Kenya Feedback Please

May 27th, 2008, 04:24 PM
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Join Date: May 2008
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Kenya Feedback Please

With the help of information I've gained from reading through threads here and on Trip Advisor, we've decided to book a Kenya safari for January 2009 in celebration of my and my sister's 30th birthday (yes, we're twins!). My husband will also be coming along, so that makes a total of three of us. We have sent out many, many requests for information and have read through many proposals, and have finally come up with the following, which was prepared for us by Vivien of As You Like it Safaris. I'm hoping that if I post the proposal here, some of you more experienced travelers would be willing to comment on it.

As it stands, the price is $2,750 per person for a private tour in a 4x4 Land Cruiser. The price pretty much in the middle of the other proposals we've received, some of which have gone over $4,500 per person, and some of which have been as low as $1,900 per person. For us, the $2,750 is pretty much as high as we can go. We chose to book with Vivien because she has been so helpful and responsive to our requests, is mentioned in the Bradt guide, and is a member of KATO.

Okay, enough with the preamble. Here's what you're all (hopefully) interested in. I would love to hear any comments about the itinerary in general and any experiences you may have had with the particular lodges. Please note that Cove Cottage is actually Vivien's own private residence, which was originally part of the Blixen Coffee Plantation. We have elected to spend a few nights with her there as opposed to hotels in Nairobi in order to help keep costs down.

Day 1 - Pick up at airport and transfer to Cove Cottage for overnight.

Day 2 - Drive towards Mt. Kenya; visit Mt. Kenya Wildlife Orphanage; overnight Sportsman's Arms.

Day 3 - Visit Sweetwater's; overnight Sportsman's Arms.

Day 4 - Drive to Samburu; overnight Samburu Serena.

Day 5 - Game drives at Samburu; overnight Samburu Serena.

Day 6 - Drive across and into Great Rift Valley; visit Lake Nakuru; overnight Lake Nakuru Lodge.

Day 7 - Game drives at Lake Nakuru; overnight Lake Nakuru Lodge.

Day 8 - Drive into Maasai Mara Game reserve; overnight Nyumbu Camp.

Day 9 - Game drives at Maasai Mara; visit Nyumbu Conservancy; overnight at Nyumbu Camp.

Day 10 - Game drives; overnight at Nyumbu Camp.

Day 11 - Drive back to Nairobi; overnight at Cove Cottage.

Day 12 - Drive to Daphne Sheldrake Wildlife trust to see the baby elephants; drive to Giraffe Manor to see and feed the giraffes; visit Karen Blixen Museum if time permits; overnight Cove Cottage.

Day 13 - Transfer to airport for onward travel.

This is a condensed version of the itinerary, but I think that it sums it up pretty well. I really like that we're spending 2/3 nights at each location before moving on, as I think that would give us a better feel for each location we visit, and avoid the hassle of changing to a new room every single night.

I'd love to hear any and all thoughts, comments, etc. Thanks in advance for the help!!
BethV114 is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 11:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Are you interested in night game drives? If so, you can do these at Sweetwaters but you may need to stay there as an overnight guest. It's good you have 2 nights at Nakuru as the drives from Samburu and to the Mara are long. Nice way to celebrate your birthdays!
Patty is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 11:37 AM
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Very interesting, Beth. I donít think Iíve read a report with stays at Sportmanís Arms and Nyumbu Camp.
Nyamera is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 11:52 AM
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Patty - Thanks so much for the feedback. My husband pretty much insisted that we do a stop at Sweetwater's in order to visit the chimp conservancy there. But yes, we would like to try to get a night game drive in, if possible. I did mention that when initially starting the booking process with Vivien, but probably forgot to follow up on that point since she addressed all of our other concerns so well. Now that you've mentioned it again, though, I'll definitely ask if that can be arranged at some point.

I know that she/her company own Nyumbu camp, so maybe a night drive would be an option there? I'm really not at all familiar with what the rules/regulations are with regards to where you can and can't do a night drive.

In any event, I do think that this is going to be one heck of a way to celebrate our birthdays, and we're all very, very excited!!

BethV114 is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 12:07 PM
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Nyamera - I also haven't been able to locate much info on Sportsman's Arms, so I'm hoping that someone out there will see this and be able to comment. I have been able to find some indirect information about the lodge via other tour operator websites, though, and Vivien has assured me that it is clean, safe and reasonably comfortable, which is all that we'll require of our two night stay there. We're on a bit of a budget for this trip, so Vivien chose this establishment based upon a combination of its price and its proximity to other sites that we are interested in seeing, as well as our basic lodging requirements. I'll be sure to post a review here when we return, just in case anyone else is considering staying at the Sportsman's Arms and/or is interested in how things turn out for us there.

From what little I've been able to find on Nyumbu (it hasn't been reviewed much yet), it looks like a reasonably nice place for us to have our tented camping experience. That was a must-do for me, and it worked out well for us that Vivien actually owns the camp.
BethV114 is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 01:19 PM
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I think Sportsmanís Arms is a nice old hotel in Nanyuki and that it used to have a website.

I was interested in Nyumbu last year, but had some communication problems and it was a bit expensive. I havenít investigated it for my trip this year, but maybe I should.
Nyamera is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 03:01 PM
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Nyamera - That's basically what Vivien told me. She described it as being an old-fashioned colonial type of building, not luxurious, but clean, comfortable and a good base of operations for the sites we want to see in the area.

If you're still at all interested in Nyumbu, you might want to e-mail Vivien directly at [email protected].

Thanks again for all of the help and info!!
BethV114 is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 03:11 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
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I like your itinerary -- a lot of variety, and a good pace for a driving safari. We really enjoyed the night game drives, so hopefully you can find a way to fit that in. When you visit the chimps at Sweetwaters, be sure to allow yourself enough time to read their stories in the exhibit there. Heartbreaking and moving, and it really made us appreciate what these animals have been through.

It will be nice to hear about some new lodging options for Kenya that aren't in the highest price range. (We don't always see that on this board!)
MyDogKyle is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 03:44 PM
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Beth or Nyamera,

Do you know where in Nyumbu is in the Mara?

I've stayed at Samburu Serena and Nakuru Lodge and liked them both.

You should have a great trip. Please let us know when you get back.
Your pricing looks good.
atravelynn is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 04:31 PM
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Atravelynn - I haven't been yet, so I can't tell you exactly where, but the website describes it as being in the Ngila Plains at the edge of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

The website to the camp itself is:

The camp itself is owned/operated by Vivien / As You Like It Safaris, and their website is:

I hope this helps. I've learned so much reading through the posts and reviews here at Fodor's.
BethV114 is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 10:04 AM
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Beth, thanks, maybe I should email Vivien. Last year I emailed to the address on the Nyumbu website asking if I could go to Talek by public transport and be picked up by someone from Nyumbu. A man answered giving me an expensive safari itinerary. I think I later got the per night rate or a package price that was rather expensive, so maybe I should concentrate on investigating less expensive camps now when Iím leaving in 3 weeks! Though at the moment Iím haggling with Governorsí and Iím not being successful.

Nyumbu is to the northwest of Talek. According to the amazing Bwana Mitch website itís on Olare Orok Conservancy.

Nyamera is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 03:41 PM
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That's a good location, then.
atravelynn is offline  
May 30th, 2008, 02:32 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 37
Hi Beth,

I live in Kenya and would like to say it is a GREAT choice for a safari destination...I think the places you have chosen will not disappoint.

You will find the Sportsman's Arms quite basic - but at least it is clean and friendly. I stayed there for a weekend a while back, when our friends were getting married on the slopes of Mt Kenya nearby.

All the other places you are staying are a lot more upmarket.

I hope you have a fantastic time,

Tanya_in_Kenya is offline  
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