Trip to Kenya- help needed

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Jan 7th, 2012, 08:16 PM
  #1
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Trip to Kenya- help needed

Hi,

My husband and I are planning a 8 day trip to Kenya in September. We would be coming from the US and would appreciate comments on our tentative itinerary and suggestions about safari camps.

14th September- Nairobi to Amboseli/ Twaso East or West (what would be better?)

15th September- amboseli

16th September- Lake Nakuru (2 nights)

18th- 21 September- Masai Mara

22nd - flight back home

Could you please suggest some good tour companies? We are currently looking at Julius Safari, DK Grand and East Africa adventure tour.

Also are there any specific camps that we should be looking at? My husband has a slight back problem and we would like to keep the road travel to good roads and shorter trips where possible.

I
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Jan 8th, 2012, 01:13 AM
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I 've booked with Eunice Koome at Designer Safaris in Nairobi. Won't do the trip 'til summer but she has been great to work with and her ideas and price are excellent! Trusted friends went with her to Kenya last year and loved the places they stayed , and their driver, booked with Eunice.

I checked with a bunch other places, Kenya , USA and UK based. MAny folks on here recommend theirs.

One of the places I'm staying is Kigio, which is not too far from Nairobi, and an ok drive (and your husband's back) as it's just off the main road. For Masai Mara, you might want to book at one of the places RIGHT by one of the main entrances (eg Keekorok) to avoid unnecessary bumpy track drives across the Mara to get to your accommodation. Everything i've read says it is not possible to get to the Masai Mara, no matter where you stay, without encountering some bad roads.

Have you considered flying between local destinations in Kenya?

The experts here will know MUCH more than do I--my only trip to Kenya thus far was 40 yrs ago!
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Jan 8th, 2012, 07:18 AM
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With back problems, seriously consider flying.
Drive from NBO to Amboseli (or Tsavo) is 4-6/hrs on some nasty roads. Likewise, if visiting Nakuru, it's 5/hrs to Mara on nasty roads and if Keekorok as mentioned, another 2-3/hrs as this lodge at farthest south in Reserve. Drive back to NBO would be 6+/hrs.

Consider:
Day 1 - Drive (2.5/hrs fairly good road) to Nakuru - o/n
Day 2 - Nakuru (a small park that doesn't need 2/full days, so late morning w/picnic lunch drive (3/hrs) to private Ol Pejeta Conservancy where besides game drives, also bush walks and night game drives can be done - o/n Sweetwaters
Day 3 - Transfer to Nanyuki, hub airport for flights heading north; fly to Samburu (also ellees and species not found elsewhere) - o/n
Day 4 - Samburu - o/n
Day 5 - Fly to Masai Mara - o/n
Days 6 & 7 - Masai Mara - o/n
Day 8 - Fly to NBO; dayroom then transfer to JKIA for homebound.

Wide choice of lodges/camps depending on your budget during this peak-season. Good luck!
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Jan 8th, 2012, 08:20 AM
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"14th September- Nairobi to Amboseli/ Twaso East or West (what would be better?)"

Amboseli. Sandi's revision would be better yet.

Fly when possible and use a private vehicle to minimize back problems for your husband. Also talk with doc/chiro about taking a special cushion or back brace.

Have fun.
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Jan 8th, 2012, 12:54 PM
  #5
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Thank you very much for the great suggestions. I asked for itineraries by 3 companies. The expense is from $3,500 to 4,200/person. One flight included. How expensive should be the flights? Also, I will try asking for the camps not too far away from the main gates. Does the price look ok, one company promises for the top camps.
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Jan 8th, 2012, 02:00 PM
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Camps by the main gates? What does that mean? And, why?
Or do you mean tents/rooms closest to reception? Less walking to dining... but then these might be noisy. Those who hang at the bar after dinner.

Top Camps? Which? Unless they advise their offerings we can't comments.
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Jan 8th, 2012, 03:40 PM
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I visited four camps in Kenya in August and got around by plane the entire time. The flights are short and the planes fine, via Kenya Air. I spent my first three days in Amboseli at Tortilis Camp and loved it! The scenery (looking out at Kili for example) and the eles are fantastic. Hosts are Italians so food is great also. In the Mara I did several days at Little Governor's and liked it a lot as well. I don't know if your husband's back acts up walking but if so, you should know there is a bit of a hike from the vehicle, across a little river and up a hill. Nothing strenuous but you should know. And you would need to book near the main tent because the camp is quite spread out. You will have a magical time!
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Jan 8th, 2012, 06:21 PM
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Kicheche camps are absolutely fantastic... they have 3 main camps bush, mara and lapika (spelling). I stayed at kicheche bush this summer and the time there was some of the best time in my life...
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Jan 9th, 2012, 04:01 AM
  #9
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Thanks again for very helpful advices. I had the same question which camps are the top/best the tour company is referring to. I am waiting for the reply still. losoltos you didn’t mention how much is the airfare( about) for each short flight. Also which tour company did you book the tour with? I would like to contact them. I haven't visited any Safari yet and asking questions based on the replies of my post. I am learning a lot through this and am sure will finalize a very good itinerary soon.
Yes, I read good comments about Kicheche and Governor's camp too. And staying near the main tent is a great suggestion.
Thanks a lot!
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Jan 9th, 2012, 08:08 AM
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Yes... do let us know which camps these operators (and you can name them), are offering. There are a wide array of lodges/camps at all budgets throughout.
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Jan 10th, 2012, 09:40 AM
  #11
 
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That hill in Little Governors is a pain! Governors does not have the hill. When the weather is hot and you have been out for hours, going back up that hill is certainly possible but is like going up the steps out of the subway in NYC...need to do it but why isn't there an escolator?
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Jan 10th, 2012, 10:01 AM
  #12
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Hi,
I got a reply from a safari tour guy

2 nights Shaba National Reserve. Overnights Sarova Shaba Lodge.
1 night Mount Kenya National Park. Overnight Mountain Lodge.
1 night Great Rift Valley region featuring Lake Nakuru National Park. Overnight Sarova Lion Hill Lodge.
2 nights Masai Mara National Reserve. Overnights at Sarova Mara Camp.
Ability to customize and add more days to the existing program.
Ability to select alternative accommodations preferred by guests over those suggested.
Optional overnights in Nairobi.


How is Shaba National Reserve?
and Mount Kenya National Reserve?

Is Amboselli not that important.

The trip cost is $2,900 w/o flight with flight is $3,830.

I need advice?
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Jan 10th, 2012, 12:52 PM
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niharika: I don't actually know how much each flight cost as it was all included in the overall package I designed with my local Africa agent here in northern California. So I didn't really use a tour company, just a one woman arranger here.
Question on Lake Nakuru: are you a big birder? If not you might think of another camp where game is more abundant. Or amy I wrong about that, Fodorites?
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Jan 10th, 2012, 04:55 PM
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I can't make any comments about that lodging as I haven't stayed at those places, but I will absolutely suggest flying vs driving when distances are longer. The road to Masai Mara from Nairobi is apparently beyond awful (we chose to fly at the last second because of how many people said it was horrible) so I wouldn't be surprised if the road from Lake Nakuru is pretty bad too. I haven't been on it so I can't say for sure, but I would be very surprised if it was a smooth road.

Another thing that will help your husband is to have a private vehicle. Your driver can be extra cautious. We saw many drivers who would just barrel through the parks and their passengers had to be getting quite a rough ride. Our driver/guide in Tanzania was great because he mainly drove at a speed that was a good middle ground between smooth and speed.

You asked if Amboseli wasn't that important of a park. That depends on what you want to see I'd think. We saw mainly elephants there (but LOTS of them) but it's a pretty small park and you're not allowed to drive off the road. I liked Amboseli, but we did spend quite a bit of time at the lodge while we were there.

As for tour companys, we traveled with WildTrek Safaris in Kenya and were happy with them.
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Jan 10th, 2012, 09:33 PM
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You can view elephants and other wildlife at a close range in the shadows of Kilimanjaro.You can also have a superb view of the mountain plus very good facilities such as Kilima Safari Camp.I would recommend you fly to sites,the return flight to mara is about 250 USD per person.The timing of your trip is also during the wildebeest migration and Maasai Mara remain a superb choice.I suggest a program as below.
14th September- Fly from Nairobi to Samburu Game Reserve

15th September-Samburu Game Reserve

16th September- Fly to Nairobi and drive to Amboseli National Park
17th September-Amboseli National Park.
18th September-Drive to Nakuru National Park.
19th- 20th September- Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
21st September-Fly from Maasai Mara to Nairobi
22nd - flight back home

You need a private transport in a very comfortable seats.
I would recommend you use a company that also does airline tickets.
Cheers
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Jan 11th, 2012, 06:53 AM
  #16
 
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We did a similar trip for nine days to Amboseli and the Mara, (not Samburu because we thought it would be too cold when we were there in July). We used Gamewatchers to organize everything - HIGHLY recommended. They run the eco-friendly Porini camps in private conservancies adjacent to the main parks. Not fancy, but super comfortable with incredible guiding, excellent private vehicles and good food. The rates were very reasonable, and in addition to an abundance of animals, there was plenty of cultural interaction with the local villagers.

Our drive to Amboseli was fun and less than four hours. We had heard the roads were bad, but the drive was quite interesting and not at all uncomfortable in our vehicle.
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Jan 11th, 2012, 07:04 AM
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Oops - cut off before I finished. Gamewatchers can also set up a safari using the other camps mentioned. http://www.porini.com/
Our flights (from Amboseli to the Mara, and the Mara back to Nairobi) were included in our overall price, which was less pp than the quotes you received, but we received a discount for booking at the last minute and because we had four in our group. Our rate also included a driver for sightseeing in Nairobi, a school visit in the Mara...and numerous unforgettable migration sightings.
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Jan 11th, 2012, 07:24 AM
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niharika - Those lodges/camps shown sure aren't luxury. It's a standard itinerary and drive from Nairobi to Shaba is easily 6/hrs. Except for the Serena Lodge at Mt. Kenya, others are Sarova properties... nice enough. Besides, the drive from Nakuru to Mara is 5/hrs, so 2/nts here is simply too short especially during the migration.

Also, what I can't understand - if flying almost $1K higher than if not. Which segments would be flights? NBO/SAM? then? to get to Mt. Kenya (here an nearby airstrip at Nanyuki... but a bit of drive to Serena and then drive to Nakuru?) Besides there is no flight from Nakuru to the Mara, it would have to be from Naivasha, 1/hr south departing about 3:30pm. I'd want that clarified, as it's possible routing may simply have to be changed.

As to Amboseli, considering it's also an 'elephant' park, as is Samburu/Shaba, I'd select one, but not both especially with the short time you seem to have.

crosscheck - FYI! Samburu too cold in July. Samburu is never cold. The farther north, seems the hotter it gets. The nights might be cooler than if in Jan-Feb, but 'cold' - doubtful.
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Jan 11th, 2012, 02:11 PM
  #19
 
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Best bet, from above

Consider:
Day 1 - Drive (2.5/hrs fairly good road) to Nakuru - o/n

Day 2 - Nakuru (a small park that doesn't need 2/full days, so late morning w/picnic lunch drive (3/hrs) to private Ol Pejeta Conservancy where besides game drives, also bush walks and night game drives can be done - o/n Sweetwaters

Day 3 - Transfer to Nanyuki, hub airport for flights heading north; fly to Samburu (also ellees and species not found elsewhere) - o/n

Day 4 - Samburu - o/n

Day 5 - Fly to Masai Mara - o/n
Days 6 & 7 - Masai Mara - o/n

Day 8 - Fly to NBO; dayroom then transfer to JKIA for homebound.

Get this priced and if it fits your budget, do this.

One way to judge any itinerary: 2 nts in the Mara in Sept is not a good itinerary if you have a week and want to maximize a variety of wildlife sightings and the migration.
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Jan 12th, 2012, 03:47 AM
  #20
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I am confused if I should spend 2 days Amboselli and 2 days in Samburu and 3 days Massai Mara. Or Leave Samburu and include Mt Kenya or Lake Nakuru. As Sandi said both Amboselli and Samburu have elephants. Is there a benefit to include both?

Thanks to all the help, it has been a great checking your answers. I have a codes all flights 1) Nairobi to Amboselli -2nights 2) Amboselli to Samburu -2 nights 3) Samburu to Masai Mara- 3 nights 4) Masai Mara to Nairobi. All stays are at nice camps.

But 4*4 shared vehicle for game drives, Otherwise its a lot of money. They say you could still lie down on the back seat if notified to the camp-sites ahead of time.

Should I go with that?
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