Kenya & Tanzania in Feb.

Old Sep 9th, 2003, 10:03 PM
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Kenya & Tanzania in Feb.

I am planning a two week trip to Kenya and possibly Tanzania in February next year, and will be taking my 11 year old grandson along.

The travel agency I am dealing with uses "Wildlife Safari" as their tour agency and it appears most of the lodges are from the Serena chain.

Does anyone have experience with Wildlife Safari and/or Serena? If so, would you recommend them?

Also, I have been debating between an acitve safari (i.e. moving to a different place every two or three days)versus spending a week each at a couple of different places (maybe Amboseli and Masai Mara). Any advice would be appreciated.


StanS is offline  
Old Sep 10th, 2003, 04:13 AM
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What a lucky grandson - will you adopt me as your granddaughter?? While I do not have any experience with the tour operator you mentioned, I do have some thoughts/ideas about your proposed trip. First off, the Serena chain is very nice as far as lodges. They are rather large, but professionally operated and better, IMO, than the Sopa chain. But what I would urge you to do is look into staying at some permanent tented camps, which offer a true safari feel and I think your grandson would have a blast saying that he "camped" in Africa. Most of the tented camps have ensuite facilities and flush toilets. They are not at all like "pitch your own" tents. There are many very nice permanent tented camps throughout Kenya. Granted, it is a bit more expensive to stay at them, but again, they are wonderful to experience. Perhaps you can do a combination of camps and lodges. If you do go to Kenya in February, I would urge you to consider a quick jaunt across the border into Tanzania and visit the Serengeti - especially at that time of the year. Jan - Mar is usually the calving season. We prefer to stay at one place at least three or four nights, unless it is some place that we are just stopping enroute to another. Jumping around from location to location lets you see a lot, but does not enable you to get a real feel for some truly magical locales. I always urge people to do a private safari - where they at least determine where they want to go and how long they want to stay. I am sure you will get a wide array of opinions on your questions and I wish you all the best in planning this adventure. Lucky grandson!!!
SusanLynne is offline  
Old Sep 10th, 2003, 04:24 AM
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Stan - Unless you've been on Safari previously and there is a particular place you'd like to return - safari is "active" - where, you spend a day or two (or more, like at the Masai Mara) at a particular area and then move onto another.

The areas in Kenya and Tanzania are known for their different environments, animals - the reason to move along.

There is lots of distances you can cover on a 2-week trip to Kenya and Tanzania, all very different, so an "active" safari would be best for your first trip.

The Serena properties in Tanzania are absolutely lovely lodges. I would suggest, that either in Kenya or Tanzania, you spend at least a few nights at a Tented Camp which give you a more "up-close-and-personal" feel of Africa. They are very safe, have flush toilets, wash basins, comfortable beds, provide good meals, actually all the comforts of home except for the "sounds."

If you would let us know what suggested itinerary your tour operator has put together - I'm sure you can get comments from posters here at
Old Sep 10th, 2003, 05:07 PM
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Dear Stan,

Maybe, I missed the name of the company ( is it Wilderness ) that you and your grandson have signed up with, but we also are going to be in Tanzania in Feb. 2004 with Wildlife Explorer for 12 days. We have been dealing with them and also Migrations out of the UK.

This is a mobile tented safari at this time of the year trying to follow the migration.

We also have booked Serena @ The Crater - we may change our minds as we have heard that it is FULL of tourists.
From what I understand there are not many places - Crater Lodge, yes, but been there done it!


lflower is offline  
Old Sep 10th, 2003, 09:46 PM
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Thank you all for responding. In answer to the question by lflower the tour operator is "Wildlife Safari". As suggested by Sandi, below is the proposed safari:

On arrival in Nairobi you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Time at leisure until a Safari briefing in your hotel by your Safari guide followed by a City Tour, a visit to the Karen Blixen Museum and the Rothschild Giraffe Centre. The evening at leisure.
Early morning departure from Nairobi for Tanzania, crossing the border at Namanga. Here you will meet your Tanzanian guide who will drive you to Lake Manyara. Perched on the edge of the escarpment, your Lodge overlooks the lake and surrounding woodlands. After a late lunch an afternoon game viewing in the National Park - keep a look out for the tree climbing lions! BLD
A morning drive to Serengeti National Park where huge herds of wildebeest and zebra roam, gathering to form the annual migration. Lunch at the Lodge before an afternoon game viewing drive. BLD
Early morning and late afternoon game viewing in the vast Serengeti plains. Large prides of lion may be seen resting in the shade of the acacia trees, while antelope and other plains game feed nearby. BLD
After an exclusive bush breakfast on the Serengeti plains set off on a leisurely game viewing drive for a visit to Olduvai Gorge where a small museum display a collection of artifacts of early man. Continue on to Ngorongoro Conservation Area where your Lodge is situated on the rim of the Crater, giving spectacular views. BLD
An early morning descent by four-wheel drive vehicle onto the floor of the Crater for a day of wildlife viewing. Enjoy a picnic breakfast provided by the Lodge. Continue game viewing before returning tp the Lodge for a late lunch. The magnificent black maned-lion rules this vast domain among a great variety and number of animal and birdlife. BLD
Return to Arusha in the morning and after lunch proceed on to Amboseli Game Reserve, again crossing the borders. Arrive at you Lodge built in the design of a Masai Manyatta, facing the snow capped peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro. A late afternoon game viewing drive. You will also be invited to plant your own acacia tree as part of the Amboseli Reforestation Project we support. BLD
Dawn is the perfect for game viewing in Amboseli just as the sun rises over Mt. Kilimanjaro. Return to the Lodge for a late buffet breakfast. Time to relax around the pool. Before a late afternoon game drive around the fresh water lakes and springs where elephant are often to be seen bathing. BLD

Morning return to Nairobi, where you stop for lunch. Transfer to Wilson Airport for a short flight to the Masai Mara Game Reserve. You are met on arrival and taken on a game viewing drive arriving around sunset at your Lodge on a hill, overlooking the vast Mara plains. BLD
A full day of game viewing in the Mara where lion and cheetah can be found at close quarters and hippo congregate in the Mara and Talek Rivers. An exclusive ?Dinner on the Masai Mara? with an evening performance of traditional Masai dancing. BLD
A special breakfast at the hippo pools before returning by road to your Nairobi hotel. A return flight is available at additional cost. The afternoon at leisure, followed by a farewell dinner in your hotel at The Mandhari restaurant. BD
Time for independent activities until your airport transfer. B

Days 9 & 10 can be done in a tented camp and that is what we would likely do.

StanS is offline  
Old Sep 11th, 2003, 09:47 PM
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Recently returned from Kenya staying mostly in Serena properties including the Nairobi Serena and Mara Serena Lodge. Nairobi Serena was lovely - nice pool and garden setting but it was just a resting point befoe safari so could have been any hotel, we didn't care.
Mara Serena is a spectacular setting. Find my Mara Crossing Report post. Agree with Sandi and SusanLynne that you should stay in some tented camps -we didn't but I would do that next time.
On the kid subject, our trip included my 14 year old daughter. Be sure your grandson has his own good binoculars because nobody wants to share when something exciting is in view and if you're having to help him adjust his binocs you will be going crazy at missing whatever it is. Have patience and good binocs for him!
OffToAfrica is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2003, 04:54 AM
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Stan - thanks for the itinerary.
Just a few points to note:

On Day 2 - Nairobi to Lake Manyara - this will be a long day, probably not arriving at Manyara till about 1:30-2pm; you'll be able to have lunch before afternoon game drive.

On Day 7 - From Ngorongoro via Arusha to Amboseli - another long day and the road from Namanga border to Amboseli is a horror. Again you won't arrive at Amboseli until late in the day.

On Day 9 - Amboseli to Nairobi by road - that same rutted road to NBO. Hopefully lunch is at The Carnivore Restaurant. A great experience.
The flight to the Mara is perfect.

On Day Day 11 - Mara to NBO - is a 5-hr drive.

Is this a group/scheduled tour, or an independent tour?

If independent you can definitely make changes, but these will cost a few $$$. These are suggestions only.
Add a few flights -

Day 9 - fly back to NBO from Amboseli. These are usually small planes (6-seaters) and if you have been traveling with 40lbs luggage, you probably can't take luggage on plane; however, since the guide/driver has to return by road, he can return your luggage to meet you at Wilson Airport.
And since you'll be flying to the Mara, again limited on luggage weight, suggest you take only what you need for two days (have a separate duffle for this) - leave balance with your tour company in NBO to return to you at Serena in NBO before departing home.

Day 11 - fly back to NBO from Mara.

If you have the option for tented camp at the Mara - do it.

We loved traveling by road especially in Kenya as you get a feel of the country and people (we toured all the way up to Samburu, then Mt Kenya, Lake Navaisaha and down to the Mara); though we did fly back from Amboseli (could handle that road only once) and from the Mara.

Tanzania on the other hand is more spread out and while you do pass a few small villages, it's not the same as in Kenya.

Also, the roads, especially the one to Amboseli is terrible and the trip NBO to/fr Mara is very long and not in the best condition.

Suggestion: Your wife should wear a "sportsbra" - it'll cushion the roads somewhat.

Even if a group/scheduled tour you can ask to fly certain segments. All Wildlife Safari can do is tell you NO. Check with Wildlife on the cost of these flights and make your decision accordingly.

Old Nov 17th, 2003, 07:52 AM
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If it were up to me, I would skip the Mara and concentrate on the Serengeti in February. You have way too few days scheduled in the Serengeti for the time of year you are traveling! The wildebeest will be in the southern Serengeti in February, probably calving, and the sights and sounds here are worth the time of at least 4-5 days...I would stay a couple days at the Serena or Sopa lodges and then at Ndutu (Ndutu is just outside the park but in the midst of the wildebeest calving area). Take your time in the Serengeti/Ngorongoro/Manyara areas at this time of year -- you will not be disappointed. In addition, getting from Tanzania to the Mara is a long haul....not as much wildlife in the Mara as in the southern Serengeti in, I'm not sure it would be worth the trek. Feel free to email me at [email protected] if you'd like more info...Larry and I are both professional wildlife biologists and wildlife photographers...we have traveled twice to east Africa, and really believe it is best to pick a few spots and slow down to really take everything in. Laura.
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