Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Africa & the Middle East (
-   -   Mr. Carry-on and Family Go on Safari: A Porini Migration Adventure (

annhig Nov 3rd, 2010 09:44 AM

just found this, but no time to read it all - ttt for later

crosscheck Nov 3rd, 2010 03:46 PM

I was about to post the bonus chapter, but I became so anxious about your lost memory card incident that I have not been able to write. I promise to dedicate the last poignant lines to you, but I am about to travel again, so it might take a few days. I am counting on Sandi (whose report is three years overdue) to grant me a waiver.

long2travel Nov 5th, 2010 02:30 AM

Hey, don't use me as an excuse. I thought business travel is when you got all your reading and writing done. Long plane flights, nights alone in hotels, etc.

I must admit it took me two and half months to get to mine but at least I finshed it the same day. No pressure though... :)

atravelynn Nov 5th, 2010 04:41 PM

We have a culprit now. We can blame everything on lost memory card anxiety.

We'll all have to wait for the thrilling conclusion!

Leely2 Nov 5th, 2010 07:39 PM

Lynn, wishing you a speedy recovery! Looking forward to your report but please rest and take care.

ccipups Nov 8th, 2010 02:13 PM

Kama kusafiri na kubeba tu-on, kamwe kununua zawadi nyingi (“If you travel with only carry-on, you will never purchase too many souvenirs”)

OMG! I have the same kanga! What color is yours?

I know just what you mean about safari envy. The Nairobi airport ... I wrote that and then words failed me. Nothing works, but the employees are so friendly.

I leave tonight for for SA. Thanks for getting the last chapter in. Reading your trip report helps ease the utter sense of failure to make the trip with carry on only. Between SAA's onerous 18 lb weight restriction for carry on and the gear I need for this Earthwatch trip, I failed by about 2 lbs. Now I'll probably bring back too many souvenirs.

Have fun in the Turks and Caicos!

crosscheck Nov 8th, 2010 08:48 PM

long2 - sorry to use you as an new excuse is that I had a weak signal.

lynn - speedy recovery. hope it wasn't bed bugs!

ccipups - Oops - I actually didn't finish in time for your trip. Was planning on posting my bonus chapter tomorrow (even Mr. C is now bugging me about it.) Have a wonderful trip and may all the airline personnel you meet be lenient.

cynstalker Nov 10th, 2010 09:12 AM

With insights from the boys?, she asked plaintively... :-)

crosscheck Nov 11th, 2010 09:08 PM

I have resurfaced and am trying to contact my sons for insights. But they are not very insightful, so don't hold your breath.

But I will comment on what they took away from this extraordinary trip...and I have run out of excuses, so will finally wrap this thing up tomorrow.

PureLuxury Nov 12th, 2010 05:47 PM

I have enjoyed reading about your safari experience. I am leaving for Cape Town/Botswanta/Vic Falls in 30 days and I am so excited. Your pictures are great. Can you tell me if you took a computer with you to download nightly or did you just carry several memory cards? I noticed your carry-on bag (which is exactly what I have) and didn't know if you had an extra bag for a computer.

crosscheck Nov 13th, 2010 08:59 AM

Yes we did take an small old Vaio laptop (the size of the current inexpensive netbooks) and we did download nightly...or is it upload?

We also had five memory cards because we had five cameras of various sizes. Several of our cameras had been damaged or submerged in water in the Galapagos so this time we made sure we had enough.

In addition to the carry-on's in my photo, we also each had a backpack and the computer easily fit into one of those.

PureLuxury Nov 13th, 2010 09:32 AM

Thanks for your response. I will make sure I have plenty of memory cards. I've decided to take my 64GB IPAD with the camera connection kit to upload the photos each night and it can also serve my email and SKYPE needs. My Mac is a 13" and I think it will be too heavy even though I am very tempted to buy the new 11" MacBook Air:)


atravelynn Nov 13th, 2010 06:35 PM

Looking forward to the wrap up. Your kids need a copy of this family tale as told by Mom.

crosscheck Nov 13th, 2010 08:46 PM

Upon returning home, I found out that the friends who had originally invited me on their high end safari had NOT seen a crossing. This was because they had gone to Tanzania, where the migration was supposed to be. They ended up renting a helicopter at Grumeti to fly up to the Kenya border to check out the wildebeest (and like others we had met, they too were almost killed by a hippo in Katavi.) Their accommodations, though absolutely extraordinary, did not seem nearly as “organic” as ours. And they missed out on our cultural interaction and cheetah action.

Somebody asked about what the boys liked and disliked (besides business class and their premature introduction to sundowners.) I have been trying to get their opinions for days, with not much luck:

CROSSCHECK: What did you like most and least about Africa?
YOUNGER SON (music blaring): I don’t know, Mom. I'm in the middle of writing an essay.

CROSSCHECK: What did you like most and least about Africa?
OLDER SON (at college, wild party in the background): I can't really hear you. I have to go now, Mom. Love you!

My expert interpretation of their responses is to say that they just “got” it. I won’t forget our first glimpse of the wide open spaces of Amboseli, when we came upon the vista of warthogs, gazelles and baby baboons, with birds on the elephants’ backs. Could the boys possibly be as blown away as I was? I took a peek into the back seat – and there they were, totally absorbed and clearly as awestruck as if they were innocent little boys again. I knew then that as difficult it had been to pull this trip off, it was more than worth it.

- having our own vehicle so we were flexible and not overscheduled

- photography – some of our best shots were taken with their little Canons, and my not-so-artsy older son has even signed up for a course

- the big cats, especially the lions and the hungry cheetah mom

- downtime – all states of unpluggedness: chess, cards, even reading

- the walks, but more so, the drives. After other vacations that involved cave-rapelling or snorkeling with sea lions, I mistakenly thought this would not be an active enough trip, but the serenity (and lack of a sightseeing checklist) was a good fit for the psyche and pace of slothful teens

-sitting in the “spotter’s” seat during night drives

- the glorified “camping” – tents, whistles, bucket showers, morning tea delivery

- interaction with the cool guides/village visit (where they bonded with the teens and kids, and they even asked to go back to the Amboseli village a second time)

- they both liked the final 24 hours at the more commercial Mara Intrepids...mostly for the buffet, the long hot showers and the wifi, because they didn't use the pool or interact with other kids. We had agonized about what to do with our last day because Lion Porini wasn't available. The very smart and patient owner of Gamewatchers (who is also the head of the Kenya board of tourism) even got involved, assuring me that Intrepids would be a good choice, especially because of its convenient location near the migration, the airstrip, and (sigh)...the leopards. The Gamewatchers guy was right - though none of us would have given up the more authentic Porini experience, Intrepids was a great finale. (And I highly recommend it for families with younger kids.)

- and...yes, the boys did like the balloon. If you have teens, at some point you should probably take them for a balloon ride, and what better place than the Mara - even if it is a rip off?

- Bead factory visit; handicraft shopping…Neither was a highlight, but no major complaints.
- Both boys liked Macushla, but were curious why we hadn't planned some urban action in Nairobi

- Before we had even arrived home, they had posted their photos on Facebook and had gotten comments like “You really saw THAT? No way, dude. That’s sick.” (a high compliment). They both even invited their friends over for slide shows.

crosscheck Nov 13th, 2010 08:48 PM

This vacation was so spectacular that I still cannot figure out why we didn’t go on safari previously. We're fairly intrepid, so it wasn't because we overly concerned about “edginess.” Maybe we thought it would be too elitist or “colonial.” Or too structured…or too far of a trip for such a short time…or not enough exercise. Or way too pricey for a family vacation. None of the above turned out to be an issue. The preparation WAS a bit daunting, and in retrospect, we all had way too many vaccinations and bought way too many ridiculous khaki outfits.

But we ended up with one of our best trips ever, and because of the Gamewatchers eco-friendly/community/conservancy part of the equation, we were able to do something good for Africa just by spending our money there.

So if any of you are hesitating about taking your family to Kenya, just go. It will be a peak experience, guaranteed. No matter how well-traveled you are, they’re not kidding when they tell you it’s a magical place. Shockingly, Mr. C (which also stands for Mr. Cheapskate) has already mentioned the possibility of returning. And my tiny little duffel is all ready.

twaffle Nov 14th, 2010 01:56 AM

Crosscheck, thank you so much for this delightful adventure which we all shared and enjoyed. Fantastic. Please ask Mr Cheapskate :) to quickly decide to go on another safari so that we can all enjoy the trip with you.

moremiles Nov 14th, 2010 06:58 AM

Wonderful report and conclusion! I hope to run into your khaki clad family someday in Africa or maybe here in the wilds of L.A.

I knew our son(14 at the time) enjoyed Africa since he hopped out of bed at 5am with no problem whatsoever and never complained about anything the entire trip, even without the electronics. We have to read some body language.

patiricia Nov 14th, 2010 03:22 PM

Loved this Crosscheck. Gave me goosebumps at the end!!

Leely2 Nov 14th, 2010 03:37 PM

Yay! I love happy endings. Thanks so much for this report--it has truly provided me with much laughter and joy. And now you got me verkempt at the end. I can especially relate to the following:
This vacation was so spectacular that I still cannot figure out why we didn’t go on safari previously. We're fairly intrepid, so it wasn't because we overly concerned about “edginess.” Maybe we thought it would be too elitist or “colonial.” Or too structured…or too far of a trip for such a short time…or not enough exercise.</i>

I think those crazy ideas were circulating somewhere in my head before my first safari too. I remember coming back to Northern California after my first trip and looking at the dry, autumn landscape, and thinking, "At one time, a long time ago, these hills were dotted with wild animals."

KathBC Nov 14th, 2010 08:44 PM

Thanks crosscheck have enjoyed the ride! :)

Ok so what's the story about people just about being killed by hippos in Katavi?

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:41 AM.