Sarova Mara Camp or Kichwa Tented Camp?

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Sep 7th, 2004, 11:20 AM
  #1
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Sarova Mara Camp or Kichwa Tented Camp?

Hi all. I am planning my first safari to Kenya. After much search I decided to do:

1 night in Nairobi (Fairview Hotel)
2 nights in Masai Mara (Sarova Mara Camp or Kichwa Tembo) Tented Camp.
1 night in Lake Nakuru (Lake Nakuru Lodge)
2 nights in Amboseli (Amboseli Serena Lodge)
1 night in Nairobi (Firview Hotel)

After that I will be doing an extension of 5 days to zanzibar. I would like to stay in Masai Mara in a tented camp. Which one do you think is better and more luxurious, Sarova Mara Camp or Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp? Better in nicer tents, good location, good food?
Any advice on my itinerary and comments on lodges are welcome and appreciated . I am preparing to ask for a quote on this custom itinerary to several safari companies.
Many thenks in advance.
Teresa
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Sep 7th, 2004, 01:31 PM
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sandi
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You don't mention time of year, or your budget, but Kichwa Tembo is the better rated camp (being a CCAfrica property), though rather large, with about 40-tents. Time of year might have an impact as to whether the camp will be full or not. I don't know whether I'd want to stay at such a large camp during the Migration period, but at other times, with less guests it might not be so overwhelming.

I would suggest that for your time in Amboseli, you also ask for a quote on Tortilis Tent Camp in addition to the Serena lodge. Tortilis is one of my favorite camps and it only has 19 tents. Definitely more intimate and the food it absolutely outstanding. The price difference might not be all that great, if at all.

Let us know what you get and with whom. Lots of luck and welcome to Africa!
 
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Sep 7th, 2004, 02:03 PM
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Hi sSandi and thank you very much for your reply to my post. I've seen that you you have helped many people here at the forum, I saw your answers and I am very glad I can count on your help also.

I am planning to do the safari next Summer, maybe in August. I guess it's migration time. Do you think I chose good places for game viewing?
I wanted to combine lodges with a tented camp experience.
Would you recommend me then to stay at Mara Serena Lodge in Masai Mara and Tortilis Tent Camp at Amboseli, instead? I've read grat raves about Tortilis but I can't find their website.
I am asking for a quote to Lets Go Safari,to Vintage Africa and Eastern and Southern Safaris. The first 2 I've read great things about them on Fodors and the last one has been very nice providing me information and good prices with my first enquiry.
Sandi,many thanks and I look forward to your help.
Teresa
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Sep 7th, 2004, 02:54 PM
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I stayed at Mara Serena on my very first safari, and while I have since been on four more safaris, the game viewing at Mara Serena in August 1999 was by far the best I have seen. The Mara Serena is a relatively large lodge, but its comfortable and I think has the best location in the Masa Mara. Its also very affordable.

I stayed at Ol Tukai in Amboseli, which I thought was pretty good, but the game viewing in Amboseli was not nearly as interesting as in the Mara.

Michael
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Sep 8th, 2004, 03:19 AM
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Thanks Michael for your input. I have already asked for the customised itinerary based on Mara serena Lodge and Tortilis Camp. I want to have a tented camp experience. From what I have read the Mara serena is the best , like you say, in terms of game viewing and location.
Again, thanks
Teresa
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Sep 8th, 2004, 05:53 AM
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Tere - You can probably find information re Tortilis under Cheli & Peacock, the company that owns the camp.

www.chelipeacock.com/camps/index.html

I'd also like to bring to your attention that the drive from Nairobi to the Masai Mara (whether at the Serena or Kichwa Tembo) is between 5-6/hrs each way. And the drive from the Mara is 5-6/hrs to Lake Nakuru. From Lake Nakuru to Amboseli you have to travel via Nairobi, where I suggest you have lunch (The Carnivore Restaurant), then continue to Amboseli (drive-time about 3-1/2 hrs); and the same back to NBO.

With poor roads, you might want to consider flying some of these legs, such as from NBO to Masai Mara and return from Amboseli to NBO. While the drive from the Mara to Lake Nakuru is long, the scenery is somewhat interesting with fields and fields of wheat, flowers, small villages - and gives you a feel for the country you're visiting. Adds some money to your itinerary, but might be welcomed from bumping along the roads.
 
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Sep 8th, 2004, 08:13 AM
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Sandi, I am afraid of flying in small airplanes, that's why I prefer to do it by road. Last year my best friend lost her two boys in a plane crash, in a small plane. Now I am even more afraid of flying.

I have also been offered those two itineraries:

1st :
-1 night in Aberdares staying at the Ark and having lunch at Aberdares Country Club
- 1 night in Lake Nakuru Lodge
- 2 nights in Masai Mara ( I still have to choose where I will stay)
wow I just noticed this is a 4 night safari and I wanted a 5 night safari, I have to check it with the company .

2nd:
- 1 night at Serena Mountain Lodge
-1 night in Lake Nakuru Lodge
3 nights in Masai Mara

Like I said, it's my first safari. Which itinerary do you think it's best? These last ones would be less expensive but I don't know if they are better than the other one.
Can I have your opinion?
Thanks
Teresa
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Sep 8th, 2004, 08:29 AM
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We stayed at Serena Mountain Lodge 3 years ago for 1 night and loved it. Can definitely recommend it for 1 night but unfortunately can't help with any comparison as I haven't stayed at the Ark.

Also stayed at the Mara Serena and agree that the game-viewing from here was incredible. We went in September and in particular I remember almost falling over cheetah wherever we went. The lodge is very comfortable with quite large rooms and a lovely atmosphere around the Boma at night.
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Sep 8th, 2004, 10:37 AM
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Tere - I'd go with Serena Mountain Lodge instead of the Ark. First is newer, second you can drive right up to the lodge. When staying at The Ark, even though you have lunch at AberdaresCC, you have to leave your luggage here (except for an overnight bag w/change of clothes) then bus to The Ark and back to Aberdares following morning. And then Lake Nakuru and onto the Masai Mara, then back to NBO - it's good.
 
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Sep 8th, 2004, 10:49 PM
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Thanks Ruthie for your feedback I have ónly heard good things about the Mara Serena until now but had no feedback on the Mountain Lodge.

Sandi, do you think then that I would better do Mount Kenya, Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara instead of the itinerary with Amboseli? It is an easier road itinerary, isn't it?
I would stay then 3 nights in Masai Mara. I am thinking of staying 2 nigths at the Mara Serena Lodge and the other night at a tented camp, just for the experience. Which one do you recommend me?I wanted some luxury one but not extremely expensive. I was thinking of Kichwa Tembo but just noticed the tents don't have private wc.That is a cons for me.

Do you recommend the Fairview Hotel in Nairobi? I was thinking of staying at the Safari Club Hotel on my first night in Nairobi and staying at the Fairview at the end, before leaving to Zanzibar. I don't want to stay in Nairobi's center. What do you think?

Again, many thanks for all you help and sugestions
Teresa
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Sep 9th, 2004, 05:31 AM
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Tere - Where did you read that Kichwa Tembo doesn't have private bathrooms? Of course they do "en-suit bathrooms" -no need to share or leave your tent.

Where you stay in Nairobi on arrival depends on when you arrive. If arriving late, just about anyplace to lay your head works - your pillow will look real good; besides you'll be leaving early the next morning. But if arriving in mid-morning, then the Safari Club might be a better choice, as it is an all-suite hotel, though probably more expensive then Fairview. While the Fairview is a lovely hotel and at the right price, I think it is important that you be aware it is located right across the street from the Israeli Embassy - something to think about! Other NBO hotels to consider would be The Mayfair or The Stanley.

As far as the itinerary, you only have 5-nts for safari, not enough time to do an entire circuit in Kenya, so someplace has to be eliminated and Amboseli seems the appropriate one to skip. When you mention Mount Kenya, are you referring to the Mt.Kenya Safari Club? If so, pass on this and stay at the Serena Mountain Lodge - better value and you can watch the animals coming to the "salt-lick" (waterhole). The Mountain Lodge is close to the MKSC, where if you wish, you can arrange to have lunch, then continue to the Mountain Lodge for game viewing and the overnight.

Now to the Masai Mara - my preference is tented camps, even if for just 1-night. Kichwa Tembo isn't far from The Serena and the transfer would be easy enough. So if this can be arranged, go for it.

Time in Nairobi - if arriving first day mid-morning, you might want to arrange to visit the Karen Blixen Museum and the Giraffe Manor nearby, then dinner at The Carnivore. If arriving late at night, you might want to hold off on these tours for your last day. On the last safari day, you will depart the Mara after breakfast and be back in NBO early afternoon. The visit to Karen Blixen and Giraffe Manor can be done in the afternoon, and then dinner at The Carnivore. Next morning you'll leave for Zanzibar.

See if this works for you.
 
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Sep 9th, 2004, 12:09 PM
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Sandi, I was also astonished but I printed the fact sheet of Kichwa Tembo at CCAfrica website and where it says private w.c. it says no. Go and see for yourself. Maybe they have printed it mistaken.

Sorry, I didn't mean the Safari Club Hotel in Nairobi, I meant the Safari Park Hotel, which is outside the Nairobi center and looks lovely. I was suggested the Safari Club Hotel by an operator but didn't like it.
I will be arriving early in the morning. I am intending to book with KLM and it seems the flight arrives early morning. That's why I want to stay at a better hotel the first day. On my last day , after the safari and before leaving to Zanzibar I plan to stay at the Fairview Hotel which is less expensive.
Thank you for your sugestions on the tours and Carnovore restaurant. I intend to do so.

In what concerns the itinerary in Mount Kenya I intend to stay at Serena Mountain Lodge.

My request for a quote was for this itinerary:

Day 1 - Safari Park Hotel
Day 2- Serena Mountain Lodge
Day 3 - Lake Nakuru Lodge
Day 4 - Mara Serena Lodge
Day 5 - Mara Serena Lodge
Day 6 - Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp or Sarova Mara Camp or Olonana Camp( I asked them to quote me the 3, which one do you think is better?)
Day 7 - Back to Nairobi, Fairview Hotel.
Day 8 - Zanzibar ( Mapenzi Beach Club)
staying there for 5 nights.
Then I am flying from Zanzibar to Nairobi and back home.

What do you think Sandi? Is Olonana Camp worth the extra money? I still don't have the quote with it but I've seen the rates are higher than the other two options.
Again, thanks a lot for your help Sandi

Teresa
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Sep 11th, 2004, 07:47 AM
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I am also looking for a nice, good value tented experience in the Mara...Siena Springs or Sarova or Kichwa the end of Oct? Any advice? We are doing 2 nights at the Mara Serena, but also want a nice tented experience too. thank you.
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Sep 11th, 2004, 11:55 AM
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Tere - In response to your

>>Day 6 - Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp or Sarova Mara Camp or Olonana Camp( I asked them to quote me the 3, which one do you think is better?)<<

You are all over the place as far as your budget goes. Olonana would be a 5*, Kichwa Tembo a 4*, and the Sarova a 3-1/2*

While I personally feel Kichwa Tembo has too many tents for my liking, for 1-nt. and to have the experience of sleeping under canvas, I'd go for this if the quote you get is acceptable.
 
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Sep 11th, 2004, 12:00 PM
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mfleming - Note that the Siana Springs camp is outside the Mara in the NE area, diagonally opposite where the Serena Mara is situated.. Kichwa Tembo isn't far from the Serena. Of the three, the Sarova would be lowest star rating if "stars" were actually given out. For convenience of transfer, Kichwa Tembo would be the easiest. But like anything else, it depends on the price of each and what one wishes to spend and availability.
 
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Sep 11th, 2004, 12:11 PM
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Thank you Sandi
The quote I got for this last safari itinerary (everything except the Zanzibar extension and any flights )was 1.222 USD per person if staying in Kichwa Tembo and 1.130 USD if staying in Sarova Mara: I guess it's a good price as it includes airport transfers and everything. What do you think of the price? I received that quote from 2 trusted companies and others gave me a higher price.
I will go with Kichwa Tembo, the difference isn't much.
If it isn't too much to ask you, I would like to have your opinion on the price.
Thanks again
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Sep 12th, 2004, 03:47 AM
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Tere - Apparently your tour operator gets better prices from CCAfrica (Kichwa Tembo) then from Sarova, even if only a small difference. I'd say that at $175/nt/person - you did good! Go for it.
 
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Sep 12th, 2004, 11:56 AM
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I am glad you found the price good! I'll go for it, surely. Thanks

Teresa
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Sep 13th, 2004, 04:59 AM
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Which tour operators gave you the best prices Teresa? thank you
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Sep 14th, 2004, 10:18 AM
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I have just returned (Sunday) from Tanzania and Kenya (Masi Mara); with regard to Kichwa Tembo - We stayed at Bateleur Camp which is connected (a little more upscale) and I can not tell you how great it is!! If you can afford the extra money I would HIGHLY recommend it!! The staff were amazing and everything was perfect!!

As for the Serena lodges (We stayed at Serengeti Serena); if you like tour groups that is fine but it was too big and service was not up to standard. The rooms were basic as well as the food.
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