My husband and I have traveled fairly extensively and apart from renting a villa somewhere in Europe like Portugal or Spain, we like to go on more adventurous tours further afield like India and Africa.
Written on: October 02, 2013
I visited in September 2013
We had previously been to Kenya with Kuoni but this time I wanted a more personal experience so looked at arranging things myself. Having seen the glowing reviews of KET Safaris on this site, I decided that they were the right company for us - my husband, sister and her partner. I did get quotes from others, but Paul was quick to respond and answer my many questions. I outlined the parks I wanted to visit and this included Serengeti, and Ngorogoro in Tanzania. Between us, we worked out an itinerary which was realistic distance wise and included all the parks we wanted. Whilst I think we are all a little nervous about sending deposits to people we don't know so far away and paying the balance in cash when we arrive, you shouldn't worry as it was fine.
When we arrived at Nairobi in the evening, a driver from the Meltonia Luxury Suites collected us and we stayed there overnight. Paul arrived at our hotel on time in the morning and introduced us to our first driver Benedict.It was a long and dusty drive to the Mara, but we had a couple of comfort breaks en route and when in the park Benedict took the longer route to the hotel to see some wildlife on the way. The Mara is one of the best places to view game and again it didn't disappoint. The Ashnil Mara was wonderful, very luxurious, great food and the staff couldn't do enough. I will review all the lodges and hotels individually but they were all good.
Day four, we crossed the border at Isebania which was chaotic with laborious form filling but didn't really take as long as we imagined. A word of warning, don't use the loos here as they were not very nice and they charged both men and women 200 shillings. After saying our sorry goodbyes to Benedict who we were really fond of, we were introduced to Jeremiah (Jerry). He was younger and initially a little quieter but soon learned to understand our sense of humour and joined in the jokes. He was an excellent driver and spotter and clearly passionate about his job. We stayed at the Mbalgetti Lodge in the Serengeti which had fantastic tented lodges overlooking the countryside and was not fenced so was very natural. I do have reservations about this lodge because it took over 30 minutes to reach the other roads every time we went on a game drive which meant an hour of our drive over the same area (see separate review).
After two nights, we then drove on to Ngorogoro which I have to say in itself was a little disappointing. Due the vast area in the crater (caldera) we mostly viewed game from a distance. However, Jerry did anticipate the destination of two black rhinos and drove round to enable us to watch them coming almost directly towards us before they headed off to the water. Rhino lodge was wonderful with open fires in restaurant and even in our rooms.
Back to Kenya and our third and last guide Bryon. He had more long distance drives as we had to go to Amboselli, the next day Tsavo and finally Watamu. Whilst he did drive faster than the others we still felt safe and he found us lots of elephants in both these parks. He dropped us off at Watamu having bought us (courtesy of Paul) a final lunch in a restaurant in Malindi. We stayed at the Ocean Sports which again I will review separately.
I would like to thank Paul publicly for a wonderfully arranged safari. Everything went like clockwork and all three drivers were exceptional. I would recommend KET Safaris for anyone wanting to take book their holiday independently.
Finally, an update on Nairobi Airport. We flew from Mombasa to Nairobi on 22 Sept 2013, after the awful terrorist attack at Westgate Mall, for our onward flight to Heathrow. If you have unfortunately booked with British Airways be warned. The airport is totally chaotic. When we finally found out which building we should be in (having joined two queues into buildings which were not the right ones), we had our hold luggage manually searched despite it having just been scanned. The hand luggage was then rescanned and we were then ushered to the tents outside and BA had the only tent which you could not enter with any refreshment as they were scanning hand luggage yet again. This, apparently, had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. Then, as if to add insult everyone had to have the contents of their bags emptied and they made us switch all our cameras on and off before roughly trying to cram the equipment back.
There is no duty free, restaurant or bar - just a small tent offering coffee and sandwiches etc. in which you have to stand to eat or drink the meager offerings. It was pouring with rain when we were there and we huddled under the canopy. The portable toilets are all outside the tents so you have to go through the security again to go to the loo and then back again. We were there for three hours and it was not fun. No other airline tent had this ridiculous extra security.
As an initial matter, Paul (whom I believe is the owner and operator of KETS), is one of the most responsive people on e-mail I've met - which is saying a lot given that I'm an attorney in NYC. This was very much appreciated as my wife and I planned our honeymoon and constantly changed the accommodation and route we wanted to take.