Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reporting from Kenya December 2008

I'm just back from an educational trip to Kenya sponsored by the Kenya Tourist Board. I visited Joy's Camp in Saba National Park, then Saruni Camp in Samburu National Park. Saruni Samburu is actually spectacularly located on a mountain ridge in the Kalama Conservancy. This is the infinity pool looking north towards the Matthews Mountains.

I returned to Nairobi, where I visited the National Museum. It's newly re-opened after renovations and is definitely worth a visit. Soon the adjacent Snake Park will also re-open.

I can't resist a visit to the Animal Orphanage in the Nairobi National Park. Baby animals from all over Kenya are rescued and nursed back to health here, then released back if appropriate. This is little Mark, one of three 3-month old cheetah cubs that just arrived at the orphanage. He's purring wildly while licking my finger.

I did some shopping at the Kazuri Bead Factory and at Marula Studios in Karen district. I spent the night at the Nairobi Serena. The next morning I flew to Lake Naivasha, where I stayed at the Loldia House. From here it's a 2 hour drive to Lake Nakuru National Park. I saw lots of pelicans and White Rhino here, but very few flamingos. At Loldia House, I saw my first aardvark! This isn't the greatest picture and he quickly disappeared into his hole in the ground.

I spent 6 nights in the Masai Mara: 2 at Little Governors Camp, 2 at the Mara Explorer and 2 at the Royal Mara Safari Lodge.
It's been a lack of tourists in Kenya this year and the recession isn't helping. It's been great for the cats, however. I saw Honey's boys again. This time they killed a wildebeest and devoured it in about an hour. I also saw Shakira, named by the BBC Big Cat Diary last October, with her 3 five months old cubs.
Then I also saw another cheetah mom with 3 five weeks old cubs. I also saw 4 lions, 3 females and their king kill a zebra right in front of me.

It was a great learning experience for me again. I hope you can join me on one of my escorted safaris or call me to arrange a safari for you. If you have a few friends who like to travel with you, I'll be happy to escort your group.

Friday, November 14, 2008

November News from Fiji

How time flies! I promised myself to blog often and keep you informed, but here I am again ... lagging behind. I apologize for that.

Since my return home after escorting my group to Kenya last August into September, I've been to Fiji in October on an educational tour with Sunspots International. In just 8 days, we inspected 22 hotels and small cruise ships. My pictures are posted at under Photo Albums.

This pictures is from the Yasawa Islands with the MV Mystique Princess from Blue Lagoon Cruises.

Please, remember that you can call on me for all your travel needs. I'm an African Safari Specialist, but I still know the world of travel anywhere.
Kristina Trowbridge, WinWin Vacations
206-297-7179 or 877-297-7179

Friday, October 3, 2008

Honey's Cubs

I was in the Masai Mara escorting a group from Seattle for 5 days from Sept 4-9, 2008. I have to report that Honey’s three cubs are doing well. Honey is the cheetah followed by Jonathan Scott from the BBC series Big Cat Diary. Her history can be found on the BBC website here:
We ran into Jonathan Scott at a river crossing in the Rhino Ridge area in the afternoon of Sept 6, not having seen a crossing. He wanted to know if we had spotted the three cheetahs. I immediately recognized him from the Big Cat Diary and inquired if they were Honey’s cubs. Indeed they were and he said they were in the area. We exchanged sorrow over little Toto. Jonathan admitted it was one of his weakest moments ever when little Toto went missing. He so wanted to help little Toto fight the baboons etc.

Jonathan had an idea where to find Honey’s cubs, so we followed him to a lone acacia tree and there ... resting in the shade, were the three cubs. Jonathan was alone in his Big Cat Diary vehicle, but I saw no cameras in his vehicle. There was a BBC Crew vehicle there also.

The cubs were resting peacefully and seemed very healthy. I could see a little baby fuzz still on their necks. I assume that they are just 2 months short of 3 years old now if they were about 10 months old when Honey died on February 17, 2007. They are tall, strong and gorgeous. My guide Melvin said that he’s seen them take down topies, even young wildebeest.

Two days later (September 8, 2008, on the way to look for a crossing (which we never did see), we found the cubs again, but this time they were 40 km away in the Burrungat Plains. Again, they were resting under a lone acacia tree; they were fidgety and s seemed to be hungry; they were on the lookout. There were no signs of Jonathan Scott or the BBC film crew this time.

Honey’s cubs were very interested in some gazelles over the ridge, but they were far away and kept walking away. Then they spotted a few wildies coming over a ridge on the other side followed by about 10 zebras. The wildies kept on dancing like they do and soon disappeared, but a dazzle of zebras kept coming closer. The cubs were intently staring their way.
I asked Melvin if they would go for a zebra and he thought not. But they were so interested. Would they? Soon Melvin was on the roof of the car and asked my husband jokingly to take the wheel. Are they going for the zebras???? They were certainly intently staring in that direction. Soon, they were stalking them. NO WAY!!!! That’s a big animal and these are cubs still, after all. My goodness! Incredible decision!

It didn’t take long. The grass was fairly tall as it has been raining in the Mara on and off this winter, so they were camouflaged enough, but we could still see their heads abouve the top of the straw.

It was noon when we found them and there were only about 5 vehicles around. The Mara was very empty. We never saw more than a few vehicles all day.
The zebras were unaware and kept coming. The dominant brother gave chase. It happened very fast. There was no time for pictures, but I followed the entire chase and the kill in my binoculars. My husband got some video. They let all the zebras pass; then they choose the third one from the end, a young female, but she was just about fully grown. It happened very fast. They are “killing machines” already, these cubs. AMAZING!!!! From all accounts, this was their first zebra. Melvin never imagined he would ever see this. A few more vehicles arrived after the kill, but not many. There were less than 10 at all times.

The cubs have established who the leader is; he did the strangling and called for the chase. When he ate, he would growl at his brothers to keep their distance, so they rested in the shade under the vehicles or played sentry. They took turns eating and guarding the carcass.
No lions or hyenas appeared. An hour later a few vultures arrived, but they sat in the two trees available. Soon the trees were full of vultures, but they waited patiently as they had the time … pole, pole! The cubs ate slowly, panting hard. After the kill it took almost an hour before the cubs really starting eating; not until the vultures started arriving did they get serious about eating. They were exhausted after the chase and it was hot in the sun. By three o’clock, the vultures flew down one by one and landed in back of the kill. The dominant brother chased them back a few times until he was done eating and left. The other brothers were still eating, but the vultures very slowly moved closer. Soon the second brother also left the kill and the vultures got bolder and chased off the last cub.

Within 20 minutes the bones were bare. It was now 4 o’clock and there was nothing left of this drama, but the bones. Even the vultures left. The afternoon vehicles started arriving as we were leaving around 4:30 pm. You snooze … you loose!!

I just can’t believe that I saw this. Unbelievable!!!

My husband has posted his video on his website. If you have Windows Media installed you can see it here: (It’s about 25 minutes long):

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kristina is back from Africa

I'm back from an incredible learning trip to Africa. I flew into Nairobi on NW non-stop to Amsterdam then non-stop to NBO. This was the not-so-fun part, but the best schedule from Seattle, even though it takes 24 hours! There's no way around that. All flights are full these days and there's no legroom at all in coach. I think it borders on "criminal" with respect to how little space is allocated per person. I think almost everyone is willing to pay a little more for more space in coach. Upgrading to business class in not an option for me because of the cost. I'm talking $5,000.00 more and up!

Once, you get there it's worth it. The smell of Africa is fantastic. I feel like I'm home. Nairobi is a vibrant city and offers much to do. I always book an extra first night here to catch my breath and explore the city.

My favorite is a visit to the David Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage. I always enjoy watching the baby ellies play:

I joined 5 other agents to visit Porini and Heritage camps and lodges with one night in each camp. This is exhausting and not recommended. I feel three nights in fewer places is the best way to discover Africa.

Then I flew to Zambia to join another group of agents and to visit all of the new Sanctuary camps just opened there. Sanctuary is owned by A&K. These camps are extra-ordinary.
I especially like the wildlife in South Luangwa NP where you will see Crawshay zebra and Thornicroft giraffe, not seen anywhere else. Of course, there are lots of hippos and crocs in the river and elephants can be seen swimming across in the early mornings after raiding the farmers' fields outside the park during the night: those naughty ellies!

I'm off to Kenya, escorting a group, on August 26, back on Sept 11. Come and see me at the Adventure Travel Expo in Seattle on Saturday Sept 13. I will be in the APTA booth education the visitors and promoting travel to Africa:

Some news from the TSA: Starting Aug 16, 2008, U.S. airline passengers will not have to remove their laptops for airport security screening if they’re using an approved “checkpoint-friendly” laptop case. These new bags – which are on sale now – were designed to allow airport X-ray machines to see through them easily. Federal officials have issued guidelines for bag manufacturers to follow, but there’s no official seal that goes on approved bags, so you should ask questions you buy these bags to insure that they’re truly ready to go through airport X-ray machines. See for more information.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kristina is travelling again

I'm again travelling to Africa departing July 15 on NW Airlines via Amsterdam to Nairobi. I will attend a travel trade conference in Kenya and also visit Abercrombie and Kent's new camps in Zambia that have just opened.

I will be open for business again on August 6th. Then on August 26, I will return to Kenya again, escorting a group on safari.

While I'm in Africa, I will post to this blog whenever possible.

If you need help with travel while I'm gone, please contact Sharon Emerson at 206-367-7657 or email her at

Kristina is the Featured Travel Agent in the July newsletter for Ker & Downey, a USA based luxury custom Tour Operator to Africa, India and South America. click on the link or the picture to see the article.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Showtime in Kenya!

It is wildebeest season again and the sounds fill the night air. - the migration has officially started! Concentrations of plains game under the acacia trees, mass together in preparation for one of the world’s greatest phenomena – the Great Migration.

The stage in the Mara is now set for the world's most fascinating wildlife spectacle: the migration is on its way from the Serengeti’s Endless Plains to the Masai Mara. The wildebeest are preceded by the zebra ‘chomping’ the longer grass in preparation for them.

A herd of almost 2,000 wildebeest have crossed the border from the Serengeti near Sand River gate, with a similar number crossing at Roots Crossing. This head of the southern migration is taking their traditional route towards Roan Hill, while others entered the central Mara plains via the western side of the hill.

The weather has played havoc with the traditional migration this year. Intermittent rain in April grassed the plains in green, which soon dried due to the dry spells in May and June. This dry and overgrown grass is now expected to slow the migration's movement northwards.

Looking into the Serengeti from the Sand River, herds of zebra and wildebeest on eastern and western sides of Naima-Lumbwa Hill can be seen heading northwards. The higher concentration is south of the Mara River and Sand River confluence, with the recently burnt area being the main attraction.

Kenya winters in the Mara are gentle affairs.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Airline charges have taken effect

I will try to keep you updated on all the airline charges as best I can. They seem to change every day, adding more and more fees.

Here's what I know today:
United, USAirways and Delta are charging $25 if you call them on the phone to make a reservation; American charges $20; Alaska, Continental, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue and Northwest charge $15; Southwest does not charge to talk to you.

These airlines will charge $15 for the 1st checked bag each way starting on Aug 18: American, United & USAirways

These airlines charge $25 for the 2nd checked bag each way: All except Southwest

Note: on domestic flights only for now. The fee does not apply to Elite members in their frequent fliers program.

Most airlines charge a fee for priority seats between $5-109.00; check with your airline at time of booking as this varies within one airline as well.

USAirways charge for everything onboard including water and softdrinks. Most airlines are charging from $5-10 for a snack onboard. Many don't accept cash, just creditcards for purchases onboard.

They also charge for oversized bags, overweight bags, curbside checkin and for traveling with pets and children traveling alone. These fees can be in the $100's of dollars.

Ticket change fees are now up to $150 on American, Continental, Hawaiian, United and USAirways.

I'll try to keep up, but it's a challenge.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

From Water to Pans – A Report from Botswana

From Water to Pans – A Report from Botswana
By Kristina Trowbridge, WinWin Vacations, May 2008
More pictures at

Botswana is about the glittering waters of the Okavango Delta,
that give birth and life to all creatures of the Kalahari.
Botswana is about the glittering stars above the Makgadikgadi Pans,
that shine vibrantly adding sparkles to the sky that totally engulf you there.
Botswana is home to the Bushmen with ancestries that go back millions of years.
Botswana is a well kept secret visited by only a few privileged souls.

I travelled to Botswana with my husband Tom on invitation by Ker & Downey on an educational safari.
I arrived in Maun tired from Indaba and travelling around Southern Africa for over 3 weeks hoping for a slower pace of safari. Imagine 2 nights at Okuti Camp, 3 nights with Unchartered Africa luxury camping and 3 nights at Jack’s! Okuti Camp did not disappoint.

Totally rebuilt from the bottom up with the most unusual tents anywhere it was indeed pure luxury. The Camp is located alongside the Moanachira River, as it flows into the Xakanaxa Lagoon, in the famous and beautiful Moremi Game Reserve. Located right on the water channel with a hippo trail below our deck, who could ask for anything more.
We choose the relaxing boat trip with Nelson on the Xakanaxa Lagoon as our first game drive and our first sundowner in Botswana. Here you see the most beautiful sunsets in all of Africa. Just amazing! The sky seems to be on fire, reflecting back from the lagoon like a mirror image. WOW!
After a scrumptious dinner and surprise entertainment by the staff around the campfire, we were ready to crash.
Moremi Game Reserve offers some of the most spectacular game viewing in Botswana.
Here we encountered this young bull in a trunk to trunk stand-off with our vehicle (yes, we have one too!), a pride of lions on the airport runway, a female leopard with 2 young cubs, grazing impalas and kudus, red lechwe running through the water, incredibly beautifully colored birds like the lilac-breasted roller and some extremely rare species of birds like the wattled crane and slaty egret.

A typical day at Okuti Camp offers morning and afternoon activities on land and water, with a packed lunch or returning to camp for lunch, then a siesta in the heat of the day and back out exploring again in the evening with a “sundowner” before returning for dinner. The evenings end with relaxing around the campfire watching the friendly staff singing and dancing, most definitely enjoying it as much as the guests they are entertaining.

It’s time to go camping … in style: And we’re off to adventure in the bush. Here we go! Nothing can stop us. Introducing Ralph and Kaelo - our incredibly knowledgeable guides from Uncharted Africa Safari Company. Uncharted Africa Safari Company was founded in 1993 by Ralph Bousfield in memory of his legendary (some say infamous) father, Jack Bousfield. I think Ralph is already legendary in his own right. Each mobile safari with Ralph is an experience and you can expect only the totally unexpected! Our first camp by the Xini Lagoon was our first surprise. Here we were surrounded by hippos and their songs, continuing all night like a dream come true. The tents are luxuriously appointed with real beds and pure white cotton sheets and feather bedding. All have bucket showers and a throne attached, which flushes the normal way. You couldn’t be more comfortable: enter the gourmet meals! These are coming from nowhere. The “kitchen” is just a few wooden boxes and a fire with some pots. Better food you cannot get even at the Ritz in Paris!!! Uncharted Africa Safari Co. is renowned for fresh tastes and original interpretations of classic dishes, many invented by Ralph’s mother or sister. All bread is baked daily on the coals in trunk ovens.

The highlight of our mobile safari in the Moremi Game Reserve was fly-camping on Xhobega Island. We spent all afternoon getting there on a double-decked boat, cruising through the papyrus on the Moanachira River. We stopped for lunch and a swim along the way at the Sand Bank.
After a sumptuous dinner in camp, Ralph took us out in the Xhobega Lagoon where he literally reached out and grabbed a baby crocodile (just like Steve Irwin). This was an experience I will never forget: hearing that baby croc cry out like they do, … and in person … well to me is indescribable. Ralph didn’t harm it in any way, but it just wouldn’t relax as we all had to pet it, of course. When Ralph released it back into the lagoon, it turned around to try to bite him, but Ralph was prepared for that, so the croc missed and swam away. I’m sorry, I didn’t bring my camera.

The next morning, we went back on the boat and caught a charter flight to Jack’s Camp in the Makgadikgadi Pans. The large pans of Makgadikgadi are the most visible remnants of a lake that was formed more than five million years ago. I found it be a vast wilderness of endless space and timelessness. This is where Jack Bousfield lived and raised his family. Ralph was the youngest child. He grew up trapping wildlife with his father, so he’s full of interesting information about just about everything in nature, which he constantly unravels for his guests like some madman from outer space. He talked faster than my brain could absorb it even though I concentrated, because I didn’t want to miss a word. Ralph stands 6 foot 2” and wears a lion mane around his head.
Here we got to experience a group of habituated Meerkats waking up and coming out of their burrows in the early morning. Oh, how I had longed for this moment! I was hoping that one would climb up on my head and use me for a look-out post, but today they were just sunning themselves before starting their foraging for breakfast. When they were warm, off they went, tail straight up, stopping to dig out what they could find to eat, like scorpions, frogs and lizards. As difficult as it was to leave them, they would forage for food for the rest of the day and we didn’t want to disturb them too long.

In the afternoon, we set out into the Makgadikgadi Pans on quad bikes. We rode those bikes into the sunset and disappeared into nowhere. I had no idea a place like this existed on earth. There’s absolutely nothing out there. The sky and the stars touched the ground and enveloped us like we were in a planetarium. It made me feel insignificant on earth, but still so privileged to be able to experience this. It puts your own life in perspective, makes you think; makes you appreciate all life, our earth and our roles to keep it pure and simple. As I was contemplating all this, Ralph again had a few surprises for us. I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who will follow, so I’m not going to say what the surprises are.

What would the Kalahari be without the San people or Bushmen as they themselves still prefer to be called? Ralph has an extremely close relationship with them and he understands their plight. He has arranged for clients staying at Jack’s or San’s Camps to have a walk with them for a few hours. Our leader was Cobra.

Cobra and his 3 young Bushmen taught us about their way of life, how they use the available plants as food and medicine, how they make fire, how they catch birds in a snare and how they dig up scorpions, and how the play games and have fun.
That evening, Ralph escorted us to the Brown Hyena den, where this 3 months old cub just emerged from hiding after sunset. Ralph wants to habituate the cubs to people as he has done with their mother, but for now we kept our distance to not stress them. It was such a privilege to be able to see one of these rare and elusive animals. Later, an aardwolf circled around the area and the mother hyena showed up after dark at which point two more cubs emerged from the den.
The next morning our safari came to an end with our flights back to Johannesburg.
This was an experience that few people will ever have.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

United Airlines up the ante on checked luggage

Following American Airline's lead earlier this year, United Airlines has announced two changes to its domestic checked-bag policy. The service fee to check one bag for domestic travel will be $15 each way, the second bag will cost you $25 each way and the fee to check three or more bags, overweight bags or items that require special handling will increase from $100 to $125 and from $200 to $250, depending on the item.
United said the changes apply to customers who purchase a ticket on or after June 13, for travel within the U.S. and to & from Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on or after August 18. The $15 service fee does not apply to customers who are flying in United First or United Business or who have premier status with United or any Star Alliance airline. Details on United's checked bag policy are available at

The airlines are blaming high fuel prices to pursue new revenue opportunities, but are afraid to raise the airfares, so instead they are adding surcharges, which amounts to the same thing at the end of the day (for the passenger). The airlines think they are continuing to offer competitive air fares trying to beat each other's lowest fares, thus only beating themselves into bankruptcy. I think it's time to re-regulate the airlines and the entire transportation system in the US, which includes air traffic control and train service for short distances.

United estimates that the new $15 service fee will bring them approximately $275 million a year. How are they going to collect this fee? Everyone will bring more luggage onboard and fill the overhead bins quickly. When those are full, where do the rest of the stuff go? Can you imagine the delays this will cause as the flight attendants will have to collect this fee and check the extra bags brought onboard. Will they charge for early boarding next?

For itineraries that include international flights (except Canada), checking a first and second bag will continue to be free for now, and the cost to check more than two bags or items that are overweight or require special handling varies by destination.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

From Mala Mala

Mala Mala lives up to its reputation of having the best game viewing in South Africa. This morning we saw 2 lion prides with cubs ranging from 2 - 11 months old and also the huge Roller Coaster male, who runs both prides, the Styx and the Eyrefield. Last afternoon, right before sunset we encountered about 300 Cape Buffalo going down to the Sand River to drink. It was an amazing scene that needs to be seen in person to appreciate it. We encountered Leopards too, but cheetah are best seen at Phinda. There we saw a mother with two tiny cubs.
Lukimbi is located in the southern part of Kruger NP. We flew from Phinda to there. The lodge is situated on the Crocodile River on a large concession with excellent game viewing, but nothing can compare to Sabi Sands with all the relaxed animals there.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Travelling in Namibia

I have now been travelling in Namibia for a week and I can report how beautiful this country is. It's a geologist's dream for sure. The wilderness is being preserved here and it's not very populated due to the dry /harsh conditions for survival. The Himba people still do live in their ancient tradition and a visit to a village is unforgettable. The landscapes and scenery cannot be described. You will see ancient lakebeds called (salt)pans, magnificient sand dunes with colors from white to deep reds and many different shapes and hights. Except for Mali, this is the only place to see the desert elephants. They are smaller that the African ellies, with longer legs and trunks as they have to travel long distances to find water and reach high for something to eat. There are only about 300 left, but in Namibia they are well protected now. I was fortunate to see them 3 times and with two very tiny babies still fitting under their mommies' tummies. Also the springbok, black-faced impala and the gemsbok aka oryx. The waterholes aEtosha National Park are very busy and full of life.

The way to do this type of safari is to take a flying safari so you can see the contrasts from the air. You will see the pans, the mountains laying flat down from geological uplifts and the shifting sand dunes of course. They got 200 mililiters of rain this season compared to a normal 80, so the green contrasts are stunning. What an amazing experience! I wish I could publish pictures here right now, but I'm at an internet cafe, so it's not possible.

I'm on my way shortly to Phinda and Kruger National Park after the Indaba conference in Durban. I hope to have access soon again to post more.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kristina is Travelling in Africa during May 2008

I'm again travelling to Africa departing May 1st on NW Airlines via Amsterdam to Johannesburg. I will attend a travel trade conference in Durban, South Africa and visit Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. I will be open for business again on June 5th. While I'm in Africa, I will post to this blog whenever possible.

Here's my itinerary:
1-May dep SEA NW34 at 1:00pm
2-May dep AMS KL591 arrive JNB at 9:10pm
Stay at Aftonio Guest House in Johannesburg
3-May dep JNB SA76 at 1:20pm arrive Windhoek Namibia at 2:20pm, stay at The Elegant B&B, Windhoek
4-May fly on a small charter to Onguma Tented Camp, Etosha NP
5-May fly on to Okahirongo Elephant Lodge, Kaokoland
6-May fly on to Mowani Mountain Camp, Damaraland
7-May fly via Swakopmund to Wolvedans Dunes Lodge, NamibRand for 2 nights
9-May return to Windhoek, fly SA75 at 12:50pm to JNB and switch to BA6221 at 6pm arrive Durban at 7:10pm
Stay at Protea Umhlanga Hotel in Durban for 3 nights while attending the Indaba Travel Trade show
12-May Road Transfer from Durban to Phinda, Stay at Phinda Mountain Lodge
13-May Stay at CC Africa's Phinda Forest Lodge
14-May fly by charter flight from Phinda to Malelane and Transfer from Malelane to Lukimbi Lodge for 2 nights
16-May Road Transfer from Lukimbi to Mala Mala for 3 nights, Sabi Sands in Kruger NP
19-May Road Transfer from Mala Mala to Idube private concession, Sabi Sands, Kruger NP for 2 nights
21-May Road Transfer by Idube to Exeter Dulini private Lodge, CC Africa
22-May Road Transfer Dulini to Exeter River Lodge, CC Africa, Kruger NP
23-May fly back to Joburg via Federal Air at 1:30pm - arrive at 3pm, stay at Aftonio Guest House again, Tom departs Seattle NW 34 at 1pm
24-May Cullinan Diamond Mine tour; Stay at D'Oreale Grande Hotel with Tom
25-May depart JNB for Maun, Botswana on BP212 at 10:00 am, Stay at Ker & Downey's newly renovated Okuti Camp, Moremi GR, Okavango Delta for 2 nights
27-May embark for 3 nights on a Luxury Mobile Safari with Unchartered Africa Safari Company
30-May stay at Jack's Camp in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in the Kalahari for 3 nights
2-Jun fly back to Johannesburg from Maun and board KL592 at 11:30pm for Amsterdam
3-Jun arrive AMS and change to NW33 arrive SEA at 2:10pm, Arrive Home

U.S. Ambassador Encourages Resumption of Travel to Kenya

The U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Michael E. Ranneberger, has addressed an open letter to American travelers advising them to visit Kenya after the establishment of the new Grand Coalition government that followed post-election turmoil this past December.
“I can report that there have been positive developments that are opening up the economic climate and making Kenya once again the perfect locale for business and tourism," he wrote. "The country’s rival political camps reached a landmark power-sharing agreement on February 28, and Parliament acted quickly to codify this through a constitutional amendment. President Kibaki and the Honorable Raila Odinga—now prime minister—are working closely together to forge this new coalition of parties in a new spirit of goodwill and unity.”
Approximately 102,000 Americans visited Kenya in 2007.

Updates from the Friendly Skies

American Airlines, including American Eagle will start charging $25.00 for that second checked bag on May 12. JetBlue is charging $20.00. United, US Airways, Continental, Air Canada, Delta and Northwest are already charging $25 for the second bag. Alaska & Horizon will start charging $25 this summer. Spirit Airlines charge $10 for each bag/no free bag at all. The airlines are raising fares also at the moment up to $110.00 roundtrip. Ticket change fees are also up from $100.00 to $150.00 and calling your airline will also cost you more from now on.

A new rule to compensate passengers who are denied boarding because of an oversell by the airlines goes into effect next month. If you are involuntarily bumped you will/should receive up to $400 if you are rescheduled to arrive at your destination within two hours of your original arrival time or four hours for international flights, and up to $800 if you are not rerouted within that time frame. Look for the airlines to redefine the definition of “denied boarding”.

The airline dilemma as I see it: 5 airlines, Aloha, ATA, Eos, Maxjet, Skybus and Nationwide (in South Africa) have gone out of business recently and mergers between the big ones, Delta & Northwest, United and Continental or USAir are looming, fuel costs are sky-rocketing, so expect higher prices and less space available in the crowded skies. The regional airlines are struggling too. With charges for snacks, earphones, alcoholic drinks, the second checked bag, preferable aisle and window seats, look for the airlines to start charging for early boarding to make sure your carry-ons find space in the overhead etc. This is annoying of course especially when getting less legroom, no pillows or blankets or magazines, but who said the airlines should not be allowed to make a profit? I want them to be profitable so they maintain their planes here at home and get us to our destination safely and with our checked luggage and on-time. What happened to the friendly skies? You tell me!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Passport Rules Delayed

ALL PERSONS traveling by air outside of the United States are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.

The following summarizes information available on the Department of Homeland Security’s website.

CURRENTLY: U.S. citizens need to present either (a) a passport, passport card (available in spring 2008), or WHTI-compliant document; or (b) a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, along with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.
LATER:On June 1, 2009, the U.S. government will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport, passport card, or WHTI-compliant document.
Note: The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory.

U.S. Passport: U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport when traveling via air, land or sea between the U.S. and the aforementioned Western Hemisphere countries.

The Passport Card: U.S. citizens may begin applying in advance for this new, limited-use, wallet-size passport card beginning February 1, 2008. We expect cards will be available and mailed to applicants in spring 2008. When available it will only be valid for land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region, and Bermuda.

WHTI-Compliant Travel Documents for U.S. citizen travel via land or sea, as of January 31, 2008:

  • Trusted Traveler Cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
  • State Issued Enhanced Driver’s License (when available)
  • Enhanced Tribal Cards (when available)
  • U.S. Military Identification with Military Travel Orders
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business
  • Native American Tribal Photo Identification Card
  • Form I-872 American Indian Card
For further information see U.S. Customs and Border protection.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Airlines now charge $25 for a second bag

Two major airlines, United Airlines and US Airways, have recently announced a new baggage policy that will require consumers traveling in economy class to pay a $25 fee for checking a second bag. This new policy applies for tickets bought after February 4th (US Airways) or after February 26th (United) for traveling within the 50 United States, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands or Canada on or after May 5, 2008. Other carriers are expected to follow.

Delta hasn't felt the need so far to tell you that beginning May 1, the fee will go into effect. It doesn't matter whether you booked your flight well before that date; if you're flying after May 1, you're paying for that second piece of luggage. At Delta, the fee affects both domestic and international flights (though business- and first-class and SkyMiles holders won't have to pay).

Northwest Airlines today announced changes to its luggage policies for coach class customers traveling within North America. For coach class travel on or after May 5, 2008, Northwest Airlines is matching several other U.S. network carriers and implementing a $25 charge for the customer’s second checked bag. The fee is applied each way. Coach class customers may continue to check one piece of luggage free of charge. These policies also apply to Northwest Airlink customers flying on Mesaba, Pinnacle or Compass Airlines.
Northwest Airlines’ Silver, Gold and Platinum WorldPerks elite customers, SkyTeam elite customers and passengers booked in full fare classes (Y or B) may still check two bags free of charge. Customers booked in first class can continue to check up to three bags free of charge.

All airlines currently allow one free checked bag, one carry-on and a personal item, such as your purse or laptop computer.

Other changes include an increase to $100 for three or more checked bags. Don’t expect to cheat the system by just buying a bigger suitcase. These airlines also increased the fee for over-weight bags from $50 for each bag that goes over the 50 pound weight limit, to $100 per bag.

American Airlines announced on Thursday it may start charging $25 to check a second bag. American said it filed a notice with the Canadian government indicating it may change its bag fee structure in Canada. That country requires 45 days notice to review such a change.

Only Continental and Alaska Airline has not announced a similar charge ... yet.

I think the next hurdle will be the "Battle of the Overhead Bin" .... when will the airlines start to charge for priority boarding? Hmmm ..... to be continued!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A New Beginning as Peace is Restored in Kenya!

A New Beginning as Peace is Restored in Kenya!

The New Year did not start well for Kenya. Kenyans found themselves the center of world attention as civil unrest erupted following the disputed elections. But although this was a disastrous start, Kenyans celebrated when the news flashed around the world on 28th February that an agreement had been signed between the two Kenyan political leaders, President Kibaki and Hon Odinga, ending the political impasse and restoring peace and harmony to the country.

The power-sharing agreement brought the two opposing sides together in a coalition government on terms agreeable to all and was the result of the efforts of Kofi Annan who had performed the role of mediator in the preceding weeks. This has provided the political solution to allow the country to recover from the civil unrest and we are confident that it will soon restore Kenya to its position as one of the most stable and successful countries in Africa. Kenyans were delighted to see an end to the political stalemate and tension. The feeling of relief was evident among people everywhere and for the first time in weeks optimism was high as many Kenyans expressed their hopes for a better and brighter future.

Since the ending of the political crisis, things have quickly returned to normal as peace and calm have been restored. The wildlife reserves, safari camps, beach resorts and international airports had all continued operating normally throughout the crisis and the 70,000 tourists who were visiting Kenya were not affected in any way but many visitors had decided to postpone their safaris until they could be assured that peace prevailed.

Now Kenya is able to welcome visitors back with the assurance that once again they can feel confident that they will be safe and secure while on holiday in Kenya.

To welcome guests back, many safari camps, among them all four Porini Camps are offering great value safaris, representing big savings on the usual prices.

Porini offers two great value safaris for travel in June: Staying at the Porini Camps in Selenkay, Amboseli, Laikipia and the Masai Mara.

6 nights / 7 days PORINI WILDERNESS EXPERIENCE US$1850 per person

8 nights / 9 days BIRDS AND BIG GAME SAFARI US$2299 per person

* Accommodation are in spacious and comfortable tents with en-suite bathrooms
* Day and Night Game drives in open-sided 4x4 safari vehicles
* Highly experienced professional safari guides
* Sundowners at scenic viewing points
* Escorted walks with Maasai guides and visit to Maasai village
* All meals, house wines, local beers, gin & tonics, soft drinks and mineral water
* All internal flights & park/conservancy fees
* Valid for travel in June only
* Valid for bookings confirmed and paid by May 15th 2008

Porini camps are small and exclusive, so there is limited space available. I recommend that you book now if you are looking for a super value safari to some of Africa's finest wildlife reserves, with prices for 7 days starting at $1850 per person inclusive of local flights, transport, all meals and drinks, and a host of activities including escorted walks, sundowners, authentic Maasai village visit, game drives in 4x4 vehicles with our excellent guides and night drives to see the nocturnal animals.
June is a good time to visit as the parks will be green after the rains and many of the animals will have given birth to coincide with the availability of lush grazing. This is also a time when there are likely to be fewer visitors in the parks before the high season and school holiday period of July, August and September.

Kenya's tourism industry plays a vital role in creating jobs and livelihoods for Kenyans and visitors always receive a warm welcome from the moment they arrive. By choosing a holiday in Kenya in June you will be helping the country to get back to normal so you will find you are especially welcome!

Please call or email me if you need any more information and I will be delighted to assist in arranging your safari or beach holiday in Kenya.
Kristina at 206-297-7179 or toll free 877-297-7179

Friday, February 29, 2008

Peace has been restored in Kenya

Kenya Tourist
Board Update
On Recent Events
Over The Contested
Kenya’s 2007
Presidential Election

Current as of February 28, 2008

Kenya tourism officials are working diligently to ensure the safety and security of visitors to the country. In order to keep the traveling public up-to-date on the situation on ground in Kenya, we are sending out continual updates on the current state of affairs within the country with regard to the tourism infrastructure.

Thursday 28th February 2008, 11 p.m. Nairobi

Today was a momentous occasion in Kenya’s history as the news flashed around the world that an agreement had been signed between the two Kenyan political leaders, President Kibaki and Hon Odinga, to end the political impasse following the disputed elections two months ago and to restore peace and harmony to the country.
The agreement was the result of a five-hour meeting today attended by President Kikwete of Tanzania who is the current Chairman of the African Union, and Mr Kofi Annan who has performed the role of mediator, with the participation of both President Kibaki and Hon Raila Odinga.
At a press conference called this afternoon in Nairobi following the successful conclusion of the meeting, Kofi Annan announced that a power-sharing agreement had been achieved. The political settlement agreed upon by both party leaders has created the new post of Prime Minister, to be held by Raila Odinga, with a coalition government of the two main parties in which cabinet posts would be shared between them. Parliament will convene next Thursday to pass a constitutional amendment to approve the changes agreed upon.
Speaking after the signing of the agreement, President Kibaki said, "As a nation there are more issues that unite than divide us. We've been reminded we must do all in our power to safeguard the peace that is the foundation of our national unity. Kenya has room for all of us if we can enhance peace and tolerance. Fellow Kenyans, we stand before you to give a solemn commitment."
Raila Odinga thanked Kofi Annan for his role in achieving the historic agreement. He also recognised Mr Kibaki as President. He stated that although they had been competitors during the elections they were now fellow countrymen. "In the past two months, Kenyans have known nothing but sadness," he said. "We have now opened a new chapter in our history, from the era of confrontation to the beginning of cooperation. We should ensure that Kenyans begin to celebrate and love each other, that we destroy the monster that is called ethnicity. I will ensure that what we have developed today will succeed."
The power-sharing agreement at last brings the two opposing sides together in a coalition government on terms agreeable to all. It has provided the political solution which had been sought to allow the country to recover from the trauma and civil unrest which followed the announcement of the election results.
Kenyans throughout the country were celebrating this evening and hopes are high that this political settlement will restore Kenya to its position as one of the most stable and successful countries in Africa. All the indications are that the overwhelming majority of Kenyans are delighted to see an end to the political stalemate and tension. The feeling of relief was evident among people everywhere and for the first time in weeks optimism was high as many Kenyans expressed their hopes for a better future.

The security situation throughout Kenya was calm and peaceful in all areas with a mood of relief and celebration following the announcement of the power-sharing agreement.

The U.S. State Department has updated travel information for Americans travelling to Kenya on their website. For more information please visit Additionally, travellers can visit the U.S. Embassy site in Nairobi at Please be sure to monitor the situation on all fronts, as the situation is fluid and can change at any time. The KTB strongly urges travelers and travel suppliers to make informed decisions based upon all the information that is available on Kenya’s state-of-affairs by continually checking with all available informed sources. As always, all U.S. travelers into Kenya should register themselves through the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi at:

We will advise if there are any changes in the situation in Kenya, but at present, we continue to welcome North American travelers and all tourism infrastructure units are operating as normal. We are monitoring the situation carefully and will continue to distribute updates on the status of this situation if changes arise. For additional information, please contact the Kenya Tourist Board at 866-44-KENYA / Updates can be accessed on

Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Passport fees take effect February 1, 2008

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman For Immediate Release
Passport Fee Schedule Starting February 1, 2008

Beginning February 1, 2008, the Department of State will institute a new fee schedule for passport services. At this time applicants will also have the option of pre-ordering a new Passport Card, a low cost, limited use (land and sea only) alternative to the Passport Book designed for those living along the border. In addition, the age for which both parents must appear and sign a passport application on behalf of a child will increase from 14 to 16 years old.

Fees are being adjusted to cover the cost of providing efficient and secure passport services including infrastructure, technology and staff. The Passport Execution fee collected by passport acceptance centers and U.S. consular sections abroad is being reduced from $30 to $25.

Current Passport Application Fee $67 /Child $52
Current Execution Fee $30 / Child $30
Current Total Fee $97 / Child $82
New Passport Application Fee $75 / Child $60
New Execution Fee $25 / Child $25
New Total Fee $100 /Child $85
New Passport Card Adult Application $20
New Passport Card Child Application $10
New Execution Fee Adult and Child $25
New Adult Passport Card Total Fee $45 / Child $35
Passport Renewal Adult $75

To protect children from abduction, and to address concerns regarding runaway children, beginning February 1, both parents will be required to personally appear at a passport acceptance facility, passport agency or U.S. consular section abroad with minor applicants under the age of 16 (up from age 14) and sign the application.
New application forms and updated information on applying for a Passport and Passport Card will be available February 1 at