Kenya's tented camps

Dec 18th, 2005, 07:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 76
Kenya's tented camps

I am very interested in outfitters that will provide accomodations like Sweetwaters Tented Camp offers. We are having a hard time finding anyone besides Overseas Adventure Travel. They combine lodges with this tented camp and we are only looking for tented camps. We will need this type of accomodations in Kenya, Tanzania, or possibly Uganda. Seeing the beautiful animals up close is the main priority, which is why I do not prefer to stay at a lodge.
KITTI0005 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2005, 06:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,846
Any local outfitter should be able to book you into your choice of camps (assuming there's availability). If you do a search on this board, you should find some recommended outfitters or look on - you can easily organize a custom safari with your choice of parks, accomodations, mode of transportation, etc. You'll find that's what many on this board choose to do.
Patty is offline  
Dec 19th, 2005, 10:54 AM
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OAT is a group tour operator, though small groups (max 16) as groups go. Are you specifically looking or a group tour? If not, do a search on this broad for Kenya (or Tanzania) tour operators and threads containing these should appear in the left column.

You will find both in-country outfitters and some in the States who can likewise provide you with an independent trip to meet your wishes.

Few of those who are recommended, will include International air from your home to/fr Africa, unlike OAT. You'd have to handle this yourself. However, internal air in-country or between Kenya, Tanzania and/or Uganda can be done by one of these providers and included in the total price of their proposal.
Dec 19th, 2005, 01:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 76
Thank you both for your information. I suppose I wasn't quite clear. If I am wrong, please do correct me. I am assuming that Sweetwaters Tented Camp is a good animal viewing location. Are there better places? If so, please let me know. I am basically starting all over again, researching books and relying on comments from knowledgeable people on this board on safari recommendations. I don't want the luxury of luxurious places. I want the accomodations to be extremely close to the animals and don't want to view them from a balcony way off in the distance. I also assume that the tented camps, whether it be 'luxury tented camps' are better able to serve that purpose than 'lodges'. I may be wrong. If you have any recommendations whatsoever, I welcome them. This will be our first trip to Africa. We do know that we will be going to Rwanda to view the gorillas there, so either Kenya or Tanzania (Uganda is not in the picture now)will be the second country we will be visiting on this trip late June 2006, hoping to see the big 5. I seem to have rambled, but I hope I have explained my thoughts. Also, I will look into your suggestion of for more info. I have looked at several tour operators and see vans as their game viewing vehicle. To me that would lead to restricted game viewing. Do you know of any that offer only 4x4's/Land Rovers only? There will be 3 of us and we would prefer the viewing to be private if it doesn't cost an arm or a leg over a small group. WE will look into OAT as well. Thanks for any and all of your help.
KITTI0005 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2005, 02:30 PM
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I just looked at the OAT itinerary. A 2-day stay at Sweetwaters and 2-days at Amboseli Serena - then onto Tanzania.

Sweetwaters is one of many camps throughout Kenya. But you have to answer the question of where in Kenya and/or Tanzania you wish to visit, for how many days and what budget you're working with.

If you're looking for something just for three of you, then I don't think you want to go with a company such at OAT. The reason OPs suggested you design your own itinerary.

Travel between the various parks in each country are done by road or by air. If by road, you will have to be in a closed vehicle, and these with pop-top roofs are great. If you fly between parks/reserves, you will often go out on game drives in the camp vehicles and these will be open sided.

Normally, there are morning and afternoon game drives, however, if on your own private tour with your own driver you can schedule full-day game drives. Even if using camp vehicles, you can arrange the same at an additional fee.

In some parks/reserves you have to stay on the roads, where you'll find some animals are at a distance; at other areas off-road driving is permitted and you are often right on top of animals as safety allows. You can also arrange for game walks if you want up-close-and-personal (but not too close as instructed by your guide).

While the Western Serengeti is excellent for June travel, there is little space available as a recent poster reported. There may be some rustic camps, but only a qualified in-country outfitter will be able to determine this for you. However, Tarangire and the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania are both good in from mid-June... finding space will be your concern at this late date.

In Kenya, the Masai Mara is quiet as compared to when the Migration arrives mid-July, though still wonderful; Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, and Samburu are wonderful in June.

Seeing animals from afar, can be quite nice inbetween game drives when sitting at your tent - animals on the plains, at nearby waterholes, sometimes even walking through camp. But, when it comes to animals there is never any guarantee what you will see, when, how close.

FYI! Some lodges are positioned in such a way that there are often animals real close, so don't eliminate these completely as possible choices.

So you have to answer: to where (country - parks/reserves), for how long, drive/fly and your budget. It's your safari to design.
Dec 19th, 2005, 03:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,846
Certain camps like Sweetwaters have placed a waterhole in front of their tents to attract animals. Whether the animals decide to come to the waterhole to drink or not is a matter of luck and season. That said, game viewing on Sweewaters Reserve itself is good and we saw quite a few animals come to the waterhole. It is however a fenced camp, so you aren't going to have wildlife coming in very close proximity to the tents, unlike at an unfenced camp where you may have wildlife wandering right next to your tent.

How many days do you have total, outside of your gorilla trek in Rwanda, and what is your approx. budget?

Sandi brought up a very good point about flying versus driving safaris. On a flying safari, you'll generally use the camp's vehicles and guides for your game drives on a shared basis with other guests (sometimes there's the option to pay extra for a private vehicle). These vehicles range from completely open to semi-open to enclosed depending on the camp. On a driving safari, you'll generally use your tour operator's vehicle and guide for both your game drives and your transportation between parks (on a private basis if you've booked a private safari). These vehicles will be enclosed as you'll be traveling long distances in them.

The basic safari vehicle in Kenya if traveling by road is a 2WD or 4WD van with a pop top roof. Most Kenyan tour operators can provide you with a Land Rover/Land Cruiser at additional cost (this adds about $100 a day or more versus a van). To me it makes little difference because both vehicles are enclosed. I'm not sure what the standard safari vehicle in Tanzania is.

I got a chance to check out a semi-open Land Cruiser at Kicheche recently and disliked it for the following reasons. The roof line on this vehicle was higher than our van, so effectively I had a poorer view when standing up (I'm 5'5"). The roof hatch folded back rather than popped up which meant that there was no protection from the sun (I find that this really makes a difference when you're out all day).

I've never been in a completely open vehicle and not all camps have these.

Hope this helps rather than confuses things further! I'd also suggest getting the Bradt guides on Kenya and Tanzania if you want some reading material (other than this board).
Patty is offline  
Dec 19th, 2005, 04:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,846
I hope these links work -

Here's an example of a pop top van with the roof hatch down -

Here's the same vehicle from the inside with the roof up -

Here's an enclosed Land Rover with a fold back(?) roof -

Here's a semi-open (open sided) Land Cruiser with a fold back roof -

The first two are tour operator vehicles and the third is a camp vehicle. I don't have a photo of a completely open vehicle, but these I think are not as commonly found in East Africa. Most camps utilize the semi-open type.

Patty is offline  

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