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Drive times and lodge choices in Kenya

Nashville, Tennessee
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Drive times and lodge choices in Kenya

I am considering an itinerary with Eastern&Southern safaris. They have included a detail including drive times.

They have listed driving the first day from Nairobi to Amboseli to the Serena Lodge. They listed a 5 hour drive. Two nights there.

Then, we leave amboseli and head thru Nairobi to Mt. Kenya to the Serena Mountain lodge. They listed only 3 hours?

After one night in the mountain lodge, we head to Samburu to the Samburu Game Lodge. They listed 3 hours.

After 2 nights in Samburu, we go to Sweatwater Sanctuary. 3 hour drive. Sweatwater game camp.

After only one night, we head to Lake Nakuru to Sarova Lion hill lodge. 3 hour drive.

After one night, we head to Lake Naivasha to Sopa lodge. 2 hour drive.

After one night, head to Masai Mara to Sarova Mara tent camp. 5 hour drive. Three nights there.

Head back to Nairobi, 6 hour drive.

These times seem like A LOT of time driving, and not much time relaxing or viewing.

Also, how can you drive 5 hours south from Nairobi to amboseli and then only 3 hours back thru Nairobi to Mt Kenya?

Are these times realistic?

What about the serena lodge, I've heard only mediocre things.

UK
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for Malindi, Ukunda, Kenya
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21. Re: Drive times and lodge choices in Kenya

You get what you pay for is the message people should take from travelgal5050. A minibus tour of Kenya including Samburu and MMNR and using Sopa lodges is going to leave a poor to middling impression. And food is often something that suffers in the low-mid budget lodges.

Use a 4x4, or at least a good new van, with a really knowledgeable silver-qualified guide, high-quality tented camps and never less than 2 nights in one place (preferably 3 or 4) and the experience is utterly different.

travelgal5050: glad you at least enjoyed the wildlife, and thanks for your detailed report.

Richard

Isle of Man, United...
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22. Re: Drive times and lodge choices in Kenya

Thanks travelgal. An interesting viewpoint that I enjoyed. As a firm advocate of spending at least 2 and preferably 3 or more at each 'venue' I can see why you did not enjoy this Safari.

I have lost count of the times I have said "Don't rush around, Take your time at fewer places!" And guess what? I get the retort "we only have a week and need to see it all." I have never found out what "it" was but assume it was the inside of a car and miles and miles of road.

Do come back to Africa and try to do it properly. Take your time!

Nashville, Tennessee
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23. Re: Drive times and lodge choices in Kenya

These posts certainly reinforce the earlier advice.

I have shortened the list of places we are looking to visit and trying to spend 2-3 nights at 2-3 places and then end with 4 nights is Masai Mara.

Also, less price certainly does not correspond to better value all the time. It sounds like with anything else, low cost range is cheaper for a reason.

Thanks travelgal for the report. I will take it in to consideration as I plan. and thanks everyone for the help and advice so far.

Stephen

Ilford, United...
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24. Re: Drive times and lodge choices in Kenya

We're off in just over 2 weeks for our safari/beach holiday, this will be our 2nd visit although this time we're taking in Tanzania too...one of my husband's enduring memories which funnily he reminded me of tonight is our mini-van catchphrase which was "bumpy bumpy, dusty dusty"!! LOL

OMG some of the bumps felt as big as the Rift Valley but hey I never thought it was going to be like the M25 and I'm assuming the roads across the border are no better!

Last time we stayed overnight in Nairobi after an internal flight from Mombasa...then the driving began...to Samburu (Sarova Shaba 2 nights), then it was on to Abedares (Treetops for the night), then on to Lake Nakuru (Sarova Lion Hill 1 night), then on to the Mara for 2 nights at Mara Sarova Tented Lodge before going back Nairobi/Mombasa. Driving distances ranged between approx 250-400km a day, yes they were long days but had a great time and hope Tanzania lives up to Kenya :)

Isle of Man, United...
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25. Re: Drive times and lodge choices in Kenya

If this was not the Kenyan forum I would say that Tanzania is far better than Kenya. But it is so I won't. Oh bummer!

Hope you take it slower this time.

London, United...
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26. Re: Drive times and lodge choices in Kenya

Richard,

I’m not sure ‘you get what you pay for’ is that true; fools and parted money is more the norm nowadays.

Whilst safari has always been a Kenya thing, it was never the money spinner it is today and I believe the problem lies therein. Even back in the 80s there were few safari companies around, and when you took one is cost the earth, but in the main was well worth it; the rapid growth of the safari industry and in particular the ‘package safari holiday’ has just seen many more people, with lower standards, attempting to cash in on this lucrative piece of tourism. Many Lodges, Clubs and Hotels have realized that they no longer have to be of the standard which was once expected, to command their prices; their once very valued customers are now treated more like passing commodities.

That said, there are, if you look hard enough and have a basic understanding of the African way, some great low-mid budget places springing up. They may be a little more basic than ‘a Lodge’, but their service, cleanliness; standards are just as good for a fraction of the price. Last year having had a few route problems (that’ll be the C67!), I found myself hours short of planned destination with dark setting in, and Your scribblings saved me, I ended up in Kongoni Camp just outside Nanyuki, not somewhere that would spring to my mind normally. However, I must say, that without doubt that place is great; so much so it is now a regular feature on my wanderings and was voted the best place we had stayed by my kids in August, I think it was the WiFi and Menu that swung that one!

Kenya had a rather singular opportunity to really make something of safari and all it can bring; sadly, I think the rush to make money from it, has in the main done little more than create companies that have a throw away attitude to customers and who believe adequate

standards will suffice. It seems to be getting down with the third world chickens instead of soaring with the eagles.

GJ

London, United...
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27. Re: Drive times and lodge choices in Kenya

mfuwe,

Stop it you tinker!!

GJ

Isle of Man, United...
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28. Re: Drive times and lodge choices in Kenya

I'm with you all the way on this one GJGB.

Whilst "money no object Safaris" have a niche that sadly others are undercutting in every sense due to demand from the coast for cheap and cheerful there are many many excellent places that don't charge through the nose, and provide excellent service and standards.

Sadly unless you know how to sniff them out you leave finding them to chance or personal recommendations.

UK
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for Malindi, Ukunda, Kenya
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29. Re: Drive times and lodge choices in Kenya

Yes, I don't really disagree with that, but you're both talking about essentially DIY trips, guidebook in hand. I also thought Kongoni was great, which is why I put it in and gave it an Author Pick! That kind of travel is great for some people, but many here - like travelgal5050 - are looking for a package (in the best possible sense), and there I'd say you need to be aware of three key areas - accommodation level, driver-guide qualification and vehicle type and condition.

Richard

London, United...
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30. Re: Drive times and lodge choices in Kenya

Richard,

I was commenting on the general problem, having watched it grow over the years. I realize that not everyone can just make a few calls, load their pockets with cash and disappear off to Africa on a whim. I am a lucky lad!

I wholly agree with you and the 3 points. It is a great shame for Kenya and the visitor that these operators exist and there really is no policing of them. I also think people do not do enough research into their trips and tend to go with those either making the most noise or looking the cheapest.

A safari for many is I suppose a once in a lifetime thing; but it shocks me how little research people do in each aspect of their dream holiday. There again, perhaps the fact they think it a ‘holiday’ is the initial issue! People are too willing to allow others to do the ground work and sell them something ‘off the peg’, that is fine if you are using let us say Cheli & Peacock for example, but using Mr Wonga’s Most Wonderful Safari Ltd, Est 2009, will see you sorely disappointed!

Some things are slowly being addressed; the Guide qualification system, etc, but until the Government really do come down on the money grabbing Mr Wonga’s of the world and insist they provide what they promise, it will be a long time before a great time can be had by everyone.

Though, all in all, Kenya is a rather unique experience and I encourage people to visit, I just loathe the fact that these low-lives exist!

GJ