AT A GLANCE
Join us for an unforgettable 7-Day safari where we explore and experience the best of Kenya’s wildlife. Kenya has been one of the top African Wildlife destinations for a long time and on this particular safari we will visit the main destinations with the idea to get away from the crowds. We will focus on the personal touch and all the natural aspects of this beautiful and wildlife rich area and not just to chase after the big 5. As with all our safaris this itinerary can be tailor-made to suit your preferences.
Start of safari in Nairobi, Kenya, drive to Samburu National Reserve
Welcome to East Africa! Your fantastic Kenyan safari will start this morning in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city and the “safari capital of the world”.
You will be picked up at your hotel early in the morning, and we will load your luggage into our comfortable, airconditioned vehicle. We will slowly make our way out of Nairobi, heading north. The traffic, as in all other African capital cities, is quite crazy, but this will give us time to get to know each other and start discussing our main target sightings for the week ahead.
We will also get to enjoy the sights and sounds of Nairobi, a very interesting east African city. Situated in along the Nairobi river (the name actually comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nairobi, which translates to “cool water”, in reference to the river), the capital, sometimes called the “green city in the sun”, is east Africa’s most cosmopolitan city. It is Africa’s 4th largest city (with a population of over 4 million) and is a vibrant and exciting place, and although it has developed a reputation which keeps tourist visits brief, there are some fascinating attractions.
Nairobi is a major tourist destination, not just for its proximity to east Africa’s superb game reserves, but also for its cafe culture, huge range of restaurants, Benga music, unbridled nightlife, 6 golf courses, the National Museum, the Karen Blixen Museum and its many parks and open spaces.
As soon as we exit the greater metropolitan area of Nairobi, the scenery will change and you will start seeing why people that come to Kenya always return; it really is a beautiful place. On our drive we will skirt past the Mount Kenya National Park, created in the 1940s to protect Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest mountain (after Kilimanjaro) at 5,199 metres (17,057 ft) above sea level.
It will take us about 5 hours to reach Samburu National Reserve, so we should be in time for a late lunch at our accommodation for the next two nights, a beautiful tented camp that will ensure a unique and serene closeness to nature.
This afternoon we will get our first real taste of Samburu on an afternoon game drive. The 165 km2 (64 sq mi) park was established in 1985 and is situated on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro river, along whose banks both big game and vegetation flourish. The river runs through the park and is its heartbeat; without its precious water the animals would not survive in the park’s otherwise semi-arid environment that is dotted with termite skyscrapers.
Although it is a peaceful park that is much quieter than most of east Africa’s other reserves, it still boasts an incredible wealth of classic African safari big game species. The predators are well represented, and we will look for Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and African Wild Dog. Big games species include African Elephant, African Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Black Rhinoceros and many antelope species like Grant’s Gazelle, Kirk’s Dik-dik, Impala and Waterbuck.
Of special interest is a few rare and localised species like the ultra-striped Grevy’s Zebra, the reticulated subspecies of Giraffe, regal Beisa Oryx and long-necked Gerenuk. These four together with the blue-legged Somali Ostrich make up the so-called “Samburu Special Five”, and we will hopefully tick off all five easily.
After our first game drive we will return to camp to enjoy our first night under the African sky. We will sit around the camp fire and just enjoy the sounds of the bush as we have dinner and settle in for the night out here in the middle of nowhere – nothing could be better!
Samburu National Reserve
Today we have the full day to enjoy Samburu. We will enjoy morning and afternoon game drives and return to camp for lunch and a short rest in the heat of the day.
Samburu is not only about big game. There are also over 450 species of birds in the reserve. Some of the top specials we will look out for on our game drives today include Lesser Kestrel, Taita Falcon, Grey-headed Kingfisher, sunbirds, bee-eaters, Marabou Stork, Tawny and Verreaux’s Eagle, Bateleur, Vulturine Guineafowl, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Lilac-breasted Roller, Secretarybird, Superb Starling, Northern red-billed Hornbill, and various vultures including the Palm-nut Vulture. Five species categorised as Vulnerable have been recorded in the reserve. These are African Darter, Great Egret, White-headed Vulture, Martial Eagle and the Yellow-billed Oxpecker.
The Ewaso Ng’iro river also contains some massive Nile Crocodiles, and the Critically Endangered African Pancake Tortoise also calls the reserve home.
As an aside, Samburu was one of the two areas in which conservationists George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness, made famous in the best-selling book and award-winning movie Born Free. The reserve is also the home of Kamunyak, a lioness that was famous for adopting at least 6 oryx calves in the early 2000s, and whose story was told in the film Heart of a Lioness.
After a wonderful day in Samburu we will return to our camp and once again get together around the camp fire for dinner and relaxation. These are moments to treasure and you will remember them fondly when you are back at home and in the “rat race” again…
Samburu National Reserve to Ol Pejeta Conservancy
We will enjoy an early breakfast in camp this morning, and then depart Samburu. We will travel along the same road we used to drive north, but in the opposite direction, and our drive will take about 3 to 4 hours.
We are heading for a special place, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy situated around the base of Mount Kenya. This 369 km2 (140 sq mi) conservancy provide protection for great apes (especially Chimpanzees), rhinos (boasting the largest Black Rhinoceros population in east Africa) and generates income through wildlife tourism and complementary enterprises for re-investment in conservation and community development. It used to be a huge cattle ranch, but is now the closest place to Nairobi where we can see the Big Five.
We will arrive in time to have lunch at our beautiful tented camp. After lunch we will go on a game drive in the conservancy, to visit the Chimpanzee sanctuary and the endangered species enclosure. Due to its fantastic conservation work with especially Black Rhinos, Ol Pejeta now has “Key 1” status on the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group categorization, one of only eight sanctuaries in Africa with this distinction.
Other rare animals that can be found on Ol Pejeta include the endangered African Wild Dog, Grevy’s Zebra, the cokii-lelwel hybrid Hartebeest subspecies, Serval, Cheetah and the very cute Bat-eared Fox. The more common African wildlife can, of course, be found here too, including Giraffe, Vervet monkey, Olive Baboon, Hippopotamus, Impala, Common Eland, Grant’s Gazelle, Kirk’s Dik-dik, Plains Zebra and Spotted Hyaena. There are also over 300 bird species on the conservancy.
After an exciting game drive we will return to camp to relax and have dinner. We will once again sit around the camp fire and chat about our wonderful trip so far. Remember to look up at the stars tonight before bed. They are truly spectacular out here in the African bush.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy to Lake Nakuru National Park
Our day will start with an early breakfast and then we are off again!
Today we will drive into the Great Rift Valley, to one of the lakes on the valley floor, Lake Nakuru. Our scenic drive will take about 4 to 5 hours, and we should reach our camp inside Lake Nakuru National Park in time for lunch.
Lake Nakuru (meaning “dusty or dry place”) is one of the rift valley’s alkaline lakes and is protected by the 188 km2 (73 sq mi) Lake Nakuru National Park. The lake is also protected under the International Ramsar Convention on wetlands. Flanked by rocky escarpments, pockets of dense forest and waterfalls, the park itself is very pretty and you will get some great photographs here.
The lake is host to huge numbers of flamingos (Greater and Lesser Flamingo) that gather at the water’s edge, giving the lake an incredible pink hue when viewed from afar. The number of flamingos on the lake varies with water and food conditions and the best vantage point is from Baboon Cliff or the even higher Out of Africa viewpoint. The lake’s abundance of algae attracts the flamingos, along with a host of other birds like African Fish Eagle, Little Grebe, Goliath Heron, Hamerkop, Pied Kingfisher and Verreaux’s Eagle.
We will have an afternoon game drive to enjoy the lake and hopefully thousands of flamingos and other game. The small park (given National Park status in 1968) also boasts several of Africa’s famous big game species, including rhinos, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Waterbuck, Lion, Cheetah and Leopard. Smaller mammals include Common Warthog, Olive Baboon, as well as some huge pythons!
We will return to camp in the early evening to relax and have dinner with the sounds of the crackling fire and Africa’s night sounds in the background. We will then retire for a good night’s rest; tomorrow we hit the Mara!
Lake Nakuru to Maasai Mara National Reserve
This morning we will have some coffee and a quick breakfast before setting off for the final, and very exciting, part of our Kenya safari. We will drive across the vast floor of the Great Rift Valley, to the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya’s richest game park renowned for its black-maned Lions.
We will arrive at our tented camp in time for lunch and a short relaxation period. Then we will enjoy our first game drive in the “Mara”, as the locals call it.
Situated in the southwest of Kenya, the Maasai Mara is contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in the northern Mara Region of neighbouring Tanzania, and is the northern-most section of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, which covers some 25,000 km2 (9,700 sq mi) in Tanzania and Kenya. It is named in honour of the Maasai people (the ancestral inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from afar. “Mara,” which is Maa (Maasai language) for “spotted,” is an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna, and cloud shadows that mark the area.
The image of acacia trees dotting endless grass plains epitomises Africa for many; then add a Maasai warrior and some cattle to the picture and the conversation need go no further. This is the Africa we love!
Some of the many mammals we hope to see here include African Elephant, African Buffalo, rhinoceros, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Spotted Hyaena, Hippopotamus, Giraffe (Maasai or tippelskirchi subspecies), Common Eland, Thomson’s and Grant’s Gazelle, Black-backed Jackal, Bat-eared Fox, Serval, and of course hundreds of thousands of zebras and wildebeest if our timing is right for the Great Migration.
Around July of each year, these animals migrate north from the Serengeti plains towards the Maasai Mara in search of fresh pasture, and return to the south again around October. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving some 1,300,000 wildebeest, 500,000 Thomson’s Gazelles, 97,000 Topi (a subspecies of Tsessebe), 18,000 Common Eland and 200,000 zebras. Astoundingly, about 250,000 wildebeest and other mammals die during the journey from Tanzania to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Death is usually from thirst, hunger, exhaustion, or predation.
Remember to bring extra batteries for your camera, because the reserve is also a photographer’s paradise destination, with abundant wildlife, birds, incredible African landscapes, and excellent weather. The BBC Television show titled “Big Cat Diary” was filmed in both the Reserve and Conservation areas of the Maasai Mara.
After our exciting first game drive we will return to camp to freshen up and have dinner. Remember to look up at the sky tonight before settling in to your room – the stars are truly remarkable out here! And listen out for the roar of a lion or a nightjar’s call before falling asleep… Isn’t Africa fantastic!
Maasai Mara National Reserve
We have our first full day on safari in the wonderful Maasai Mara. We will enjoy a scrumptious breakfast, which will be followed by a morning game drive.
Covering an area of 1,510 square km (583 square miles) and rising from 1,550 to 2,100 metres above sea level, the Maasai Mara National Reserve is a place of breathtaking vistas, abundant wildlife and endless plains. The terrain of the reserve is primarily open grassland with seasonal riverlets. In the southeast region are clumps of the distinctive acacia tree. The western border is the Esoit (Siria) Escarpment of the East African Rift, which is a system of rifts some 5,600 km (3,500 mi) long, from Ethiopia’s Red Sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and into Mozambique.
The Maasai Mara is regarded as the jewel of Kenya’s wildlife viewing areas and one of the world’s greatest wildlife reserves. As in the Serengeti, the wildebeest are the dominant inhabitants of the Maasai Mara, and their numbers are estimated in the millions. Nowhere in Africa is wildlife more abundant, and we are almost guaranteed seeing the Big Five (buffalo, elephant, Leopard, Lion and rhino). Another 90 species of mammals have been recorded in the reserve, along with over 500 species of birds and many amphibians, reptiles and other fascinating creatures.
We will return to our lodge for lunch and a short siesta in the heat of the day. We will go out on another game drive in the afternoon, hoping to see some more spectacular fauna and flora, along with some predator-prey interaction that the Mara is famous for.
Speaking of birds, we will also focus on finding some of the Mara’s special species. More than 500 species of birds have been identified in the park, with almost 60 species of raptors. Birds that we will look for during our time here include several species of vultures, Saddle-billed, Woolly-necked and Marabou Stork, Secretarybird, many hornbill species, D’arnaud’s Barbet, 7 species of kingfisher, Ross’s and Schalow’s Turaco, Kori and Denham’s Bustard, Grey-crested Helmetshrike, aptly named Long-crested Eagle and Superb Starling, Grey Crowned Crane, the cute Pygmy Falcon, Sooty Chat, Jackson’s Widowbird, Kenya Sparrow, Southern Grosbeak-canary, Rufous-bellied and Malagasy Pond Heron, Lesser Kestrel, Yellow-billed Oxpecker and the beautiful Lilac-breasted Roller, the national bird of Kenya. It is easy to see over 200 species on a 3 day trip in the Mara!
Something else to look out for are the absolutely monstrous Nile Crocodiles we will see both here in the Mara river, as well as in the Grumeti later on the safari. These ancient reptiles (some of them over 5 metres/16 feet long!) lie in wait for the migrating mammals and seeing one of them catch a zebra and consume it is a scary reminder of how fragile us humans are in the greater scheme of things.
After another fantastic day in the Mara, we will return to the lodge for our final dinner together. We will sit under the African sky and reminisce about our wonderful time here before heading to bed and a good night’s rest.
Maasai Mara to Nairobi and Departure
And so an amazing Kenyan safari, unfortunately, comes an end. After breakfast, we will head to Nairobi and stop for lunch or maybe some last-minute shopping, depending on your flight time. We will make our way to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for our flights home.
*Please note: Extensions to Zanzibar, Diani beach, Mombasa or Tanzania can easily be arranged. Please contact us for more information.
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