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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

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  16. #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.

  17. #32
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by SANZ View Post
    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
    Idk how I missed this, but thank you for the idea! This didn't even occur to me.

  18. #33
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Thank you so much for all the input. I've been going back and forth regarding this trip, still. There are so many options to sort through. I felt so solid with my itinerary last night. Then I started typing it out... and felt like a commitment-phobe! So much potential FOMO! I'm committed to both Naboisho and Kimana. I did decide against volunteering, for now, anyway. I'm always tempted to connect with other conservation professionals on my travels, as I greatly enjoy our interactions, but I think we will be getting plenty of wildlife experiences without me turning it into some form of work. The lines between work and passion are blurred in my field, that's for sure! I'm looking at moving my trip up to mid-February. I apologize for being all over the place, but here goes...



    1. NYC to Nairobi - Weston Hotel or Ngong House Airbnb. Rest, land around 10:30 AM, Sheldrick Trust PM.
    2. Nairobi to Naboisho Conservancy - Asilia Lodge, game drives, walks.
    3. Naboisho Night 2 - Asilia Fly Camping?
    4. Naboisho Night 3 - Asilia Fly Camping?
    5. Naboisho Night 4 - Asilia Lodge, game drives, walks.
    6. Naboisho to Nairobi - Jungle Junction - obtain order from Greenspoon, obtain 4x4, evaluate back half of the trip.
    7. Jungle Junction to Kimana Sanctuary - Enjoy the experience, set up camp.
    8. Kimana Sanctuary Night 2 - Explore Kimana, Big Life Foundation.
    9. Kimana Sanctuary to ? (Moshi? Third night in Kimana?)
    10. ? Top contenders - Mkomazi, Lake Manyara, just loop around Mount Kilimanjaro, Shimba Hills (if staying in Kenya)
    11. ?
    12. ?
    13. ? (to Moshi, if in Tanzania)
    14. ? (Moshi to Kimana Sanctuary, if in Tanzania) - Final night in Africa
    15. Kimana to Nairobi - Late night flights (9pm to midnight departure). All day open. Maybe another Sheldrick Trust visit.


    I have 6 nights of question marks. I became averse to crossing the border after my first round of posts here, but if I crossed and re-entered at the same location, it didn't seem like too big of a deal. I thought it might be fun to go down to Moshi. We could decide on other Tanzania destinations on the fly for the remainder of the trip.

    WW's post in 2018 re: Roads Less Travelled has really intrigued me, though. I wondered about Lake Jipe and Mt. Kasigau. Shimba Hills has been on my possibility list for a while now, too. We still anticipate rain in February so the route WW took is likely not advisable due to the black cotton soil. Is there a route to Shimba Hills from the Kimana or Lake Jipe area that doesn't risk our lives on the Mombasa road, that could be travelled in February?

    If you had 6 days to overland, starting in Nairobi (and had spent 4 nights in Naboisho) what would you do? We want to avoid crowds, experience nature, see birds, see more megafauna, maybe see more primates, and safely adventure...

    Thank you again,

  19. #34
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    I will reply in greater depth in a few days time, but I just wanted you to know that Kimana Sanctuary is now closed to campers. A lease has been signed with the luxury camp operator, Angama, who are in the process of setting up a tented camp. The same is true for game drives - no game drives in Kimana Sanctuary. However, Kimana House is still available for self-catering. Check out Kimana Sanctuary’s website. The campsites are now all closed. https://www.kimanasanctuary.com/house

    I suggest a visit to Amboseli National Park instead.

    More later.

  20. #35
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    You might want to follow this excellent blog by your fellow Americans, Andrew and Jenny. This is what they wrote about Kimana Sanctuary and Amboseli. However, they were in Kimana just before all the campsites were closed. Conservation, as you know, costs a lot of money and this important wildlife corridor needs to be protected.

    https://stuckinlowgear.com/kimana-sa...manjaro-kenya/

    You might also like to read our last trip report from December-January to my home country of Kenya. You
    can find it here. https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-the-Big-North

  21. #36
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    You might want to follow this excellent blog by your fellow Americans, Andrew and Jenny. This is what they wrote about Kimana Sanctuary and Amboseli. However, they were in Kimana just before all the campsites were closed. Conservation, as you know, costs a lot of money and this important wildlife corridor needs to be protected.

    https://stuckinlowgear.com/kimana-sa...manjaro-kenya/

    You might also like to read our last trip report from December-January to my home country of Kenya. You
    can find it here. https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-the-Big-North
    WW, thank you, as always. I’ll read both. I was so excited for Kimana but any way they can make more money and be viable is important. That’s a part of why I want to visit smaller parks/conservancies/sanctuaries. Mkomazi came onto my list because of low visitation and the passion that come through on the Kili to Coast YouTube series.

    I’m sure I’ll have more questions after reading!

  22. #37
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    I promised to get back to you. Here are my thoughts.

    Unless you have a clear idea of what you want to do/achieve in Tanzania, I would recommend that you spend the whole of your trip in Kenya: there are enough diverse habitats and places to see in Kenya to keep you happy for months.

    Days 2 to 4: I’m sure you will have a great time being pampered at Asilia Lodge and that they have top-flight guides.
    Days 7 to 9: As I said in my earlier post, Kimana Sanctuary is now closed to campers and day trips. Kimana House is still open (at the moment) for self-catering, but it may not be open in February 2023. I recommend spending some of this time in Amboseli National Park. The only campsite within the park is the Kenya Wildlife Services campsite behind the HQ. It is fine and the best in the area. There are some community and other campsites outside the park, but I recommend the KWS campsite. Amboseli is a small park with fabulous views of the mighty Kilimanjaro.

    Days 10 to 14: I would recommend visiting Tsavo West National Park, and then Tsavo East National Park. Neither of these parks are “busy”. They are vast swathes of Africa. So, my recommended route is Nairobi-Amboseli-Tsavo West-Tsavo East-Nairobi. In my trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-the-Big-North on post #11, I give details of a route which avoids long sections on the Mombasa Road. It is to be recommended both for going to Amboseli and getting back from Tsavo East. My recommended route from Amboseli to Tsavo West is via the C103. I have recommended this circular tour of these three parks to others and you can find trip reports by myself, Ortelius and apfac on this forum. Plus Stan Weakley did the route too at my instigation.

    In your other questions you mention Shimba Hills and my “Roads less travelled” report. I would not recommend following our trip to the Shimba Hills as you are first time visitors to Kenya in a hired vehicle. Lake Jipe, yes, but not the track to the Shimba Hills from near Kasigau. It is pretty wild and remote. The Shimba Hills is also not one of the great savannah parks and is, perhaps, for a subsequent visit.

    The other thing you could do is decrease your nights at Naboisho and spend a few nights at Richard Bonham of Big Life Foundation’s Ol Donyo Lodge in the Chyulu Hills. This is between Amboseli and Tsavo West.

    I hope this is helpful.

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  24. #38
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    Wink Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    For all the sections (almost all you are covering) recommended in W.W.s post above, I can only agree in totality. Take the advice from a Kenyan fundi
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

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

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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  26. #39
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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Although I posted this some years ago, this is still (perhaps with a few minor adjustments) a route which covers many of the highlights of the diversity of southern, western and central Kenya. Northern Kenya is a separate delight.
    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...a-s-highlights

    Again a few years ago - so minor things like the road conditions change - but the basics are the same. https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...x-night-safari

    And a few more from a number of years ago:
    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-December-2014

    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-from-Ethiopia

    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...less-travelled

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    Default Re: 14 Days in Kenya - First Time in Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazungu Wawili View Post
    Although I posted this some years ago, this is still (perhaps with a few minor adjustments) a route which covers many of the highlights of the diversity of southern, western and central Kenya. Northern Kenya is a separate delight.
    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...a-s-highlights

    Again a few years ago - so minor things like the road conditions change - but the basics are the same. https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...x-night-safari

    And a few more from a number of years ago:
    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-December-2014

    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-from-Ethiopia

    https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...less-travelled
    thank you for all the reading! I will post again after more comes together!

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