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Which Tour Operator do you recommend for our August Kenya Safari?

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Jan 6th, 2006, 01:31 PM
  #21
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Just off the top of my head, Patty, Sandi, JanGoss, Nyamera and Tusker Dave all "regularly" go to Kenya for safari.

Patty has been twice with the same operator, and has been really happy with their services.

I think Tusker Dave has "his guy" in Kenya and they just take off in a Land Rover with tents, gear and a cook, so not really an option.

Nyamera is an a la carte safari-goer.

Jan has used the same company operating out of Mombassa for years and has always been satisfied.

Sandi uses Africa Serendipity, her company (well, duh).

All names can be found on Lynda's FANTASTIC index of East African trip reports.
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Jan 6th, 2006, 01:45 PM
  #22
 
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I try to book direct with hotel chains but this generally means you need to stick with one chain. Last year I used Serena lodges at Samburu and Mara and they were very good. I'm going out in late February and am using a recommended Nairobi based agency called Gamewatchers. They are very responsive in booking but am still waiting to find out what they are like in practice !


PS : Paul is right that Mountain Lodge can be quieter than the Ark for the reason he mentions, i.e. very few rooms at the Ark have waterhole views so most people are in the general viewing areas. The areas are very big so no problem getting some space but more people does mean a bit more noise.
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Jan 6th, 2006, 03:24 PM
  #23
 
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Thanks, Aby. BTW where did you get the Ark rhino statistics?

And thanks to philw for coming to the defense of the Ark. I had also read very mixed reviews of this lodge previously. We spent some time in the Aberdares in November but didn't stay at either of the tree hotels. BTW I loved the park and found it a fascinating environment! Perhaps the fact that the Ark wouldn't let me use their restroom colored my perception too
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Jan 6th, 2006, 10:03 PM
  #24
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Kevin
let me recommend a driver-guide 4 u:
Simon Muriuki. i know him since the early 1980s spent up to 30-day-tour with him. Hawk eyes (compared to lots of drivers i've been with), the guy really enjoys "hunting", gets exited, communicative, joyful, intelligent ...
May b "overbooked" - try at Liberty.

# Patty -
during the long nights at the ark i "studied" their observation books
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Jan 7th, 2006, 03:06 AM
  #25
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OK guys here is another thought to further stir up the Mountain Lodge versus the Ark controversy.

Any thoughts on our going trout fishing in Kenya? My 18 year old son and I love to trout fish and my wife and 26 year old daughter would love to go along. I have seen articles on the internet re good trout fishing in the Aberdares and on Mt. Kenya. Anyone have any experience with this?

I will start a new thread with this.

Thanks,

Kevin Staker
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Jan 8th, 2006, 02:12 AM
  #26
 
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Just stumbled on this this guys on another forum on my last days of planning the trip. They were really helpful and I got instant replys to my e-mails. I had no otherwise but to book with them. I wanted the Same itinerary but I went to Tanzania instead because my hubby wanted the climb.

It was a success and it we'll be nice if you contact them, they have an outfitter close to what you are looking for on their web: www.micssafaris.com


Good luck,
The tiny Giraffe
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Jan 9th, 2006, 10:39 PM
  #27
 
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The above post smells suspicious to me. This same operator, MICS Safaris, has been spamming the Tripadvisor Kenya/Tanzania boards using different screen names. I could be wrong, but the grammar/diction and the fact that pygmygiraffe has only 2 posts on Fodors both touting the same operator makes me wonder
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Jan 10th, 2006, 04:21 AM
  #28
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I thought suspicious also.

Please note I am having good succcess on our tour planning and will report when done.

However, places are beginning to get booked up

Kevin
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Jan 10th, 2006, 09:38 PM
  #29
 
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Wow! You guys on this board, such as Patty, are pretty impressive: spotting a suspicious post by pigmygiraffe and then researching it. That would not have occured to me. I am pretty gullible (would surely fall for one of those Nariobi scams I read about!)

I am new to message boards in general. In the past two weeks I have "discovered" Fodors, Frommers and Lonely Planet. For what I am personally looking for Fodors is the best.

I am working very actively on a trip to N. Tanz (and maybe Kenya) in July, and have gained a lot of insight from you sharp safari veterans.
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Jan 17th, 2006, 11:11 PM
  #30
 
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Jambo, from Kenya!

I am an American running the tour operations on a large, privately owned and operated cattle ranch in the heart of Laikipia. (www.segeraranch.com)

I thought I would mix things up here a bit and offer another "option" in the Kenya safari itinerary. Laikipia is an amzing region that truly is truly defined by ecotourism. I would explore the www.laikipia.org website to see more of this. Staying in a private ranch or lodge offers you a myriad of experiences that you will not get in the game parks.

Just a few days ago our head tracker here on the ranch guided myself and 5 guests to a momma cheetah and 4 of her cubs. It was amazing hiking through the bush to find such a prize. The ranches around Laikipia boast most of the game the Mara does except here there are not 8 other cars around as you are viewing the game. It is spectacular how wild it truly is. Now, I realize I am partial to this region as I am living here. But having hand taylored many, many safaris for guests, family, and friends over the last year which have included Samburu, Nakuru, and the Mara, most people report that the ranch experience was the most exceptional part of the trip... Also, day trips are a breeze from most of the spots in Laikipia. Sweetwaters is just one hour - Nakuru is about three, and truthfully, we have found that folks are content with one afternoon here. For rhinos, we are fond of a game drive on Solio ranch - amazing! Just a thought on a few different options!

As far as a travel agency in Nairobi - we are really fond of Tropical Breaks. The attention to detail they provide always gives guests less angst and they feel safe and well taken care of. www.tropicalbreaks.com
Oh, in the Mara - Ilkeliani is the place - small, peaceful - and the most entertaining, knowledgable and fun guides out there (Petro and Pilot!) www.ilkeliani.com

Hope this is helpful!

Safari Njema! Safe journey!

Sarah

****PS - for what it's worth I vote for the Ark! =)
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Jan 18th, 2006, 04:26 AM
  #31
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Dear Friends:

Thanks for the all the advice.

We decided on the following:

We depart Aug. 15 from LA and spend over night at Sheraton Skyline at Heathrow (got an incredible $130 room for four over the internet).
Fly on the 7th to Nairobi, overnight at the Stanley Hotel.
We decided to fly everywhere and not drive. Hard decision but we did not want to exhaust ourselves and thought we would see enough of the countryside driving to and from airports. In the future I want to go again and go by car. I flip a coin in deciding whether to stay at the Ark or Mountain Lodge. I very seriously looked into trout fishing in the Aberdare. I would have done if the wife had been more interested ("I don't want to stand around for hours watching you and Sean fish.") The coolest thing would have been to pay for both a guide and an armed ranger from the National Park to guard against the lions. What a great story that would have been to tell.

We will leave from Nairobi for three nights at Larsen's Tented Camp in Samburu, Four nights at Little Governor's Camp in the Mara (we had to add an extra day for airfare from the U.S. reasons, not a bad problem to have), and then for variety will fly via Nairobi to Lamu Island and stay at what appears to be a delightful place on the beach called Kizingo (the owner Mary Jo has been very helpful).

We did consider Laipikia, staying at Loisaba, but cost of charter flights and lack of availability dissuaded us. However, the activities such as mountain biking sounded attractive.

We got quotes from a number of tour operators. I tried to not waste their time.

We ended up focusing on three because most responsive and reasonably priced. Sandi here in the U.S. with her African Serendipity was very helpful. Serah at Eastern and Southern Safaris in Kenya was also helpful. We ended up going with the least expensive, sounded just as reliable, Benjamin at Southern Cross Safaris out of Mombasa.

Thanks for all your help. Any last comments?

The trip reports and pbotos on this site are awesome. I promise I will report.
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Jan 18th, 2006, 10:03 AM
  #32
 
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Hi Sarah,
We stayed with your neighbors at El Karama in November and I couldn't agree with you more. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip in an often overlooked area. We also visited Solio and stayed at Ilkeliani in the Mara. We didn't have any overcrowding problems in the Mara due to the time of year (in fact we were the only guests at Ilkeliani). Do you know if Riz is still the camp manager there?

A tip for anyone planning a future trip, Segera and El Karama ranches are both within reasonable driving distance of Nairobi (4-4.5 hours) so it's not necessary to take a charter flight as it would be if going to one of the ranches further north in Laikipia. They're also good options for anyone who cannot fly small aircraft.

Kevin,
Thanks for the update. Did you decide to stay at a tree lodge? You mentioned you were flying everywhere so I'm a little confused. Here's another possible trout fishing location on the slopes of Mt Kenya for your next trip - http://www.lewa.org/rutundu.php

I'm very interested to hear a report of Larsens and had looked into staying at Kizingo at one time too. Southern Cross is the company that Jan has used for all of her trips (going on 9th now?), so I'm sure you'll be in good hands. Have a great time!
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Jan 18th, 2006, 04:40 PM
  #33
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Patti (and all others)

We decided to skip Mountain Lodge or the Ark because we were flying Air Kenya from place to place.

Yes, I had heard about Rutundu but could not sell the girls on it. (My 18 year old son was all for it though!) Hopefully, another trip, however would probably do the Aberdares for the fishing so we could tell the tale of having an armed guard with us to ward off the lions.

Thanks,

Kevin
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Jan 19th, 2006, 03:41 AM
  #34
 
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Hah, Patty that is too funny that you were right across the river from us, here on Segera!!!! You obviously met the infamous Murray Grant. He is a super friend of ours!
I am sure you enjoyed your time on El Karama - it is a beautiful place!
And, yes, Riz is still the manager at Ilkeliani!

One more note for those interested in trout fishing in the Laikipia/Mt. Kenya area - take a helicopter ride with Ben from anywhere in the Laikipia area/Nanyuki airport up onto Mt. Kenya for a morning of unforgettable fishing and picnic. It is not exactly cheap - but well worth the money!!!! Ben can be reached at [email protected] or call Tropic Air - from the states 011.254.6232890.

Kevin - have a riot on your safari! Your itinerary looks great...

Cheers!
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