Nairobi and Mombasa Safaris, Cheap luxury safaris

Ket Safaris
To all viewers – Do not hesitate to USE THIS COMPANY. We researched for almost 2 years before our trip. We looked at American tour companies and several operators
in Africa. We chose Kenya Expresso Tours and Safaris after several months of correspondence by e-mail and a couple of phone conversations. Paul spent a lot of
time answering our questions and arranged our itinerary the way we wanted.

Our dream safari totaled 11 days and 10 nights - 2 in Nairobi, 2 in Masai Mara; 3 in Serengeti, and one night each at the Crater in Ngorongoro; Lake Manyara, and
Amboseli. Crossing the border from Kenya to Tanzania was not a problem at all. You will need a Visa for both and we feel visiting both countries is a must if you
have never been as they are both unique. Some tour operators do not operate in both which was another reason for choosing KETS. Paul was willing and able to plan our trip based on our itinerary- we told him what we wanted he gave us

what we wanted, simple. Several other companies we looked into want you to choose from the list of packages they offer and have trouble customizing your trip for you to include both countries.
On our first day in Nairobi, we met Paul who told us that we were in the best hands to see the Big 5. Not only did we see the Big 5 and countless other
animals, Paul and his drivers, Frances in Kenya and Joseph in Tanzania, provided for us an experience of a lifetime. We went on our safari from June 17-28th and
we were able to get "shoulder season" rates. The weather was perfect and not as
many tourists. The plains still had color and had not turned brown as yet. Our
pricing included a Toyota 4X4, (pay the little extra) lodging and full board at
the safari lodging sites, and a driver/guide for a private tour of just 2 people.
Stay away from mini-vans, they have a tendency to get stuck, and the 4X4's have to
pull them out. We saved a significant amount by going directly with KETS; less expensive than American based companies because you are going directly to the
operator there, and we had our own vehicle, and were not in a group tour - all those people. Our accommodations were excellent. We had looked up all the lodges and
there was only one night where we wanted to stay at a different place than what was initially quoted and Paul accommodated us with this request.

We will honestly say that we were skeptical and unsure about going directly to a company in Nairobi without prior experience. We contacted Trip Advisor, Better
Business, US Embassy State Dept. and any other resource we could find to check on the legitimacy of this company. We had some fear - what if they don't show up;
what if we don't get what we paid for - let's face it, your entire trip relies on
your tour operator. Everything was EXACTLY what we asked for, paid for, and was
told what we would get. KETS clearly states on their home page that they charge an additional 3% to your total if you pay your safari by credit card this is not
the 3% imposed from your credit card company which you can also avoid if you travel with an international credit card you will not pay this fee. So, if you
want to save 3%, give Paul a certified check or cash, we missed this item. Also be very aware of the exchange rates for currency and do not get taken by street
people offering exchanges - you will be taken. Gifts and souvenirs, also do your homework, we purchased some items too soon in our trip, Francis did tell us to
barter and compare but the baseline place we went to as our first place was so outrageously priced we thought prices were good after that. Every park you go to
will have tribe people approach you with items, beads, jewelry carvings, blankets any of these items you will get for a very good price.

We cannot say enough about how precise and smoothly all the arrangements went. Our guides/drivers - Francis in Kenya and Joseph in Tanzania, were professional,
courteous and dependable. Everywhere we went, we were escorted and guided, and they were always at our meeting point before us. We never felt unsafe or uneasy,
even when the drive was long and difficult. They have to navigate between animals, people, washed out road conditions and traffic can be tedious. We tried not to
distract with questions too many times , and a traveler needs to understand there is some down quiet time that is needed and we cannot fault your guide for conditions or places that we chose to go. Both drivers put our safety and comfort in the highest regard. We told them that we met as strangers and left as friends, you can enjoy your experience immensely with the hours you will spend together on a trip like this by really appreciating all you can take away from it.

We can honestly say that this was a life changing event and choosing your tour operator is an essential part of the process.
The places, the people, and the things we got to see and do were magnificent - the culture and the country is beautiful. This is a must see for anyone who is
fortunate enough to travel there. We learned more than we thought possible from Francis and Joseph and the camaraderie was comfortable. We were both given a
personalized gift as we left which Paul had Francis pick up for us. Joseph also gave us a gift from his heart and shared his story and reasons for becoming a tour
guide and his passion for his country and the wildlife in it. Both are very meaningful to us. Bottom line – our dream is to return next time without the
worries that we had that turned out to be unnecessary stress on our part prior to our trip. The livelihood of these companies depends on tourism and it shows in the
quality of the experience we had. Will we book again with KETS - absolutely.
To Paul, Francis, Joseph, and Purity - Asante Sana, and until we meet again. Ron
and Diane Florida, USA
 
Date of Posting: 18 July 2015
Posted By: Ron and Diane
Diane Florida, USA
“Wonderfull Experiance”

This was the 2nd KETS Safari we have done in 2 years,again it was a perfect Experiance. Many thanks to Paul who never fails to return our emails & to our guides Francis in Kenya & Richard in Tanzania thanks for you great animal spotting & safe driving. We hope to use KETS (Kenya Express Tours) again.
Cliff & Lyndall Lewis

Visited May 2015
 
Date of Posting: 27 May 2015
Posted By: Lyndall L
Sydney, Australia
“Wonderful Safari Experience”

This was a trip of a lifetime and our driver Daniel made every effort to ensure we enjoyed every minute of it. From the moment he picked us up at the airport I felt like we were getting the personalized attention I needed for my kids, a 9 year old son and 10 year daughter. Daniel made sure we saw lions, buffalos, a leopard and elephants. He stopped for pictures whenever we wanted, took us to spots of unbelievable beauty and gave us knowledgeable answers. We visited a Maasai village and that was simply amazing for the kids. Oh and the accommodations the KETS arranges is the best in Maasai Mara. Ashnil Mara is luxury. If you going on safari in Kenya use KETS. They were recommended to us by a friend and I recommend them just as highly.

Visited May 2015
 
Date of Posting: 21 May 2015
Posted By: Donal K
Muscat, Oman
“Amazing Safari”

Four of us did a safari with KET in late February. It was a great trip. Initially I contacted 4 Kenya based safari companies. All 4 had positive reviews on Trip Advisor. All 4 quickly responded with a recommended itinerary. I choose KET as they were the only company whose response fully covered the items I had in my request. Specifically the ability to include game reserves in both Kenya and Tanzania. The catch here is that a country specific guide is required and tour company had to hand us off between guides and Land Cruisers. The lead time on getting the safari arranged and booked was less than 2 months from our departure date. There were a few times that we had a lag on getting responses on emails, but as long as I sent emails from KET web site (as opposed to directly to their email address) I always received a prompt response.

I was a little nervous about wiring a deposit to Kenya, but there were no issues and we paid the balance on arrival in cash.

We visited Masia Mara, Serengeti, Ngoro Ngoro, and Amboseli. All the game reserves were great. Similar, but also unique it their own way. Lodging at Ashnil Mara Camp, Mbalegeti Lodge, and Ol Tukai Lodge was outstanding. All were nicer that we expected. Great rooms, excellent food, and incredible service. We also stayed at Ganako Lodge near Ngoro Ngoro. Although we were the only guests we still experienced excellent service.

Both guides, Francis in Kenya and Ozzie in Tanzania were excellent. They both were extremely knowledgeable and did everything they could to make our trip enjoyable. They know you are there to see as many animals as possible and they delivered from their constant communications with other guides.

Though nothing special was required they also did a great job of accompanying my father who is 91 years old.

One final note – given we were on Safari in late February we were not there for the great migration at Masia Mara, but more importantly we missed the crowds. The lodges were about 30% full which was great. We consistently were on our own during game drives and only occasionally came across other Land Cruisers. We were always able to spend as much time as we wanted everywhere we went. A case in point, is in the Serengeti was watched a leopard in a tree for at least 15 minutes. We were told that doing high season, we would have been surrounded by Land Cruisers and been limited to only a few minutes. Additionally, we were able to see the start of the great migration in the Serengeti. Just amazing, but without the crowds.

I highly recommend Paul and Kenya Expresso Tours And Safaris. Honestly the trip, the service, the cost, the entire experience could not have been better.

Visited February 2015
 
Date of Posting: 13 May 2015
Posted By: Charles-Oregon
US West Coast
“The best safari trip one could ask for

The trip was an amazing time. Our guide Patrick was phenomenal. He made sure that we saw all 4 of the big five that were in the safari. We only missed the rhino. He was very knowledgeable and answered all questions. He stopped anytime we wanted pictures. By far a highly experienced guide and he's from the Masai tribe. The stay overnight was great also. The camp was very modern and had great amenities. I highly recommend everyone to use this agency. It's well worth it and creates a lifetime of memories.

Visited March 2015
 
Date of Posting: 09 May 2015
Posted By: footsusmc
uk
“Experience of a Lifetime!”

I and my wife traveled to Masai with Ket Safari for an experience of a lifetime! We were very concerned about safety (as we witnessed a not so good experience in Nairobi the night we arrived), but when we spoke to Paul, he put all our concerns to rest. The tour driver cum guide who picked us from Nairobi was an amazing person with all detailed knowledge about the park and its residents. It was indeed due to his acumen that we were able to watch all the park residents (including the famous 5 but rhino) in just couple of hours of safari. Most people had been camping since 3 days with no sighting luck! He gave us ample time for photographing. All the bookings were seamlessly done through Ket Safari. We stayed at Sarova Mara Game Camp, a must visit property with great hospitality! The most beautiful part of the trip was watching the sunrise and sunset in the game reserve.

Visited March 2015
 
Date of Posting: 09 May 2015
Posted By: Abinash K
New Delhi, India
“Amazing time!”

One of the highlights of my kenya trip was the tour and the operators. I had a very large group of 25 peoppe so i was nervous about things running smoothly. Paul was patient and assisted in the entire process. my vehicle had 6 of us in it and operable wifi for the journey from nairobi which was a great resource. The accommodations at ashnil mara camp were amazing and the staff made us feel at home and kept the bar open late just so we could enjoy ourselves. I Highly Recommend Booking With KET...thanks again for all the great memories in finding the big 5!

Visited March 2015
 
Date of Posting: 18 April 2015
Posted By: Koolnupe5
“Rude and arrogant guide destroyed the good mood in Masai Mara”

If you should choose KET Safari be sure to note that you do not want 'Philip' as guide. Never have I experienced such a bad mannered guide, who when asked to wildlife etc would tell you how stupid your questions are and generally just sit silent and irritated in the front seat when not being on his cell. Incredibly bad service indeed for a ~3500$ trip.

Visited March 2015
 
Date of Posting: 17 April 2015
Posted By: Valdemar S
“4 days with KET safari”

Didnt go so well for me. Paul (Francis, and Purity) spoke very nicely, and did coordinate the safari, however he wasnt available. Francis, the driver/guide took us to safari.

1. The hotel room that was promised in Nairobi (Sarova Stanley) was not for a family size. His phone was switched off; then I had to dispute with one of his assistants (Purity), to get a little larger room. My wife didnt like the "argument" part right when were about to begin our safari.

Turned out Room price was ~USD150, however we were charged USD450. But, that surely is my bad, should have done my research well. I guess we can find better options in this money.

2. The 4x4 is in a very weary-teary condition. Used up tyres, broken seats, jammed windows, doors not opening, etc. If you are with kids, then request for a car that is in better shape.

3. For some reason, with those bald tyres we had two punctures on our way back, and lost 2 hours in fixing the tyres and waiting at the service station to fix those. My kids were annoyed.

4. Just one last note: They kept on explicitly mentioning and repeating about the "Tips". I am fine with Tips. However, my point of view is that, Tips should come natural from the guest, based on how well you(or driver or guide) treat your guest. If someone had to give the tip, they would do that anyway; others wont.

Happy safari.

Visited April 2015
 
Date of Posting: 13 April 2015
Posted By: Kay J
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
My boyfriend and I did the 7 day / 6 nights safari, going to Ngutuni, Taita saltlick, Ziwani sanctuary, Amboseli, Tsavo West and Tsavo East with out wonderful guide Jackson, and we both had the most incredible experience - I highly recommend not only visiting Kenya to safari, but to use KET Safaris for experience, sightings, price, standard of hotels, a private tour guide (no sharing with strangers - yock!).

TIP 1 :
On arrival buy a map of Kenya and a poster that shows you pictures and names of all the animals. It was so much easier to remember what was what after seeing one of these in the hotels.

TIP 2:
Buy a little headlamp each - you can get them on Amazon for a fiver. Most of the camps turn off the power at midnight, so it can be difficult to navigate to the bathroom in the pitch dark!

TIP 3: DEET!
Get the 60%, 70%... 80% eek.. Deet. Deet early and Deet often. None of your environmentally friendly nonsense.

TIP 4:
Buy a great camera - its so worth it putting all your pictures from this wonderful holiday together and making a photo book. Super special :)

TIP 5:
Rainy season - less a tip and more so a note. We went in the rainy season and it hardly rained at all, we had beautiful weather. So I didn't get to wear my Safari explorer rain coat at all!!

Down to business..

I rate my safari experience with KET Safaris 9/10 - which is REALLY high - and I'll tell you why they lose one point later. I'll cover how I found and chose KET, the booking process, the reserves, hotels, tour guide and sightings.

To put my review in context, my boyfriend and I are 26/27. We have a penchant for relatively luxurious travel, far beyond our means, which is usually satiated by friends parents with luxury villas / boats etc. A lack of Kenyan contacts meant we were going to actually have to dig deep ourselves to fund our extravagance for once! I wanted a high standard of safari that wouldn't leave me needing to go back to do "all the things I missed out on this time". Compared to our friends I would say we have a relatively high risk tolerance, in that we don't do package holidays and have successfully relied on Google Maps and a good four-wheel-drive to get us out of scrapes in the past.

After all that, you'll see from my photos that I look like a bit of a pansy, and I am. And I believe that because KET always do private tours (its just you and your own friends / partners in the van) it caters for ALL holiday makers.

So lets begin.

1) PROJECT: FIND AMAZING SAFARI TO MEET MINE AND MY BOYFRIENDS EXTREMELY DEMANDING AND DIVERSE REQUIREMENTS...

We agreed we wanted to go to Kenya, and to go on Safari.

I had LOADS of time on my hands so I researched, emailed, phoned etc every safari tour operator I could find for a Kenyan Safari. My boyfriend wanted to see Masai Mara, and I wanted to see Ziwani and Amboseli.

My initial plan was to fly to Nairobi (wait for it..) rent a car, drive 4.5 hrs to Masai Mara, stay 2 nights, drive 8.5 hrs to amboseli, stay 2 nights, drive 7 hrs to diani, chill out for 5 days, drive 2.7hrs to Ziwani, maybe take in a day trip of Tsavo, and finish with a 5 hr drive to Nairobi. Obviously this RIDICULOUS itinerary was overruled, and I sought to develop a more conventional itinerary, without self-drive.

My definite wants were Ziwani, Amboseli, Tsavo East and Tsavo West. Most places offering 4 day trips for what was averaging as around £2k per person (ex flights and all the other parts of your trip of course). I couldn't believe it when I found KET offering a SEVEN day safari (wowsers!) for what was coming in at £750 GBP per person. I didn't even look to negotiate I was so happy with the price (prices may have changed since April 2011). I transferred a $500 deposit to Paul. On arrival in Kenya (we holidayed for the first week and safari'd in week 2) Paul phoned to see how all was and to make sure I remembered our meeting point in Mombasa. I paid the balance in cash to Jackson who picked us up on time from our hotel, and off we went! All very smooth and happy :)


Now, price is NOT everything. There are a number of very important factors when booking a safari and you need to confirm the answers before booking. Happily, KET gave all the right answers and completely delivered throughout our trip. The factors are:

1. STANDARD OF VEHICLE

Is it a Landcruiser or Hiace Van or Other. We had a 7 seater Hiace Van all to ourselves - this was wonderful for so many reasons: You can stand up ALL day during the safaris and not be in anyones way, feeling the wind through your hair and getting really close to the animals, useful for setting up a tripod shot when the van is stopped, someone can sleep in the back if there has been hours of travelling.

The only BAD POINT about the van (actually the ONLY bad point about the whole KET experience, which is net a good thing, that it was just this) was the absolutely awful suspension... (shudder). You are driving on the worst roads you can imagine. Worse that that, the bad roads are more painful than where theres NO road because of the broken tarmac. Between reserves, you can be driving for 6 hours, and the blaring rattling of the windows, constant shaking gets a bit much. I (stupidly) didn't have a proper protective case for my macbook, so for one of the really rocky journeys I actually held it mid air for four hours because I felt the hard drive was taking a battering.. Anyway, not to dwell on that too much. Thats why I dock 1 point.

which brings us on to factor 2...


2) HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE SHARING MY VAN:

Most companies sell four to eight seats on every van. Thats a lot! KET only do private so you'll never be with strangers, and you probably wont appreciate how good it is until you pull up alongside another van at a border crossing or something and they're all sweating, and cramped and hot and cross looking. Not like us - delighted with life!

3) WHAT IS THE NAME OF EACH HOTEL THAT ILL BE STAYING IN

Trip advisor search all of them. KET chose really good hotels and we were very happy with them. Critiquing each individually is far outside the scope of this review, but suffice to say, I was very happy that KET chose a high standard of hotel at every reserve and (what I really liked) was that our guide Jackson had a visibly really strong relationship with everyone at the hotels. It made you feel really looked after.

4) WHATS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE

We had every meal paid, you just pay for the wine etc if you want it. We also got hour long massages at Ziwani for $20 each (nice!!) which was well worth it. KET also paid for a night viewing at Ziwani and a walking safari (...also at Ziwani - I LOVED Ziwani!)

5) HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE HAS THE GUIDE

You're dependent on this person to notice the cheetah in the long grass, tell you the names of the 7billion breeds of antelope (or so it feels..) tell you the names of the really random stuff that you've never seen before.

Also, you want a popular guide; not popular with tourists but hooked up on the guide circuit because they all share radios and sightings. So by default, the more friends he has the more animals you'll see!

Jackson was fantastic - I really like him both as a guide and as a really great person. On safari he was super hooked up. On our second day, leaving Ngutuni, we were the first van out for the day (it was pretty quiet being low season, April) but we were first to see the Lion. Jackson shared out nugget of wisdom and I feel it paid dividends in the sighting tips we got in return! As a person, Jackson is just a genuinely happy, good natured, good guy! I am really happy that Jackson was our guide - I hope Oisin and I didn't drive him too crazy!

He was a safe experienced guide too, and he went to the ends of the earth to make sure I got the most amazing photos. One such was a shot (well, probably fifty shots) of a massive herd of elephants crossing Kilimanjaro. Incredible experience. Not just that, he could read the animals behaviour, and was always positioned for a quick getaway if they decided to charge!! (Key skill!)

Jackson knew the name of everything! So much so that my boyfriend actually thought he was making it up, until he showed us a book proving he was right! It was April, we were often reminded that "This is the rainly season, but in September there are thousands of Lion cubs right here!" - I guess he was tempering our expectations but we saw LOADS! Lions, Cheetas, cheetas hunting!, Giraffes, loads of elephants (and super cute baby elephants!) buffalo, antelope, secretary bird, vultures, hyenas, jackals, zebra, bats, cheeky monkeys, wildebeest, massive dung beetles and iguanas. Phenomenal.

Heres a quick rating of the safaris:

Ngutuni - first place we went, but I have particularly fond memories. Our room looked right onto the waterhole. The owners of the hotel were just lovely and I would say we saw the greatest mix of animals at Ngutuni - highly recommend.

Taita Hills - Mmmm. Meh. I didnt like the hotel. The grass was very long so didnt see much BUT that was the day that we had an amazing elephant crossing experience and I got a picture of a Mum monkey cradling her tiny baby monkey - cute! Actually my only thing about taita hills was there was a funny (bad funny) smell in the restaurant. I dont know why that made me not like the place.

Ziwani - HEAVEN! Stunning, great food, amazing friendly staff, cheap massages, Hippos right there in the swamp in front of (and this is the best part) PROPER LUXURY TENTED CAMP! Wow. I loved it so much. You will never see a starry night like ziwani.

Amboseli - Amboseli is in the shade of Killimanjaro which is pretty amazing. Its a basin where all the animals come together. Plus, a masai tribe live nearby so you can visit if you want. We didn't. I think Amboseli was great, but in the hotel, the manager was a bit of a crazy person and railed on staff in front of guests, but Im not a fan off, and its also a tented camp, but they're not in as good nick as Ziwani. Realistically though, anywhere was going to a come down for me after Ziwani. We experienced the most amazing elephant crossing here. Great day!

Tsavo West - Here they have a cheetah trap set so definite sightings. Plus, one night we were all sitting out on the verandah waiting for the cheetah and it was dark, and suddenly a herd of elephants emerged to bathe in the waterhole.. Cause it was so dusky it was a really beautiful sight.

Tsavo East - This hotel is cool! Its somehow really high up over the plains and theres a massive waterhole where so much wildlife comes to bathe all day long. Its a really relaxing sight in between game drives (in summary, you have daily game drives circa 7-10, chill out and lunch and then afternoon 4-7). We had a super close encounter with a giraffe which was pretty spectacular!

If I was to come back I would like to visit Masai Mara, and if we do, I will definitely bok with KET Safaris look to have Jackson as our guide - thank you Jackson and Paul for an incredible experience. Writing this has reminded me of all of our wonderful adventures.

In conclusion, if you are in any way hesitant, put those doubts away and book! You'll be so happy you did!


*************************

If you're interested, as a brief outline of our itinerary, we got monarch flights to mombasa, rented a Pajero from Avis at mombasa airport, rented a 3 bed house with pool and cook called 'Topi Villa' in Diani (£85 p/n), chilled out for a week, stayed one night at the castle royal in Mombasa (awful hotel), did the week safari, stayed in a suite in the Royal Court hotel (fabulous) and then flew back to the UK.
 
Date of Posting: 31 March 2015
Posted By: Orla
United Kingdom

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