Kenya safari lewa vs Samburu

Old Jan 21st, 2021, 04:28 PM
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Kenya safari lewa vs Samburu

We are planning a safari trip to Kenya. We don’t have a ton of time so trying to hit as many bases as possible. We’d like to visit the sheldrick elephant center in Nairobi however they’re closed for visitors for the foreseeable future. Debating trading the days we have planned in lewa conservancy for samburu and visiting the reteti elephant orphanage. Thoughts? We are really interested in seeing elephants and big cats (not just lions if possible). Below is our current itinerary

Day 1 leave USA pm
Day 2 arrive at night to Nairobi
Day 3 fly to Amboseli, afternoon drive
Day 4 amboseli for day
Day 5 fly to Lewa, night drive
Day 6 Lewa for day
Day 7 fly to Masai/Mara north, afternoon drive
Day 8 hot air balloon, 2 drives
Day 9 am drive, village visit, pm drive
Day 10 day in Nairobi, fly home pm
Day 11 arrive USA pm

thanks!!
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Old Jan 23rd, 2021, 09:26 AM
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Hi Bryana,

Sounds like a good starting plan, geographically, but it is quite rushed. You are going to spend a lot of time sitting on airplanes instead of land rovers and will even have a plane change to get from Amboseli to Lewa (or Samburu). If you are traveling soon (during what I call the covid management time) you will possibly have a plane change from Lewa to Mara. I am sorry to be blunt but it sounds like someone is trying to sell you the cheapest safari and not the most logistically sound and experientially best safari. I am not at all talking about “thread count” luxury.

I am guessing you are doing an Elewana circuit to get the long stay discount at Tortillas, Lewa Safari Camp/Kifaru and Elephant Pepper? They are all great camps! You may consider cutting out Amboseli altogether just because of timing. It won't affect your ability to get a circuit discount. The big draw for Amboseli is the possibility to see Kilimanjaro on a clear day and also the large population of elephant. The main drawback is that it is a national park and can be quite dusty with the crowds depending on when you travel. Keep in mind you will see plenty of elephants in Lewa and Samburu and the Mara North Conservancy. Last thought on circuit discounts: your current costs are roughly 60% accommodations and 40% park fees, flights, and other services. A 15% circuit discount only applies to accommodations which makes it more like 9% overall. Mix in airfare costs and the overall discount is 5% off the top line. In my opinion, you should at least consider a different trip with multiple brands. There are also other lodge chains and lodge groups (like Bush & Beyond) that have circuit discounts or long stay discounts (single lodges with stay4pay3).

I have been to Kenya many times including safaris in Nov, Dec, Feb, Mar, and my last trip was August of 2020 right when the borders opened. What time of year are you considering? That may also impact my next reply.

I have been to Sheldrick many times including the 11am and 5pm visit. My last visit was private at 3pm in Nov 2019. It was quite epic. If this is a priority, you may consider one less safari stop, longer stays at the places you do go to and invest the savings in a private Sheldrick visit. I just don't think Reteti is ready to "hold a candle" to Sheldrick in terms of the experience. Kaya Torgerson, one of my colleagues, was at Sheldrick and Reteti in September 2020 and here are my notes from her trip report:

· At Reteti we were quite far away from the babies and it wasn’t interactive at all. They are working on it but there are a lot of players in the mix financially so it’s hard to make change.

· The presentation was long and very monotone - my mom fell asleep, but was trying SO hard not too.

· They didn’t give any information while we watched them prepare food, we just sort of watched.

· They have changed the platform and where they are feeding so it’s difficult to get pictures of the babies. There are poles blocking the elephants from getting close to the platform.

· You don’t get to see the smallest babies being fed, they are fed in their pens which are further away and it’s not interactive at all.

· There was pressure to buy a t-shirt at the end of our time there and sign this guest book in a messy office.

· It seemed like there was no end to the experience so I eventually just asked if it was over because we were so hot. There should be a clearer beginning and end. Or some explanation as to what you are going to do and have the guide just let you know once you are done watching the feeding you can leave when you want.

· They also need chairs for people to sit on at the platform. That would be better for older folks and in the heat would have been easier to hang out there.

· The Sheldrick private visit is far more interactive.



I am happy to offer some more suggestions upon your next reply.



Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond
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Old Jan 23rd, 2021, 11:06 AM
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*I guess I should have said that Sheldrick is not closed altogether. It is only open for the private visits (roughly $1,000).

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
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Old Jan 28th, 2021, 05:39 AM
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Thank you!

Wow this is fantastic info. I think that’s a great idea maybe just do Mara north and Lewa or samburu. I didn’t realize a private tour was an option but definitely sounds more our speed. I’ll look into that. Would you recommend Lewa or samburu? Thanks so much for all this!
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Old Jan 28th, 2021, 05:40 AM
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Travel time

Oh also we’re looking probably late august or early sept 2023.
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Old Jan 29th, 2021, 07:08 AM
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Hi Bryana,

I would choose Lewa (private land) over Samburu (national park) any time of year unless you have serious budget constraints. Since you are going to a private concession in the Mara, I don't think you have concerns about the cost?

I would be shocked if the 5pm sponsor visit at Sheldrick is not open again by 2023. Why not reserve the private, 3pm visit and cancel it and book the 5pm sponsor visit later if that 5pm visit becomes an option? The private visit is refundable up to a point in time (I think 30 days out).

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
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Old Jan 30th, 2021, 03:55 PM
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Thanks again

Sounds great thanks again for this info. I’d love to get a quote from your company when we start seriously planning next year. You’ve been so helpful!!
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Old Jan 31st, 2021, 07:06 AM
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Hi Bryana - we'd be happy to work with you. At the moment, space is wide open for September 2023. Giraffe Manor is sold out Sep 2 & 3 but that is about it. Have a good Sunday.
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