Feb 14th, 2009, 07:20 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 5

We are planning our first trip to Kenya. It will be mostly game viewing (the Plains of Africa trip offered by Excursions by Collette). We can get a good price by going in early May... but other information we have dug up indicates this is a rainier time and that game sitings are less likely then if we go in mid August (a bit more expensive). Can any of you experienced Kenya travelers help us make this decision between early May and mid August?
DBNorthCarolina is offline  
Feb 14th, 2009, 07:52 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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LyndaS has complied a helpful trip report index from which I was able to find May trips to Kenya. Take a look at where these people went and what they saw.







I personally go to Kenya in the dry season in July or later because the grass is shorter and the water is more concentrated, making it easier to see animals.

In May the bulk of the wildlebeest and zebra migration is in the Serengeti in Tanzania and has not crossed into the Maasai Mara of Kenya yet. However, the Maasai Mara has resident herds of wildes and is always good.

Mid August is prime time in the Mara for wildebeest herds.

Is there an itinerary that includes the Serengeti, especially Western Serengeti, that you would prefer.

If this is your first Africa trip, you will be stunned and amazed at the wildlife you are able to see in May and will not miss the more abundant numbers that you would likely see later into the dry season. You will have more green and lush surroundings in May than later in the season.

If you are trying to save money I would suggest looking at other providers of Africa travel rather than alter my travel dates to fit my budget. Collette is more expensive than many other options.

If your trip is for 2009, there are some Africa properties that are offering deals such as book a week get 8 nights or book 3 get the 4th night free. Perhaps you could seek something like that from Collette for August.

If you would like to list your itinerary and pricing, more help can be given.

atravelynn is offline  
Feb 14th, 2009, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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As Lynn showed my Trip Report, know that I regularly travel end-May/early-June and have experienced little rain. But as May is coming out of the wet, the grasses are higher and small game can be difficult to spot, or predators lying in the grass. However, this shouldn't take away from the experience. Though early May is likely to have more rain than later in the month.

If considering Kenya, then this is low-season and prices are very competitive.

I gather the Collette trip is a group departure on set dates. From experience and various threads throughout this forum, you can just as easily design your own itinerary, with the dates you wish, staying at the parks you want and the type of accommodations that suit your needs.

If the migration is of interest and you travel in May, I'd suggest Tanzania; if August travel, then to Kenya.

Why not post the Collette itinerary - which parks, # of days, lodging offered, means of transport between parks - will give us an idea of their offering and we can better comment.
sandi is offline  
Feb 15th, 2009, 07:04 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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I found your itinerary and made these comments.

Norfolk—most classic hotel, very nice, historic destination.

2 NBO Day
Nice addition of visiting a local Collette-supported charity.
Good mix of NBO activities from giraffe feeding to Karen Blixen home.Famous and festive Carnivore restaurant, a good way to get the group off to an upbeat start.

3-4 Amboseli
May is a good time to visit this place, which gets as dusty as anywhere in Kenya
Ol Tukai is a good choice, especially from a standpoint of where the wildlife is, though I have not been there. Probably where I’d request on a return visit.

5 Aberdare
An opportunity for forest habitat. See if game drives within that habitat are included, even a short one, prior to arrival at The Ark. I had great viewing at the waterhole. The Ark had a slumber party type atmosphere and caters to big groups. You can choose to be awakened at night if certain species visit the waterhole.

6-7 Shaba
I am looking at including one night in Shaba on a future trip. Shaba is noted as much for scenery as wildlife viewing. It is not as visited as neighboring Samburu. That means fewer people, which is nice, but wildlife is less accustomed to vehicles and more scarce and skittish. You will not see the wildlife in Shaba that you would in Samburu or Buffalo Springs. However, with 2 days, you’ll be able to drive to these areas with better wildlife viewing conditions. There would be 5 unique species here that you won’t see on the rest of the trip—gerenuk antelope, Besis Oryx antelope, Somali Ostrich, Grevy Zebra, and Reticulated Giraffe. Your odds of seeing these in Samburu rather than Shaba, especially in May, are greater. Sarova is where I’d stay on a Shaba overnight for economical reasons. It is a big lodge.

8-9 Mt Kenya
That whole water spinning trick to me is waste of time while on safari, so I’d check how much time you devote to it. Mt. Kenya Safari Club is very fancy. I don’t know if 3rd Party Vintage means something about the level of accommodations you are in. The visit to nearby Sweetwaters will let you enjoy the Jane Goodall Chimp Sanctuary there for rescued chimps. It is the only place you’ll see chimps in Kenya. Sweetwaters is a rhino refuge so hopefully you’ll see some here.

10 Lake Nakuru
Flamingos! There is an introduced unique species of giraffe here—Rothchild’s, plus rhino. Lion Lodge is a standard big lodge.

11-12 Maasai Mara
Sarova Tented Camp—you’ll get to experience a tented camp, which is nice. The Mara is where the action is so I believe only 2 nights here (even if the migration is down in the Serengeti) is a flaw in the itinerary. If you could extend another few days on your own in the Mara, then I think the places you are visiting throughout the country are very good.

13 6-hour drive back to NBO.

I’d ask for drive times between each park so you know what you are getting into. This is nothing unique or special about this standard itinerary and the properties are fine, but are big, bustling lodges. That offers a cost savings and I’ve stayed in similar and will again to save money, but it is a different safari experience than smaller, tented accommodations, which of course are more expensive.

The only May departure seemed to be 4-29, which would put you in Kenya in May. At $3369 per person that’s about $260 per night per person. The price is not as high as I thought and you could get a $100 discount. At a May to August a savings of $530 per person, I’d go in August unless there are other factors that make May a better date. Or unless an additional $530 x 2 would mean you might could not go at all. Then go in May.

But before you book, I'd check some alternatives.

atravelynn is offline  
Feb 15th, 2009, 08:38 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 90
Kenya in August for 1 reason.

The Migration in the Mara.

The itinerary has you moving around too much. Spend at least 3 days (or more) in the Mara, you won't be disappointed.
tacos10 is offline  
Feb 15th, 2009, 08:49 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
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I agree
the main draw of the mara is the Migration and August will be peak season for it
the game viewing you will get in the Mara will be better than elsewhere so plan at least 4 nights there
The only good thing about May is the price and also far fewer tourists
tanzaniatouroperator is offline  
Feb 15th, 2009, 12:12 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
Lots of driving.
Not sure that The Ark is open. Last I heard they closed, but waiting reply from Kenya on this. If not The Ark, maybe they'll put you at Treetops! As travelynn mentions, yes there are tour groups here and the rooms are tiny.

You're visiting both Amboseli (elephants/views of Kili) and Shaba (ellees/unique species)... much better to visit one, not both especially with long drive from Aberdares to Shaba. Personally, better to stop at Samburu with more lodging/camp choices. And, on day from Amboseli via NBO to The Ark, another long day.

Another long drive Shaba/Mt.Kenya Safari Club and then to Lake Nakuru... ugh. From Nakuru to the Mara and then having only 1/full day, certainly not enough even for May; for August should be at minimum 2/full-days.

As a "group" itinerary it's very standard and way too much driving. Except for the Norfolk and Mt.Kenya SC, nothing special about the accommodations.

Try pricing a private itinerary (own guide/vehicle) when you wish to travel - even June prices are good at mid-season rates, as:

Day 1 - Arv. NBO - o/n
Day 2 - NBO, a.m. sightseeing; after lunch drive to Mt. Kenya - o/n Serena Mountain (nicer than The Ark, same game at nite at water hole)
Day 3 - Drive to Samburu - o/n
Day 4 - Samburu - o/n
Day 5 - Drive to Sweetwater's, game drive - o/n
Day 6 - Drive to Mt.Kenya SC - o/n
Day 7 - Drive to Lake Nakuru - o/n
Day 8 - Drive to Masai Mara - o/n
Days 9 & 10 - Masai Mara - o/n
Day 11 - Drive or fly to NBO, homebound

sandi is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 05:31 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 6,047
Regarding season:

I have been to Masai Mara (and Nairobi) in early May, in the middle of the rainy season.

"Rainy season" means you will occasionally encounter showers (not every day but once in a while) which are, however, extremely heavy. Even in Nairobi, roads were flooded and impassable.

You will see abundant animals in Masai Mara, even in the rainy season.

The rain can cause inconveniences and surprises like closed airstrips, impassable roads and fords and stuck vehicles. But we found this very special and even exciting. And you have no dust.
traveller1959 is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 05:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 37
Atravelynn abd Sandy offer excellent advice and were most helpful on this forum for my first safari. I am sure that Collette offers a good tour, but they are only middlemen and will put groups together to turn the trip over to a local Kenyan Operator. If you do your research and choose a Kenyan Operator with good references, you will most likely have a private safari (no strangers,- just your group of 2+), more flexibility make changes in parks and f days, and probably less costly. Everyone is different, but I would suggest killing the Mt Kenya part and adding an extra day to Samburu and Masai Mara (each with ubique landscape and animal populations.
kenyatraveler is offline  
Feb 21st, 2009, 11:23 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 5
Wow! Thanks to all of you who have answered our inquiry about our upcoming Kenya trip. Your advice is valuable and much appreciated... and gives us a lot to think about.
DBNorthCarolina is offline  
Feb 21st, 2009, 12:34 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
The Ark has reopened.
sandi is offline  

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