Kenya safari tour/cost

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Oct 1st, 2014, 01:12 PM
  #1
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Kenya safari tour/cost

I am planning a safari to Kenya in Sept/Oct 2015 with a friend. We want to have nice accomodations - does not need to be super luxury.We can go from 10 to 14 days, including air travel. I have been consulting with my longtime TA and she recommended Kenya as best bang for the buck.

So far, I am looking at these 3 camps in 3 areas: Amboseli: Tortilli's, Samburu arsens and Masai Mara: Exploreans Mara Rianta, 2 nights - in each camp. These are all tented camps, custom tour vs. a tour group experience. The cost is over $7500, each, including a night in Nairobi and visits to the elephant orphanage and giraffe preserve. It includes flights to camps, airport pick up, etc. Also, day use room in Nairobi on the day we fly back.

This is less time than I had hoped for on safari, for the cost.

- What do you think of this plan? Is it enough time?
- I am thinking of adding 1 night each to two of the areas, but which ones?
- Mara Rianta sounds very fancy - maybe go somewhere a notch less expensive?
- Should we tack on a few days on the coast? I live near the ocean & go to Hawaii a lot so a trip to the ocean is not top of my list, but is there something unique about the Kenyan coastal resorts? thanks!
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Oct 2nd, 2014, 10:05 AM
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If your long term TA does NOT specialize in Africa (especially Kenya), he/she will not really know what is going on other than what has been seen in a brochure as all safaris have to be handled/conducted by in-country licensed outfitters. Nor, I doubt, the agent is aware of 'specials' (reduced rates for extended stays as 'stay 3/nt, pay for 2/nts' or similar, yet not every camp offers these.

The $7500/pp including internal flights does seem a bit high for the total number of days you'll be in-country.

Even though Sep/Oct are 'peak' season at the highest rates, know that Tortilis lowers their rate as 1st Oct.

The areas you will be visiting are of great distance from one another so you'll have to take internal flights to reach each and between.

Also know that both Amboseli/Tortilis and Samburu/Larsens are 'elephant parks'. Amboseli with the possibility of views of Kilimanjaro; Samburu with unique species not seen elsewhere.

While you show 3/nts each Amboseli & Samburu, in actuality it should be 3/nts minimum in the Masai Mara where the migration is taking place.

You could consider:
Day 1 - Arv. NBO - o/n
Day 2 - NBO - sightseeing, elephants, giraffes, others
Day 3 - Fly to Amboseli - o/n Tortilis
Day 4 - Amboseli - o/n Tortilis
Day 5 - Fly to Lewa - o/n Lewa Safari Camp
Day 6 - Lewa - o/n Lewa Safari Camp
Day 7 - Fly to Masai Mara - o/n Elephant Pepper Camp
Days 8 & 9 - Mara - o/n Elephant Pepper Camp
Day 10 - Fly to NBO; dayroom till later departure
... here you have minimum 6/nts at a group of camps with one owner who offer a special of 10% reductions for 6/nts or it might be 4/nts. All are outstanding camps.
If you prefer Samburu vs Amboseli, can do and replace Tortilis w/ Larsens, especially if the special is for 4/nts 10% discount as Larsen's isn't part of that group.

OR consider
Days 1 & 2 - as above
Day 3 - Fly to Meru - o/n Rhino Lodge
Day 4 - Meru - o/n Rhino Lodge
Day 5 - Fly Samburu - o/n Saruni
Day 6 - Samburu - o/n Saruni
Day 7 - Sly to Mara - o/n Saruni
Days 8 & 9 - Mara - o/n Saruni
Day 10 - Fly to NBO; connect to flight to coast - o/n Saruni Ocean (it's new and a beauty!)
Days 11 & 12 - Coast - o/n Saruni Ocean
Day 13 - Flight to NBO for homebound.

For this itinerary believe there should be extended stay discounts. And there are loads of other combinations to meet your budget.

Have your agent contact these companies direct where he/she should qualify for the discounts and offer to you. The first group is thru Cheli & Peacock, the second group thru Saruni Group... both with offices in Nairobi.

Good luck!
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Oct 3rd, 2014, 11:42 AM
  #3
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Sandi,

Thank you so much for your incredibly helpful response. I would definitely like to spend a few more days on safari and the costs that I was quoted makes it somewhat prohibitive.

My travel agent told me (years ago) that she is an Africa expert and I know she has been herself a number of times. She set up a very luxurious tour for a friend (this is what my friend wanted) and they had a trip of a lifetime. However, my budget isn't that big! So I am looking for a few alternatives here.

What do you think of group tours? I don't mean highest end like Abercrombie & Kent, Tauck or Macata, but something else, where we go with a small group, but still might save some money and have a unique experience. I do not want to end up as one of 30 vans all looking at the same thing! We looked at OAT, but I thought it seemed a little bare bones. Mixed reviews too. I am exploring Cal Discovery Tours, too. Thanks!
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Oct 4th, 2014, 08:16 AM
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ALF
 
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If you can afford it, I think that a small tent camp in one of the reserves surrounding Amboseli and Masai Mara is going to yield a superior experience. You will probably not find yourself in a convoy of minivans as you may experience in the (admittedly less expensive) tours.

We are headed to Kenya in a couple of weeks, staying 3 days in Amboseli, in the Selenkay Conservancy, then another 3 days at Mara, in the Ol Kinyei and Naboisho Conservancies. We are going with Porini Gamewatchers Safaris, which have proven to us to be a good mid-range operator.

After some research, it appears to me that the cost per day to stay in a tented Conservancy location doesn't vary that much between operators, so if you are going to go that way, it mostly depends on reputation, special features, location, etc.

My only other advice is to consider flying between places like Amboseli and Mara, as opposed to bouncing on bad roads for several hours.
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Oct 4th, 2014, 05:46 PM
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ALF, you'll love the Porini camps. My second safari was in February with them and when I do it again, I'll do it with them. I was in Ol Pejeta, Ol Kinyei and Olare Motorogi with them and it was the time of my life. Worth every penny and I found it affordable.

ellen, I went as a single at the Porini camps (paying the single supplement, which you wouldn't have to) and paid less than what you're quoted above and mine was a private safari. I'd look into them as well. One difference is Sept/October is peak, so may be more pricy. I loved it there in February, their summer. It's not the migration but the game viewing was unbelievable just the same.
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Oct 5th, 2014, 01:11 PM
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Porini Olare Motogori? Amazing how some camps change their location.

The camp mentioned is actually the Porini Lion Camp located on the Olare Orok conservancy.

I don't even use the Olare/Motogori name which only came about as Richard Branson's Mahali Mzuri camp was the only one on Motogori - appears Branson didn't appreciate his camp out there as an orphan all by itself. Money talks!
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Oct 6th, 2014, 11:01 AM
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Read it with your own eyes, Sandi! ;-) From http://www.porini.com/kenya.html?sub=porini-lion-camp

"Porini Lion Camp is located in unique and stunning setting on the banks of the seasonal Ntiakatiak River within the Olare Motorogi Conservancy. This large area borders the Masai Mara National Reserve and is home to an abundance of animals including the Mara’s renowned Big Cats. There is unsurpassed game-viewing within the conservancy due to its unspoiled natural state and the Porini Lion Camp - with just ten tents – ensures guests have a genuine “away from it all” experience deep in the African bush."
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Oct 6th, 2014, 11:34 AM
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The OMC also has its own Facebook presence:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Olare-...12622932155217
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Oct 6th, 2014, 02:01 PM
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amyb -

My comments weren't to put emphasis that something was wrong, rather emphasis to the fact that till Branson built his Mahali Mzuri camp there was nothing on the Mitigori conservancy let alone did anyone know the name. But shortly after the camp was built this new 'combo' name appeared, and people wondered 'where?, what? - Guess it was easier to combine the name with Olare Orok that was quite familiar and where Porini Lion has been sited for years... good spot for them. Guess why the Gamewatchers update in their description.

Reminds me of something similar that happened in Tanzania, where the Northern Serengeti area of Kogatende on opposite side of Kenya's Mara where most of the luxe Serengeti camps are sited, came to be referred to (maybe 2/yrs ago) as Serengeti Mara... duh! Why? Wasn't the name Northern Serengeti good enough?

And recently going thru some dated documents came across photos of the original Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (an actual lodge) vs the newer/modern/very expensive replacement.

Kind of like waking one morning and your babies are teens, soon to be off to college and you're in the position of realizing 'things, they are a changing.' And you have a few more discolored hairs atop your head... LOL!

Too many years, too many years.
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Oct 7th, 2014, 08:37 AM
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Understood, Sandi. I just read it that you don't use the OMC name and still say Porini Lion is on Olare Orok. What was the Olare Orok website actually redirects to OMC now, so it looks like the deal is done, whether we like Branson's money or not! ;-) I'm not particular either way, as long as the conservancy effort is respected and supported.
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Oct 7th, 2014, 02:06 PM
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amyb -
You got it right, unless I'm specifically referring to Mahali Mzuri where I use Mitogori, the Porini Lion, Mara Plains, Kicheche Bush Camps (and believe one other) are on Olare Orok. I can assure you no one will get lost or wind up on the wrong conservancy.
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Oct 16th, 2014, 10:58 AM
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"Kenya best bang for the buck" Yes, probably IMO.

Day 1 - Arv. NBO - o/n
Day 2 - NBO - sightseeing, elephants, giraffes, others
Day 3 - Fly to Amboseli - o/n Tortilis
Day 4 - Amboseli - o/n Tortilis
Day 5 - Fly to Lewa - o/n Lewa Safari Camp
Day 6 - Lewa - o/n Lewa Safari Camp
Day 7 - Fly to Masai Mara - o/n Elephant Pepper Camp
Days 8 & 9 - Mara - o/n Elephant Pepper Camp

I like this one for a 1st safari using tented camps.


"We want to have nice accomodations - does not need to be super luxury." Though it may seem counter-intuitive, the tented camps are generally more expensive than the lodges. It has to do with economy of scale. You could save more by staying in lodges than camps. The lodges are nice, even better than nice. But you do lose some of the ambiance of being IN THE BUSH with lodges over camps. Also there is more personal attention to guests, cuisine, and dining at camps than lodges usually. I personally will happily stay in lodges over camps sometimes to save money. And the lodges can be booked for private trips, not just group departures.

If you go all tented camps in Kenya, the price difference between Kenya and Tanzania is reduced, making the two options more similar.

One other cost saving strategy for Kenya is to consider the Kenya Wildlife Service bandas. The ones I have stayed in were very nice and offered the seclusion of a tented camp. They are the least fancy option of anything mentioned above and may be self-catering, meaning you'd probably want to bring your own chef (arranged by the safari provider). Even with the chef, they are still the least expensive option. The bandas were appealing not only from a cost standpoint; they were charming and comfortable in their own right, with a western ensuite bathroom. I loved them. Not all companies will book the bandas. Kenya-based ones seem to be more open to bandas. Also bandas are not available in Samburu or the Mara.

But there is something else to consider in your accommodation choices, and that is WHERE does it permit you to do your safari. For example Lewa Downs has its own private concession. You are paying not only for the luxury tent, service, and exquisite food, but for the area, which has great diversity and probably the best place in East Africa for rhinos. You are also paying for privacy, as you won't be surrounded by other vehicles.

Same for all the conservancies mentioned above that are located in the Mara. You reduce the #s of vehicles and quality of your sightings by staying at the conservancies.

If you get a few quotes on itineraries, you can post them for "disection" and get more advice on the pros and cons of each. Ask for the transportation time between locations.

Whatever you choose, you'll have a great trip.
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