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We are leaving for our second safari in Kenya . Any uplifting information, sugesstions, wishes and other news?

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Feb 18th, 2002, 10:19 AM
  #1
Gina
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We are leaving for our second safari in Kenya . Any uplifting information, sugesstions, wishes and other news?

This is going to be our 2nd two-weeks long safari in Kenya and I would like to hear from those who recently returned from Kenya and also those who are planning or those who are dreaming about safari in Kenya. Any good news, valuable information before I start packing?
We are flying between all camps and staying in these four tented camps:
Tortilis
Lewa Downs (2nd visit)
Sangare (2nd visit)
Governor's camp
We went before in June 2000 and there was no need for visa.
 
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Feb 18th, 2002, 10:31 AM
  #2
Thyra
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Gina, have a lovely time!!!! We are leaving in April, and I expect a full report upon your return. In terms of Visa, I was under the impression that you did have to have one, but that you could easily buy one upon arrival at the airport.Let me know.
Are you taking a tour or do-it yourself'ing?
I am very excited for you and wish you a wonderful, safe, exciting, healthy trip! Kwaheri (good bye in Kswahili)
 
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Feb 18th, 2002, 11:24 AM
  #3
Jan Goss
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Gina:

I just returned from two weeks in Kenya from 1-17-02 - 2-1-02. The weather was perfect - 80 - 85 degrees and breezy all the time. NO MOSQUITOS!! I stayed in both Amboseli and Tsavo East. There had been heavy rain before I arrived in Kenya, so the animals had "gone on holiday" so to speak. There were very few, except elephants, in the parks. However, the last week I was there the animals were returning and it was marvelous.

You now do indeed need a Visa. Because I was hesitant to send to Washington for mine in the fall (anthrax in the Washington post offices) I obtained mine at Jomo Kenyatta Airport on arrival and it took less than 5 minutes.

Be sure to pack batteries, anything metal, Swiss Army knife, etc in your checked luggage. Boston and Amsterdam airports were checking everyone very carefully. I, an older woman, was wanded and had my shoes X-rayed.

I know you will have a marvelous time. Please write a trip report when you get back.

Jan
 
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Feb 18th, 2002, 11:35 AM
  #4
Jan Goss
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Gina:

I neglected to mention that one now needs a SMARTCARD to pay park fees into Nairobi National Park, Lake Nakuru, Aberdares, Amboseli, Tasvo East and Tsavo West National Parks.

If you are going with a tour group, this will probably be taken care of for you. However, if you have booked the trip yourself, it will be necesary to go through Kenya Wildlife Service and deposit enough funds with them to cover your entry into the parks to which you are going. Then they will give you a receipt for each park when they deduct the fees and you must keep the receipt on your person the entire time you are in the park. Rangers could stop you and ask to see your receipt, so be sure you keep it with you. You can find more about this on www.KenyaWildlifeService.com.

Jan
 
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Feb 19th, 2002, 03:33 AM
  #5
Debra
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Have a great time and post your journal. So far I'm only dreaming but one day I will go there
Deb
 
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Feb 20th, 2002, 02:38 AM
  #6
Gina
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Asante sana Thyra, Jan and Debra
Yes, we do have to have visas but, like you Jan, we will get them in the airport in Nairobi.

We are going on private safari. Of course, when we get to those camps there are going to be other guests. Also we are using safari guides from each camp.We have everything prepaid and prearranged including transfers from/to the international airport and local airstrips, admissions to Masai Mara, Aberdares Park and Amboseli. In two camps we are going to be in two private reserves so we do not need to worry about any admissions.
Jan, how about posting your report very soon. I would love to read it but we are leaving in three days. Anyway, thank you for info and I hope we will have as good weather as you did.
And we know about higher security in the airports (we are greatful for it),we returned in the end of January from Costa Rica.
Jan, did you stay in Tortilis camp in Amboseli?
Thanks again.
 
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Feb 22nd, 2002, 05:54 PM
  #7
Lily
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Please let me know about Tortilis and Lewa. We are thinking about going there
 
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Feb 23rd, 2002, 05:04 PM
  #8
Jan Goss
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Gina:

How I wish I were going with you! I have only been back 3 weeks and I already feel Kenya withdrawal. I miss it so.

I guess I am not the average safari goer. I am a 62 year old working Mom who has loved elephants all my life. When I couldn't find a safari to focus on elephants I wrote Dr. Daphne Sheldrick, the woman who raises the orphaned rhinos and elephants and asked her what I should do. She suggested I contact Southern Cross Safaris and go to Tsavo East National Park, and I added Amboseli because I knew of Cynthia Moss's work there. My first trip last year in January was absolutely marvelous. I decided I just had to go back. I would be traveling alone as none of my family is particularly animal oriented. Safety as a woman traveling alone was my only concern and Southern Cross assured me I would be in good hands.

Thus 1-16-02 I again set out for Kenya. I flew from Boston - Amsterdam -Nairobi. I landed in Nairobi about 9 p.m. and was met at the airport by Southern Cross and taken to the Nairobi Safari Club. Spent the first night there. The next morning got up and prepared to visit Daphne Sheldrick and her daughter Jill at their orphange at Nairobi National Park. I have adopted three of the elephant orphans and was thrilled at seeing two of them there (see sheldrickwildlifetrust.org) to learn about the fostering/adoption program. After a joyous time there I was taken back to my hotel to relax for the rest of the day.

The next morning I was up bright and early to catch the 7:30 flight to Amboseli. There were far fewer people traveling this January than last, so our aircraft was a small 12 seater. The flight was uneventful except we saw NO animals down below at all compared to seeing many last year.
 
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Feb 23rd, 2002, 05:15 PM
  #9
Jan Goss
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The only animals at all we saw while flying in were two wildebeests on the air strip which ran off just before we landed. I was met at the air strip by Pamela and Isaac from Ol Tukai Lodge. I had stayed at Ol Tukai last year and absolutely loved it, so it felt like arriving home to me. I knew many of the wonderful Maasai employees. I also loved the wonderful plants and trees that were very well taken care of. In fact, I took 2 rolls of film just of the landscaping. I quickly checked into my "elephant view" room and then went out on my first game drive. There were very few animals in the park. Since there had been heavy rain prior to my arrival the herds had all "gone on holiday" with the exception of elephants, lion, hyenas, baboons, hippo and many solitary male wildebeests guarding their empty territory until their females returned.

We sat on the edge of the swamp for a long time watching the elephant herds enjoying themselves. We even saw Echo and her newest baby Emily Kate. What a thrill for me because I had read about all the Amboseli elephants in both Cynthia Moss's books and Joyce Poole's book. We went out one morning and saw two lions with a fresh buffalo kill. There were little silver backed jackals darting in right under the lions noses to grab meat - how daring they were. However, the scairdy cat hyenas stayed far from the kill until the lions moved off. I truly loved staying at Ol Tukai. I could sit on my veranda after lunch and with my binoculars watch the elephant herds in the swamp. Indeed one day I watched from 10 a.m. til 4 p.m. very concerned about a mother and baby elephant all alone with no other family around just wandering aimlessly in the heat with no water. I was very concerned because it is unusual to see two females alone without family. I spoke with the elephant researchers the next day, pointed out the two involved and they were going to watch them.

 
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Feb 23rd, 2002, 05:26 PM
  #10
Jan Goss
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I stayed a total of five days at Ol Tukai because I felt 3 had not been enough last year. I am now thinking in terms of two weeks there next time. We had no rain while I was there and NO MOSQUITOS! On one game drive we suddenly spotted a women walking out of the bush with a large bundle on her head wearing only a kanga, sweater and sandals. The drivers of the three vehicles in the area immediately jumped out of the cars to ask her if she was crazy walking in the middle of the bush like that. She eventually just walked back into the bush. When they returned they said she didn't understand either English or Kiswalihi and they didn't understand her. They guessed perhaps she was a refugee from Tanzania. We immediately drove to the main gate to have them notify Kenya Wildlife Service to go out and get her - it ws 6 p.m. and would be dark in an hour. They immediately sent vehicles out, but we never did hear if they found her or not. I certainly hope so, because she was in the same area where we had seen the lions with the buffalo kill that morning. Because I was traveling alone I took the time to talk with many of the Maasai employees, and I feel I got closer to them than I would have if my husband or sons had been along. I would have been talking with family then instead of getting to know the Maasai.

On the 6th morning I got into the lodge's vehicle along with a wonderful English couple I had met. On the way to the air strip Bud nudged my and said "look at Wendy, she's crying because she doesn't want to leave Ol Tukai and the elephants". So was I.
 
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Feb 23rd, 2002, 05:36 PM
  #11
Jan Goss
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We boarded the plane for Nairobi with heavy hearts. We knew we would be back again though.

I was met at Wilson Airport and transferred to Jomo Kenyatta Airport for the flight to Mombasa. Was met at Mombasa Airport (which incidentally is a very nice, open, airy placed compared to Nairobi) and transferred to the Tamarind Village. I had stayed twice at Tamarind Village last year and found it very nice. When the owners of the condos are not there, they allow them to be rented out. All three of the apartments I have been in were very nice. Since it was hot and steamy in Mombasa I stayed in the apartment except for dinner that evening. The next morning I was picked up by Douglas, my Southern Cross Safari driver, who would be my guide for the next six days. We drove to Tsavo East's Voi Lodge. When I had stayed at Satao Camp last year, we drove to Voi one morning and it seemed that there were larger herds of elephants at the Voi end of the park. Thus I chose Voi Lodge for several nights. When I got there I found the animals had "gone on holiday". Voi Lodge isn't fancy but clean and nice, and the view from your windows is gorgeous, overlooking the Athi Plains. Voi Lodge has three waterholes and usually you see large numbers of animals there at night. However, we didn't see much. We did see lions near the lodge, lots of dik diks, impala but it seemed all the zebra, buffalo, elephants etc. had disappeared off the face of the earth. While in Voi I went to the elephant orphage to see my adopted baby Ndara. What a thrill. However, in order to see any animals we had to drive to Aruba Dam where the elephants were still plentiful.
 
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Feb 23rd, 2002, 05:48 PM
  #12
Jan Goss
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We then drove to Satao Camp. I had stayed at Satao for five days last year and had loved it. If anyone asked me to go tenting in the U.S. I would have thought they were crazy. However, I loved it in Tsavo. Tenting there is most comfortable with twin or double beds, bathroom attached to your tent, and very good food. Incidentally, the food where ever I went in Kenya was very good. I am a fussy eater, but I enjoyed everything I had there. My only complaint was too much food. I probably ate twice a much as I would have at home. Wonderful fruits and vegetables. In getting ready for my first trip last year I read all the warnings about what not to eat, drink, stay away from mosquitos etc. However, I do think that if one is staying at a reputable lodge the risk of infection is slim. On both trips I started taking Doxycycline as an antimalarial and had a reaction to it because of the sun and both times I stopped it, because there were no mosquitos. I asked several Kenyans what they take and they said "nothing, we just figure we'll get malaria about once every four years, and whenever we feel sick we go to a doctor". I wouldn't advise going to Africa without some prescription on hand, indeed I'll take something with me next time, but I'll use it only if I find mosqitoes in the area. Daphne Sheldrick had advised me not to let anyone prescribe Lariam because they have seen many tourists who have ended up very ill. Thus the only two other sources would be Malaone or Doxycyline. However, I would advise seeing a travel medical specialist before you leave.
 
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Feb 23rd, 2002, 06:10 PM
  #13
Jan Goss
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Satao Camp has a borehole (waterhole) where there is always water. The employees tell me that in September, October and early November they will have as many as 1,000 elephants every four hours at the borehole. However, because of the rains, there weren't many there in January. Thus we again drove to Aruba Dam twice a day. Tsavo East is such a vast park. I still can't imagine a park the size of the state of Michigan! The nothern part of the park still is not often traveled. As I understand it, they are still fighting poaching in the North, and I have also heard that Somalians are entering the park in the north. Thus if one wants to go there, a KWS guard has to go with you.

The Aruba Dam area is great. There was a lodge there at one time, but it has fallen into disrepair. They were supposed to have had a new lodge built by January 2001 but nothing has been done. It is a shame because it is such a beautiful area. Other companies have tried to buy this property but were unable to. It would be nice if KWS could force the owner to either repair or get out, but I guess that was tried and didn't work. The wildlife in this area is fantastic. As I understand it, Satao borehole, Aruba Dam and Voi Lodge are the three main areas where animals can get water during the dry season when all the other waterholes are dried up.

We went to Aruba Dam twice every day and saw many large herds of elephants drinking and bathing. Indeed on my last night there, there was a fairly large herd right in front of our vehicle drinking peacefully and a young bull decided to put on a show of his water prowess. He would stand up and belly flop, then stand up and fall backwards, again and again. I was fortunate enough to get this on video, but it is slightly marred by our laughter. He was really showing off for us!

The talk among the Kenyans was the story about the lion and the oryx. The lioness had adopted a baby oryx and protected it for two weeks. However, when she went off to eat/drink another lion got it. Since then the lioness has again adopted another baby which KWS had to rescue because it wan't getting enough to eat The latest was the lioness was again hunting for another baby oryx. I didn't see this, it was in Samburu, but while at Amboseli we pulled up to some large holes in the ground, dens for hyenas. When they all popped out of the holes to greet us, a wart hog jumped out of the same hole with them. The hyenas just peacefully followed the wart hog around without thought of killing it.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the world were the same way, where people of all colors, religions, nationalities could so peacefully coexist? As you see, it can be done.

To all of you thinking about traveling to Kenya, DO IT! You will absolutely love it. Do it as soon as possible, because if the elephant is taken off the endangered list there may not be any to see.

Jan
 
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Feb 28th, 2002, 08:37 AM
  #14
Thyra
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Jan Thanks for taking the time to post...although Frankly, after reading your report, I don't think I can survive the next 5 weeks until we leave.. I may go completely insane waiting for time to pass.
Once again, thank you!
 
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May 26th, 2003, 07:30 PM
  #15
LizFrazier
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Topping for Sundance.
 
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