Africa Adventure on Credit Card Points and Miles


Last year, shortly after the  JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge opened, I heard that rooms could be booked for about 75K Marriott Bonvoy Rewards per night, including a safari. Having previously been on a safari, I was anxious to see if I could book this with my stash of Marriott Bonvoy points. The 75k/night deal didn’t last long, but I could book four nights for 307K points, with the fifth night being free. That started our Africa Adventure on credit card points/miles.


Flying From JFK

We flew to Africa on Air France from JFK to Nairobi. The day before, we positioned in NYC and stayed at the Hyatt Regency JFK for 15K Hyatt points. You can read my review of this hotel soon.

JFK was a madhouse to fly from- there was so much congestion! We would have been in the security line for hours if we hadn’t been flying business. We also had TSA Precheck, which let me keep my shoes on, but no one told me I’d have to take my computer out. Evidently the Internation Terminal (#1) doesn’t have the equipment to let those pass. Hard to believe that one of the busiest departure terminals in the world doesn’t have the usual TSA capability!

Luckily, a new terminal is being built, but it isn’t expected to be completed until 2026. I may avoid positioning flights from JFK until then 😜!


Air France Lounge

Once we got through security, we headed to the Air France Lounge and had some delicious food. They had a mushroom cream pasta that was delicious. I also enjoyed the superb French bread, couscous salad, and a yummy lemon cake. The food was so good that I decided NOT to eat on my upcoming flight and go to sleep.


Buffet in airport lounge

I thought that the food in the Air France Lounge at JFK was exceptional.


In this lounge, you can book a complimentary facial by Clarins. You can choose from a selection of three complimentary face treatments lasting 20 minutes: “Jet Lag Relief’, “Detox Time,” and “Eye-Must” treatments.


Clarins treatments at lounge

The Clarins treatment area.



Flights to Nairobi

Our flight to Nairobi on an Air France flight cost 95K Flying Blue points each, plus about $450 in taxes and fees. It had a layover in Paris for 3 hours and then on to Nairobi for a total of 19 hours from leaving New York. This flight would have cost $5000/person. The great thing is that every transferable currency transfers to Flying Blue, making it super easy to get these points.



Woman sitting in business class seat

Getting ready for my 6+ hour flight to Paris from JFK airport.


Connection in Paris, France

We had an almost three-hour connection in Paris (CDG). There really isn’t a customs check when you transfer. You just have to go through security again. We then headed to another Air France Lounge for a few snacks. I was not overly impressed with this lounge, but it beats waiting in the terminal!


Airport Lounge

One of the Air France Lounges at CDG airport.


Flights to Nairobi from Paris

Our Air France flight from Paris to Nairobi was business class, similar to the one from JFK. The one item I miss on their flights is a fluffy blanket, as I tend to get cold. (I also miss that Polaris bedding from United.) 

I have to say that the chicken and quinoa dinner I had was excellent, though. I slept well and awoke to a quick continental breakfast before landing,


Airline entertainment screen.

I never take all this legroom for granted! Business class is a dream with miles!


Arrival in Nairobi

We arrived in Nairobi at about 9:00 p.m. and left the next day to go to Mauritius, an island off the coast of Africa, before our safari. We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport Hotel using a free annual night certificate. Our upgraded room would have cost almost $350, and we used a 25K certificate.

This was a great hotel. They offered a free shuttle to the airport, but we didn’t know that, so we overpaid for a taxi at $25.00. We did take the shuttle the next morning. They upgraded us to a King suite and provided fruit and treats in our room. The service was fantastic, but our stay was short as we had to head back to the airport for a 07:40 flight.


Hotel Lobby

Sheraton Four Points Kenya lobby


Fruit and treats platters

Complimentary fruit, treats, and water were in our room.


Hotel room with bed and couch

We enjoyed the upgrade at the Four Points Sheraton in Kenya.


You need an electronic travel authorization to travel to Kenya. In fact, since we were arriving in Kenya twice, once to fly to Mauritius and once when flying back, we had to have two each for $34 per person for each entry.


Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Experience

Returning to the airport, we noticed a long line. You must present your passport and travel itinerary there. You then pass a security check and check in with the airline. From there, your passports are checked at another spot. Finally, you have another security checkpoint. Give yourself time for all of these checkpoints.

There are several Priority Pass lounges at the airport. We were flying business class and headed to the Kenya Airlines Business Lounge for breakfast. We were pleasantly surprised that it even had an omelet station and impressive service!


Airport lounge

An omelet station in an airport lounge won me over!


Flight to Mauritius

We flew to Mauritius via Air Kenya, and the flights were about $1000 each roundtrip (not cheap) for an approximately 4-hour flight. I really wanted to do a beach vacation along with our safari but had trouble deciding between the Seychelles and a Hilton stay or Mauritius and an IHG stay. I’m still not sure how Mauritius won out! 😂


InterContinental Hotel in Mauritius

I used IHG points to book a four-night stay at the InterContinental Resort in Mauritius. We used 239,000 IHG points to book three nights; the fourth night was free.


Screenshot of booking


The hotel was great to work with. I contacted them about transportation from the airport (an hour away), and they arranged a shuttle to pick us up and take us back for about $200. I probably could have found it cheaper, but I didn’t want to worry about it or spend that much time. It’s not like I go to Africa often or am familiar with transportation there, so I went the easy route! 😜

On our second to last night at the InterContinental, I opened an email from the JW Marriott Masa Marai to find out our safari had been canceled due to extreme flooding in the area. Here is an article from Gary Leff with all the horrifying details. I spent the last day making alternative plans (we went to Sardinia, Italy).

While we were disappointed to miss this safari, we were grateful to have missed the flooding. Our hearts go out to those affected by it. I did not anticipate this event change on our Africa Adventure on credit card points and miles.

However, we would have been worse if we had paid cash for it. Changing plans with points/miles takes time but isn’t as financially damaging!


Two Nights in Nairobi at the JW Marriott Nairobi

After returning from Mauritius, we spent two nights at the JW Marriott Nairobi before heading to Italy. We booked this five-star luxury hotel in the tallest building in Nairobi for 37K points/night. We absolutely loved the hotel; you can read my review later this week.

We decided to make the most of our two days in Nairobi and booked two tours—a historical walking tour of Nairobi and a half-day safari in Nairobi National Park. The national park is located just outside of Nairobi, but we could still see a few magnificent animals. (Considering how long you drive, it wasn’t worth it – do a real safari).


Colorful Market

Nairobi City Market


Man and woman on building overlooking large city

Grandma and Grandpa with Nairobi in the background.


Large horned animal near dirt road

This beauty finally crossed the last of the Africa Big 5!


Tall animal with spots in green grass

I am never tired of the magnificent giraffes in Africa.



Bottom Line

Our Africa Adventure on credit card points and miles did not go as planned. The reason for the trip, a safari on the Masai Mara, will have to be done on another day. However, we had a wonderful time in Africa, largely due to Kenya’s kind and gracious people.


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