Planning Kenya/Tanzania safari?

Jun 16th, 2010, 08:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 114
Planning Kenya/Tanzania safari?

We are interested in a safari to Kenya or Tanzania or both. One outfit that has a reasonable price of $600 per night is Origins Safaris. Can anyone give me any feedback on them? Or do you have any feedback on another company we should consider? We want to photograph the wildlife and landscapes, so we are looking for a small photo or private safari in August or September 2011. If you have any feedback it would be much appreciated. Never having been to either country, I wonder how safe a safe destination they are. Don't want to be woke up in the night to robbers, and I have read about that occurring on occasion. Are there any security considerations to the camps we select? Also wonder if the Serengeti is so fabulous that we should spend 4-5 days there and maybe skip the Mara. Have a budget of $10,000 max each, but would rather spend it on a longer visit than super luxury. A clean tent with bathroom and hot water, and a mosquito net would be just fine. Are hoping to arrange something with no more than 3 people in the vehicle, so we can move around to photograph and so that we can stay on a sighting as long as we want, not be confined to someones schedule. Want to photo wildlife, especially cheetahs and leopards, but all animals, sunsets and whatever else (am not sure what all there is!!) Want to spend more time viewing than in transit. Any suggestions on what to see or places that should really not be missed would also be greatly appreciated. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and time!!
karn is offline  
Jun 17th, 2010, 07:51 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Origins--They really are top of the line in both quality and pricing. They are owned by family with long ties in Africa who have authored respected bird books. Is the $600 for your party or per person? I've used them in the past on a couple of occasions. You will be thrilled with your Origins guide (most important aspect of the safari) and safari.

Origins works through agents as a rule but I saw you could contact them directly from their website.

Other companies? There are lots of good ones and if you look at this index, you'll read about many successful trips.

Aug-Sept = excellent times to go. Flights are usually less end of Aug and into Sept.

How safe? If you go with a reputable company like Origins or one of the other many responsible operators, it is as safe as most travel or as walking about in your own city. The greatest danger is the unrelenting equatorial sun that can strike you down any day anytime you are outside unprotected for hours on end. Take a wide brimmed hat and sun screen.

Camps to avoid--While there were some isolated incidents of robberies in the Mara, I'd gladly stay anywhere in the Maasai Mara. Just like I drive down roads where fatalities have occured near my home. I think the larger lodges offer less opportunities for intrusions that affect the entire facility, but I don't think your belongings are safer at large lodges.

Enough of the negatives, I would not let those concerns dictate aspects of my trip. I would, however, avoid major elections, though, and your time frame does that.

In Aug-Sept, I'd include the Mara and in fact I have on my trip this Sept. But you can see how your itinerary and time frame work out. Any combo of Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire, Serengeti Maasai Mara, Laikipia properties, including Samburu, maybe Amboseli in Kenya or West Kili in Tanzania if seeing Mount Kilimanjaro is important would give you a great trip.

You might also consider Southern Tanzania--Mahale for chimps, Katavi, Ruaha, Selous, though that is not as typical for a first trip as the Northern Circuit Parks of Arusha, Manyara, Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti.

Longer trip rather than luxury: I absolutely agree and always put that principle into practice.

If you want no more than 3 people--is your party 3 people? In East Africa, a private trip for 2 or 3 is typical and you just need to make that known at the outset.

If you want to minimize time in transit, you can fly some legs of the trip. Also ask for drive times between desitnations and then check on those here on the forum.

You'll have a wonderful trip!
atravelynn is offline  
Jun 17th, 2010, 11:19 AM
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Wow Lynn, thanks for all the input!! Am going to check out the sites you listed too. $600 is per person,per night, and there are only 2 in our party. However,in Botswana we were not with a group either, but they put 6 additional people in our vehicle. Unfortunately, I was in the middle, and found decent photography impossible. On the positive side, that only happened twice. Just wanted set things up to ensure access for photography this time around. Asking for drive times is a great idea, and flying longer distances is good too. You mentioned you are going in Sept-do you fly in and out of Nairobi or Tanz? Have you been to Mahale? Thanks again for your suggestions!!!
karn is offline  
Jun 17th, 2010, 12:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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"One outfit that has a reasonable price of $600 per night is Origins Safaris. Can anyone give me any feedback on them? Or do you have any feedback on another company we should consider? "

I dont know about Origins but i can recommend GAMEWATCHERS ( Porini ) a local operator in Kenya . We used them 2 years ago for our safari and we are going with them again next August for another 9 safari nights (no city nights ) in Kenya. We are a family of 4 and our rate for this trip is less than 600 $ pppn , in nice tented camps or lodges and with flights included ( Nairobi , Mara , Meru , Nairobi)

"We want to photograph the wildlife and landscapes, so we are looking for a small photo or private safari in August or September 2011. If you have any feedback it would be much appreciated"

If you have a big interest in wildlife photography a private vehicle is very important.You can plan what to do,where to go , stay longer with any animal that interest you or specially look for them. East Africa is great to get a private vehicle for your safari.

"Also wonder if the Serengeti is so fabulous that we should spend 4-5 days there and maybe skip the Mara"

The Serengeti is amazing , we spent 5 nights there 2 in Central and 3 in South Serengeti and could had been longer , but August is Mara time , the great migration should be there . Mara and Serengeti are part of the same ecosystem so you probably could spend 5 days in the Mara and skip Serengeti. From the places i have visited , Samburu in Kenya and Ngorongoro in Tanzania are fantastic to photograph wildlife and landscape and i would also like to visit Lewa in Kenya and Tarangire in Tanzania in the future.

Like Lynn says , you will have a great trip.

PacoAhedo is offline  
Jun 17th, 2010, 12:19 PM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 20
I was on safari in Kenya and Tanzania in March and we used a family operated company out of Kenya called Twiga Tours. They were really excellent and so was our private guide. They offer many different types of experiences, but were also flexible and willing to work with us to tailor the safari.

Here is their website:

I have nothing but great things to say about them and our time in East Africa.
silleb is offline  
Jun 17th, 2010, 12:36 PM
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$600 per person per night is definitely on the high end. But it depends on where you are staying, where you are going, and your guide may be rated as a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Level.

The setup in East Africa is different from Botswana and you can easily do a private safari where there will be no other guests. The cost is more reasonable than it would be in Botswana too.

I am working on Mahale for the following year--have not gone to S. Tanzania yet. This Sept, I'll fly in/out of NBO and be only in Kenya.

Gamewatchers is well known and does a good job, as PacoAhedo mentions. I'm using Eastern and Southern. I did a short excursion with them last year. There are many good companies to choose from.
atravelynn is offline  
Jun 17th, 2010, 12:53 PM
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With apologies to karn, I'm hijacking this thread for a minute: Paco, glad to hear you liked Gamewatchers and you're using them again for another safari. We're a family of four about to go on our first safari with them in mid-July. Where did you go? They've been wonderful to deal with so far.
crosscheck is online now  
Jun 17th, 2010, 01:26 PM
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Posts: 267

we went to Samburu,Nakuru and Masai Mara. We did not stayed at their camps but all their services where very good , including a 2 day driving safari to Nakuru from Nairobi.

Their properties Porini Lion,Porini Rhino and Amboseli Porini look fantastic.

Yes, they are wonderful to deal with and very fast and efficient.

PacoAhedo is offline  
Jun 19th, 2010, 06:44 PM
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Thanks to each of you for your thoughtful suggestions. Crosscheck-I will look forward to your trip report-have a great time! Paco-I am going to check out Gamewatchers, thanks to your suggestion. Lynn-I didn't know guides were rated bronze, silver and gold. Is this just in Kenya? Is it based on their training or what? I looked thru all of the current and previous trip reports and what looks really good are Governor's and Lewa Downs in Kenya-for 6 days. Then another 6 days in Tanz (depending on the cost) Haven't narrowed down Tanz yet, but probably Norongoro and Serengeti. Also, my travel partner does not want to spend too much time driving (been there-done that & too bumpy)so we'll need to fly some. Does this seem like a balanced plan?
karn is offline  
Jun 19th, 2010, 07:14 PM
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Silleb-I looked into Twiga Tours and they have great prices. How did you communicate with them to set up the safari-did you call Kenya, e-mail or ??
karn is offline  
Jun 19th, 2010, 09:11 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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The rating system has not been around that long and not all guides are rated. I believe Origins has some of the rated guides.

Lewa and Little Gov is a great Kenya combo and close to one I've done personally. The camp was near Little Gov, but no longer operating.

You might consider crater and Tarangire for the time of year you are going, especially because you're going to Mara as well.

If your travel partner does not like driving, the part of the Serengeti you'd want to be in would be the north. You can fly there, but between N. Serengeti and the crater your only choice is to drive (with your time frame and if you are not chartering your own plane). That's a long drive--maybe 6 hours?

If you did Tarangire, Crater, Lewa, Mara your trip would a duplicate of a trip I did with some friends a few years back. We flew NBO to JRO and drove to Tarangire. Then drove to Crater. Then flew from Manyara airstrip to JRO to make flt to NBO. (I think the Manyara airstrip to JRO was a private charter, but we had enough people to spread the fixed cost.) Then we flew to Lewa; we flew Lewa to Mara; and Mara back to NBO.
atravelynn is offline  

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