Live with no excuses, travel with no regrets. – Oscar Wilde
Leaving the Mara and Africa
We left the Mara a bit sad but certainly richer with all the amazing experiences we had over those 3 days. We didn’t say much to each other on the drive to the airstrip nor did we talk much on the flight back into Nairobi. It was a chance to just take it all in and try to understand how is it possible more people aren’t doing this. I know that there were so many hunting safaris in the past, there are still some game reserves just for this, sadly. But the conservation efforts from companies like Cottar’s and others are making such a great contribution for the Mara and it’s animals and people who live there. We were lucky to have found the deal we did, otherwise we’d have to save up for a few years to do the trip. Now I know it would be worth it.
We went back to our hotel in Nairobi, the Fairmont The Norfolk for just another night. The next morning we were up early for the flight to Abu Dhabi. Kenya Airways brought us over and, to me, they rank right up there with some of the better known airlines for service and their product. After arriving at the airport we were chauffeured to the Hilton on the Corniche which is now a Radisson property. Our friend with the Hilton company set us up in a grand suite! Corner of the building on the top floor, private entrance and a separate entrance for the butler!
Just as much as Dubai was over the top with it’s building and modernization Abu Dhabi does a great job at competing. The size is a bit smaller but still incredibly impressive. There were several different activities we wanted to do so we spent 3 days in Abu Dhabi before heading home.
We wanted to visit a camel farm, ride 4-wheelers in the desert, visit a former royal palace, and keeping with the tall buildings go up to the highest point in Abu Dhabi. There is also an incredibly beautiful masque, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque that we had to visit, it’s stunning white exteriors and inlaid colored marble floors are only bested by the worlds largest carpet inside the main room!
After checking out the sites it was now time to get back on the road. We had a 16 hour flight ahead of us and thankfully we had enough miles/points for the business class seats. Back when we did this trip we had built up enough Starwood Preferred Guest member points along with some transferred from American Express Member Rewards to get us those seats. It took 60,000 miles for each of us, total 120,000 miles with about $100 in taxes. Bargain! Although, after about the first 12 hours you’re starting to feel restless and you’ve got 5 hours more to go! I shouldn’t complain, we weren’t in coach for that flight.
The trip and the cost
It’s hard to actually put a price on what we experienced as much of it was more than we could have ever imagined. But I’ll try to explain how much we did spend on getting to do this.
- Los Angeles to Dubai – approx 85,000 using Alaska miles, One Way per person, I acquired these through credit card sign up bonuses.
- Hilton Garden Inn Dubai – paid out of pocket.
- Dubai to Nairobi – paid out of pocket.
- Fairmont hotel Nairobi – paid out of pocket.
- Stay at Cottar’s Camp – approx $500US was bid on Luxury Travel Diary auction site. This cost does not include tips for our stay.
- Hilton Dubai – paid out of pocket.
- Dubai to Los Angeles – 60,000 per person American Airline Miles, transfer miles from American Express Member Rewards to fill in the gap.
- Each of the airline bookings have their own taxes which varied between them.
I won’t go over all the other expenses we had with the other experiences.
Please, check out the pictures from the trip, it’s only a few but you’ll get the jest of it.
I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about this trip. Please, drop me a line and I’ll share what I know.
Please, stop by my photo-log and enjoy all of the other terrific pictures from the adventure!