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Some advice for first time safari in Kenya

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Bristol, United...
Level Contributor
51 posts
258 reviews
Some advice for first time safari in Kenya

Hi all,

My partner and I are hoping to go on honeymoon in August 2013 and we know we want to go on a safari to Kenya ever since we got engaged over a year ago.

I have read a lot of information on here and just need a little advice as I feel a overwhelmed by all the possibilities!

Ok so we know we want to spend at least 8-10 days on safari with a small possibility of a few days relaxing somewhere but we are still unsure of this as we aren't beach or poolside people.

We also know we want to spend the most amount of time in Masai Mara but would like to visit Lake Nakuru and Amboseli if possible so Nairobi seems to be the place to fly into.

We want to do the whole holiday in style so I am guessing lodges instead of camping is what we want.

So please can people recommend the best way of doing this? I am not sure whether land or by air would be best, I realise air is a lot more expensive but is it unbearable by land?

I am also not sure which company to book with. Initially I thought of going to a company such as Trailfinders or Explore! just because it's the first time either of us have been to Africa or on safari and didn't want to get it all wrong or it to be stressful trying to negotiate by email or for it to be a disaster!

But then I know these companies don't necessarily offer the best experience especially being crammed in a vehicle with lots of other people.

Any advice on where to start would be great, I already felt like I have left it too late to be booking this!



Level Contributor
14,030 posts
1. Re: Some advice for first time safari in Kenya

For a honeymoon I don't believe you want to be in a 'group' of strangers. Rather a 'private' safari would be best, where you can design your own holiday and have control of where, when, etc.

But, important to know that August is peak season (the migration is found in the Masai Mara), so peak prices. You have to expect your DAILY PER PERSON COST to range between $500-650, which will include: room/tent, meals, park fees, game drives, guide/vehicle, flights if applicable, (some beverages depending on where staying) and taxes.

While lodges can be lovely, for a true safari experience you have to spend a few (if not all) nights 'under canvas' - these are not basic at all and very safe. These have ensuite bathrooms/showers (some with tubs), proper beds/linens, outstanding meals, guides, attention.... so don't discount these.

Of course, you can choose driving, but you do spend quite a bit of time in transit, besides flying doesn't necessarily add that much to the cost, so all will depend on the budget you've established. For 8-10 days you can have a wonderful safari and then if you wish some R&R head out to the coast, though some of the lodges/camps do have pools.


Day 1 - Arv NBO - o/n

Day 2 - NBO; sightseeing: Karen Blixen, Giraffe Center, Sheldrick Ellee Orphanage, others - o/n

Day 3 - Fly to Meru* - o/n

Day 4 - Meru - o/n

Day 5 - Fly to Samburu (besides elephants, species not found elsewhere) - o/n

Day 6 - Samburu - o/n

Day 7 - Fly to Masai Mara - o/n

Days 8 & 9 - Masai Mara - o/n

Day 10 - Fly to NBO and home or onto the coast for 3/days.

*if not Meru, you can consider Lewa or Laikipia.

If you haven't done so, pick-up a copy of Fodor's "Complete Safari Planning Guide" that covers the various safari countries with a wealth of useful info and details. Even a list of suggest tour operators/outfitters you can contact.

You can also check the KATO site, www.katokenya.org (I believe that's correct) for list of various in-country outfitters.

Hope this helps you get started on your research and congrats on your upcoming wedding... safari is wonderful for a honeymoon.

Level Contributor
540 posts
23 reviews
2. Re: Some advice for first time safari in Kenya

I second the above you would want to have a private safari for your honeymoon

I have done both options I have used a large company Kuoni however there was just our family of four on the safari vehicle

We then used a local company based in Mombasa on our last trip and are to go again with them in two weeks

This company can book exactly what you want with just you in the vehicle

If you would like to pm me I can let you know who we use

Level Contributor
359 posts
16 reviews
3. Re: Some advice for first time safari in Kenya

If you choose laikipia, I would suggest a few days at tassia lodge. We were there in July, and a honeymooning couple staying at the same time were given some very special treatment. Well, actually, all the guests were! The lodge is in a beautiful location and the staff are welcoming. Because there are only six cabins, there is a very intimate atmosphere. Martin and Antonia were very solicitous, ensuring guests were happy with every aspect of the daily routine. Tassia has a focus on walking rather than driving. You may not see as many animals, but when you do it seems so special. Walking safaris are in small groups, tailored to your needs, and can be strenuous or more relaxed. You will be accompanied by a guide and a guard at all times, and the guides were all very knowledgeable about the local animals, plants and birdlife.

Bristol, United...
Level Contributor
51 posts
258 reviews
4. Re: Some advice for first time safari in Kenya

Thanks so much for all the replies and information. Obviously I underestimated accommodation and didn't realise some would be equipped with swimming pools!

Thanks for the kind words too, was starting to think we were mad for booking a safari but it's something we've always wanted to do and for a honeymoon it seems perfect!

I have requested a few quotes just to give me some idea of prices for an 8 day safari and what sort of travel is possible. We may well consider Samburu and Laikipia as these sound great.

I received one quote from Hirola (through the KATO website) for a 8 night private road safari by van which consisted of 2 nights Amboseli, 1 ngt Mt Kenya, 1 ngt Samburu, 1 ngt Lake Nakuru and 3 ngts Masai Mara all in lodge accommodation but excl. beverages for $3255 pp.

I received another quote from Gamewatchers for an 8 night air safari which incl.2 ngts Porini Amboseli camp, 2 ngts Porini Rhino camp, 2 ngts Porini Mara camp and 2 ngts Porini lion camp. for $6120 pp but incl. beverages.

Gamewatchers appear to have a great reputation but it seems expensive. The Hirola safari is a lot cheaper but by road which I have been warned are bad.

Why is there such a difference in price? I know 4sandi said it would be $500-650 pp per day but Gamewatchers are even more than that. Just interested to know people's thoughts on both quotes and what I should be looking out for to make the right decisions. Sorry I feel really needy!

Obviously these are just for idea generation for now and I will definitely do more research and get some more quotes before I start negotiating itinieraries!

I have been told to book by christmas though so better get on with it!

Thanks for all the help again,


14 posts
5. Re: Some advice for first time safari in Kenya

Pollmans (a large, well organised operator in kenya) do a tour called 'wonders of kenya' its 2 days in masai mara, 1 in nakuru, 1 in the mountain lodge at mount kenya and 2 days in amboseli ive just got back and it was brilliant and ran so smoothly, the travelling can be up to 5 hours a day but it flies by because there is so much to see en route (not like a slow drive up the M6!!!) we had a 4x4 which was much better than the little nissan vans which are slow and seem to struggle getting anywhere and it was just the two of us with our guide! We then flew from nairobi to mombasa for 4 days in the beach! Hope this helps....

Oh and just to add this safari is based on serena hotels which are considered at the higher end of the scale and is quite flexible i believe if you want to add extra days in places!

Edited: 2:24 pm, September 14, 2012
Ilford, United...
Level Contributor
400 posts
20 reviews
6. Re: Some advice for first time safari in Kenya

We're not adventurous enough to arrange a DIY safari however my hubby & I have travelled with Thomson twice now (5yrs ago we did Best of Kenya, last yr it was Best of Tanzania & each were a full week long with a week at the beach) and on both occasions we had a honeymooning couple so don't be put off. Having said that there is a lot of driving if your not flying so make sure you have some "beach time" after. In Kenya the safari was "outsourced" to Pollmans & a similar co in Tanzania.

As for going private or with a group I guess it will depend on what you want, sometimes I think it can be good to bounce off others in a small group, there are more pairs of eyes looking for the game, asking questions, having a laugh etc and you'll get "you" time at the beach hotel. The downside to a group safari is you don't know who you'll be with and whether it will be a "good" group, we've been lucky though.

Back again for another Best of Kenya soon (fly out next Monday) so only a week to find out if we have another pair of honeymooners! Good luck and all the best for next August

Wendy x

Level Contributor
1,020 posts
31 reviews
7. Re: Some advice for first time safari in Kenya

Just to second what wendy119 said about group tours.....we have seen both sides of the coin......on one tour with about 5 other people we had a blast - got on really well with them all, both during the game drives and in the evenings,actually kept in touch when we got back to UK.

On another tour we were stuck in a vehicle with a couple who were constantly bickering and needed to stop for "fag breaks" every 30 minutes. The husband really didn't want to be "on safari" - he couldn't wait to get back to the lodge to the bar! and his wife was more concerned about her make up than looking for the wildlife.

You pays your money and you takes your choice!!!!!

8. Re: Some advice for first time safari in Kenya

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Level Contributor
14,030 posts
9. Re: Some advice for first time safari in Kenya

Certainly that first itinerary with only 1/nt at Samburu is ridiculous, as it takes 3/hrs to get and then to Nakuru it's 6/hr drive; also all lodges as a drive itinerary on some really lousy roads.

Gamewatchers though is flying and a big step up in service and accommodations/camps.

The price I mentioned is an estimate only and can be a bit lower or even higher. You have to decide the type of safari you wish - drive, fly or combo drive/fly... also the type of accomm (lodges and/or camps) that will work with your budget, remembering also that August is peak season at the highest prices.

You've received two replies, so now wait to see what other offers you get and return here for comments. No need to go into panic yet... you've got almost a year before you actually have to be, so within the next morth or so something will break for you. Patience.

Oakland, CA
Level Contributor
1,004 posts
184 reviews
10. Re: Some advice for first time safari in Kenya

Unless i am misunderstanding roads and geography, the itinerary in post #8 which shows Swetwaters and Samburu, then leaving Samburu, to Lake Nakuru, then back up to The Ark--doesnt make sense diorectio -wise. Please tell me if i am wrong.

But very kind of the writer to offer an itinerary.

And i loved Sweetwaters--two nights