Samburu or Buffalo Springs

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Sep 10th, 2005, 02:11 PM
  #1
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Samburu or Buffalo Springs

Hi Any difference between the two. I'm going In August and want to know if anyone has a preference . Also Samburu Intrepids or Samburu Serena? Thanks
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Sep 10th, 2005, 02:56 PM
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bwanamitch
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Buffalo Springs is like a cliche of African landscape - lots of umbrella thorns against the hills in the background, quite wonderful. But after a day it becomes quite boring, because it's a relative small reserve.

Samburu gives you much more different landscapes, dense river vegetation (more dense and interesting than Buffalo Springs), plains, hills, bushland.

I had very good elephant sightings in both reserves, but big cats only in Samburu (but that depends on luck and changes every day).

Samburu Serena is located in Buffalo Springs (the 'Samburu' is a marketing lie) and it's a nice lodge - all Serenas are regarded as the top end of the big lodge chains. Can't say much on Samburu Intrepids.

You have to pay extra park fees (in Kenya Shillings, they don't accept $$, at least in 2004) if passing from one reserve to the other.

I would recommend a 1-day stay in Buffalo Springs, and 2-3 days in Samburu. If you opt for a private vehicle, you should have enough cash for entering the other reserve if the radio tells about interesting predator sightings in that area.

Mitch
 
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Sep 10th, 2005, 04:13 PM
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Mitch,
In philw's recent report I believe he mentions you can cross back and forth without paying extra fees now.
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Sep 10th, 2005, 04:24 PM
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bwanamitch
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Patty,
Thank you for the update. Great news for all visitors of that area. (I wonder what philw means with best table in the Serena restaurant - all looked quite similar to me.)

purple,
forget about the extra park fees and look at this thread,
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34674495
I would recommend a stay at the Serena.

Mitch
 
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Sep 10th, 2005, 05:00 PM
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I stayed at Samburu Serena in August 2003, and its technically in Buffalo Springs, although its on the border. There is no fee to cross from park to park and we crossed many times. Its really one large park, in my view, not two. Samburu Serena is excellent. I have no info on Intrepids.
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Sep 10th, 2005, 06:36 PM
  #6
bwanamitch
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Michael,

Buffalo Springs is managed by Isiolo County Council and Samburu by Samburu County Council. Sometimes those councils have differences about park fees and transfer rights, as in 2004 - in those times visitors have to pay twice. Nobody told me of that before my stay, and fortunately I had enough local currency in cash to visit much more rewarding Samburu.

Mitch
 
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Sep 10th, 2005, 11:41 PM
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Mitch

There are two tables set out in semi circles which look out over the river -they are definitely better than the rest of the tables. If you look at one of my photos on my trip thread you'll see what I mean !

Phil
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Sep 11th, 2005, 03:51 AM
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Purple, I stayed in Samburu Intepids in June. Itís a beautiful camp, food is superb, some very interesting people are working there, BUT they seem to have something against wild animals Ė there was a fence and the elephants that tried to cross the river into the camp were scared away with shots. If you have a look at Philís trip report and photos (link provided by Mitch) youíll see that Samburu Serena have a more relaxed relation to big animals. I would chose Serena Ė and I think the price is similar to Intrepids. For a look at Intrepids, my trip report and pictures are here: http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...n_name=Nyamera

The by far best alternative in Samburu is Elephant Watch. If you want to know why you could have a look at Janís trip report:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...=0&keyword=464
and photos: http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...n_name=JanGoss
Itís not reasonably priced though.

Iíve definitely not understood the park fee rules. In case you need some more confusion I could tell my personal experience: Upon arrival for my 4-night stay I bought one Buffalo Springs ticket at the airstrip and then I was going to buy three Samburu tickets at the other side of the bridge. Everybody else had the park fees included in what they had paid their operators. As Iíd only seen the price mentioned in US dollars, I was carrying the exact amount for four tickets in that currency, plus some other dollars bills, but mostly shillings. At the Samburu office I didn't have the right dollar bills to pay for three tickets and the rangers didnít have change in any currency. I wanted to pay in shillings, but the driver said that the rate was very bad and that I should get some change at the camp and pay later. Every time we passed the Samburu office it was empty. Iím normally a very honest person who donít keep quiet when I get too much change in a shop, and Iím ashamed to say that I started to hope that the Samburu rangers had forgotten all about me and that Iíd save a considerable sum of money. They remembered me though and came to Intrepids the morning I was leaving. Iíd say that you buy some Samburu tickets and some Buffalo Springs tickets and then the percentage of gamedrives in each park corresponds with the percentage of park tickets.

I agree with Mitch about the differences between the two reserves. They are separated by a shallow river and, wasnít it because two county councils are involved, there would probably be only one reserve. I saw a pack of wild dogs on the Buffalo Springs side (!!!),but they were obviously interested in crossing over to Samburu.
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Sep 13th, 2005, 07:58 PM
  #9
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So which place has the best atmosphere. I understand that Intrepids is gated with shots going on if an animal starts to cross. But is Serena just a lodge with no 'feel' of Africa? Does Serena have a great view of animals from the Lodge? thanks
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Sep 14th, 2005, 10:45 AM
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Philw has been to both places and he prefers Serena.
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Sep 14th, 2005, 11:22 AM
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bwanamitch
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Re shooting to scare the elephants.

That reminds me on a story from Botswana:
At a camp in the Okavango Delta the elephants began to act very obtrusively. Thus the manager sent the trainee to Maun to buy some firecrackers. "But", he reminded the trainee, "at the shop, don't tell them for what we need these crackers." The trainee drove to Maun, entered the local Spar market and asked the salesclerk for some firecrackers. "For what do you need these crackers?", replied the sales man. "For a birthday party, next weekend", answered the trainee. "Well", said the sales person, "what kind of crackers do you need? The small ones for the hyaenas, the medium ones for the lions, or the big ones for the elephants?"

My question: what would you do when elephants begin to behave obtrusively and destroy things, and even throwing full Coke cans don't drive them away?

Mitch
 
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Sep 14th, 2005, 04:13 PM
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Purple

I stayed at Intrepids in August 2004 and Serena last month. I think you'll have a great time in either place but, for me, Serena had the edge. The thing that swung it for us is that we were looked after supremely well at Serena but this may have been because we booked direct with Serena whereas our Intrepids visit was part of a pre arranged package. I have no doubt you get better looked after (at any hotel / lodge) when you book direct ! It probably depends on what you are looking for so perhaps the following helps ...

Lodge / Camp Location : Both on the river bank but Serena seemed to have a much wider river frontage (better views) and access to the river, e.g. there was a drinks terrace literally right on the river. The lodges are within 10-15 minutes of one another and, as you can now freely travel between Samburu and Buffalo Springs, both are ideally placed to explore both parks.

Samburu or Buffalo Springs : For me, Samburu had more game (but we still had good lion and leopard sightings in both parks) but Buffalo Springs was quieter with less traffic. This may be relevant if they revert to limiting movements between the parks as most of the accomodation is on the Samburu side.

Food : Both good but Intrepids better

Rooms / Tents : The Serena rooms are in individual cottages and get very close to the 'bush' feel that you obviously get in the Intrepids tents (which were excellent). All Serena accomodation was right on the river but Intrepids tents are in two lines. Unforunately we were in the 'second' line so, if you go there, I suggest you request river frontage.

Animal policy : For whatever reason Intrepids don't like the elephants too close to the visitors and fire gun shots to scare them away. Whilst Serena (like Intrepids) does have a fence as you drive in, the animals come over the right and right up to the terrace with the staff only getting involved when the elephants get within a few feet ! When we were at Serena, elephants, african wild cats, a civet cat and crocs all came right up to the terrace and we had good sightings of kudu, giraffe, baboons and various other antelope on the river bank.

Swimming Pool : Samburu better - pool bigger, cleaner and better located.

Safari vehicles : Assuming you use their vehicles (as opposed to a tour company), both lodges use nice open sided vehicles.

Hope this has not confused you even further !
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Sep 14th, 2005, 10:36 PM
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Having thought about it, my memory is playing tricks on me. Intrepids does not have two rows of tents (that was Sweetwaters) but some of them are a long way back from the river. Our two tents did not have a river view but I understand that some of the other tents did.
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Sep 15th, 2005, 01:13 AM
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I should preview my comments before posting ... On Swimming Pools, it should have read 'Serena' nor 'Samburu' ...
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Sep 15th, 2005, 06:28 AM
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Mitch, Iím the one having a problem with the elephant policy of Intrepids, so maybe I should answer your question.

Crackers and shots might be useful if youíre a farmer who wants to keep elephants away, but the reason a lodge in a National Reserve exists is that people pay to be close to wild animals.

I donít know what reasons Intrepids may have. If theyíve been unlucky and are visited by more destructive elephants than the ones that visit Serena, if theyíve got problems because of their own stupid behaviour- like feeding the elephants etc., or if theyíve just decided that they want exaggerated security. I was disappointed because, the year before, I had been to a camp with a completely different elephant policy, but I thought that maybe it was the way things are done at camps in Samburu. Now I know thatís not the case and with this information Iíd have chosen Serena.

Iím not against using crackers to drive an elephant away if he starts destroying buildings, but I wouldnít want to stay in a camp that wants to protect its decorative garden and definitely not a camp that wants an elephant-free environment.

To your question: As Iím not an elephant expert I donít now what you could use instead of crackers Ė maybe a hooligan horn? At Elephant Watch they are elephant experts and they donít feel the need to have a fence. Donít know if they have crackers. Anyway, there is where I hope to stay some day. I wish someone could start a reasonably priced, smaller, unfenced camp in Samburu.
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Sep 15th, 2005, 10:03 AM
  #16
bwanamitch
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Nyamera,

Did you hear the shooting at Intrepids? Or was it just a thoughtless comment by staff member who wanted to impress you? And do you know what they will do at Serena if things get out of control?

I prefer unfenced camps, too. As nearer elephants are at my tent as better I feel. I really enjoy it hearing their low-frequency sounds when I go to sleep.

But I also remember a situation where I wished I had some crackers. After that special visit we were two days without radio connection...

Mitch
 
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Sep 15th, 2005, 11:51 AM
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Mitch,
No, I didnít hear any shooting, but was told about it during the information upon arrival. I didnít see any big animals at all at Intrepids. Sometimes at night I thought I heard big animals moving in the river and went out on the tent veranda. It was dark and bushy and I didnít see anything, but I heard stone throwing as well Ė no shots. Philw had all kinds of animals coming up to the terrace at Serena and Iím very envious. But he didnít see any wild dogsÖ

Did an elephant take the radio and smash it? When I was in Tsavo a film crew had a camera taken from outside the tent by an elephant while I was out on a game drive. They thought it was quite funny Ė I think the camera was dropped and that it didnít get destroyed.
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Sep 15th, 2005, 04:38 PM
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bwanamitch
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I stayed at Serena two times (February and August) and the only big animals I saw were the flatdogs at Crocs Bar and the baited leopard on the other side of the river. So in my opinion, this doesn't tell you much if you don't see big animals around a lodge. It depends on season, migration paths and, as always on safari, luck.

Mitch
 
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Sep 16th, 2005, 06:26 AM
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Leopard baiting? Isnít that a perfect recipe for making leopards associate people with food and get into trouble?
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Sep 16th, 2005, 06:37 AM
  #20
bwanamitch
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The people are on the other side of the river. I don't think that the leopard will associate the bait (a goat) with those people.

Mitch
 
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