On shared game drives, how full are vehicles?

Nov 26th, 2010, 07:20 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 161
On shared game drives, how full are vehicles?

We are just starting to tinker with a January 2012 itinerary, considering Meru, Samburu, Laikipia, as well as Amboseli and Tsavo. I'd like to get a better idea, just based on everyone's personal experience, that when they were on shared game drives, did camps fill the vehicle? Did they say "Morning game drive leaving at 0700! All aboard!" or was there some allowance for people's interests? Did anyone find that at the pricier camps, like the Cheli & Peacock properties, if they had 6 guests, they would maybe separate guests into 2 or 3 separate vehicles, offering more private experience? I guess I'm asking that if you stay at a more expensive, smaller property, is there more consideration for fewer people in vehicles?

Our first trip to Kenya was during the riots in January 2008, and we were treated like royalty. The camps were all empty, or maybe one other tent occupied. Saruni gave us private drives, even with one other tent filled, as well as Campi Ya Kanzi gave us private game drives - Luca and staff were amazing.

So, I have no experience with how it really works when camps are busier. We were really spoiled

Thanks for all feedback!
Local2542 is offline  
Nov 26th, 2010, 06:08 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Six guests likely would get 2 vehicles at the smaller upscale camps. But what if there are 10-12 people?

I'd let everyone know in advance what kind of safari-ers you are, for example wanting to start early, serious amateur photographers, you have gone before.

You might even consider after arriving at the camps arranging for a private vehicle. You might be able to get a better deal on a private vehicle once you are there, if booking a private vehicle is needed.

One other thing to consider is that the more expensive and remote camps tend to attract people who are a little more serious about safaris anyway so that anyone you end up with will likely have similar views.

You may want to check what people thought about Meru in the non-dry season on the link below. I thought it was good in Sept, but probably wouldn't go there in Jan. I'd go the other places on your list, though.

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...u-in-kenya.cfm
atravelynn is offline  
Nov 27th, 2010, 12:00 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 469
Im having the same question (for my safari to selous + ruaha) and i just learned that a private vehicke only would cost me 88 euros per day so im going to arrange a mix of shared days and private days so it doesnt matter that much if everyone wanrs to go for the sundiwner when you are waiting for some action in the best light
Nikao is offline  
Nov 27th, 2010, 04:15 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 118
Funnily enough, I can only remember 2 sundowners (and they were after boat trips) out of around 10 nightsin Selous/Ruaha.

I think the camps are not allowed to night drive without huge fees, and so ensure they are back at base before dusk.

I wondered how anyone would find out if they stayed out late, but was assured there were park authorities in the area of most camps.

On the plus side,though, I can't remember more than one or two occasions of having to share a vehicle.
mcwomble is offline  
Nov 28th, 2010, 08:08 AM
  #5  
TC
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,859
We spent 22 days in Ruaha and Selous this past January. It was extremely quiet during that time period. In Ruaha, we shared a vehicle with one other couple at Jongomero Camp and had a vehicle all to ourselves at Mwagusi. At Selous Safari Camp we shared with one other couple and at Sand Rivers guests always have their own vehicle and guide.

On our previous trip to Africa, on the more populated Northern route, we were always 6 to a vehicle. That was also in January and the camps weren't full.

I would say the answer to your question is -- yes, in the pricier camps you are more likely to have fewer people in the vehicle. January is also the low season, so that adds to the mix. We never requested a lone vehicle - because they often want a rather large up charge if you ask for this in advance. For instance, we did pay extra for the days we used a vehicle for transfer from one camp to another.

We found in these particular camps, everyone was always asked what they wanted to do the next day. However, the departure times were pretty much settled do to the movement of game at certain times of day. We did find that asking for the early morning drive with a take along breakfast almost always guaranteed we'd have a vehicle to ourselves.

I think you must simply ask the policy in each camp that you are considering. They can all be quite different depending on the time of year and the number of guests.

As far as sundowners, we had them every night in Ruaha. In Selous, we would return to camp to have our evening drinks.
TC is offline  
Nov 28th, 2010, 11:43 AM
  #6  
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 161
Thank you all!

TC & Atravelynn - loved your trip reports! Both of your trips have been examined closely, although I think once again, as I did 4 years ago, I've had to rule out the southern TZ route. Too hot for us I am using lots of information from atravelynn's to keep in mind as we try to stick to a tighter budget this time.

"We did find that asking for the early morning drive with a take along breakfast almost always guaranteed we'd have a vehicle to ourselves." This is great idea.

"You might even consider after arriving at the camps arranging for a private vehicle. You might be able to get a better deal on a private vehicle once you are there, if booking a private vehicle is needed." Also another great thought, although my negotiating skills suck.

I also received a couple personal emails from other fodorites who are of the same opinion that you pay a bit more for the camps, and they are smaller, you may get a little more special treatment. I know there are no guarantees, but I felt a huge difference in the way we were treated between the Serena and Olakira. We were much more of number at the Serena, obviously because of the volume they serve daily.

"...and remote camps tend to attract people who are a little more serious about safaris anyway so that anyone you end up with will likely have similar views."

That would be welcome. We connected with fewer people than we expected. In years before of travel, we always made friends. This last trip surprised me how little in common we had with the folks at a couple camps. However, the fodorites we had previously arranged to connect with were awesome. What a great company we keep here

Sundowners - we only did 2 that I can remember in 21 days. One was perfect, and one felt contrived. Like the camp guides were told "guests must have sundowner" so they kind of pulled over at a certain time and set up on the tailgate. It was fine, but not very relaxed.

Anyway, thanks for the great info - any other opinions welcome!
Local2542 is offline  
Nov 28th, 2010, 06:57 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Kenya only??
Well, I can give you my one experience in a Kenya safari camp, Little Governors camp. Were were there 5 nights in Sep 2006 and shared the Land Rover with one other couple, 4 of us total in vehicle. Fortunately the fellow was also very keen on photography so we all got along great. Our guide though was mostly just "going through the motions", watching for what other vehicles were sighting. Still overall a good camp and safari and I'd sure like to go back.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
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