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Booking a stay in Kenya

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Philadelphia...
posts: 154
reviews: 13
Booking a stay in Kenya

Hi

We will be in Nairobi 8 for nights. In researching our stay, we are finding loads of safari outfitters, travel agencies, tour operators, glossy brochures, etc....

We've researched lots of camps & lodges.

We've found a lodge we like, (Mara Serena) and plan on booking with them directly on their website for a five night stay in the Masai Mara.

And we'll book directly with a hotel for 3 nights in Nairobi, pre & post safari.

Is there a reason NOT to do that? IOW, is there a need or a reason to book a safari package through a third party?

Thanks!

Nairobi, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Nairobi, Kenya
posts: 2,663
reviews: 3
1. Re: Booking a stay in Kenya

How are you planning on getting to the lodge in Mara ?

Does the "direct booking" also include transport to & from NBO ?

Does Mara Serena have their own vehicles for game drives ?

Booking thro' a TO includes transport, accommodation + game drives, thus saving all the hassles of DIY safari.

Having said that, judging by their website, seems like they have Road/Air Package safaris.

http://www.serenahotels.com/safaris-en.html

Edited: 9:05 am, January 17, 2013
Mombasa, Kenya
posts: 607
2. Re: Booking a stay in Kenya

Mara Serena is a nice lodge, good choice!

It is not a must to book a package through a third path, there is no such rule. All depends on individual people and complexity of your trip. Yours sounds very straightforward: Nairobi - Mara - Nairobi, nothing complicated.

Usually people involve a third party for a) price, b) transfers between lodges/camps, c) suggestions of itinerary. If price is to your satisfaction (direct price may or may not be higher or lower than a third party) and transfers are taken care of by Serena (eg road transfer from Nairobi to Mara and back) or you took a flying package or booked flights directly with Air Kenya or Safarilink with Serena picking you up at the airstrip, you have nothing to worry about as your itinerary is simple. People put together much more complicated ones themselves too!

By the way, Serena Nairobi is a nice hotel centrally cituated in town, check with them if they give you a good deal if you are staying in their Mara property - worth a try anyway!

So, three reasons: 1. Price, 2. Transfers, 3. Itinerary - if all is to your satisfaction, book and enjoy your trip to our wonderful country!

I am sure the will be a lot of diffent opinions and advice - people here are very helpful, but the choice is yours!

Philadelphia...
posts: 154
reviews: 13
3. Re: Booking a stay in Kenya

Thank-you, Lovely People!

I have flights in and out of Nairobi already.

<"Does the "direct booking" also include transport to & from NBO ?">

No, I don't have airport transfers yet, but I can probably arrange with my Nairobi hotel, once I book one, and if not, then taxis?

Yes, the lodge does include transfers to & from Nairobi/Masai Mara. And game drives.

<"Serena Nairobi is a nice hotel centrally cituated in town, check with them if they give you a good deal if you are staying in their Mara property - worth a try anyway">

Thanks for this idea, Tijara_Beach! Still need to find a Nairobi hotel, so I'll have a look there.

Mombasa, Kenya
posts: 607
4. Re: Booking a stay in Kenya

You are welcome 2tulum!

Check with your Nairobi hotel about airport transfers first. You can take a taxi at the airport as well, there are official taxis booths on arrival (as you come out after customs), book through them and they will assign a registered taxi. If you arrive late at night you might feel more comfortable with a hotel transfer though, but it is up to you, if you take a registered taxi you should be fine. Take a phone number of that coordinator at the airport and of their officers well. You do not really need to prebook a taxi.

Happy planning!

Nairobi, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Nairobi, Kenya
posts: 2,663
reviews: 3
5. Re: Booking a stay in Kenya

Just remembered, there's a Park Entry Fee of $80.00 PP, Per Day.

Find out form Serena if that's included in package or not.

Just so, you don't get a pleasant surprise on arrival

Philadelphia...
posts: 154
reviews: 13
6. Re: Booking a stay in Kenya

Excellent reminder! Somewhere floating in the back of my head was "$400 park entrance fee"....time to bring that thought forward & glad to know I'll be "on-budget." :) I'll check to see if included already.

manchester, United...
posts: 958
reviews: 46
7. Re: Booking a stay in Kenya

Tour operators can often get better rates than booking directly with the lodge yourself. I'm generally an independent traveller booking - everything myself. Kenya is possibly the only country in the world where this isn't the case. Our first trip in 2006 we tried the diy option and wasted a lot of time and money. Since then we have always booked everything with the tour operator we were very lucky to find on that first trip.

Nairobi, Kenya
posts: 75
reviews: 2
8. Re: Booking a stay in Kenya

Booking a safari with a tour operator has been my best because i'm able to plan my itinerary as opposed to book directly with the hotel. Also, when you book with the hotel, your game drives are shared with other travelers and you may not have same interests, time is fixed.

With a TO you are sure to discuss the time you want to do your game drives, visit the Masai villages and other details of your trip.

All in all the best way that will make your safari experience memorable, just go for it.

Welcome to Kenya and enjoy the hospitality....cheers!!

Mtwapa, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Barcelona, Newcastle upon Tyne, Bamburi, Mtwapa
posts: 13,488
reviews: 50
9. Re: Booking a stay in Kenya

❝Booking a safari with a tour operator has been my best because i'm able to plan my itinerary as opposed to book directly with the hotel.❞

Hang on a minute, aren't you a tour operator?

nyc
posts: 13,232
10. Re: Booking a stay in Kenya

You go Doff... I almost fell over reading that comment from kilelet; these folks don't give up... ugh!

to OP, as you're only visiting one place - the Mara - and if Serena is offering a package deal for transfer from NBO hotel to airport if flying or guide/vehicle to drive, your daily lodge costs including park fees, game drives, taxes and then return to NBO whether flying or driving... go for it.

However, you might want to check with one or two in-country outfitters for cost comparisons. Possible you can save a few $$$ (or not).

Agree with earlier comment... consider the Serena hotel in NBO, which rather expensive... if also using the Serena Lodge in the Mara, they might offer a deal.

Good luck.