Who has been on safari?

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  • Who has been on safari?
  • Tom B
    Member

    I’d really like to take my wife on safari in Kenya for her 30th in 2015. We’re not really hardened travellers though so have little experience to draw upon.

    There seems to be a vast array of different options as to what you see/where you’d stay etc My initial thought is that we’d like reasonably comfortable accommodation and would probably be there for around 10 days. We’d have to go in July/August due to my work. Budget wise I’m unsure, but anything over say 3.5k would be a big undertaking! Just the two of us will be travelling.

    Share your knowledge with me please folks!

    5thElefant
    Member

    I did a 5 day safari in the middle of a 2 week holiday in kenya. They used mini-bus type things. Accommodation was in lodges, hotels basically.

    I’m not sure I’d want to do 10 days of actual safari. There’s a limit to how many big hairy beasts you can see. I was sick of elephants after day 1.

    I’d go for shorter and more luxurious than longer personally.

    ski
    Member

    Google, Treetops Lodge Kenya 😉

    Woken by a monkey which climbed through my window, walked across my bed, then opened the room door and left 😯

    So many good memories, Africa is still the most amazing place that I have ever been.

    IHN
    Member

    Yeah, 10 days is a long time (says me who lived for six weeks on a game reserve in SA). You’ll easily see as much wildlife as you want in 5 days. Be aware though, it’s lots of early (like dawn) starts to see the best of the stuff, and if they offer game walks as well as drives then do one of those too – nothing beats actually walking through the bush with all of it all around you.

    Plus, take the best binoculars you can afford.

    We went on a mini-safari in Senegal when we honeymooned in Gambia.

    It’s worth considering if you don’t fancy a full on Safari and want the beach as well (loads of tours into Senegal operate from places like Kololi in Gambia)

    wallace1492
    Member

    Was never keen on a safari before, but went on one as part of a trip to see Total Solar Eclipse in Botswana. The safari was far better than I ever though, something so very magical seeing all the wildlife up close, not just the big stuff, but all the smaller stuff too, brilliant insects, birds, plants and trees. Bring good camera and plenty of spare batteries.

    Oh, and the Total Eclipse was simply awe inspiringly beautiful.

    godzilla
    Member

    I went to Kenya and stated at the Mara Intrepids, totally awesome, kind of like very posh camping.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    Safari!

    S’Goody!

    Ah, those were the days.

    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eA26T_UGou4[/video]

    We did an 8 day trip with Exodus a few years back to Kenya. Highly recommended. They only take small groups and use really knowledgeable local guides. There were 8 of us split between two guides in separate 4×4 vehicles. We were picked up from Nairobi and went to Nakuru / Naivasha area for the first couple of days staying in great, low key lodges. Then went on to the Masai Mara where we stayed in an open camp which was just incredible… staff were all local Masai guys, food was great and the amount of wildlife in the area was just dazzling. We had lions roaming around the camp itself one night and had a hippo stroll within 20m whilst we were eating dinner one night…. whilst there we had a combination of early morning and evening game drives, a couple of guided walks and a very memorable dawn balloon safari which is probably up there with one of my most memorable moments ever.

    Emphasis throughout the trip was as much on local culture and environment as the animals themselves – never felt that we were separated from the country itself which is what happens at a lot of the bigger camps which are really secure compounds in the bush. Also nice to get to meet some of the locals.

    This is the camp in the Mara we stayed in for second part of the Kenya trip – it was originally set up by Paul Goldstein who is a wildlife photographer and works for Exodus:

    Mara Camp

    Link to similar itinerary to the one we did:

    http://www.exodus.co.uk/holidays/aym/itinerary

    tlr
    Member

    We stayed at the Mara Intrepids in 2009.

    Quite simply the best 4 days holiday I’ve ever had.

    I could have happily stayed there for weeks, but I am very into my wildlife photography.I think that realistically for most people 4 or 5 days would be sufficient, and whilst my wife loved it she was ready for some beach inaction by the end.

    Unless you really are on a budget try and go as up market as you can – whilst we lounged around with 4 of us to a Landrover with great views and 2 guides I didn’t envy the minibuses we saw that looked packed, and next to useless unless you got a seat with an opening window.

    The Mara Intrepids was great too – camping, but not as you know it. 4 poster beds, wooden floor, ensuite with hot shower etc.

    Blatant excuse for showing some pictures:If you take a camera take a lot of memory cards!

    hammerite
    Member

    We did 2 weeks at a beach club (All inclusive hotel) near Mombassa with 3 days of safari (we didn’t go for longer as we had a small child with us) in Tsavo East & West national parks. Had a fantastic time. 2 nights stays in lodges, first one we got burgled by baboons – they just stole food and anything that looked remotely edible!, we ate with one of these in a tree a few feet away (at eye level) watching us , then went down to a hide at the same lodge watching the bufallo drinking at night.

    The next night we had a porcupine wander in front of us as we were eating, and then a leopard showed up to eat from a baited tree.

    Was very funny, we were thrilled after an hour in the national park when we saw an ostrich about a mile away. A couple of hours later we’d seen practically every native animal not at the top of the food chain only a few feet away. After this you become blase about seeing another elephant, zebra, giraffe and only lions, rhinos and leopards will do!

    Do it. Ours was a drive from the hotel to the national parks, but there are various flying options, go to other parks – Amboseli (close to Kilomanjaro), Masai Mara/Serengeti.

    hammerite
    Member

    We had 7 (us and another family of 4) in a Nissan Urvan where the roof come off. So we all got a window seat and plenty of room for looking out the roof.

    ski
    Member

    tlr – that last photograph is simply amazing, what a capture, bet you were buzzing after taking that 😉

    edit – what was going on in the 3rd? 😉

    allthepies
    Member

    Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana – yeah a few 🙂

    The South Luangwa game park in Zambia was pretty ace.

    tlr
    Member

    tlr – that last photograph is simply amazing, what a capture, bet you were buzzing after taking that

    It is just brilliant over there for photography.

    After the individual portrait I got them together for a family one:

    lasty
    Member

    Go for a shorter stay and as much luxury as suits your needs. Safari every day can – believe it or not – get pretty tedious, always good to take a day or two off and appreciate the incredible surroundings. I took a bird book and spent a couple of afternoons chilling out with a beer and a pair of binoculas – not my style at all but totally relaxing.
    We were lucky in that nothing was booked but every morning 20 or so safari jeeps redevoused outside the bungalows we stayed in and were dispatched to pick up punters from the various lodges/hotels in the area. Alus 2 or 3 left so we wandered over and asked the lads if theyd take us out for a few hours. The upshot being it worked out about a tenner per half day, cash in hand to the drivers.
    Another great way to see the countryside is a guided walking safari, up early (off at 5) and back for breakfast (about 10). Believe me – You will never feel as vunerable as this, just you, a ranger and a gun.
    Nothing to be be worried about as they really are on the ball but an incredible experience….

    toxicsoks
    Member

    Botswana in Oct/Nov 2012. Was based in Maun – here -> http://www.maun-backpackers.com/
    Utterly brilliant place to stay and to sort out your safari requirements.

    We went a couple of years ago for our 30th anniversary. Samburu, Rift Valley (lake Naivasha & Nakuru for flamingoes & pelicans) and Masai Mara. We went with virgin but the Safari company was Intrepid-posh camping and a nice lodge. Still grinning now when i think about it about it now. Absolutely one of the best things we have done. We actually flew between parks which bumped the cost up but the alternative is to travel hours on unmade roads-may well appeal to the more adventurous though!
    The animals were awesome-really-still can’t believe I have been in a Land rover 3 feet away from a male lion. 5-7 days is enough & be prepared for early morning-late afternoon game drives, usually 2-3 hours each, sometimes longer if there is something special going on. We really wanted to see the great migration but only caught a small part of it due to weird weather patterns which resulted in the herds doing the Hokey-Cokey between Masai Mara & the Serengeti.You really do see loads of different species, just like an Attenborough Programme. in hindsight, I think i would stick to 2 reserves if I did it again. We went in September-timing is critical to see it at it’s best. As above, the more you pay the more comfy it is-we often had a landrover to ourselves & the max was 4. Avoid the battle-buses packed to the gills-no room to swing a camera if you wanted to. Get a decent pair of binoculars-you can always sell them on if you don’t use them in normal life.Take pictures, you really will want to be reminded how good it was!

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Subscriber

    1987 had a month in Kenya, did a ten day trip with Gametrackers, to lake Turkana via other hotspots. Fantastic time, open trucks and Acacia trees meant scarring was possible, and camping in Force Tens gave it a real adventure feel. Just googled and they are still going, but the trucks have windows now, elfinsafety gone mad!http://www.gametrackersafaris.com/

    Also drove out to Masai Mara and Tsavo in a 2CV, it was surprisingly good in the bush. Beaches south of Mombasa fantastic for recovery, but I suppose it’s all built up now.

    This is probably no use to you but we did a horseback safari for our honeymoon, which was incredible. You do have to be able to ride a horse competently – you get very very close to the animals because they treat you more like a group of horses than of humans, you’re not in a motor vehicle and the animal you’re on top off will look after you if the wild animals get a bit too curious/territorial/aggressive and you have to get away – if you can’t stay on top of the horse you might get left behind and be rescued by a man with a bullwhip/rifle…

    However, it was so good that if you’ve ever thought of learning to ride it’s a damn good reason to!

    Bogg
    Member

    Went on honeymoon to Kenya in 1990 – 2 weeks in a fantastic beach hotel near Mombasa including a 5 day Safari to Tsavo West and Ambosili – Brilliant holiday – not sure what its like now but some of the lodges we stayed at on Safari were out of a 70’s Bond movie – remember put on amazing spreads for lunch (Blamonge?) – but wasps got most of it. Also very colonial – put on tea and cake everday at eleven by the pool etc. Also had Baboons nicking your breakfast at one lodge. We went with a company called Hayes and Jarvis – think they’re still going and remember it wasn’t too expensive at the time. Whole holiday was a fantastic experience.

    Tom B
    Member

    Cheers chaps, some excellent responses! TLR those pictures are amazing-I can’t see us snapping anything quite that good! Exodus were the company that I liked the look of the most sproketmonkey.

    Is July/August a good time to go? End of August-first week of September is the latest we could make it.

    The horseback safari is a coincidental one……I’ve got her horse riding lessons for her birthday this year.

    That sounds ideal. July to October is generally considered to be the best chance in Kenya to catch the migration, but it can vary year on year depending on weather conditions. If you wanted to combine it with biking then I understand Exodus also do a bike safari in Tanzania.

    konabunny
    Member

    Did safari trips in Botswana and Sth Africa. Unless you are mega keen on wildlife, I’d echo the advice above and say go for a shorter time at a nicer place. Daytime is pool/relaxing time and dusk/dawn are tour times.

    dyna-ti
    Member

    I visited Castlemilk once,that was safari enough.

    cbike
    Member

    Yep. Good Fun. I think a multi day thing might get a bit boring unless its something totally different.
    We were fortunate to have the truck and guide Frank “The battle of Kruger” Watts all to ourselves.

    http://youtu.be/hVnTq4Kv2Mc

    globalti
    Member

    Don’t go to Kenya, Nairobi is a horrible city and deserving of its name Nairobbery. Go to South Africa and spend some time drinking wine in the wonderful Cape, but check the season carefully as the Cape gets bad weather in their winter. Then jump on a flight to Botswana where you can really relax without the fear of street crime.

    Wherever you go, choose your season carefully because in dry season the African bush is just brown.

    (Still take care though – a friend narrowly avoided being robbed when a local woman wandered into his hut; he came out of the bathroom and found her looking around; she hurriedly produced a toothbrush and said she needed to borrow some toothpaste then disappeared smartish.)

    Tom B
    Member

    I’d not heard that Kenya was all that bad for crime….one day a week I work in Runcorn so I’m pretty battle hardened anyway 🙂

    I guess that I’d better start saving!

    dannyh
    Member

    We used rainbow tours for our honeymoon, which included a brief three days on safari in the sabi sands in SA. Still one of the most memorable things I have ever done.

    Tip one. It is knackering if you go on all the drives and walks, but you will want to go on them all.

    Tip two. Don’t bother too much about top grade accommodation. That is not really what you are there for. They do so much with what they have and the hospitality is brilliant.

    Tip three. Take some dull clothing and the best binoculars and camera you can. If you look like you want to be quiet and see animals, the guides will do what they can to help.

    gixer.john
    Member

    Went on safarri in July 2011 as part of our Honeymoon. We booked a 2 week all inclusive holiday with Hayes & Jarvis, our was in Mombasa and booked the rest by internet. If you book your safarri as part of your hotel package, you have to vacate your hotel room and take all your luggage with you. You can save a shed load of money by organising things from over here. We booked a 3 day safarri to Tsavo East, Amboseli then Tsavo West, a day snorkeling on the Pili Pipa dhow (info@pillipipa.com.) and a day at a nature reserve, mombasa and an orphanage.As we were on our honeymoon we paid a bit extra for our own driver and Landcruiser as we didn’t want to be in a minivan with others incase we didn’t get on. Our trips cost the same as a 3 day safarri in a shared minibus booked in the UK, so for the same money we got our own vehicle and guide plus two extra day excursions. Everything was booked through http://www.juliustsafaris.com – check out his website and tripadvisor reports , absolutley top quality service.
    We had 3 days at our hotel to chill out,on our 1st day we were contacted by Julius ( of JT safaris) to confirm all bookings and times. On day 4 we were collected at our hotel by our guide for 3 days Boniface, what an brilliant guide. Day 1 was a drive to Tsave East and within ten minutes of being in the game park we had pulled over to watch lions basking under a tree, then onto giraffes, elephants, antelopes, hundreds of different birds etc. We stopped for lunch at the lodge then out for a late afternoon drive which ended at a waterhole with around 70 elephants around us as the sun set – magical and MrsGixer started crying because it was such a beautiful momemnt. Back to the lodge and sat on our verandah listening to elephants trumpeting away by the waterhole, lovely meal then crash out listening to all sorts of wildlife noises.
    Day 2 early breakfast and on the road to Amboseli – this is when having your own guide and vehicle paid off as Boniface got a bit bored driving on the “highway” and asked if we would like to take a bit of a cross country route – we both said deffo and he pulled off the road – the next 4 hours were exhilirating and frightening as we traversed a riverbed and tracks that i thought would be impassable, simply amazing. we arrived at amboseli and had a bit of a drive around looking at hyenas, warthogs, elephants, hippos etc before going to the lodge to get dinner. Then an eraly evening drive around the reserve – again wathcing the sunset over a waterhole – more food, bit of relaxation then crash out. early morning rise and a convoy drive to Tsavo West reserve – nice drive with Mt Kenya and Kili on our right hand side. At Tsavo West we had a walk on a lava field then to the Lodge, when we got to reception we were informed that we had been given an upgrade to the Kilimanjaro Suite as we were on honeymoon – what an amazing suite – 20ft wide sliding balcony windows which looked over the plains to Kilimanjaro – stunning. We just stood there watching monkeys playing, birds swooping, giraffes gamboling, then the elephants trumpeting as they came to the waterhole as the sunset over Kilimanjaro, we just stood with our arms around each other in awe – we knew we would never get a better room or location ever again.
    Next day was an amazing blast around the reserve chasing lions and leopards, Boniface had his race head on and it was the most thrilling car chase i have ever been in 😉
    Next day back to our hotel in Mombasa and a few days chilling again, then a day out to the city and a nature reserve, crocodile park and orphanage. Another couple of days chilling at the hotel then a day snorkeling on the Dhow – lokking at a rainbow of fish, manta rays, giant tortoises, octopus, dolphins etc.
    Then back to the hotel for the last few days of rest and relaxation. We did not weant to leave at the end of it, amazing country with brilliantly friendly people. If you book the safari through JTSafaris, you do not have some European middleman skanking him for a big percentage, it is all going to the local economy.
    We took hundreds if not thousnads of photos when we were there, from hipposm fighting elephants, to us feeding giraffes, to monkeys with massive bluse bollocks, sea eagles, hyenas, ostriches, leopards etc, etc. Just do it.

    johndoh
    Member

    We did the Mara (Little Governors’ Camp) in 2006 and it was amazing. Then treated ourselves to two nights in their *really* posh Il Moran Camp – utterly superb, free-flowing food and wine with talks by experts in evenings.

    Try to go with someone that uses 4x4s rather than mini-buses – they can get to more inaccessible places and you get better views – no real ‘inside seats’ and you can stand up too.

    jonah tonto
    Member

    i would love to suggest zimbabwe as i have spent some of the most amazing times of my life there but alas politics have ruined this little gem of a country for the time being.
    i’ve spent quiet a bit of time in africa and i think there is a strange correlation between visitor numbers and safety, the less tourists a country gets the safer and friendlier a country seems to be (obviously the countries with ongoing wars are not included in this theory of mine lol) i would look at Zambia if i were you, cheap, safe, great widlife, crying out for tourists, and victoria falls is amazing.

    the advice on a guided walk through the bush is bang on the money. that is the best way to see africa.

    kenya is not on my list of countries that i will be visiting again

    Lazgoat
    Member

    Kanya has changed ALOT in the past few years. The Chinese have come in and developed the country almost beyond recognition. New super highways and fast new highways are being built & completed at an astonishing rate.

    Kenya is also experiencing a sharp rise in poaching,elephant & Rhino mainly but lion are taking a hit too due to human pressure.
    A word on safety,Kenya is due to have General Elections soon and if the past two/three are anything to go by they’ll be violent,so check it out first and AVOID.

    The Masai Mara is a beautiful reserve to visit in July and August for the Wilderbeast migration which is outstanding. Its a fantastic reserve that provides a range of habitats to accommodate almost everything you’d want to see. But it can be too easy as well, which can make it boring after a few days if your driver & guide just dashes all over the place.

    There are other parks & reserves well worth visiting too. Nairobi,Aberdares,Mt Kenya if you fancy 4-5 days climbing it, Samburu, Lakes Baringo & Bogoria, Amboseli & Tsavo.All special for different reasons.

    If you’ve got time try & see as bit more than just the Masai Mara.

    I’d recommend going a bit up market, get 4×4’s over Nissan mini buses & take your time observing the wildlife not just dashing between lion prides, leopards, cheetah,
    Elephant etc If you can, urge your driver NOT to go off road in pursuit of the killer photo opportunity. The park takes a hammering and the animals are hounded incessantly.

    The coast is beautiful too with some unique forests & reserves to explore. Most people tend to do their safari then end with a few days at the cost before flying back.

    Helios
    Member

    I used to live in Tanzania, I was never a big fan of Kenya personally.

    10 days is a long time on safari if you’ve got no variety. But if you break it up then it’s fine. If it was me I’d consider trying to get some big game safari in Kenya or Tanzania and then scoot off to Rwanda or Uganda to fit in some jungles, mountains and gorilla… Or try some of the more remote bits, like Turkana in Kenya or Selous in TZ… Both Tanzania and Kenya have decent beach bits too – so in 10 days you could do some safari and head to Zanzibar or Mombasa for a relax.

    If you want to take a look at a few companies then i’d recommend Hoopoe Safaris in Tanzania which has some good options for ideas… My mate’s company is Summits Africa which is more focused on climbing and biking but you might et a few ideas there too…

    cheekyboy
    Member

    A trip to Mombasa can be a bit of an eye opener, things that spring to mind the Florida Night Club and Mamba Village crocodile farm.

    mtbmatt
    Member

    We had 2-week holiday in Kenya with a few days safari.
    To be honest, 10 days sounds a bit much to be honest, unless you really like watching animals.

    We did Tsarvo East for 2 days, it was good and I would recommend it but next time I would do Massi Mara and maybe 3/4 days. It is a smaller area with denser animal population.

    Spend the rest of the time on the coast, it is stunning. I would highly recommend Watumu.

    A few years ago I did a trip to Rwanda, Burundi, D R Congo, and Tanzania – we went on a safari in Tanzania – I seem to remember we just went to a hotel and hired a chap and a 4×4 for 5 days……. Stocked up on some food and off we went!! The Ngorogoro basin was the highlight for me, such a dense congregation of wildlife in a small a small area !!!

    globalti
    Member

    Agree with the two posters above, 10 days is too long. Plan a bit more travel and you’ll get the best from Africa.

    Have a look at the schedules of Kalula and Precision Air, two budget airlines who serve some interesting destinations. Both are pretty good.

    Premier Icon teamhurtmore
    Subscriber

    In terms of budget, I would focus on fewer days in safari but spend more to get really good option. In Kenya especially, there are far too many cheap and cheerful options. The result can sad and quite depressing. Loads of VW vans all surrounding one poor animal. Much better to spend a little more for specialist with decent guys and prepared to go off the beaten track. IMO Kenya offers good value but can suffer most from over-crowded game areas.

    SA can be good but stupidly expensive if biooked from UK. Local rates of around $100 will be $400 if booked from here.

    perthmtb
    Member

    This is the camp in the Mara we stayed in for second part of the Kenya trip – it was originally set up by Paul Goldstein who is a wildlife photographer and works for Exodus:

    http://kicheche.com/our-camps/mara-camp

    +10 for Kicheche. Book direct with them and just stay there for a week. We travelled around for three weeks and stayed in some pretty swanky places, but the constant travelling became a drag, and the simplicity and authenticity of the experience at Kicheche was the best.

    Don’t try to pack too much in – the guides want to show you as much as possible, but it ends up being a whirlwind tour. The best day we spent was when, despite the protestations of our guide, we spent a whole day just following one family of Cheetahs and just chilling out when they did, watching them patiently hunt, and playing together – magic!

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