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Possible Kenya Itinerary for October...any thoughts, suggestions?

Possible Kenya Itinerary for October...any thoughts, suggestions?

Jan 15th, 2011, 02:03 PM
  #21  
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cjryan, sandi, atravelynn, PacoAheado- thanks for all the great info. My head is spinning!

Need to talk to the travel rep to see where we can trim and sneak in another night at Amboseli and the Mara. Elsamere is a must, I guess, since they said it takes too long to get from the Mara to Amboseli.

I was going to ask him about reversing the order- start at Amboseli or the Mara and heading off from there. However- I believe we'd have an issue getting from Else Kopje back to Nairobi as it looks like quite a longer drive than from Amboseli to Nairobi.

A lot to consider...and I thank you all for your invaluable insight!
heymo is offline  
Jan 15th, 2011, 03:06 PM
  #22  
 
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As most people know, I'm a strong believer in "save the best for last" thus that's the Masai Mara.

You can start by heading south to Amboseli, then head north (with stop in NBO for lunch) via Elsemere/Naivasha, onto Laikipia, then Samburu and/or Meru. There are flights from both Samburu or Meru to the Mara, where you can have second guide/vehicle meet for stay here; you can then drive or fly back to NBO.
sandi is offline  
Jan 16th, 2011, 10:11 AM
  #23  
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Sounds like a good plan, Sandi- writing to Wildtrek now!
heymo is offline  
Jan 18th, 2011, 07:38 AM
  #24  
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Okay- so I've received a quote from another tour company that wants us to choose between Amboseli and Samburu. We'll stay 3-4 days at Masai Mara, and will include smaller pasrks as well.

So- if you had to choose- which would you pick? Amboseli or Samburu?
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Jan 18th, 2011, 01:03 PM
  #25  
 
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Samburu!
sandi is offline  
Jan 19th, 2011, 06:46 AM
  #26  
 
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Another vote for Samburu.

I think I posted a link earlier that contains this info, but I recall being intrigued way back when by this itinerary designed for photograpy in a trip departing around November.

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...hotography.cfm

Day 1- Day 6: Upon arrival at the Nairobi Airport, who will be met by a Safariline Africa driver guide and depart to Samburu National Reserve, notice the change in landscape as we drive into the hot dry heat of the arid Samburu Reserve in the Northern Frontier District. This harsh, incredibly photogenic region is home to rare and endemic species: Grevy's Zebra, Somali Ostrich, Beisa Oryx, Gerenuk, Olive Baboon, Kirk Dik-Dik and Reticulated Giraffe. We will spend the next six days exploring this 'photographer's heaven': fantastic scenery, abundant wildlife and strong cultural experience. Samburu Serena captures the robust rhythms of riverside and three overnights will be spent in this rustic but yet sophisticated Lodge with the next three nights at Sarova Shaba. There will be opportunity to visit the three national parks; Shaba, Buffalo Springs and Samburu National reserve.

Day 7 – Day 8: Lake Nakuru National Park
Today's drive is through some of the most exciting scenery giving you an unrivalled view of the majestic Great Rift Valley. The main attraction of Lake Nakuru is the thousands of pink Flamingos and Pelican, a perfect place to experience one of the world's greatest ornithological spectacles; search for the endangered Black and White Rhino who have found a safe haven here and enjoy the game. Leave with picnic for full day game drives. Accommodation will be in a mobile camp with camp bed. Gourmet meals will be served by a skilled cook who will be traveling with you on the safari.

Day 9 – Day 11
We would particularly recommend you camp for at least three nights in the Mara so that you can have the flexibility of moving from one area to the other. The plains from Mara river to Soit Ololol Escarpment (Esoit Oloololo or Siria), at the west part, is a favourite haunt for Masai Mara's famous black-maned lions, which usually walk these grasslands searching for prey and doze beneath the scattered acacia trees during the day. This area holds beautiful scenic, the flat topped trees vanishing in the haze before the backdrop of the far-off bluish mountains. Another place to find lions is Musiara Swamps, which actually remain dry for a great part of the year. Lions are probably the major attraction in Masai Mara since their population here is the largest in Kenya. Other big five, plain games and birds are in abundance. Accommodation will be in a mobile camp where breakfast and dinner will be served.

Day 12 – Day 14
Leave for the Mara Triangle where you spend three overnights. Settle into your luxury en suite accommodation in Mara Serena Lodge set on the saddle of a hill overlooking the 1,800sq-km of the Masai Mara Triangle. It is on this very terrain stretching endlessly before the lodge where the annual migration takes place. The lodge has been designed to mirror a traditional Masai village with the guest rooms located in individually domed huts grouped in a circular manner. Each room has a private balcony with views that stretch over the vast Africa landscape. Full day game drives reveal the large herds of buffalo, elephant, cheetah, impala, hyena ... This is definitely better then watching Discovery Channel as you are part of the spectacle!

Day 15: Enjoy an early morning game drive followed by breakfast back at the lodge. Depart by road back to Nairobi to arrive in the late afternoon. Later transfer will be provided to the airport for your outbound flight.


Having recently returned from 4 nts in the Samburu region, I believe it offered great photo ops. If you were staying 6 nts, I'd consider one nt in Shaba because I think photographing the red cliffs is best done at sunset and I don't think you can get back to Samburu Serena from Shaba if you are taking pics near sunset. I stayed one night at Shaba at the lovely Shaba Sarova to see those red cliffs.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 20th, 2011, 10:13 AM
  #27  
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ARGH!!! My brain is hurting!!! Such choices...I've at least come to the decision that I do not want to have to mess with in-country flights, with the benefit of being able to take whatever camera equipment I want and the added bonus of staying with the same guide and driver, as I know from past trips is beneficial- they get to know you and what you're looking for and I think give you better service.

With that in mind...

Here is the itinerary sent by the second tour operator...
Day 1: arrive Nrb.

Day 2+3: transfer to the Aberdares/Mt.kenya area , staying @ Sangare Conservancy http://www.ontdek-kenya-safaris.com/...n-resorts.html .

Day 4: visit Solio Rhino Ranch + overnight at the Ark a Treehotel in the Aberdares. This is very nice for close shoot-up of elephants, buffaloes as they come to drink at the water hole .

Day 5 +6: Transfer to the Rift Valley @ Sunbird Lodge http://www.ontdek-kenya-safaris.com/...stination.html + Day 6 full day at Nakuru National park.

Day 7,8,9: Masai Mara , @ Mara Leisure Camp or Ashnil Camp

Day 10,: Acacia Camp http://www.ontdek-kenya-safaris.com/...re-resort.html , *** this camp is rustic and not as top lux as the others in the itinerary but we need it break the otherwise long journey from Mara > Amboseli. Alternative would be taking a night in Nrb hotel. The camp has giraffes, elands, gazelles and zebras. We get very positive feedbacks about Acacia from our clients + the journey to Amboseli is much shorter as you won't have to clear the Nrb traffic jam.

Day 11,12,13 : Amboseli @ Kilima camp

Day 14: Lunch at Acacia Camp. Evening flight out.

Alternately, I've asked my guy at Wildtrek if we can skip one night at El Karama and add it at the end to Amboseli or Masai Mara.

The itinerary you sent atravlynn sounds very appealing as well.

I believe the reason Wildtrek is keen on us staying at El Karama is there will be very few people there, and there is a professional wildlife photographer on staff who would be available for any assistance we'd need. Though we are professionals- this will be our first wildlife photography trip.

I welcome your comments...and thank you for your patience!
heymo is offline  
Jan 20th, 2011, 10:33 AM
  #28  
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Sorry- one more question I keep meaning to ask:

What is the general rule for tipping guides, drivers? We will be on a private safari with (I'm assuming) the same guide and driver the whole time.
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Jan 20th, 2011, 11:26 AM
  #29  
 
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Comment re Ashnil Camp in the Mara... don't!
Why? And though my "don't" seems quite stridant, know that while it's a lovely camp, it was built after many protests for where it was being built... in the middle of a rhino breeding area with concrete galore, is fenced... still the owners built here. It's also used by many large European tour operators! So what many feel is if visitors who are aware of the situation would boycott, maybe they'll go out of business. We can hope!

There's a thread on here and on Trip Advisor on the subject (I'm terrible in finding such links... if someone else is better and can assist, great).

Personally, I'd still prefer Samburu over Amboseli.

As to tipping: done so at conclusion of the service, i.e., when departing stay at lodge/camp and for guide/driver at end of the safari.
sandi is offline  
Jan 20th, 2011, 06:07 PM
  #30  
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Thanks, sandi. I was referring to how much to tip? ANy guidelines?
heymo is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 11:53 AM
  #31  
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I would absolutely agree- I would not want to stay at a camp that so blatanly disregarded the affect on the environment...thanks for pointing that out!
heymo is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 11:55 AM
  #32  
 
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There are loads of threads on the subject to "tipping".
Do a search!
sandi is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2011, 08:24 AM
  #33  
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Thanks sandi. Tried once with no answers, will try again.

Okay- after looking at the lodging choices from the second tour company (Ontdek Kenya Safaris) I am less than impressed. We've only cut down from 8 locations to 6, and our actual anniversary nigt they have us staying at a "less than luxury" tented camp as a layover to get from Masai Mara to Amboseli. Not really what I had in mind!


Would we be absolutely crazy to skip Masai Mara, and focus on Samburu/Shaba/Meru, Adberdares and Lake Nakuru and maybe Amboseli at the end (or beginning?)
heymo is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2011, 08:41 AM
  #34  
 
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Oh, don't skip the Mara! It's the "jewel of Kenya", and it's so very worth seeing.

I hope they can work out something better for your anniversary night, but I wouldn't recommend skipping the Mara if there's any way to arrange things.
WindowlessOffice is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2011, 09:16 AM
  #35  
 
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I'd never skip the Mara.
Not on any of my trips to Kenya in all these years have I not stopped in the Mara. Even if, in my case, just to catch up with friends and enjoy a day of game drives... it never disappoints.

I'd sooner skip Amboseli, as you already have an "elephant" park.
sandi is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2011, 09:11 AM
  #36  
 
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Skipping the Mara in October on a first safari to Kenya is crazy talk.

It would be akin to skipping the Louvre on a first trip to Paris. Unless you had musiaphobia (fear of museums) you should never omit the Louvre from a Paris itinerary.

Unless you have wildebeest-and/or-zebra-big-herd-o-phobia, you should definitely go to the Mara.

If you don't like your current travel company, there are many more. One thing I wouldn't do is alter a great itinerary to force your anniversary night to fall on the ideal lodging. Celebrate before or after if needed. Heck, celebrate several times.


Playing Online detective here, I think you googled “Best parks in Kenya for Photography”
You got this site: http://www.ontdek-kenya-safaris.com/...y-safaris.html

They state Amboseli is THE place to go in Kenya for photography.

Well, Amboseli is one of the very few spots in Kenya that allow for the unique shot of Kilimanjaro. So if that is a goal, then indeed Amboseli is your place. This company also is big in walking safaris and areas near Amboseli work well for walking and for horseback riding.

But check out this trip catering to photographers, escorted by a pro. I know it is older, but the itinerary is the point.
http://www.kenyasafaripackages.com/k...fari-kenya.htm

One of the most respected photo travel companies is Von Os. Look what they do:
http://www.photosafaris.com/photogra...fe-photo-tour/

Here are some possibilities that would include Amboseli, Nakuru, Samburu, Mara, offering about as diverse and picturesque landscape, animal variety, as you can get, along with opportunities for cultural/people shots*:

All Driving. I like the 2nd one.

1 Arrive
2-3 Drive to Amboseli, 4 to 4.5 hours
4 Morning views of Amboseli, drive about 8 hours to Nakuru
5 Day in Nakuru
6 Morning in Nakuru and drive back to NBO
7-9 Drive NBO to Samburu, a good 6 hours
10 Drive back to NBO
11 Drive NBO to Mara, 6-7 hours
12-14 In Mara
15 Drive back to NBO for eve flt

1 Arrive
2-4Drive 6+ hours NBO to Samburu
5-6 Drive Samburu to Nakuru, about 7 hours
7-9 Drive about 8 hours Nakuru to Amboseli
10 Morning views of Amboseli, drive to perhaps Naivasha enroute to Mara, about 4 hours
11-14 Drive to Mara, 6-7 hours
15 Drive back to NBO for eve flt

You may want to investigate flights some more. Perhaps start a new thread asking serious photographers with massive equipment how they have managed flying around Kenya.

*For pictures of people, you may be aware that many of the people just going about their business do not like to be photographed. There are numerous opportunities for cultural visits, in which a fee is paid, where photography and videotaping is invited. If you plan on doing more people shots than the average visitor, let your travel provider and your guide know in advance so somethng more extensive can be arranged. Also you'll encounter lots of people selling crafts at park entrances and such. Sometimes these folks offer to have their photos taken for a fee. Again, through your guide, you could ask about that. Some of this is of course contrived, but you can make arrangements where there is more natural activity without posing. Another interesting approach that I've used when I stayed in a Maasai Manyatta is to hand a camera to some of the local people and let them shoot what they want. I loved the results of what they chose. Then if you send the photos back, via your guide or the company, everybody wins.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2011, 02:12 PM
  #37  
 
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lynn -

Goodness, those two driving itineraries are scary! The first one especially... all that zig-zagging/backtracking - like drive from Nakuru (Day 5) to overnight NBO and next day head north again to Samburu; then south to NBO for overnight before out to the Mara... ugh! Both spend so much time on the roads. Oh well, there's something for everyone

As to "that" photo of Kili, it's always a crap shoot! It's often in the afternoon that the clouds part and the peaks can be seen for a few minutes, yet both itineraries emphasize this in the morning. Who ever knows, but I sure wouldn't bank my trip on this unless I had days to wait.
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Jan 23rd, 2011, 02:53 PM
  #38  
 
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More road time than I'd want, but if driving is the only option and you want to include Amboseli, along with the other spots, and 15 is the max days, is there a better alternative than the second option?

Sandi's lack of enthusiasm for Amboseli to get the Kili shot is worth noting.

Out of everything so far, I'd go with that italicized Safariline itinerary above if I were a serious photographer and I did not want any flights.

"Ugh," is more reason to at least consider a flight if you want Amboseli and the other locations.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 12:45 PM
  #39  
 
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lynn -
Was I that obvious?

It's just that there's no guarantee unless you've got luck or extended days on your side!

My best pictures, if I must say so has been when flying over the mountain, I've got the top of Kili, craters and snow... it's my screensaver!
sandi is offline  
Jan 25th, 2011, 06:43 AM
  #40  
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Okay- here's my thought:

The first itinerary from Wildtrek is the most appealing, even though it has us moving around a lot. What I may suggest is that:

A) We skip staying at the Stanley the first night in Nairobi. Our flight won't arrive until 8:30 that evening, and by the time we get to the hotel from the airport we'll be ready to crash. And at $300-400 a night that seems ridiculous. A clean cheap hotel will suit our needs just fine.

B) We skip one night at El Karama, and add it to Masai Mara

C) We take the money we would have spent at the Stanley and stay one more night at Amboseli.

That would give us:

2 nights at El Karama
2 nights at Samburu Game Lodge
2 nights at Elsa's Kopje
1 night at Sweetwaters (or maybe The Ark?)
1 night at Flamingo Hills
3 nights at Keekorok
1 night Elsamere
2 nights at Amboseli

What do you think?
heymo is offline  

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