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Possible plan change for first safari: Kenya instead of Tanzania

Possible plan change for first safari: Kenya instead of Tanzania

Feb 22nd, 2011, 09:26 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 72
Possible plan change for first safari: Kenya instead of Tanzania

I have been lurking at this forum for a while, and finally got my first safari planned. My wife and I plan to take our first safari in Tanzania in Feb 2012. Right after I sent our preliminary itinerary to a few outfitters for pricing, I got the news about a work related event in Amsterdam in early September 2011. It is tempting to change our plan to move the safari date earlier, as Amsterdam is convenient base for flights into Africa. Breaking the long flight is always good to the body, not to mention the portion of the airfare covered. We are now facing a few options:

1) Keep our original plan for Feb 2012. It gives us enough time to prepare for the big trip.
2) Take the planned Tanzania trip in Sept 2011, probably with a little adjustment (say from Southern Serengeti to Northern Serengeti).
3) Take the trip in Sept 2011, but in Kenya instead of Tanzania. I understand the migration is in Kenya this time of the year.

The problem with 3) is that it means redo the planning. While I enjoy the experience of research and planning, we are short on time for Sept. Once we decided on Tanzania, we did not spend time doing research on Kenya, other than the knowledge that Masai Mara is great from July to Oct. Trying to catch up in the last couple of days, and got overwhelmed. At this point, I have a few questions:

• We planned to have a private safari in Tanzania, with our own vehicle/guide. It makes logistic sense since parks in Northern Tanzania are not that far apart, and full board plan seems to be common as many people have their vehicles. But looking at the map of Kenya, the parks are far from each other. Is driving with private vehicle/guide from park to park still recommended? If flying, is the game drive provided by the camp/lodge? Is game plan the norm?
• We planned to spend 6 days in Serengeti, 4 in the south and 2 in central before flying back to Arusha. If we change plan to visit Kenya in Sept, I would like to allocate 6 days (well at least 5 days) in Masai Mara. From what I read so far, it seems a near consensus to split it 3/3 (or 3/2) between the reserve, and private conservancy in the north, but I did not understand the reason behind it.
• We planned to have a mix of lodge and tented camp for Tanzania, and I think this still applies for Kenya. Mara Serena has a great location. Is the game drive provided by the lodge? What is the typical sharing basis?
• What other park is to be combined with Masai Mara? Assume I have the time/budget for another 3 to 4 days in Kenya. Is Samburu considered an elephant park, like Tarangire?

My friend came back from a safari and strongly recommended a private trip for us. Her reason is that we are too shy to ask for what we want. In a shared vehicle, whoever spoke the loudest gets what she wants. On the other hand, I am not sure this is of concern. I think we will be thrilled with whatever we see as a first timer.
foggy27 is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2011, 05:56 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 53
What a great surprise to know that you don't have to wait until February 2012, and more importantly that you can time your safari to be in the Masai Mara during the migration which is an incredible experience.

My first safari was last August and I flew between 3 different parks which was great as I was able to spend more time with game viewing then driving between areas. I first stayed in Nairobi for 2 nights (1 full day to explore) and then flew to Amboselli (Elephant Park, but you can also choose Samburu instead but I wanted to see Kilimanjaro). I loved my time at Tortilis Camp in Amboseli, and then I flew to Nanyuki and stayed at Porini Rhino camp in Ol Pejeta before heading to my final and most favorite destination the Masai Mara. I split my time in the Mara between Kichwa Tembo which is very well located just outside the triangle and in a beautiful area and Porini Lion camp which is on the Olare Orok Conservancy. Both of these camps were very different but both amazing in their own way. If you can spend 5 or 6 nights in the Mara it will be ideal especially in September as there is so much wildlife to see and you'll increase your odds of seeing a river crossing. I find it odd that most tour itineraries only give you two nights in the Masai Mara and that is one of the reasons why I designed my own trip so that I could choose where and how long I wanted to stay at each park/camp and not have to drive between parks.

Why people may advise you to stay in a private conservancy such as Olare Orok in the Mara is because it is more private and the camps are generally much smaller and more intimate. You truly get an authentic experience on a conservancy with all the same wildlife (and sometimes more) than in the main parks. I loved my time at both Kichwa Tembo which is a larger tented camp with 40 tents and Porini Lion camp at 10 tents. All my camps were tented and I'd have it no other way. I can stay at a lodge/hotel anytime/anywhere, but for Kenya I wanted a unique experience and the tented camps provided me with an adventure like no other. Each camp sent their vehicle and driver to meet me at the airstrip and I was then assigned to a group for game drives which usually consisted of 3 to 5 people in a vehicle with maximum capacity being at 6ppl. All vehicles were 4x4 open sided land cruiser type vehicles, mostly with tiered seating.

I worked with Diederik van den Hoeke with Go2Africa and he was great at putting together various itineraries with pricing options and was extremely quick in responding to my many queries. You can contact him or try another of the recommended agents/companies on the boards.

If I had only two parks I'd select the Masai Mara and either Amboseli or Samburu. I haven't personally visited Samburu, however many of the experts highly recommend as you'll also be able to see species that you won't see elsewhere in Kenya.

I had such a wonderful time in Kenya and while on safari last August that I'm now headed to Southern Africa this summer, and I'm already counting down the days!
nycjv is offline  
Feb 24th, 2011, 04:40 PM
  #3  
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Thanks. We have done quite a bit of research for our first safari, but focus was on Tanzania. It took time to read enough trip reports to have a general feeling. I think part of it is general: I want to be at the best location for the time of the year, and I want to stay at one locale longer than packing/unpacking frequently. However the logistics do vary. Flying vs driving seems to be less a clear-cut decision for Kenya.
foggy27 is offline  
Feb 25th, 2011, 12:46 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
"Flying vs driving seems to be less a clear-cut decision for Kenya."

Where do you want to go? Is decison based on time vs price? Can you explain.
sandi is offline  
Feb 25th, 2011, 04:25 PM
  #5  
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Cost is always a consideration, but I have not contacted any operator to know if the nmmber is significant for us to go one way or another. I also believe budget is the limiting factor rather than the time. My concern is the experience of flying + game drive on shared basis, vs. private vehicle/guide for both transfer and game drive.
foggy27 is offline  

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