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Safari recommendations from Nairobi, mid-July

Brooklyn, New York
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Safari recommendations from Nairobi, mid-July

Hi. I just found out I'll be able to join my wife on a work trip to Nairobi, and we want to add a few days on to do a safari. I would go to Nairobi somewhere around the 14th-16 of July and stay there until her work was done on the 18th, so we could take some days starting on the 19th. SInce this just became possible I haven't had a chance to do any research yet, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Us: Lesbian couple, ages 43 & 38. One vegetarian, one not. Used to walking/standing a lot but not fit for long hikes, climbs, etc.

Goal: To see as many animals as possible! Elephants top on the list. I've heard Masai Mara is best for this, but we're open to other places, too.

Preferences: View wildlife in the parks/reserves. Small group or private tours. Luxury is nice, but we are fine with more affordable options as long as the accommodations are clean, safe & reasonably comfortable, there are running water toilets/showers, food and insect protection. We can't afford the very top high end. We have stayed in lodges in other countries that we spare, cold-water, etc., when we were younger, but would like a little more comfort now. Supporting eco-friendly/local companies would be awesome.

We do not need to go on village tours, museums, etc., unless they are must-see.

Budget: We really don't know what is available and this is the trip of a lifetime, so we're open to anything between budget/affordable and mid-range luxury, depending on what it comes with. We're figuring 3-6 days is what would work for us.

Thank you so much for any advice and recommendations you could give!

Wayzata, Minnesota
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1. Re: Safari recommendations from Nairobi, mid-July

Hi Danator,

How exciting that you get to go to Kenya in two weeks! I think you will be able to pull this off too; I would not worry. You (or your agent) may need to cast a relatively wide net but I bet you can have this wrapped up by Tuesday if you want.

The 3-6 day is a big decision and here is why. If you only go three days, I would recommend going only to the Mara (actually a private conservancy adjacent to the Mara). If you go for 4 days I would still recommend just staying in the Mara ecosystem. If you go 5 then maybe I would suggest two nights in the National Reserve (the public area) and three nights on a private conservancy OR two nights in Lewa Downs and three nights in the Mara ecosystem on a private conservancy. If you go for six nights I would do 3 & 3 splitting time between Lewa and the Mara.

Seeing as many animals as possible: There are almost no rhino in the Mara. Few people see them these days. Lewa Downs has a very healthy population and you can have a great chance of seeing them every day there. The Mara (national reserve and private conservancies) will have a large amount of elephants and you will almost for sure see them every day; same with Lewa. Of course, there are not the massive herds of elephants like you will find along the Zambezi and Chobe this time of year but you are going to have the benefit of seeing the great migrations and MASSIVE herds of Wildebeest and Zebra. Big cats are prevalent in all these areas so you should be ok for cheetah and lion and most likely a leopard or two.

Timing: Based on some people’s unfounded fears of Kenya from the media reports (many more shootings in the US in the past 60 days vs. Kenya) there have been some cancelations in the past few weeks so you might be able to find some space! Like I said above, having a confirmed plan by Tuesday (or even Monday if you work with a good operator/agent) should not be a big problem.

Small group/private tours: The cheapest way to safari in Kenya under your circumstances (2 people traveling together sharing a room) is to simply go to the lodges on a game drive package. This is the least expensive way to do it. You tour operator will book the lodges and all the other transport to/from the lodges including flights. When you are at the lodges you will be on a game drive package which means you will share each three-row land rover/land cruiser with up to four other guests and each person will have a “window” seat. This is less expensive than a tour or any other means of doing what you plan on doing. The good thing is if you don’t like the people at one lodge you leave them behind!

Lodges: For the four night option perhaps just consider one lodge in the Mara ecosystem like I said above. Inside the reserve will be the least expensive of the options I will mention. You can do any of these with great results but you will be in the park with massive amounts of other human beings. In this category ask your agent to propose and check space at (in no particular order): Mara Intrepids, Naibor or Rekero. I recommend you spend a little more money and stay on private land to get away from the humans. All these lodges will offer a day trip into the national reserve to see a Mara River crossing if there is one taking place and you can see it. These are in no particular order of these camps either but they are all on one of the private conservancies and a few (5-15 miles) away from the ones mentioned above in the park: Richards River Camp, Kicheche Bush, Naboisho, or Serian.

If you do the Lewa option (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) then check space at Sirikoi, Lewa House, Kifaru, or Lewa Wilderness (whatever is available).

Ideally, given your comments about accommodations I think for a six day trip you would really like Lewa House for 3 nights and Richard’s River or Kicheche or Serian for three nights.

I am a vegan so I know what it is like to struggle to find food. Vegetarian is actually pretty simple so I would not be too concerned about that dietary requirement. The best food of all the places I mentioned so far is at Sirikoi!

Lesbian: not a problem or a factor.

Good luck.

Craig Beal – Owner – Travel Beyond

2011-2013 Travel & Leisure A-List agent for Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Brooklyn, New York
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2. Re: Safari recommendations from Nairobi, mid-July

Thank you for your reply. It's a little overwhelming having only a few days to make decisions/find things for such a major trip. Your suggestions are really helpful.

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3. Re: Safari recommendations from Nairobi, mid-July

Craig's info is spot on, though at this late date it'll be a matter of which lodge/camp has space that works with your budget as July is peak season at the highest rates between the actual per nt lodge/camp rate (that should include room/tent, meals, game drives, guide/vehicle, internal flights, flight taxes, other taxes) plus the daily park fee. And being able to obtain space for consecutive nights... as 3-4/nts same place for all those nts vs having to move.

Best you touch base with your tour operator to determine availability and how these work with your budget.

For a longer than 3-4/nt safari, if combining Lewa or Laikipia with the Mara, do avoid 1/nt anywhere. Minimum even if only the Mara could be 2/consecutive nts, as 2/nts each inside the Reserve and on a Conservancy, or even 2/nts each different conservaancies... though you do pay for the road transfer between the two. And if a combo of areas for a 5-6/nt safari, these will have to be flights between each area as the distances are simply too long to drive where you'd waste an entire day.

Good luck!

Nairobi, Kenya
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4. Re: Safari recommendations from Nairobi, mid-July

If you want to see Ellies, head out to Amboseli. Then go to Tsavo to see other wildife as Amboseli has very few species of other wildlife.

Brooklyn, New York
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5. Re: Safari recommendations from Nairobi, mid-July

Thanks, everyone. We've booked 2 nights in Amboseli and 3 in Masai Mara. We're very excited!

6. Re: Safari recommendations from Nairobi, mid-July

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