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Trip Report - Kenya with children in November

boise, ID USA
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Trip Report - Kenya with children in November

Just wanted to let everyone know what a wonderful time we had in Kenya last month with our 8 and 11 year old daughters. I had been to Kenya before (but without a safari) but my family has never been there. My best advice for those coming from several time zones away, (we are in the Western U.S), is to plan a couple of stopovers on the way, or find an inexpensive place to stay in Kenya for the first 3 or 4 days so you and the kids can recover from jet lag. We did both, and it worked well for us. Our first stop after resting, was the Kicheche Camp in Laikipia. Just wonderful. The managers are top notch and the wildlife was amazing. We went on a short walking safari with the girls, and a night drive as well as the usual day game drives. The Chimp reserve was a little scary...the chimps are a little mean and they threw rocks at us, but it is a very worthy project nonetheless.

Next we went to Acacia House in the Mara. It is owned by the people who run Rekero camp. Another awesome place, with great Masai guides and wonderful staff. We found the wildlife to be less plentiful than at Laikipia, but we added cheetahs and leopards to our list there. A cheetah actually jumped on the top of our vehicle! Our last stop was Ocean Sports at Watamu. Not as luxurious as our safari lodging, but perfectly adequate and the staff is very helpful and friendly. All in all, we had a great time and are so glad we went. The girls went back to school full of stories to tell. I'd be happy to share any other details if anyone is interested.

UK
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for Malindi, Ukunda, Kenya
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1. Re: Trip Report - Kenya with children in November

treegirlid

Great to get your report, thank you. Completely agree with you about Kicheche Laikipia and Ocean Sports. And I've heard very good things about Acacia House in the Mara.

One comment: I agree with you about the chimp sanctuary at Sweetwaters, and actually I would question its purpose, really. You might imagine the whole function of a chimp sanctuary in Kenya (which, even in the jungly west, hasn't had chimps for probably centuries) would be to act as a breeding programme for reintroducing chimps to parts of Africa where they have become extinct or have become extremely rare. However, the Sweetwaters sanctuary is simply a home for chimps that have been removed from illegal captivity, saved from trafficking or similar. The females are sterilised and rather than foraging for food in the sanctuary (trees could easily be grown for them - and some populations of wild chimps live in very similar, dry environments in West Afriaca , eg in Senegal and Mali), they are simply fed market fruit and veg by the keepers. The management actively wants to *avoid* breeding chimps here, which they told me "would prevent us from receiving more orphan chimps". So this is really a care home for chimps, and is all about animal welfare (which of course has its place) and nothing to do with conservation, or the continued existence of the chimpanzee as one of Africa's precious wild animals.

Pretty bizarre priorities, I thought. But they also claim that reintroducing chimps to the wild is incredibly difficult and costly, which I can believe. And in fact not always successful or even advisable (as when chimps return to human zones and generally wreak havoc). So it is a a real dilemma. But anyone visiting shouldn't be under any illusions about the purposes of the sanctuary, and personally I found it quite distressing to be so close to some obviously very disturbed and needy chimpanzees who are not getting any support or help to become happier. Euthanasia might be a much better solution for some of them, unpleasant as that idea might seem.

Richard

boise, ID USA
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2. Re: Trip Report - Kenya with children in November

Yes, Richard, you summed up the chimp issue very well, and I agree. Visitors should be well informed beforehand. We had been advised that the chimps might throw things at us, but they actually targeted my 11 year old daughter, so she had to go seek refuge in our vehicle. She was in the back seat with the windows rolled up, but they still launched an apple at her that went in one front seat window and out the other!

United States
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3. Re: Trip Report - Kenya with children in November

Treegirlid - We have reserved 3 nights at the Acacia House in July 2010. I hadn't been able to find any reviews on a travel forum, so I am delighted to see the one you posted. Any more details would be welcome. (For example, how was the food? Did you see much wildlife at the Rekero waterhole? Did you drive down to the Masai Mara reserve from there or do most of your game drives in the Mara North Conservancy for that part of your trip?)

Richard or anyone else familiar with the area - We will be coming to Masai Mara by car from the west, along the bumpy road from Lolgorien (C13) so we wanted to find something near the Oloololo gate. However, we weren't sure we wanted to be staying in the Mara Triangle or limiting our game drives to that area since it may be quite crowded that time of year. We also hoped to find something that was a good value and that wouldn't penalize the two singles traveling with my husband and me. When I read about Acacia House, it seemed like a good option with the one drawback being that it is pretty far north of the Oloololo gate. So I am wondering...

Can anyone tell me how long it might take to drive from the Oloololo gate area of Masai Mara to Acacia House? From what I have read on various forums, I am guessing that it might take 1.5 to 2 hours to drive from the gate to Acacia House. Does that sound about right?

We will be visiting Kisii friends for the first part of our trip and then driving to see Masai friends who are about an hour's drive from the Oloololo gate (driving time). After spending some time on safari, we will be returning to Kisii by car rather than flying to Nairobi. It won't bother us to have a bit of drive at the beginning and end of our Masai Mara time but wondered what those who have been there might suggest.

It would be great to return to Kenya again sometime when we have more time for safari, but we feel very fortunate to have even a couple of days in Mara. Thanks!

UK
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for Malindi, Ukunda, Kenya
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4. Re: Trip Report - Kenya with children in November

GlobalRambler

Oloololo Gate to Acacia House: I would allow 60 to 90 minutes, depending on 1) knowledge of the exact route 2) weather and 3) if you stop to watch animals along the way. If you get lost, stop to game-watch or have wet weather, you could spend several hours on this section.

Hope that helps,

Richard

United States
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5. Re: Trip Report - Kenya with children in November

Yes, that is helpful, thank you. We did just hear back from Rekero that it would take about 2 hours so they have probably factored in some of those possibilities.

This morning we found out that they will be able to provide a transfer from the Oloololo Gate to Acacia house so we won't need to factor in getting lost. We were on C13, the road from Lolgorien to Masai Mara, last year and experienced having the passenger van getting stuck in the mud and several Masai coming to help push it out while the passengers walked on a ways.

Thank you for the quick response. Much appreciated!

UK
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for Malindi, Ukunda, Kenya
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6. Re: Trip Report - Kenya with children in November

Karibu!

United States
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7. Re: Trip Report - Kenya with children in November

A new word for me to add to my (minimal) Swahili vocabulary. Thank you!

plymouth england
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for Kenya
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8. Re: Trip Report - Kenya with children in November

An excellent report and one to give parents thinking of taking their children a bit of confidence ..

boise, ID USA
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9. Re: Trip Report - Kenya with children in November

Global Rambler,

Sorry for late response, just got back from a trip to the redwoods in California.

To answer your questions, yes the food was fine. This was my first time on Safari and I was very surprised at the extravagance of the meals. To be honest, the food was a bit TOO fancy for our family who prefers fairly simple meals. If you have any picky eaters be sure to let the staff know, and they will try very hard to accomodate you. The waterhole behind the house had lots of animal activity. We saw zebra, elephants, dik-dik, gazelles, and many interesting birds.

The house itself is wonderful, a one of a kind masterpiece. It has a comfy dining/lounge area with a library stocked with books and games. The bed and bath areas are great also. The house staff is there at all times in case you need anything.

We did both game drives on the conservancy and in the reserve. The day at the reserve was a long one, but very well worth it.

I really think you will enjoy your time at the house very much.

Bev

United States
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10. Re: Trip Report - Kenya with children in November

Thank you giving us further input on your experience. I am very glad that your trip went well and that you saw so much wildlife while in Kenya! I would guess that this will be one trip your daughters will never forget.