DAY 1 NAIROBI
On arrival at Nairobi airport you are met and transferred to your hotel. A brief departure meeting will be held in the hotel reception area in evening on Day 1 of your tour. Upon arrival look for information from your tour leader on the hotel bulletin board regarding the meeting time.
Take today to wander the streets of central Nairobi, taking in old colonial architecture and the brightly coloured crowds to get a feel for Africa. The city’s best attraction is the National Museum, home to most of the great prehistoric finds made by the Leakey family in East Africa, from Ethiopia to the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. It also has sections on wildlife, art, geology, local history and a snake park.
West of the city, the suburb of Karen is named after Karen Blixen, author of “Out of Africa”. Her house is now the Karen Blixen Museum, complete with a garden and tea house, it tells the history of the famous author. Also in Karen is the African Butterfly Research Institute , a large magical greenhouse alive with native butterflies.
South of Nairobi, in Langata, are a number of the city's best attractions. At the Giraffe Centre, you'll have the option of hand-feeding the rare Rothschild giraffes, plus embarking upon a nature walk with 160 species of bird. The Sheldrick Animal Orphanage cares for young, orphaned elephants. The Bomas of Kenya is a living open-air museum of the tribes of Kenya, including regular dance performances. The Nairobi National Park is just south of the city, and covers 114 sq km. It has over 400 bird species of and populations lions, leopards, and one of the country’s few thriving populations of black rhino.
The name Nairobi is derived from the Masai word for cool waters, which the Masai people gave to a water hole known as Ewaso Nyirobi. In modern times, the sprawling, cosmopolitan city of Nairobi combines the first-world glamour of reflecting-glass skyscraper buildings with abject developing-world poverty. It originated in 1899 from a handful of shacks that marked the end of the railhead during the building of the Uganda railway. Due to big game hunting bringing tourists from Britain, the city expanded dramatically in the early 1900’s. A large number of British nationals settled in the area, prompting more growth and this angered both the Masai and Kikuyu people, as they were losing hunting ground due to the expansion of the city limits. The friction increased and, eventually led to the Mau Mau uprising, which saw Jomo Kenyatta, the future president jailed. Kenya was granted independence from Britain in 1963, with Nairobi as the capital.
Apart from being Kenya’s capital and the main centre of government and commerce, Nairobi is the most significant city in East Africa and an important player on the pan-African stage. It is the diplomatic base for many counties in Africa, with its broad spectrum of international embassies and headquarters for the United Nations, multi-national companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and press correspondents. It’s also the center of the growing safari business of East Africa. DAY 2-3 MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE
Approximate Distance: 368 km
Estimated Travel Time: 6 hrs
After breakfast, we depart for the world famous Masai Mara Game Reserve. With its vast open plains and distinctive flat-topped acacia trees, no visit to Kenya would be complete without a visit here! In the afternoon we will arrive in the area, and get settled at our safari lodge, our base for our time here. Then we make our way into the reserve for an afternoon game viewing drive, with excellent chances of seeing the "Big 5" - lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino.
Days 5 and 6 both begin with early morning game drives, since the best time to spot wildlife is in the early hours of the morning. The days continue with more game viewing as you criss-cross the rolling hills of the African savannah. With this amount of time in the reserve, you will have a chance to venture further than most safari groups, into territories in the western part of the reserve, considered to be the best areas for wildlife viewing. You will also have a chance to try the optional balloon safari, in addition to stopping at a Masai village to learn about, and interact with, the local Masai people.
The Masai Mara (also spelled Maasai Mara) is a game reserve in south-western Kenya, which is effectively the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Named for the Masai tribes people, who are the traditional inhabitants of the area, and the Mara River, which divides it, the reserve is famous for its exceptional population of game and the annual migration of the wildebeest every September and October, a migration so immense to be called the Great Migration. Thousands of wildebeest die in the crossing due to crocodile attacks. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving an immensity of herbivores: some 1,300,000 wildebeest, 360,000 Thomson's gazelle, and 191,000 zebra.
With an area of 1510 km sq., the Masai Mara is not the largest game park or reserve in Kenya, but it is probably the most famous. The entire area of the park is nestled within the enormous Great Rift Valley that extends from the Mediterranean Sea to Mozambique. The terrain of the reserve is primarily open grassland, with clusters of the distinctive acacia tree in the south-east region. The western border is the Esoit Oloololo Escarpment of the Rift Valley, and wildlife tends to be most concentrated here, as the swampy ground means that access to water is always good. The easternmost border is 224 km from Nairobi.
The Masai Mara is perhaps most famous for its lions, though the other members of the "Big Five" (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhinoceros) are as well found. This said, the population of black rhinoceros is severely threatened, with a population of only 37 recorded in 2000. Hippopotami are found in large groups in the Masai Mara and Talek Rivers, and many cheetah, zebra, impala, gazelles, hartebeest, warthog, ostrich, topi, the Masai giraffe, among other mammals, all consider the “Mara” their home territory. As well, the large Roan antelope and the nocturnal bat-eared fox, rarely present elsewhere in Kenya, can be seen within the reserve borders. Like in the Serengeti in Tanzania, the wildebeest are the dominant inhabitant of the Masai Mara, and their numbers are estimated in the millions. Around July of each year these animals migrate in a vast ensemble north from the Serengeti plains in search of fresh pasture, and return to the south around October. These numerous migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by a block of hungry predators, most notably lions and hyena.
The Masai Mara is a also major research centre for the spotted hyena. Additionally, over 450 species of birdlife have been identified in the park, including vulture, marabou, secretary bird, hornbill, crowned crane, ostrich, long-crested eagle, and pygmy falcon. DAY 4 LAKE NAKURU
Approximate Distance: 340 km
Estimated Travel Time: 4-5hrs
After breakfast, we embark to Lake Nakuru National Park for a hot lunch and an afternoon safari game drive in search of the resident black and white rhino, buffalo, impala, and the elusive leopard. Our safari lodge is located within Lake Nakuru National Park.
Lake Nakuru itself is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes. The alkaline lake's abundance of algae attracts the large quantity of flamingos, estimated into the millions, that famously line the shore. The surface of the shallow lake is often hardly recognizable due to the continually shifting mass of pink. There are two types of flamingo species: the Lesser flamingo can be distinguished by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage unlike the greater flamingo, which has a bill with a black tip. But flamingos are not the only avian attraction, also present are two large fish-eating birds, pelicans and cormorants. The park is rich in other birdlife, including grebes, white winged black, stilts, avocets, ducks, and in the European winter, the migrant waders.
The park has recently been enlarged partly to provide the sanctuary for the black rhino. This undertaking has necessitated a fence - to keep out poachers rather than to restrict the movement of wildlife. The park now has more than 25 rhinos, one of the largest concentrations in the country, so the chances of spotting these survivors are better than in other parks. There are also a number of Rothschild's giraffe, again translocated for safety from western Kenya beginning in 1977. Numerous other mammals can be seen, including zebra, impala, gazelle, waterbuck, lion, warthog, bushbuck, many buffalo, and even at times leopard. DAY 5-6 AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK
Approximate Distance: 405 km
Estimated Travel Time: 7-8hrs
After a morning game drive venture south to the famed Amboseli National Park located at the foot of Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. The snow-capped peak of the mountain dominates every aspect of the park, providing the ultimate photo backdrop. Amboseli covers only 392 sq km, though despite its small size and its fragile ecosystem the park supports a wide range of mammals (well over 50 of the larger species) and birds (over 400 species). Day 7 offers morning and afternoon safaris criss-crossing the park in search of lions, buffaloes, elephants, rhino, cheetah, and of course the photo of a lifetime.
A part of the park is composed of a dried-up lake bed which in the shimmering heat produces mirages. Swamps and springs, fed by underground rivers from Kilimanjaro's melting snows, form permanent watering places for the wildlife through times of drought. The snows of Kilimanjaro form a majestic backdrop to one of Kenya's most spectacular displays of wildlife creating Kenya's most sought after photographer's paradise. The park's best game drives are around the swamps and there is a fine lookout on Observation Hill which offers views over the whole of the park and beyond.
Years ago this was the locale around which such famous writers as Ernest Hemingway and Robert Ruark spun their stories of big-game hunting in the wilds of Africa. In addition, the park that has been made famous by Cynthia Moss, the noted American naturalist and author who has one of the longest-running studies on elephants. You might even see some of the elephants that Cynthia has immortalized in her many books and award-winning film Echo of the Elephants. DAY 7 NAIROBI
Approximate Distance: 285 km
Estimated Travel Time: 4 hrs
Rise early for a final morning game drive, enjoying the African sun as it rises over the savannah of the Amboseli plain. Return to Nairobi in the late afternoon via the Namanga border crossing, before enjoying your last safari evening together.
DAY 8 NAIROBI
Depart Nairobi at any time.
- Entrances and game drives in Masai Mara Game Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park and Amboseli National Park, Arrival transfer.
- 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 5 Dinners. (Allow USD85-100 for meals and drinks (including bottled water) not included.)
- Comfort hotels (2 nts), safari lodge (1 nt), classic tented camp (4 nts).
- 7-seat 4x4 safari vehicle(s).
- Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, certified driver/guide.
- Small group experience; Max 12, Avg 10