7 independent reviews for Kenya safari

Reviews for Kenya safari

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review 26 Feb 2010

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The feeling of space and peace with only the sounds of birds and animals and wide open vistas

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be aware that if you are wedded to your hairdryer and are averse to having bushes replace flush toilets, this may not be the vacation for you! Having said that, I would have said both of those things applied to me, but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The benefits from stepping outside of the comfort zone - even marginally - are worth it.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I'm sure there was a benefit to local people, how much that exceeded that of other companies, I couldn't say.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The vacation was brilliant. The staff could not have been more helpful or knowledgeable; the locations and activities were clearly carefully selected so that the whole trip unfolded like a perfect rose.

review 3 Nov 2008

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

This was my first time in Sub Saharan Africa so I was excited just touching down on Kenyan soil...The most memorable experiences were many. Driving towards Lake Elementaita and seeing the hazy pink fog on the horizon which as we drew closer realised that is was 1000's of pink flamingos! We knew we had a lucky group as at that point Ben our driver told us that 2 weeks previously there were no flamingos to be seen! It was a magical site. Another magical site would be on the first dawn game drive we did and managed to see a pride of lions basking in the morning light, a cheetah prowling the plains and then the elusive leopard lazing halfway up a tree! back at the camp we were then treated to a 5 star style camp breakfast out in the open guarded by expert Masai hunters, who - we were reminded were there for our safety -since they would inform us what animals were making the noises we would sporadically hear just outside the edges of the camp. To be honest, there were so many memorable moments. The wildlife, the guides' knowledge, the attention to detail and the attentiveness of the camp staff-all this rolled into one great trip. The other highlight I have to mention would be the trip I made to the local school which the tour operator and travelers on trips to Kenya can also support. Itís only half an hour away and seeing the new school building that the 100 local children benefit from is eye opening. Not to mention the kindness and hospitality of the school staff and the gorgeous children-a humbling experience. Lastly, visiting a Masai village and taking some Polaroids of people to give back to them was great fun for me and them!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

A few tips spring to mind-at certain times of the year the evenings will be cold despite the days being very warm so take spare layers for the evening. We also experienced a cold monsoon style downpour near Lake Elementaita lodge when it had been very hot just minutes before. A good waterproof to keep in your bag just in case could therefore be useful. Do check with your tour opetator consultant to ask the local school what they could benefit from. I took exercise books and pens which were greatly received, as would be any items but worth checking if you do intend to visit the local school or you can just leave with the camp staff at Kicheche Camp and they will make sure the school receives your much needed gift. A pair of binoculars are also a great idea. We shared the 4 pairs we had in our vehicle around the 6 of us which was fine but great to bring a pair if you can get your hands on a pair. Do also listen to your driver-guides! They are extremely knowledgeable and you will be amazed at how much you can learn from them, they have all studied for many years to be able to take groups out and tell you about a vast number of animals, birds and plants.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes I did. All the staff I came into contact with were local, from our driver-guide Ben to the Kichche Camp manager Williams. At Kicheche the staff run an amazingly tight operation where no water is wasted, lights are energy saving and only as much hot water (heated in the day by the sun) as is needed is used. The staff explain these simple 'rules' to their guests which also helps to educate travelers coming into bush camps expecting to have 5 star (unnecessary?) luxuries such as constant hot water on tap. Visits to a Masai village involved a 'fee' which might make you feel you are entering some sort of themed constructed village (where this is not the case). The fee exists so that local people benefit from your visit. They will also demonstrate traditional dancing (and jumping) and take you into a village house and explain more about Masai culture. Talk to the villagers and they will open up to you and be happy to share conversations. Our driver-guide explained that he visits different villages each time so as to even things out. You will also get the chance to buy locally made masks, jewellery etc and the money you spend is going directly back to the villagers there. As already mentioned travelers on this trip can also donate money/items to the trust which undertakes projects such as they school I visited.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

A 5 ***** vacation. So many fantastic memories. This safari is perfect as a first safari or if you don't have much time. We saw more wildlife than I could have hoped for. For me, interacting with the Kenyan people (tour operator and camp staff), was a wonderful experience too and was a perfect introduction to Africa. I will be back...

review 1 Aug 2007

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Watching a cheetah and 2 cubs playing, chasing each other round and round a clump of trees. A classic safari sunset.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be aware that a) the road between Nairobi-Nakuru-Masaai Mara is under construction and is like driving down a motorway building site. This journey to and from the Nara takes up 2 whole days of your vacation. b) You don't actually go into the Maasai Mara National Park, only in the wider conservation area. You are supposed to see as many animals, but I doubt this, and I'm sure the National Park regulations make it more environmentally responsible.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Some benefits through employment, but the Lodge was part of a chain and am not sure how much if any of the money gets into the local community. The tented camp employed about 10 people but the atmosphere was rather colonial and interactions with staff were rather stilted. On game drives in the Mara conservation area, off-roading is allowed. This means a lot of churned up tracks and 'track-creep'. This and radio contact between vehicles in the area meant that as many as 20 vehicles could encircle an animal quite closely, influencing its behaviour and direction of travel, even following it further into the bush.. Surely this isn't very responsible tourism.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Not very good value for money. We saw the 'Big Five' which was what seemed to be the main aim, but the lack of big variety of species and lack of real engagement with the drivers was disappointing after our experience in the Serengeti the previous week. 3 short optional extra walks seemed excessively priced at $20 per head.

Read the operator's response here:

1. We acknowledge that the road conditions in Kenya are terrible and there are two long journeys which we specify in our trip notes. 2. The Conservation Area is as good as the Reserve, in June I know the Conservation Area was better. During the migration the river crossing points are only in the Reserve and during this time the trips do spend a day in the Reserve. 3. The Conservation Area AND the Reserve are unfortunately NOT well managed, overcrowding does sometimes happen and 20 vehicles around a sighting is indeed outrageous. I do agree with your sentiments but unfortunately it is no better in the Reserve. There is currently a movement underway to bring professional management to the Conservation Area, the Reserve is managed by the local County Council. 4. With regards to Kicheche being part of a 'chain', there are a couple of camps under the same management team, which I guess you could label as 'a chain'? The Camp being colonial and interactions with staff being stilted, this has never been mentioned before, in fact guests tend to be very enthusiastic about the staff friendliness, However, I apologise that you did not feel this way. The manager William is Masai, the staff are all Masai apart from 2 chefs. The staff are nearly all from the local community, the money from souvenirs sold at camp goes straight to staff, we run a community project that recently rebuilt the local nursery school, we lease 1,000 acres of land from local masai landowners. In addition 100% of her Park fee goes to the local Masai landowners in the Conservation Area to leave their land undeveloped (which is why the land is still there for the wildlife today). 5. The negative comment about the drivers is a concern for us to follow up on. After some research I believe that the cost of the walks at $20 pp is actually cheap compared with any other properties in the area. Thank you for your comments.

review 4 Nov 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

It is hard to pick out one most memorable bit. Probably the staff at Kicheche camp. They made our stay so memorable. The sighting of our first cheetah on the way from the airstrip to Kicheche. Charles our guide, who became part of our family.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Don't become a game watcher, soak in the whole picture. Be aware that the 7 hour journey from Kicheche to Elementaita is on appalling roads, and is very tiring. That said, my three children, aged 8, 10 and 12 didn't complain once.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. Following consultation, we took clothes for local people. We could also see that a good part of our money was finding its way to local people. And certainly Kicheche camp was set up in a way to minimise impact on the local environment.

4. Any other comments?

Got to be a 5 star experience. Best vacation ever, and I felt we were able to connect with the local people because of the way the vacation was set up.

review 20 Aug 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The whole trip was amazing. Everything from the Mara camp to the animals in the wild. The service at the camp is first rate, right down to the hot chocolate and wake up call in the mornings. I think seeing a herd of 19 elephants was one of the most memorable part of the trip, but it's hard to pick out just one.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

The trip notes are very clear on what to bring. If you can, I would get a Kenyan visa before you go, as it saves queuing for ages in Nairobi airport. The roads are very, very bumpy...if you can call them roads. But it adds to the experience...just don't sit in the back row of the van for the long journeys to and from the parks.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

I think so, as the lodge and camp staff are local people running it, so they would hopefully get a lot of the money spent there. The camp was very ecological right down to the water in the bucket shower...which was hot and a really good experience.

4. Any other comments?

Thanks Responsibletravel!!

review 16 Jul 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Watching those amazing animals doing what they do best in their natural environment was one of the best experiences of my life and a memory that will stay with me for a long time. The Cheetah was my favourite!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

The trip notes from the operator were 100% clear and accurate so follow their advice regarding money, visas, what to bring etc and you'll be fine! The roads in Kenya are total chaos & a bit worrying for the first time visitor but your driver knows what he's doing so sit back, make the most of the experience and enjoy the view!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

The staff at the camp were all locals and a lot of the money spent went straight to the local tribes people. The camp was, I thought, as ecological as it could be and at no compromise to comfort!

review 25 Jun 2005

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

We took part in the Balloon Ride from the Governors Site, that was great. But is was spinetingling the first sight of Lion, Elephant, giraffe or what ever. It all takes some beating!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Relax and leave it to the very able guides, who were well versed in many ways. We felt very relaxed in their hands.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

In the main the visit to the Masai Village and talking to the guide there.

4. Any other comments?

Thank you for your care we came back refreshed and acknowledging that we had leant a lot.

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