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Collette Tours

new york
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419 posts
124 reviews
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Collette Tours

We are Marriott Vacation Club owners and through our points we can go on an African Safari booking through Collette Tours. I do understand that their groups are bigger than some other companies, but this is our only option if we book through Marriott and would not be able to go otherwise.

This is the highlights of the tour:

Day 2: Nairobi, Kenya - Tour Begins

Day 3: Nairobi - Samburu Reserve

Day 4: Samburu Reserve

Day 5: Samburu - Nanyuki - Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club

Day 6: Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club

Day 7: Nanyuki - Lake Naivasha

Day 8: Lake Naivasha - Lake Nakuru - Lake Naivasha

Day 9: Lake Naivasha - Masai Mara Game Reserve

Day 10: Masai Mara

Day 11: Masai Mara - Nairobi

Day 12: Nairobi - Amboseli National Park

Day 13: Amboseli

Day 14: Amboseli - Nairobi - Tour Ends

at the end of the tour there is an optional five day Tanzania Extension available for approximately $2500.00.pp

We only have enough points to take the trip in early June (as the points required to take the trip in June are less) We cannot wait to book as the points we have will expire. Is the weather in early June so rainy that we should look at another vacation option?

Our questions: has anyone used Collette Tours? If so what has your experience been? Is the Tanzania extension worth it. Even using our points this trip will be quite expensive.

Any help will be appreciated.

.

Michigan
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1,360 posts
109 reviews
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1. Re: Collette Tours

When I took my trip in 2010, although I was traveling solo, there were a couple of Collette Tour groups shadowing my itinerary. They did appear to be larger than the group tour I did with Go Ahead Tours, but everyone seemed to be having a good time. In the parks while I was taking pictures, it was not uncommon to see 3-5 vehicles with Collette Tours signs on them pull up. They didn't linger long before moving ahead (which is why I like to go solo). I have not traveled with Collette, but know others who have and found them to be fine (although these people did not go to Africa).

While on a group tour in 2009 with Go Ahead, I opted to do the 4 day Tanzania extension. Back then, it was an additional $1800. I felt it was well worth it. We spent a night at Tarangire, a night at Ngorongoro and 2 nights in the Serengeti. The Crater was fantastic and we got to see the birthing of the wildes in the Serengeti and lots of elephants in Tarangire (it was March though). This trip was entirely over land, no internal flights (which it looks like your's may be the same). The drives in between locations were long and bumpy, but I was fine. Can always take a nap, look at the scenery or talk to your travel companions.

Weather can be unpredictable but I would not let it influence your decision. I've been in Kenya and Tanzania in May, which was supposed to be very rainy, and it rained a little at night, and one afternoon briefly. June is starting to dry out and I'm guessing would be green from the rains of April/May. Green is great for photos and it settles the dust which makes it more pleasant to me.

Laurena

Bath, Canada
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171 posts
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2. Re: Collette Tours

Panter,

I would be asking: which Kenyan tour company does Collette sub contract this tour out to?

How many clients will be in a safari van?

Is there also an "overall" tour guide travelling with the tour group (if so, does he rotate between the various safari vehicles) or is each safari driver also the guide with no "overall guide".

When we were in Kenya last winter, we were 3 in a pop up safari van. Many vans had only 2 clients. I did see some OAT tours using Pullman tour company, and they looked crowded with 5 or 6 clients. Way too cramped.

It is dusty and very bumpy. You sometimes feel like you are riding a wild bronco and you are bouncing around while trying to stand for better viewing. In a crowded vehicle you would be stepping on each other toes.

I also note that Collette's itinerary starts travel from NBO to Samburu National Reserve. Caution! We had a bad experience in Samburu Reserve. We were ambushed and robbed just inside the gates. Check back at my March post "Our Samburu Experience". I see that our Canadian Tour company that we used (sub contracted to a Kenyan safari tour company) have removed Samburu Reserve from their itinerary, following our incident.

EllaH

Michigan
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1,360 posts
109 reviews
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3. Re: Collette Tours

Just as a point of reference, the Collette group I saw in 2010, was subcontracting with Vintage Africa. There were approx. 20-25 in the group and they did have 1 Tour Director who rotated around. Each vehicle had 4-6 persons in it.

new york
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419 posts
124 reviews
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4. Re: Collette Tours

Dear EllaH - Your responses are the the reason I love trip advisor. Such detailed information. I feel so much better about this booking. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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30 posts
6 reviews
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5. Re: Collette Tours

The one incident involving an ambush at Samburu should not deter you from visiting this spectacular Reserve. Security has been beefed up. However i will respect your decision if you decide not to visit the reserve.

nyc
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14,852 posts
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6. Re: Collette Tours

As with any 'set' group tour, too many places to be visited and long transit times... some places spending insufficient time, as the Masai Mara which deserves minimum 3/nts. Also, the drive just from NBO to SAMburu is almost 6/hrs; from Nakuru to the Mara is 5/hrs and the roads aren't as you have at home... two-lane roads often with police check-points. Also, as mentioned - if as many as 6/pax per vehicle, this will be very crowded and often uncomfortable.

The only good thing about the above is the month of June which isn't as crowded as if you visited in July or August.

new york
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419 posts
124 reviews
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7. Re: Collette Tours

What kind if weather shod we expect?

nyc
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14,852 posts
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8. Re: Collette Tours

... nicer than it is in NYC right now that is hot/humid.

On the Equator, temps are almost constant year-round; in June mild days 70s and cool nights 55/60. Dependent on altitude where each area located. Maybe a briief shower and that's about it.

new york
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419 posts
124 reviews
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9. Re: Collette Tours

Hi - thanks again for all your information. We have the opportunity to decide between two travel dates - 5/22/14 or 6414. We would prefer the 5/22/14 travel date unless the weather is so much better or more animals or a good reason why we should travel in early June instead of late May. Thanks...

Stewartsville, New...
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10. Re: Collette Tours

Just came back from the Marriott Collette Plains of Africa tour in August. It was excellent. It was my first tour so I cannot compare to any others but our tour guide and driver were excellent. There were 18 total with 3 vans from Liberty Africa with 6 in each van. Not overly crowded when standing just needed to sometimes move around so all could take pictures. In our van we rotated seats everyday so all had opportunity to have better view- backseat was the least desirable as there was not room there to just stand at your seat.

You do only stay at each park 2 days, but the shorter stay is worth the opportunity to visit more parks as they are all different.

For us on the game drives how long we stayed at each spot before moving on to find other animals was up to us, our driver Reuben would stay until we were done. The 3 vans did not always stay together. Both Reuben and our tour guide Tom Nganga were very attentive ad were able to provide tons of information and answer questions about the culture, the foliage and of course the animals of which we saw tons of , the big five multiple times throughout the days and so many more.

The day before we went was when the Nairobi airport termal burnt so we had delays but Collette handled re booking flights and getting us there.

I definitely felt it was well worth the expense and the points. See my posts for the places we stayed. Not sure if i addressed all your questions, I would be happy to share more information if you are interested About the trip, and our preparation for the trip. I recommend this tour. It was amazing.