Itinerary help in Kenya - please compare

Apr 2nd, 2009, 10:39 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2009
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Itinerary help in Kenya - please compare

Hi Everybody,

We have gotten 3 itineraries we can afford from our inquiries about Kenya for our family of 5.
Here they are, in no order of preference:

1) Fly Nairobi to Samburu, 2 nights Samburu Serena
Drive to Lake Nakuru, one night (forgot which lodging) in Landrover
Drive to Keekorok Lodge, Masai Mara, one night
Masia Mara 2 nights in a Nyumba Camp
2 nights Mara Serena
Fly to Malindi, 2 nights Hemingways
Fly to Nairobi to depart for the States.

This one seems to have a lot of driving. It does go to places we wanted to see. How awful are the drives to Nakuru and the Mara?

2) Drive Nairobi to Sweetwaters for 2 nights
Drive to Samburu Serena for 2 nights.
Fly to Masai Mara, Mara serena for 3 nights.
Fly to Mombassa Serena for 4 nights (could go to Tsavo East for one night of that, if not too far to drive).

3) Drive from Nairobi to Amboselli for 2 nights, Amboselli Serena
Drive to Tsavo West Kilaguni Serena 2 nights
Drive to Tsavo East, Satao Camp for 2 nights
Drive to Mombassa, Mombassa Serena Beach Hotel 3 nights
Fly to Mara Serena Lodge 3 nights
Fly to Nairobi

We have a place to stay in Nairobi whichever itinerary we pick. The third itinerary, going to Amboselli and the Tsavo parks, is the cheapest, so we might be able to upgrade to a tented camp in the Mara if available and near the migration.

For itinery 1, I an not sure if it is worth it to go to Malindi just for 2 nights, since don't get there until dinner of night one.

My kids think it would be more fun to go to Lamu than Malindi or Mombassa. It's further away, I believe. ANy thoughts?

Any help appreciated!

Thanks everybody, yet again.

Note: Safari #1 is a pre-booked safari so it would be the hardest to change, except for the beach part. Of course we could always pay extra to fly to the mara but that would be a lot, as it would mean an extra night lodging, too.
GoCathy is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 11:54 AM
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One more itinerary we just got - and it's a bit cheaper than the others. It is from All Seasons Safari, if anyone knows them.

Drive Nairobi to Sweetwaters for 2 nights (one 1 night at Lake Nakuru and 1 at Sweetwaters)

Drive to Samburu for 2 nights and stay at either Samburu Serena or Ashnil Tented Camp

Fly to Masiai Mara -2 nights at Mara Serena and 2 nights at Karen Blixen Camp (or all at Serena if we want)

Fly to Nairobi, transfer to flight to Lamu, 2 nights at Pepponi's. Fly back to Nairobi. Or, we could cut out a night at Sweetwaters or on the Mara and stay 3 at Pepponi's, if it is too far to go for just two nights.

Thanks again.
GoCathy is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 12:02 PM
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The road from Samburu to around Isiolo is pretty bad. I can't remember exactly but I think this section is around 1.5 hour of the approx 5-6 hour total drive. After that section, you're OK to Nakuru. From Nakuru to the Mara takes about the same amount of time except the road is/was all pretty bad. I know they're working on it but from recent reports it doesn't sound like much progress has been made. Too bad you can't change this itinerary. Otherwise, you could stay 2 nights at Nakuru to break up the drives. This itinerary does seem to have you moving around a lot.

I think the pacing of both itinerary 2 and 3 are fine. I'm partial to Tsavo so I'd pick 3 plus it seems you're able to get more nights on safari for your budget.

My comments are based on the safari portion only as I haven't been to any of the coast.
Patty is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 12:50 PM
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I also like #2 & #3, but on #3, though stops at less visited/crowded parks (Tsavo E & W) not thrilled with the beach in-between safari (Tsavo, Mombasa, Mara). I'd go with #2, and yes... it's easy enough to do a day-trip to Tsavo E, if somewhat rushed, if you even want to after a full safari prior.
sandi is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 03:43 PM
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Sandi, the reason for the stop at the beach in the middle on the itinerary with the Tsavo parks is that we could just drive there, budget wise it made a lot more sense. We don't mind having the beach in the middle.

Which parks are more interesting?

And please take a look at my second post with yet another itinierary! It came in after I wrote my first post. I am getting dizzy trying to decide.

Thanks again.
GoCathy is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 04:45 PM
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Your trip is in July.

You really want to include beach time time, eh? Go all the way to Africa with limited days and allocate some of them to beach, when you can go to the beach anywhere in the world and probably at home, especially in July. My bias is showing. I am not a beach person.

#1 thoughts
Nice to fly to Samburu.
Tough drive Nakuru to Mara. I’ve done it and will do it again. Five nights in the Mara in different parts could be nice.
8 nts safari 2 nts beach

#2 thoughts
Sweetwaters would be the only place in Kenya you’ll see chimps. They’re not wild, but have rescued from bad situations and live in a wild setting. Your drives are broken up and you fly strategically. Why not 2 nights Tsavo East and 2 Mombasa?
7 nts safari 4 nts beach, but beach/safari days could be altered
If you have 12 days, which is what your third choice allowed, I’d do one more night in the Mara on this trip.

#3 thoughts
If you want to try to see Kilimanjaro, this one does it. Could you trade a Mombasa night for a Mara night?
9 nts safari 3 nts beach

Thoughts on the last option, added later
About 8 nts safari 2-3 beach nts

So you would stay one?? or two??? nights at Sweetwaters on the way up to Samburu and one night at Nakuru after Samburu? You are flying to the Mara from the airstrip near Naivasha? That removes the arduous Nakuru to Mara drive.

Again, why must you spend a couple of days at a beach in Africa in July, especially when you are incurring the costs of another flight to get there? Can you have the beach part priced out separately so you can see how much you are allocating for it? My bias is showing again, but having the beach costs laid out for you might be helpful.

I like this last one best, especially if you want to see Samburu, Nakuru, and have 4 nts in the Mara.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 04:54 PM
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You could take those beach nights from this last itinerary and go to Amboseli instead.

You ask which parks are more interesting? You can't get much more interesting than the combo of Samburu, Nakuru, Amboseli, Mara, and Mt. Kenya--where Sweetwaters is. Now that's a fine Kenya safari!

This is the hard sell on nixing your beach time.

I have not been to the Tsavos, though, so I cannot comment first hand on their interesting-ness.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 06:55 PM
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I'm not clear why option 4 is listed as 2 nights Sweetwaters and in parenthesis 1 night Nakuru and 1 night Sweetwaters. Are you trying to decide between the 2? On Lamu, again not having been to the coast it's hard to comment but it seems a bit out of the way just to go for 2 nights.
Patty is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 08:54 PM
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Lamu is definitely a bit out of the way. We were at Mombasa in early July and I have to say it was a bit chilly. But we went for the children to have some down time as they were quite young. Wouldn't bother with older children.

Tsavo West is a great addition to any safari, Tsavo East is more for seasoned safari goers as you have more wilderness and less habituated animals. I love Tsavo East, but it may not be to everyones taste.

For such a short time I would skip the beach and give yourself extra safari time.

Didn't like option #1 - too much driving and short number of nights. 2 locations in the Mara seems like a good idea but 3 is too much moving about.
Option #2 - ok but I would give the Mara the 2 beach nights.
Option #3 - Good start but I would skip Tsavo East (for reasons noted above) and the beach and drive from Tsavo West to Nairobi overnighting at Nakuru for 1 (or 2) nights then onto the Mara giving it the extra time it deserves.
Option #4 - looks the best option but skip Lamu (it is fantastic but either deserves more time which shouldn't be taken from safari nights or leave it out) and give 1 of the extra nights to Sweetwaters, giving you 2 there, 1 at Nakuru and 4 at Mara. If I understand your 2 nights divided between Sweetwaters and Nakuru. But like Patty and Lyn, not sure about the wording of that bit. Or do what Lyn suggested and add Amboseli to the list so that you get Kilimanjaro views, weather permitting.
twaffle is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2009, 04:25 PM
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Thanks everybody. We like option 4 the best, with modifications. Our reservation: We have never heard of the safari operator,All Seasons, which is listed as an "associate" on KATO. Also, they have a minibus - the others are landrovers.
But maybe it doesn't matter.

Since this is a private safari, we can change the itinerary. Our issues are: money (beach is WAY cheaper), and 3 young people who like to be active, but we can't afford to stay at the lodges that offer tons of activities (last trip they loved Wilderness trails at Lewa Downs, but that is beyond our budget now ).

I think they would like Lamu (I've been) but agree that it is far for two nights.

Is there anywhere we could break up the trip from game drives everyday? Once I went in winter and we stopped for 2 nights at the Mount Kenya safari Club, but I don't think in July the weather will be so nice. I just think they will benefit from a little change of pace of constant game drives.

Plus, the way to make this safari affordable is to not be in a lodge for $2000/night every single night!

Is Mombassa at all interesting? It's easier to get to than Lamu. Or malindi? We certainly don't have to go to the beach at all, if anyone has any alternative ideas of how to spend a few extra interesting days.

We didn't put in Ambosselli at the end because of the drive. We could put in 2 more safari nights on the way to Samburu (in addition to Sweetwaters spend 2 nights somewhere else).

You guys are great - I have not been to Kenya for 10 years. We went to Peru last year and the kids were great as long as they were busy and had stuff to do.
GoCathy is offline  
Apr 4th, 2009, 06:32 AM
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Here's ann Option #5 to consider:

Day 1 - Drive (2-2.5/hrs) to Aberdare (o/n The Ark) or to Mt. Kenya (o/n Serena Mountain Lodge)
Day 2 - Drive (2.5-3/hrs) to Samburu - o/n
Day 3 - Samburu - o/n
Day 4 - Drive (2.5-3/hrs) to Ol Pejeta/Mt. Kenya - o/n Sweetwater's
Day 5 - Drive (2-2.5/hrs) to Lk. Nakuru; afternoon game drive - o/n
Day 6 - Option: morning game drive at Nakuru or drive (1/hr) to Lk. Naivasha/Hell's Gate - walk about Hell's Gate - o/n Naivasha
Day 7 - Naivasha; morning/boat to Crescent Island for walking safari with tame game; afternoon/flight to Masai Mara - o/n
Days 8, 9 & 10 - Masai Mara - o/n
Day 11 - Fly to NBO

Some interesting "out-of-vehicle" activities for the kids Day 6 & 7, midway and breaks up game drives elsewhere.
sandi is offline  
Apr 4th, 2009, 07:06 AM
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You may already know some of this from your previous trip, GoKathy.

Usually people stop at the Aberdare Country Club for lunch enroute to The Ark. There are huge grounds to run around and burn off steam there and stalk the peacocks. I actually would advise cutting that part short and spending time the Salient, forests of Aberdare. But that would mean more sit time in the vehicle.

The Ark has grounds where you can walk around in protected safety and look at the waterhole. I remember peeking through an eyehole in the fortress and staring into the eye of an ele.

At Samburu Serena, there were walkways around the rondavels where kids (or I recall one adult) can follow the vervets and watch their activities.

Sweetwaters has organized, escorted walks. You can pet a rhino. There are night drives, but that is sitting.

Sandi's suggestons on 6, 7, 8 have lots of activities.

This would be a good itinerary.

Some additional hints on stuff to do for the kids, which you may have successfully employed in Peru as well:

-Everybody has his or her own binocs, no need for a costly pair, even the $30 ones for kids. Just something to look through that enlarges.

-Everybody has his or her own camera, even if is is not a 10x or 12+x zoom, which I would recommend for safari.

--Anybody an artist? Some colored pencils and pad. Or no colored pencils and black and white sketches only.

-Everybody keeps a journal. It can accompany you on drives or at least a note pad can.

-Bring a bird book and check out some of the most common species ahead of time, which you'll probably know from past travels. There are always birds around even if the mammals are elusive and the kids can look up the birds.

-Everybody gets a sheet or two of simple Swahili words/phrases that include the common animal names. In the down times on the vehicle, the kids can practice these and get some tips on pronunciation from the guide.

-If needed, bring the gizmos, games, and gadgets (and whatever is needed to keep them charged) which are so good at mollifying short attention spans to spare the rest of the vehicle from annoying whining, complaints, and fighting. Hopefully that won't be your situation.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 4th, 2009, 10:42 AM
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As mentioned either the Aberdares or Serena Mountain Lodge could be added as a first stop on your way north. I believe Serena Mountain Lodge offers a forest walk. Other than that, in lieu of game drives, you would watch game come to the waterhole at the lodge. Similar concept at the Ark except I don't believe they offer walks.

Speaking of the Ark, does anyone know what the current status of the lodge and also Aberdare Country Club are? I noticed it's no longer on the Fairmont website and I believe ACC had stopped taking overnight guests some time ago.

Either of the above would add some varied scenery (forest) and species to your existing itinerary but both are at some elevation so can be cold in July (day and night). It can get fairly cold at night at Sweetwaters and the Mara too at that time of year. Samburu, Amboseli, Tsavo West/East are at lower elevations and will be warmer if that's a consideration.

Otherwise as I mentioned in the other thread, El Karama offers walks and horse rides (horse rides are extra but reasonable) and when I compared pricing with Borana Lodge, it was about half the price of Borana which I believe is approx the same cost as Wilderness Trails.
Patty is offline  
Apr 4th, 2009, 11:15 AM
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You can pet a rhino.

Morani died last year.
Patty is offline  
Apr 4th, 2009, 12:07 PM
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The Ark has reopened, but not sure status of Aberdare Country Club.
sandi is offline  
Apr 4th, 2009, 03:02 PM
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Sorry to learn about Morani.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 5th, 2009, 06:42 AM
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So where do people eat lunch now if not at the Aberdare Country Club, assuming a typical itinerary? Breakfast is before departure, is lunch at The Ark, or is there another spot to stop? I wouldn't think box lunch is the answer. Although box lunch and driving through the Salient en route to The Ark, arriving in the afternoon would be a fine choice in my book.
atravelynn is offline  
Apr 5th, 2009, 07:29 AM
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As far as I know, ACC was still serving lunch and shuttling guests to the Ark but not taking overnight guests. At least, that was the case before the Ark closed last year. Now that it's reopened, I'm assuming it's still the same setup but I'm not sure.

Although box lunch and driving through the Salient en route to The Ark, arriving in the afternoon would be a fine choice in my book.

Me too!

I thought of another location for the OP - Sangare tented camp. It's near the Aberdares and offers several different activities (walks, horse rides, boating, etc).
Patty is offline  
Apr 5th, 2009, 11:44 AM
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We visited this area years ago, but recall we did sightseeing in NBO in the morning, had lunch, then drove to the Aberdares. Stop at ACC to drop our main bag, took a small overnighter and they bused us to The Ark.
sandi is offline  
Apr 5th, 2009, 03:31 PM
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At one time Sangare did NIGHT walks. That would be different. I met a couple of people who went on the night walks and they said they were just ok, but I think these fols were both hoping for and fearing some big animals would pop out in the night. The night walks are conducted in an area without predators, maybe it's fenced, but you can see the small creatures of the night. That is, if they're still doing that.
atravelynn is offline  

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