Mid Range Safari
by Ms. Joan McFather
9 out of 10, I suppose, for minor inconveniences, but really it was what we expected and then some. I can't believe we saw up close so many animals in their native habitat. It ranks up there with a trip to the Galapagos several years ago.
Safari Operator Performance
We used Friendly Planet Travel to book our safari. The ground operators were Dallago Tours & Safaris and Leopard Tours Limited for our Kenya and Tanzania safaris respectively.
They both did well. The guides were exceptional in both instances and got us to see every imaginable animal. They were also very knowledgeable about trees/flowers and birds of all sorts.
We thought the landrovers used by Leopard Tours were superior to the vans used by Dallago.
Mt. Kenya: Serena Mountain Lodge, Samburu Serena Lodge, Lake Nakura: Flamingo Hill Camp, Masai Mara: Keekorok Lodge, Tarangire Sopa Lodge, Lake Manyara Serena Lodge. In Nairobi: Hotel Intercontinental.
We enjoyed all our memorable accommodations, having elected a trip that was neither bare bones nor high end.
The food was lavish - typically buffet, though several meals were ordered off the menu. I prefer buffet so I can try foods I'm not particularly familiar with.
We noticed a number of Indian dishes throughout our trip. I liked the soups very much - and potatoes, oddly enough. They were uniformly good.
Beer was less expensive than water, and we drank a lot of Tusker!
We were very lucky and saw just about everything you CAN see - all the big five, all the monkeys, giraffes, zebras and countless types of hoofs and horns, hippos, birds galore.
I guess the best daytime adventure was being about 15 feet from a fresh lion kill.
One night my daughter darn near ran into a mama hippo and her baby. Scared her half silly. That's why they have guards on the lodge grounds!
Up early (quick breakfast) for a game drive, then back to the lodge for lunch and siesta. Late afternoon game drive, dinner (maybe an activity) and bed.
We did a hot air balloon ride, which was thrilling in itself, but in our case a bust as far as seeing the migration from the air - no animals where the wind blew that day. The champagne breakfast afterwards out in the bush was great.
We visited the Samburu in Kenya. I'd say it was typical: native dancing, then look about at housing, school, medical clinic, chance to buy trinkets. It was a terrific learning experience, but sad, too - the poverty, at least by our standards. Part of the group also visited a Maasai village and reported a similar experience.
We elected an overland tour because we wanted to see the countries, not just the game reserves. Again, the poverty and around the towns the pollution with garbage was sad. Nonetheless we liked the people, especially the Tanzanians.
We were very sorry to see the effects of the drought, both on the animals and the people, more so in Kenya than Tanzania. I think Kenya has really suffered, not only from the drought, but also from recent political activities.
Tips and Advice
Do NOT believe them when they say, "Pack light; you can wash your clothes." If you do, you carry around wet clothes for days. What they should say is "Pack light; you'll just get dirtier and dirtier but the animals won't care and neither will you."
At the moment you DON'T need a yellow fever shot to get back into Kenya from Tanzania.
Make the tour people tell you about luggage weight restrictions between countries.
Take LOTS of one dollar bills - you need them for tipping.
Be prepared to JOUNCE UNMERCIFULLY in the vehicles. The roads are not good.
The most useful items in my luggage were my camera (I used a new fancy point and shoot, doing the best I could, having received it just before the trip) and binoculars
. Others - more endowed - would say "a sports bra." See above.
|Joan's Safari Details:|
Safari agent: Dallago Tours & Safaris for Kenya; Leopard Tours Limited for Tanzania (make an enquiry)
Parks visited: Mt Kenya NP, Samburu Game Reserve, Lake Nakuru NP, Masai Mara National Reserve - Kenya; Tarangire NP, Lake Manyara NP, Ngorongoro Conservancy - Tanzania
Date of safari: 14-27 September (2 weeks)
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