Safari-Kenya vs Botswana

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Aug 3rd, 2005, 07:11 PM
  #1
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Safari-Kenya vs Botswana

We're travelling to Africa for the 1st time in September. Trying to decide between a safari package in Botswana w mobile tented camps vs a Great Camps of Kenya safari.
Are there far more tourists in Kenya?
Is the wildlife similar in both countires?
Would appreciate your thoughts and advice.
m.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 08:45 PM
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Which camps in Kenya? The number of tourists depends on where you go.
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Aug 3rd, 2005, 10:28 PM
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I much prefer Botswana because there are more isolated areas which are more difficult to reach (and usually more expensive). That said, I thoroughly enjoyed my Kenya safari. As Patty indicates, whether there are crowds to suffer depends on where you go. You can find uncrowded places even in Kenya's high profile destinations, and it's the more expensive 'intimate' safari that's likely to give you the better chance of doing that. You can encounter crowds in Botswana's more accessible areas just as easily as you can in Kenya, but generally, Bots seems to have a policy of high price, low impact (on the environment). That should tell you a lot.
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Aug 4th, 2005, 02:45 AM
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sandi
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Travel is ideal in September for visiting Kenya as the Migration is taking place in the Mara. But it's to total itinerary that would be telling. Why not post your Kenyan itinerary - which parks, number of days and the accommodations at each. We'll comment.
 
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Aug 4th, 2005, 03:14 AM
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Apologies, m. So far, each of us has failed to give a simple answer to your simple questions.
1) yes, there are more tourists in Kenya (but as I said, you can still avoid crowds); and
2) the wildlife is very similar. There are many minor differences such as sub-species of giraffe; the impala in Kenya have bigger horns than those in Botswana; the topi in Kenya are called tsessebe in Botswana (different species of Damaliscus); and there are some antelope (eg Tommies & Grants gazelle) that you'll find in Kenya but not Botswana, and vice versa.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 07:37 AM
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Here's our proposed Kenya itinaray:
Norfolk 1 night
Tortilis Camp 2 nights
Samburu intrepids 3 nights
Mara Intrepids or Little Governors 3 night

would love feedback in rgds to Mara Intrepid vs Little Governors.
many thanks in advance for your cmmts.

m.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 07:50 AM
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This would be a tough choice for me. I've spent more time in Botswana, but on my last trip, had a tiny bit of exposure to Kenya, and I'm quite driven to do more in Kenya now. The landscapes in Kenya are stunning-- with the stunning open savannah vistas, Kenya provides that mythic Africa experience. I did get to Samburu in May, and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place, as well as the elephant experience there. (There is lots of other wildlife there as well, but I was there so briefly I didn't get to see it.)

Botswana has it's own beauty--I've babbled on about the Okavango here before...and it has wildlife just as amazing. But because of the environment, you'll typically see smaller herds of animals (except elephant herds on the Chobe, which are huge.)

What kind of Africa experience are you seeking? While the quality of the camps may influence your choice, I'd really think more about which environment intrigues or fascinates you. That's the trip you should do first.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 08:42 AM
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m.,

Little Governors is much better located for viewing the migration than Mara Intrepids.

Mitch
 
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Aug 5th, 2005, 09:28 AM
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Little Governors is an unfenced camp so you have the possibility of game wandering through. That would make me choose it over Mara Intrepids, but you might feel the opposite way! Also I think Little Governors has more of a rustic feel.

I think it would be difficult to avoid the tourist crowds in migration season. Amboseli can also get pretty crowded as it's a fairly small park, but staying at Tortilis might help as it's on the other end of the park away from the big lodges (though not that far - the park itself is simply not very big). I don't know about crowd levels in Samburu.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 09:38 AM
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I was in Samburu in May-- an absolutely beautiful season there--and Samburu was quite empty. I don't think Samburu gets the crowds from mass tourism at all.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 09:43 AM
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tashak,

Did you still have to pay entry fees for both, Buffalo Springs and Samburu NRs? Or have the councils settled their differences?

Mitch
 
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Aug 5th, 2005, 11:12 AM
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tashak,
Did you find May to be very rainy in Kenya?
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Aug 5th, 2005, 11:44 AM
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sandi
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mnt -

Between Mara Intrepids or Little Governors - two different experiences, location and probably prices.

Intrepids in in the center of the Mara whereas Governors is outside and as Patty mentioned an unfenced camp and more rustic. Neither is a small camp, Intrepids with about 25 tents; Governors with 17. Small is 6-8 tents.

But Governors will give you a different experience from Tortilis (one of my favorites) Samburu Intrepids (good camp in low season... but it's Samburu that is so great) and then Governor's (different then the other two).

As a side note - I do presume you are flying between these destinations?
 
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Aug 5th, 2005, 12:11 PM
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Out of 6 days in early May, there were 2 days of heavy rain in the afternoon. On both those days, the mornings were beautiful, with bright rain-washed skies. I thought the weather was absolutely beautiful, and if rain was the price to see the landscape cloaked in green (very happy elephants) I would gladly do the trade-off. I'm not sure if this was just luck, or typical of May weather.
I hope someone with more experience with Kenya can provide better info on weather.

I believe that you do still have to pay separate fees to Buffalo Springs and Samburu, but I'm not too sure. I recall paying at Buffalo Springs, but at Samburu I was with researchers--otherwise I believe I would have had to pay there as well.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 12:55 PM
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tashak,

I agree, Samburu in green must be a wonderful thing. Up to now I've only seen it in brown (Sep) and half-green (Feb).

In February it already was fantastic. Don't know if this is elephant calving season, but I saw a lot of calves running around. And the elephants are so extremely habituated to the vehicles. I remember a situation where my vehicle was completely surrounded by elephants, and the calves were suckling only 5-10 metres away, standing on the same side as the car - unbelievable! This beat the pants off all elephants I've seen in Botswana.

Researchers? That sounds very interesting to me. Are you working in research, or have you been a voluntary guest in Samburu?

Mitch
 
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Aug 5th, 2005, 04:18 PM
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Samburu is magnificent, and I've also read a good report by Daryl Balfour about nearby Shaba. It tempts me, but I would stay away from the lodges in both reserves. I, too, was enthralled by how close you could get to the elephants in Samburu, but once that was experienced, I prefer seeing the wilder breeding herds and bulls in the Linyanti region.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 04:54 PM
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Yes, the elephants of Samburu are amazing in the way they allow their tiny calves near vehicles. Almost everywhere else, the adults position themselves between vehicles and the tiny ones.

No, not in research (though I would love to take a year sometime and go do support work for them in the field). Just visiting friends who are.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 05:09 PM
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bwanamitch
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Just in case Rocco is planning a Samburu trip:
www.bedouin-camp.com
www.elephantwatchsafaris.com

And there are some new developments in Shaba on the way... (sorry, no websites so far)

Mitch
 
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Aug 5th, 2005, 05:15 PM
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Bedouin camp is owned and run by my guide on my 1997 Kenya safari, Craig Griffiths. At the time, he worked for Cheli & Peacock. An excellent guide. My website www.afrigalah.com has a couple of shots of Craig being interrupted by an elephant and her calf while setting up a breakfast table on the banks of the Uaso Nyiro.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 05:22 PM
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I love these interruptions.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, would you please enter the vehicle - the lions are coming..."
 
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