Hunting down a free safari

Marriott Protea Hotel Kruger Gate Marriott Rewards sweet spot

When researching my post “The best stopover deals worldwide,” I came across a very interesting deal.  According to a couple of articles, Kenya Airways offered free safaris for those stopping over in Nairobi.  Here’s an example article:

I was pretty excited about this idea (especially for the 40K to Far Away Challenge) until I read the limitations:

  • You must be traveling from London on Kenya Airways flight 101
  • You must be traveling to one of these destinations: Kigali (Rwanda), Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Entebbe (Uganda), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Djibouti, and Bujumbura (Burundi)
  • You must have a minimum 6 hour layover

That seemed pretty limiting to me, so I searched for more information.  Maybe there are other ways to get the free safari?  I checked the Kenya Airways website.  I Googled every relevant term I could think of.  I tried online chatting with Kenya Airways.  Nothing.  Nada.

Finally, I emailed customer support:

I read that Kenya Airways offers a free safari for people who are stopping over in Nairobi from London Heathrow Airport to Nairobi. You must stop in Nairobi on your way to one of these seven destinations: Kigali, Rwanda; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania; Entebbe, Uganda; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Bujumbura, Burundi; or Djibouti.

Questions:
1) Is this true? I can’t find anything on your website about this program.
2) Does it work in reverse? If I travel from Addis Ababa to London Heathrow, can I get a free Safari during the stopover in Nairobi?
3) Does this work with any other routes?
4) Do I have to book through the Kenya Airways website to get the free safari?
5) Does this work with award flights? If I book a free award flight with Flying Blue miles, can I still get the free Safari?
6) Do you offer a free hotel for overnight layovers? If so, what are the rules?
7) Are the terms and conditions written somewhere that I can read?
8) Do you offer any other layover benefits?

It took a couple of weeks to get a response.  The short answer: Nope.  They don’t offer the free safari anymore.  But you can still do the layover safari if you pay $200.  So that’s something… I guess.  It’s also interesting to read that they might offer a free hotel for overnight layovers as long as you “meet certain requirements.”

Here’s the actual response (in bold) for those interested.  Note that it is unclear whether you need a 7 hour or 8 hour layover:

1) Is this true? I can’t find anything on your website about this program.
Yes, we used to run the product however that was during the pilot period which has since ended.  The product is now available for purchase at usd 200 per person

2) Does it work in reverse? If I travel from Addis Ababa to London Heathrow, can I get a free Safari during the stopover in Nairobi?
The safari is no longer free as explained above but can work either way as long as you have more than 8 hours transit time in Nairobi.

3) Does this work with any other routes?
Works in any routes as long as you have more than 7 hours in Nairobi

4) Do I have to book through the Kenya Airways website to get the free safari?
The safari is no longer free but you can book the paid option on the website on the booking flow or rather if you have an existing ticket you can go to manage my booking.

5) Does this work with award flights? If I book a free award flight with Flying Blue miles, can I still get the free Safari?
It does not matter as long as you meet the 7 hours layover time which is during the day.

6) Do you offer a free hotel for overnight layovers? If so, what are the rules?-
It all depends you need to meet certain requirements.

7) Are the terms and conditions written somewhere that I can read?
There are no documented conditions but you can always send us your booking reference for assistance.

8) Do you offer any other layover benefits?
Probably meals when need be.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

19
Leave a Reply

avatar
6 Comment threads
13 Thread replies
11 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
12 Comment authors
YoniPDXMSerbrianNick ReyesRdover1 Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of
AlexL
Guest
AlexL

I thought you added free safari into your #40kchallenge itinerary. Bummer.

Steve S
Guest
Steve S

Is this the “one thing you had to check to see if it would work”? You kept talking about something like that on the videos.

Nick Reyes
Editor

I’m bummed this didn’t work out to be free just because I would love to see you on a safari! I’m wearing my well-worn Kruger National Park t-shirt as I type this. If I had to pick only palm trees and sunshine or only driving around and seeing things like those lions (and the rhinos and leopards and cheetahs and warthogs and hippos!) for the rest of my life, I might even have to give up palm trees and sunshine. Lions weren’t even my favorite sighting (leopards were — the most beautiful animal we’ve ever seen), but those lions in the picture at the top were still every bit as impressive as they look. They walked directly past the driver’s side of our car and the male let out a dull roar as he passed the door that I’ll never forget. It was clearly just meant to be an “I see you seeing me” message and not something aggressive, but it was a low rumble that seemed like something out of a movie and made it clear that he knew he was boss. Anyone reading who has a 7hr+ layover and can take advantage of the safari for $200, I say do it. I sure would!

Yuri
Guest
Yuri

This may seem cheap, but I once went on a trip, which included flight from TLV to MBA, 1 week in all inclusive hotel on a beach, including 2-day safari trip, and a few other trips, and entertainment in the hotel. All for $500. That’s what I call cheap.

Fio
Guest
Fio

I’d disagree. The safari they are proposing is probably in Nairobi National Park and if you did it on your own would cost roughly 50 USD. Uber to downtown is around 20 USD or less, so should be considerably cheaper to the park (10?) For that cost better stop over and fly to one of the cheaper lodges in Mara. Few years ago I managed to get a deal 2D/1N fully inclusive safari including flights for 250.

Rdover1
Guest
Rdover1

Was going to make a similar point. It is almost certainly the Nairobi National park. If you have ever seen postcards or pictures of African wildlife with a cityscape in the background, that’s it. It is fun, especially if you self drive (a rental car + park entrance fee will be way less than $200). You will see a lot of game (plenty of zebra, water buffalo, giraffe etc.) but are unlikely to see many big cats or rhinos.

MSer
Guest
MSer

No, you would be nuts to waste $200 on a so-called “safari” like that. The reality is you’d be jammed for hours in a shitty van with lousy suspension, worn tires, torn seats, lousy AC, while jockeying for a window seat hoping to see something. There are hundreds of those shitty vans hawking “safaris” to gullible tourists. Since they can’t really go offroad, they congregate like flies around whatever sighting they can find. It’s a disgrace to call that a “safari”.

YoniPDX
Guest
YoniPDX

Greg, while not free its very, very reasonable.

We are doing a Safari and Sightseeing in South Africa this December (SA peak season) we are doing a Safari trip out of Jozie and another morning doing the Sunrise balloon ride and Champagne breaky over the Bush country.

Marriotts stays with points or cash are super reasonable even during Summer peak in the safe gated area of Johannesburg as well near the V&A waterfront and Gardens district (below Table rock) in Cape town Nice hotels 4*/5* are available for 7.5K-12.5K and only one that is 35k a night but its a Design Hotel that only has 10 unique luxury suites in Jo’Burg. We are staying for almost two weeks in SA for IIRC 130k Marriott pts.

We are doing a week in the Mother city:Cape Town, for sight seeing and enjoying super reasonable Michelin star dining in Cape Town (big foodie town) and 3 days in Jo’burg and 4 in the Bush country for Safari (renting a car for last few days cheapest I have ever seen car rentals).

Safari ( if your not doing a Luxury Micato Safari or ‘Glampping’ in Kruger park – you can see the Big 5 African animals in lots of National parks just a few hours from Jo’burg with a day trip starting at $100 with transpo and pickup from Jo’burg hotels included at that price even (Cat 1 Marriott) see: https://www.viator.com/Johannesburg-tours/Safaris/d314-g9-c37

The USD is very strong against the ZAR, so most things are super reasonable. We are doing the Hop on Hop off red Double Decker buses in Capetown and J’burg that includes almost all the sights entrances fees and transpo around for around $200 pp for 5 days (yeah some of the included items are a little kitschy/touristy) or $20 for 2 days in Jo’burg.

The Cape town Hop on/off city pass also includes a 25% Discount on full day live-guided Cape Point & Penguin tour about $65 as well as one free Premium outing/option like: Great white shark or Croc cage diving or a Helo ride over Cape town or Whale watching or Cape Sidecar Chauffeured City Tour, tandem paragliding or Two Oceans Aquarium scuba diving even an option for a Safari day trip outside of Cape town.
This also includes Cable car passes to the top of Table rock, dining in the Cape Ferris wheel, Sunset champagne cruise, etc all 70+ options include with pass here: https://www.citysightseeing.co.za/pages/attractions-list Two Days bus pass in Jo’burg is $20 or $30 with a tour of Soweto township. https://www.citysightseeing.co.za/destinations/joburg

Airfare RT JNB-CPT was about $175. But for approx $200 you could travel by premium train in premium sleeper car AC with F&B : “a full English breakfast, four course luncheon, High Tea and five course dinner in the dining car. Bedding, luxury amenities and towels are included in the fare with Showers in each berth”. Its 25 hours through the mountains, bush, grasslands and wine country travel either from CPT or JNB one of the best trains for travel in a slower more relaxed way. https://www.southafricanrailways.co.za/premier_classe.html

Flights are also reasonable from JNB to Victoria falls, Zimbabwe, Flights from JNB to CPT were about $175 RT.

We are flying biz on LX SFO-ZUR-JNB in business and hoping for the Throne seats – 80K UA miles pp.

I couldn’t find CX F awards from West coast to HKG – then Biz to JNB on CX using AS miles that worked with P2’s PTO, so instead we are F on BA all the way back to PDX from JNB for 80K AS miles pp on A380/787 and get to experience BAs Elemis massages and the famed Concorde room at LHR that serves J. Walker Blue, the fuel surcharges were just under $600pp but worth it for 22 hours in the air with lie-flat F seats JNB-LHR-SEA then AS domestic F seats SEA-PDX I’ve heard that BA First is often called the nicest biz seats and service in the skys.

Yeah not free, but then again it checks off multiple items on our bucket list – Pretty much the whole trips will be covered with points or miles – it will be our final big excursion celebrating our 25th anniversary (birthdays happen to you, but Anniversary’s take a lot of work), we have done several other big trips over this past year (courtesy of this hobby) but this is the one I am really looking forward with the most anticipation. I can’t imagine trying this trip in Coach with almost 44 hours in the air RT, maybe if I was still in my early 20’s.

JoshH
Guest
JoshH

Wow. This sounds awesome. Mind sharing a detailed itinerary?

Michael Tarlow
Guest
Michael Tarlow

I did my bucket list balloon safari in the Serengeti. It was the most disappointing part of my 4 weeks in Africa. A thousand bucks for 2 champagne breakfasts. Hope yours is better

linda
Guest
linda

That’s tremendous. If you have any other details, please share with us!

YoniPDX
Guest
YoniPDX

One of the biggest obstacles I had to work around is DW PTO, while she gets 7+ weeks a year, taking the longer trips takes a lot of advance notice and working around quarter and annual budgets deadlines. I know that some can do close in booking (that is only a dream for us) If I could do it again, what I would change would be longer trip and flown a different route home (AU/NZ/US more on that below). I would have also flown CX to HKG in F using AS miles then onto JNB in Biz (no F class on CX to JNB/TLV from HKG).

What was surprising is we ultimately booked this during not only the winter school break, and SA peak tourist season, we could have booked this trip basically Nov-Feb with all the Biz award availability I found on Swiss via UA saver fares @ 80K miles and $21.60 fees, this was only 8 months out and West Coast LX hubs SFO/LAX via ZRH. ( I transferred UR to UA to book – FWIW no status with UA or the UA CC – was a Premier 1K years ago). I did use award-hacker and Juicymiles to search and find out all these options based on award currency held as well as the type planes and layovers.

If we had more vacation time available, we even could have flown JNB/CPT onto Australia then NZ then back to the West coast.. Its also easier to find award seats from AU to US than US to AU, I found lots of award space to AU from JNB/CPT and this was also during some of Australia’s peak summer season time Dec-Jan.

Other options from JNB is you can fly to the Maldives inexpensive while in the region – we’ve lived in the tropics, so blue waters and white sand is not the draw for us as it is for some. I forget where I read it but another option is Condor air and its partners for reasonable BIz seats awards with IIRC a layover in Morocco then to the Maldives or JNB as an option.

Instead, I’m checking off some of my bucket list items, flying A380 in F now that both F and the A380 have an expiration date, years ago I Flew F on the 747 to Asia. I’m hoping that DW can get some pics in the A380 cockpit for her IG (hopefully flying F will help) one more bucket list item for me as well.

So getting to experience BAs exclusive Concorde room lounge at LHR is just a bonus and seems really cool (probably over-hyped but in a subtle British manner), “its among the most exclusive lounges available to a select few flyers”. Only passengers flying first class on British Airways Metal and departing from T5 from LHR orJFK or those that have earned 5,000 tier points Flying BA, so no access from any other Elite status held (i.e.Emerald OneWorld) or flying F on other OneWorld carriers, now those first class
riffraff fliers have to use the British Airways Galleries First Lounge at T5 lol 😉

Like others have commented a 7 hour layover is not really the way to experience a Safari or the big 5 unless it is private reserve, so and some of those, the reviews are they are little more than glorified petting zoos. But that’s only what I’ve read.

For more hotels, etc

We are renting a car on return from CPT for five days and then staying at Hunters Rest lodge in Rustenburg. Cat 1 – 7.5k ($90ish night or 5 nights (30K) its located on the edge of the Kgaswane Nature reserve and also a short drive to Pilanesberg national park for Big 5 and more and also near the Palace of the Lost City, Sun city Casino and Resort (google it kinda of cool looking resorts with a water park if you have younger kids).

Then dropping off rental car in Sandton (Jo’burg) near Melrose arch area ,staying a few nights at African Pride Melrose Arch Autograph collection 12.5K night ($240ish a night).

In Capetown Autograph Collection – 15 on Orange (the Gardens area below Table rock in the bowl) Cat 4 hotel 25k ($250ish a night) Deluxe King with mountain view room, 5 nights (50k) at Cape Town Castle Cat 2 – 12.5k ($160ish a night) -Larger guest room – with living room and kitchenette setup. Overlooks V&A waterfront and Iconic Cape Town Soccer stadium (2010 World Cup). But Capetown has lots of Wineries you can tour as well as inexpensive but highly rated SA wines for less than $10 a bottle.

Hope this helps

MSer
Guest
MSer

Skip the balloon ride – total waste of money – just a shambolic tourist trap. Victoria Falls is another waste of time. Save your cash and upgrade your safari lodge, or upgrade to get your own private driver.

YoniPDX
Guest
YoniPDX

Having read your and Michael’s T POV on the Balloon ride – I think it is great advice gives back much of a day and get to sleep in. I was going to surprise DW, Im sure she would have been thrilled, but I checked local balloon rides over Oregon wine country, and they are similar in price $200ish pp -so I will save it for DW birthday instead – might also be safer may even find a Groupon with CB lol. Not really on my bucket-list hard to compare after jumping out of Helo’s hoovering over the ocean.

I had as one of my alternate options was to do a Horseback Safari -apparently you can get much closer to the game on horseback than with other forms of transport. “….the horse graze amongst the game, thus giving guests possibly the closest wildlife encounter on horseback in Africa, the game see the horses as are equally relaxed with the game.”
Which is also far less expensive option as is zip-lining and doing an elephant walk and feed at a game reserve.

Thanks for the feedback –

Michael Tarlow
Guest
Michael Tarlow

Having done the Nairobi stopover on my way to Kilimanjaro I can’t imagine doing a safari with less than 12-24 hours. The traffic into the airport was the worst I have ever been in. It takes an hour to travel 5 miles just about every day (and that’s with a very aggressive driver. There are also no less than 3 security check points from the airport entrance to the gate. If you want to find a cheap safari check out Kruger National Park. Two hundred dollars will get 2 people a couple of nights in the park and a couple of drives. You can book everything on their website.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Helluva photo there.

Nick Reyes
Editor

Thanks!

See this post for more photos I took on that safari and how I bought the lens to take them just for that trip — and then sold it for a profit afterwards:

https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/buying-selling-travel-gear/

brian
Guest
brian

rather than post over there on an old thread, going to briefly go off topic here – what did you think of the sigma and tamron lenses?

also looks like adult activities are about to follow in the photo above.

YoniPDX
Guest
YoniPDX

Thanks, that is a fantestic idea about purchase protection and flipping after the trip.

I was planning on just taking my Note 9 or Note 10 if I see a good upgrade deal at Costco, but only if it has time of flight. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the photo’s with the Note 9. Yet still not the same as a DSLR with a Telephoto for distance shots, but nighttime and moonlight starlight shots for sure especially in the bush away from light pollution.

Buying with AMEX or CSR with purchase protection in case it was stolen, set’s one mind more at ease, then selling the camera/lens after the trip I broke the screen on the Note 9 the week it was released and my Chase card covered the screen replacement 100%. Its a Great way to hit a MSR and get some great photos.