Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> Kenya + Tanzania

Choosing an East African tour

Our trip was basically an "all included" two week tour, booked as a package through a UK company IntoAfrica but with separate Kenyan and Tanzanian weeks run by different local operators, Mountain Rock Safaris (but branded IntoAfrica) and Maasai Wanderings.

There are a lot of options for safari tours, so why IntoAfrica? I found them when we first thought about going to Africa many years ago, searching for ethical travel options, and was impressed by their engagement with local communities and general attitude. That they were still going six years later seemed like a good sign.

An alternative we considered was Intrepid, who I'd travelled with in Mongolia. They had an East Africa wildlife adventure with a similar looking itinerary and the same maximum group size. (Though they use a big truck-like vehicle instead of one to three smaller vehicles, perhaps to allow them to run tours right through the wet season.) But this was 20% more expensive, presumably supporting their administration and advertising and the cost of an extra "external" guide.

It seemed to me that a company that only ran East African tours would be more engaged with what they were doing. IntoAfrica seems to consist of a single-person operation on the UK end, run by someone (Chris) who fell in love with the region (in more ways than one, since we were told he has a Maasai wife).

It is possible to travel independently in Kenya and Tanzania, hiring vehicles and guides on an ad hoc basis, but it would have involved a fair bit of logistical work and might not have been cheaper, since the tour operators get bulk discounts. (Kenya has quite good infrastructure compared to much of Africa, but it still has a per-capita income lower than Cambodia's and half that of Vietnam's — it's a far cry from Turkey, let alone Switzerland. And screwing up transport or accommodation in those countries is unlikely to get you eaten by the local wildlife.)


Adding a pickup from the airport on arrival, hotels at the beginning and end of the trip, the shuttle from Arusha back to Nairobi, and a taxi to the airport at the end, and Kenyan and Tanzanian visas, and the total cost came to US$3845 each. That included everything except lunch in Nairobi in the middle of the trip, drinks on the few occasions when we stopped somewhere, and lunch, dinner and museum entry on our last day in Nairobi. It also excluded tips to our crew and to some of the workers where we stayed or visited, which would have totalled another $300 or so each.

Camilla bought quite a lot of souvenirs, mostly textiles and animal carvings, but I came away without anything — though perhaps only because the bookshops in Nairobi shut on Sundays!

"External" costs included (each): the bus to and from Heathrow (£20), return flights from London to Nairobi (£200), yellow fever vaccinations (£50), and anti-malaria prescriptions and tablets (£90). (The Tanzanians didn't end up asking to see our yellow fever vaccination certificates, but my understanding is that they are technically required for non-East Africans entering from Kenya. I'd probably have passed on the malaria pills too, if we'd just been doing the week in Kenya.)

At over $300/day, this was the most expensive trip I've ever done, edging out our visit to Iceland in 2003.


I was generally very happy with the tour. I would recommend the Kenyan week over the Tanzanian one for most people, largely because of the huge difference in the comfort of the accommodation. We also had a better guide in Kenya, though that may have been luck.

Camilla got less happy towards the end of the trip, but I think some of that may have been tiredness; in retrospect, a one week trip might have beeen enough. (IntoAfrica also run a two week Kenyan tour which would be worth considering as an alternative.)

I'd like to go back to Kenya, perhaps to climb Mt Kenya — which I would do with IntoAfrica — and spend some time looking at other parts of the country.

Kenya + Tanzania << Travelogues << Danny Yee