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  1. #21
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    chf makes a very good point that any voluntary work requires a special visa. I also agree with him that concentrating on one country - Kenya - is the best option for you. Kenya, as befits a middle income country as defined by the IMF, has a sophisticated safari industry, is the regional hub for many international companies, and is the headquarters of the UNEP.

    To answer your questions about wildlife viewing in the Mara in March. The Mara never fails to deliver at any time of year as the predators and plains game do not migrate with the wildebeest herds. The elephant, rhino, eland, giraffe, topi, zebra, impala, Thomson’s gazelle, lion, cheetah, leopard etc are there all year round. As I said before, there is much more to the Mara than the migration of the wildebeest. We, in fact, go to the Mara at all times of the year, but rarely go the Mara during the migration. However, during the rains, the game is dispersed, the grass can be high, but the animals are there - it is just more difficult to spot them.

    The Naibosho Conservancy is a community conservancy just NE of Talek. These community conservancies sell concessions to luxury tented camps to have a camp in the conservancy: the general public are excluded from them unless they are staying in one of the tented camps/lodges in that conservancy. Therefore, the density of visitors is less than in the Maasai National Reserve itself. The drivers from the luxury tented camps in community conservancies are trained not to harass the animals and there rarely will be more than one or two vehicles at each siting. After all, the USP of these very expensive luxury camps is their exclusivity and being “far from the madding crowd”. People pay top dollar for such exclusivity and pampering. The guides at the best of the luxury tented camps are top-notch, know their wildlife, and where they can be found. They are also trained guides to gold or silver level. They will know as much as you as a trained field biologist.

    I know that Porini has a very good reputation for their eco credentials, as well as doing good things with the local community. Their guides are likely to be local Maasai who they have trained up and sent to guiding schools. They come highly recommended for their “corporate social responsibility”. They have a camp in the Naibosho conservancy. They also seem to offer some cultural tours. If you ask the question, I’m sure they might be able organise a visit to the Mara Predator Project and/or the Mara Elephant Project. Jake Grieves-Cook knows everyone in the tourism and conservation world and used to be the chairman of the Kenya Association of Tour Operators. I have never been to a Porini camp, but I have heard excellent reports of both their ones in the Mara and their one near Amboseli.

    I am interested to read that chf sails through into Tanzania and seems to get EAC rates in parks in Tanzania. We never have in Tanzania got EAC rates for our Kenyan vehicle, but have done so in Uganda. Tanzania, although a member of the EAC, does things differently. I think I know what sort of special registration chf has - I have had that sort of registration too in a previous life, but still had to leave the logbook at Customs HQ in Nairobi when we wanted to exit one border crossing (Isebania) and re-enter at another (Namanga). We had to leave our logbook at Moyale in 2017 when we drove up to Ethiopia in our Kenyan registered vehicle.

    All the best.
    Last edited by Wazungu Wawili; 2021/10/12 at 06:25 PM.

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  3. #22
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    If I do have volunteer opportunities, I will be sure to follow all the advice of the Programme and the government. I'm not looking to violate any laws by any means.

    We are going to focus on one country, either Kenya or Tanzania, but it's looking like we will focus on Tanzania. We have to fly into Nairobi from NYC; so if we focus on Tanzania, we will still have a day layover in Nairobi to catch up on sleep/take a break from flights. We would be sleeping at a hotel and visiting Sheldrick Trust, that's it! Then a short flight down to Arusha.

    It sounds like the Southern Serengeti gets much less rain than the Mara in March, and the rains seemed to be a big concern for those who were initially commenting. We all do have different levels of comfort and skill sets, though, so I'm taking that into account while trying to be receptive to advice.

    The conservancies are what drew me to Kenya, I like how they are managed. I'm definitely willing to pay for the exclusivity and would be very happy to support the conservancy model. I'll do some more thinking and researching; I'll post when I have a semi-final itinerary. That could pop up here on this thread, if we focus on Kenya, or might pop up on the Tanzania forum!

  4. #23
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Looks like you are getting a handle on things. I like how you mull things over and debate with yourself. You have gotten some solid advice here. Good luck with either choice and most of all enjoy. I would be happy to see your itinerary again, either for TZ or Kenya.
    BTW, we visited Sheldrick’s on our last day in Nairobi and we truly enjoyed the experience. Sadly, the more intimate visit with the orphans at 5pm that only adoptees can go to, was closed until further notice…yes, because of COVID.
    All the best from Florida to Colorado. Katrin
    If life is a journey, be sure to take the scenic route!

  5. #24
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by luck&love View Post

    It sounds like the Southern Serengeti gets much less rain than the Mara in March, and the rains seemed to be a big concern for those who were initially commenting. We all do have different levels of comfort and skill sets, though, so I'm taking that into account while trying to be receptive to advice.
    I am not sure where you are getting your rainfall statistics from, but the Maasai Mara, Kenya to the southern Serengeti, TZ is only about 100 kms as the vulture flies. The long rains hit both areas at the same time. I had a look at the World Bank climate knowledge portal and the historic data showed that both areas have roughly the same average rainfall of 120mms in March. But the rains are heaviest in April, historically.

    I think that camping in monsoon rains can be unpleasant - even if you camp like we do in large safari ground tents with verandahs and, sometimes, even a mess tent. I do think that huddling in a RTT at dinner time with the rain pouring down would be “sub-optimal” and certainly a test for the best of marriages! The major problem I think about RTTs is that, unless they have an awning, there is nowhere to cook out of the rain. We can back our Land Rover into the verandah of a tent and cook there under cover. But when the rain stops and the stars come out, then there is nothing more magical.

    Black cotton soil is a clay. It can be ferocious stuff, but I’m sure you and your husband can deal with it. It just depends how good the tyres are on a rental vehicle and how good the recovery equipment is. We have towed a Roadtrip Kenya vehicle out of the mud in the Mara in December. They did not have the skill or recovery equipment to get themselves out of the mire!

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  7. #25
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    Black cotton soil is a clay. It can be ferocious stuff, but I’m sure you and your husband can deal with it. It just depends how good the tyres are on a rental vehicle and how good the recovery equipment is. We have towed a Roadtrip Kenya vehicle out of the mud in the Mara in December. They did not have the skill or recovery equipment to get themselves out of the mire!
    It wasn't back cotton however I'm reminded of recovering three vehicles from a river bed in Botswana many years ago - the first and second were not too badly stuck and I pulled each out in turn, then two of us jointly recovered the Land Rover - which had made it to the middle of the river before getting really stuck. I then crossed the river in my Peugeot 304 - the key was that the other drivers were over-confident and under-competent (at various levels).

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  9. #26
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post

    I am interested to read that chf sails through into Tanzania and seems to get EAC rates in parks in Tanzania. We never have in Tanzania got EAC rates for our Kenyan vehicle, but have done so in Uganda. Tanzania, although a member of the EAC, does things differently. I think I know what sort of special registration chf has - I have had that sort of registration too in a previous life, but still had to leave the logbook at Customs HQ in Nairobi when we wanted to exit one border crossing (Isebania) and re-enter at another (Namanga). We had to leave our logbook at Moyale in 2017 when we drove up to Ethiopia in our Kenyan registered vehicle.
    It’s the standard red plate - however the logbooks even for our private vehicles are no longer handed out, but stay with our mission. I never had trouble leaving just a copy of the logbook. Regarding the park fees its in the official government guidance that EAC registered private vehicles and local registered vehicles pay the same fees. Handy to have a copy of those on you. It also states all business use is prohibited for EAC vehicles, so I assume that can be a problem with a rental.
    Last edited by chf; 2021/10/13 at 01:48 PM.

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  11. #27
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by chf View Post
    It’s the standard red plate - however the logbooks even for our private vehicles are no longer handed out, but stay with our mission. I never had trouble leaving just a copy of the logbook. Regarding the park fees its in the official government guidance that EAC registered private vehicles and local registered vehicles pay the same fees. Handy to have a copy of those on you. It also states all business use is prohibited for EAC vehicles, so I assume that can be a problem with a rental.
    That’s great news for us with Kenyan-registered private vehicles that Tanzanian parks now have the lower fee in line with the other EAC countries. Asante sana!

  12. #28
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Regarding the rain, this may or may not be true, but via https://www.africadreamsafaris.com/s...hlights/march:


    • "Rain falls in different amounts over various locations throughout Northern Tanzania. The Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Lake Manyara receive higher rainfall then many parts of the Serengeti. There is a steep rainfall gradient in the Serengeti from the dry southeast to the wet northwest. The winds that bring rain blow from the east. The Ngorongoro Highlands block much of the rain from reaching the eastern and southern plains of the Serengeti. However, the western and northern parts of the Serengeti receive a much greater amount (2-3 times more) of participation as compared to the southern and eastern Serengeti. The wetter western and northern Serengeti areas are affected by Lake Victoria. This means that in the southern Serengeti where you should ideally focus your March safari, the rains should not be an issue and it will rain substantially less then the other areas of the Serengeti and Tanzania."


    I tried (very briefly!) to find information from site-specific rain gauges instead of country-wide or region-wide. I know there are many rain gauges out there, as I see them referenced in safari blogs, but I couldn't find site-specific information posted anywhere. From a geology standpoint, the partial rain shadow effect from the Ngorongoro Highlands described on Africa Dream Safaris made sense to me. I didn't overanalyze it, though. I'd be concentrating my time in the Serengeti around Namiri Plains if the trip becomes Tanzania focused.

    I think only Katrin really asked about wildlife viewing in the Mara region in March, but Asilia followed up today and said that they do encourage visitors to consider Naboisho Conservancy from January - April. It's supposed to still be wonderful big cat and general game viewing.


  13. #29
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Hello again,
    Beware taking advise from those with a vested interest. Recommend you read the Thread in the Kenya section Self driving in November, where?
    as it refers to driving in wet conditions. In it someone said getting stuck is a good way to meet people which was one of your prioritises but comes at a cost of your other priority of wanting to relax.

    You previously mentioned the migration: Have a look at "HerdTracker" website but recognise that there is variation from year to year. Enjoy your research and planning.

  14. #30
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Me again: You indicated that you are a "wildlife biologist trained in predator & ungulate immobilization (sedation, handling, blood draws, GPS collaring, etc.). The Projects usually don't take short-term volunteers but I have a different background than the average inquirer. If I can't actually contribute anything, then I won't be volunteering."
    In view of this and what you want to get out of your trip, you might consider making contact with Kenyan organisations (public and private) that do this work. You could also offer to give a guest lecture/visit at places like the K
    enya wildlife service training institute or similar.
    This could be mutually beneficial with local organisations having a rich experience but limited resources. I have no idea re visa implications.
    Reaching out, making contact could be an enriching experience.
    Kenya wildlife service training institute is based near Lake Naivasha

  15. #31
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by luck&love View Post
    Regarding the rain, this may or may not be true, but via https://www.africadreamsafaris.com/s...hlights/march:


    • "Rain falls in different amounts over various locations throughout Northern Tanzania. The Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Lake Manyara receive higher rainfall then many parts of the Serengeti. There is a steep rainfall gradient in the Serengeti from the dry southeast to the wet northwest. The winds that bring rain blow from the east. The Ngorongoro Highlands block much of the rain from reaching the eastern and southern plains of the Serengeti. However, the western and northern parts of the Serengeti receive a much greater amount (2-3 times more) of participation as compared to the southern and eastern Serengeti. The wetter western and northern Serengeti areas are affected by Lake Victoria. This means that in the southern Serengeti where you should ideally focus your March safari, the rains should not be an issue and it will rain substantially less then the other areas of the Serengeti and Tanzania."


    I tried (very briefly!) to find information from site-specific rain gauges instead of country-wide or region-wide. I know there are many rain gauges out there, as I see them referenced in safari blogs, but I couldn't find site-specific information posted anywhere. From a geology standpoint, the partial rain shadow effect from the Ngorongoro Highlands described on Africa Dream Safaris made sense to me. I didn't overanalyze it, though. I'd be concentrating my time in the Serengeti around Namiri Plains if the trip becomes Tanzania focused.

    I think only Katrin really asked about wildlife viewing in the Mara region in March, but Asilia followed up today and said that they do encourage visitors to consider Naboisho Conservancy from January - April. It's supposed to still be wonderful big cat and general game viewing.

    Yes, it does make sense that the southeast Serengeti is in a partial rain shadow from the Ngorongoro highlands. I found some academic papers online on rainfall patterns in the Serengeti.

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