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Short trip report for our Sept/Oct. Safari with the kids. [Sabuk/Shompole/Mnemba/Elephant Pepper/Giraffe Manor]

Short trip report for our Sept/Oct. Safari with the kids. [Sabuk/Shompole/Mnemba/Elephant Pepper/Giraffe Manor]

Old Oct 30th, 2006, 07:25 PM
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Short trip report for our Sept/Oct. Safari with the kids. [Sabuk/Shompole/Mnemba/Elephant Pepper/Giraffe Manor]

I owe everyone a trip report from my trip to Sabuk/Mnemba/Shompole/Elephant Pepper Camp & Giraffe Manor. I have been so far behind in my work, I haven't had a chance to post much. But here is a small trip report, because I am feeling guilty.

We had a great trip and the kids (age 5) loved it. Every day they ask me if we can go back. At the time I did not realize that it was such a life changing experience for them. Now that we are home, it is all they talk about. I can't believe how much they learned about animals, or how well behaved they were. Luckily we had our own jeep the whole time, since there were 5 of us. [Myself, Husband, Robbie & Madison age 5 and my dad.] They especially loved Giraffe Manor because of the very close interaction with the Giraffe. Every day my son draws a picture of himself and Mark the giraffe doing something different. He considers him close personal friend.

SABUK- Sabuk and Shompole were great lodges. Sabuk has to have been my favorite lodge, I just wish that they had animals like the Mara. Since it was our first safari experience, we got excited to see a lion sitting up on a rock 500 yards away. Are best animal experience there was a bull elephant. We kind of came upon him behind some trees by the road. Luckily he just looked at us and then walked off. I think we probably 10 feet from him.

SHOMPOLE was also a great lodge, but it was really lacking in animals. We spent our three days there looking for any sign of a lion, and we still were not successful after 5 morning and afternoon game drives. The problem was that our guide felt compelled to find a lion for us, and we zoomed past all of the other wild life.

MNEMBA was great. It really is like being on your own private island. The kids especially liked it here. The managers have a son who is close in age to Robbie & Madison so they had a great time play together in the sand and tide pool fishing with him. The sand there is unbelievable. It doesn't get hot and your feet just sink in. The closest thing I can compare it to is Cayman Island, but better. The fish there is really great and that is coming from some who does not usually eat it. They also served warm salted cashews, which were really addicting.

As a side note. I was really surprised by the soft drinks in Egypt and Africa. I am usually a big fan of Coke, but it really did not taste very good. It tasted better as we got closer to Nairobi. In Zanzibar it really had a medicine like taste. I donít know if they use a different sugar or what.

ELEPHANT PEPPER CAMP: I think this was actually our favorite. They have just had a change in camp managers, and brought in 3 relatively youngish managers, two women and a man. They were very friendly and each were in charge of something different at camp. Sam took the kids and my husband on a short bush walk. They are still talking about the dung beetle they saw and the bush toothbrush. I thought they were also very professional, as I was a little bit concerned about the kids going on a walk. After the walk, I found out that they had sent a scout down to the water hole where they were going to walk to make sure there were no animals there. It turned out that there were some Cape Buffalo so they changed walking plans and just walked the perimeter of the camp. The other people staying camp were also the friendliest of the all the lodges. Our guide, Mike was great and the kids loved him. I would really compare this tented camp to actual camping. They have flush toilet, but no running water. Each morning we would get our pitcher of hot and cold water.

GIRAFFE MANOR: The giraffe feeding is great. I have so many wonderful pictures that I do not think I could get any where else. I am still trying to figure out how to post my pictures. We spent the night and had a day room before out 10:00 p.m. flight home. I have a picture of Madison eating her spaghetti and the giraffe sticking his head through the window. He has his tongue out like he is going to start eating her spaghetti with her. The kids really liked being able to get so close to the giraffe. They were so gentle. We went to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage for the elephant tuck in and got to go and hug the cheetahs at KWS. I have to admit that it was a little bit strange to have the cheetah lick your hand, but they were purring.

After we got home I was so tired, I didnít think I was ever going to go all the way back to Africa. Then I started going through all of our pictures and re-living how great our trip was. That and the fact that every day they ask to go back.

The jet was a killer. The kids to get used to the time change again for a week. They were falling asleep at 2 or 3 p.m. and then waking up at 2:00 a.m. and staying up and going to school the next morning. Finally by the weekend we were able to keep them up long enough for them to go to sleep a the right time. I was surprised that I had such a hard time with the jet lag. Of course it may have been all of the red eyes we were taking with our stop over in Cairo.

Now we are thinking about going for another week in Africa at the beginning of June, in connection with a short trip to Paris. It is hard to be ďrelativelyĒ close and not take advantage and going to Africa. I think I will keep it pretty simple with Elephant Pepper again and then add on Little Govís, and of course we have to drop by to see Mark the Giraffe at Giraffe Manor.

I would be happy to answer any questions on any of the above mentioned camps or anything else for that matter. Thanks to everyone who helped me plan this trip. I could have never done it or known which camps to research if it had not been for all of your suggestions and trip reports. Thanks!
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 03:50 AM
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Ha! I'm not sure if I would consider Paris and Nairobi "relatively close".

Sort of like Florida and Alaska being "relatively close"!!!!

But, all of us do understand how africa gets in your blood!!
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 07:51 AM
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Well done with the kids. One more in the eye for us sceptics ;-) Glad you and they had such a great time, and glad the guilt finally got to you! You'll have to write a bit more about Shompole and (especially) Sabuk though - you don't make them sound very attractive and there was such a lot about them and kids and safety and health issues - would love to know how you feel about it all after the event. Maybe after you catch up with your work?
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 09:08 AM
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Thanks for the report. Giraffe Manor was really a hit with the kids if your son consider the giraffe a close personal friend. You must have some great family pictures that include a giraffe or two. Elephant Pepper sounds very interesting. Glad it all went so well and left such an impression on your children. Taking 5-year old twins to Africa sounds like the plot of a zany G-rated movie.
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 09:18 AM
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I didn't mean to make either Sabuk or Shompole unattractive. They were both really beautiful lodges.

They were just much different than I expected in terms of animals. I think if you are looking for more on your honeymoon, like lounging at the pool or want a spa Shompole would be great. It was extremely hot there. I hate to admit it, but I was a little bored so that may be clouding my opinion. I only brought one book with me, and I finished it at Mnemba, so I was a little desperete for something to read during the day. I guess I am not used to so much down time on vacation. Since we there was not much activity during the day and we were just in our room until the afternoon game drive.

Af far as the animals. Before we went, I was a little worried about the openness of the rooms. Even while we were there, I was the only one worried that I was going to see another pair of eyes in the darkness looking at me. The only interaction with any type of widelife was with my husband. We were all in bed, and I heard a little commotion down in the bathroom area, what my husband called a manly scream. He was walking and all of sudden a 4 or 5 inch grasshopper landed on his leg an and startled him. About the size of the ones you disect in 9th grade biology.

I don't think they have any problem with any animals coming into the rooms.

Safety wise I think both of there lodges were very safe. From the pictures both of them look like there are very steep drop offs from the edges of the rooms, but you are only 1 or 2 feet from landing on ground. The lap pools were also not a problem. The kids did not go swimming in them as much as I had imagined. They waded in a few times, but mostly they were busy playing with the wooden safari animals.

We really had such an easy trip. There were no health issues, the kids were really good about taking their malaria pills. They were able to just swallow them without an issue or bribes. We were also lucky in that none of us had and side effects. In fact I was the only one who was sick at all and that was because I had a cold before we left.
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 11:24 AM
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I just wanted to clarify that I don't want to sound negative about any of these lodges. It is probably the fact that I am still digging my way out of the pile of work on my desk, and that I still feel a little tired out. Those things may be clouding my writing to sound negative. I was looking at my pictures again yesterday and cannot believe that we were there and so close to the animals. I never dreamed we would be so close to the a small pride of lioness and cubs. I think I could have stayed all day and watched them play.
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 11:41 AM
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Thanks for your report, Heather! I'm glad all of you had a great time and you're already thinking of returning next year.
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 12:20 PM
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Asante kwa ripoti. Iím glad your kids understand whatís good!
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 12:41 PM
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Glad you and your family had such a great trip. I had the same thought about Europe seeming "relatively close."
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 12:55 PM
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Welcome home! Glad to read your report. I knew you'd really like Sabuk and Elephant Pepper; the Giraffe Manor is a hoot and your little ones sure seemed to have enjoyed "breakfast with the blonds."

The environment at Sabuk and Shompole are so diverse from the experience of the Mara, expecially at Elephant Pepper which we enjoyed tremendously.

Sabuk is very child friendly in an area where you have to seek out game, but since there are many other activities this offers a break from spending most of ones time in a vehicle - a great destination.

Shompole, on the other hand, and as I mentioned prior your departure, is more a "couples" camp and/or for those who want a generally more relaxing place to chill. Though the late night game drives are quite an adventure. And, yes, very hot year-round... they barely have any rain.

So, how long do we have to wait to see your photos?

FYI! Coca-Cola tastes different all around the world. Wherever I've been, I taste them all (though tend to go the "diet" or "lite" route) distinctly so varied. May have something to do with the water (as Coor's beer tastes different everywhere and NY bagels are simple NY bagels... don't taste like these anywhere else [but for a few places who actually import NYC water]). And, boy does the price vary worldwide.

As you get closer to seeing the bottom of your desk, I'm sure readers would like to hear more about how it was traveling with little ones on safari - game drives, early wake-ups, food, whatever else you think those contemplating should know.
 
Old Oct 31st, 2006, 01:35 PM
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I upload my photos to Kodakgallery.com using my free account with them. It is very easy to do, and doesn't seem to have a limit to the number of uploaded photos. I have 12 albums with them, must have over 500 photos. After upload the photos (might take a couple of hours), you then post the link here for all to view.

The cheetah hugs at KWS, did your tour operator arranged it for you or did you hire Kennedy?

Pat
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 03:25 PM
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I previously uploaded the pictures to Walgreens, so I could get pictures printed out at my local store. The only problem is that I cannot figure out how to have other people view them unless I e-mail them an invitation. So, I am linking to the sign on screen and you can use my screen name and password if you are interested. I believe that it is case sensative, everything is in lower case.

Here is the link:
screen name: hlester3
password: africa
http://photo.walgreens.com/share/p=6...=SYE/otsi=SALB

if the link does not work you can go to Walgreens.com and click photos and use the screen name and password

I tried to organize the pictures by camp, and I have to warn anyone looking at them that they are probably 70% of my kids at the various camps.
Since it is by album creation date, our egypt pictures are first.
Thanks, Heather
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 03:41 PM
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As for the cheetahs, I arranged it with Kennedy. He was very accomodating. It is so stange when you actually hear the cheetahs puring. One of them was even licking our hands.

We took about an hour tour of the grounds of KWS then on the way out we went in with the Cheetahs for about 5 min. and took pictures.

The funniest thing at KWS was the wild cat. It looked like a regular size alley cat, but it was in a large chain link cage.

They kind of pushed one of the larger lions to roar for us by banging on the cage, and I felt kind of sorry for it, since it was basically saying to leave me alone. But the guide told us that they have tried to teach them to hunt, but were unsuccessful. He said they put a chicken and a rabbit in the cage with them, but eventually had to remove them because the lions were scared. They were still alive when they took them out a few days later. I am sure that the rabbit was a little scared as well.
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 04:06 PM
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Heather, thankyou so much for posting - this is wonderful - glad to hear that everyone enjoyed it!

Your pictures are just incredible, the kids sure did they look like they had a great time.

And, glad to hear Africa got in your blood! Does that negate Thailand or is that still a plan for the future?
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 08:25 PM
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Lynda: I am putting off my Thailand/China trip for a while. The main reason I even thought about going there was for the elphants eco- camps in the north and to swing by and see the Pandas. I think I may wait a couple of years though. I had looked at the Elephant Back Safari but it was just way to much to justify, close to $20,000 for 3 days. This seemed like the next best thing. And after I saw Atravelynn panda pictures I really wanted to go.

Usually after one of our big trips I temporarily scale back my next vacation plan, due to how tired I am feeling from Jet Lag. Then after a few weeks and I have had a chance rest a little, my mind starts to think up our next adventure.

The good thing is that the kids really seem to love to travel.

Sandi - I know you warned me about Shompole. I just could not resist how great the lodge looked, and it did not disappoint. It did look just like I imagined.

We were very lucky and had no problems with the kids getting up for the game drives. They were very thrilled with having crisps (cookies) with hot chocolate for Robbie and Apple Juice for Madison in the morning. They also very much enjoyed all of our bush breakfasts. I think we had a bush breakfast/picnic every day at Elephant Pepper Camp. Elephant Pepper camp particulaly went out of their way to accomote feeding the kids and my husband what they wanted. Of course being offered all the soda they could ask for at all of the camps didn't hurt either.

Elephant Pepper was the very best about taking the kids on a nature walk, playing Bocce Ball, kicking around a soccer ball and just playing around with the kids.

Thank you for everyones nice comments about my trip report.

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Old Nov 1st, 2006, 09:18 AM
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oh my gosh, robbie's little safari vest is just too cute!

What a wonderful experience for your kids. Thanks for sharing the details of your trip.
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Old Nov 1st, 2006, 09:29 AM
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Thanks for sharing your pics. Your kids are adorable and looked like they were really having fun!
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Old Nov 1st, 2006, 09:57 AM
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OMG, your kids are almost as cute as the baby hyena and the baby giraffe! Thanks for sharing.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 04:37 AM
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heather -

Great photos. The kids especially seemed to enjoy every moment of this adventure and so many places visited.

Gabrial is absolutely wonderful at Sabuk, took us out on our camel safari. I just knew if you got the banda with the loft bunk bed it would be ideal. For us Sabuk was probably the most relaxing, even though we were kept busy.

At Shompole, the kids had the room that we did, the one with the twin beds and the large king - very large shower. Quite a view, I must say. And plenty of room.

And Elephant Pepper crew are so very attentive to children, especially after having the young son of the previous managers - lil Elliot, so quite familiar with providing things for children to keep them busy.

The pics of the kids alone on the beach at Mnemba are beautiful, some of my favorites.

And, of course, all that close-up-ad-persoal with the "blonds" and the cheetah.

thanks for sharing these.
 
Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 05:17 AM
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Heather,

I've been wondering how your trip went, I'm glad to see that you had such a wonderful time. Your pictures are great and your children are adorable! Thanks for sharing!

Jenn
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