Kenya itinerary-too late?

Old Sep 13th, 2005, 11:01 AM
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Kenya itinerary-too late?

After sitting on the fence tying to decide whether or not to take my family to Kenya for Christmas I finally have some ticket reservations. Problem-it is September and I have just realised what a monumental task it is to plan the trip and also it is getting too close to Christmas. I haven't heard back from the tour operator yet. Will I miss out on lots of great accomodation spots booking this late? There are five of us, my husband and I and our 3 boys, ages 10,12 and 14. Hate to wait til next year.
A quick itinerary thrown together in 2 days
Dec 23 - arrive 7 pm
Dec 24 - recuperate
Dec 25 - leave Nbi for Amboseli
Stay in Amboseli for 3 nights Dec 25,26,27

Dec 28 - leave Amboseli for Masai Mara - I know a long drive but we would be rested up
Stay here Dec 28, 29, 30, 31

Jan 1 - leave for Lake Naivasha, climb Mt Longonot for a change of pace
spend Jan 1 in Lake Naivasha or Lake Nakuru

Jan 2 - drive to Samburu
Stay in Samburu Jan 2,3

Jan 4 - fly from Samburu to Nairobi and train to Mombasa (I have fond memories of the train from 1976) or fly Samburu to

Jan 5 - overnighting on the train or staying in Mombasa
Stay Jan 5, 6, 7, 8, in Mombasa

Jan 9 - travel to Lamu (probably drive and boat)
Stay in Lamu Jan 9, 10, 11

Jan 12 - fly to Nairobi

Jan 13 - fly home

Any comments? The biggest question--should I trade in Lake Naivasha,Lake Nakuru and Samburu to do Tanzania-Tangire, Ngorogoro? And are 3 and 4 nights too much in one place (Amboseli and Mara)? Has anyone ridden the overnight train lately? How 'bout Lake Baringo?
The price is getting a little crazy, we don't mind basic but want to be safe. Ideas?
Old Sep 13th, 2005, 11:39 AM
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How about reversing the order of the Masai Mara and Naivasha and fly from the Mara to Samburu? Otherwise, Dec 28 is about a 10 hour(?) drive, and the drive from Nakuru/Naivasha to Samburu is 7-8 hours.

Personally I would find 3 nights in Amboseli a bit long and would reduce that to 2 nights and add another night elsewhere.

If you want to include Lake Baringo as well (about 3 hours north of Naivasha), I think another location on your itinerary would have to go. I can't see fitting it in otherwise.
Patty is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2005, 01:47 PM
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Your itinerary may depend on what accommodations are available where, but agree with Patty - you don't want to drive Amboseli to the Mara. Consider the following:

Day 1 - Arrive - o/n NBO
Day 2 - NBO - do sightseeing this day - Daphne Sheldrik Ellee Orphanage, Giraffe Center, lunch or dinner at The Carnivore.
Day 3 - Drive to Amboseli - o/n
Day 4 - Amboseli - o/n
Day 5 - Drive to NBO - lunch, then drive to Mt.Kenya - o/n at "salt-lick" Serena Mountain Lodge if you can get accommodation here; or go to Aberdares and o/n at The Ark.
Day 6 - Drive to Samburu - o/n
Day 7 - Samburu - o/n
Day 8 - Drive to Lake Nakuru - o/n
Day 9 - Drive to Lake Naivaisha - climb the mountain - o/n
Day 10 - you can drive to the Mara (long), but there is a flight from Naivaisha (may be via NBO, or direct) to the Mara - o/n in the Mara
Day 11 - Masai Mara - o/n
Day 12 - Masai Mara - o/n
you can do a 4th day here if you wish.
From the Mara you can fly to Nairobi, but the train isn't until the evening. So, you have time to drive the 5-6 hrs back to NBO - get a day-room at hotel till time to transfer for train to Mombassa.
Then continue itinerary - Mombasa, Lamu, back to NBO for homebound flight.

Yes, there's driving, but the above is much easier, more direct, easier on all of you, your guide/driver, vehicle - besides most responsible outfitters won't allow you on the road for 10-hrs. and you don't want to be.

Only your tour operator/outfitter can advise what's available for your dates. Let us know of your success and final itinerary. If any questions about accommodations, just ask. Lots of luck.
Old Sep 13th, 2005, 03:13 PM
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Persoanlly, I would stick to Kenya - partly as you're packing so much in but also because Samburu and the Kenyan lakes offer something different to Amboseli / Mara / Tarangire / Ngorongoro where the game is all quite similar.

I think Sandi's itinery is excellent. I would agree that, unless you have real desire to drive everywhere, build in some flights - if Naivasha to Mara direct is not possible maybe the Amboseli leg ?
philw is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2005, 09:38 AM
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OOps. I lost my post for awhile. Thanks for your responses! It is hard deciding where to go and for how long.

Will definitely stick to Kenya only. Thinking about flying Samburu to the Mara. That means I miss the lakes. Is 4 days in the Mara maybe too long? Thought that would give the kids a chance to settle in.

Was wondering about switching the order. Samburu first, then fly to the Mara and continue to Amboseli. Then drive through Tsavo West to Mombasa instead of returning to Nairobi? Stay one night in Tsavo West. Haven't seen an itinerary that goes this way (driving through Tsavo West)- is that a bad idea?

Suggestions of where to stay in Mombasa?

Has anyone stayed at the Island Hotel in Shela (Lamu Island). Would the kids enjoy Lamu?

Old Oct 11th, 2005, 10:17 AM
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She will probably (hopefully) see and answer this, but a poster here, Nyamera, spent time in Lamu this past summer. She has some wonderful photos; it looks incredible, but maybe take a peek and decide whether or not your kids would be interested. The link to her photo gallery is at the bottom of her trip report.

The link to her trip report is:;tid=34652401
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 11:27 AM
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I'd spend two nights in Tsavo West, giving you at least one full day in the park.

By my calculation, you have 21 nights total on the ground with 3 nights in Nairobi (2 at the beginning and 1 at the end) and 7 nights on the coast, leaving you with 11 nights for your safari, is that correct?

You could fly to Samburu (3 nights), fly to Masai Mara (4 nights), fly to Nairobi and drive to Amboseli (2 nights), drive to Tsavo West (2 nights), drive to Mombasa. That would give you a very comfortable paced 11 night itinerary.

Have you contacted some tour operators to determine accomodation availability yet? You may find that you need to alter your itinerary based on what's available.

Good luck!
Patty is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2005, 11:58 AM
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Iím here. Yes, go to Lamu. There are donkeys everywhere and your children will love it. Maybe they would prefer Shela or Manda Beach to Lamu Town. The Island Hotel is in Shela not too far from the beach. There where few tourists when I went to Lamu though I saw a father with two kids who had taken a boat trip from Lamu to Manda Beach and they looked like they were having a good time.

4 days in the Mara is definitely not too long! Iíve never seen any itineraries that go directly from the Mara to Amboseli. I think youíll have to do as Patty suggests and return to Nairobi first. Amboseli Ė Tsavo West (at least 2 nights) is done quite often and then you can continue to Mombasa.

In Mombasa town Iíd recommend The New Palm Tree, but itís a budget place with no pool, so I donít know if your kids will like it. If youíre going directly to the beach I recommend Boko Boko at Diani Beach (or, more exactly, Galu Beach). There are lots of monkeys (vervet and colobus) in their garden, they have their own snake park and at night there are bushbabies.

Start booking now!
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 12:39 PM
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sorry to interrupt, but what is a bushbaby?
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 12:47 PM
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Patty is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2005, 12:50 PM
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They're primates. Cute, aren't they? Family (remember bio?) Galagonidae includes 4 genera and 11 species. (thanks google.)

I always recall Kitchen People Cook Oats For Girls in Summer (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genera, species).

And who says I didn't learn anything in high school???
Leely is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2005, 12:58 PM
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That Patty is always beating me to the punch.

Sorry, danika, for getting off-topic.

And best wishes to Dennis and Patty, who will leaving for their respective safaris within the next few weeks!
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 01:15 PM
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Thanks! They are cute! Thanks Leely for wishing me well- 7 more days
i'm packed, ready to go, pacing like crazy and haven't been sleeping well, too excited!! but will not get into the ambien until the jfk-jnb flight
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 01:32 PM
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Funny I have got three quotes from safari companies and two have us driving Mara to Amboseli in one day. I will change that. I keep tweaking the itinerary working around nights I have confirmed in Masai Mara and it is limiting my flexibility a little.

As much as I love safari (well I haven't been since I was 15 years old!) how many days in a row is too many?

Patty, what is your itinerary? Are you going to the coast?
Old Oct 11th, 2005, 01:53 PM
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I posted my final itinerary in this thread (way at the bottom) -;tid=34602040

If you decide to travel by road from the Mara to Amboseli, you could consider breaking it up by overnighting near Lake Naivasha in between (and spend 3 nights in the Mara). It's possible to do it in one day, but personally I think it's a bit too long. You'd have to leave very early as it would be a +/- 6 hour drive back to Nairobi where you'd have a lunch stop, then a +/- 4 hour drive to Amboseli. I'd be concerned about the length of time in the vehicle with the kids too, but you know them better than I do and perhaps they're more tolerant of long rides than I imagine.

Thanks! 33 days and 19 hours to go

Have a great trip!
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 02:06 PM
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Patty, what happened to Samburu in your itinerary?
Old Oct 11th, 2005, 02:18 PM
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Somewhere along the way with all of the back and forth and my indecision, it got dropped. That's OK as I need to save something for next time
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Old Oct 24th, 2005, 09:12 AM
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Arrrgh! Not the train!!!
The train service is very run down. Hopefully the new owners will do something with it... I had romantic notions when we took it from Nairobi to Mombasa. My Kenyan Girlfriend gave me funny looks when I suggested it but went along with it. I was so keen (having watch "Ghost and The Darkness&quot But it's uncomfortable, unsafe and takes about 14 hours. It's dirty, unhygenic and the food is horrible (served orange squash rather than fresh orange) We travelled 1st class... can't imagine what 2nd or 3rd would be like. It's not very "Agatha Christie"...

I hope a hotel chain get hold of it and turns it into a real tourist experience. It should be!

Tickets not much cheaper than flying, and that only takes 45 minutes.
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Old Oct 27th, 2005, 01:26 PM
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Thanks for your response. I will skip the train. I used to take it with my girlfriends, but that was 1977 and it was a real highlight of our trips to the coast.
I am having trouble booking my Mombasa Lamu flights. Mombasa air does not fly on the days I would like and air kenya is not answering any of my e-mails. Suggestions, other internal airlines that fly this route??
Old Oct 28th, 2005, 04:57 AM
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It SHOULD be one of the great railway journeys of the world.... going right through the heart of Tsavo. It COULD be again... the new owners may be able to turn it around. I was very saddened by my experience.

Travelling itself should be an enoyable experience and this train can be a great way to meet fellow traveller.
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