Sunday, June 1, 2008


Top outfitters share safari planning tips to help you focus on the best opportunities for the trip of a lifetime

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Elephants, Amboseli National Reser
Favorite Lodges & Camps
David Anderson
I've stayed in over 100 camps in Africa and visited over 100 more. In Kenya, these stand out in no particular order.
1. Kichwa Tembo Camp, Masai Mara: Because I've spent so much time there and am friends with many of the staff.
2. Bateleur Camp: Next to Kichwa Tembo Camp.
3. Ol Malo, Laikipia: Because the hosts are so outstanding.
4. Karen Blixen Camp, Masai Mara: This is the newest camp in the Masai Mara, and it has a great location.
5. Olonana, Masai Mara: Because of the big tents and convenient location.
6. Tortilis Camp, Amboseli: Small, just outside the park. Great Italian food.
7. Campi ya Kanzi, Chyulu Hills: Very private on a Masai group ranch.
8. Ol Pejeta House: On a private game ranch in Laikipia. I like this one so much I got married there in 1993.

Joe McDonald
1. Samburu Intrepids: Great game viewing is literally right outside the camp gates. Our groups usually rate the food the best of all the places we visit.
2. Mara Intrepids: For the big cats, there's no better location, and we've made some of our best shots within one-half mile of the lodge. The food is great and all of the camp tents—really, a room under canvas—are being upgraded.
3. Keekorok Lodge: One of the first lodges, but it has been renovated and updated. The lower Mara has the greatest diversity of game, and it's possible to see the Big Five on a single game drive.
4. Larsen's Tented Camp, Samburu. It has been recently renovated. Right on the river, it's in the heart of some of Samburu's prime leopard habitat.
5. Mara Serena Lodge: It offers the best views in the Mara, overlooking the Mara River and Paradise Plains. From the lodge, you can see several gnu river crossing points. It's easy to get to these in time to catch a crossing. The food is excellent.
6. Sarova Lion Hill Lodge, Nakuru: The most centrally located lodge in the park, with black and white rhinos, leopards, buffalo and lions sometimes just outside the gates. Meals are buffet, so you can eat well and fast should you desire.

Elly Gathungu
1. Olonana, The Mara: For its comfort and the hippos right outside your tent.
2. Kichwa Tembo Camp, The Mara: For its birdlife, the rare coppertail monkey and its proximity to the wildlife.
3. Mara Intrepids: The leopards are generally close to the camp.
4. Governors Camp, The Mara: The lion pride that's famous in the Big Cat Diary is right out of the camp; the marsh area near the camp is rich with birds.
5. Samburu Serena Lodge: For the northern species (ibex, reticulated giraffe, etc.). The nearby forest has amazing birds.
6. Mara Serena Lodge: The closest camp to all of the best river crossing points for the migrating herds.
7. Sarova Lion Hill Lodge, Nakuru: Great food; near the millions of flamingos.
8. Sweet Waters Tented Camp, Laikipia: For the watering hole in front of camp. On my last safari, I photographed three black rhinos right from the tent.
9. Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge: For the view of Mount Kilimanjaro and the elephants.
10. Ol Tukai Lodge, Amboseli: I love when the elephants come near the camp in the morning.

Reticulated giraffe, Samburu Game Reserve

Top 5 Favorite Or Secret Spots
David Anderson
1. Leopard Gorge, Masai Mara: A must when staying on the western side of the Mara.
2. The Chyulu Hills: The tallest hill at Campi ya Kanzi at sundown.
3. Kichwa Tembo, Masai Mara: The “saddle” on the escarpment that overlooks the Mara plains.
4. The Ewaso Nyiro River, Samburu: Sitting on the deck in front of my tent downloading images and listening to the many bird sounds.
5. The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy: It's private and therefore has fewer tourists.

Joe McDonald
1. Leopard Gorge And Fig Tree Ridge, Masai Mara: This rocky outcrop outside the game reserve's northern boundary has been home to some of the Mara's most famous leopards. The area is rich with other mammals and great birds.
2. Cormorant Point, Lake Nakuru: Photograph outside your vehicle along the shoreline. At this point, you're within frame-filling distance of lesser flamingos, African white pelicans, various storks and water birds. In late afternoon, white pelicans glide in to bathe at the inlet; the possibility of flight shots is unsurpassed.
3. Riverine Forest, Ewaso Nyiro River, Samburu: Leopards are as common as you'll ever find them, resting in acacia trees or on fallen logs. The open forest provides bird photography at very close range. Elephants visit around noon, playing and bathing within easy camera range.
4. Gnu River Crossings, The Mara Triangle: The best locations are located upriver from Mara Serena Lodge and just east of the Olooloo Game Escarpment.
5. Baboon Cliffs, Lake Nakuru: When the water level is right and the flamingos are in, this overlook gives an aerial perspective of the pink-lined shoreline. The forest at the base of the access road is one of the better areas for seeing leopards and several species of eagles.

Elly Gathungu
1. Masai Mara: Overall, watching lions and the gnu crossing on the Mara River.
2. Lake Nakuru: For flamingos, rhinos and leopards.
3. Musiara Swamp, The Mara: For its variety of water animals and birds.
4. Talek River: This river a major reason that the Mara has so much wildlife.
5. Mara-Serengeti Border: Driving along the Mara side.


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