Earlier this year, our friend JC started a group chat with Y’s bunch of friends – one of her fun traveling buddy groups that have taken me with her a few times to Bali and last year to Maldives. The topic header being “Safari trip”? It finally ended up with me plus the 6 of them including WT bringing his mum, how sweet, to go on this fun safari experience which was a first time for many of us other than buddy YL and her hubby SH, who has gone before just recently to Botswana. It’s nice sometimes not to be the travel planner, so I was glad I could relax my paws away while YL did the research.
After Googling lots, YL suggested to go with safari agent – Cheli and Peacock who is one of East Africa’s most established and reputable safari luxury operators for Kenya and Tanzania. What’s great about them is they basically plan everything for you other than booking the international flight from Singapore. They operate 6 camps and lodges plus the fabulous Masai Mara Cotters 1920s Camp owned by the Cottars family (which we had a wonderful stay in, you will read more about that on a separate post), and they can tailor an itinerary for us which includes stays in these lodges plus internal transfers. We were looking at going around June or July to catch hopefully the migration and settled on going to Kenya region for a week, where the weather will be pretty nice then – 10 degrees in the night and early mornings and maybe 30 degrees at the hottest in mid day.
We decided quickly on heading to the Lewa Wildlife and Maasai Mara Conservancy areas. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is known especially for its Black and White rhinoceros endangered species, and also known to be the location where Prince William proposed to Kate in 2010. He’s become a fierce advocate for rhino conservation to try to put an end to these inhumane killings and poaching. The Maasai Mara area is one of the best places for game viewing in its most natural environment in Africa, together with its neighbour the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. A pity we only had a week otherwise I would have loved to go over to Serengeti too.
I have heard from countless friends of how expensive going for safari trips can be in Africa like in the many 000’s, and worse in USD (gulp, heart attack!), so it was great news for us to know that there were some great offers from Cheli and Peacock. Called the Circuit Package – we get an immediate 10% off daily accommodation rates, if we stay a minimum of 6 nights at 2 or more of the C&P portfolio properties. It’s still ongoing so take advantage of it. Valid for travel from 3rd January – 31st July and 1st September – 20th December 2014 & 2015, excluding August.
So here’s a snapshot of the itinerary we received from Caro, a Cheli & Peacock representative who planned it efficiently for us.
22 Jun 2014
On arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, you will be met by a Cheli & Peacock representative and transferred to the Wilson Airport in time for the 10h20 scheduled flight to Lewa and arriving at 11h30. (please note that check in for domestic flights is 1 hour prior to flight departure time)
Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to the Lodge.
- 3 x nights at Lewa Safari Camp – Full Board/ Drinks payable direct
25 Jun 2014
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airstrip in time for the scheduled flight to Masai Mara, departing at 09h35 and landing at 11h00. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to Cottars 1920s Camp with game viewing en route.
- 3 x nights at Cottars – 1920s camp ltd – Full Board/ Drinks payable direct
28 Jun 2014
After a last game drive, you will be transferred to the airstrip in time for the scheduled flight back to Nairobi. A Cheli & Peacock representative will meet and transfer you to the international airport for your journey home.
TOTAL COST OF SAFARI: USD 32,336.00 (for 6 persons) which worked out to be USD5389 per person. Still pricey but I think rather well priced considering where we stayed and was not a scary figure like USD10,000 per person which I have heard of.
- Full board accommodation at Lewa Safari Camp and Cottars Camp, All soft drinks, beers, house wine and selected spirits, Airport / Airstrip transfers, Park Entrance Fees, Game drives in a 4 wheel drive vehicles, Scheduled flights mentioned above, Limited Laundry, All transfers mentioned above, All domestic flight departure taxes, All Known Government Taxes
Unless we were to spend on Champagne or other luxury wines, there’s much pretty no other spending required during our stay there. It was good that we didn’t have to bring much cash other than some USD for paying gratuities to the camp staff and buying some local souvenirs. If you want to drink some specific alcohol, best to buy it at the stopover airport as it can be very expensive in the lodges.
On board Qatar Airways flight Singapore-Doha.
Unanimous consensus was reached quickly upon seeing this exciting itinerary and next was to find out which was the best airline to go to. The whole bunch of us was hoping to use our miles to redeem flights on Star Alliance network, but unfortunately the route or airline options didn’t seem so ideal. Best was via Qatar Airlines which included just 1 stop over in Doha and a flight time of around 12 hours, making the full travel time 14 hours 15 mins. This was the only cost – bit of a dent in the wallet that Y had to fork out for a Business Class seat on Qatar Airways, and the cost is comparable to Singapore Airlines, although I think it still lags behind Singapore Airlines in terms of the service and overall seat design. The only thing left was to pack a luggage no more than 15 kg (yes they are very strict on the baggage weight for the internal flights) and get our vaccines done. Will be posting separately some info on that 🙂
14 hours plus later including a stopover at Doha Hamad International Airport, we finally reached Nairobi Airport, which was pretty chaotic. Be warned – be prepared to wait 2 hours to clear the immigration. After a long and bothersome wait in the slowest queue ever, we finally met the Cheli and Peacock representatives outside, who picked us up in their vehicle to transfer to the Wilson Airport where we will be flown in a small plane to Lewa. Based on our rooming arrangements, each pair were given a Cheli & Peacock folder which had all the itinerary and air tickets included inside, thumbs up for this nice touch.
We had some time at the Wilson Airport where we needed to fill up some information on the forms to pass back to the Cheli & Peacock rep. He was rather attentive and explained thoroughly what was in the folder and wished us bon voyage as we boarded the plane to Lewa. I could say with conviction that booking through Cheli and Peacock safaris was a good choice!
It can be rather unnerving sitting in these small propeller planes, especially for Y and I who have rather bad motion sickness with boats and small planes. Armed with lemon peel (one of those preserved fruits that pregnant ladies love to eat to curb nausea), we braved the short flight and finally reached Lewa. Can’t wait to share more posts on my stay there.
I leave you here with a view from the plane as we fly over Nairobi to Lewa.