Very early planning stages

Jul 19th, 2009, 03:18 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 10
Very early planning stages

Hi,

Well the decision has been made that we will take our first safari around end of August beginning of Sept. 2010 probably for two to three weeks.

I have been reading many reports etc. here and am somewhat overwhelmed as to what exactly to do so thought I would post for suggestions.

We are a family of two adults and two girls who will be 17 & 13 at time of travel. My wife is a biology teacher and has had a life long dream of seeing the mountain gorillas so this has definately to be on our itinery. After that is where I am getting bogged down trying to decide. On the one hand I would love to see (from what I have read) the migration somewhere, Ngorongoro Crater (albeit some people do seem to think it is overcrowded), Kilimanjaro, Okovango Delta, Serengeti etc. etc and on the other I have read Kenya is great for 'newbies'

My girls are concerned at catching the sleeping sickness from TseTse flies and my wife is concerned that a safari may be 'too much' for the kids at this age. My one daughter is also almost paranoic about creepy crawly flying things that 'buzz' her.

I think I would go for a private safari over a group safari if budget allows (we are reckoning with around $25-30000 for the whole trip - is this feasable?) again based on my readings.

We do not want to be in mobile camping but do not need to have absolute luxury either. We would like a few days R & R at the end of the holiday.

These are my current parameters for working out what to do so I would very much appreciate any tips/suggestions or any pointers to good sites/threads I may not have seen.

Thanks in advance

Stuart
seccus is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 04:53 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 197
A few thoughts, then I'll turn it over to the experts:

I think the minimum age for gorilla trekking is 15 years old.

Your budget should give you a fantastic trip, especially in these economic times.

If your kids have even the slightest interest in wildlife, they will love Africa. If they don't, they won't. If the tse tse flies are that big of a concern, pick a location where they won't be.
Statefan is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 05:50 AM
  #3  
 
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For end-Aug/Sep, the migration is mostly in Kenya's Masai Mara, also where most choices for lodging at various budgets; a country where you can get just about all species of game and environments, lodging experiences as you would in Tanzania, but for the Ngorongoro Crater, unique for here.

With the exception of the Okavango Delta down south in Botswana, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania - all in East Africa with easy transport between the three countries. Even if you choose to visit the Delta, remember flight time between here and the northern countries can take a full-day out of your trip.

Suggest you start by checking flight routing from your home city to, from and between main entry/departure cities to get a preliminary idea of what that will cost you. What's left is your safari funds. Example: from Europe (AMSterdam) to Kigale/KGL, Rwanda (believe via Nairobi); return to NBO on Kenya Air/KQ; depart for home from Zanzibar/ZNZ out of DAR airport... KLM might work for this (they're all code-share airlines). Internal flights in Kenya, to Tanzania/JRO and ZNZ would be part of your land itinerary... don't consider these.

Note: Our Patty is the airline expert here on Fodor's


You can in 2/weeks cover Rwanda/Kenya; with 3/weeks Rwanda/Kenya/Ngorongoro and even a few days of R&R at end.

Smooth routing could be to visit Rwanda first (4-5/nts), then into Kenya visiting Nairobi (sightseeing the girls and you will enjoy) Samburu (elephants and unique species), Lake Nakuru (flamingoes other birdlife, Rothchild giraffe, rhino), Masai Mara (migration and Big-5 game) (8-9/nts); onto Tanzania for Arusha & Ngorongoro (2/nts), then to Zanzibar for R&R (3-4/nts) on the ground.

But there are any number of parks/reserves to choose depending on your interests.

The actual # of days/nts at each can then be decided, along with type of lodging, which segments as fly-in/out and which driving.

A number of properties offer discounts for children under 18, sharing with adults or even together in rooms/tents, so some savings there.

Tse-tse and sleeping sickness. No sleepy sleepy, but a nasty bite. Guides do everything to avoid areas (woodlands) these are found. Daughter/s need not to fret!

Keep us posted on this thread of your progress.
sandi is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 08:07 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 4,215
Hi Stuart

despite Sandi has given you great input already I'll give you my 2 cents as well ;-)
pls read in between your lines.............

>>>>Well the decision has been made that we will take our first safari around end of August beginning of Sept. 2010 probably for two to three weeks.

3 weeks incl. long-haul should be wonderful for a first ever safari!

>>>>We are a family of two adults and two girls who will be 17 & 13 at time of travel. My wife is a biology teacher and has had a life long dream of seeing the mountain gorillas so this has definately to be on our itinery. After that is where I am getting bogged down trying to decide. On the one hand I would love to see (from what I have read) the migration somewhere, Ngorongoro Crater (albeit some people do seem to think it is overcrowded), Kilimanjaro, Okovango Delta, Serengeti etc. etc and on the other I have read Kenya is great for 'newbies'

Okay then - I would start in
. Kenya (Massai Mara for the great migration for at least 4 nights) followed by
. Amboseli NR and here Tortilis camp for 2 or 3 nights to have an elephant + other game experiences and staying in a camp with great views towards mount Kilimanjaro)
. proceed towards either Rwanda or Uganda for a gorilla trek
my favourite camp here is CLOUDS/Bwindi NP (www.wildplacesafrica.com or www.ugandasafaricompany.com). Clouds is the only camp on that side of the rim which means less crouded area and the sightings are almost 100%/trek. You should stay there 3 nights with 2 days trekking means 8 permits = 4000US$ for the trekkings alone without accommodation.
. proceed towards Botswana and stay 3 nights in the Delta, 3 nights in Savuti area and 2 nights in the Makgadikgadi Pan doing quad biking and visiting the Meerkats.

>>>>My girls are concerned at catching the sleeping sickness from TseTse flies and my wife is concerned that a safari may be 'too much' for the kids at this age. My one daughter is also almost paranoic about creepy crawly flying things that 'buzz' her.

As Sandi pointed out the Tse Tse inflict a nasty bite so covering as much as possible is the only way to escape besides not entering Tse Tse areas.
Botswana did a pretty good job getting rid of Tse Tse altogether by spraying the infested areas!
Lifestock (beef) as well as Buffaloes attract tse tse so as long as you avoid such areas they should be fine!

As you will be travelling in the dry season mossis should not be a big problem as well.

As snakes, scorpions and spiders generally speaking come out with or after the rains these should be limited too.

>>>>I think I would go for a private safari over a group safari if budget allows (we are reckoning with around $25-30000 for the whole trip - is this feasable?) again based on my readings.

You can contact Abercrombie+Kent in Nairobi and book with them a guided tour for Kenya and Uganda/Ruanda. Their subsidiary AKORN is a midrange TO in Nairobi.
Your budget should be sufficient to cover all costs. But still - high-end safari lodges have a huge price tag because you will be travelling in peak season.

>>>>We do not want to be in mobile camping but do not need to have absolute luxury either. We would like a few days R & R at the end of the holiday.

OOPS - In that case you should start in Botswana working your way up towards Kenya and add some days on the coast (Mombasa/Diani Beach) or fly back from souther Africa to Kenya or proceed to Mozambique's coast/islands for some beach days.

If you keep on travelling within East Africa (Kenya Massai Mara, Amboseli// Tanzania Crater, Serengeti and maybe Tarangire or Katavi//Rwanda or Uganda//Beach) that would definitely save you considerable costs without sacrifice high lights.

Even within 3 weeks you should concentrate rather on quality time (longer in each camp/area) than doing all over Africa creating rather a rush.
There will be a next safari - for sure!

>>>>These are my current parameters for working out what to do so I would very much appreciate any tips/suggestions or any pointers to good sites/threads I may not have seen.

Kenya:
www.Kicheche.com
www.chelipeacock.com
www.abercrombiekent.com
http://www.bush-and-beyond.com/
http://www.governorscamp.com/
www.sanctuarylodges.com

Tanzania:
www.sanctuarylodges.com
www.asilialodges.com
www.nomad-tanzania.com
http://www.lemalacamp.com/

Uganda
www.wildplacesafrica.com
www.ugandasafaricompany.com
www.wildfrontiers.com
www.santuarylodges.com

Rwanda
http://www.governorscamp.com/

Botswana
http://www.unchartedafrica.com/flash.html
www.sanctuarylodges.com
http://kerdowney.com/
www.andbeyond.com
www.wilderness-safaris.com
http://www.footsteps-in-africa.com/


Africa
http://www.wildfrontiers.com/
another forum: www.bushdrums.com

There are many more outfitters around. These links shall you give an idea of different camps/standards etc.

Happy Planning!

SV
spassvogel is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 11:10 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Given the time of year you are going and your explicit desire to avoid any tsetses, I suggest including Kenya and ending-in the Maasai Mara.

I am also pretty sure it is 15 to track gorillas.

Prior to the Mara, you could include these regions:

Amboseli: known for elephant and views of Kilimanjaro if the clouds cooperate

Aberdares/wooded portions of Mt. Kenya: forest habitat with colobus monkey.

Samburu, further in the north: unique species of giraffe, zebra, ostrich, antelope

Lake Nakuru: Flamingos and good chance for rhinos

Mara: In Sept, I'd spend 4 nights and even more would be fine, especially if you split between a lodge such as Serena and a tented camp.

R&R at end-no personal experience.
atravelynn is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 01:41 PM
  #6  
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Posts: 10
Hi,

Firstly a big thanks for the replies received so far. Gives me some great info to be starting with.

Can anyone confirm what Statefan says about the gorilla trekking min. age. This would obviously change things significantly as I wouldn't want to leave my daughter on her own anywhere. (Ed. From what I have been reading this is true so we would have to leave this for a couple of years. You're all convinced we are going to come back after all !!!!)

My initial thinking for a route is going along the lines of:

Munich -> Nairobi (cost around $4000 for the family return. Should be able to use up some miles on this though so I'll go with $3000 for international flights) (2 nights Nairobi)

Move up to Lake Nakuru (are the flamingoes always there or only at certain times of the year) (3 nights)
then down to Masai Mara. (4 nights)
From there on down to Serengeti (is this recommended in the dry season?) (3/4 nights)
On to the Ngorongoro Crater ( I guess one could do either this or Lake Nakuru - what do you think - is it worth doing both) (2 nights)
From here either to somewhere close to Kilimanjaro or to Amboseli (views of the volcano) (2/3 nights)
Finish at the beach south of Mombasa or Zanzibar (3/4 nights)

Return to Munich via Nairobi

Comments/ideas appreciated.

Would we be trying to fit in too much? Should any of these be longer/shorter stays? Do we need to do both Nakura and Ngorongoro?

An alternative would be to fly direct from Masai Mara to Okovango and do 6 nights here with Viccy falls flying back to Ambolesi.

How are the falls in the dry season and how mossy infested is the Delta? Is it worth the large effort it would be or should we leave it 'til the next trip?

Thanks to all in advance and again to those who have already answered.

Schönen Gruß aus München

Stuart
seccus is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 02:07 PM
  #7  
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 10
Hi Lynn,

Your post crossed with my posting so a few points to your comments (and a big thanks of course)

Re. the tsetse fly - this was just my daughters panic attack. I don't intend to arrange the trip around it though

After Sandi and now you mentioning it I went looking for Samburu. When I looked on google earth it took me SE close to Mombasa but from yours and Sandi's comments I don't think this is the one you mean. I've now found it and think I want to go there so here's the first revision (how many of these can I expect )

MUC -> NBO (1 night NBO)
Samburu (3 nights)
Lake Nakuru (3 nights)
Masai Mara (4 nights)
Serengeti (3 nights)
Ambolesi (3 nights)
R & R (3 nights)
NBO -> MUC

Thoughts?

Stuart
seccus is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 02:24 PM
  #8  
 
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Posts: 8,675
Stuart -

As the mirror on your vehicle says "things can be closer than you think" - Same for Africa. Big continent, lots of countries and often "you can't get there from here." Or it can be challenging. If you haven't yet, check a good map.

Okavongo to VFA and then Amboseli... ugh! Please, the first two are in the south of the continent, Amboseli is in Kenya in the middle with a minimum a full day traveling.

For those who wish to visit the south and east, it's suggested you have 3/weeks. Transport between south to/from east can entail overnights and limited flight schedules. But it's doable.

As the migration is in Kenya, and being a strong believer in "saving the best for last" maybe visit the Delta for 4-5/days, then head north to Tanzania (probably into Dar-es-Salaam/DAR), then short flight to Arusha/Kilimanjaro, for visit to Ngorongoro Crater.

Then into Kenya - take a day to sightsee at Karen Blixen (Out of Africa, Isak Dinisen), Giraffe Center, Sheldrick Ellee Orphange; adopt an ellee and visiit privately in evening to put the cubby to bed); then to visit Amboseli or Samburu (prefer the latter for not only ellees, but unique species), Ol Pejeta Conservancy for the Jane Goodall Chimp Sanctuary, maybe onto Lake Nakuru (flamingoes are here, though birth their young down south at Natron... not sure what month), or Naivasha for boat ride to Crescent Island and walking safari with tame game. Onto Masai Mara for the migration. Conclude on the Kenyan Coast at Lamu Island, Shella Beach area... quaint and not as hectic as Mombasa. Then back to NBO and homebound.

There are so many combinations (this somewhat different than my earlier post), all depends on you... it's your family safari.

Seems gorilla trekking will have to wait till the young one is of age.
sandi is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 02:30 PM
  #9  
 
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Mine also crossed with yours, but we're getting there.

You've got plenty of time to fine tune the actual on-ground routing. Time to book flights if using miles though is fast approaching.

Personally, I wouldn't visit both Serengeti and Mara in August. While all of the herds don't make it into Kenya's Mara, those remaining in Serengeti are in the very north, where there's limited lodging/camp choices that tend to be expensive.

Also, I wouldn't visit both Samburu and Amboseli. Amboseli especially in the dry season gets very dusty and is very crowded. Except for the possible views of Kili, the game is more diverse at Samburu.

Gotta go... tummy is calling
sandi is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 02:58 PM
  #10  
 
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I like the inclusion of Samburu as it gives you diversity. I don't recall ever reading a trip report where the poster didn't see flamingo at Nakuru though the numbers may vary. I agree that the Serengeti and Amboseli may not be necessary (unless you want to see Mt Kili at the latter). There's no direct crossing between the Mara and Serengeti so driving takes a whole day and many choose to break it up with an overnight in between. You could fly but that also takes almost a whole day as you have to route Mara-Nairobi-Kilimanjaro/Arusha-Serengeti with many other possible stops along the way to pick up/drop off passengers.

The only place I've seen tse tse in Kenya is in Meru in during a very rainy December and then only a few.

Viel Glück!
Patty is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 03:10 PM
  #11  
 
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Forgot to add, have you seen the East Africa trip report index? http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...port-index.cfm

As for "how many of these can I expect", I'm usually revising my itineraries up until the last minute
Patty is offline  
Aug 7th, 2009, 12:52 AM
  #12  
 
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Bonjour,

That periosd will be quite good to visit Masai Mara , Amboseli and may be Ngorongor Crater as the concentration of wildlife will be either in Mara or Ngorongoro and Serengeti. Plan ahead if you stay in lodges as most of them are full during this period. Good luck!!!
nugu is offline  
Aug 7th, 2009, 11:29 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 237
Was just on Magic Safaris website and they state that the minimum age for gorillas is 15. Don't know if that is just them or all operators.
gpotvin is offline  
Aug 7th, 2009, 01:28 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
>>Magic Safaris website and they state that the minimum age for gorillas is 15. Don't know if that is just them or all operators. <<

If it's one then it's all.
sandi is offline  
Aug 7th, 2009, 09:38 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 7
Hi,

Well, I am sure you really want a memeorable safari. I would advise you that at this time of the year as I told you earlier the concentaration of animals is in Maasai Mara and Serengeti. But would suggest for you the following programme: 03 nights masai Mara, 01 night lake nakuru (flamingo lake), Samburu (north of Kenya), Amboseli (Kilimanjaro region), and then Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti (02 nights) and then Tarangire (highest concentration of elephants in this region) and highest concentration of baobab trees. As Sandi said Okavango is way south in Botswana and with flights it will be very expensive. Advise do Kenya and Tanzania for wildlife and culture. Again good luck
nugu is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 06:37 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 47
We just did this trip with our kids ages 11, 18, and 21. We had previously taken our older kids at ages 8 and 11. Yours are plenty old enough!

We tried to go to see the gorillas but your youngest daughter definitely cannot go! Save it for another trip, or let your wife and oldest daughter go.

Our trip was very much like Sandi said. Definitely spend a day in Nairobi - the Sheldrick orphanage alone - on a private visit if possible - was one of the highlights of our trip for everyone.

We drove to Sweetwaters at Ol Pejetas - we thought it would just be a "way stop" on the way to Samburu but all of us LOVED it! You get a beautiful tented camp, animals right outside your tent at the watering hole, the chimp sabctuary, AND in the main lodge there is internet and TV (teens like this, since there is so much down time on safari).

We drove to Samburu - stayed at the Mara Serena which was good because they have a pool (it's hot there) and if you go definitely request the large, upgraded rooms.

We flew to the Mara, stayed in two different places - the Mara Serena so the kids could have some "action", then the lovely Mara Intrepids.

Our fabulous agency Wildlife Safaris in Nairobi gave us a great price for a private safari and we compared many (we took quality and refernces into account, too).

The beach is beautiful and your family will love it. The hotels are gorgeous! Pick a part of the coast with fabulous snorkelling.

You know your girls. If they will get bored with a lot of downtime between game drives, you may want to stay at a few of the Serena Hotels, mixed with smaller tented camps. That depends on your family.

We just got back and I'd go again in a heartbeat...as would my kids. None of us even got one mosquito bite.
GoCathy is offline  

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