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Getting around/staying in the Rift Valley

Indianapolis...
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Getting around/staying in the Rift Valley

Hi Tripadvisor friends-

My husband and I are taking a safari that starts and ends in Nairobi, returning Dec. 24. We are not flying home until Dec 30, and we're trying to organize these last few days of our trip. I think we have settled on the Rift Valley area, where we will check out some of the lakes (Nakuru and Naivasha) and some prehistoric sites. However, we are concerned about transportation and lodging. My different guidebooks gave me conflicting ideas about how difficult it is to get around and stay in this area. What I'd like to know is this:

1. Can we rely on public transportation to get us from location to location, or, as one guidebook says, will we be waiting for days for a ride? In which case, how difficult/costly is it to arrange a driver for day-trips, or do we need to track down a rental car and or car & driver for the duration? Are taxis available?

2. Lodging-wise, are we relegated to either super-expensive luxury lodges (one I saw was $600/night!) or tents? We love to camp around the US, and I think we could handle camping here, but it's a lot more to be prepared for, requiring quite a bit more weight in my luggage, and I think we'd rather avoid it if possible.

Thanks for any advice you have to offer!

Isle of Man, United...
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1. Re: Getting around/staying in the Rift Valley

Using public transport in Kenya is an 'aquired taste'.

You can obtain a rental car from www.themargaritahouse.com/car-hire.html

A driver will not add much to the acount if you are nervous of self drive.

For the northern rift area there is a great camp plus cottages just by Lake Nakuru called Kembu cottages. www.kembu.com You could use this as a base for day trips up to Lake Bogoria and Baringo as well as Lake Nakuru NP. You will pass by Naivasha on the road from Nairobi.

We did all of this in September and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Indianapolis...
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2. Re: Getting around/staying in the Rift Valley

Thanks mfuwe. It sounds like you recommend against public transport then? I will look into rental car costs... I think my husband would be comfortable driving, as he is from India and driving doesn't really get more chaotic than that! Though if it's not much more, maybe a driver who knows where he's going would be worth it.

Kembu looks great- do you remember approximately how much you paid?

Nairobi, Kenya
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3. Re: Getting around/staying in the Rift Valley

You will definitely need a car to get around since you want to to go to Naivasha & Nakuru. If it's any consolation, a saloon car will suffice as opposed to a 4X4. There are heaps of car hire cos. in NBI. I know of one that has been in business for a long time - "Rasuls Car Hire" (self drive). Rates are quite attractive. http://www.rasuls.com/

Self drive is something that you can do quite comfortably.

As for accommodation:

Naivasha:

Camp Carnelly's - http://www.campcarnelleys.com/

Fishermans - http://fishermanscamp.com/

Sanctuary Farm - sanctuaryfarmkenya.com/Sanctuary_Farm_Kenya/…

Elementeita (btwn Naivasha & Nakuru)

http://www.sunbirdkenya.com/pages/index.html

Nakuru - Kembu

It's also worth going further up to other Rift Valley lakes ie Bogoria & Baringo

Bogoria is famous for hot water geysers & flamingos.

To stay @ Baringo, consider Robert's Camp

http://www.robertscamp.com/

Good luck

Isle of Man, United...
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4. Re: Getting around/staying in the Rift Valley

At Kembu it was around 10K Kesh for the larger cottages (per cottage not pp.) and meals were around Ksh4000. Do check via the www.

Nairobi, Kenya
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5. Re: Getting around/staying in the Rift Valley

Small addendum to my post - all campsites that i have mentioned have rooms / bandas too, in addition to camping ground.

Lamu Island, Kenya
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6. Re: Getting around/staying in the Rift Valley

Depends where you are going some places are quite easy to reach by public transport:

Lake Baringo: bus or matatu (shared mini bus), you probably have to change car half-way in Marigat. Robert's Camp is a great place to stay on the shore

Lake Bogoria: probably better to go by private car because inside the NR you need a car. Great scenery, with flamingos (although they are moving between lakes) and hot springs

Lake Nakuru NP: nice scenery, flamingos (see Lake Bogoria), Rhinos. Some guesthouse organize half-day trips. I went inside last year in a private car (with driver) but we saw only one Rhino (and of course other animals) but there are many, many more (a driver is not a guide/ranger!).

Lake Naivasha: Fisherman's Camp is a great place to stay on the shore although huts ARE basic. They also organize boat trips, you could rent a bike to go to Hell's Gate NP which is also a great day trip (go down the gorge with a guide!!)

Enjoy Kenya!

Indianapolis...
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7. Re: Getting around/staying in the Rift Valley

Rasul's rates seem amazing, though I'm sure the per km cost add up. I'm going to have estimate how much distance we would log and what the approximate total cost would be... we blew most of our trip budget (ok, more than our trip budget!) on the safari, so we need to cut corners wherever possible. If not, we'll just have to be careful about where we decide to go, making sure public transport there is good.

One more question- the "camps" that I keep seeing, some that have bandas or rooms as well as the camp... are these a traditional campground like in the us, where you bring your own tent? Or are there tents already set up for you to use, and you just need your own bedding? Or is it a good mix of the two? I assumed you needed your own tent, until I came across one in a guidebook that specifically mentioned the tents that were on site. So now I'm wondering if they are all like that?

Isle of Man, United...
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8. Re: Getting around/staying in the Rift Valley

I would be wary of a Km charge. It would annoy the bejazus out of me every time the thing clicked over another cents worth. You find you are thinking "If I go this way it will save another 6 kms." You do not need that on holiday.

From my limited experience where there is a "campsite"you bring your tent. If it is a "Camp" there may be tents set up for use.

Either way I would use a Banda and a proper bed if I could!

Nairobi, Kenya
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9. Re: Getting around/staying in the Rift Valley

At Carnelly's & Fishermans, you can hire out their own tents + bedding. (or bring your own). As for Sanctuary Farn & Robert's camp, you can email them to find out. In any case, i recommend staying in the rooms / bandas.

Don't worry too much about cooking your meals as they have restaurants.

Nyeri, Kenya
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10. Re: Getting around/staying in the Rift Valley

Consider that Naivasha is approximately 90km from Nairobi. Carnellys another maybe 15km or so. Nakuru is approx 68km from Naivasha..............without any driving around to explore the areas. I recommend that you factor this in when arranging car hire with a per km rate.

The roads are mostly good, but if you want to want to visit somewhere like Crater Lake, or Great Rift Valley Lodge, the roads are pretty rough and a 4 x 4 is better.