Samburu and Masai Mara in August

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Oct 31st, 2012, 01:20 PM
  #1
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Samburu and Masai Mara in August

This is our initial plan for Kenya in the first week of August -

Amboseli Porini Camp (2N)
Samburu - Larsens Camp or Elephant Bedroom Camp (2N)
Masai Mara - Mara Intrepids, Karen Blixen or perhaps Royal Mara (a bit above budget) (3N)

Our criteria for choosing regions and camps has been Samburu - for contrast of wildlife, particularly gerenuk, reticulated giraffe and grevy zebra. Camp with comfort and wildlife view from camp

Amboseli Porini Camp. Authentic experience, Mt. Kilimanjaro, as well as village visits and walking tours in a conservancy.

Masai Mara - Mara Intrepids (larger camp (30) but better location for migration, river and wildlife views from camp)
Karen Blixen (smaller camp, (22), looks very nice and comfortable, better wildlife in conservancy for walks, night drives etc., river and wildlife views from tent
Royal Mara - the most expensive, small camp (8),lovely tents and camp, good wildlife in conservancy, river and wildlife views

I have had some advice from an African tour operator saying that Samburu was not good for wildlife (he had stayed at Elephant Bedroom) and that it would probably be too early to experience the migration in early August, what do you think? Is it a disadvantage staying in the Mara North Conservancy for viewing the migration?
Also, I have found it difficult finding many reviews for Karen Blixen on the forums, is there a reason for this? We do not like super big camps/lodges. What do you think of my options?
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Oct 31st, 2012, 06:06 PM
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Samburu not good for wildlife? I suppose if the stay was for only a few hours or if it there were rains or anybody can get very unlucky. In general Samburu is good for wildlife and Aug is a good time. Samburu is fav of mine.

Aug not a good time for migration in the Mara? Was he referring to river crossings? Then maybe a little earlier or later would be somewhat better to see a crossing. But the wildes go back and forth and are hard to predict. Aug is a good time for wildebeest herds in the Mara. Even for chances at seeing a crossing. That said, I like Sept a tad better than Aug in the Mara, but Aug is darn good.

The above two agent statements make me wonder if (a) the agent is steering you away from Kenya altogether, or (b) the agent has not spent much time in Kenya in Aug or maybe any other time, or (c) we are misunderstanding something.

No personal experience in your Mara camps mentioned. Maybe throw in Little Governors for consideration. It has a good location and under 20 tents. I have been there. Lovely.

Also, you're going to Amboseli Porini, why not consider Mara Plains Porini in Northern Conservancy? Other camps there I believe are:

Alex Walkers Serian, Elephant Pepper Camp, Kicheche Mara Camp, Offbeat Mara Camp, Safaris Unlimited, Saruni Camp.

Sticking with Porini, a place that gets many accolades is Lion Porini in Olare Orok Conservancy.

Disadvantage in conservancy? No because you can also go into the Maasai Mara National Reserve and to the crossing points. But everybody else can't come into the conservancy. The disadvantage of August in the Mara is the crowds. The conservancy helps you get away from crowds.

Both Amboseli and Samburu are elephant parks. Since you are going just 3 places and have about a week, it would be reasonable to drop one of them and replace it with someplace like Lewa Downs (rhino) or Porini Rhino Camp near Lewa. You could have an all Porini trip and maybe save a little. But your reasons for going to both Amboseli and Samburu make sense and make a really nice trip.

I think it is possible to fly Samburu to Wilson to Amboseli, all in one day. Something to look into if you plan to do all flying. Not sure about that, though.
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Oct 31st, 2012, 06:21 PM
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"Also, you're going to Amboseli Porini, why not consider Mara Plains Porini in Northern Conservancy?"

Mara Porini is not in Mara North Conservancy. It is in a different conservancy called Ol Kinyei Conservancy. The other Porini camp, LION PORINI, has had reports of exceptional wildlife in the past and would be your best Porini camp for the Mara if you decided to do "all Porini."
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Oct 31st, 2012, 07:04 PM
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I loved Samburu!

The semi arid landscape is beautiful and the reticulated giraffe alone are worth the trip, not to mention the gerenuk and grevy.
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Nov 1st, 2012, 03:16 AM
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Thanks for the advice, I have my heart set on seeing a gerenuk, what a quirky creature! Porini lion camp could be an option but just thought a little bit more comfort would be a good way to finish off our trip. We are spending a week in botswana prior to Kenya.
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Nov 1st, 2012, 06:38 AM
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So we have another gerenuk fan on the forum. Then Samburu/Buffalo Sprints is the best spot and you are going at a good time because by Aug the lower leaves have been browsed so the gerenuk have to reach high to get a bite. That means you get to see their classic stance of front legs in the air.

2 nights Samburu in Aug, you'll definitely see gerenuk.

Be sure to let your guide know you are particularly interested in gerenuk and he'll keep an eye out for them. They can sometimes blend into the brush and they are somewhat shy.

The coveted gerenuk shot is the "bikini shot," where you see the gerenuk facing you and its markings make it appear to be wearing a bikini. In this photo album of Buffalo Springs and Samburu #27 and #28 are bikini shots.

https://picasaweb.google.com/1138910...NP3ypj_qM-HNQ#

What a trip, Botswana and then on to Kenya!

Check out the Lion Porini camp. It is not roughing it. But any of the lodging options you mention or the ones I've mentioned are extremely comfortable. These are not budget camping accommodations by any means.
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Nov 1st, 2012, 12:09 PM
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Atravelynn, those photos are amazing,especially those incredible gerenuk! Makes me smile just thinking about it. I am totally sold on Samburu now.
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Nov 1st, 2012, 01:22 PM
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Having priced a similar itinerary, i am surprised that Royal Mara is "above budget" since it was acutally LESS than the other Mara camps you (and atravelynn in her advice) mention.

Are you basing this on quote from the place itself? For Royal Mara, and i suppose others, get a quote from tour organizers! In my case, i used Glorious and Julius Thuvi to enquire (there are many others) and got very reasonable quotes, especially for Royal Mara.

As Lynn says, if you use the same company for two or more camps (eg Porini, Intrepids, etc) you may get even more of a discount.

re your question on Karen Blixen Camp: ONe of my Kenya friends who is a tour agent as well, HIGHLY recommends it for Mara visitors.

There is a great location map of all the Mara camps on the Africa Travel Resource webpage (NB: i take their comments and reviews with a grain of salt, and many gallery photos look like they were taken by an inebriated photographer
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Nov 1st, 2012, 01:45 PM
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I don't understand the comment about Samburu not being good for wildlife either.

If staying on a conservancy, you can still enter the reserve to go to crossing points. Just make sure you understand the particular camp's policy about reserve fees if staying outside of the reserve. Some build it into their rates, some include 1 day's reserve fees every 3 nights and some don't include it at all.
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Nov 3rd, 2012, 05:03 PM
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We stayed at Elephant Bedroom Camp and absolutley loved it!!!!

We also stayed at Royal Mara and I know all the reviews are great, but for us after Elephant Bedroom Camp it was a let down. I'd pick the sister property to Elephant Bedroom Camp in Masai Mara.
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Nov 4th, 2012, 04:31 PM
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George, I am assuming you are referring to the return to the herds' return to the Serengeti, not the arrival in the Mara.

Good luck on your food/clothes collection. Hope the logistics work for you.
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Nov 5th, 2012, 12:46 AM
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Thanks for the feedback, guys. Can you do a village visit or guided walks from Elephant Bedroom, also do they have any Samburu tribe dancing etc. at camp?
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Nov 5th, 2012, 02:21 PM
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The migration is happening on the Kenyan side; crossing into TZ.
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Nov 5th, 2012, 02:27 PM
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toni, in Kenya and Tanzania u will always find Masai or Samburu traditional dancers anywhere tourist frequent.
About the village tours, try to arrange that privately with a local driver or a local guide who knows the pple and/or the language there.
Best places in the villages to visit is in schools, market place, traditional/cultural events and also in homesteads with traditional structures.
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Nov 6th, 2012, 03:05 PM
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Yes you can do a tribal village visit. We did not have any tribal dancing at the camp itself. We did our safari as a private safari with one other couple so our driver took us to the village.

Here's a copy of the review I posted on Tripadvisor about the camp in Sep, 2011:

We stayed at Elephant Bedroom Camp for 3 nights the first part of this month. It turned out to be our favorite lodging of our entire trip. The service and food were outstanding. We enjoyed listening to the river rush by while sitting on our verandah and watching the game either across the river, or right beside our tent. We were in Tent No. 10 which had two large beds in it and which was well appointed and very nice. We also had a plunge pool on our verandah which I took advantage of one hot afternoon. We would push back our curtains at night so as to get a cross breeze and listen to the animals and river. The camp offered a menu with usually a beef, chicken, or seafood entree as well as vegetarian dishes. Everything was served very nicely and for the rest of our trip we tried to find the beautiful beaded coasters they use as part of their place settings. The bar is good and we enjoyed a cocktail every evening before dinner. The staff was very friendly and we were even surprised with a sundowner on the way back to the camp from one of our afternoon game drives. It was completely unexpected and wonderful. Yes, elephants do roam through the camp and it was a wonderful experience. There is a small gift shop, but it doesn't have much in it. We did an afternoon visit at the Samburu Village not too far away which was interesting and we thought well worth the $30 per person (paid in cash at the village) to visit. We highly recommend this camp. They do accept credit cards
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Nov 6th, 2012, 04:04 PM
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You may visit the villages in Samburu by camel as well. You can arrange the visit as part of your itinerary before leaving home or see how you feel once you arrive in Samburu.
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