Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled





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    Default Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled - Trip Report

    We visited Kenya on October 2018 on a self drive trip. The trip has been on our horizon for quite sometime, but only now, after more then 15 years of African self driving we have accomplished this Kenyan counterpart .

    Direct flights from Lisbon to Nairobi do not exist. We have to connect somewhere. We normally use either London/ Heathrow or other European city for our African destinations. This time, we flew for the first time Turkish Airlines. Their timetable was quite favourable, and their rates even better! The only draw back was their flight back, as we had a very early morning flight from Nairobi to Istanbul (04:45 AM) with a 23hr stopover. Their Istanbul Stopover program (free accommodation or a free scheduled Tour) came up handy so that we could somehow discern how Turkey would sense - in this case Istanbul.

    Flight wise everything came out as expected, without any delays or any particular fortuities.


    The Car

    Lelo was the 79 series Land Cruiser rented from Roadtrip Africa (RA).

    Hiring a car in Kenya for a self drive is not a easy task, and quotes vary enormously, and the discrepancy does not necessarily reflect the quality of the hiring.Cars rented from RA are second hand cars adapted for self-driving and for a particular and immediate circumstance. So they do not have permanent adaptations, like storage drawers, fixed fridge, strapping points, … etc. The car itself, proved to be mechanically sound with some minor maintenance hiccups (more of this latter) that came along with all the wear and tear. The Odometer marked 275 395 Km, but we believe that the million figure was long past. The car was served by a double tank with a total capacity of 160 litre of fuel (>1 200 Km).

    Camping equipment, was basic but coherent. A roof top tent and a ground tent were asked, but we just ground camped. It was our first time on safari with a ground tent! An experience that we ought to repeat, on certain occasions!

    A complete and detailed report of the car was sent to RA with our impressions. At the end of the report one may ask if we would rent again from them? Probably and certainly yes if the Kenyan 4x4 rental service supply remain the same.


    The itinerary


    As for our first visit to any country, we try to establish some priorities as it would be our only trip in that particular country. Kenya was no different. With so much on offer and to see, we had to focus on our priorities : comprehensively cover 2-3 parks in a three week span and if possible on a loop circuit, departing from Nairobi. Maasai Mara was by far on the top of our intentions as a prime reserve in itself, and not less important, we were in migration time. Amboseli was our second priority for the scenery/ photographic opportunities. In Tsavo East we could be lucky and get to spot a few specials for us : gerenuk, Lesser kudu and if exceptionally blessed a Hirola!

    Having said that, the classical Kenyan route came up naturally: Nairobi - Masai Mara - Nairobi - Amboseli NP - Tsavo East and Tsavo West. A twist on this proven classic, was introduced: to reach Tsavo East via Lake Chala and Lake Jipe (Tsavo West) - through the roads less travelled.
    An inspiration taken from the excellent report by Wazungu Wawili on this same forum “ Kenya - On the roads less travelled”.

    For this, The Rough Guide to Kenya by Richard Trillo was essential reading. The Reise Know-How Verlag Kenia Map (1:950 000), T4A maps/ Base Camp/ Google Imagery (cross-matching) were also extremely useful and essential planning tools.

    Invaluable information was taken from various internet sources, particularly the excellent trip reports on this same forum by Wazungu Wawili, Stan Weakley (and his indispensable Slow Donkey account) and Ortelius.

    On the terrain, T4A (in a Garmin Montana 610 and Garmin Nuvi 2567 as back up) and the Reise map proved essential, useful and accurate. The app. maps.me was very seldomly used.
    A trip log was already submitted for T4A for minor data update.

    The Plan:

    Nairobi / Jungle Junction (1N)
    Maasai Mara - Mara Conservancy - Oloololo Public Campsite (3N)
    Maasai Mara - Mara Conservancy - Olarro Private Campsite (2 N);
    Nairobi - JJ - (1N)
    Amboseli NP - KWS Kimana Public Campsite (3N);
    Tsavo West - Lake Jipe (1N)
    Tsavo East - KWS Ndololo Public Campsite (3N)
    Tsavo West - KWS Chyulu Public Campsite (3N);
    Nairobi - JJ - (1N);

    In total we travelled 2 649 Km, 46% of which (1 214 Km) game driving, and spent 340,54 litre of diesel, averaging 12,86 l/100Km; Diesel was most expensive at Oilokitok and least in Nairobi.


    Nairobi

    We arrived at JKIA on schedule, at 2:15; Mr. Alexander, the driver from Jungle Junction (JJ) was waiting for us. By 3:30-4:00AM we were at JJ´s and dozed on their living room waiting for the day to rise.
    After meeting the always helpful and direct Chris, our host, we had a hearty and tasty breakfast and were showed to our room for the day.

    The car was delivered by Isaiah, the RA representative, before scheduled time.

    After all the formalities, we headed to The Hubb - a shopping mall in Karen district (S1ş19.167´ E36ş 42.268 ) with a nice Carrefour where we bought our supplies for the next eight days.
    Meat has been previously ordered through Chris, which he kindly ordered from his butcher and deep froze it for us. For lunch we sat at the Mall Carnivore (a satellite from the nearby original Carnivore) and experienced one of the worst meals for a long time. Indeed American BBQ flavoured meat is definitely not of our likings.

    Back at JJ´s, we packed and prepared the car for an early depart to the Mara next day.
    On Sundays, dinner service at JJ´s is not available, and so we ate some food previously bought at the Carrefour - some tasty samosas and spring rolls. While having supper, Chris advised us to leave Nairobi to the Mara past 9:00 AM, after the rush hour. Bedtime came early, and by 21:00 we were fast asleep.


    The Magnificent Maasai Mara


    As said, we departed from JJ´s just before 9:00AM and took the Langata Rd. - Dagoretti Rd - Southern Bypass - A104/B3 to Narok and then the C12 to Sekenani. After refueling at Mai Maihu we reached Sekenani gate around 15:00 hrs.

    Attentive driving is required on the truck heavy A104/ B3. After Narok one just gets into the graveled C12. The C12 is being upgraded by Chinese contractors and thus full of small detours. The road up to Ewaso Ngiro is old tarred and severely potholed. 33 km after the B3 turn, the new tar starts for the next 20km (ends before Mwisho Ya Lami). After that is gravel, slightly corrugated and potholed. Driving is slow but easy.

    We checked-in at Sekenani, but as we would stay at Oloololo Public Campsite, we paid at New Bridge Gate (Triangle/ Conservancy southern entrance gate). After having a quick leg stretch & bite for lunch we resumed our drive to the Conservancy. We were asked to give a lift to a guard that was returning to his camp. We reached New Bridge at 16:45 after a few game spotting stops on the way.

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    At New Bridge / Purungat Gate, we paid our fees for the next three days, camping on Oloololo Public Campsite. The extra two nights for the Olarro Private Campsite were to be paid at Oloololo Gate on the day of check-in at Olarro, i.e., 3 days after. All the fees were paid by Visa/ credit card.

    At Oloololo gate there were several items on sale like the excellent editions by David and Rosemary Watson - “Maasai Mara - the Mara Triangle Official guide” and the “The Great Maasai Mara Map”.

    We reached Oloololo Public Campsite at 18:15 (306Km).

    Sunset was approaching and we finished setting up camp just past dusk. Camp attendants came to visit us to check if everything was in order and had a quick and informal chat with them. Some firewood was ordered for the next three days (3 000KES), which was delivered next day. Collecting firewood inside the reserve is prohibited. So they should have time to bring it from the outside.
    After some canned food for dinner, we got into our ground tent!



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    The Mara experience!
    We camped in the Mara Conservancy for 5 nights. Camping in the Maasai Mara National Reserve (Maasai Mara Proper and Conservancy/ Triangle) is nowadays only allowed on the Triangle side (governed by the Maasai community). This was confirmed before the trip and locally on two occasions (at Sekenani and New Bridge Gates). In the Triangle (Conservancy) one is allowed to camp on three (3) public campsites (Oloololo, Eluai and Iseiya) and several Private/ Special Campsites (http://marabookings.co.ke ); Some of these Private Campsites can be booked only by Professional Operators or they may have a priority at certain times of the year.

    The booking of a private campsite requires the payment of a booking fee and the hiring of two guards for each night. One can also hire their services if staying on a public campsite, but that is not compulsory.
    Oloololo Campsite is the only Public Campsite with some facilities (cold showers, long drops and a kitchen shade) and hence our choice for the first three nights. For the last two nights we camped at Olarro Private Campsite. For these two special nights, we wanted to stay as close as possible to the “theoretical” major crossing points and as much South as possible. For this, one may choose only from two Private Campsites: either Kiboko or Olarro. Kiboko was already taken at time of our booking (28th May, 2018 ) .

    Oloololo Public campsite, is situated on the northwestern boundary of the reserve, just adjacent and downhill to the homonymous gate and guard quarters. It has limited shade, given by two huge and old acacia trees. The camp itself is spacious and with unlimited and astonishing views across the plains below. During the day, these are frequently visited by a whole myriad of animals (Elephant, Giraffe, Wildebeest, Zebra, Thomson´s, Impala, Eland, Lion, Hyena, Baboon, Banded Mongoose, Secretary bird, …) that one could just seat and watch. We were the only guests in camp.

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    The facilities are simple but kept clean and functional. Even toilet paper was available!

    On our first day in the Mara we had some car cleaning to do at the back. Some beers (3) in the fridge just got broken with all the bumping and rattling on the way in. There was no way we could strap that fridge down. Further, the fridge stopped working on the way. We expected the worst, but fortunately there was just a bad connection into the inverter, that was promptly solved. Of course that most of the meat we brought has thawed out. In good time we decided to leave at JJ`s part of the meat for the second half of the trip!

    Weather wise we were very lucky. We just had a few showers on our first day. Thereafter, we did get stupendous clear morning skies that would build up during the day but it never actually rained. That only first rainy day was enough for us to get the feeling how it would be to drive on those famous slippery murram roads. We almost got stuck accessing Dirisha Private Campsite. The low range and diff lock got us out!

    During the course of the five days, we actually game drove around 630Km exploring a great part of the Eastern side (along the Mara) of the Conservancy. The Conservancy ´s western side (west to the Main road/ escarpment side) was just visited once on our last afternoon. A place to be definitely revisited on our next visit to the Mara.The Maasai Mara Proper (Narok side) was not explored (apart from the occasional d-tour on the way in and out), as we had so much to see in the Conservancy.

    We were extremely blessed with our time in the Mara. For the first time in our lives we felt a full migration, a life giving phenomenon that sustains the whole ecosystem. What an experience! Thousands and thousands of Wildebeest, Zebra and the whole animal procession that follow the rhythm. An image that will perdure on our memories forever.
    Herds could be found everywhere and constantly moving. A place we would spot thousands, next day would be devoid of the beasts.Two main migration routes could be discerned: either congregating East towards the River or moving Southwest in the direction of Kogatende region in the Serengeti. Nevertheless, on those five days in the Mara we did not witness any major crossing. Approaching rains were keeping the herds in the Mara.

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    The first three nights in Oloololo were busy and loud.

    Activity abounded in and around camp. Our senses could not be more awaken. Wildebeest, Zebra, Buffalo, Hyena, and Lion in the distance….;

    On our third night, we had dinner in the company of a huge herd of wildebeest and zebra that have joined a herd of buffalo stationed before. That constant wildebeest chorus was enchanting. The evening was particularly peaceful and quite. Well into the night (can not precise the timing) a first and gentle ground rumble was felt in camp, interspersed with some antelope vocalizations (wildebeest and zebra). The dog (a Black Labrador Retriever belonging to the Dog Tracker Unit) in the kennel adjacent to the guards premisses, just started barking intermittently.
    After a few minutes of serenity, and when we thought we would fall into sleep, a sudden and massive rumble was felt and the ground was shaking like on an earthquake. We were not sure what it was until we realized that it should have been a mass movement from the herd as a strong smell of heavily stepped fresh grass invaded the tent as wave. A crying and agonizing vocalization was heard. A kill had happened! Suddenly everything was quite again, with just a few zebra vocalizations that eventually faded out. The remaining night was peaceful.

    In the following morning as we drove from camp, less than 200 meters into main road there it was: the still fresh remnants of an adult wildebeest and some lions (one adult male and three juveniles) still feeding surrounded by a wake of expecting Vultures. The adolescent cats were practicing their defending/ hunting skills, giving them “Keep away” runs. We later learned that, that particular pride, is the biggest in the Mara, 17 lions in total, and go by the name of Oloololo Pride. This is Mara at its best.

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    The following two nights, at Olarro, were calm and restful - guards were keeping us from trouble, after all!!!

    Olarro campsite is just a small clearing in the small and patchy riverine forest, at the western Mara´s river bank. The views into the river itself are quite obliterated by the vegetation and by the hight altitude of the margin. However, the views across the river to the opposite hills made up for all the rest. We just sat and enjoyed our sundowners/ dinner around a nice fire, watched the wildlife in front and listened to the hippo´s grunts and roars downriver. The early evenings were passed chatting with the guards enjoying a nice cup of coffee and some biscuits.
    We had two different “sets”of guards for the two nights. They generally arrived between 18:30 - 19:30 and left around 6:00 in the morning. Payment for the night was done directly to them, in cash, and always in the following morning. They were never intrusive, and always keen to help if needed. Excellent service and a fine way to help the Conservancy and boost their missionary enthusiasm.


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    On the first Olarro morning drive and while stopped at one sighting we were kindly approached by a guard patrol checking if everything was in order. While having the conversation, they happened to know where we were camping, from where we had come and when we were supposed to leave Mara. At our mid- morning break at Purungat gate we met them again and asked how did they know all that specific, precise and correct information. They said that everything was on their system, through our car registration plate. We just congratulate them for their good work.

    One final word about the Mara: Roads. The Conservancy roads are by far much easier and relaxed to drive, when compared to the Narok side (highly corrugated and not that easy). In fact, it was the only place (Conservancy) where we saw some active work being done on road maintenance.

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    We have just found people eager to help, highly motivated and engaged on their conservation effort. It seems to us, that the Conservancy is really doing an excellent job in preserving one of the best Kenya´s legacies, and this should be highly commended. At least we know where some of the money we pay, goes. Congratulations.

    Time is never enough at the Mara. Unfortunately we had to leave to our next destination : Amboseli National Park, via Nairobi.
    Last edited by apfac; 2018/11/25 at 11:12 PM. Reason: adding one photos;

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Asante sana, apfac. I have been eagerly waiting for this trip report.

    Oh, to be in the Mara now that November is here in the northern hemisphere... Thank you for transporting me back to my beloved Kenya - and thank you for your nice comments.

    PS: I am not so sure that Chris is correct about leaving JJs after 9.00 am. The rush hour is going into Nairobi, and I always think it is best to have a cushion for the unforeseen on a journey. We always leave Karen just after first light, and then go with the flow down the escarpment. After that the road to Narok isn’t that busy.

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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Hi WW,

    Glad I have managed to transport you to your beloved Kenya.

    Leaving JJ´s at first light was our firs intention, but Chris have conviced us otherwise. Yes you are right, just incase something had happened we would not have managed to get to Oloololo in time. It was just in time to pitch camp.

    Apologies for the small size of the photos. Somehow, and do not why, I am not managing to put them on a larger size. I will try on future installments.

    Asante sana.

    AP

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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    To those who haven’t access to our exemplary BBC, look out for the latest series from the Planet Earth team and David Attenborough called “Dynasties”. Tonight’s episode was on lions all filmed in the Mara. It will make grown men weep (as did the one on Emperor Penguins). The film crew were in the Mara following the Marsh Pride for over a year.

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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    "Dynasties" is currently running on our satellite TV African program, great I agree!

    Apfac, looking forward to sharing the rest of your Kenyan experiences.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    2 - Mara - Nairobi


    We broke camp at 6:40 and by 07:10 we were at New Bridge Gate. At 9:15 we were exiting Sekenani and back tracking to Narok/Nairobi. At 11:15 we were refueling at the Shell station in Narok. We reached Nairobi around 15:30-16:00, two hours later than expected.


    The reason for the delay was a road block/ demonstration organized by the Maasai community approximately 30Km past Narok, just before the Ncc stop Checkpoint (T4A marker) i.e., between Ntulele and Olasit villages. Reason unknown to us. Piles of tyres were burning in the middle of the National Road (B3). No car would pass through, up or down. Traffic chaos surged within minutes. Cars just started to accumulate on every single space available, including “all” side lanes. Police arrived after one hour waiting, and within another hour / hour and a half we managed to resume our journey.


    The climb of Rift valley escarpment is far more dangerous than the descending route due to the coming traffic, but perfectly doable. The views from the top are great.
    Once in Nairobi, on our way to JJ´s, we went directly to the Hubb Mall to resupply and had some samosas and spring rolls for lunch at the Mall´s courtyard. Back at JJ´s, rearranged the car for next day, ate dinner and went to bed early. We have rented a room for the night.



    Nairobi - Amboseli National Park


    We left JJ´s at 08:40 after a hearty and tasty breakfast and took the Karen - Ngong - Kiserian - Insinya direction, reaching the A104 at 10:40. The road from Ngong onwards turns into mostly gravel and is not in good condition. It is being upgraded, with quite a few deviations and traffic from the road works. From Insinya( A104) to Namanga is perfect tar all the way.

    We refueled at Namanga and had a quick lunch break at the old colonial River Hotel.

    We were on the road at 13:05 towards Amboseli NP (Meshanani Gate) and took the C103. The C103 is on a deplorable state, rivaling with famous B144 accessing Seronera in the Serengeti, Tanzania. Highly corrugated and no soft spot could be reached in safety with a long body LC. We took 2:10 hrs to reach the Gate 42 km after. During this time no car has crossed our way. In fact we were the second visitors crossing that gate at 15:30 on that day. Guards told us that most of the traffic into Amboseli is now being done through the main Kimana gate.

    Effects of these would soon be felt!


    Nevertheless, the views across the C103 are astonishing as one starts to climb into Amboseli buffer zone. It would be nice to have a maintained road and enjoy the beautiful scenery.



    Amboseli National Park


    Once within the park, the C103 improves just a little, but still, is by far, the road in the worst state. All the other game driving roads / circuits are of a much better quality, allowing easy and joyful driving. Actually we also saw some active maintenance road works being performed by the KWS stuff in the Park, except on the C103. This is of the responsibility of the Government, we were told.

    After paying our fees (Credit Card/Visa) at the gate for the next 3 nights, we resumed the journey towards KWS Kimana Public Campsite (in the park, not to be confused with the homonymous campsite, outside). We reached camp around 17:00 (253 Km after JJ´s) enjoying our first game drive. On the way and just after crossing the gate we were rewarded with our very first Gerunuk. What a beautiful animal and sighting.

    The Amboseli lake had plenty of water due to the previous abundant rainy season.

    Kimana Public Campsite, is situated on the Southeastern periphery of the park, next to the Kimana Gate, on the way to the Park Headquarters and KWS Bandas, offering quite a good view of Kilimanjaro.


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    The camp, has ample space for camping and offers some basic facilities: a kitchen roundavel (locked and fenced - Baboon proof) and a well kept toilet/ washroom compound (Western style). Some shade is provided by some old and tall Acacia trees interspersed by some shrubby Acacia like vegetation. There are some electricity/plug-in points around camp and some floodlights that can be used if needed.

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    Although the camp is wood fenced from the neighbouring Kimana community and Setrim Lodge access road, apart from some cars running along the road at certain times of the day (understandably early morning and late afternoon), we were not disturbed by any noise. The nights were calm and peaceful with the distant chorus of some hyena and lion.
    The camp is frequently visited by baboons, so that Lucy, the camp attendant, advised us to put the tent down in the morning, so that it could not get destroyed/ jumped upon by the troop.
    On our first night we met an young American post-graduate student (Michael), doing some free-lance work on communal grazing land. Fascinating and captivating work. We kept each other in company for the next three nights having interesting conversations around the fire. Aside from Michael and of course Kilimanjaro, there were some more occasional camping visitors to the campsite but just for one night stands.
    On the course of the two days, we explored quite comprehensively (242 km game driving) the most southern part of the park (Olodoare Plains, Oltukai, Longinye Swamp, Observation Hill Swamp area, Lake Kioko and surroundings). We were very fortunate with the sightings: Lion, Lioness moving a few days old cub, Cheetah, Hyena, Serval, a profusion of waterbirds, and of course the magnificent elephants of Amboseli with the Kilimanjaro backdrop.





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    On our first morning drive in Amboseli and while already returning to the Oltukai region for a mid morning brake, we noticed a strong diesel smell coming from the outside. This smell intensified on the next sighting stop. We decided to inspect and noticed a leakage from one of the fuel lines that came out from the accessory fuel tank. We drove to the Oltukai Public parking and inspected closely. After some enquiries around (and after having permission from the rental company - RA), a maintenance worker drove us to the only available mechanic, at Serena Lodge which promptly and fortunately solved the problem. A heat melted pipe coming out from the tank was ruptured. Common car wear and tear. Paid 1500+ generous tip KES for the job. Left Serena at 11:00 and ready for our afternoon drive. Lucky us!




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    Sadly, on our third morning we had to farewell Amboseli NP and move on to one of our expected highlights of the trip - Lake Jipe in Tsavo West.



    3. Amboseli - Lake Jipe



    After an early wake up, we were on the road at 6:40. Took the C103 (in a better state than the western counterpart) to the main tarred C102 (Emali Rd.) to Oilokitok.



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    At 8:00 we were refueling at Kobil fuel station, and noticed a small oil/ grease leak from the left rear gasket, that started to show some centrifuge spillage.
    Later, at Lake Jipe, we cleaned the spillage and applied some Putty paste I always carry in my mechanical emergency kit.

    From Oilokitok we took Laset - Rombo- Chala- Timbila (Taveta Road turn), a gravel/dirt road transversing agricultural land with some small villages on the way, people attending their fields and carrying with their everyday life, kids going/ coming from school, etc… . What a pleasant, joyful and easy drive. On the first km after Oilokitok the road is slightly corrugated but then improves enormously to a soft type of terrain until Lake Chala.

    Kili kept us in company during all the way.




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    One of the goals of this route was to visit Lake Chala. Unfortunately, after two failed attempts to drive up to Lake Chala crater rim (both access ways) we resumed our journey to Lake Jipe. Both access roads to the crater rim are quite serious 4x4 driving, and I did not want to force it on Lelo, our LC.


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    We reached Lake Chala at 10:15; at 11:00 we were at Taveta Road, and at 11:50 we were at the Lake Jipe entrance gate (141 Km past).

    The road from Taveta to Lake jeep runs on soft murram ground, with some patches of deep sand/ loose soil, alternated with some deep ditches/ washouts and detours, that one must be careful about. The drive is easy and fun. We tried to visit Grogan´s Castle but was closed. Our plans for a lunch break were postponed for Lake Jipe.

    The camp is on an idyllic setting by the lake, with extensive views into the Pare Mountains in Tanzania. We camped beside the KWS bandas, under the shade of an old Acacia tree. At time of arrival an elephant family was bathing just in front. We used the kitchen facilities adjacent to the bandas. The toilets / showers were kept clean and functional. Actually we had our best shower of the whole trip.



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    After a relaxing early afternoon, we took a boat ride on the lake (arranged with the guards/ 2600 KES for two / 1-1,5 hr) which we highly recommend.
    Regretfully, next day we had to move to Tsavo East and carry on with our planned itinerary.

    We paid our fees in the morning, as the Visa terminal was not working and we did not have either Mpesa or a Safari card.

    We could either back track to Timbila or transverse through the park in order to reach the Maktau area on the A23 ( Taveta Road). Under the advise of the guards, we followed the transverse road to Maktau Gate, and we could not decide better. It was one of our most memorable rides during the whole trip : scenery, driving pleasure and of course game sighting wise.
    Martin the officer in charge, and Olare the ranger were extremely helpful.

    ( To be continued...)


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  12. #7
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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Hi apfac,

    thanks for posting this comprehensive trip report with magnificent fotos! Kenya has been on my bucket list since I was 15 and sooner or later we shall visit this beautiful country.

    I do not want to interfere with your report but may I ask you one question that it is of utmost importance for us? How is your experience with the amount of game drivers in the Mara? A few weeks ago I read 2 reports on the german speaking Namibia Forum. They were in the Mara on a guided trip (not sure if in the Conservancy or the other part) in September / October and they honestly told about their terrible experience with wildebeest beeing harassed at the river crossings and cheetah beeing followed too closely by game drive vehicles who wanted their clients to get to best fotos etc.

    They both took incredible fotos during their stay but said that they constantly suffered this inner conflict of enjoying so much incredible wildlife and seeing them being harassed by game drivers.

    Pls. feel free to PM if you feel that a reply would interfere in any way with your wonderful report. Thanks a lot!

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  14. #8
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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Quote Originally Posted by Anne_W View Post
    Hi apfac,

    thanks for posting this comprehensive trip report with magnificent fotos! Kenya has been on my bucket list since I was 15 and sooner or later we shall visit this beautiful country.

    I do not want to interfere with your report but may I ask you one question that it is of utmost importance for us? How is your experience with the amount of game drivers in the Mara? A few weeks ago I read 2 reports on the german speaking Namibia Forum. They were in the Mara on a guided trip (not sure if in the Conservancy or the other part) in September / October and they honestly told about their terrible experience with wildebeest beeing harassed at the river crossings and cheetah beeing followed too closely by game drive vehicles who wanted their clients to get to best fotos etc.

    They both took incredible fotos during their stay but said that they constantly suffered this inner conflict of enjoying so much incredible wildlife and seeing them being harassed by game drivers.

    Pls. feel free to PM if you feel that a reply would interfere in any way with your wonderful report. Thanks a lot!
    I know I ought not to pre-empt or interfere with apfacÂ’s wonderful report, but I want to make this clear. I too read a report about harassment at river crossings, but the report I read was in the Serengeti side in Tanzania. That is not to say that there arenÂ’t unscrupulous drivers on the Kenyan side, but those incidents in Kenya normally only happen in the Narok side of the Maasai Mara where the authorities do not monitor sightings and river crossings. The Mara Conservancy (Triangle) side of the Maasai Mara is well managed and rangers in small Maruti jeeps monitor river crossings and sightings of predators.

    As apfac has acknowledged in his wonderful report, the Mara Conservancy rangers were friendly, helpful, and motivated. The President has agreed that the whole of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve should be managed by the Mara Conservancy. LetÂ’s hope this comes to pass.

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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Thank you, apfac, for this wonderful installment on your trip from the Mara back to Nairobi, and then on to Amboseli and Lake Jipe. So glad all went well, Kili was out in all its glory, and you had a good time on the roads less travelled!

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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Wow, apfac, what a magnificent trip you've had in Kenya! I'm so glad, it obviously was a total success. Your excelent naration and superb photos have simply translocated me back to that wonderfull country in my mind. And congratulations to have the courage to take those really seldom used roads between Amboseli and Tsavo West via lake Jeepe. This part is now firmly set very high on our bucket list.

    Eagerly waiting for your next installments. Asante sana!
    24 hours in a day.... 24 beer in a case.... Coincidence?
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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    “For lunch we sat at the Mall Carnivore (a satellite from the nearby original Carnivore) and experienced one of the worst meals for a long time. Indeed American BBQ flavoured meat is definitely not of our likings.”

    This made me laugh out loud. You should have asked and I would have told you where to go for lunch. Lots of lovely places in Karen outside the dreaded shopping malls.

    Where the Hub shopping mall now is was the most lovely old house in a beautiful garden with horse paddocks belonging to childhood friends of mine and my parents. It breaks my heart to see these ubiquitous malls in what had been countryside, but times move on...
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2018/11/28 at 01:34 AM.

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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Quote Originally Posted by Anne_W View Post
    Hi apfac,

    thanks for posting this comprehensive trip report with magnificent fotos! Kenya has been on my bucket list since I was 15 and sooner or later we shall visit this beautiful country.

    I do not want to interfere with your report but may I ask you one question that it is of utmost importance for us? How is your experience with the amount of game drivers in the Mara? A few weeks ago I read 2 reports on the german speaking Namibia Forum. They were in the Mara on a guided trip (not sure if in the Conservancy or the other part) in September / October and they honestly told about their terrible experience with wildebeest beeing harassed at the river crossings and cheetah beeing followed too closely by game drive vehicles who wanted their clients to get to best fotos etc.

    They both took incredible fotos during their stay but said that they constantly suffered this inner conflict of enjoying so much incredible wildlife and seeing them being harassed by game drivers.

    Pls. feel free to PM if you feel that a reply would interfere in any way with your wonderful report. Thanks a lot!

    Hi Anne,

    Thank you very much for your kind remarks.

    We have just visited the Conservancy as you read on our report, so I can not comment on the Narok Side. At least in the Conservancy, Rangers were/are indeed actively monitoring major sightings, like predators, river crossings, etc. But apart from this, they cannot be omnipresent at all times.
    It will depend on "us" visitors to have a sensible attitude while visiting the area. This is one of joys if you are driving yourself. If you are being driven, that might be different, as those professional guides have to " deliver" sightings to their paying guests , and that, pushes them, sometimes, off limits. Per example, at one certain time there were, near a major crossing point, a few cars (5+) parked, waiting for some action to happen. We sensed that this was disturbing the herd, and so we moved on. At the end, we came to know, that crossing never materialized.

    Answering directly to your question, We have never experienced/ saw any sort of serious harassment to the wildlife. You can expect a few more cars at some sightings, but they never misbehaved. Again, I emphasize " common sense" should be the norm in respecting wildlife.

    Asante Sana!

    AP

    PS. : Totally agree with WW remarks. In the Serengeti, that was a completely different story. They surely are not that vigilant. What have struck us most in 2016, was the amount of off road tracks. Those will perdure for a long time and we might have a problem in the future regarding the maintenance of such a delicate ecosystem.

    Let me show you an example of something that I cannot understand while visiting a beautiful natural park like the Mara. Indeed times are changing...

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    Last edited by apfac; 2018/11/28 at 01:11 AM.

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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Quote Originally Posted by ortelius View Post
    " .... And congratulations to have the courage to take those really seldom used roads between Amboseli and Tsavo West via lake Jeepe. This part is now firmly set very high on our bucket list.

    Eagerly waiting for your next installments. Asante sana!

    Hi Ortelius,

    Thank you very much for the kind remarks.

    Lake Jipe : Definitely a must go. It will be a ride you will never forget. Further we found the southern part of Tsavo West so different and easier to drive that Lake Jipe can easily be taken as abase for that exploration. Give it a serious thought!

    Safari njema. Asante sana

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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    “For lunch we sat at the Mall Carnivore (a satellite from the nearby original Carnivore) and experienced one of the worst meals for a long time. Indeed American BBQ flavoured meat is definitely not of our likings.”

    This made me laugh out loud. You should have asked and I would have told you where to go for lunch. Lots of lovely places in Karen outside the dreaded shopping malls.

    Where the Hub shopping mall now was the most lovely old house in a beautiful garden with horse paddocks belonging to childhood friends of mine and my parents. It breaks my heart to see these ubiquitous malls in what had been countryside, but times move on...

    Hi WW,

    Tonight I just had finished having my supper, and we had some grilled / brai pork ribs. As we were having those I actually mentioned how different these were from the ones we had at Carnivore! Moments later I was checking this installment of yours. This made us laugh.

    Well, on a very near future I will certainly ask you for some advise!

    Thank you again for your kind remarks.

    AP

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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Quote Originally Posted by apfac View Post
    Hi Ortelius,

    Thank you very much for the kind remarks.

    Lake Jipe : Definitely a must go. It will be a ride you will never forget. Further we found the southern part of Tsavo West so different and easier to drive that Lake Jipe can easily be taken as abase for that exploration. Give it a serious thought!

    Safari njema. Asante sana
    My work is done! We have another convert to the glories of Kenya!

    Asante sana, apfac.

    It has been a great pleasure to see Kenya through your eyes - although I still look forward to the next installments.

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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    3. Lake Jipe - Tsavo East

    We left Lake Jipe around 7:00 and reached Maktau Gate at 9:00, 46km later. The red murram road was soft and a pleasure to drive. Special sightings to refer were our very first Ear-fringed Oryx , and a coalition of 4 adult male lions lying on the roadside.


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    Once at A23, we reached Voi Town at 10:20, riding on a good tarred road.
    In Voi we refueled at Total main station (Mombasa Rd) and went into town to resupply on bread, beverages and charcoal. No luck with the ever elusive charcoal. So we got back to Total and bought some fresh bread and the beverages. We had two samosas each, for “brunch” - wow! The best samosas we had for a very, very long time.

    Back on track, we checked-in at Voi Gate (paid our fees by Visa) for the next three nights at Ndololo Public Campsite. We reached camp at around 12:00, 122km past Lake Jipe.


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    At camp we were immediately met by Enok Makori, the camp attendant, which promptly offered for the provision of firewood for the next three nights. With the help of two askaris he kept the camp clean, organized, and most importantly secure and safe from the occasional raids of baboons and vervets. Elephants would also cross frequently camp, on their way to a nearby waterhole in the derelict Ndololo Safari Camp.
    The camp can accommodate quite a number of camping guests, under the shade of some tall magnificent trees (?). It is serviced by a good kitchen compound and well kept, clean ablution/ cold showers block.


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    The camp is used during the day by professional tour operators on their visit to the park serving as a base to use the toilets/ simply for a mid day or lunch break.




    We stayed at Ndololo from Thursday to Sunday, and thus the number of guests rose as the weekend approached. Mombasa or Nairobi, after all, are just a few driving hours away.
    On a particular night, Friday, three families (1 group) arrived very late, well past dusk; They pitched next to us, and were obviously quite excited. Well into the night, they were still enlivened and noisy; After a long and loud Shhhhh from Virginia they got quite, and progressively calmed down and went to bed. Next day they were looking awkwardly to us! but things improved after breaking some ice!
    After that, the night sounds could be heard : some zebras, a distant lion roar, bush babies and some birds.
    The nights at camp were calm, peaceful and uneventful.
    We explored Tsavo East, mostly around the Aruba Dam circuits, making an incursion North to the Galana River area (Luggard´s Falls - through sign posts 102 - 159 right turn river Rd. - 163 towards 107-105) on our first full day in the Park.

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    On this same day, at the end of the afternoon game drive and at the end of the second river loop, one driver from another car gave us notice that one of the belts that holds the accessory tank was broken and the tank has slightly dropped. Got into main road and checked.
    Drove very slowly to camp and spoke to Enock. After a few phone calls, the only alternative was to get some mechanics/ welder from the outside to come over or simply go there if possible. The KWS mechanic was off duty/ on leave.

    A mechanic from outside was arranged and he predisposed himself to come over and check, early next day, to weld it. See how it goes!....

    Next day, Saturday morning, we were stuck in camp waiting for the mechanic. After a 6 hrs wait, a few phone calls in between and excuses after excuses, we decided to act and try to pass a tight rope around the tank and push it up, try to drive to town and have it checked and welded.

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    With the help of another driver, we succeeded to lift the tank with the help of the car jack and pass two spare tightening ropes (brought along on my emergency Kit), around the tank.


    Secured, we slowly drove to Voi, through the always corrugated C103. Tried Toyota garage but it was Saturday and was closed. Then went to a small secondary Total Station, just in front of the gate turn off. From there the mechanic on duty told that there was no welder available, but guided me to a welder next door. Very nice, capable and honest man. Problem was solved with 800 KES; paid 2000 KES - Welding job with reinforcement and a new holding screw (Workshop: GPS : S 3ş 23.367´; E 38ş 34.305´);

    Previously an estimation of 10 000 KES was given by the ever elusive mechanic !!!.

    The belt broke because of a loose screw/ thread worn off, and with so much corrugation and twisting, just broke. It has been welded before in the same place, but the screw was never replaced.

    After an hour / hour and a half or so, we decided to go back to the main Total station on Mombasa road, and had those fabulous samosas for lunch again.

    We were ready for our afternoon game drive! Went back to Camp, told Enock that the problem was solved and off we went for the afternoon drive.

    We had planned to explore the southern (Ndara, Dika and Maungu) plains on this last day at Tsavo East, but our initial plans had to be changed accordingly. So we just had time to explore a small circuit around the upper part of Ndara plains towards Aruba Dam and back to Camp.
    After speaking with Enock, learnt again, that the main roads (even within the park) make part of the national network (leading to main gates), so they are of government responsibility. All the other secondary roads/ game roads are KWS responsibility, and these are indeed in a much better state.
    We game drove a total of 354Km in Tsavo East. We saw a lot with a special remark for our first Lesser Kudu, Vulturine Guinea fowl and lots of Gerenuk and Kirk’s Dik Dik couples,


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    Lamentably we had to move to our next destination - Tsavo West - Developed area / Chyulu Campsite.
    Confidence on Lelo was not that high. The end of the trip was coming and we still had Tsavo West. We decided, as initially planned, to leave Tsavo East through Manyani Gate. But instead of getting into Tsavo West through the C103 (Tsavo Gate), we planned to drive all the way to Mtito Andei, through the “safest” (least traumatic road for the car) road, and take the opportunity to check tyres and that still permanent leakage on the rear left gasket. It was Sunday and traffic was not that intense.

    Tsavo West

    We left Ndololo at 6.40 towards Mudanda Rock / Manyani gate;

    Nice, easy and pleasurable drive. Good Red murram road, occasionally corrugated around hilly rocky sections; Spectacular scenery and saw plenty (four lionesses on a kill, and a little bit further five more walking, hyena, Lesser Kudu, and of course, the always cute and shy Kirk´s Dik Dik).


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    Reached Mudanda Rock at 8:20. The views from Mudanda are simply impressive into the the Yatta Plateau. The natural dam bellow is a magnet for a large variety of animals : giraffe drinking, zebra, gerenuk, waterbuck, Grant´s gazelle, Baboons, Guinea Fowl, storks, Cormorants, etc…;



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    At 9:30 we were checking out at Manyani Gate. Got towards Mtito Andei; Once at Mtito Andei went to the Shell station and had tyres checked due to loss of pressure on RF wheel; A slow puncture was detected and repaired. Tyre pressure was leveled on all four wheels and spares.The gasket had one of the screws worn out/ thread lost. That was removed and the others tightened. Paid 700KES;

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    At 11:15 we were checking in at Mtito Andei Gate, paid our fees for the next three days (by Visa) and got on our way to Chyulu Public Campsite.


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    Leaving the gate to Chyulu, we experienced one of the most distressing views of the whole trip : a Kirk´s Dik Dik lying dead on the highly corrugated road that exits the gate towards the main C103 in the park. It was run over by a car.


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    One of the consequences of speeding in order to get into the soft driving spot. Well, well over the 50 Km speed limit. This type of occurrence is totally non acceptable in a park.

    As expected the C103 was on a horrible deteriorated state.
    We reached Chyulu campsite around 13:00 (133 km past Ndololo).
    Entrance to the camp is through a “tyre mine field”, disguised in the form of a loose rocky and pointy lava bed. Glad we had the tyres checked before entering the park.We were immediately met by Peter (the camp attendant) which promptly offered the provision of some firewood for the next three nights.
    Only on our first night in camp we had the company of other guests (we met on the first night at Ndololo). For the rest we were alone.
    The camp is on a clearing, surrounded by thick vegetation. Places designated for camping (8-9) are located on the periphery, under some thatched shelters. Nice and clean ablution/ cold shower block in the centre with 4 washing sinks on the sides (2 on each).


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    On our second evening, and while busy lighting a fire and having our sundowner, a hyena came into camp just 10m away from us, silently and stealthy from the bushes behind. If I was not looking in that direction I would not have noticed her; Went straight to the fire place where the previous visitors have cooked their meal; probably the scent of grilled meat attracted it. During that night several hyenas visited camp. It was a noisy and lively (and lovely!) night.

    We managed to explore the central part of the “Developed “ section of Tsavo West : Mzima Springs, Chaimu Crater, Roaring Rocks, Rhino Valley etc..; 143 Km were driven.

    Again, as one gets away from the C103 into non rocky parts, the roads get better with softer ground. The only exception was the access road to Mzima springs. The road is cut through some rocky hills and the drive is not that soft. Some local people visiting the Springs, on a sedan vehicle, were busy having their tyre changed due to a puncture on the way.
    The park itself is exceedingly scenic and beautiful. Kilaguni Lodge and its excellently positioned verandah offers great views of the mountains with Kilimanjaro as a backdrop. Having there an afternoon drink can be rewarding.


    Click image for larger version. 

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    Game is in fact harder to spot, but highly rewarding. On the way to Mzima we did spot our only leopard for the trip.



    Tsavo West to Nairobi


    We woke up to a rainy and dark day and decided to leave the park one day earlier to Nairobi. Several constraints have pushed us into this decision: the state of the Lelo (still had the gasket worrying us), the weather and ultimately the road conditions.

    Original plan was to leave through C103 towards Kimana / C102. But playing the safety issue, we decided to take the Mombasa Road to Nairobi.

    At 8:30 we were checking out from Mtito Andei; At the gate learnt that we could not use the extra day fees we paid, at Nairobi National Park. We could only use that credit on Tsavo West which was a pity.

    Took the Mombasa highway. We had expected heavier traffic, but the recklessness of truck drivers made for the lack of it. It is amazing how they force their way, while overtaking without having any visibility on upcoming vehicles.

    At 10:20 hrs we crossed the original planned road - the Emali- Kimana Rd (C102) and at 12.30 we were entering Nairobi. JJ was reached and at 13:10 (264km after); Encountered more and busier traffic from Athi River onwards which jammed up near the airport. Once at the Southern Bypass it was quick to reach JJ´s.

    The trip was done mostly under a drizzling/ rainy sky, that increased as we approached the higher altitude of Nairobi. After Athi River noticed that did not have a working hooter. We did not use it for a single time, and probably would not need it.

    Finally at JJ´s we had lunch and rested for a while. After freeing the car from our belongings, we had them cleaned from the fine red dust. Took a room and rested for the remaining of the day.

    On our last day, after breakfast, vacated the room, went to refill the car and had it delivered around 15:00. Everything wrong was pointed out to Isaiah the RA representative.

    Spent a lazy rainy day at JJ´s preparing our flight home; Alex took us to the airport around midnight; flight at 04.45 in the morning.




    Conclusion:



    Kenya has surpassed our best expectations for such a popular African Safari destination that we always kept in postponing. After our first experience in Northern Tanzania (2016), we had to experience this iconic destination. People were always friendly and helpful. After the Tanzanian experience where we felt that the parks are mostly directed for professional tour operator guided guests, and not for self drivers, Kenya surprised us for the infra-structure provided. We really felt welcomed and “please come again”. And we certainly will.

    Maasai Mara is a destination per se. Time is never enough to visit the Mara. We were blessed to witness this life giving phenomenon that is the Migration. There are not enough words to describe it. An experience we will certainly retain for all our lives. We were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and professionalism that everyone at the Conservancy were carrying with their duties. Indeed an example to follow.
    A word of recognition to the KWS personnel as well (KWS Parks), that exhibited this same enthusiastic attitude but somehow their efforts seem to be restricted by superior forces.


    Amboseli National Park is indeed scenically a true gem and a must go destination. The access from Namanga - Meshanani Gate, through the C103 proved to be challenging with later percussions on the car. The route though, is very scenic.


    The drive to Lake Jipe and this least visited section of Tsavo West was a true surprise. The place is simply astonishing and the drive up to Maktau Gate was one of the most pleasurable drives we had. A word of caution on the access road from Timbila to Lake Jipe Gate, during non dry season. It might be impossible to be reachable. A place that we would certainly revisit and take it as a base to explore the western lower reaches of Tsavo West.


    We really enjoyed Tsavo East both for the scenery and animals observed. A bitter taste was left on the palate as we had no time to visit the southern plains due to the aforementioned car problems (and after all we did not get to see the Hirola!). For those wishing to visit this marvelous Park, try to schedule the visit away from the weekends as it seems to be a popular camping destination for locals, mainly coming from Mombasa.


    Tsavo West is a beautiful and scenic park, that should receive a little more attention from the higher authorities, regarding the main road infrastructure/ maintenance. Actually (do not know if it was just pure chance) it was the only park where we observed a road fatality (Kirk´s Dik Dik) induced by (a speeding) vehicle in order to get into the “ softer driving spot” on those highly corrugated roads. That “soft spot” was well above the imposed 50 Kph speed limit. This is non acceptable, and more should not be asked to those that work on an everyday basis in the park, guiding their guests.
    Nevertheless the game driving circuits , on the responsibility of the KWS, are generally in good state. We didi not have enough time to visit the park properly, particularly around the Tsavo river and the Finch Hatton´s sector. Probably on a next time.


    A final word of appreciation for Chris Handschuh and his Jungle Junction in Nairobi as an interesting and obligatory spot for overlanders / self drivers. It is amazing the group and diversity of people one gets to know at JJ´s. No Kenya self drive trip should be done without getting to feel JJ´s.


    Thank you again to all in this forum that have helped us to organize this trip and particularly to those that have given the trouble to write extensive reports, like Wazungu Wawili, Stan Weakley and Ortelius.


    Hope this account helps others with their journey in Kenya. Indeed a fantastic destination.


    Asante sana . Safari njema.



    AP


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  32. #17
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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Apfac, thanks again for wetting our apetite with your wonderful narrative and Fotos - Kenya has just jumped up to no 1a of our bucket list (closely followed by no 1b Zambia).

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  34. #18
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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    Hi Anne,

    Happy that this report had wetted you appetite towards Kenya. You are right in considering lovely Zambia as well, which will be probably revisit in 2019. With my words above, relating to Tanzania, I did not mean that is not a place to be considered, on the contrary, it is a top priority if you want to see wildlife. From our experience, EA ( Kenya & Tanzania) are the places to visit if you want to see wildlife in numbers. The shear (number and diversity) of animals you observe is just unbelievable, particularly in the Mara and Serengeti. IMHO these are just probably rivaled by South Luangwa, Zambia.


    Happy planning.

    AP

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  36. #19
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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    apfac - we were in the Mara Triangle at the same time and in fact also landed up in the same demonstration on the way back to Nairobi/JJ. I agree with all your observations on the Mara Triangle. Thanks for taking the time to write them up.

    I had a couple of questions I'm hoping you, WW, Ortelius and others might help with as I plan for 2019:
    1. Besides the public and private camp sites in the Mara triangle (http://marabookings.co.ke) what are the other recommended camping spots for self-drivers to camp in the Greater Mara ecosystem? There seem to be rather limited options. Nothing at all in the National Park itself. I know there are some options just outside the National Park around Talek all of which seemed rather basic/functional but not really wonderful locations IMO, compared eg to the awesome views available for the Oloololo public campsite in the Triangle which, to me, was one of the best we found - of course not utterly secluded like the private camps along the river in the Triangle but the views are great and plenty of wild visitors. I suspect, but not sure, that there are similar options just outside the Sekenani gate? I've heard of but not been to the Sand River camp and wonder whether that's worth the trip? We also camped at Mara West above Siria escarpment just a few km's from the Oloololo gate. It is a nice enough spot and with an early start you can still be game driving in the park from 6:30am. So I'm wondering what are the other options? Are there any camping options for self-drivers in the Mara North conservancy or the Mara Naboisho conservancy for example?
    2. Same question re Amboseli and surrounds. Which would be the best spot for 3 nights?

    Thanks all

    GCX

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  38. #20
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    Default Re: Kenya - A classical Route with a twist on the roads less travelled

    GC

    In March this year, the Governor of Narok County banned camping within the greater Mara area. This does not affect the Mara Conservancy (Triangle) private campsites.

    There are a number of threads on the forum relating to this. Sand River public campsite has come under this ban and is closed: therefore, no camping is allowed anywhere in the Reserve itself (as opposed to the Triangle). This ban is likely to have been because of unscrupulous mobile safari operators and, perhaps, self drivers just setting up camp and negotiating with the local Maasai.

    The Mara is a game reserve and not a National Park. As such, it is owned by the county government. The Mara Conservancy (Triangle) side is managed on behalf of the local county by the Mara Conservancy. The Reserve side is managed by the county itself, but there is talk that the whole of the Maasai Mara will be managed by the Mara Conservancy in the future.

    There are some commercial campsites outside the Sekanani gate, and I presume they still exist since the ban. I have never been to them, but Ortelius has. He will be able to comment.

    Any campsites or lodges outside either the Sekanani or Talek gates are likely to disappoint. They will be near or in a village with the resulting noise, cattle and so on.

    The community owned conservancies surrounding the Maasai Mara are all leased to exclusive luxury tented camps. Camping will not be allowed within these conservancies such as Naboisho etc. If you want to go to one of these you will have to book and pay the high prices that these fabulous tented camps are able to command for their exclusivity, expert guiding, etc.

    We - and all my fellow Kenyan friends - nowadays only camp in the private campsites in the Mara Conservancy.

    I will comment about Amboseli National Park tomorrow - as will, I am sure, apfac. Actually, can you start a new thread asking about Amboseli and I will comment on that thread? This thread is apfac’s trip report.

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