more relaxed trip made for a more meaningful experience. Once home, I felt I had really learned something about Africa -- its people and the wildlife, rather than just hurrying from place to place and ticking off a list.

I would highly recommend that you save Egypt for another time and think about consolidating the trip into fewer locations with longer stays. Just my opinion, of course. Africa is amazing and you will love it whatever the final choice. Good luck.
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Feb 21st, 2010, 09:25 AM
  #3  
 
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long2travel, yes, if I were you, if you are really intent on seeing the pyramids, I would scrap Amboseli and Lake Nakuru & go with your second plan of adding a night to Cairo & London & an extra to the Mara, especially with a teen. Add the London night at the end along with the 12 hour layover, that way you will have a full day to enjoy the sights of London.
If you have an early morning flight out of London, stay somewhere out by the airport and take the train into town to see the sights, at least that way you are closer to the airport in the morning. Any of the hotels out at the airport, or close to the airport (which are much cheaper than at the airport) will be able to store your luggage if you arrive earlier than check in time.

Personally, I would opt to make Egypt a separate trip altogether, and pick one more park in Kenya to spend those 2 nights, but if your flights are taking you there with a stopover, then I can see why you wanted to see the pyramids on this trip. I haven't been to Cairo but I would imagine you would defintely need more than one night to do it justice though! But, if you are like I usually am, and just trying to 'see and do it all' in one trip - don't, because this WON'T be your only trip there - I guarentee you!

What time of the year are you going? (re the question you had on the migration)

As for missing the diversity of the landscape & the wildlife in Kenya, as mentioned don't worry, this won't be your one and only trip there....
LyndaS is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 09:34 AM
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To me it seems like lots of flying for 1 day at the pyramids. But if that’s a priority, then it has to stay. I see your revision has you spending 2 days, which would be better. (I’ve never been to Egypt.)

I’d put the Mara last because later in Aug is usually better than earlier in Aug and because it will be the wildlife highlight of your trip, whether you stay at Siana or elsewhere.

I’d put the day in NBO as your first stop in Kenya for these reasons:

1. If there are flight delays, you can miss that day more easily.

2. Lost luggage is more likely to catch up with you if you remain a day in NBO

3. You’ll just have done lots of flying with lots of time zones and may need a little down time and break and NBO allows that better than safari. If you spend more time in Egypt, then this reason loses some of its punch.

4. Once you’ve been in the Mara and the other stops, the NBO attractions, while very worthwhile, may seem a little tame. by comparison. Ending in the Mara is better.

5. It works well to end in the Mara, take the later flight out, giving you just a little more time there, and then connecting to your international flight home. You’d even have time in NBO for the famous Carnivore Restaurant or for some shopping at the bomas. It’s good to leave shopping to the end so you are not carrying the stuff with you. I know you mentioned you did not want to fly, but I'll put in a plug for flying here. Even if you don't fly, you can save the Mara for last and drive from the Mara back to NBO in plenty of time for your eve flt. You can even increase your safari time a little by delaying your departure out of the Mara to arrive later into NBO. I personally will be leaving the Mara early by vehicle (to save $) and plan to arrive NBO before dark because I'm more comfortable having the guide drive in Nairobi during daylight hours.

“Will extra days in the Mara increase the chance of seeing the migration?”
Yes, and also increase the chances of seeing the zebras or wildebeest cross the river. Plus, it increases your chances of other interesting sightings.


If you have concerns about long drives, then the 6-ish hour drive to/from the Mara may be all the Kenya driving you care to do. If you visit only the Mara in Kenya, you’ll have a good safari, but you won’t see Kili.

When you say you cannot afford to fly, have you had the figures laid out for you?

If you view this as an Africa trip, I would not extend your time in London to make the flying part more palatable. If this is your one shot to do something in London that you've always wanted to do, then here's your chance and the extra day will conveniently let you do it.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 21st, 2010, 09:56 AM
  #5  
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So sorry everyone, 2nd week in August.

No time for adequate reply right now but had to correct the date omission. Will check in agin this evening.
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Feb 21st, 2010, 10:08 AM
  #6  
 
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What you show is really hectic,

So Easy changes -

- add a day to CAI
- omit Nakuru and Amboseli
- add 1/day to NBO* on arrival; the other 2/days to the Mara where you'll see all the game

- instead of Siana Springs, I'd choose Intrepid's which is inside the reserve with better access to game in general and river crossings specifically. As Intrepid's is only booked on a fly in/out basis, you don't need a private guide (you're not visiting Nakuru or Amboseli), but you'll be sharing game drives with other guests, and they do 3/game drives daily.

- *as lynn mentions, I'd also spend day of arrival in NBO... after long layover London, very hot Cairo, you'll appreciate time to catch your breath. You can arrange sightseeing around NBO, 11am Sheldrick Ellee Orphanage, Giraffe Center, Museum/Snake Farm, lunch at Carnivore or Tamarind, afternoon at leisure; and if luggage delayed, time for it to catch up with you.
- next morning drive (if at Siana) or fly (if at Intrepid's) for days on safari
- drive or fly back to NBO; have driver for last minute shopping; if you adopt an ellee from Sheldrick can visit at 5pm to see your chubby, then dinner and off to airport for homebound.
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Feb 21st, 2010, 03:56 PM
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Wow! So many great suggestions and possibilities. I feel like I'm starting over. I still feel a little like I'll be missing out on some diversity by not visiting Amboseli but think the long drive could be taxing. What do you think of keeping one night in Kigio to see Lake Nakuru but make it on the way in for the reasons cited above? From there we would continue on to the Mara. Upon leaving the Mara we would want to get back to Nairobi early enough to visit an Ellee that we plan to foster. Without Amboseli we would have two days to add back in, one to Cairo, and one to the Mara.

I like the idea of flying in to Intrepid but with the current itinerary it would be outside the budget. I'm not sure where we would stand budget wise without the ground handlers. I think it's a whole new trip. I would like to discuss the logistics further. If we were to fly into the Mara would we still have someone to meet us at the airport? I'm a little cornerned about not having the security of ground handlers to shuttle us around on our first trip to Africa. There are also logistics when sightseeing in Nairobi such as dealing with your bags and knowing the most efficient ways to the sights.

Just to be sure I understand, if we fly into Intrepids, we would not need a ground handler? If we stay at Siana, we would need ground handlers for transport? If we include Nakuru, we would need ground handlers to transport us between camps?
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Feb 21st, 2010, 05:11 PM
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Your agent will set up all ground transport, including NBO sight seeing and transfers to/from airports. If you fly to Intrepids, someone meets you at the airstrip and takes you to camp. Then you do shared drives in vehicles unless you pay for a private vehicle.

If everything is driving, you'll have one guide throughout, probably not sharing with others, but private/shared will be spelled out for you.

As long as a reputable agent is handling your arrangements, you'll be taken care of throughout your Kenya part of the trip. You may have different vehicles and guides along the way, but all your activities will handled from one place. Don't know about Egypt.

You can drive from the Mara and get to Sheldrick 5 pm, which is when you wanted to be there, I believe.

Stopping in Nakuru could break up the driving on the way to the Mara and offer something different. That would be good.
atravelynn is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2010, 06:37 AM
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The adopted ellees can ONLY be visited at 5pm; visit has to be pre-arranged, providing name of your adoptee. Otherwise, you can visit the Sheldrick daily showing between 11am-12N.

You can fly in/out to both Siana, Intrepid's or Governor's; game drives would then be on a shared basis.

If you visiit Nakuru/Kigio, then you need own guide/vehicle for transport. This would serve well for onward to the Mara for stay at Siana. The other two camps, as mentioned are on fly-in/out basis.

As to meet/greet, sightseeing, etc. your ground outfitter can coordinate these along with your parks/reserves and lodge/camp reservations even if on a fly basis.
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Feb 22nd, 2010, 11:13 AM
  #10  
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OK, I think I get it. I was hoping there was some way to visit Kigio AND a Mara camp (not sure which) without needing a ground handler. I guess I am the perfect argument for the Tom/Johan discussion (in a neighboring thread) as to why some people need a TA. There's just too much to deal with when you're a newbie. Thanks again!
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Feb 23rd, 2010, 04:27 AM
  #11  
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Atravelynn, just curious, what is your upcoming itinerary with internal flights? I think I saw somewhere that it was in September? BTW, the flight from Nairobi to Mara was a lot cheaper than I thought it would be, perhaps I could add in some flying. Still wish I could have the combination of lodges and tent like the original itinerary.
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Feb 23rd, 2010, 03:23 PM
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long2travel

kigio is not in Nakuru but rather closer to lake Naivasha.
if only 1 night it may be better to stay in the park - Lion Hill camp or Nakuru lodge - especially since there's no need to drive all the way to Amboseli
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Feb 23rd, 2010, 05:40 PM
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Glad you checked the internal flight. When you figure how much else you are spending to get there and do everyting and how much time/flexibility the flight offers, traveling at least one or two legs by air often makes sense.

I'll be driving from NBO to Aberdare NP (2), Meru (3), Shaba (1) Samburu (3) then flying to Mara for 8 and driving back to NBO for a night flt home. All of this is guided.

You'll be back just before I leave.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 05:21 AM
  #14  
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That sounds like a wonderful trip! Are you flying directly from Samburu to Mara or do you have to drive into Nairobi first? I didn't see flights from Samburu direct to Mara. I hadn't even considered Samburu when we weren't including internal flights. Too far a drive. If we don't change our flights to add to Cairo we will have 6 nights total in Kenya. I was hoping to get the diversity of two different places and also lodge in one place and perm camp in another. I was considering Samburu 3/Mara 3, Naukru (Kigio)2/Mara 4, Someplace else 2/Mara4?? Is two nights too long for Lake Nakuru? Hopefully my TA will be working on this today.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 05:56 AM
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Yes there are direct Samburu-Mara flights. For diversity I'd go with a Samburu/Mara split.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 06:31 AM
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See www.airkenya.com and www.safarilink.com for schedules and fares.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 07:15 AM
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Six (6) nights
Arriving from hot hot Cairo, suggest first day be spent in Nairobi, then head up to Samburu and conclude in the Mara.

Day 1 - Arv. NBO from CAI, believe it gets in very early morning; met and transfer to hotel for a few hours sleep; during day sightseeing to visit: Giraffe Center, Sheldrick, etc.
Day 2 - Fly to Samburu - o/n Serena Ldge or Larsen's Camp
Day 3 - Samburu - o/n
Day 4 - Fly to Mara - o/n Siana, Intrepid's, Main Governor's, Sarova, others.............
Day 5/6 - Mara - o/n
Day 7 - Fly to NBO; day-room till evening transfer to JKIA for homebound.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 11:09 AM
  #18  
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You're right, NBO from CAI gets in at 3:45am. If you stay in NBO the first night you will have a full day and the last half day there. Is it too far to see Nakuru from Nairobi? If you also want to get to Sheldrick and Giraffe's Center?
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Feb 24th, 2010, 12:32 PM
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Nakuru is about a 2.5/hr drive from NBO.

Seems you're stuck on this area, so you can consider:
- on your meet/greet with guide/vehicle drive to Nakuru for game drive till after lunch (pay park fee)
- drive to Nanyuki (3/hrs) for overnight (park fee)... maybe at Sweetwater's, on Ol Pejeta, private conservation where you can do a night game drive (if you're not all with your heads bobbing)
- next morning guide drops you at Nanyuki airport for flight to Samburu (fee for guide/vehicle to drive back to NBO empty)
- option: overnight at Nakuru and drive next morning (6/hrs) to Samburu and have guide/vehicle for 2/day stay here.
- from Samburu fly to Mara
- from Mara fly to NBO

... I'm exhausted just thinking of this. As I figure:
Day 1 - Depart eve from JFK
Day 2 - Arv LHR, 7/hr layover; flight to CAI - o/n
Day 3 - CAI - sightseeing; flight to NBO
Day 4 - Arv NBO 3:45am; then drive to Nakuru for game viewing, drive (3/hrs) to Nanyuki/Sweetwater's - o/n
Day 5 - Fly to Samburu

By this time (if not sooner somewhere in-between), you're all bound to drop as the body can handle just so much... with time zone changes (5/hrs to London, another 2/hrs to CAI and finally another 1/hr to NBO), the excessive heat in Cairo and only 1/nt sleep in CAI, and who know if that will even be restful.

I wouldn't do that if I was in my 20s... so I say, "knock yourself out!"

If you save NBO sightseeing for last day, you'll arrive too late for the daily 11am-12N visit. You can visit Giraffe Center, but Sheldrick only if adopting a chubby for 5pm visit.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 01:58 PM
  #20  
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Whew! I'm tired too. Forget Nakuru.

I like your last itinerary better and have already asked my TA about it. BTW, we are definitely fostering a chubby.

Thank you SO much. I'm going to take a nap now.
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