Seeking Safari Advice

Old Jan 20th, 2020, 09:54 PM
  #41  
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Songdoc, many alohas to you there the spectacular North Shore of Kauai!! ( You are blessed and I, long overdue for a return trip, am a bit envious!).

A tad late to this discussion but my recommendation: KENYA!!!!!! ( IF you had time/energy/budget to add one more country, for the icing on the cake, I'd add Uganda.) Assuming your main interest is safari, vs other activities/ places you can see, I'd suggest visiting just one or two East African countries, and focus on amazing unique opportunities to see wildlife. E.g., although Kenya has gorgeous beaches, why on limited time/budget go to the coast there when some of the world's best are on your island home?

"...thought of DIY/build-your-own safari seems daunting -- and out of my price range. I guess I'll find out!" I well understand that it seems daunting, even overwhelming, but honestly, with a good safari panner, it will be surprisingly smooth, almost seamless!! I'm pretty sure you and a planner can create an itinerary which costs no more than than that of the Road Scholar one, which I agree with others, requires more moving around than I'd like.

Lots to think through--which country, which reserves/parks/ conservancies, types of lodging (tent vs"luxe-glamping" vs lodge) drive vs fly-in--but a good planner will help you sort though it. (Last time in Kenya, I used Gamewatchers, but there are other excellent ones.)

Meanwhile, happy trails back to the mainland in Spring, and enjoy your time at Zion!!!!
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Old Jan 21st, 2020, 06:12 AM
  #42  
 
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Originally Posted by Songdoc View Post
Amyb: I read your trip report on safaritalk. OMG, your photos are INCREDIBLE. If you are not a pro photographer, you should be. I can hardly imagine seeing the things you described and photographed. Thank you SO much for that amazing report!
!
Thank you Songdoc! I'm certainly not a pro I just love the subject matter and I think that makes it easier! But now you can see why it's addicting!! I feel like I reach a point on the last day or two of safari where I say "there, that should be enough safari for me now" and then something spectacular happens on my last day, like a carrot dangling, luring me back.

If you are serious about going this year in August-September for the migration in either Kenya or Tanzania, I would put feelers out now. Many camps book a year out for that, especially those with the best locations and best guiding.
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Old Jan 21st, 2020, 12:24 PM
  #43  
 
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Songdoc, I just forwarded a Safaritalk link to my Tanzania trip report to a colleague. He responded to me and said "this is poetry, now I understand why you keep going back". I thought of you as I just read this back, these were my words as I left my first safari in 2013:
There were some unexpected take-aways though. The most significant one is Mother Nature, she is unpredictable and unstable at times but when she chooses to show you her power, her beauty or her miracles, it is incredible to be there to witness it. Everything from the gentle nudge of a mother wildebeest to its newly born calf, to the way a warthog's tale swishes nearly 360 degrees, to the intensity of one of those inevitable daily thunderstorms in the Serengeti, all of it had a purpose, a reason and was her way of saying, hey, I'm here, take care of me. I laugh now at the mornings where we may haven driven for an hour, two hours, three hours, seeing "nothing" but hundreds of impala or thousands of wildebeest, and hoping for something more exciting. If the sheer numbers don't blow you away, I don't know what will. But occasionally when we happened upon something unreal and unexpected (but really, everything was unexpected, no?), like 21 lions napping under a tree, it's simply breathtaking.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2020, 10:49 AM
  #44  
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amyb: your writing is as exquisite as your photography!

Thank you for your inspiration -- and advice!
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Old Jan 25th, 2020, 12:57 AM
  #45  
 
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Originally Posted by Leely2 View Post
Ellen, did you stay at Macushla House in Karen? I've stayed there a few times and love it. [Many years ago I met Sandi for drinks at the Norfolk in Nairobi. She was such a fun person.]
Leely2: I stayed at the House of Waine in Karen. It was a lovely oasis after a long, difficult journey. So nice that you met Sandi. She did a beautiful job planning our trip for us.
Songdoc: you live on my very favorite island - Kauai is paradise - so jealous!
I looked at a few group tours but the individualized plan was actually cheaper than the escorted trips that I was looking at initially and exactly what we wanted to do. We are going that way again with our South Africa trip. We are also trying to add a trip to Rwanda or Uganda to see the gorillas although itís quite expensive and a much longer trip from SA vs. Kenya. If you think you want to go on a gorilla trek, think about adding that to your East Africa safari.

A safari is magical - nothing like it! One of my favorite memories- this wasnít even during a safari! - we were at our first camp and we arrived in time for lunch. We hadnít even gone on our 1st safari yet. It was a sunny day - we had just settled in and went to lunch outdoors. I walked back to our tent to get my sunglasses and a guard approached me & said Ď do you want to see something amazing?í I said Ďsureí so we walked off the path and behind the tents. He put his finger to his lips to indicate that we should be very quiet. We went to the back of the next tent and peeked around it. I could swear that I was looking into the Garden of Eden. There was a giraffe munching on leaves in a treetop a few elephants walking around, a few monkeys and many other animals, all just hanging out together, having lunch. It was unbelievable. Sometimes I wonder if I really saw it. I felt euphoric looking at this scene. The guard just smiled and even though he might see this every day, I could tell that it filled him with awe as well.

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Old Jan 25th, 2020, 12:55 PM
  #46  
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ellenbw: what you saw sounds so wonderful!
Yes, Kauai is remarkably beautiful. I'm sitting on the lanai and there is a rainbow over the ocean.

I have contacted quite a few safari planners and when I get all the proposed itineraries I'll post my questions. I will ask them to propose an additional itinerary that includes seeing gorillas, but I fear that might cost more than I want to spend. We'll see ...

You all have helped so much!
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Old Jan 25th, 2020, 05:50 PM
  #47  
 
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I don't know how someone's first safari could ever be their last. Songdoc, you can save gorillas for another trip.

My favorite place is Kenya. ♥ ♥ ♥ Like Cary Grant is my favorite actor. AND YOU MET HIM!! And LUCY! Good on you!

Here are a few of my favorite pics https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] (there are a few penguins and bears before africa)

I'm looking forward to seeing your itineraries.

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Old Jan 25th, 2020, 08:21 PM
  #48  
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sundowner: OMG. Your photos made me gasp out loud.

So far, I've received one proposed itinerary, and it looks really good. With this being the weekend, I'm guessing I'll receive lots more on Monday.
Thanks for the gorilla comment.
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Old Jan 25th, 2020, 09:07 PM
  #49  
 
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Originally Posted by sundowner View Post
I don't know how someone's first safari could ever be their last. Songdoc, you can save gorillas for another trip.

My favorite place is Kenya. ♥ ♥ ♥ Like Cary Grant is my favorite actor. AND YOU MET HIM!! And LUCY! Good on you!

Here are a few of my favorite pics https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] (there are a few penguins and bears before africa)

I'm looking forward to seeing your itineraries.
Sundowner - Those photos are simply amazing! Where were the photos of the people taken?
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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 04:02 AM
  #50  
 
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A bit late to the party...but we just went on our first safari this past Sept. we started planning our next while there - it was amazing!

we went to Mashatu in Botswana and Mala Mala in South Africa, followed by Cape Town and the wine region. Absolutely loved it!!

we are booked to go to Zimbabwe in Sept 2021!

my pics are here https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]
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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 07:19 AM
  #51  
 
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Originally Posted by Songdoc View Post
sundowner: OMG. Your photos made me gasp out loud.

So far, I've received one proposed itinerary, and it looks really good. With this being the weekend, I'm guessing I'll receive lots more on Monday.
Thanks for the gorilla comment.
Songdoc, I've sent you a PM.
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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 07:44 AM
  #52  
 
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Thanks, Songdoc! And Ellenbw! The people are from Ethiopia. That's a trip I wish I could repeat, for sure.

Jamikins, I also started planning my next trip while still on the first. Mashatu on the 2nd & 7th trip. MalaMala on the 3rd, 5th & 7th.
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Old Jan 26th, 2020, 09:53 AM
  #53  
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sundowner: The photos of those people are astounding.

sf7307: I have responded to your PM.
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Old Jan 27th, 2020, 06:32 PM
  #54  
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I am waiting to hear back from a couple more safari planners then I will post their proposed itineraries, along with requests for your thoughts. I told the planners that I will want a couple of nights to recuperate from the (possibly) 50-hour trip (with one or two overnight layovers). They are all recommending that I start with a relaxing couple of nights at the Ololo Lodge, on the edge of Nairobi National Park. Those rooms are $500 to $900 per night (total), which seems REALLY expensive to me for a place to basically sleep and adjust to the 12-hour time change. The idea is to adjust before wildlife viewing and game drives. So hereís my question Ö

How about if I stayed at someplace like the Intercontinental Hotel which is in the city center, walking distance to the Nairobi Gallery--and costs only $115/nt? Is it safe to wander around that area? I was thinking that after a night or two there we could ease in with a night or two at Ololo Lodge. Or would it be worth spending the extra money to relax at the Ololo Lodge?



Or ... I could stay home and catch glimpses of this rare miniature lioness.
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Old Jan 27th, 2020, 07:08 PM
  #55  
 
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What a cute kitty! Each time I went to Nairobi I specifically requested hotels that were at a lower general price point than the rest of my safari accommodations indicated I might want/expect. I don't need to spend as much in the city as I do in the bush.

I think the tour ops get accustomed to people creating their "once in a lifetime" trip, which can get crazy, budget-wise.

ETA: I guess I didn't address your question. Is it worth it to spend that money for two nights? It wouldn't be for me, but I can't speak for you. As mentioned above, I have done my down-time in Nairobi at Macushla House, a fairly low-key inn in Karen, convenient location for Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant nursery, the Giraffe Centre, the Karen Blixen Museum, Nairobi National Park, etc. Not convenient to everything, though. I've stayed at three other hotels in Nairobi, two downtown and one close to the airport. But if I want to chill out, I'll stay at Macushla.

Last edited by Leely2; Jan 27th, 2020 at 07:41 PM.
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Old Jan 27th, 2020, 07:44 PM
  #56  
 
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I can relax much better when I'm not spending $500-$900 per night pre-safari. I haven't stayed at that Inter-Continental location but I have stayed in the area at the Fairview or the next-door-cheaper-sister-hotel, Country Lodge. That area is convenient for the sight seeing we've done. We've had the safari travel agent arrange the transportation. Also, that area is near Wilson Airport which means you don't have to worry about traffic when going to catch your flight to your camp.
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Old Jan 27th, 2020, 08:19 PM
  #57  
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leely2 & sundowner: Thanks for that info. Since you didn't mention safety in the city, I'm assuming that's not an issue. I would want to be able to wander around during the day. But ... Macushla House looks really nice and I love the idea of being able to visit the giraffe centre and elephant nursery. I'm not expecting to do much those first couple of days.

<I can relax much better when I'm not spending $500-$900 per night pre-safari.> HA! I agree.
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Old Jan 28th, 2020, 03:53 AM
  #58  
 
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Might be of interest:

https://travelafricamag.com/south-af...vate-reserves/
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Old Jan 28th, 2020, 05:04 AM
  #59  
 
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we stayed at the eka both times but we also landed around 7 pm and flew to safari the next morning so we wanted to be close to the airport. ironically, since we went to bed shortly after we arrived, we were on local time immediately. way easier than europe!!
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Old Jan 28th, 2020, 05:37 AM
  #60  
 
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I would find out what is included at Ololo. As it abuts the park, that usually means game drives and a guide to take you places like the elephant orphanage, etc. The people I met on my last safari left the Mara and spent three days there, where they got 3 meals a day, a guide and game drives in Nairobi National Park included in the room rate. If you're not interested in all that and just want to rest up then maybe there is a different rate for that. It might not be a good location if you want to walk about anywhere, and it's a ways from the CBD.

I am admittedly an unabashed fan of Nairobi National Park. I've stayed at the Emakoko twice and done 4 days of game driving there with their guides. I've had epic sightings but most importantly, it is one of the only places you can reliably see rhino, both black and white and in very good numbers. If the rest of your itinerary doesn't include Ol Pejeta, the odds are you will not see them elsewhere. Within 45 minutes of getting off the plane, I was sitting at a sighting of a herd of rhino in NNP. Guides who know the park well know where the rhinos hang out. Every single game drive I've done included rhinos. So if that's something important to you (seeing the Big 5), keep that in mind. (I also saw my only successful lion hunt there, just me and my guide and 5 lionesses, as well as the best male leopard sighting ever!)

I'm also a patron of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and highly recommend a stop there, either for their 11 a.m. public feeding or the 5 p.m. foster parent visit (foster an elephant for free admission). They do amazing work there, rescuing, rehabilitating and reintegrating orphaned elephants.

As plambers says, Eka is perfect for a land-tonight-off-to-the-bush-tomorrow stop. Perfectly situated between the two airports but I'd not stay there for more than that.
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