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Questions & Comments for Michelle's Trip from Bahrain to Kenya and Zanzibar

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Aug 9th, 2005, 03:42 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Aug 2005
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Questions & Comments for Michelle's Trip from Bahrain to Kenya and Zanzibar

Hello all -

I've been reading posts concerning trips to Kenya - but most are from Europe or the U.S. I'm American in Middle East and my choices for flying and travel agents are limited. My husband I chose Emirates Airlines/Holidays as it has a good reputation in this part of the world. Travel from this area is busy now (escape the 115-120 degree heat) so we have to do our tour in reverse (as per the Emirates Holidays Guide) for the following dates 26 Aug to 7 Sep. Some names of the locations seem familiar from posts on this site - but wanted to see if anyone has done this particular itenarary - and as we are going by auto once in Kenya, how long it will take to get to each location - and if anyone knows the quality of lodges mentioned below. I'm not adverse to roughing it - just would like to know in advance!

Day 1 - Bahrain - Dubai - Nairobi - Stay Night (will find out where when we pick up tickets)

Day 2 - Drive to Masi Mara Natl Reserve - afternoon game drive - will confirm lodge but some choices include Mara Intrepids/Fig Tree Camp

Day 3 - Masi Mara morning and afternoon game drives - overnight here

Day 4 - Drive to Lake Nakuru Natl Park - afternoon game drive - overnight here - will find out lodge when I pick up tickets (that's the way they do things here)

Day 5 - Drive to Amboseli Natl Park - afternoon game drive - overnight at lodge (to be determined)

Day 6 - Amboseli Natl Park - overnight

Day 7 - Nairobi (tour ends here but we added an overnight stay at Serena Hotel)

Day 8 - Fly from Nairobi to Zanzibar for 3 nights to do as we wish - picked the Bluebay Beach Resort (if anyone knows anything about this - please reply) - this resort offered lot's of sports and leisure - biking, canoe, sailing etc. - we would like to see some things here as well as relax and enjoy the scenery.

I have read all of the different ways people travel to Africa and the tour companies they have used. Comparitively, I had thought it might be cheaper to go from Bahrain - as we are closer, but from what I have read on this site - it appears that the deals from America are quite good! My husband and I are paying aprox. $6000.00 for both of us - this includes the flight to Kenya and back - private safaris, lodges, some meals, the extra night in Nairobi, the flights to and from Zanzibar, and the 3 nights hotel in an upgraded room, all transfers included - will need to verify if it inculdes park entrance fees.

My main interests are:
- finding out if anyone else has done this paticular trek.
- suggestions for things to do in Zanzibar, any thing we can do to increase the fun of our journey (i.e. does tipping tour guides get you a better sight seeing journey?)
- quality of lodges/hotels on this trip (based on some names I provided).
- how much time we will be traveling in auto from various locations.
- possibility of seeing Victoria Falls while there (by comments helicopter seems like good option).
- ease of getting visa in zanzibar - we will get kenya from U.K. Embassy in Bahrain.
- overall sense of security.

Thank you for your time in answering this message!!

Michelle
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Aug 9th, 2005, 04:17 AM
  #2
sandi
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Michelle - Welcome to East Africa.

Surprisingly, while most Americans and Europeans travel via Europe, there is excellent routing thru Dubai with 4-flights almost daily. So don't give that any worry... you'll get to your destination from where you depart.

For travel end of August into September is high season (I presume you're talking this coming '05 season) and most everything is booked... so you're lucky to be getting any accommodations.

In the Mara, if you can get Intrepids, grab it... as this lodge is positioned very well for seeing the migrating herds. Fig Tree Camp is a camp (versus Intrepids which is a lodge)... a few posters here have stayed at this camp. It's not in the luxury category, but those who have stayed here have had good comments. If your tour operator has the possibility of others here do list them and we can comment.

The only comment I can make since you have a very short trip -

- If you're doing a drive itinerary, know that the time to get from Nairobi to the Mara is a good 6-hr. which doesn't leave you much time here with only the following day for full game viewing.

- Likewise, if driving to Lake Nakuru from the Mara... also another 6-hr drive. Limiting your time at the Lake.

- Same goes for driving from Lake Nakuru to Amboseli, where you have to go thru Nairobi and will be a full day of driving.

Your price is excellent, but I would suggest, since you are traveling during the Migration to see if your travel agent can provide you with more time in the Mara. Also, though it will add to your costs, FLY.

I'd do 2-days Lake Naivasa, 3 days in the Mara, and 2-days at Amboseli. There is a round trip air option of Nairobi, Naivaisha, Mara, Nairobi for about $325/person. It's scheduled to take advantage of more time on the ground. Once you arrive back in Nairobi from the Mara you can drive to Amboseli, but when your time here concluded, FLY back to Nairobi where you can get a flight to Zanzibar.

Yes, flights will definitely add to your cost, but give you an overall better trip, more game viewing (less long road travel on lousy roads).

In Zanzibar, Blue Bay is a good resort, that has air conditioning, so stay with that. You can arrange any activities - snorkel, scuba or day or half-day tours off hotel property thru the hotel.

Day 1 - Arv. Nairobi - hotel here - Intercontinental, Fairview, Mayfair Court, Jacaranda
Day 2 - Fly to Lake Naivasha - Lake Naivasha Lodge or other
Day 3 - Lake Naivaisha - (believe it's an afternoon flight to the Mara) to arrive in Mara - overnight Mara Intrepids, Fig Tree or other
Day 4 - Masai Mara
Day 5 - Masai Mara
Day 6 - 11am flight to Nairobi, lunch, then drive to Amboseli - overnight Intrepids Lodge, Ol Tukai Lodge, or Porini Camp (this later is outside Amboseli on private conservation lands, but they do game drives in Amboseli... small tented camp and their rates are all inclusive (drinks)
Day 7 - Amboseli or Porini Camp
Day 8 - Fly to Nairobi, connect to flight to ZNZ - transfer to Blue Bay
Day 9, 10
Day 11 - Fly ZNZ to NBO for homebound flight!

See what this agent can do for you. I know it's short timing, but believe this itinerary with flights* will give you a better trip.

* I have no problem with driving in Kenya for short distances as it gives you a good feel for the countryside and the people, but not so for the long hauls which take too much time from actual game viewing, especially during this time of year.

Hope this itinerary works for you and the agent can do it. Do let us know.
 
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Aug 9th, 2005, 07:02 AM
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I would also grab Intrepids over Fig Tree if you still can. It's also a tented camp but more luxurious and I believe better located than Fig Tree.

I agree that flying may be better for such a short trip as well as adding more time in the Mara, but if this is a package tour from Emirates Airlines, can you make any changes/customize?

You can get a Kenyan visa from the UK Embassy in Bahrain? For US passport holders it's very easy to get a Kenyan visa on arrival at NBO airport in case you don't get one in advance. I'm not sure about getting the Tanzanian one at Zanzibar.
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Aug 9th, 2005, 08:46 AM
  #4
sandi
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Sorry, my error, but Intrepids at the Mara is a camp and quite lovely (I was thinking Serena Mara) So again, if you can get Intrepids - go for it.

As Patty mentions, you can obtain the Kenyan Visa on arrival at NBO as US passport holders. And should be able to obtain Tanzanian Visa at Zanzibar, as it is a point of entry... but double check on this one. The current prices for both are USD$50 and regardless what is on the form, if obtained upon arrival, photos are not required... they have your passport in front of them.
 
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Aug 9th, 2005, 10:00 PM
  #5
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Join Date: Aug 2005
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Hello Sandi and Patty -

Thank you for the feedback. I am unable to change plans due to the demand of people going to these areas at the same time. I have rec'd my lodging schedule -

The Stanley - Nairobi
David Livingstone - Masai Mara
Naivasha Sopa
Amboseli Sopa

The rest I've seen on the Internet. I've seen some posts that have the names of these lodges, but don't recall all the details. I'm doing a search on Internet now just to see what they look like but would appreciate any feedback.

Thanks!!
Michelle
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