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Summer 2015 Luxury Safari

New York City, New...
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Summer 2015 Luxury Safari

Hi guys, I was checking in bc this board (esp 4sandi and Richard) helped me enormously in 2012 when planning my honeymoon. We ended up spending 4 nights at Saruni Mara and then 3 nights at Sirikoi during the migration. We saw everything possible, including a huge crossing on the one day we spent inside the National Park. Anyways, it looks like we are headed back in 2015 and wanted to see if anything has changed, or if anything new has opened.

This trip will prob be about 7-10 days of safari and then we will look to head to a beach to relax. The thing is, there will be three of us as my sister will be joining. All the tents we stayed in on our honeymoon were for 2, do the camps offer cots or something for a third person? And is that priced on the same per person rate as for the first two people? Anyways, my sister has never been so we definitely want her to see the mara during migration but are open to different experiences beyond that. We dont necessarily have to stay at the most luxe camps but food and lodging and quality of guides are very important to us.

Thanks for any advice!

Edinburgh, United...
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1. Re: Summer 2015 Luxury Safari

Hi Greg,

Yes, several camps will do a 3rd bed, even for an adult (I'm assuming your sister's over 18, if not it becomes much easier to share rooms). Depends on which camps you go for, but as a general rule of thumb the 3rd bed for an adult is charged the same as the pp sharing rate, though occasionally less. Or you could go for somewhere like the cottage at Sirikoi which has 2 rooms or Olonana which has 2 beds in most rooms.

If you are looking to see the migration I would aim for late summer (Aug/Sept).

For something new- well it really depends on what you're after. There are always camps opening and re-branding/re-vamping so the list can get a bit endless. If you've tried Laikipia already maybe try combining somewhere like Samburu with the Mara for something a little different?

Alexandra Matts- Travel Director- Extraordinary Africa

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2. Re: Summer 2015 Luxury Safari

As Alex mentions, Olonana has two (2) beds and these are Queens, but it comes at a rather stiff price.

Can't believe that when at Saruni Mara they couldn't include a twin?: It's a pretty large space. And they do now have a family cottage.

Out in the Mara on the Naboisho conservancy, Ol Seki has very large tents, with a king and a full-sized daybed.... rather nice. Believe Kicheche Bush on Olara Orok has family-type tents where children (assume your SIL not all that large), are in an alcove area, that might work for you.

Lots of camps now have 'family' cottages, some extra large or with an actual separate bedroom, but kind of difficult to think of more right now.

Certainly Saruni/Samburu has plenty of room for a 3rd bed... their cottages are so darn big I can fit my 1/bedroom NYC apt into any of them.

Out on the coast you might want to look at Saruni's Ocean www.saruniocean.com due to open 15th

Dec '14. though not certain how they'll handle a 3rd adult. What I saw was a regular double.

In the Mara there are a few 'houses' that for sure will accommodate 3/pax,

As a return client contact Saruni direct and see what they may have to offer, whether theirs or others as they are now full service with other than their own properties. No harm asking.

Keep us posted. Good luck.

Edited: 4:58 pm, July 24, 2014
Wayzata, Minnesota
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3. Re: Summer 2015 Luxury Safari

Hi Greg from NY,

It’s always such a pleasure to know that people are so captivated by Africa that they choose to return time and time again. To me, Kenya is such a special place – I am delighted that you plan to return.

As Alexandra mentioned, based on historical data, traveling between mid-August through September will give you the best odds of witnessing the migration. Saruni Mara, where you stayed previously, is in the Mara North conservancy. Within that conservancy, Saruni Mara is pretty far up north – meaning, if you wanted to have the best shot of seeing the Wildebeest crossings, you are a good 1.5 hr. drive away. If you are focused on the migration and wish to be near one of the crossing points, Rekero Camp is a stunning camp with a really nice “family” tent that will comfortably accommodate your sister. Little Naibor, just down river from Rekero, offers a nice 2 tented family unit that will also suit your needs – this is a very bush chic camp . If you want the private conservancy stay, like you had at Saruni, and have a nice family tent, I really enjoy Naboisho. It’s a super camp with one of the best big game walking guides in Kenya. On a 3 night stay, they include 1 full day in the Mara and also have an open-sided, open-top vehicle in their fleet (I’d encourage you to request this vehicle with your booking agent). Naboisho also has 1 family tent which will be suitable for your needs. And lastly, you may wish to take a look at the Nomadic Encounter Homes (Acacia House, Mara House, Topi House) – all have 2-3 bedrooms with exclusive use of the home with private guide, vehicle and chef/staff. The cost to stay there for a party of 3+ is actually one of the best values in the Mara.

If you’ve been to Lewa before, I don’t know if I’d choose to return there again. If you wish to return, you can look at Lewa House and Lewa Wilderness which both have two bedroom cottages.

For me, Samburu is a part of the “old” safari triangle and I rarely sell it. The crowds congregate around the Ewaso Nyiro River, the life-blood of the ecosystem. It’s heavy with traffic and not my ideal safari spot – I much prefer Lewa.

If you wish to do something a bit more interesting that is more wildlife focused, how about Meru National Park? Superb game viewing, far fewer people, and great camps. Offbeat Meru is a superb camp and they have a brand new family unit in 2014 that will be perfect. The other, more upscale option, is Elsa’s Kopje – they too can accommodate adult triples. If you’ve been to the Mara x2 times, and Lewa, Meru will provide a superb complement to your experience!

Alternatively, if you wish to do something that is a bit more “unique” with a focus on community, conservation, wilderness and wildlife, you may wish to take a look at Sarara Camp (Sarara House can accommodate the three of you), Sabuk (they take triples) or even Tassia (they can take triples too). Of the countless properties I have visited in Africa over the past 13 years, Sarara and Tassia remain 2 of my favorite 3. They are both stunners with a very unique and distinctive offering.

And of course, beach is always a great cap to any safari. There are your usual suspects of Zanzibar or Diani etc. All of these more “commercial” places have stunning offerings, but you may also wish to consider some more unique product that you may not have heard about! Take a gander at Delta Dunes – barefoot luxury in a very remote part of the Kenyan Coast, or even Lake Malawi’s Kaya Mawa or Nkwichi. All are very unique R&R destinations, takes triples and a superb way to cap off a trip. Luckily, there is a now a scheduled flight from Nairobi to Lilongwe, Malawi to make this stunning place accessible for folks going to Kenya for safari…

Good luck in your planning.

-Kota Tabuchi, Managing Director: Africa, Travel Beyond

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4. Re: Summer 2015 Luxury Safari

Why pay for extra Visas if heading to ZNZ or Malawi and need for YF inoc.

Stay in Kenya where you can have both safari and beach.

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5. Re: Summer 2015 Luxury Safari

Is there any reason your sister doesn't want her own room? Usually camps charge a single supplement, especially in high season (more don't charge off season). I believe Offbeat don't charge a single supplement all year round in their camps. But even for high season, you might be able to get camps to waive the single supplement, especially if tourist numbers have been affected by the recent travel warnings for the coast. Also, I've found in general places are much more amenable to waiving single supplements for repeat guests.

I see you went to Saruni Mara. I've been to Saruni Samburu (and also see roadwarrior's current report http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g294206-i9216-k7638280-Samburu_and_Amboseli_live_trip_report-Kenya.html) which is a stunning camp and they have "family units" with 2 separate rooms, each with their own bathroom and a shared living room. You could combine that with a repeat visit to Saruni Mara, and perhaps also a camp in the main reserve if you wanted to get closer to the migration (although you seem to have been happy with your experience last time!).

Even if you had to pay a single supplement, if you shared this between you I honestly think it would be worth it for the additional privacy for all of you. Safari tents/rooms often don't have particularly private bathrooms.

Nairobi, Kenya
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6. Re: Summer 2015 Luxury Safari

Greg, I am just back from Saruni Samburu and also Tortilis in Amboseli. They both have 2 bedroom units/rooms/tents that you guys could use.

While in Samburu the crowds congregate around the river, we found 90% of the time, we were on our own, as having a tracker/guide combination allowed us to really look for game. Amboseli (Tortilis' conservancy) had the most incredible elephant viewing I have ever seen.

I personally would not do beach, but at least a week on safari, and use some of the days as rest days instead. A combination of Mara, Samburu/Laikipia (Lewa), Amboseli/Chyulu.

There are so many awesome properties and places to visit in Kenya.

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7. Re: Summer 2015 Luxury Safari

I often stop at Saruni Mara each visit, not so much for game drives, rather the peace/quiet and the views. If/when I do a game drive it's often at where their Saruni Wild is located on the Yalle conservancy, about 30/min drive east. Here only three (3) really nice tents (2/regular and 1/family) and where the main camp often does their bush dinners. What's great about this conservancy is that you can enjoy bush walks with no one about.

8. Re: Summer 2015 Luxury Safari

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