Kenya and Safari(27 Posts)
DH and I have been wanting to visit Kenya and go on a safari for the longest time, and think we might be able to pull it off either this Christmas or next Easter.
I have no idea where to start though, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. Any recommended places to go, safaris to do, hotels to stay in, how much we should expect to spend, etc? Ideally we would love to see elephants and lions if that makes a difference.
Also I'm terrified of spiders - am I likely to see them on safari there? Daren't google as it usually brings up pics
Also is it best to book through a travel agent or could we arrange it all ourselves?
We did a super-cheap safari pre kids where we camped around Kenya (in a group) for a week. It was utterly fabulous! Totally different experience I think to the hotel-type safari. I can't remember the names of everywhere we visited now, but we visited mount Kenya and some waterfalls, lake nakuru(?) where there are millions of flamingos, and several national parks for the big game. It was totally amazing and we saw all the 'big 5'. We followed a lioness stalking a gazelle and we saw quite a few male lions dozing in the sun. I honestly don't remember seeing any spiders, even with camping (loads of naughty monkeys though!) although I'm not scared of them so it may be that they just didn't register.
We did safari in Kenya, if you do a package holiday book the safari independently
We used www.julius-safaris.com
They were great. We had a van and driver to ourselves and they tailor it for you. The people from our hotel that went with the travel agent safari had to check out of their hotel when staying overnight and were crammed in a van.
Also, there is a lot of poverty in Kenya. If you can, take some bits that can go to one of the orphanages. Things like colouring books and pens, Yoyos, just little bits like that. One of the reps at the hotel can get it to them.
We stayed at the voyager beach resort which was nice, big hotel on the beach.
Thanks Okite and Magenta.
Magenta, how long did you go on the safari for? I have to admit to being a bit worried about going on something just the two of us as opposed to a group, for safety reasons, am I worrying about nothing?
We did 2 nights I think. It was absolutely fine. The guide was lovely. I never felt unsafe. They collect you from your hotel and take you to the office to talk about what you want. After the safari they drop you to your hotel and collect you again the next day to go to the office. The boss makes sure you enjoyed it before you pay.
The one I linked to has great reviews. When we saw large groups in vans with all their luggage we were so glad we went separately.
We once did a tour in Australia that was on a van that was packed out, with people and luggage, and it was a nightmare, so thanks for the recommendation I think we'll definitely book those if we go. What was the accommodation like on the safari?
We booked an AI beach holiday at Diani Beach and then bought a 2 night 3 day safari as and excusion. (yes, I know we lost out by loosing 3 days of AI but that's what we like to do)
The safari was amazing and really cheap
I went on a 7 night safari in Kenya for my honeymoon and absolutely loved it. We saw everything except a leopard.
We went to a number of places and saw quite a bit of Kenya, however if I were to go back, I would skip the other areas that we went to and spend the whole time in the Masai Mara, it was fantastic. Lots of elephants and lions there.
We went with a company and would recommend doing that. I think we went with Somak and when we were in the Masai Mara we stayed in the Ashnil Mara camp, which was really lovely. We had breakfast one morning by a river to see hippos and saw a whole huge family of them come out of the river and start sunbathing on the bank, which was an amazing sight to see.
We went to the Rift Valley Lakes, Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha which was good and I am glad I experienced it.
We also went to the Samburu which I really enjoyed, we stayed in the Ashnil Samburu camp, which has a river running along next to it that animals come to to drink. We sat on our balcony watching elephants and giraffes just wondering by.
My favourites were the Masai Mara and the Samburu. We paid about £7k all inclusive 4 years ago, that also included a week in Zanzibar by the beach. I would highly recommend it, we had an absolutely fantastic time.
We went to Kenya on our honeymoon. It really was the holiday of a lifetime and the best holiday we've ever been on.
We stayed in Diani Sea resort, right on the beach, beautiful hotel and they made a real fuss of us which was lovely. We booked through Kuoni in their January sale. Booked 14 nights in the hotel, with a 3 night safari as an addition through Kuoni.
So we had 3 days hotel to chill, then 4 days Safari, then back to the hotel for the final week of the stay. Lovely because we kept our room and our belongings were kept there while we were away.
Safari wise we went to Tsavo East and Tsavo West, 6 hour drive from our hotel. Stayed at Voi lodge the first night, which was so stunning. All of the rooms are perched on a cliff, overlooking a waterhole and facing east, so the most magnificent sunrise, which the lodge staff wake you up to see.
Second night we stayed at Ngulia lodge, which had a terrace that overlooked the waterhole. We saw a baby elephant playing with a football that had been blown over the wall. Sat on the terrace at night wrapped in blankets, bats flying overhead, watching a porcupine chase of a leopard was a highlight.
Final night we stayed at Kilaguni lodge. Rooms were small but really luxurious and the windows in the room were long, thin horizontal ones on the level of the bed. The waterhole was lit overnight so you could lie in bed and watch the animals all night long if you wanted to.
We also did a walking safari through the grasses to a lake with hippos.
The only animal that we didn't see was a rhino, but the driver tried to get us to where one had been spotted but it had moved on when we got there. Saw plenty of elephants, giraffe, zebra, warthogs, wildebeests, impala, wild dogs, leopards, alligators and the like.
We shared a safari van with two other couples and we got on really well, taking it in turns to sit in the larger back seat and everyone was conscious of making the experience pleasant for each other. The driver was brilliant and we really got to know him too. We were well looked after. The only down side was that I got a bad belly on the final day, so the drive home with the trots was tricky, so do take Imodium as they were a lifesaver.
It truly was an amazing experience.
The only spider we saw was in the hotel grounds. We couldn't understand why people never used two particular sun loungers by the pool. Figured it out halfway through the day when DH looked up into the pale tree behind us and saw the enormous web stretched across two trees with a bloody massive bastard in the middle. The passing groundsman said it was a bird eating spider and wouldn't harm us. So we stayed there and Billy the spider became our sun lounger guard.
What was worse then the bugs were the monkeys! Every morning the vervet monkeys skittered across the complex and every evening they skittered back, jumping over you if you were still on your sun lounger. Climbing onto balconies etc. One tried to grab a piece of fruit out of my hand, evil little shits!!
What, no interest in the camping?! 😄
The monkeys were crazy, so bold! I've got a nice picture of one eating a packet of digestives they pinched.
I can't remember the names of the accommodation bit they were lovely. People waiting when you got there with towels to cool you down. Lovely rooms overlooking a waterhole with elephants.
I used to live in Kenya. We loved Amboseli. And stayed in a tented hotel there (can't remember the name). The park is beautiful and in view of Mt Kilimanjaro. I think we did two nights and that was fine.
If you were in Nairobi, the Giraffe Centre and Elephant orphanage are good. There is also a safari park but it isn't as good as Amboseli. Also second Nakuru. Try staying round Naivasha too (Lake Naivasha Country Club). Lots of people like the Masai Mara too but I've never been there.
We didn't rise tour guides as we lived there and were used to things but I would suggest you did as security issues have sadly changed a lot since we left in 2009.
We have been to Kenya and done a number of safari holidays. The best area is definitely the Masai Mara for the first time visitor. You should fly to Nairobi (BA if you can afford it) and spend your first night there if you need to. If you use a specialist safari holiday company such as Expert Africa they will advise on flights and whether to go straight to the Mara. You have the choice of flying there or going there by road. The flights go from a local airport, not the international one. The road journey is a bit of a slog.
Stay at a lodge in the reserve if you can. You will have wildlife all around you and no drive every day in and out of the park. The high season is July/August for the wildebeeste migration. We have found Governor's Camp to be very well positioned and Big Cat Diary was filmed out of there so you know it's a top location. They also have Little Governors which is more luxurious. We have also stayed at the Mara Explorer luxury camp on the Talek River. This is in a different area of the reserve and worthwhile.
You could also look at Samburu because there are animal species there that are unique to that area. Again, flying up there is best. Alternatively it is cheaper to go to Amboselli but it can be very crowded. It is an attractive reserve and fairly easy to get to. You could go to Tsavo and then fly home from Mombasa depending on the airline you use.
The expense of these holidays is the quality of the camp and whether you fly whilst in Kenya. Remember that the guiding is not necessarily better at a swanky camp and what you need is someone willing to go the extra mile to show you something. Be prepared for lots of vehicles around lions though!
Spiders are not really a feature here. However, tented accommodation is more fun and you do need to keep the Zips closed! Having sundowners by the Mara River and a nightcap around a camp fire is a great experience in an intimate bush camp. Avoid larger hotel type properties for the whole holiday because the camp experience is fantastic.
The Tsavo lodges are used for guests who are staying at the coast. This area is huge and the lodges are great but not so many lions. Rhino are very, very rare in Kenya and have been poached to oblivion. You are more likely to see them in South Africa.
Hope this helps.
I did a week's safari in Kenya many years ago. Visited Treetops, Masai Mara, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru & Lake Naivasha. Totally fabulous.
I went to Zambia a few years ago which was amazing. Stayed at Kafunta River Lodge which was just beautiful. We did night drives too, using spotlights to see animals after dark. That was with Naturetrek, one of their bargain mammal tours. Their website is worth looking at, they have safaris in Kenya & other counties too.
Zambia is brilliant. I love night drives. We have stayed at NSefu and several properties run by the Bushcamp Company. Highly recommend it.
I thought this was going to be a baby names thread.
In the travel section! Never mind.
Regarding safaris, less is more. Don't bother with Tree Tops (it isn't what it was) and don't travel around too much because it takes up a lot of time. It is better to do a couple of locations or three if you have a bit longer.
We did a 7 day safari in the masai mara starting at treetops like Alicat have also done a couple of safaris in South Africa. To be honest I prefer SA and would also recommend Zambia. Personally I wouldn't do a beach holiday in Kenya after your safari we did (Diani beach) but didn't enjoy that at all.
I agree with Bojorojo, in Kenya we spent half a day driving then stayed a night or two then most of another day travelling etc. The reason I went to Zambia was that we were based in one lodge for a week & the only driving was every morning & afternoon/evening when we'd be out for a few hours watching the wonderful animals - which was the whole purpose of going there in the first place.
The reason of the day was spent by the pool watching the ellies & warthogs wandering past on the plain.
It was also quite tourist-free, so there'd be only 2 jeeps watching lions etc rather than parts of Kenya where there'd be a lot more.
Would any of these be suitable for me and the DSs to go on? They'll be at least 10 and 7 by the time we go and it would be just me taking them. What would be the best school holiday to go in? From reading about other people's experiences and the sort of holiday we like, we'd prefer a camp rather than a hotel, although a few days of beach and hotel at the end of the holiday might be nice. And how long should be plan to go for?
It's been years since I looked at safari holidays. It was something that I was meant to be doing with my nanny but she was too ill to go by the time we actually got to a point we could both go. So, I want to go now and make sure I make the most of it!
Place marking as some fabulous recommendations on here.
The Kruger is my spiritual home but nice to ring the changes.
Hi Rhubarb, I went to Zambia with my DD who turned 11 just after we got back. Google Kafunta River Lodge - it's where we stayed, booked through Naturetrek, for just over a week.
DC have to be sensible as there's nothing to stop animals wandering through camp & the ellies would walk through every afternoon so you HAVE TO keep out of their way! You need a few injections & malaria tablets too. You stop for breakfast/sundowners in the middle of nowhere so there would be obvious risks if anyone was daft enough to wander away from the group! I felt very safe there, the drivers are fantastic, they keep an eye on everyone & are full of amazing stories.
I wanted a one-location place rather than lots of travelling between areas. You get a large chalet sort of place per family. The people there are fantastic.
We went Nov, just after half-term as that's when the company runs the trip. Very hot & dry so great for viewing animals. July-ish is a lot cooler.
It was totally amazing. DD cried on the day we had to come home to normality!
Regarding timing it depends on the country. Peak season in the Masai Mara is July/August to see the wildebeeste migration and expect crowds and high prices. However it is a great sight. When the wildebeests are not in the Mara, they are in the Serengetti in Tanzania and they have migration routes there. You need to check where to be at certain times of the year but you can include the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania and that is fantastic. Also be aware Kenya has short rains in November and long rains in April.
South Africa is hot in our winter and a lot more comfortable in our summer but very cold in the mornings. Kruger or Sabi Sands is great as is Hluhluwe Imfolozi. Kruger has bush camps.
Zambia camps are not open in our winter and spring in the Luangwa Valley. You should aim for our summer. There are bushcamps in this area but they are not cheap. Ditto camps in Botswana. If you check out the specialist safari companies you can see what type of accommodation is on offer. Definitely don't go to a hotel. They really are not the authentic experience but larger establishment are cheaper. Be careful about staying outside a park too. It can be a long drive to get into it!
Do pm me if you want more precise details. Our children went aged 10 and 7 armed with cameras, binoculars and books. We have been several times and love it.
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