Kenya: Solo travel finally booked!

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May 31st, 2003, 06:15 PM
  #1
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Kenya: Solo travel finally booked!

First thanks for all the great suggestions and input I received on my other thread. Special thanks to Jan, Sandi, and Liz.

After several false starts- due to outrageous exorbinant single supplements- Letsgosafari.com put together a customized fly in package. The package included all inter-Kenya flights, all meals, 2-3 games per day, and all transfers. Total: $2600
My roundtrip flight from Montana to Nairobi was arranged through Asina Travel and was $1400.
My first 2 nights are at the Fairview hotel, THEN...

2 nights at Amboseli Serena
3 nights Keekorok Lodge in the Mara
2 nights Kichwa Tembo in the Mara
1 night back in Nairobi at the Fairview
3 nights at Samburu Serena
1 night at the Fairview

I have four more days after this -and will decide what to do with them after I explore a bit. Definitely not interested in Mombassa.

Since this was my first Kenya trip I felt I needed to have an overview. Safety as a single woman was also a primary concern. Vintage Safari said they didn;t have any single seats in their vehicles, but offered me a private vehicle and guide for 7 days for $1850. But I just didn;t feel comfortable riding with some man I didn't know. Also, I'm a psychologist, and really wanted a break from having to make conversation.

Jan - please tell me about your elephant adoptions and if its possible to visit the Research Project in Amboseli.

Thanks again to everyone-- I'll keep you posted on any updates. Now, maybe (?) I can focus on my work and my clients for the next couple of weeks until I leave!! I'm absolutely manic and obsessed with my trip!!!
Sharon
p.s. do the lodges provide bottled water - are you charged extra?


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May 31st, 2003, 07:40 PM
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Hi Sharon:

Looks like a fantastic trip ... of your lodges the only one we were at was the Samburu Serena and it was beautiful (it was the first of the 5 we stayed at and probably the nicest) ... of note - it was the only one we also found to be hot/humid in the evenings/at night & the only one with abundant misquotes ...

The only lodge that didn't provide us with either a 3/4 or 1 litre bottle of water each, each day was the Masai Mara Sopa lodge (it provided a picture of 'filtered water' ?? daily - clean well water that was boiled then chilled) ... also, the bar will have extremely cold 1 litre bottled water & 0.6 litre bottled soda (coke, sprite, crest) with 150ksh being the norm (then ~$1.90usd) ...

I had also picked up a couple of cases of bottled water at a supermarket in Nairobi before we left (about 395ksh for 6 x 1.5 litre bottles) ... there was a Uchumi Supermarket across the street from our hotel in Nairobi (Uchumi & Nakumatt seem to be to most prevelant) ... but definately use care if walking around in Nairobi & get your cash at the ABM at the airport (the downtown ones then to be outside the bank) ...

Hope this helps,

Z
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May 31st, 2003, 09:23 PM
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LizFrazier
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Hi Sharon-
Good trip! Great price too. I am so thrilled for you and want a detailed report upon your return. Sorry I can't answer questions about bottled water but when we were there you could buy cold water at the bar to take to your room.
Looks like our trip to Governors Camp will come off just fine after all too. Hope you love the Mara. You may even see the early arrival of the migration. Oh JOY!! Tell them I'll be along in early September if you will. Unless you don't talk to animals. haha.
This is such an adventure and you surely did a splendid job getting this together for a first trip.
What airline will you be flying? Liz
 
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Jun 1st, 2003, 07:15 AM
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Sundance:

It sounds as though you got a fantastic deal with LetsgoSafari. My only thought is I wonder if they hire other companies to handle their clients. I have never seen a LetsgoSafari van on any of my three trips to either Amboseli or Tsavo.

There are several ways of adopting one of the orphaned rhinos or elephants. I do it online on SheldrickWildlifeTrust.
org. They give a history of each of the orphans, you can select which one you wish to adopt and then they have a secure website for taking credit card information. I have done this 10 times with no problem (I have adopted 10 orphans). The Trust is at Nairobi National Park and you can have your safari company take you there. The visiting hours are from 11 - 12 each day. You can adopt there also. The cost of adopting is $50.00 per year. You will get an adoption certificate, a receipt for your payment and then Daphne e-mails you approximately once a month with a water color of your adopted baby. The babies are kept in Nairobi until they reach one year of age and are then transferred to the Tsavo East site (only adoptive parents are allowed to visit this site because they need to control the orphans contact with humans). This is critical at this point in their lives. This last year the keepers were leading the orphans into the wild with Imenti (an 8 year old bull elephant) when a very rude and careless safari driver gunned his engine as the babies were crossing a road. Imenti felt the man was threatening "his babies" and he proceeded to tusk the windshield of the car trying to protect his family. However, because of this, instead of going after the driver, poor Imenti has been banished from his home and family and has now been taken way up to Northern Tsavo where he won't be able to go after safari vehicles if he feels they are threatening his babies. It is sad to think of him all alone with several keepers but no other elephant family just because of a human's stupidity. At Tsavo the babies are taken into the wild by their keepers every day and learn to play with the wild elephants and find their own food, but they come back to the stockades at night for protection. Eventually when the elephants are around eight years old or older, they are absorbed into the wild herds and not come home unless they are sick or injured (they know they can always trust the keepers for help if they need it). If you are interested in elephants get WILD ORPHANS by Gerry Ellis - a wonderful photographic tale of eight of the orphans. The Trust not only pays for the care of the orphans, but Daphne has donated money for other conservation causes. She has three desnaring teams that walk the border of Tsavo Park picking up all the snares, releasing any live animals and trying to catch the people who are setting the snares. She is an incredible woman who deserves our support. Her daughters also help her. They have many keepers that care for the babies, even sleeping with them. Elephant orphans, because elephants are such herd animals, will become extremely depressed if they are left alone and can die. Thus the keepers are with them 24/7. Adopting one of these orphans is also a great gift to give your kids, nieces, nephews, grandkids because they can follow what their orphan is doing on the Keepers Diary on the Sheldrick website.

Regarding the researchers at Amboseli, you would have to talk with the reservations desk of your lodge to see if it could be arranged for a donation. Their tented camp is "off-limits" to tourists. There is an office at Ol Tukai. They are extremely busy at this time of year because Martyn Colbeck from the BBC who co-authored the story about Echo of the Elephants is again filming to do a follow-up story about Echo's family.

Hope you have a chance to see some of these magnificent creatures. Donations any of us makes to conservation sites will help immensely. In reading the Daily Nation on the web I see that Kenya Wildlife Service is again having financial difficulties, so anything we tourists can do to help to help retain the fantastic beauty of Kenya and its wildlife will go a long way to seeing that the animals will be there for all to see in the future and at the same time creating/retaining jobs for the Kenyans.

Hope you have a fantastic trip.

Jan
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Jun 1st, 2003, 07:55 AM
  #5
sandi
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Sharon: So glad to see the new and revised itinerary and wow what a good deal. And the airfare is even better, from Montana no less.

The Serena Lodge properties are lovely; the Keekorok, though the oldest in the Mara, is well kept and refubished regularly. I just know you'll enjoy the tents at Kichwa Tembo - though a large camp with about 40 tents, there are many people to meet.

You'll have to tell us what you decide for your remaining 4-days.

And of course, we'll need to hear all your tales when you return. Glad to have been able to help with ideas.
 
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Jun 1st, 2003, 08:28 AM
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Sundance: Your trip sounds wonderful and I envy that you are doing it solo. We stayed at the Fairview Hotel when we spent the night in Nairobi. I think you will find it clean and functional. The breakfast buffet is all encompassing and the staff at the Fairview go the extra mile to make you feel welcome. When you are there, feel free to go downstairs and sit in the lounge area. No one will bother you there, I am confident in saying that. Have a Tusker and think of all of us who are anxiously awaiting to read your trip report! I am pea-green with envy!
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Jun 1st, 2003, 11:19 AM
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Sundance - great to hear the good news - now it's just time to sit back and wait!

The hard part!

Kavey
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Jun 2nd, 2003, 09:26 AM
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Sundance,

I have stayed at the Fairview a couple of times. You should enjoy it: 1) because it feels like it is in the country - it's not right downtown Nairobi; 2) it was (and hopefully still is) family-owned so it doesn't seem institutionalized; 3) they were building a beautiful swimming pool when I was last there in 10/01 so make sure you go swimming for me! and finally, 4) great breakfast and ambience (a real mix of peoples from Africa, Europe, etc.) I felt really safe there!

Also you will really love Kichwa Tembo. Make sure you watch the sunrise and the sunset over the Masai Mara (and they also have a great pool area - wonderful to read a favorite novel in the siesta time between game drives). Enjoy!!!
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Jun 3rd, 2003, 06:23 AM
  #9
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Thanks for the info on the Fairview. I chose this hotel because it was outside of the city centre, was family owned, and hoped that it would feel a little safer and more comfortable for a single female traveler than the one's downtown.
By the way, their web page says the swimming pool is finished!

Re: Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I think Jan's thoughts about helping with conversation efforts in Kenya are pertinent. There is the sense that for many people, visits to Africa to experience the animals are spiritual encounters rather than mere entertainment. For me, making an "offering" which will directly help these beautiful creatures seems appropriate.

Liz, I will definitely send out messages to the animals that you are coming soon!

Sundance
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Jun 3rd, 2003, 08:48 AM
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LizFrazier
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Thanks Sharon
 
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