Safari Reviews

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Oct 6th, 2005, 08:28 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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Safari Reviews

Safari Reviews

Review of 3 Safaris
Uganda- Travelust Safaris
Kenya- Raylenne Safari
Tanzania- Sunny Safaris

We just got back from 3 safaris in late August and early September. I’ve tried to make this as easy to read as possible.

UGANDA- Travelust Safaris
8d/7n budget private safari, including Gorilla Tracking and Chimp Tracking Permits. $2900 (for 2 people, using our own tent for 5 nights).
-We began with Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi. It was terrific. Highly recommended! It was the highlight of our 3 safaris. There are 3 groups: H, M, & R (I forget the whole names, but the UWA refers to them by letters). We went for the M group. It was the longest hike. We saw 6 gorillas, and it was simply terrific. We had some older members of our group for whom the hike was very difficult. There is one group very near the ranger station (easy hike). If you are worried about your physical condition, ask for the group close to the ranger station.
-Ishasha. The only reason to go here is to see tree-climbing lions. We only saw a lion on the ground. Seeing tree-climbing lions is really hit or miss.
-Went to Queen Elizabeth Park next. Campground is not very nice. Animals very hard to see. That said, when you do see animals, there are no others cars around. We saw 35 elephants in a herd, and there was only 1 other car in the vicinity. We also saw a leopard. If you can afford it, the lodge here is nice, the hostel is not.
-Kibale Park. Tracking chimps was incredible. If you can do this in Kibale, it is THE place to do it. Saw 80 chimps. Try to take Johnson as your ranger, he is very knowledgable.
-Murchison Falls. Very nice place. Saw lions a-plenty. The Nile boat ride is a MUST if you go here. Make sure you also get to the top of the falls for a great view. Don’t go to Murchison thinking the falls are the main attraction. They are not, the animals are. Stayed at Red Chili. It was fine. Food pretty good Accommodation adequate. People very nice.

Review of Travelust Safaris: We were happy with this company. The owner is James who is very responsive to email and very helpful. He will also work very hard to get you Gorilla and Chimp permits on the days you request. Our driver Daniel was also quite good. His English is very good and he drives safely (an important trait with bad roads). He also knows where to stop for good food. Our vehicle was a 4WD SUV. Make sure you get an SUV. People who had tours with minivans got stuck on the road between Ishasha and Bwindi.

KENYA- Raylenne Safaris
3d/2n- Private budget safari. $700 for 2 people
Lake Nakuru- Since we were coming from Kampala, we got off the bus in Nakuru and just started our safari there (so we would not have to go to Nairobi). Lake Nakuru was very nice. Easy to see lots of wildlife in close proximity. Saw: Flamingos, hyena eating flamingo, rhinos, zebra, baboons, etc. No big cats.
Masai Mara- Absolutely the best safari location in East Africa. But this is only true when the migration is in the Mara. Check to find out where the wildebeest migration is BEFORE you go! Saw lions galore, cheetah, elephant, zebra, wildebeest, etc. Stayed at a Masai camp outside the park: don’t remember the name.

Review of Raylenne Safaris: We were not happy with this company. We were told we would have a 4wd vehicle. We did not. We were told we would be staying inside the park. Also, untrue. The guide’s English was not good, and he did not know the names of many animals. All of that said, they gave us a good price for a private safari and got us in and out without breaking down, and we were well fed.

TANZANIA- Sunny Safaris
5d/4n- Private budget safari $1040 for 2 people
Ngorongoro Crater- Great location & beautiful. But the wildlife was not overwhelming. It might be better when the migration is in Tanzania. We spent 2 days here and ended up seeing some terrific things: lion cubs and rhinos were the highlights. We also went for a hike in the Olomoti crater. It is something you can organize at Ngorongoro. There are no animals on the hike, but we had a terrific time because of the Masai. Our ranger was Masai and interpreted for us when we met some very nice Masai people.
Tarangire Park- Terrific park for elephants and zebras. We saw an unbelievable number of elephants. The 1st night, we stayed in the Wild Palm campsite. It’s not very nice, but it IS cheap. The 2nd night we splurged and stayed at the Tarangire Safari Lodge. It is terrific value. $145 for 2 people including a great dinner and breakfast. Even if you are on a budget, you should consider one night at this lodge (imagine sitting on your porch and watching elephants below you).

Review of Sunny Safaris: The most professional company we dealt with. Very nice office, very well prepared, great vehicle. Our guide, Kisukari (“little sugar”) knew more than any other guide we met. The food was not good, but everything else was great.

We are happy to answer any questions. Send us a note if you have questions.
jenjake is offline  
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Oct 6th, 2005, 09:16 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Thank you for posting this. Great to hear you safari'd in Uganda--something I'm very interested in. I'm sorry to hear that your time in Kenya was messed up by a disorganized operator.

And I've read good things about Sunny Safaris on the Thorn Tree. Finally, someone mentions them on this board!

Welcome home.
Leely is offline  
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Oct 6th, 2005, 09:26 AM
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Oh, also, where did you fly into in East Africa? Entebbe? How did you travel from country to country and what were the costs, if you remember and are willing to disclose? If you took busses rather than flying, what did you think about that?

Again, thank you for taking the time to post. Sorry for asking so many questions--I'm just thinking way ahead.
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Oct 6th, 2005, 11:08 AM
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Glad for the interest!
We flew into Entebbe and stayed at the Backpackers Hostel. They picked us up from the airport (it's worth it to avoid the haggling!).

We got from country to country on buses. If you can, take Scandanavian. We did not. We cheaped out and took Busscar. BAD IDEA. Bus almost flipped over, and, well, it was a looong ride. But we got to Nakuru in 1 piece and it was cheap. I think it was something like $14pp.

To get from Nairobi to Arusha, there are several "Tourist Shuttles." They all leave between 7a and 8a outside the Parkside Hotel in Nairobi. They are all the same price ($20pp). You should book a day ahead of time, but you don't really need to. If you want to book ahead, just show up at the Parkside Hotel and ask the doorman.
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Oct 6th, 2005, 11:09 AM
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Oh, and... one of the reasons we did not fly: The departure tax out of Entebbe is incredibly high: $40-45pp
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Mar 5th, 2006, 01:21 PM
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Has anybody else had experience with Raylenne safaris? I was told they have camping safaris and also have a lodge option at Mara Sopa. All your other reports were pretty positive, so it made me a little more worried about your report about Raylenne.
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Mar 5th, 2006, 05:38 PM
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Twoteachers
It is possible to view Raylenne's little fibs as minor indiscretions and say that they got all the important things right (food, reliable vehicle, accomodation, price). If I were you i would be suspicious, but I wouldn't write them off completely. By Kenyan busget standards, this is not really a BAD report, just a "so-so" report. FYI I do not believe budget camping is possible IN the Masaai Mara; you have to camp near one of the gates and drive in every day - however there are no fences and while animals will not be keen to come near where there are a lot of people, they are not aware there is a boundary as such.
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