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Camping in the triangle

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Brisbane, Australia
posts: 10
Camping in the triangle

I spent quite some time camping in the Mara in '79 and plan to return.

I've just spent a couple of hours reading the posts here and have found them quite informative, however, despite all the "how can I stay for $5 a day" calls I have not seen a single mention of camping.

Not "tented camping" with an ensuite but real camping where you get out of your car in the bush and set up a 2kg tent.

That's what we did before and I know you can still do it in the designated areas, so why is nobody talking about this?

As I understand it the costs including all park fees is ~$120 per day of which only $30 is for camping, is it that it doesn't cost much more to have "real" accommodation?

Do any of the lodges match that and if so do their prices include the park fees?

london
Destination Expert
for Zambia
posts: 2,554
1. Re: Camping in the triangle

Even if camping you still need transport to get there and a vehicle to do game drives in. So the options are to self drive, in which case you need to add on the cost of hiring a vehicle (not cheap) or you need to organise a camping tour through a tour operator.

I've seen plenty of posts about camping tours. Perhaps more so on the Tanzania forum. Although I think it might just seem that way because on the on the Kenya forum there a lot more posts about the coast whereas on the Tanzania forum it's mostly safari related questions.

Nairobi, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Kenya
posts: 2,118
reviews: 150
2. Re: Camping in the triangle

Park fees are always quoted separate to accommodation. There are many campsites near each gate to the park. I know there are sites near Sekanani, Musiara, Talek and other gates. These are privately run and cost around $ 30 per night. They have basic ablution facilities,

If you are looking at camping inside the park, there are 'special' campsites that are unmarked, and can cost up to $40 per night for exclusive use, and you must hire a couple of Masai guards, as well as pay a booking fee.

See maratriangle.org/visit/…

Hope that helps.

Brisbane, Australia
posts: 10
3. Re: Camping in the triangle

"you still need transport to get there and a vehicle to do game drives in."

Correct, as a nature photographer I cannot go with any organised trip in a van from a resort. I need total freedom to stay with animals as long as required. So hiring a vehicle is just the cost of doing business and one I would have to wear regardless of where I slept.

"organise a camping tour through a tour operator."

Not in this life :) Most of them have no idea about photography and the special photo tours cost a fortune.

"Park fees are always quoted separate to accommodation. "

So my costs per person per day (with a party of 4) when camping is

Park entry fee $80

Camping fee 30 (or 40 in the private camps)

Security guards 11 (44 across 4 people)

Or $121 of which $41 is "accommodation". I assume that you can't stay in any proper facility for $41 pn. If you can I'll leave my tent behind :)

There are 8 "private" camp sites and 3 "public" ones. The difference being that you book a private one and get it to yourself. At least that's my understanding of it.

Anyway I think my research is reasonable for me and my requirements, but what I don't understand is that nobody seems to be camping.

It may be as you say stokeygirl that if you factor in the car hire you may as well stay in a lodge and use their tours. But for someone that needs a car anyway it makes less sense to stay at a lodge unless my numbers are wrong.

Rob

london
Destination Expert
for Zambia
posts: 2,554
4. Re: Camping in the triangle

Plenty of people do camping tours but they are more likely to organise this through a tour operator.

Your sums haven't taken into account-

vehicle hire

food

fuel

If you get a tour operator to put together a camping trip for your party of four, then it will include all of these things and the services of a guide. Whether the tour operator knows anything about photography or not is pretty irrelevant. You design the itinerary, and when you are there you can decide how long you want to spend with at sightings, what time you go out etc as it will be a private tour for you.

Sure, you could organise all the elements separately, bring all your own equipment and drive yourself but I doubt it would work out any cheaper and it will be a lot more hassle.

Nairobi, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Kenya
posts: 2,118
reviews: 150
5. Re: Camping in the triangle

Also Rob, to,camp you need all other facilities such as cooking, bathrooms, etc. these costs add up. Camping in Africa is not as easy as Australia. But you do know what you want, so I would say go for it. Enjoy, and invite us for a drink:)

Brisbane, Australia
posts: 10
6. Re: Camping in the triangle

"Your sums haven't taken into account-"

Because we were only talking about accommodation at the time.

I'm not totally against having some sort of custom tour so I've spent the last few hours looking into it. So far with little success but I'm still waiting on some emails.

Most sites don't have prices for custom trips as you would expect, but when you see prices of $6000 for 10 days on a standard tour you have to wonder what a custom one costs. One site quoted FROM $95pppd which is very good, but there are no details of what that includes.

Most sites don't even acknowledge that you can sleep in the bush, to them the "budget" option is a luxury tented camp with WiFi and hot and cold running waiters.

Anyway as I said I'm awaiting some responses.

Meanwhile I've been crunching the numbers a bit more. I think I can do it for $145pppd including everything, 4x4 with camping gear, food, fuel, fees the lot and we have total freedom to go where we like and when we like.

I'm sure there's stuff I've forgotten, but I reckon that's close.

As for having a guide, I did hire one once before and he did nothing but look for collections of vehicles and point us in their direction. OK it's not fair to tar them all with that brush but I really don't want to use up a valuable seat and pay for the privilege.

I have done this before, last time we hired an Alfa Romeo (yes an Alfa, what was I thinking) and beat around the bush for weeks, living off baked beans and camping wherever but often dropping into a lodge for lunch and a shower while the animals were mostly sleeping. Man we gave that car a caning, got bogged several times in Tsavo (end of the wet season I think) but nothing we couldn't handle.

See here for a photo

www.robgray.com/photos/images/05496.jpg

OK that was 35 years ago and the rules have changed, but not that much from what I can see.

In Aus I can bushwalk for 1-2 weeks in hot and rugged terrain with nothing but what I carry on my back, so I can certainly live out of a car for a similar period In Kenya. Most things are the same, it's just that you aren't at the top of the food chain.

" invite us for a drink:)"

You're most welcome, if I can keep the beer cold that is.

Rob

Edited: 10:24 am, December 31, 2012
london
Destination Expert
for Zambia
posts: 2,554
7. Re: Camping in the triangle

"$6000 for 10 days on a standard tour"

For a standard camping tour? Where did you see that? I haven't done a camping tour for a while, I must confess (although more recently than 1979), but I regularly read the forums and I believe the going rate for a camping tour is more around the $150 a day mark (inc park fees). For a party of four, the price for a custom tour shouldn't be much different than for a group tour.

As for guides, I suspect the better ones go and work for the more expensive camps where they can earn better wages and bigger tips. Quality guiding is one thing you get at these places- it's not all about how fluffy the towels are.

Cologne, Germany
posts: 785
reviews: 3
8. Re: Camping in the triangle

well, since you have repeatedly wondered why people do not discuss CAMPING at the Mara as much as STAYING AT LODGES, here are my 5 cents of an explanation attempt:

1. the majority of tourists going to the Mara come from Europe and Asia; there camping is generally not as popular as in OZ, simply because they there are not many wild places left in these countries, so they (we) do not grow up with it as much as a lot of ozzies do

2. as stokeygirl pointed out, an organised trip (especially if part of a bigger group) will usually not be much more expensive than a camping trip, so why stay less comfortable if it's not even much cheaper

3. Kenya is certainly not a self drive destination, even getting to the Mara is extremely difficult since there are basically not road signs past Narok; same inside the park so you have have to be extremely confident in navigating in a foreign (and to a certain degree, "hostile") country and environment - I do a lot of self driving in countries like South Africa and Namibia but would never dare so in Kenya or Tanzania (and once again, the driver / guide does not cost a lot)

that said, there are other communities which might offer more advice to your needs / ideas than TA, feel free to PM me and I'll point you there

manchester, United...
posts: 987
reviews: 48
9. Re: Camping in the triangle

The rules for camping and visting the Triangle are pretty strict.

maratriangle.org/visit/…

http://maratriangle.org/visit/park-rules/

It isn't possible to just throw your tent up in the bush and wild camp. Maybe there are places in Oz where you can do this. My camping experience there was mostly in Northern Territories and it was just as restrictive. In 2003 we couldn't wander about the bush without the permission of the landowners let alone camp there.

New Zealand and Oz had great campsites for sure but so do many places in Europe - France and Norway are two of the best places for camping that I've ever come across. And in the UK we have a right to roam and can wildcamp in many of these places.

We are in the early stages of planning a self-drive road trip from Nairobi to Cape Town. We'll almost certainly be camping and wild camping too.....but it won't be in the Mara Triangle.

Cologne, Germany
posts: 785
reviews: 3
10. Re: Camping in the triangle

I don't think the OP was planning to wild camp, that's at least not what I understood...

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