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View Full Version : Safari holiday companies - which one


Chris Galvin
Friday 22nd June 2012, 09:09
I am considering a safari in Kenya in 2013 but the number of companies offering trips is enormous. Any notes on which companies folks on this forum have used would be great

Has anyone on here ever dealt with

http://www.safari-consultants.co.uk/

Any feedback would be great, thanks

Steve Lister
Friday 22nd June 2012, 09:40
I have travelled with Joseph Mwangi (Natureswonderlandsafaris) and can recommend him.

Steve

nick scarle
Friday 22nd June 2012, 12:37
I was there in 2009 and put a lot of the details in this thread ...

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=139758

Cannot recommend it highly enough, it's an absolutely fantastic experience.

Nick

Steve G
Friday 22nd June 2012, 18:20
Chris, I have a friend who is a driver/guide and has his own 4x4pop-up roof minivan.
Ben is reliable and good company. He also has good birding knowledge and knows many of the local birders -useful for tracking down endemics and range-restricted specialties.

Do you have an itinerary in mind?

Two years ago we went to Mount Kenya, Samburu, Baringo, Nakuru and the Mara. Last year we went to the Aberdares, Baringo/Bogoria, Kakamega, the Mara and Naivasha. Both trips greatly exceeded all expectations.
Kenya is expensive however due to accommodation costs and National Park fees (the Mara is $80 per person per day for non-residents!). It is better if you can share costs.

I get Bernard of Liontrails ( http://www.liontrailssafaris.com/ ) to arrange my itinerary/book accommodation. He is excellent to deal with and keeps overheads as low as possible.

Here's a report of our experience at Baringo/Bogoria in 2010/2011: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=229458
Our experience of the Mara migration in 2010 was also amazing. Even though these were family holidays I managed to get some reasonable images - mainly due to the skill and knowledge of Ben and his local contacts.

I'm off to Kenya again in a week's time. Doing an eastern circuit taking in Amboseli, Tsavo West, Shimba Hills, Watamu area (Arabuko-Sokoke Forest) then back to Nairobi via Tsavo East.

For general wildlife viewing combined with spectacular birding I don't think there is any better place on the planet, but you do need to plan a decent itinerary in advance and then organise the trip through people who know what they're doing.

Steve

Davecr24
Friday 22nd June 2012, 21:19
hi chris i went to kenya on my own in march 2011 for 10 days with virgin holidays i couldn't believe how well i was treated i felt like a prince by far my best holiday ever highly recommend virgin holidays,Dave

Chris Galvin
Saturday 23rd June 2012, 06:10
As my wife is a non-birder the plan is fly into Nairobi, day at the Nairobi National Park, overnight in Nairobi, fly out to the Kicheche Bush Camp for 5 days, back to Nairobi for an overnight then fly to Malindi for 7 days at Turtle Bay where I can go and explore the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.

You input so far has been excellent reading - keep 'em coming

Steve G
Saturday 23rd June 2012, 09:13
As my wife is a non-birder the plan is fly into Nairobi, day at the Nairobi National Park, overnight in Nairobi, fly out to the Kicheche Bush Camp for 5 days, back to Nairobi for an overnight then fly to Malindi for 7 days at Turtle Bay where I can go and explore the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.

You input so far has been excellent reading - keep 'em coming

I did something similar in 2007. We flew to Mombasa staying at the Turtle Beach. Half way through our two week stay we flew from Malindi to the Mara for 4 nights.

There are a few points to consider:-
In the Mara try to ensure you are the sole occupants of your vehicle otherwise you will play Big Cat Diaries all day every day. Sole use of vehicles is expensive but VERY desirable!
Internal flights limit baggage to 15kg per person in total (carry-on+hold). I don't know about you but with me two bodies, an assortment of lenses, chargers and Bins will weigh that alone. For the Turtle Bay portion of our holiday my wife's toiletries bag seemed to weigh 15kg! You will definitely need a good quality tripod/head combo for photography in the A-S forest -even more weight!

You will need to find a way around this weight issue!

My wife and daughter are non-birders with limited interest in wildlife. They enjoy lounging around in the sun and having a dip in the pool -something any Med. holiday has to offer. When we visited Samburu in 2010 they skipped a couple of game drives to sun-bathe and read around the pool but we're gob-smacked by elephants and other game which sauntered close-by as they chilled. My point is that if you choose your lodges wisely then the "beach" lounging can be done in the Mara, etc.

If you have a lot of gear to take then a road-based safari is preferable. International flights: -all the main carriers are easy going on hand luggage weights and you will have 2x23kg each for hold luggage allowance. You will also have your own vehicle. Ours is equipped with DC/AC alternator for charging batteries, laptops, etc, as well as a short-wave radio (useful in the Mara, etc for exchange of info on sightings). Away from the main Mara circuit there are some superb places to visit such as the Rift Valley Lakes, Kakamega and of course Samburu. Last year Ben took a lone traveller deep into the Aberdares - they stayed in a small cottage with amenities and took their own cook along. They got superb views of Giant Forest Hogs (-normally rare and elusive) and great views of African Crowned Eagle.

The truth is that whatever you decide to do Kenya will blow your mind!!!

Steve G
Saturday 23rd June 2012, 10:02
Forgot to add. Spending one or two nights in Nairobbery isn't much fun but there is a new lodge sitting on the edge of the National Park in close proximity to JKIA (where international flights land) and Wilsons (flights to the Mara, Malindi,etc) so no need to enter the city with its horrendous traffic problems.
Check out Emakoko: http://www.tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Review-g294207-d2407298-Reviews-The_Emakoko-Nairobi.html

Chris Galvin
Saturday 23rd June 2012, 19:41
Like you Steve my camera bag weighs 17kg without chargers, binos and spare batteries or tripod & Wimberley. They are usually in the hold luggage. The reason for the Nairobi hotel is for us to leave the 'beach luggage' at the hotel and we have confirmed that our hold luggaage to Malindi from JKIA is 20kgs

I also intend having sole use of a vehicle for at least one day

mike davidson
Thursday 12th July 2012, 13:06
I can also recomend Joseph , who is a good friend of mine . He can custom build your trip to your needs .

Hi Steve , see you at the Bird Fair next month on the Kneya stand

Mike D in nairobi


I have travelled with Joseph Mwangi (Natureswonderlandsafaris) and can recommend him.

Steve

seedyrom
Sunday 15th July 2012, 22:28
Going for a fortnight on the 23rd with Jonathan Baya www.tracktours.weebly.com. He is meeting us in nairobi and we are going on safari then down to Watamu where we are staying in a Christian Fellowship Guesthouse. 20 pp per night full board but you have to help with the washing-up! Jonathan has his own vehicle. robert Biggs has been a great help in organising this trip.

Steve Lister
Monday 16th July 2012, 11:01
Hi Steve , see you at the Bird Fair next month on the Kneya stand

Mike D in nairobi

Bring your wellies

Steve G
Tuesday 17th July 2012, 15:00
Just back from a road-based Safari to Amboseli, Tsavo East & West, Shimba Hills and Watamu.

The birding in Arabuko-Sokoke forest was heavy going this time around. There have been no recent sightings of Clarke's Weaver which is a bit worrying and we came across few bird waves whilst in the forest. The Sabaki Rivermouth was a bit of a disappointment as the area had rather poor long rains so there were was little standing freshwater and few decent waterbirds (on my previous visit I had Dwarf Bittern, African Skimmer, Madagascar Pratincole, African Openbill and numerous other goodies). David Ngala saved the day with the A-S forest birding -he tried to find us all three morphs of Sokoke Scops Owl but we missed out on the orange morph (he slept in the forest overnight to locate a rufous morph bird - despite the A-S forest having good populations of Elephant and Buffalo!).
At Watamu I only had three days birding and wasted a day and a half at Sabaki Rivermouth and Mida Creek (a few Greater and Lesser Sandplover, a Terek Sandpiper and about 25 Crab Plovers -July is the worst month for waders with only a few non-breeders being present). I wished I had spent longer in the A-S Forest with David Ngala or his colleague Albert but working the A-S Forest requires a hotel departure at 05:45 to be in place for first light at 06:30 and our short stay a Watamu was supposed to be a relaxing beach break between the long days spent out on safari. Despite late starts and pressure of time David still found some great birds and I got excellent views of Yellowbill and Green Tinkerbird, two birds that have eluded me in the past!

The very best guides for the A-S Forest are David Ngala and his two colleagues Albert and Willy -who together have formed a small company called Spinetail Safaris. They charge about 1200 Kenyan Shillings for three hours guiding but don't have their own transport so you will need to organise this separately - perhaps through Jonathan Baya. Jonathan can certainly take you to Mida Creek and Sabaki and will know how well these sites are performing but I have to say that David Ngala is the best natural birder I have ever met by far - he has an intimate knowledge of the A-S Forest and knows all of the local birds by call/song.

Jonathan Baya: http://tracktours.weebly.com/index.html
Spinetail Safaris: http://www.spinetailsafaris.com/guides

Shimba Hills yielded some good views/photographic opportunities of birds I've struggled with in the past including Southern Banded Snake Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Kenya Crested Guinea Fowl and Trumpeter Hornbill as well as affording good views of Greater Galago (Bushbaby), African Civet, Blotched Genet and Marsh Mongoose -all from our table at the lodge restaurant where in the mornings a Fish Eagle comes for its morning bread roll (bread thrown into the adjacent waterhole attracts Tilapia which are then easy pickings for the Fish Eagle).

We also briefly visited Lake Jipe in the very south of Tsavo West NP on the Kenya/Tanzania border -what an incredible place for birding! The KWS have small self-catering cottages there and it is possible to hire a cook cheaply so we may visit for a few days in the future. The lake holds numerous birds including some very difficult species such as Lesser Moorhen and Lesser Jacana. We also came across some Wild Dog tracks on the road in Tsavo West just north of Lake Jipe - this whole area is rarely visited and demands more attention!

seedyrom
Wednesday 8th August 2012, 20:52
Just back from our Kenya trip. As I said previously, we used Jonathan Baya and tracktours.weebly.com. Jonathan and his son, James, picked us up from Nairobi airport and took us to our hotel and we then spent a week on a birding safari visiting Nairobi NP, Amboseli, Tsavo West, Sagala and Tsavo East. We then spent a week in Watamu. You couldn't meet nicer people than Jonathan and James. They will organise birding or safari holidays.Jonathan took care of all the details. All we had to do was to pay up and turn up! I haven't done our final list yet but we got loads of lifers including 10+ Secretay birds and a group of Clarks Weavers. We also spent a bit of time with David Ngala because he knew where to find the Scops Owl! Lovely man.

Steve G
Wednesday 8th August 2012, 21:25
Just back from our Kenya trip. As I said previously, we used Jonathan Baya and tracktours.weebly.com. Jonathan and his son, James, picked us up from Nairobi airport and took us to our hotel and we then spent a week on a birding safari visiting Nairobi NP, Amboseli, Tsavo West, Sagala and Tsavo East. We then spent a week in Watamu. You couldn't meet nicer people than Jonathan and James. They will organise birding or safari holidays.Jonathan took care of all the details. All we had to do was to pay up and turn up! I haven't done our final list yet but we got loads of lifers including 10+ Secretay birds and a group of Clarks Weavers. We also spent a bit of time with David Ngala because he knew where to find the Scops Owl! Lovely man.

Glad to hear that you saw some Clarke's Weavers as sightings have been few and far between in recent times.

David Ngala is indeed a really nice guy and knows tha A-S Forest like the back of his hand!

mike davidson
Sunday 16th September 2012, 17:46
Anne
first time back to NNP , after big twitch at lodmor , weymouth , ie the short-billed Dowitcher .

We managed well over 100 species in 6 + hours . Migrants returning were , Barn Swallows , Sandpipers etc

Mike



Just back from our Kenya trip. As I said previously, we used Jonathan Baya and tracktours.weebly.com. Jonathan and his son, James, picked us up from Nairobi airport and took us to our hotel and we then spent a week on a birding safari visiting Nairobi NP, Amboseli, Tsavo West, Sagala and Tsavo East. We then spent a week in Watamu. You couldn't meet nicer people than Jonathan and James. They will organise birding or safari holidays.Jonathan took care of all the details. All we had to do was to pay up and turn up! I haven't done our final list yet but we got loads of lifers including 10+ Secretay birds and a group of Clarks Weavers. We also spent a bit of time with David Ngala because he knew where to find the Scops Owl! Lovely man.

seedyrom
Thursday 20th September 2012, 11:01
Glad you enjoyed your big twitch! :)
I love Dorset. If I ever win enough to make it possible, I'd like to move there!

jiakery
Monday 22nd October 2012, 13:56
I also want to visit kenya for Safari. What are the recommendations about timing. I have girl friend with me. We want to visit next year. And kindly recommend some Safari travel agents as well .Somebody recommended us to go Kenya with Gane and Marshall (http://www.ganeandmarshall.com/) but they were not sure about the services of them. Anyhow kindly share with me other people experiences.

Robert L Jarvis
Sunday 28th October 2012, 15:39
Just back from our Kenya trip. As I said previously, we used Jonathan Baya and tracktours.weebly.com. Jonathan and his son, James, picked us up from Nairobi airport and took us to our hotel and we then spent a week on a birding safari visiting Nairobi NP, Amboseli, Tsavo West, Sagala and Tsavo East. We then spent a week in Watamu. You couldn't meet nicer people than Jonathan and James. They will organise birding or safari holidays.Jonathan took care of all the details. All we had to do was to pay up and turn up! I haven't done our final list yet but we got loads of lifers including 10+ Secretay birds and a group of Clarks Weavers. We also spent a bit of time with David Ngala because he knew where to find the Scops Owl! Lovely man.

What were the costs of your trip, would help if yopu could give broad details and how you organised it.

seedyrom
Monday 29th October 2012, 10:54
All the details are in my trip report, Robert. Available on Bird Forum. Basically organised it myself - booked our own flights and accommodation at Watamu. Left the rest to Jonathan.

mike davidson
Friday 16th November 2012, 15:23
Steve

to counter what you say about Nairoberry , have a look at my thread on birds and birding about The Urban Birder's visit to Nairobi. Too many people have a false view on what can be done here . Some very good bird guides can get you around Nairobi without difficulty

Mike


Forgot to add. Spending one or two nights in Nairobbery isn't much fun but there is a new lodge sitting on the edge of the National Park in close proximity to JKIA (where international flights land) and Wilsons (flights to the Mara, Malindi,etc) so no need to enter the city with its horrendous traffic problems.
Check out Emakoko: http://www.tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Review-g294207-d2407298-Reviews-The_Emakoko-Nairobi.html