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How do I start to plan a safari in Kenya in 2014?

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Flin Flon, Canada
posts: 75
reviews: 18
How do I start to plan a safari in Kenya in 2014?

I'm just starting to think about this: A big part of my dream trip to Africa is to spend time on safari. For reasons i can no longer remember i have always assumed i would visit Kenya and i know the name Maasai Mara. Am okay with these assumptions? Am I as likely to see lots of big cats as anywhere? Will I have a selection of safe moderately expensive choices? How do i chose between outfitters for safety and competence? If i keep poking around forums etc will i find a rating system for game preserves and for safari operators?

20 replies to this topic
Amsterdam, The...
posts: 384
reviews: 2
1. Re: How do I start to plan a safari in Kenya in 2014?

For help,you will be required to point clearly when do you plan to travel(month), how many days you would wish to spend, what do you focus on your safari to Kenya e.g bird viewing, beach holiday, game viewing just to mention a few, what budget do you have mid range or luxury, do you have any idea of where you will wish to visit and YES state them. There are so many tour outfitter in Kenya you can check on there reviews of some here as well check on www.kato.co.ke site. Drop them mails of what you will wish to have and get to compare mango to mango. All the best.

Mombasa, Kenya
posts: 607
2. Re: How do I start to plan a safari in Kenya in 2014?

I would advise to start with planning how many days you have for your trip (without international flights). Based on that, decide if you want to go only on a safari or to spare a few days and combine your safari with some beach R&R - my personal advise in this case would be to leave the beach to the end of your trip. Also, depending on your arrival time, you can plan a couple of things in Nairobi, spend one night there and be on your way on your safari. I do not think that you need more than one night to rest and regroup unless you have some particular plans for Nairobi.

Once these issues are out of the way, plan your trip so that you stay min 2-3 days in one location, otherwise you will be in a state of permanent transfer between various properties. This will give you the idea of the number of parks you can visit within the days you have for your trip. From here think about what you want to see - this will determine the parks to visit. The main parks/conservation areas are basically Samburu, Laikipia, Mt Kenya region, Lakes region (Nakuru, Bogoria, Baringo, Naivasha), Masai Mara, Amboseli, Tsavo East & Tsavo West. There are other amazing places but it is impossible to list them all! Read up on those parks and see what is appealing to you.

Masai Mara (main reserve or any conservancies around) is always advisable to visit whether it is the first or the twenty fist trip to Kenya! It never fails to impress and is known for cats, Big Five, elephants, etc. So definitely plan Masai Mara, I would give min 3, preferably 4 nights.

It is worth remembering that Kenya is a fairly large country, distances are big, roads are not too good, so it is advisable to assess distances/transfer times between the parks unless your budget would allow you to travel by air. In my view air transfers are not much more expensive than road, much more comfortable, saves loads of time and makes the whole journey more pleasant and palatable. Most lodges/camps will offer an option to include game drives in their prices.

Not every travel company/tour operator and lodge/camp/hotel will be featuring in various forums or ratings, so if you do not see them it does not mean that they are bad or don't exist! Check Kenya operators on KATO website, there are many Africa/Kenya specialists overseas (US, UK, Europe, South Africa). Choose 3-5 and send them an email outlining what you want to see, the number of days and your approximate budget. Once you hear from them you can then compare what they offer, prices, check the properties they offer on internet by going to their sites, and then decide which company you are most comfortable and happy with based on your communication, how professional, helpful and flexible they are, etc.

Once you make all the hard choices :) come to Kenya and enjoy it!

Larissa

Tijara Beach Hotel

nyc
posts: 13,263
3. Re: How do I start to plan a safari in Kenya in 2014?

... and if you haven't done so yet, get a guidebook or two.

There are a few on Kenya only, or you can consider Fodor's "Complete Safari Planning Guide" that covers all the safari countries. All have great information as to when to visit, where (area), estimated # of days, accommodations (not all, but ideas of lodges/camps), estimated prices and lots of other useful information.

Then as the replies above... put together your idea of when, how long, where, accomm, estimated budget and send to a few outfitters in your home country or direct in Kenya. This will get you started.

Good luck and don't hesitate returning here with questions so we can assist and comment.

Nairobi, Kenya
posts: 22
4. Re: How do I start to plan a safari in Kenya in 2014?

i can advise you you start with how many days do you want to do safari? then which month ? inquire from the tour operator the price to get comparison.

Nairobi, Kenya
posts: 75
reviews: 2
5. Re: How do I start to plan a safari in Kenya in 2014?

First create a list of what you want to do in Kenya, Africa in terms of wildlife safaris, Beach holiday and number of days you want to spend in Kenya. when you have the ideas of the reason to visit Kenya and the days to spend, Select few tour operators that offer African safaris as their destination in your country. If you want a direct local tour operator, You can visit Kenya Association of Tour Operators and find the many tour companies that sell safaris packages. Note that not all tour operators are in KATO. We have many good companies that are not members of the organization.

Send an inquiry to several operators stating all your interests and dates of travel(important due to costing). From the responses you get, you'll be able to discuss all details and decide which operators you'll visit Kenya with.

Have a nice time planning and come and enjoy your safari.

All the best!

Flin Flon, Canada
posts: 75
reviews: 18
6. Re: How do I start to plan a safari in Kenya in 2014?

Until i can get to a good travel book store, I live out in the boonies, what would you recommend i read on internet? I've been working my way through this website. I tried to get a password approved for Somak, but after a dozen tries gave up. And I thought i saw one operator claiming he had won best operator of the year from someone - how can i get some kind of comparative evaluation of safari operators?

Nairobi, Kenya
posts: 75
reviews: 2
7. Re: How do I start to plan a safari in Kenya in 2014?

Read about the history of Kenya, there are many sites with different information about wildlife, culture, geography and landscape and many important factors about Kenya! Winning an award is not a factor to consider when choosing an operator. Look at how the operators you have engaged them respond. Are the cooperating, do they give you the right information, if they have office phones, can you call them or can they call you?

Look for reference, the best way is can be to ask them an email of someone who they have offered services, talk to those people and enquire about operators services. How can you trust these company? That's is how you can be able to evaluate a safari operator. Another thing, when your operator tells you that he has done your accommodation booking, it is always good to call that particular hotel you are booked in to confirm that indeed your booking is done, do not necessarily let the operator know that you are in communication with the hotel but its for your own convenience.

With the above, you are able to know the kind of people you are dealing with. All in all, it calls for trust and honesty to both parties.

Enjoy your planning.

Bize-Minervois...
posts: 398
reviews: 41
8. Re: How do I start to plan a safari in Kenya in 2014?

Read, read, read, all about the different locations

Flin Flon, Canada
posts: 75
reviews: 18
9. Re: How do I start to plan a safari in Kenya in 2014?

All good advice. Thank you. Is there a particular Kenyan history that you recommend? I would like to say i want the most scholarly histories but the reality is that I would do best with popular history or even more likely with historical novels where i can get my history in small doses. A Wilbur Smith-type book? Gerry

Auckland Region...
posts: 4
reviews: 5
10. Re: How do I start to plan a safari in Kenya in 2014?

I have done a lot of travelling in Africa and especially Kenya. All the advice you have been given here is good but, I know myself when first starting out, all the reading can sometimes confuse you more. The basics are , as already mentioned, where / when/ budget ??

The best time to visit Kenya is July / August during migration time. The Maasai Mara is a must as that's where you will see all the animals. I recently did a 60 ( sixty ) day safari and saw 30 different species in the Mara. Plus this time maximises your chances of seeing the famous Mara River crossings. And I can tell you, it is AWESOME !! I was very lucky with my timing there and actually saw more crossings than I can remember. And more big cat sightings than I can remember also. Plus everything else.

There are also other wonderful parks in Kenya . In Samburu you can see animals that you won't see anywhere else. In Amboseli you can see great herds of elephants and Mount Kilimanjaro right beside you. In Tsavo East you can see animals coated in red dust. In Nakuru you can see tree climbing lions. The good thing I like about visiting Kenya is whatever direction you go off in, you have the possibility of seeing different things which makes for a very interesting time. Bear in mind though....the animals are wild and there is no guarantees with sightings and that goes for anywhere you travel. The longer you can afford to stay gives you better chances.

Accommodation will vary depending on your budget. Peak season is more expensive, of course, but don't let that put you off as there are less expensive places to stay that are more than adequate. All you need really is a comfortable bed and to be fed as you will be out on game drives during the day anyway.

I can remember spending days researching safari companies when I first wanted to go to Kenya. It was very confusing and I didn't know who I could trust. To that end I can personally recommend the Craters of Africa Safaris company. The company itself is new but the driver/ guide has many years experience. I was on safari with him in 2012 for 3 weeks around Kenya and loved my time so much I cancelled my flight home and went back to the Mara for another 2 weeks. This year I employed his services again and spent 8 days in the Mara in May and then the 60 day safari ( Amboseli, Tsavo East for 6 days and the rest in the Mara ) in July / August. One of the most important things about a safari is having a driver who knows where he is going...especially in the Mara as it is a myriad of tracks . No problem with this driver. And because our safari was a long one, he now has a different appreciation and perspective on game drives and the needs of his client. I am a photographer so he learnt very well about angles, light and obstructions and where to park when we found animals....so that's a bonus. Safaris can be tailor made or whatever you require. Whatever your budget. A safe and trustworthy company.

So...when you do get there..... ENJOY !! Africa will get in your blood and you will want to return .

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