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Help with itinerary please

New York, New York
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Help with itinerary please

Hi,

I am going on my honeymoon to Africa (first time-so excited!) and would love some help with my itinerary. I am coming from NYC so I hear I have to travel to Nairobi via London which usually puts flight arrivals in the evening at Nairobi (please correct me if I'm wrong). If so, then I figure I have to stay a night in Nairobi since I must imagine traveling at 10p is not safe. So here is my prelim itinerary.

Day 0-1: Travel from JFK to Nairobi. Stay overnight

Day 2-3: Travel to Ol Donyo lodge and see Amboseli Park, etc. (Flight vs. drive-any thoughts?). Stay 2 nights.

Day 4-5: Flight to Masai Mara and stay at either Naibor camp or Mara plains camp for 2 nights (thinking about extending it to 3 nights- thoughts?)

Day 6-7: TBA. Don't know where to go after this. Thinking L. Nakuru, L. Navaisha, or Abedare park but can't figure out what lodge/hotel to stay at. Want to find a place that is in the middle from drive back from Masai Mara to Nairobi so the the drive is 2-3 hours each leg (my fiancee is not a fan of rough car rides longer 4 hours)

Day 8: back to Nairobi and fly to Seychelles for 5 nights.

I would love any feedback on this itinerary!

Thanks.

London, United...
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1. Re: Help with itinerary please

Nomad,

Unsure London is a ‘must’, surely KLM, etc, could fly you through A’dam?! That said, if you are going via London there are more option than am arrivals, last time I used Ethiopian Airways overnight and arrived at Lunchtime.

Flying verse driving is all about time and money, only thing I would say is that the route to Amboseli is not that interesting!

If she is not a fan of long and arduous driving, I think you should honestly fly back from the Mara, and therefore extend your nights in each location and skip Nakuru/Niavasha the rest of your marriage is more important than any Lake!!

When overnighting in NBO, take her somewhere decent for dinner!

Personally, I would have chosen the Mara and Meru or Laikipia for a honeymoon and flown.

london
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for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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2. Re: Help with itinerary please

When mixing flying/driving you really need to think about where the car is going to appear from and how much it's going to cost, and whether driving is appropriate to the particular camp.

A guide and driver will cost at a daily rate, and they will probably have to come from Nairobi and return to Nairobi. So unless the particular camp you are staying at offers road transfers to other places, there's a limit to how much you can mix flying and driving. Also, you need to find out whether the camps you stay in cater to drive in guests or not. The difference is whether they can charge a rate excluding game drives or whether they only offer all inclusive rates including game drives. Typically, if you drive in you will then use your own car and guide for game drives. There's no point driving to a camp that only offers fully inclusive rates, as then your driver will be sat around doing nothing while you are there (and you will be paying a daily amount for that).

I am pretty sure Mara Plains only offers fully inclusive accommodation, so driving back to Nairobi isn't a sensible option unless you are going to pay a driver to come out to the Mara just to collect you. This might work if you wanted to make a stop on the way. However, my feeling is you are trying to fit too much in. I would definitely stay at least 3 nights in the Mara. There are better places than Nakuru/Naivasha eg Laikipia/Lewa.

Personally, with 7 nights I would stick with 2 stops and fly. One would be the Mara, for 4 nights, and the other would be for 3 nights.

Ol Donyo isn't actually in Amboseli you know? Not that that's a bad thing, a lot of the best places aren't actually in national parks. I thought they specialised in horseback safaris- is that what you are looking for?

nyc
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3. Re: Help with itinerary please

As above, you do not have to fly via LHR which has a flight arriving 6am and another abut 9pm; rather AMSterdam (KLM... arriving 7:30-8pm), maybe ZHR (Zurich on Swiss, about 7pm), even via DXB (Dubai via Emirates... this one arrive about 3pm), so many options from NYC.

While Ol Donyo is lovely and expensive, it is NOT at Amboseli rather in the Chyulu Hills and would be a flight to/from.

Ideally for a honeymoon, I'd consider:

Day 1 - Arv. - o/n (regardless time of arrival)

Day 2 - Fly to Meru (Elsa's Kopje) or Laikipia (Loisaba and starbeds) or Samburu (Saruni or SaSaab)

Days 3 & 4 - Meru or Laikipia or Samburu*

Day 5 - Fly to Masai Mara - o/n Mara Plains (another expensive camp) or maybe Elephant Pepper, Ol Seki, Saruni, many others

Days 6 & 7 - Masai Mara

Day 8 - Fly to NBO for o/n

Day 9 - Fly to SEZ (it's a morning flight.... 3/hrs and 1/hrs time difference, ahead of that at Kenya).

*though I show 3/nts Meru, Laiikipia or Samburu, you can 2/nts and then balance in the Mara so you have your exact 8/days.

Remember that the flight to SEZ isn't daily, alternate days instead.... to coordinate accordingly

While you do not require a Visa for SEZ, you MUST have Yellow Fever inoculation and proof of same for entry having come from Kenya.

If you'd prefer Amboseli instead of Meru/Laikipia/Samburu, maybe consider Tortilis, Satao Elerai or Tawi Lodge (this latter is really nice).

Good luck!

london
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4. Re: Help with itinerary please

sandi's suggestion is the sort of thing I had in mind.

Be aware that Mara Plains is one of the most expensive camps in the Mara at about $1000 pppn.

New York, New York
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5. Re: Help with itinerary please

Thank you everyone. You have been very helpful. So it seems practically unanimous that I ditch amboseli and go to Samburu/meru/Laiiikipia. I will look into those areas and maybe choose one of those with Masai Mara instead.

Mara Plains is expensive but it feels all the top luxury ones are. Any other recs for camps/lodges in Masai Mara?

Also, are the hot air balloons worth the $1000 US? We are considering it and want to see what you all think?

Also, if I were to gain another night or two, instead of adding another night in Mara, would you still spend 2 nights there and try and add a third destination or does one need at least 3 nights in Mara to really enjoy it?

Thanks!

New York, New York
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6. Re: Help with itinerary please

One more thing, if we arrive during the early evening to Nairobi is it a good idea to fly to the lodge after or spend a night in Nairobi. My fiancee is not that interested in staying and he'd rather jump straight to the camps/lodges if possible.

Thanks.

London, United...
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7. Re: Help with itinerary please

Nomad,

Honestly, stop trying to rush everywhere, concentrate on the unique experience you will be having, game viewing! I know it is tempting to see as much as humanly possible, but honestly, Kenya is one of those places where you don't want to rush things. Two locations, and as many nights as possible in them is the key, Sandi has it spot on.

The Balloons, have not been up for many years, but I would say so, at the risk of stating the very obvious, a completely view of the place, and no noisy vehicles. Never mind the cost, the woman is obviously worth it, you're marrying her after all!!

London, United...
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8. Re: Help with itinerary please

Nomad, Spend the night in NBO, recover from the flight, shower, have a decent dinner, the remaining days will be a bit full on, with early mornings.

Plus, there are few 'late' flights to anywhere with a dirt strip, unless it's the Flying Doctors coming in!!

Stop rushing things..........take the girl to the Talisman and ensure she orders the Ostrich Steak!! Oh and get a table in the Court Yard, lovely candle lit thing with braziers keeping you warm, etc.

nyc
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9. Re: Help with itinerary please

Goodness... slow down. You don't have to be at a meeting. Besides, there are no evening flights to anywhere you'd be going. Spend the nt in NBO, lots of lovely hotels... shower off the 'eau de Boeing.' Start next morning.

And as I regularly suggest... take off your darn watch and return it to your wrist when departing. There really is no reason to check 'time.' The sun rises/sets same time daily, at 12N it's on top of you and after 1/day you'll be able to tell by shadow whether morning or afternoon. Or as the old African saying 'the white man has the watch, the African has the time.' In otherwords... chill. Safari is not meant to be a marathon.

Yes, the Mara does deserve minimum 3/nts.

Though you don't say when you'll be traveling. If during the 'migration' period (mid-Jul-Sep) many actually choose 4/nts in the Mara.

Can't comment on balloons, as I don't do 'heights.' Flying to/from wherever is more than sufficient height for me.

Also, don't forget to inquire about any 'specials' as 'stay 3nts, pay 2nts' and/if 'honeymoon specials' though these can't be combined.

Edited: 22 July 2013, 19:01
nyc
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10. Re: Help with itinerary please

Kicheche Bush on the same conservancy at Mara Plains is a winner.... a bit less expensive.

Or the new Mara Toto (3/tents only) sister camp of Mara Plains another that gets stars.

Ol Seki or Naboisho Camps on the Naboisho conservancy.

There are many choices throughout the country.