Hi I'm booked to go on this trip and really looking forward to it (fingers crossed that everything will be ok and the trip goes ahead, given current climate!) - I would love to hear from anyone that is also booked to go.
If anyone else is reading this that has been to Kenya so far this year I would like to hear how you got on.
I was in Kenya in 2005 (though a different trip) Full trip/photographic diary on my website ... http://www.strathspeywildlife.co.uk/Exodus.htm
Many thanks for that - sounds like you had a fab trip - your website certainly made interesting reading! This won't be my first trip to Africa, Kenya, or the Mara - and probably won't be my last either - Africa has that effect on me!
I was in Namibia last October and loved it so much that I'm going back this year too! Did the coastal circuit - from Windhoek up to Etosha, via Africat (amazing!!) on to Twyfelfontein, Palmwag and then down the Skeleton coast, Cape Cross, Swakopmund and Namib desert to the dunes at Sossusvlei - superb! This year I'm going with an 'Africat supporter' organised trip again via Africat (of course!) to Etosha and then north up to the Caprivi strip and on into Botswana and possibly Zambia, ending up at Victoria Falls - details still to be finalised, but I fly out on 26 Sept!
You will enjoy Namibia - if you set up another website I'd be interested to see the account of your trip!
My wife (Christine) and I are booked on the same trip as you. Don't know if you've been to Kicheche before but we stayed there with Jonathan Scott in October 2006. Had a great time and we're looking forward to it. As you say, let's keep fingers and everything else crossed. Reports are that it's very quiet tourist-wise in the Mara so, although that's tragic for the local economy, at least us hardier souls will have things more to ourselves. Look forward to meeting you.
Hi Bob and Christine
Thanks for responding - good to hear from you! I have been to Kicheche (Private camp) before - in June 06 on the classic Kenya trip - also had a great time, so am looking forward to returning, also bringing a friend (Maureen) this time who hasn't been to this part of the Mara before - and it is my first time travelling with Paul and Jonathan.
So that makes 4 of us so far - and I believe that there are 8 of us booked on the trip!
Look forward to meeting you!
As of yesterday, apparently it had gone up to 12.
Thanks for that - interesting, obviously people are getting more confident about going to Kenya now, probably because things seem to have quietened down - at least media-wise (this is all to the good, of course).
Thanks Bill. Will check your website re Botswana etc.
Apparently this trip is now fully booked with 17 of us going. Would still be good to hear from any of you!
It was good to read everyone's comments. This will be my first trip to the Masai Mara and I am as excited about being there and experiencing the wildlife as I am about the chance to improve my photographic skills (they need improving!). I will also bring my binoculars. In June 07 I went to Africa for the first time - this was to Namibia. If any of you are interested you can see the photos I took there on http://picasaweb.google.com/janicetipping/namibiawithraymearsJune2007
By the way, I received my final documents for the trip from Exodus today - including the luggage tags! It must be happening!
I have just looked at the website link you have given us. I think it is superb - what a brilliant way to record and share memories of a trip. A few of us on the Namibia trip I did have put our photos on the picasa web album system - but yours takes this idea to another level I think - very enjoyable.
I received my documents through today too!! How exciting - its going to happen! I have just logged on to this site and read the comments, which is a really nice idea as I am a little apprehensive about it all, travelling on my own. I have been to Zambia and Kruger National Park and loved every minute, but in 2006 my experience of a lifetime - I volunteered for 3 weeks at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia and what a time I had and what beautiful animals I met!
I Look forward to hearing more.
I too am travelling on my own. I went on the Namibia trip I mentioned on my own too - and met some great people. My husband Keith is not one for flying, Africa or photography - but enjoys me enjoying such trips! I am sure you will find that we soon settle in and meet others - we will all like Africa, wildlife and photography - very good starting points for friendship.
Look forward to meeting you on the 28th.
That has made me feel so much better! I am not the only one on my own. I was on my own when I went to CCF and shared a chalet with a Swiss girl whom I had not met before. We got on like a house on fire and I have since stayed with her in Geneva twice!
Yes, I look forward to meeting you on the 28th - not long now!!
I have received my final joining instructions today - how exciting. I am travelling on my own and I believe you are travelling with a girlfriend? I just love Africa and can't wait to be back there again! Look forward to meeting with you on 28th.
Hi fellow travellers
Do any of you know if it is best to exchange money at Heathrow or at Nairobi Airport? This is my first trip to Kenya.
I am aware we need to apply for a visa at Nairobi Airport? Is this straightforward?
I have applied for a Visa over here already - is this the same Visa as you are talking about?
Yes. I understand from Exodus that the Visa can be obtained at Nairobi Airport and paid for there. On the trip notes it states 'the cost for British Nationals is $50 and can be obtained on arrival'. Although I see it also says that for UK residents they recommend the visa agency Travour for obtaining a visa with a phone number given of 020 7223 6295 or www.travcour.com
I am now feeling a bit ignorant and confused - I am British (i.e. born in Britain, with British parents and British nationality and with a British passport) - is this the same as a British National? Should I obtain my visa in advance?
Any guidance welcome!
Don't know if your comments have been answered but here's my two pennorth. First of all, Kicheche is a nice intimate camp with very friendly staff. Everyone eats together at big tables and when we stayed there a year last October there were 3 or 4 people on their own and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We've kept in touch with one of them and he's coming along on his own again. Jonathan Scott was on that one as well and he was a superb host.
We've been to the Mara several times and although you might get a better currency exchange rate in Nairobi, you may not want the hassle if you have to pick up your baggage and want to get a visa as well so it's worth getting at least some currency in the UK before you leave - ask for some low denomination notes as part of what you order (for porterage or drinks before you get to the camp). In the whole scheme of things, the advantage in local currency rate you might get in Kenya probably isn't worth getting too excited about and bear in mind you won't spend that much at Kicheche (other than driver/staff tips) as full board includes all food, laundry and drinks as well.
By the way, have you seen Kicheche's website - www.kicheche.com? Very informative and will get the excitement going again! Click on camps at the top and then click on Mara Camp - that's the one we'll be at. There's also pictures of the guides etc.
On the question of visas, yes you can get one at Nairobi. We tend to apply in the UK direct with the Kenya High Commission (rather than using an agency who presumably will charge) again simply to avoid having to deal with things at the other end. If you prefer to deal with at Nairobi I understand it's very straightforward. Have you looked at Kenya High Commission's website? It's www.kenyahighcommission.net/visas.html. You can apply through the post which is what we do and they cost £30. Turnaround is pretty good - recently they were taking about 4 working days (sadly, I suspect they haven't been too busy lately). Don't know where you live but if you're near to London you can call there to deliver the form and your passport and then pick it up a couple of days or so later.
Hope that helps. Look forward to meeting you.
Nice to hear from you - I hoped that getting all our paperwork would inspire people to register and comment here. I too can't wait to get back to Africa and Kenya in particular! Yes, I'm travelling with someone who I met on a trip to Kenya in 2004 - we've stayed friends and travel together every so often! Look forward to meeting you ina couple of weeks!
Good to hear from you on this site!! I think your questions about visa and currency have been answered elsewhere. I got my vise direct from the High Commission - it was very straightforward - as already described.
As for currency - I usually get mine from M&S - just not sure how much we will need given that most things are included - it'll only be tips, souvenirs etc I guess as well as that $40 mentioned in the trip notes for possible reserve entry fees!
I'll look out for you at the airport!
Hi again Jill
Just read your comments about Namibia and CCF - are you a supporter of Friends for Conservation as well by any chance? If so do you go to any of their events? If so, then we already have something in common and like what has been said elsewhere I'm sure we will all get on, given our shared interests - Africa, animals, photography...........
bye for now
Just to let you know I am the "girlfriend" of Jackie (with emphasis on the friend,certainly not on the girl)! Read all your letters and would say that it would be much easier to get your visa's in this country as you could have to wait quite a while in Nairobi which might hold up the transfer to Wilson airport. It is my 12th or 13th visit to Africa,3rd to Kenya,the others to South Africa which I have a passion for.I have been to the Mara once before.In South Africa I go to Shamwari every year where Born Free rescued big cats are housed (I do work from home for Born Free) I met Jackie on a Born Free trip to Kenya a few years ago and our passion for Big Cats has secured our friendship. Looking forward to meeting you all soon.
Thanks for helpful comments. After reading your comments and those of others more experienced than me, I have decided to get my Visa in the UK. I am not that far from London, so I travelled up to the Kenya High Commission Office on Monday, made the application and will collect the Visa this Friday. Saves any worry about a delay in Kenya and holding us all up! I will also get some money here in the UK. Yes, the Kicheche website is really good - it looks a fantastic place - and, as you say, it gets the excitement juices going! See you on the 28th.
Good Morning Bob
Just a quickie - but re Visa - yes agencies do charge - I have paid £63!!
Look forward to meeting you on 28th - getting closer!
No - I am not a supporter of Friends for Conservation too - I go to some of the National Geographical Society talks in Town though - you?
Yes! I do go there for talks - am going tonight in fact - for the Born Free lecture on 'My Travels with Big Cats'!! Looking forward to it!
Oh no Jackie - I was there last night too!!!! In tears most of the time!!! Such a delightful evening I thought too.
Oh my - what a shame we didn't meet up - I sat on my own, in tears as well - I thought it was wonderful - especially the bit with Christian and the 'boys' when they went to see him again (I'm welling up now just thinking about it!).
Wasn't too sure about the Romanian Queen? though - she seemed to have fur on that cape!!! But at least they made a good donation!
Oh I know - I have been telling friends at work today and ended up all tearful! So, so amazing that Christian recognised them - such a lovely, lovely tale.
I said exactly the same thing about Queenie - mink draped around her neck - not good planning eh?
Can I just ask Jackie - money - it is US dollars we are talking about isn't it? Dumb me or what!!
I hope Jackie doesn't mind my responding to your point about dollars.
Yes, the additional park fees if incurred are quoted in US dollars but that's only because it's a more stable currency than the Kenyan shilling and it means the costs are less likely to fluctuate. To pay any camp bills you can use dollars or Kenyan shillings.
In any event, you won't need to carry dollars just to pay for any additional park fees if you prefer to use a debit/credit card to settle up at the end, as the camp has the usual card facilities. I tend to take Kenyan shillings so I can leave tips for the drivers and staff at the end but again they'd be very happy to accept dollars if you have them.
The meal at The Rusty Nail on the way back is an extra (so Exodus tell me) and it's probably easier to pay in Kenyan shillings if you have them. Dollars are certainly OK and they will of course take them but sometimes they might have problems with giving change.
Not long now!
Thank you so much for the info re money - totally confused now!!! No - that is really helpful and I guess it is best to have some of each to cover every eventuality!
Off to Twickenham now to see the rugby!!
Look forward to meeting you.
You may find the following link interesting.
Bob has given a good reply!! I'm just going to take shillings - this horrid weather today makes your thoughts turn to our trip all the more!! Not long now!
Wow - yes - thank you Janice - more volunteering coming on - I can feel it!!
Re That Coat - apparently it is embrassment all round at Born Free - Virginia has had to ask that no photos be shown of the princess (not a queen after all).........
Oh gosh - what a blunder on her part eh? Well husband too I guess! It was rather thoughtless wasn't it. Poor Virginia - isn't she a delightful lady too.
See you soon - very soon now!
The paperwork is through and yes, getting over excited about it! It's been far too long since I've been to Africa, about 5 years, but Kenya was nearly 20 years ago and it'll my girlfriend Victoria's first visit......even being stabbed by several needles couldn't wipe the excited smile! Better go and check the camera's still working......
Looking forward to meeting you all.
Good to hear from yet another over excited person! Look forward to meeting you and Victoria on the 28th.
Hi Chris and Victoria
Think we are all getting excited now!
Look forward toseeing you both next week!
Check out the following programme on the BBC iplayer (located on the BBC website)
My Life with Wild Animals: Simon King
This was broadcast at 6.10 p.m. on BBC 2 on Easter Day (Sunday 23rd March). More inspiration for our trip (if any more was needed).
I have just taken a look - the first time ever I have looked at iplayer! Just lovely - but would you believe I have speakers here but they are not connected - how frustrating to watch it without sound! This will have to be my first job when I return from our trip - to get the speakers connected by some kind soul!
Thank you for telling us about the programme - I like Simon King so much!
Hi Janice (and Jill!)
Yes - luckily I saw it was on and watched it - just what we needed to get us really ready for Friday - it's coming around very quickly now! Not yet checked out iplayer - will do so - do you need anything special like a TV card for your computer??.
I think that there a new Tiger programme starting on BBC1 while we are away as well.
Just go into http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer and it will appear like magic!
See you soon.
Thanks Bob - I'll give it a try!
The Tiger Tales programme is on Sunday on BBC1 at 8.00pm I think. Read a review and it sounds fascinating - Sir David A narrates -so it must be good!
Looking forward to meeting up with everyone v. soon!
IT'S ARRIVED - SEE YOU ALL TOMORROW - SAFE JOURNEY!!
I started this link a couple of months ago so I feel I should now close it off - we went to Kenya and to Kicheche in the Mara and I think I can speak for all 17 of us when I say that we had the most fantastic of times!
Paul Goldstein and Johnathan Scott were great 'hosts' - they gave willingly of their time and their knowledge, especially to those of us not quite so confident of our camera skills! It was an amazing trip - no, it was an experience!
Paul has written on the Kicheche website of the 'feline holy trinity' and boy did they turn out for us - in spades! The cheetah Mrembo and her cubs, Supuu the leopard and her cubs and who can forget the Kicheche pride - big males, lionesses and their cubs. Amazing!!
To anyone reading this - and thinking abut visiting Kenya - go!! You will have a trip of a lifetime! And if your trip is fortunate to include a visit to Kicheche and the Mara then you will truly experience Wild Africa at it's best - the country, the people and the animals meet all expectations.
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