Kenya trip report


Jun 29th, 2001, 04:26 AM
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Kenya trip report

Kenya Trip Report - part 1

I hope that some of this detailed info of our experience will be helpful if you are planning to go to Kenya.

My wife and I spent a week in Kenya (6-18 to 6-24) on a "Custom" tour arranged by Abercrombie and Kent (AK). We stayed 3 nights at Samburu Intrepids (SI) and 3 nights at Olonana (O). We booked through AK because we wanted to stay at O, which is their exclusive property. We did not get the extras which are part of the usual AK tours.

We arrived in Nairobi (N) on the morning of 6-18, met by AK, took a 15 min drive to Norfolk hotel which is close to the center of N. It was very nice with a tropical feel. Rooms were adequate. We paid $60 for an AK guided tour that afternoon of N, which lasted 4 hours. We drove around the city which was surprisingly modern and was interesting for the traffic and people. There were few traffic lights, cars parked everywhere, traffic jams, masses of people walking, walking, crossing streets any place, filling the streets, dodging the cars. Our van weaved in and out, missing people and other cars by a few millimeters. We went through the National Museum which was good, saw the place which was bombed a few years ago, the Synagogue with its beautiful gardens, and had an overlook view of the city, which was amazing to me because I didn't expect it to look like any other modern city with modern buildings. We took a taxi that night for dinner into town . It was still filled with traffic and people walking.

The next morning we were driven to Wilson Airport, a small airport for intra-K flights. It is about 10 miles from the International Airport. They weighed our luggage, which came in at 30 kg (66 lb), the limit. Our carry-ons were not weighed. We flew on a 2 engine prop about 45 min to the Samburu airstrip, was picked up by Land rover, then 15 min to SI which has 27 tents. We got Suite 2, which was near the kitchen, and noisy, so we switched to #7 which was fine. Our tent had 2 single beds, table, chair, and an adequate bathroom area. Front veranda looked out to a river - very pleasant. However, the tents were only about 20 ft from each other, so you could hear others talking. The room steward made the beds in the AM, turned down the covers in the PM, and put down the flaps at night. You had to zip up the front of the tent at all times to keep out the vervet monkeys. There are many monkeys all over the place. They are very cute and don't bother you, except that they steal from your tent if they get in. A Masai is stationed near the dining area with a slingshot to prevent them from bothering you during breakfast and lunch. Even so, one stole a packet of sugar from our table and a roll from the buffet table. He knew exactly where to go. Soft drinks, wine, and beer were extra.
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Jun 29th, 2001, 04:29 AM
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Part 2

When we got there, we learned that there were 2 game drives daily, 6:30-9 AM, and 4-6:30 PM. The other included activities were a pool and a 20 minute lecture by a Masai at 7:30 PM. Otherwise, everything else was extra: massage, nature walk, bird walk, village visit, cultural dance, sundowner barbeque, river rafting. We went out on a game drive at 4 PM that afternoon. We were given an old land rover and a barely adequate driver who was not an AK guide. For 2 1/1 hrs we drove along bumpy roads not seeing much. It is my impression that at Samburu, the vehicles outnumber the animals. At one time 3 lions were surrounded by 24 vehicles. It was uncomfortable. In 3 days we did 5 game drives, two of which were good. Besides a massage, the non-drive times were boring. Everyone there was helpful, and email was free.

After 3 nights, we went back to the airstrip, caught a one engine prop to Nanyuki (20 min), then to Wilson (40 min). AK treated us to lunch at Carnivore Restaurant, about 3 minutes from the airport. That was an experience. Besides the usual food, alligator, eland, and zebra were on the menu. The servers would come around with long skewers or swords with different meat on them, then pull off or slice off a piece onto your plate. You could have as much of anything as you wanted, and people ate for a long time. There was also a vegavore and piscavore menu.

Back to Wilson for the 3 pm flight yo Masai Mara (MM). There are 3 airstrips in MM, and we went to the Ketchwa Tembo one, a dirt airstrip. Picked up by AK, 10 min drive to O. There were 12 large tents (14'x25' living area), with a large bathroom partitioned off by a curtain, and 2 queen beds. The tents sat about 20' above and from the river, which was about 200' wide and fast flowing. We had tent #4, which came with 5 resident hippos stationed in the water near the other side. Every once in a while they would snort and come out. Sitting on the veranda, watching the flow and roar of the water, was greatly relaxing. Duncan, the butler, made the beds and took care of our requests. The hosts, Wayne and Shannon, were wonderful, as was everyone else. They were very attentive to our comfort and needs. Dinner was about 7:30, quiet, very good, and included soft drinks, beer, and wine. Bottled water was unlimited. After dinner, a Masai with a bow and arrow accompanied us from the dining room to our tent. The tents were adequately separated.

Next morning at 6:30 we went in a rover for a long drive on the Mara. At 9 we stopped and had a "tailgate" breakfast. In the evening after supper we went for a night drive for 2 hrs which was very good. 2 game drives the next day, and a visit to a Masai village. We didn't see the "Great Migration" because it occurs in July and August in the Mara. After 3 nights, back to Nairobi, then USA.

After all, I would recommend O for 3 nights, but 2 nights at SI would have been enough. For the third night we should have gone to the Mt. Kenya Safari club which others recommended. We didn't realize how easy it is to get around Kenya by plane. Airkenya (which is different from Kenya Airways) and others fly from Nairobi to many places. Flying is the way to go. Also, we discovered that we could have booked O by ourselves or through another tour co.

Would we return to East Africa? No- been there, done that. Would we recommend it? A hearty yes, more so to Tanzania, because of the Ngorongoro crater, Olduvai gorge, and Serengeti with many more animals.
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Jul 16th, 2001, 03:28 PM
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I am going to Olonana (as well as Tanzania) in August with my husband and 2 teen-aged children, so I read your posting with great interest. Any further recommendations or tips for Olonana? Certain tents to request, etc?
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