Kenya trip advice


Dec 26th, 2010, 12:44 PM
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Kenya trip advice

I would appreciate any opinions on the following trip. It is a package trip which includes air from USA for aout $2400. The route is as follows: 1 night at Serena Mountain Lodge, 2 nights at Sarva Shaba Lodge, 1 night at Sarova Lion Hill Lodge, and 2 nights at Mara Sarova. The meals, game drives and transport are included.?
It seems the price is very good but is the trip too short? Should I try to extend the trip by a couple of days.
I appreciate any advice.
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Dec 26th, 2010, 05:35 PM
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$2400 for 6 nights including air from USA. A bit hard to believe, air must be from New York, JFK. And even then best deal I've noticed lately is $1,300 JFK to NBO. You sure?

From my brief look at the Sarova Shaba Game Lodge, it's a rather large facility, 90 rooms, and emphasis seems to be on resort activities rather than game drives. Anyway, I'd extend it by a week - but not at a Sarova hotel. Go to Governors camp, Maasai Mara.

regards - tom
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Dec 26th, 2010, 05:58 PM
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Thanks Tom. The air is from Waashington on Ethiopian air. I am just in in the beginning stages of planning but am thinking to do the package but doing a extention. I will look into Governors Camp
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Dec 26th, 2010, 06:33 PM
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Guess I should add, there's nothing wrong with resorts unless that's not what you're after.

Check on Ethiopian Air, there were some negative comments about it here not long ago. I had choice of flying it or KLM to Tanzania come this February and decided I'd rather spend $500 more for KLM.

regards - tom
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Dec 26th, 2010, 07:03 PM
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Is this a group departure and if so how many people in each vehicle? The very attractive price makes me think it is a group trip and not a private departure.

What time of year?

Do you know who the ground operator is?

If you can spare more days, I would add some more days, starting with a 3rd night in the Mara.

Also request drive times which will range from about 3-6 hours between locations.

As Tom mentions, these are large lodges. Very comfortable in nice locations with resident wildlife. Shaba Sarova is on the Uaso Nyiro River, which attracts birds and mammals. During the migration, Mara Serena has an excellent location for river crossings. Serena Mountain Lodge has one of the better floodlit waterholes.

Tented camps, such as Governor's or Little Governor's are more appealing, but can be much more expensive than the lodges. My most recent Kenya trip was mostly lodges, rather than tented camps, to keep costs in check and it was great. In fact it included Mara Serena and Shaba Sarova.

See what your time and budget allow, but you have a typical basic itinerary covering Kenya's highlights in under a week on a budget. $2400 with international air is a low price so please check the operator and your transport within Kenya.
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Dec 26th, 2010, 08:15 PM
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It is a group not private. It is thru Lionword which we used for South Africa and were very happy with. The transport is in 7 seater minibuses. All transport within Kenya are by road not air.
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Dec 26th, 2010, 11:10 PM
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it is very cheap and therefor has the usual money-savers like choice of airline, crowded minibuses and large lodges. But since you seem to have experience with that in South Africa (assuming it was kind of the same since it was the same operator/agent) you probably are very well able to judge yourself if you like a trip like that. If so this is great value for money, and would be a great trip if extended at one of the places suggested.

About the airline; Sure it will be a bit less comfortable, but most complaints I usually see for the 'lower budget' airlines is that the staff is not that friendly. If I could save 500$ with just having to deal with less friendly people Im up for that!
How the airline is performing in terms of delays etc. can be checked online, but might nog be so relevant if you don't have a stop-over on your trip.
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Dec 27th, 2010, 07:26 AM
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Lion World is good news. I know someone who went with them a couple years back for a similar price. I even did a 2nd hand report, based on what I heard about their trip, shown below. Lion World is legit and does negotiate great prices.

If you alter the Lion World's set itinerary, you would likely pay proportionally a lot more for each extra day you add. The international flight might also cost you more if you don't go over and come back with the group.

Brief, 2nd hand report on Lion World's 9-day Kenya trip for $2300 and that's with air
Posted by: atravelynn on Sep 21, 07 at 5:50pm

Lion World Tours

I know I should be doing my own Brazil trip report, but I wanted to whip this one out before I forget the specifics.

A co-worker of mine just returned from a mid-September departure. She and her husband had a fabulous time. They have done quite a bit of international travel and enjoy group trips and bargains. The husband had no interest in traveling to Africa but went because his wife wanted to go. It did not take long before he was hooked and shot 7000 photos, which were described as glorious.

During the planning stages I recall she would have liked more prompt responses from Lion World to her inquiries. There were also some added costs that did not please her, such as increases from the stated price for a departure on a Friday instead of a Wednesday or something like that. But they got over those things were thrilled with the trip itself.

1st night was at Stanley’s. My co-worker remarked that souvenirs were actually much less expensive at the hotel than in the Mara, at times by more than 50%, and the hotel had an excellent selection of beautiful things. Since they ended up back at Stanley’s for the dayroom at the end of their trip, buying souvenirs could be done at the start of the trip (and have them stored during the trip) or at the end. They liked Stanley’s very much.

2nd & 3rd nights were at the Sarova in Shaba. They were thrilled with the view of the river from their room and with the family of elephants drinking from it. The reserve was a hit with them as they made their first sightings.

4th night was at Lion Hill Sarova in Nakuru. They saw lots of flamingos and a white rhino among other wildlife. They liked the location and rooms at Lion Hill Sarova but felt the service was lacking at each of their meals.

5th & 6th nights were at Mara Sarova. Their comment was “it was camping unlike anything we have ever done before,” and they were clearly enthused about the luxury element. They were in the midst of the wildebeest migration and saw numerous pairs of mating lions, plus a mother cheetah and three cubs playing, many giraffes, and even a black rhino.

There were six people in their vehicle and everyone got along and it did not feel crowded. They felt their guide did a superb job and especially mentioned his ability to manuever them into range for a sighting of that elusive black rhino.

They decided upon Lion World after attending a travel show by another big name in travel that starts with F and ends with r but is not Fodor’s. They had not even considered Africa, but this seemed to be such a good deal that they jumped on it. Obviously, they were very happy with deciding on Africa and with their experience with Lion World.

I did not have unlimited time to talk with her so I did not ask what the ground operator was. But I’m sure if you called Lion World, they would tell you, and they may even use a couple so her outfitter might not be the only one.

One issue that came up that is not limited to her trip: cell phone use on safari. Somebody on the trip was trying to get in touch with a friend in Kenya but for some reason could not reach them while at the lodge. So they would request the guide drive around to different spots to seek reception on the cell phone and these spots were not necessarily prime game viewing sites. What is even odder is they were asking to use the guide’s cell phone

Link to the 2nd hand trip report and comments.

I mistakenly thought your Mara nights were in Serena. I see they are at Sarova. I did visit Mara Sarova (for a fuel stop) on my last trip and was impressed with the huge grounds, the creek, and the winding trails that could be used by guests.

Notice the Lion World trip was mid-Sept as was my last Kenya trip, a very good time for wildlife. Also more people then, but probably not as many as August.
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Dec 28th, 2010, 03:41 PM
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"1 night at Serena Mountain Lodge, 2 nights at Sarva Shaba Lodge, 1 night at Sarova Lion Hill Lodge, and 2 nights at Mara Sarova."

Just so you know, drive times are:
Nairobi to Serena Mountain Lodge at Mt. Kenya - 2.5/hrs
Mt. Kenya to Samburu/Shaba, Savora Shaba - 3.5/hrs
Samburu/Shaba to Lake Nakuru,Lion Hill - 5-6/hrs
Lake Nakuru to Masai Mara, Sarova - 5/hrs
Masai Mara to Nairobi - 5/hrs

You'll be spending lots of time in transit and don't expect super highways, rather terrible bumpy roads.

The Mara always deserves minimum 3/nts.

While the price is right, it's a rushed itinerary. Even though Ethiopian is now flying 777s, it's along haul to Addis Ababa before ongoing to Nairobi.

If you liked the services or Lion, inquire whether they can do a "private/independent" safari, with additional day in the Mara and a better selection of accommodations, especially in the Mara. Also, after the long flights whether with Ethiopian or another carrier (there are lots), add a day for in Nairobi to catchup on jetlag (maybe delayed luggage) where you can do some sightseeing.

Day 1 - Arv. NBO - o/n
Day 2 - NBO, sightseeing - o/n Fairview or Macushla
Day 3 - To Mt. Kenya - o/n Fairview or Macushla
Day 4 - To Samburu - o/n Serena, Intrepid's, Larsen's, Elephant Bedroom
Day 5 - Samburu - o/n
Day 6 - To Ol Pejeta (Nanyuki, private reserve) - o/n Ol Pejeta Bush or Sweetwater's
Day 7 - To Lake Nakuru - o/n Lion Hill
Day 8 - To Masai Mara - o/n Governor's, Kichwa Tembo, Intrepid's, Serena, Royal Mara, and many many more
Days 9 & 10 - Masai Mara - o/n
Day 11 - To NBO, homebound

Good luck!
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Dec 28th, 2010, 05:02 PM
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will the drives between places be interesting?
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Dec 28th, 2010, 05:23 PM
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On the drives you'll see the landscape, villages, and people, but the drives are not trip highlights. Maybe a few animals such as antelope or giraffe here and there, especially several hours out of the Mara enroute to NBO. While interesting for a while, the drives can get long and tedious when you are doing about 20 hours worth. You can nap through the bumps or visit with your vehicle mates.

On my last trip I spent well over 15 hours being driven between parks and about 2 hours flying. I had no other guests to visit with but don't recall the drives being unpleasant. However the park time to transport time was a much higher ratio on my trip than on your original Lion World itinerary.

If your budget is very tight and it looks like the 6-night Lion World safari or nothing, I am sure you'd have a wonderful time on that itinerary. If your budget allows for more days (especially in the Mara) and maybe some tented camps, you'd have an even better time.
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Jan 17th, 2011, 04:34 PM
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Seems a bit too good to be true. I'm wondering if there's not some very obvious missing element - park fees?

That US$1100 for six nights, including all meals and fees just doesn't add up.

Does it?

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Apr 15th, 2013, 11:01 PM
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Apr 26th, 2013, 03:42 AM
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Steve1984 - did you take the trip yet and how was it?
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