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February 20, 2015 / oneworld82

A Kenyan Safari (featuring Emirates and Etihad Airways First Class)

There are trips, and then there are TRIPS. A trip would be a weekend to Cancun or a week in Italy visiting family. A TRIP would be a road trip across Australia (like I did in 2013) or dog-sledding in Greenland.

What I am going to narrate about falls into the TRIP category. Because you don’t happen to go to Kenya – one of the best places on Earth to see wildlife – every day. Kenya is a TRIP that requires some degree of planning and thinking. While flying to Nairobi and then “figuring it out” could be an option, that’s not a very smart one if you have limited time. As my experience in developing countries taught me, things can get wrong easily when planning last minute, and wasting 1 or 2 days on a week-long trip could really ruin a trip.

All of this is magnified when you try to get first three, and then five people not only from different cities within the USA but also from different countries to take the same trip, together. As we had different budgets and expectations, we decided to look for a “mid-range” type of tour, and we ended up booking our trip through Safe Ride Tours and Safaris Ltd, a company from Nairobi.

Of course, Kenya is a big country, and having only one week on the ground we had to make some decisions. It also helped that, at first, only two of the five worked on crafting the itinerary. We didn’t really case about spending too much time in Nairobi, as we wanted to see animals; Maasai Mara was, of course, our top priority, since it’s probably the best place to see big cats in Kenya (as the northern extension od Serengeti, it gets lots of action during the wildebeest migration, but that happens during summertime); most tours then head to Lake Nakuru – which is not too far away and which is a great spot to see birds, including flamingos. This would take up 3-4 days, so we’d have two more days left; the next logical park to visit was Amboseli, to get some good wildlife pictures with the Mt Kilimanjaro as backdrop. And so we had our itinerary set.

Then we had to think how to get there. Each of us came up with different plans. I, for my part, had first booked an itinerary mainly on BA First during US YQ-surcharge glitch. I would fly BA A380 F twice and QR F on my way back, for only ~$220 in tax and fuel surcharge. But then that itinerary started to sound not so appealing, also because some schedule changes would create some long layovers and require one extra day of vacation to use the same ticket. So I cancelled this ticket, and looked for options.

Right around New Year’s Eve I found First Class availability using AS miles on DFW-DXB-NBO. Perfect flight times, get to (finally!) try EK F on the A380, DONE! I booked that. Easy peasy.

Figuring out the way back was a little bit more convoluted. I will spare you all my iterations, but in the end I decided to burn (a lot) of miles to fly Etihad Business Class to Abu Dhabi, connecting then to Etihad First Class on a Jet Airways-configured 77W to Frankfurt; from there I would fly American Airlines business class on a 767-300ER (old configuration). While I was originally planning to fly Lufthansa First Class on my way back home, I am glad I went for AA as an intestinal bug made me miserable for all my return journey – I would definitely not have enjoyed my LH flight.


I hope you will follow my report because this trip has been nothing short of amazing. Traveling with good old friends is always fun, and Kenya was very generous to us in terms of wildlife sightings and cultural experience overall. So sit tight, grab a drink, and let’s go!

One Comment

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  1. Terrie / May 5 2015 10:02 pm

    Very interesting ρints you hace remarked, thankyou for putting up.
    “Never call an accountant a credit to his profession a good accountant is a debit to his profession.” by Charles J.
    C. Lyall.

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