Just starting to plan for 2019 - help please

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Feb 13th, 2018, 09:03 PM
  #21
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Thanks everyone, this is incredible! I've been so overwhelmed as I started my research - I've seen fervent recommendations for so many safari planners and parks, I've had a hard time figuring out where to start.

TravelBeyond, t's particularly good to know we need to book Giraffe Manor soon. It's just going to be hard to do it so early, more than 18 months before the trip. I guess we will just need to pick our travel dates and figure out which days we'll be in which country and then just jump. Should we save Nairobi for the end, or do it between Uganda and the Kenya safaris?

CaliNurse, I wish we could go to Ziwa, but I don't think we will have time for Murchison Falls. It sounds like if we go to Ol Pejeta, we'll get a good rhino experience too. It's certainly sad that it's come to having armed guards to keep the rhinos safe at Ziwa. I have no problem paying extra fees or high charges to see the animals. It's like with the gorillas - you know a big portion of the money is going to protect the gorillas.

I have to say that seeing the elephants at Amboseli really appeals to me, but I'm not sure whether that would be my friend's choice, nor whether that will make sense when it comes to the actual planning. Something to think about.

Again, thank you all, and if anyone has anything to add, please do!
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Feb 13th, 2018, 10:11 PM
  #22
 
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I wouldn't schedule my trip around staying at the Giraffe Manor, nice as it may be. For me where I stay in Nairobi is far less important than what I do/see: National Museum, Giraffe Center, Sheldrick, National Park if you have time, seeing a B I G bustling African city. My priorities, yours may be very different.

I do agree that Kicheche camps are great with wonderful guides. Staff also warm and helpful.
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Feb 14th, 2018, 04:31 AM
  #23
 
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Perhaps some more insight into Amboseli...I'm not sure you can quite fathom the sheer numbers of elephants there. It's really quite unlike anything I've seen anywhere else in Africa so far. My guide knew where the families were coming from every morning at dawn and the swamp/watering hole they were headed to drink and bathe, so we'd position ourselves between where they were coming from and where they were headed to, and just wait. And then the elephants just poured in, quite literally hundreds of them from several directions, all headed to the same spot. And they silently slip by you as if you don't even exist, some close enough to touch. You can hear them purr! It's fun to see the elephants greet each other, especially the little ones who look like they're meeting up at the school yard at recess. It's one of the unsung "wow" moments of safari, in my opinion.
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Feb 14th, 2018, 06:39 AM
  #24
 
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Hi Artsnletters,

I disagree with a previous poster for your particular scenario in that I think you can 100% plan your trip around Giraffe Manor availability. As availability is looking thin at Giraffe Manor, I think it'll be important to lock that in and also select the room in which you'd like to stay. Some rooms get more "giraffe action" than others. As the for the rest of your itinerary, space will not be an issue for 2019 so you can have your first pick of camps/destinations.

If you are going to combine Uganda and Kenya, you will likely take the Kenya Airways flight that departs Entebbe at 525PM, arriving Nairobi 635PM (operates daily). I highly recommend for your tour operator to book you a VIP service at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport upon arrival to expedite you through immigration via the diplomatic line (for a nominal fee, you can bypass the whole queue). This will ensure that you get to Giraffe Manor in time to enjoy supper. From a logistical standpoint, I think it makes most sense to work in this stop between Uganda and Kenya as you will likely have to overnight in Nairobi anyways due to timing of logistical connections.

As Amyb noted, Amboseli is definitely a WOW destination, although you can experience some crowds and it can get a bit dusty there. If you wish to be on the foothills of Kilimanjaro with exclusivity, I recommend looking into Ol Donyo Lodge or Campi ya Kanzi (note that including these two may push your budget above $12k).

Kota Tabuchi
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Feb 14th, 2018, 08:53 AM
  #25
 
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I'd throw Tawi Lodge into the mix in Amboseli. It's on its own conservancy (private land for conservation purposes) just outside the Amboseli NP gate and has a watering hole on site where we saw elephants, giraffe, zebra at all hours of day and evening! Might have been the time of year that I went (February) but I never saw a crowd. We could drive for hours it seemed without seeing anyone at all.
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Feb 14th, 2018, 08:08 PM
  #26
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amyb, Amboseli sounds fantastic! I would just love to see that. I wish I had time for three parks. Then I think it would be easier: the Mara, Ol Pejeta, Amboseli. I am tempted to stay on a few extra days after my friend leaves to see the third park, as I have more time off than she does. But I would be paying single supplement then, so I suppose it would jack up the cost a lot.

Are there rhino in the Mara? That's the strongest draw for me at Ol Pejeta, with the information I have now. I think I am keener to see the elephants, but I'm cognizant that rhinos are getting increasingly scarce. I'm not sure how soon I will make it back to Africa, although I'd also like to visit Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia at some point. There's probably a trip or two to Europe before I come back to Africa.
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Feb 15th, 2018, 04:35 AM
  #27
 
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There are rhinos in the Mara, but honestly on 3 attempts so far I've not seen one and in reading others' trips reports, their experience is much the same. I did see 3 of them from quite a distance in Ol Pejeta, and a very up close but too fast for a photo skittish black rhino in some brush (literally a 5 second encounter before he ran) there as well. You can visit Sudan and Baraka but if you're looking for a wild encounter it's not a sure thing even in Ol P. A virtual guarantee is to spend at least a day in Nairobi National Park...I've not heard of anyone NOT seeing rhinos there since I was there 2 years ago, especially if you have a guide who knows the park well. It might be worth spending your first day or two there burning off jetlag and seeing Sheldricks, etc. I'm returning there (to the Emakoko) this fall. I feel NNP deserved more than the day and a half I gave it last time.
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Feb 15th, 2018, 08:42 PM
  #28
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Thanks, amyb. It seems like it would be easier to squeeze in NNP than a third camp we'd have to travel to. Unfortunately, I think we're about two days short of having enough time to do everything. Maybe we could spend 2 days/3 nights in Nairobi with one of those days for NNP, 2 days/3 nights in Amboseli, and 3 days/4 nights in the Mara. Although I think this plan may put us over the allowable time.

I'm kind of liking TravelBeyond's suggestions for Uganda. One question, though - would we be able to get in a second gorilla trek in on the same day we transfer to Nairobi? Or would we need a third night there?
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Feb 15th, 2018, 09:03 PM
  #29
 
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Hi Artsnletters,

For the Uganda option, it will not be possible to "squeeze" in a trek before boarding your flight for Entebbe to connect onward to Nairobi. You will require a third night.

In terms of rhinos, Ol Pej is certainly a great destination. I'd also encourage you to look into Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Borana Conservancy (no fence line between Lewa and Borana), Meru National Park (Elsa's Kopje) and Solio. If you book Solio, you can have access to a specific wing at Giraffe Manor which is reserved for those who combine Giraffe Manor with another "Safari Collection" property (which Solio falls under).

I hope this helps.

Kota Tabuchi
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Feb 16th, 2018, 05:47 AM
  #30
 
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Arts, the treks aren't on a set schedule. Sure you set out at about the same time every day, but the gorillas can move and you may have a longer trek than planned, sometimes hours longer, which translates to a longer trek back as well. I wouldn't plan anything for after a gorilla trek that might mean missing a flight. You could be trekking for a lot shorter, or a lot longer, than you plan.
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Feb 16th, 2018, 08:11 AM
  #31
 
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when we stayed at kicheche laikipa we saw rhinos every day. we also did the private visit with sudan which was a wonderful visit. we did not see any in the mara.
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Feb 17th, 2018, 05:21 PM
  #32
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Would something like this work?

1 night Entebbe
2 nights Kibale
2 nights QENP
3 nights Bwindi
3 nights Nairobi: one day sightseeing, one day Nairobi National Park
3 nights Amboseli
4 nights Mara

Also, could someone please give me a feel for the differences we'd see if we substituted Ol Pejeta for Ambsoseli and NNP?
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Feb 18th, 2018, 08:31 AM
  #33
 
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The most obvious for me is how easy it is to see rhino in NNP. It was far more work for us to find them in Ol Pejeta, but that’s purely anecdotal and your mileage may vary. There’s also a type of zebra in Ol P you won’t see elsewhere. Lions probably are easier to spot in Ol P, harder in Amboseli (I only saw one, from about 50 yards out, in a 4 day stay). You’ll see elephants in Ol P but not nearly in the numbers you will in Amboseli.

Landscape-wise, I found Ol Pejeta sort of scrubby with lots of low whistling thorn acacia and not the wider expanse of Amboseli. Amboseli has Mt. Kilimanjaro, which is iconic but fickle about when she decides to appear! Ol Pejeta has Mt. Kenya which is more reliable but isn’t as photographic. My guide in Amboseli told me “you come to Amboseli to see the mountain and the elephants, everything else is a bonus” and my experience there was consistent with that.

I think it’s really a coin toss on Ol P vs. Amboseli. Whichever you choose, just plan to go to the other on your second safari!
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Feb 18th, 2018, 10:03 AM
  #34
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Thanks, amyb, that is very helpful. I'm sort of leaning toward something like the last itinerary I outlined. Amboseli sounds too good to pass up!
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Feb 18th, 2018, 01:09 PM
  #35
 
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I've not been to Amboseli--only stopped at the airstrip to pick up some passengers, and yes, even from the air, elephants galore--but you really can't wrong. With any luck, you may return!
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Jun 1st, 2018, 08:15 AM
  #36
 
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Reading along with interest. I was in Kenya and Uganda/Rwanda last Feb 2017 and going back with my Granddaughter either next June or 2020. She is crazy about elephants so it is interesting to hear about Amboseli. We saw two rhinos up close, right next to our truck, in NNP. I will go there again as the sightings seem to be more assured than anywhere else. I think your itinerary looks great Art, just my 2 cents worth. Debbe,
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