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Old Sep 6, 12, 5:24 am   #1
 
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Help and Advice Regarding Kenya and SA

Girlfriend has a been in her bonnet about going to Kenya and SA.

Does anyone know where best to get travel advice (Not flying), but where to go what to do, as everything I find on the web is herded and escorted travel

Looking to hit Kenya for 10 days, go to Massia Mara and then head towards Mombassa so I can dive and she can beach it.. I guess looking for some agency that build custom trips

Then into Joberg for a few days and Capetown (Hmm More Diving).

Not worried about SA really as all seems prety easy. More on the kenya angle
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Old Sep 6, 12, 2:24 pm   #2
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You would have a much better experience with a guide when visiting the Maasai Mara. You can do a customized safari with just the 2 of you if you want to avoid groups. Tons of information on the web about doing that.

Avoid Kenya during the upcoming national elections if possible.
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Old Sep 7, 12, 12:54 am   #3
 
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Avoid Kenya during the upcoming national elections if possible.
If enough people take your advice, it will be an excellent time to visit. You can have the place almost to yourself, and tour operators will be vying for your business.

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Old Sep 7, 12, 2:56 am   #4
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There was a ton of violence during the last national election and it could happen again.
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Old Sep 7, 12, 4:11 am   #5
 
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If you want to spend 10 days in Kenya, you can look at tour operators who can organise a customized tour for you. This means you have your own vehicle, and will stay in tented camps / lodges (depends on budget).

For 10 days, I would suggest 3 nights / 4 days in the Masai Mara, 1 night at Lake Nakuru, and then 3 nights in Laikipia.

Have a look at Trip Advisor for info on Operators: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum...216-Kenya.html
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Old Sep 11, 12, 9:32 pm   #6
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Unless you have a lot of time, I certainly would not advise Kenya and South Africa on the same trip. And I would not attempt Kenya wildlife without a tour operator. You might be able to find a decent tour operator with custom tented camping, better IMO than staying at a lodge except for two two-hour van runs following "the track" to look at surrounded wildlife.

I went on such a safari with Safaris Unlimited when it was owned by Tony Church, and it is now operated by his son Gordon. Longtime company, extremely knowledgeable Kenya hands, offer luxury tented and horseback safaris. They may also be able to recommend something if they can not offer to very small groups. www.safarisunlimited.com

I'd also not recommend consider diving in (or near) Mombasa, though there are some OK places north of Mombasa, such as Watamu.

Or, fix your eyes on South Africa and visit there (and maybe Botswana). I like tented safaris with Penduka Safaris for a wilderness experience, for example: www.pendukasafaris.com

Check Tanzania out: http://www.thomsonsafaris.com. Rick and Sally have been "old Tanzania hands" since the 1980s, provide smaller tented experiences, etc.

Best: do one now, do another later.
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Old Sep 12, 12, 5:06 am   #7
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One easy way to save money on a small group safari at campgrounds is to do it the "African way." That means you don't have a cook. Upon arrival at the campground, the guide makes arrangements with the cooks of other groups to buy cooked, delicious meals at a very low price. You even use their cutlery, linens, wine, etc. and get waited on by those cooks.

Previous posters in this thread have recommended very expensive safari operators. Having been on safari many times in both Kenya and Tanzania, I can reassure you that the amount of money you pay is not a great indicator of the quality of service you'll receive. Local people who run their own safari companies can do a fantastic job booking the same places that the every expensive outfits book, but at a much cheaper price.
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Old Sep 12, 12, 6:06 pm   #8
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Yes, we have indeed - it was the "I guess looking for some agency that build custom trips" that did it for me.

For a very nice trip without the $$$, booking a (closed, not a "bakkie" or pickup truck,) car in Windhoek, Namibia and booking at some non- and government rest camps is a great way to go. Etosha alone can keep one interested for a while. And the lodges, well, they are lodges, and the government rest camps have everything from motel-like accommodations and places to eat to rondavels, places for tents, and a shop to purchase food etc.

One of the nicest "African way" trips we did was booking a vehicle and places in Malawi. It's a very poor country, but has some nice parks and wildife, not to mention the lake. (At the time it also had "The Ngwazi, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, President for Life" , whose titles and name you needed to use completely, which meant long hair, trousers on women, etc. could get trouble...)

And you are absolutely right - there are small outfits that can do an excellent job as well. Vetting them can get interesting because of the ones that don't come through on their promises, but they would for a subset of us (maybe you, definitely me) be sooo much better than the big companies with gazillion vans with contract divers and guides who drive you from lodge to lodge and on morning and afternoon circuits. That's not a safari, that's a so sorry you are spending a trip of a lifetime like that - like so many sardines in a can. (Yes, that is judgmental - some people may truly enjoy that, though certainly not yours truly.)

(The Church family are multi-generational Kenya residents / citizens and though they are pricey, offer a top notch product, and the Barnards of Penduka - based near Maun, Botswana - are likewise multi-generational southern Africa residents and company owners.)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Austinrunner View Post
One easy way to save money on a small group safari at campgrounds is to do it the "African way." That means you don't have a cook. Upon arrival at the campground, the guide makes arrangements with the cooks of other groups to buy cooked, delicious meals at a very low price. You even use their cutlery, linens, wine, etc. and get waited on by those cooks.

Previous posters in this thread have recommended very expensive safari operators. Having been on safari many times in both Kenya and Tanzania, I can reassure you that the amount of money you pay is not a great indicator of the quality of service you'll receive. Local people who run their own safari companies can do a fantastic job booking the same places that the every expensive outfits book, but at a much cheaper price.
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Last edited by JDiver; Sep 12, 12 at 6:22 pm.. Reason: add parenthetical disclaimer to not offend
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Old Oct 6, 12, 3:18 pm   #9
 
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And you are absolutely right - there are small outfits that can do an excellent job as well. Vetting them can get interesting because of the ones that don't come through on their promises, but they would for a subset of us (maybe you, definitely me) be sooo much better than the big companies with gazillion vans with contract divers and guides who drive you from lodge to lodge and on morning and afternoon circuits. That's not a safari, that's a so sorry you are spending a trip of a lifetime like that - like so many sardines in a can. (Yes, that is judgmental - some people may truly enjoy that, though certainly not yours truly.)
Slight disagreement. Wife and I took an ElderTreks (Toronto CN firm, max 16 souls per trip) Great East Africa Safari a couple years ago. Mainly Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Almost a month. I don't know how much more or less the individual tour planners charge but our group of 16 in two Land Cruisers parked next to many, many vehicles with a driver, guide and couple, usually man and woman, in them, all looking at the same cheetahs, elephants, leopards etc. Same place, same time. Never felt like a sardine and in fact enjoyed the camaraderie at meals, happy hour and so on. Nice bunch of travel experienced folks. I enjoyed the safari and the people. And I'm only marginally socialized. :-} Never felt I was on a "so-sorry." It was the thrill of a lifetime and worth every dime and it was a lot of dimes. But, as they say: to each his own.
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Old Oct 6, 12, 10:33 pm   #10
 
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A friend and I used Suntrek Safaris (do a search in this forum since I've written about the trip and got the reco for them here) in Kenya. Just the two of us plus driver for a reasonable price. They design the trip around your wants.
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