Safari in Kenya

Old Mar 26th, 2023, 12:29 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,269
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Safari in Kenya

Just back from Kenya safari, so a quick trip report.

After reading a couple of recent reports here, we opted to go with Wild Source to organize the trip for 4 of us—my sister, her husband and a friend of mine. I gave Wild Source a price range (based on other itineraries we'd looked at, the desired country, and desired camps. They came back with great alternatives for camps based on pricing specials. All went very smoothly except for flight cancellations out of and back to US.

On morning of departure, received notice that KLM canceled flight to Paris with no other fights until next day causing us to lose a safari night. The $400+ for trip insurance doesn't seem so bad now.

First night stayed at Marriott 4 Points at airport to limit security risks They had an explosive sniffing dog check inside and outside car then had to put bags through a scanner for safety measures.

We got picked up the next morning for flight to the Masai Mara region. One-hour flight was on a 12-seater Cessna that landed on a dirt airstrip with no terminal, but a line-up of jeeps waiting for theirs guests.

Leopard Hill (3 nights labeled as a “luxury camp”) in Naboisho Conservency. Overall, it was an excellent experience, but a little nerve wracking---animals wander freely round the camp during the night making all sorts of noises. In the morning, we saw leopard and other animal prints on path to lodge. One morning I was on my way to breakfast when I saw a hyena on the path and messaged down to have someone come get me. At night, the guards (Masai warriors) walk everyone back to their tents with spears in case of animals along the way. We were watched like a hawk.

We had a private open jeep with just the 4 of us. Our guides, Ezmay and Bandi were excellent. We went out twice a day in search of animals. I saw far more than I ever expected---giraffes, elephants, lions, leopard, hippos, gazelle and more, everything but a rhino. On the first day there were 3 “kills”--lions killing a zebra was the main event. The animal behavior was interesting to watch, but the ending was disturbing. We were told it was very rare to see one. I hoped to never see another, but the guides kept searching them out.

Two in our party did an afternoon walking safari. It took 5 people to guard them for the walk. Two guards in front, 2 behind and 1 ranger carrying a rifle walking in the middle.

On the last 2 nights here, we were the only guests. The food was pretty good. We did breakfast in the bush twice. Lunch and dinner had 3 courses with 2 options. Service was excellent.

I thought there would be a lot of down time and even had 2 books with me which I never had the time to read. We'd go out at 6:30 am, come back for lunch about 1:30 and back out at 4pm till 7ish then dinner. In bed by 9. It was very exciting, but tiring. Same schedule at all the camps.

Onto Enaidura (also labeled as a luxury camp) in the National Game Reserve for 4 nights. We were also the only guests in camp. Ping was our guide here. He is quite the character and has loads of interesting stories. He is a patient man. We would go out on our twice daily drives and he would track animals and wait for them to appear and go on the hunt for prey. We probably waited for 2 hours for some cheetahs to go after topis. The cheetahs couldn't have been too hungry, because they just slept.

We also went in search of leopards. Didn't see one on the drive, but got back to camp and saw one across the river. One noticeable difference between the camps was when a leopard was spotted at Leopard Hill, the guide ran for the jeep and staff gathered us up to go back out and find it. Here, the staff and guide went off to find the leopard and left us alone in the camp.

This camp was more rustic than Leopard Hill. Tents were smaller and with bucket showers. We were watched more carefully here. Don't think there was a minute (other when they went to look for the leopard) that we were not watched. They would hear the zipper open and come over to walk us to the lounge area. It also had animals come around at night—for sure there were hippos and lions by our tent during the night. Food was good and plentiful. Also had breakfast in the bush. Service was excellent with staff waiting for us to make a request.

Next was Tortillis, an upper end camp, in Amboseli National Park for 2 nights. We had to fly back to Wilson Airport and then onto Ambosoli. Getting to the lodge required going through a sand storm. Between the sand storm and driving to the camp, the region was looking very sad. They have been suffering through a drought with many animals dying of starvation. There were so many carcasses left rotting in the Park.

This was the most deluxe camp we stayed at; the tent floors were wooden, bathrooms were the most private with 24-hour hot water. Food was excellent, as was the service. They offered 2 game drives a day, but by this time I was wiped out. I passed on the drive, but got a massage instead. This camp has an electric fence surrounding it so no guards walking us to/from tents and no large animals coming round the tent. I missed being walked to the tent by the Masai men.

The most pleasant surprise here was breakfast in the bush. After being out a few hours, it was time for breakfast, but I saw no cooler in the jeep. We came up to a nicely shaded area that looked like the perfect location to stop, but there were already people there. Little did I know, they were our people. They came ahead of time to set up the area for a gourmet breakfast to order with table cloth service and even mimosas. They even came with a “loo”.

From here, we flew back to Nairobi and had a day room at the 4 Points. Once there, we were told Air France cancelled our fight to Paris, so we spent the night and 2 whole days waiting for the next available flight. Left me wondering how often flights on both ends get cancelled.

A couple of tips:
  1. Wild Source said to plan on $25/day for tips. $25 is way too low for the level of service provided and the amount of time the guides spend out on the game drives. Fortunately, I could put tips on my card at the last place we stayed. I came home with $0 in my pocket.
  2. I'd arrive a day earlier than the planned safari—just in case your flight gets cancelled.
  3. We were told to have mostly neutral (brown/beige/khaki) clothing. When we got there all the Masai wear very colorful red clothing. Don't stress on your packing
  4. Laundry was provided free at first 2 camps. Bring fewer clothes than you think you need.
  5. Maybe it was the time of year, but it was cold. I wore long pants, a puffer jacket with 2-3 layers underneath. Still needed a blanket to stay warm when in jeeps. Pack accordingly.
6. Travel was grueling. 8 hour flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam and 9 hours from Amsterdam to Atlanta. Kenya Airways had a direct 13-hour flight from NYC to Nairobi. I didn't think I could do a 13-hour flight, but now think it may have been easier than the 17 hours it took us.








Hippos

Lion gets a zebra. Send call out for his pride while hyenas lurk.

Leopard on the hunt

Guard with rifle was required for walking safari. Other person is Bandi, our driver/guide

Popular competition among the Masai men is who can jump the highest

Cheetahs






















The "loo" at our bush breakfast--Usually the only option is to "check the tires"--this was a real treat

Fighting warthogs





Last edited by Moderator1; Mar 26th, 2023 at 08:21 PM. Reason: removed duplicate text and inserted spacing
Jackie is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2023, 01:39 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 181
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hello,
We are headed to Kenya and Tanzania in September. Looking forward to your trip report! we've been advised to plan at least $50/day in tips so taking a LOT of cash sounds like a good idea. Wondering if you had any issues with foods - we have a traveller with a very sensitive tummy - no dairy, no gluten, no non-soluble fibers and no heavy spices. Did you take malaria pills daily or weekly? Did you get a yellow fever vaccine and what were the Covid requirements like? Our TA is not terribly responsive with our question.

Thanks!
Iahawk is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2023, 06:15 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,269
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Tips--we were advised to tip $10 to general staff, $5 to spotter and $10 to guide/driver per person per day. I did double that amount. Also you might want to tip individuals for extraordinary service. I went with $400 and ran out of cash after second stop. Two of the 3 camps allowed tips to be paid by credit card so you might want to check ahead of time.

Food--Wild Source (TA) had us fill out a form ahead of time to let the camps know of any special dietary needs. I didn't have any issues with food. We had 3 full meals a day; lunch and dinner included a starter, a main dish and a dessert. I didn't find anything too spicy, but did find the food salty. We had 3 people come down with stomach issues, one even had a fever. Between us, we packed pedialite (sp), erithromyacine (sp), cipro, doxy, pepto bismal, gas-x + other stomach remedies that required a RX. Filtered water was plentiful at all the camps and while in jeeps.

We all had RX daily malarone. I quit after 2 days as they bothered my stomach. Friend never started because she read they caused bad dreams and sister quit taking them thinking they caused her stomach issues. For what it's worth, I didn't see any mosquitos, but you never know.....We all sprayed out clothes with the premetherin (sp) before packing them.

Yellow Fever--We are all 65 or older and YF is not recommended for those 65+. I got a shoot in 2011 and was told by my doctor I didn't need another. My sister and her husband both got them (because they thought it was required) and later regretted because they didn't feel well after; my friend got the shot and had no issues. I did get HepB, Typhoid and Tetanus

We needed to show a vaccine card upon check in at airport and arrival in Kenya; if not vaccinated, you needed to be tested. Prior to leaving we had to fill out 2 forms, 1 was required by airlines, one by Kenya where we had to provide dates of all doses and brand--it was rather complicated.

FYI--For Kenya you will also need to have a visa in hand before arriving in country; don't know about Tanzania.

The paperwork for this trip was overwhelming and tedious.



Last edited by Jackie; Mar 27th, 2023 at 06:18 PM.
Jackie is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2023, 06:52 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,974
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
lahawk, the generic of the antimalarial Malarone called Atoquovone is fat soluble, meaning it is best digested with fat. My doctor suggests taking it after your largest meal of the day which is most likely to have fat in it, also important to take it at the same time every day. I have, however, just taken it with a big spoonful of peanut butter too (lots of fat in that). My friend got quite sick when she was taking the antimalarial right when she woke up and a couple of hours before bush breakfast (a meal without a lot of fat) so effectively on an empty stomach. After a few days of diarrhea and fever, our camp manager convinced her to take it after dinner and miraculously she was fine from then on. I just returned from Kenya in mid-Feb and got bit more than I ever have, even using the same insect repellent as previous safaris. All it takes is one bite for you to contract malaria and end up far sicker than any upset stomach. I would not advise anyone to stop taking it if it's been prescribed to you. When your sensitive-stomach friend visits the travel medicine doctor, let them know of their gastro issues and they will best prescribe for them.

I only had to show my COVID vaccine card on arrival and get my eVisa. I wasn't required to fill out any other forms for entry into Kenya by the government or the airline (KLM/Delta).

Jackie, it sounds like you had a great trip with some amazing experiences. While you are amazed that animals are wandering right through camp, don't forget that the camp is in the middle of their territory, so we're the trespassers, really! I'm surprised by Ping going out to look for leopard without you. I can't imagine that he wouldn't have wanted you to see that. Did you tell him you'd prefer the midday break instead? You also make a great case for trip insurance. I hope it's straightforward and easy for you to make a claim and be reimbursed for the days you lost. Please report back on how that goes, I'm sure many people will be interested to hear.
amyb is online now  
Old Mar 28th, 2023, 10:41 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,269
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Amy--We spent several hours in the morning with Ping tracking the leopard only to come back to camp and see one across the river. I think the staff was so shocked to see it, they acted spontaneously, called Ping and took off.

It wasn't so amazing that animals wander the camp, it was more unnerving till I got use to it.

Wild Source paid for the extra night and day room and the inflight plane ticket. They will prepare the paperwork for the trip insurance and send to us. Curious myself about how reimbursement will work.
Jackie is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2023, 01:33 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 181
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We are also staying at Four Points near the airport. Did you have to reserve their shuttle or was it easy to find? We arrive at 8:30pm and assume that customs and immigration will take some time.
Iahawk is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2023, 04:11 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,269
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wild Source, the tour operator, took care of everything. When we got out of airport, there was a driver carrying a placard with our name on it. When we were leaving to come back, 4 Points said the shuttle ran every 5 minutes. We landed around 11pm. By the time we checked in at hotel, it was 1am.
Jackie is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2023, 03:15 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,652
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Jackie, I really enjoyed your trip report. We also used the Wild Source and stayed at Enaidura which we really liked. The staff there were so attentive and kind. We had dinner with Ping and enjoyed getting to know him but had a different guide, who was excellent, for our game drives. I am envious of your leopard sightings as we only had a brief glimpse of one. Reading this makes me want to hop on a plane and return!
KTtravel is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2023, 05:50 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,269
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
KT--I think it was your trip report that got me serious about booking with Wild Source and staying at Enaidura.

We were the only guests at his camp and were treated like royalty. Over and over again, we heard "your wish is our command". I didn't praise Ping's wealth of knowledge sufficiently; not only about animal behavior, but local culture and politics. He is a patient man, He told us he once waited 12 hours for a leopard in a tree to attack an injured gazelle grazing below it. They had food delivered while they waited. He lives up to the legend.
Jackie is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2023, 08:44 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,652
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I am so glad you enjoyed your experience at Enaidura. The rest of your trip also sounded wonderful. I am chuckling thinking about food being delivered to the leopard sighting!
KTtravel is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2023, 10:04 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,974
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
All but one of the days I was out with Ping, he had lunch delivered to us because we were on a sighting he didn't want to leave. And we weren't just waiting for something to happen, it was happening! The best part of it, I thought, was that he let the camp staff who delivered the lunch stay and watch with us. Believe it or not, despite living near the Reserve, a lot of them had never seen these animals or any of their behaviors before, so they were as excited as we were!
amyb is online now  
Old Apr 1st, 2023, 10:31 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 7,296
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
Your report is excellent and your photos are outstanding.
Kenya will be my next safari if possible. We went Sept. 2022 to Kruger, Vic. Falls, and Cape Town and it was far better than expected. I can’t stop thinking bout it.

As far as stomach issues, we took Travelan before every meal and none of us had any issues at all. Read the reviews
Amazon Amazon
TPAYT is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
caterchik
Africa & the Middle East
10
Nov 3rd, 2006 06:53 AM
Gina
Africa & the Middle East
48
Dec 21st, 2005 05:59 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -