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Thomson-Baobab Beach Resort, Best of Kenya & Ndogo safaris

Ilford, United...
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Thomson-Baobab Beach Resort, Best of Kenya & Ndogo safaris

Well here goes for the overall trip report, this was our fourth visit to Kenya and third stay at the Baobab but our first (ever!) three week holiday. PLEASE BEAR IN MIND THIS IS FOR A THOMSON HOLIDAY & SAFARI

The flight on the 767 was as uneventful as an overnight flight can be, on arrival in Mombasa the immigration procedure is fairly straightforward (it is at this point I believe you pay the £30 entry visa cost, we have always got the visa from the High Commission before travelling) the flight crew will have given you a blue, white & yellow form to complete during the flight - you will need to hand over the blue form here, they also take electronic fingerprints here. You then collect your luggage then proceed thru the "customs" desk, handing over the white form declaring what you are bringing in to the country (the yellow form is for the return journey)

Out of the airport building you will be met by the Thomson/First Choice staff who will either show/point you to the coaches to take you to your beach hotel or take care of & give you a reclaim ticket for your "beach" suitcase if going off on safari. If you are going straight to the beach enjoy! If you are going off on safari, you will be given an itinerary pack explaining the safari package this includes an e-ticket for the internal flight to Nairobi. You will then be guided to the domestic departures to check in. There is not much in the way of shopping in the domestic departure lounge, just a small snack/cafe area and a shop selling a few trinkets and nibbles.

On the internal flight the crew will serve you a juice drink (orange, tomato, apple etc) and a couple of little packs of mixed nuts (primarily cashew & macadamia). CURRENTLY (well, when we arrived on 25th Aug) the plane lands and taxis to the cargo terminal, a short walk to the waiting area then a pickup truck will deliver the luggage for you to collect. Then you meet the Pollmans representative (yellow/cream striped shirt & tan/brown trousers) who will take you to the bus to be transferred to the Stanley Hotel in Nairobi...more to follow

Ilford, United...
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1. Re: Thomson-Baobab Beach Resort, Best of Kenya & Ndogo safaris

From the airport to Stanley Hotel was a relatively quick transfer partly due to arriving on a Sunday rather than a work day, once at the hotel the rest of the day is yours, we just relaxed after the long journey, some of the group went to the giraffe sanctuary and another couple were escorted to a local pizza place around the corner for a snack. In the evening some of us ate in the Thai restaurant in the hotel (note, no flip flops allowed, trainers yes but flip flops no!) a nice 3 course meal for two including a decent bottle of wine (plus a 5 bottles of Tusker earlier) cost approx £135. At this point I must bow to DOFF's superior knowledge (and advice!) and say DO NOT TAKE travellers cheques they cannot be used in Kenya anymore, Chip & Pin cards are the way to go!

Ilford, United...
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2. Re: Thomson-Baobab Beach Resort, Best of Kenya & Ndogo safaris

After a buffet breakfast the Pollmans driver will meet you & then you're on the road for the drive for two nights at Sarova Shaba. Third night at Treetops (here your driver guide leaves you for the night) after lunch at Outspan you will get transferred up to Treetops by the hotel...PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF MY/OUR MISTAKE here, despite our previous visits we forgot to take a warmer layer of clothing and froze! You have an optional extra game drive for approx $45...it was during this drive that my hubby got VERY cold! Next stop Sarova Lion Hill at Lake Nakuru, no flamingos in great numbers but rhinos & lions. Then on to the Sarova Mara tented lodge, we stopped en route at Lake Naivasha for an optional extra trip (I can't remember the cost of that one now though, seem to think it might be Ksh3500 each) on the lake to see hippo, kingfishers & sea eagles at close quarters. When we got to the Mara our group was lucky enough to be upgraded to the club tents, I think this was because there were a couple of larger groups in at the same time so they had all the standard tents...not that there is anything wrong with those!!

The meals in all the Sarova lodges are buffet with a reasonable choice of salads and meat dishes and little desserts...it's full board with only your drinks to pay for, our bills for the three lodges were approx £96 (2nts), £48 (1nt) & £116 (2nts) usually with one or two bottles of wine a day between the two of us which would be around Ksh2500 each

Ilford, United...
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3. Re: Thomson-Baobab Beach Resort, Best of Kenya & Ndogo safaris

The drives between the parks are quite long but you will stop for a "comfort break" at a curio shop which will usually have a decent toilet. Of course it is up to you whether you succumb to the "sales pitch" at the shops but my hubby is still kicking himself for walking away from a lion he liked because he wasn't happy to pay the price but never found another he liked as much!

The road from Treetops to Lake Nakuru is bumpy for quite a way, it is a good idea particularly if you are in a full safari van to rotate the seating as the back seat it over the wheel! It is fairer on all the passengers on safari drives too! Oh, there is also a stop at Thomson Falls for photos.

Ilford, United...
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4. Re: Thomson-Baobab Beach Resort, Best of Kenya & Ndogo safaris

When in the Mara you will probably be given the option of doing an all day drive with a stop for a picnic lunch (rather than a morning drive & an afternoon drive) I recommend this as it is quite a distance to the river and is really the only way you will get that far in a day.

On arrival back at Nairobi airport you (currently) make your way through to the temporary departure area, check in (at this point you ARE on your own but just follow the signs, it's fairly straightforward and aim for the Kenya Airways desk). The departure area is basic but there is a little snack bar with food and drinks available and portaloos to be proud of, with flowers, soft close toilet seats & piped radio playing! As with the outbound flight juice & nuts are handed out inflight. On arrival in Mombasa collect your luggage and out to meet the Thomson/Pollmans for the coach transfer back to your beach hotel for some much needed RnR! Quite amazingly, this time all of us on the safari were staying at the same hotel...the Baobab Beach Resort.

Normally, we would spend a whole week at the hotel with maybe an excursion or two but as we were away for three weeks we had arranged for a second safari during the second week so only saw the others for the day before & the couple of days after that safari. The laundry services were used at the Mara camp & twice at Baobab, (before & after 2nd safari) all were very efficient!

Our second safari was the Ndogo Superior staying at Ashnil Aruba, Serena Kilaguni & Sarova Saltlick, as initial thoughts Aruba, although nice enough does have the wow factor of Voi Safari Lodge (Ndogo standard) and I thought the connecting walls were thin; Kilaguni is STUNNING as is Saltlick although the waterholes are drying up here but that is nature. Again the drives between parks are long but as with Best of Kenya there are toilet breaks.

Two points to note on Ndogo, these leave on the same day (Tuesday) as the Taste of Kenya safari and you may find you have to change vehicles at the first stop as some will be going on one safari and some on another. That first toilet break isn't quite as "nice" as the ones we experienced in the first week but the guy there does a great job of making sure they are clean after each use!

The Baobab hotel is great, three hotel wings, three pools & restaurants plus two a la carte (mainly) fish restaurants - you are free to use any restaurant or pool no matter which wing you stay in. There is some refurb work going on so if you are placed in a room disturbed by it please do speak to the Holiday Advisor to see what can be done, he will probably have more "clout" than you alone in resolving any problems. The baboons & vervet monkeys seemed particularly naughty this year, so be aware if taking food out of the restaurant/bar areas, the staff are usually quite good at scaring them off but can't be everywhere at once! If you don't "antagonise" them they will usually leave you alone anyway. Don't leave your balcony door open, the monkeys/baboons will try to get thru the mossie screens!

When leaving Kenya it seems like a never ending process of checks...luggage is screened as you enter the building, then you need to go to a desk where they check your ticket and passport (believe me they do study the photo and even saw someone get asked to take her glasses off!) then you may be asked to take one suitcase and all passports for a quick manual search of contents. Then you go to the check in desk at this point ALL THOMSON clients must pay the $40 per person departure tax (payable in $ £ or Ksh). From there up to the departure lounge, before entering this is where you show your passport (again!) and hand over the yellow form & re-do the electronic fingerprint thing, then in to the duty free area. NOTE, if you buy any drinks to take on board the plane ask for it to be "security sealed" otherwise it will be taken from you before you enter the "departure gate" area. On entering this area you need to show your passport (again), scan you hand luggage (again), then (men on the left, ladies on the right!) have a quick manual search of your hand luggage and a frisk search, hence the two separate queues for boys & girls!!

Then on to your plane for the flight home :-(

Individual hotel reviews will be posted later and sorry for all the little posts, I'm doing this on my iPad which if I leave it too long when I go back it won't have saved my comments!

Ilford, United...
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5. Re: Thomson-Baobab Beach Resort, Best of Kenya & Ndogo safaris

Forgot to say the All Inclusive drinks at Baobab are local spirits, draught Tusker and red or white wine. The drinks are only served in small glasses and the AI cocktails can vary in strength/quality depending on who is making them. I found service at the Baobab bar (Tapa Tapa) a bit slow and not necessarily getting "served next" despite there only being a few people waiting to be served. We didn't actually eat or drink in the Maridadi side.

International drinks are not AI, not sure of all prices but as a guide I know Remy Martin was Ksh 500 and a bottle of Swartland rose wine Ksh 2000

Ilford, United...
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6. Re: Thomson-Baobab Beach Resort, Best of Kenya & Ndogo safaris

Another thing to remember if flying in to Kenya and pre-booked on Ndogo or Taste of Kenya safaris is that as they both depart on the Tuesday you will need to check out of your hotel room. You may or may not get the same room on your return but it will be of the same standard or if you're lucky a better one! The reason for this is when pre-booking you are paying for 2nts at the hotel then, 2/3nts on safari, then the remaining nights back at the hotel.

If you book safaris on arrival in Kenya or independently before getting there you will pay for your 7/14nts at the hotel PLUS the number of nights out on safari

Newcastle Upon Tyne
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7. Re: Thomson-Baobab Beach Resort, Best of Kenya & Ndogo safaris

Hi Wendy a very thorough report , I wish I had had the airport info before we went as we handed all our forms including the yellow one and it caused us a few problems . Totally agree with your review on the Baobab it's a fantastic hotel. Shame we never bumped into each other.

Jayne

Ilford, United...
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8. Re: Thomson-Baobab Beach Resort, Best of Kenya & Ndogo safaris

I'm surprised the immigration people didn't give you the yellow form back Jayne :-(

Must admit I'd forgotten about all the different checks you have to go through to get out...you'd think they'd be stricter on coming in too!

Yes, shame we didn't see each other, I hope your wrist heals quickly :-)

Chester-le-Street...
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9. Re: Thomson-Baobab Beach Resort, Best of Kenya & Ndogo safaris

Hi Wendy,

My partner and I are doing the same thomson best of kenya safari for 1 week then Boabab for 1 week next year 12/10/2015 - thank you for your reviews its nice to read how nice of a time you have had :)

Ilford, United...
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10. Re: Thomson-Baobab Beach Resort, Best of Kenya & Ndogo safaris

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do Lisa