Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?





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    Default Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?

    Going to Kenya soon to primarily climb Mt. Kenya. Afterwards I have rented a Hilux and am planning a road trip. The Mara is always nice, but as I haven't visited any other parks in Kenya but Mara and Nakuru, I figured I'd avoid the crowds in those parks and give one or two of the others a go... Being used to the solitude of the Kalahari I guess I am kind of looking for some of the same experienced and thought that Tsavo might provide some of that.

    Thus I am wondering if anyone in here has any tips or recommendations. What can I expect in the various parks? Is Tsavo worth a 4 day stay? Should I go to Amboseli or will it be crowded like MM? Are there any good, basic unfenced campsites for a self-sufficiant traveller like myself (I'm in no need of a restaurant or lodge or pool or anything like that) - Anything similar to CKGR campsites?

    In terms of sightings I'm not after ticking the boxes, more about the nature experience, although, I, like most I guess, appreciate a good cat or pachyderm sighting

    Essentially, I guess what I'm asking is simply (or "difficultly"?): What's it like in the various places (thinking primarily of Tsavo, Amboseli and maybe Aberdare)? What can I expect in terms of crowds, animals, roads, campsites...?

    Hope this isn't too vague or too much
    Regards
    Oystein

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    Default Re: Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?

    Oystein, what a lovely dilemma.


    From Mt.Kenya I would far rather visit Samburu National Reserve. The 120km from the nearby regional center of Nanyuki will take you less than 2 hours. The public campsite in Samburu, Riverside Campsite, is really lovely. If you have time to visit more than 1 reserve then add Meru National Park, the Bwatherongi Public Campsite is also great.


    We enjoyed these two more as a combination than Amboseli and the Tsavos, although all are good. The ones in the north have very interesting animal and bird varieties typical of the drier north, ones that you will not have seen in the Mara and Nakuru and will have vey few other visitors. Amboselli and Tsavo East are far busier.


    I presume you are renting out of Nairobi so the north from Mt Kenya will also be easier than the reserves in the east. After the Mara, Samburu was our favourite in Kenya. For more detail click on our our slow donkey blog below. If you have even more time then visit some of the Laikipia Conservancies, also convenient from Mt Kenya. We missed out on those.
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2016/03/14 at 12:29 AM.
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    Default Re: Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?

    Can this thread be moved to the Kenya section?

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    Default Re: Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?

    Thanks Stan! I will definitely consider Samburu then. The people at Kenya Wildlife Service said I shouldn't worry about bookings, that for the most part (at least for Tsavo), just showing up would be enough. So I figured this gives me some more freedom to move around when I'm there... being able to change the itinerary etc... What are the campsites like (No roof tent this time, only a small ground tent) in Samburu and Tsavo (I definitely prefer unfenced basic camps if possible... nothing beats being woken up by a leopard calling for a mate 3 meters from the tent opening, like I experienced in Mabuasehube four years ago )?

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    Default Re: Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?

    Oyshof, please be so kind and post a short trip report here after you return from Kenya. This forum section is not that vibrant, so any first hand info is more than welcome.

    I'm particularly interested in climbing part as well.
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    Default Re: Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?

    I certainly will. I'll also post a trip report on last year's roundtrips (Kalahari + northwest Namibia (Palmwag, Kunene, Etosha) roundtrips) once I have time to process all the photos.
    Last edited by oyshof; 2016/03/14 at 11:55 AM.

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    Default Re: Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?

    Quote Originally Posted by oyshof View Post
    Going to Kenya soon to primarily climb Mt. Kenya. Afterwards I have rented a Hilux and am planning a road trip. The Mara is always nice, but as I haven't visited any other parks in Kenya but Mara and Nakuru, I figured I'd avoid the crowds in those parks and give one or two of the others a go... Being used to the solitude of the Kalahari I guess I am kind of looking for some of the same experienced and thought that Tsavo might provide some of that.

    Thus I am wondering if anyone in here has any tips or recommendations. What can I expect in the various parks? Is Tsavo worth a 4 day stay? Should I go to Amboseli or will it be crowded like MM? Are there any good, basic unfenced campsites for a self-sufficiant traveller like myself (I'm in no need of a restaurant or lodge or pool or anything like that) - Anything similar to CKGR campsites?

    In terms of sightings I'm not after ticking the boxes, more about the nature experience, although, I, like most I guess, appreciate a good cat or pachyderm sighting

    Essentially, I guess what I'm asking is simply (or "difficultly"?): What's it like in the various places (thinking primarily of Tsavo, Amboseli and maybe Aberdare)? What can I expect in terms of crowds, animals, roads, campsites...?

    Hope this isn't too vague or too much
    Regards
    Oystein
    What I need to know first of all is what do you mean by going to Kenya "soon"? The long rains are about to break in Kenya (hopefully). If I know what time of year - hopefully, for your sake with climbing Mt Kenya, after the rains - then it will be easier to give advice.

    But, as Stan says, as you are going to be in the Mt Kenya area it would be best if you do a circuit in that area. The Laikipia plateau, Samburu and Meru are all wonderful places. I wouldn't advise you to attempt to get to Tsavo West, Tsavo East or Amboseli unless you are going to the Coast. That is not to say those parks aren't wonderful, but it would involve a lot of driving - and a lot of that being on the very busy and dangerous Nairobi to Mombasa road.

    The Laikipia plateau is predominately private game conservancies and these all have very luxurious (and quite expensive) lodges - e.g. Borana, Loisaba, Lewa Downs etc. They do not have campsites for independent travellers. However, Ol Pejeta does allow camping on the estate, I understand. Also, El Karama has a rather more rustic and affordable lodge which consists of bandas. If you look on the website of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum's tourism section at http://www.laikipiatourism.com/ then it will give you a taste for what is available in this fabulous area with Mt Kenya as the ultimate backdrop. However, if you will be there in the rains, these conservancies can be a challenge because of the black cotton soil.

    Samburu National Reserve is in the drier semi-arid area further north. It is a wonderful place with, as Stan says, animals adapted to that environment. Oryx, Grevy's zebra, reticulated giraffe and gerenuk.

    Shaba National Reserve is on the eastern side of the road to Marsabit - Samburu being on the western side - and comes highly recommended too.

    Meru National Park is on the eastern side of Mt Kenya and is a wonderful quiet park. There is a nice public campsite as Stan says. Meru is where Elsa of Born Free was released into the wild. It is a combination of open plains, thick bush, riverine forest, and the Tana River.

    So a good circuit would be - somewhere on the Laikipia (and you might need some luxury after climbing Mt Kenya); Samburu; Meru; and then continue from Meru round the eastern side of the mountain via Embu and back to Nairobi.

    Campsites in Kenya are not fenced - I actually can't think of any campsites in East Africa which are fenced. Fenced campsites are only to be found in southern Africa. But it does mean that you need to go equipped for wild camping as there are often limited or non-existent facilities. Which is what we like in East Africa...

    As for the Aberdare National Park, this is a wonderful place, but you will have "done" Afro-alpine moorlands on Mt Kenya. And you might want some warmth... Perhaps for another trip?

    Hope this helps.

    Ortelius, I wondered when you were going to visit "the creme de la creme"! Any questions, just fire away. I am Kenya born and bred, and we return to see my family there twice a year. If I don't know the answer, I know who does...
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2016/03/14 at 02:35 PM. Reason: Wrong website address

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    As for the Aberdare National Park, this is a wonderful place, but you will have "done" Afro-alpine moorlands on Mt Kenya. And you might want some warmth... Perhaps for another trip?
    I would agree with this - I love the Aberdares, but it is Afro-Alpine, and bloody cold at night. What sets it apart from the lowland parks is that (if you watch your back) there is some excellent trout fishing in the streams, the views across to Mount Kenya are unlike any other, you have an excellent chance of seeing elephants, lions, buff etc in very unusual scenery, and it is the only place in Africa I have seen a pure black, melanistic leopard.

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    Default Re: Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?

    Thanks again. This is very helpful.

    By soon, I mean really soon. Starting the Mt Kenya trek on Sunday, then going back to Nairobi next Wednesday to p. Everything is quite impulsive as I didn't know that it was doable until now. I am in Kenya partly visiting friends, but had quite a lot of time to do other things so I am hiking with a friend of a friend who runs a company and offered me a very good deal (the original price was a bit over my initial budget). As for the safari part I am fairly experienced when it comes to self drives in Southern Africa, but not at all in Eastern Africa. I will try to stear clear of any luxury and stay mostly in campsites if possible. Samburu sounds tempting, but is 4 days a decent amount of time in the park? Too little or too much?

    Although I have been there before I am still considering Masai Mara as an alternative if it is possible to do on a budget... however it'd be nice to see somewhere else this time around. As stated above the wilderness experience and possibly the chance of spending the nights in the bush, is more important than an abundance of animals (as long as they're there... that I know that there's a chance of seeing a predator, just being on the lookout is exciting).
    Last edited by oyshof; 2016/03/14 at 06:32 PM.

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    Default Re: Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?

    How does 1 night at Ol Pejeta + 2 or 3 nights in Samburu sound?

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    Default Re: Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?

    Four nights at Samburu are not too much. If I am not mistaken the road conditions will be reasonable and isolation is as good as you will find anywhere in Kenya. The fun about Samburu is the different game subspecies and you are very likely to be the only self-drivers in the reservation. It is very different to the Mara. With only 4 days keep it as simple as possible and concentrate on doing one area properly.


    The public campsite is lovely and facilities well above average for East Africa. Let us know what you end up doing and how you found it.
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2016/03/16 at 05:00 AM.
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    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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    Default Re: Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?

    Good luck with the climb of Mt Kenya. I hope the rains don't break while you are up there, but you will have an amazing time, I am sure. I presume you are going to Point Lenana, and not doing the technical climb to Batian.

    It sounds like after the climb on Mt Kenya you are going back to Nairobi to pick up a vehicle. That does make a difference to any advice. What you need now to decide is whether you want to drive all the way back to the Nanyuki and Mt Kenya area from Nairobi. Although this is a relatively easy drive...

    If you do decide to go back up to Nanyuki and then on to Samburu, then I would think that one night at Ol Pejeta, and 2-3 nights in Samburu will make a lovely circuit. If you have more time, then continue to Meru National Park and spend a couple of nights there. Then back to Nairobi via the route from Meru that I recommended via Embu and the eastern side of Mt Kenya - rather than going back through Nanyuki.

    However, it will take about 7 hours from Nairobi to the Mara - although the Mara is not a budget destination and I see that you have been there before. People will tell you how to do the Mara on a budget, but I can assure you that it will only disappoint if trying to do it on the cheap. That is not to say that the Mara is not the most amazing place, but if you camp outside the Reserve or the Conservancy, it will not be what you imagine it should and ought to be. If you go for the Mara, camp inside the Conservancy or the Reserve.

    If you are not experienced in driving in Kenya, please take it slowly and carefully and do not presume that other road users are aware of your existence - or aware of the rules of the road...

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    Default Re: Tsavo East/West, Amboseli, Aberdare, The Mara or...?

    Actually, it won't be expensive to get the hire company to deliver the vehicle to Nanyuki for you to collect when you come off the mountain. Much the best solution...

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