Itinerary Help for Kenya Honeymoon, October 2013

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Jan 12th, 2013, 11:47 AM
  #1
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Itinerary Help for Kenya Honeymoon, October 2013

My fiance & I are planning our honeymoon for October 2013 & are hoping to get a little advice about itineraries. We've been looking at numerous tour companies & packaged trips, but haven't found exactly what we're looking for yet. My fiance found a small company that does customized trips & along with some standard templates they showed us as examples, they suggested we come with a few things we are most interested in seeing so they could make it the best trip for us...

We're hoping for a trip of about 10-12 days, are most interested in Kenya at this point (though open to other suggestions), and hope to keep it to $5000 per person (excluding international airfare). We're hoping to make this a very wildlife-heavy trip & want to see a variety of animals.

Days 1-2: Nairobi
Days 3-4: Ol Pejeta (Poirini Rhino Camp?)
Days 5-6: Samburu (Elephant Watch Camp?)
Days 7-8: Lake Nakuru (Flamingo Hill Tented Camp?)
Days 9-11: Masai Mara (Karen Blixen Camp?)
Day 12: Nairobi

Suggestions on the feasibility of this would be great:
-are we cramming too much into the trip (should we cut down on the # of stops?)
-not accounting for how long it takes to drive between places?
-not getting a good mix of different experiences?
-missing something we 'absolutely must' see?

Thank you so much for any suggestions!
Amanda
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Jan 12th, 2013, 04:13 PM
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Ok... tentative plan may have changed a little given more reading. Seems like Ol Pejeta & Laikipia don't seem to get the greatest reviews? Might be a place we can skip & focus on other places...

Days 1-2: Nairobi (Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe Ctr.)
Days 3-5: Samburu (Elephant Watch Camp?)
Days 6-7: Lake Nakuru (Flamingo Hill Tented Camp? Mali Saba Camp?)
Days 9-11: Masai Mara (Karen Blixen Camp?)
Day 12: light aircraft flight back to Nairobi Airport

thanks again!
Amanda
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Jan 12th, 2013, 10:21 PM
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Disclaimer+ i hAVe far less experience of kenya sari than do others on the board.

Day 12..no matter which itin you chose, yes, do budget one of the plane rides from wherever yuo are in the Mara, back to Wilson Airport. Note that if you leave Nairobi that day, the flight leaves from the international airport and you will need to get there from Wilson.

Where have you read bad reviews of laikipia and Ol Pejeta? There are different places/camps,. I saw LOADS of wildlife, including lion, at Ol Pejeta, not to mention all the animals that gather :round the pond at Sweetwaters (see below). It is magic to see a giraffe or elephant, among many others, in your front yard!

I hAVE not been to Sa buru but i THINK you pass via Laikipia anyway. It might b nice to break up the long drive in one of the Laikipia or Mt Kenya area lodgings. I dont know how *wilderness* you want this trip to be --you cAN see just as many animals from a rustic tented camp or from a lodge. i LOVED Sweetwaters in Ol Pejeta, Stayed in tone of the Morani wing tents. LUXURI! To me, it seemed like the perfect re-intro ) had been decades ago) to Kenya., even though it is a larger place. But for one or two overnights on way to Samburu, or even if you decide NOT to go to Samburu, i think it be lovely. (others may disagree of course.)

For ease of traveling, IF going to Samburu, you might want to fly to your next destination.

Nakuru is ok,but personally, i`d add a day to Masai Mara and take it from Nakuru.

If not done already, do check tripadvisor kenya forum for even more info.

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage, Mestengo!
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Jan 13th, 2013, 11:46 AM
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CaliNurse, nice to see another RN around

Thank you very much for your reply!

I am very much in the beginning of planning this trip, so I'm probably letting one or two posts or reviews skew my view of things too much. It might have been that the region wasn't great for a certain animal at a certain season -- after a few hours of reading, my brain goes to mush with all these new names & places!

We are hoping to do internal flights between Nairobi/Samburu, Samburu/Mara & Mara/Nairobi. Hopefully it all fits in the budget!

I seem to be changing my mind every few hours - here's the latest version


Days 1-2: Nairobi (Lodging?)

Day 2: Flight to Samburu

Days 3-5: Samburu (Elephant Bedroom Camp)

Days 6-8: Il Ngwesi Valley (Tassia Lodge)

Day 9: Flight to Mara

Days 9-11: Masai Mara (Offbeat Mara Camp, Mara Ngenche, or Rekero Mara?)

Day 12: Flight to Nairobi
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Jan 13th, 2013, 12:01 PM
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An alternative to the Lewa area is Meru N.P. I stayed at the Offbeat Meru and Offbeat Mara camps last year and loved them! You might get a discount by combining those camps on your itinerary.
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Jan 13th, 2013, 12:39 PM
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Hi fellow RN Amanda!

First, apologies for earlier typos.

Take you time and dont worry about changing your mind! My trip went through numerous changes until I finally settled on a plan. I had the advantage of having been to Africa previously, but it was so long ago, planning this like starting from scratch. So what you are planning now--even which country!--may change along the way as you get more feedback.

I encourage you, if not done already, to post as well on the Kenya TA Forum. You will get a wide variety of replies and suggestions.

Also, to help with replies, ask yourself and fiance what you want. Do you want a small camp --8 tents of less?--in the bush? Do you want turn on-turn off avail of hot water, or would you be ok with the *safari/bucket* shower? How important is good food? Do you want to book yourselves, or use the services of a good local (Kenyan) or US based tour company? NB-- ALL good tour companies will customize for you--the posted itineraries on most web sites are JUST ideas. ) Do you want a camp with a swimming pool?

Since it is a long and expensive trip (I am assuming you are in North Amreica?) take the most days you can--12 rather than 10. Who knows when or if you will return?
Budget--note prices on some choices you have listed. e.g. Asilla camps (Rekero) are VERY expensive.
As Shay Tay said, you can get packages (also avail thru tour companies) which might save some $. Kicheche, Intrepids, Porini, Offbeat,all have these avail.
Do not assume that booking directly with the camp/lodge itself will save you money. ALWAYS compare apples and apples when enquiring of tour company and the camp company itself.

In Mar, check Royal Mara. It gets rave reviews on TA, it is small,. right on the river, the owner is wonderful and very committed to guests having a fantastic time (I have written him, but not yet stayed.) it is also far more reasonably priced than other small camps. It gets a few snobby IMHO attitude opinion from folks who think only bucket shower and tents on the ground are legit!

Look also for posts hear and on TA from Sandi. She is very familiar with the area and is herself a tour planner.

As for animals, they dont know WHERE you are staying!!!Whether in a lodge or tented camp, they will be nearby and a drive away. I have camped the basic old fashioned way, in a set up tent, and I have stayed at lodges. In all places,the animals were near enough to hear them through the night, and were within a 5 minute drive away.

read up on diff between staying at one of the surrounding conservancies, or IN the man Masai Mara area itself.

have fun!!!!!
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Jan 13th, 2013, 07:05 PM
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Where to stay in Nairobi? Macushla for sure but book early. It has under 10 rooms and really has an intimate feel to it plus the food is excellent!

Macushla is in the suburb of Karen which is actually Karen Blixen's farm from the movie Out of Africa.

Sheldricks Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Centre are close by.

If going by vehicle from Nairobi to Samburu you'll need to consider an overnight somewhere in the middle.

sandi at Africa Serendipity is an expert on Kenya (used her for my trip in 2011)...get in touch with her.

Have a blast planning...it's half the fun and don't worry about changing the itinerary...it happens all the time.
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Jan 14th, 2013, 04:02 AM
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ShayTay -- thanks for the Meru suggestion! Are you sneaking peeks at my pages & pages of notes? Just kidding I would love to include Meru, but I think we simply don't have enough time. It would also tack on another internal flight, which I think we want to avoid. It sounds beautiful, remote & somewhat less traveled than something like Amboseli (which we also considered). Elsa's Kopje was intriguing, but I think the personalized, very unique Tassia experience is appealing to us more.

CaliRN -- thanks for the extensive replies! I just started a thread over on TA - glad you pointed out their forum as well! I know our plans will keep evolving, the more we read & compare. A part of me is worried that we're already a little "late" to the game, as it's already mid-January & our trip is 10 months away. So it seems like I need to get my act together already! I would love to extend the trip; 12-14+ days sounds fabulous We would definitely have to find more budget-friendly options though, as even this 10-day trip might be too much? I've contacted 2 companies so far to price out this itinerary, so we'll see how it goes. Both Elephant Camp & Tassia are a bit on the higher side for the budget (I think), so Mara should probably be something simpler to compensate. If we extended the trip, are you suggesting longer stays at the places already on the itinerary, adding another camp within the areas on the itinerary already, or adding other regions? I was thinking about trying to do 2 camps within Samburu to cut down the lodging costs, but I thought it might cause more hassle than it was worth. Not sure though - maybe 1 night at Elephant, then 2 nights elsewhere? We're definitely NOT planning on booking this ourselves, don't worry! I just wanted to see what appealed to US, instead of shoving ourselves into someone's cookie-cutter trip. But we certainly want the benefits of a tour company, guide, etc. I will certainly check out Royal Mara I will keep reading re: conservancy vs. outside the camp... What I had gotten so far was that if you stay in the conservancy, you cannot do night drives. It sounded like some of the camps further outside the park were possibly getting encroached by civilization & more traffic? I'll keep looking into it! Again, thank you for all your help - infinitely helpful!

KathBC -- thanks for your suggestions. We are definitely going to do the internal flights from Nairobi/Samburu, etc. to cut out the insanely long drives between regions. That wasn't in my original post, sorry! I'll definitely keep Macushla in mind -- I think I had looked at it previously but decided it might be pricier than we want (figured Nairobi was a place we could spend less & not miss out as much). Heck, if money were no object, I'd personally love to stay at Giraffe Manor, but I don't think that's going to happen! I will try contacting Sandi -- do you know if this is the same Sandi who posts on Trip Advisor that CaliNurse mentioned?

Thank you everyone for your advice -- I never expected so many people to help!
Amanda
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Jan 14th, 2013, 08:11 AM
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Love Elephant Bedroom in Samburu - stayed there in '11 and it had a great atmosphere. My friend has stayed at Elephant watch several times and loves it so I am actually staying there this July.

I am in the minority but I loved the drive from Nairobi to Samburu - the road was pretty good and I loved seeing the agriculture and different countryside. There is a good restaurant along the way called Trout Tree and yes it is a long drive from Nairobi. The road to Nakuru and the Mara is not as good as Samburu. We did fly from the Mara to Nairobi.

Camps in Mara - Kichwa Tembo & Mara Intrepids.
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Jan 14th, 2013, 08:21 AM
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Yep, the same Sandi! She also put together a Mara extension I did in 2009. Her focus is East Africa and "knows her stuff". In Nairobi, you might consider the Fairview Hotel. It's locally owned, a nice property, and not too expensive. It's popular among business travelers, but I think you'd like it, too.
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Jan 14th, 2013, 12:03 PM
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You might want to check if Larsens Camp in Samburu is less expensive. It's a slightly larger camp than Elephant Watch or Elephant Bedroom. I wouldn't move after one night.

How are you transferring between Samburu and Tassia, by road?

If you change your mind about Meru, I can highly recommend Elsa's Kopje and there's scheduled air service routing Meru-Samburu-Mara.
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Jan 14th, 2013, 12:18 PM
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What I had gotten so far was that if you stay in the conservancy, you cannot do night drives.

I don't know the status of night drives in the various conservancies but they're generally not allowed inside the national reserve. I believe the Serena lodge is the exception.
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Jan 14th, 2013, 03:10 PM
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Elephant Watch will be very very expensive, that's why when I saw the change to Elephant Bedroom was somewhat relieved, unless you don't mind spending $$$$ for the former. Larsen's is actually higher priced than Elephant Bedroom.

Serena was (or might still be) the only lodge within the Reserve that does night drives, but it's an expensive surcharge ($80/person) and only done below the lodge... driving around in circles.

Night drives are done on the conservancies, but nowadays most of the camps do these from dark at about 6:45pm when returning to camp for dinner served at about 8pm... having a bit over 1/hr. No longer do they go out after dinner as it was determined these could/would upset the game who are usually on the hunt at these later hours.
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Jan 15th, 2013, 09:08 AM
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In the Mara I stayed at Kichwa Tembo classic tents and the price was quite reasonable. Loved this place!!

Altho it's a larger property I was there in June when it's not so busy and was lucky enough to get a vehicle the whole 3 days all to myself!. Food and staff were great!

This is an &Beyond camp so if you stay at other properties of theirs you can get deals such as stay 4 pay 3, etc.
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Feb 14th, 2013, 04:03 AM
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Mestengo please review this skeleton itinerary:

Day 1: You arrive in Nairobi, Kenya. Arrive this evening, check in to your hotel-Boma Hotel, and prepare for your safari adventure!

Day 2: Nairobi–Amboseli National Park. This morning, visit the KAREN BLIXEN MUSEUM, Enjoy lunch, then continue on to AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK.This evening, enjoy dinner at your lodge-Porini Camp

Day 3: Amboseli. This morning a BUSH BREAKFAST has been arranged for you. Afterward, enjoy a GAME DRIVE. ALater this afternoon, visit a LOCAL MAASAI VILLAGE.

Day 4: Amboseli–Maasai Mara National Reserve. Today, drive to Nairobi for your flight to MAASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE. Take a GAME DRIVE this afternoon before settling in at your lodge for the evening.

Day 5: Maasai Mara. Today, enjoy MORNING & AFTERNOON GAME DRIVES. Later enjoy time at your lodge Karen Blixen/Basecamp

Day 6: Maasai Mara–Lake Naivasha–Lake Nakuru National Park(Mbweha Camp) One last GAME DRIVE

Day 7: Lake Nakuru–Nyahururu Falls–Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Leave Lake Nakuru and stop at NYAHURURU FALLS, also known as Thompson’s Falls. Then, continue east toward Mount Kenya to OL PEJETA CONSERVANCY, the largest black rhino sanctuary in all of East Africa. After lunch, enjoy a GAME DRIVE in the conservancy. During your game drive, stop at the CHIMP SANCTUARY..

Day 8: Ol Pejeta–Samburu National Reserve. Today, travel to SAMBURU NATIONAL RESERVE,

Day 9: Samburu. Today, enjoy MORNING & AFTERNOON GAME DRIVES. During your afternoon game drive you will also visit a LOCAL SAMBURU VILLAGE. Here you will learn a bit more about their culture and day-to-day life. Between game drives you will have time to relax at your lodge-Elephant Bedroom Camp

Day 10: Samburu–Mount Kenya Area. This morning, travel to the Mount Kenya area-Moun Kenya Safari Club

Day 11: Mount Kenya Area. A full day at your leisure to enjoy the facilities and activities offered.

Day 12: Mount Kenya Area–Nairobi–Homebound Flight. This morning, transfer to the airstrip and fly back to Nairobi, where your tour ends with lunch. We have secured a day room for you at the Ole Sereni Hotel, before a transfer to the airport for your late-evening flight.

Maybe the above program will suit you.

Fred
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Feb 14th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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Personally, terrible itinerary.
Only 1.5/days in the Mara, 1/day at Samburu... I gave up on the rest as you're constantly on the road.
And, with all that driving would you need a flight from Mt. Kenya to NBO when this is one of the shortest drives of the many shown.

Oh, when are you traveling? Month?
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Feb 14th, 2013, 11:49 AM
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ExpressVacation - sorry I replied. You're an agent, joined only today and replied to about 10/treads touting your company. This is not permitted on Fodor's which you'd know if you had read the rules/regulations. I have asked that all those posted be removed.

Again... still a terrible itinerary!
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Feb 16th, 2013, 01:40 AM
  #18
 
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Hi Mestengo..your itinerary is quite well arranged with a good choice of units in the destinations.However,i believe with Masai Mara with its thrill and adverse game,it would be prudent to add an extra night.
Again on Lake Nakuru National Park,you should know of which properties are inside the park and those outside the park.This will help alot since when you book a lodge/camp inside the park,you will not pay the park entry fee for the second game drive.Therefore you can choose either Sarova Lion Hill or Lake Nakuru Lodge.

All the best!
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