you leave the bustle of Nairobi behind, climbing high into the plateaus of the Great Rift Valley, on route to the Masai Mara National Park. As you journey up and down the spectacular gorge that runs almost the entire length of the continent, you will pause for impressive photo opportunities against these magnificent backdrops. As the terrain flattens, you will round up on the gates of the Masai Mara National Park where the adventure will really begin. After a picnic lunch, you will set out across the savannah on an afternoon game drive, orientating you with the park’s landscapes and inhabitants.
you will spend a full day exploring this stunning and historically saturated region. Over centuries, this landscape has seen it all: from the victories of the Masai Warriors, to the challenges of Africa’s great explorers, right through to the moments of inspiration for Ernest Hemmingway, this area is for many, indescribable. You will retrace the footsteps of these famous folk as you search high and low for elephants, giraffes, lions, leopards, gazelles and cheetah. The Mara is home to some of the world’s most prolific wildlife and - given the frequency with which they see humans - you will experience a series of truly close and intimate encounters.
As the day progresses, you will drive south towards the Mara River and the Tanzanian border. If your timing is right, you will be able to spend awhile watching hundreds of thousands of wildebeest navigate this dangerous crocodile-infested crossing as they move north in search of greener pastures. This migration of two million ungulates occurs annually and truly is one of the natural world’s more impressive (and awe-inspiring) occurrences.
Following the river, you will stop for a picnic lunch in a shaded forest where cheeky vervet monkeys will competitively move in for a taste of your food. Whether you choose to lure them closer or ward them away, this will be one of the trip’s most exciting picnics. Packing up what the monkeys have not snatched, you will begin to drive back north towards camp. As temperatures cool in the late afternoon, the bush will again come alive as predators start out on their evening hunt. As lions and leopards cautiously stalk ungulates, keep an eye on the sky as it theatrically transforms as the sun sets.
morning you will return to the Rift Valley, descending towards a series of ‘soda’ lakes on the valley floor. The quiet Lake Nakuru National Park revolves around a massive flamingo-lined alkaline lake that supports a thriving black and white rhinoceros population, in addition to a rich variety of bird life. Having arrived in time for lunch, you will spend the afternoon snaking along the shoreline and up into the gentle hills in search of leopards, warthogs and hyenas amidst playful troupes of baboons. Climbing high into the hills will lead you to rocky outcroppings that provide panoramic views of the park and the lake itself.
Returning to the flamingo-filled shore of the lake, you will be able to walk and drive the perimeter in search of rhinoceros. This park has been an enormous success story in rhino conservation. Today the rhino population has actually over saturated the area – a very rare occurrence during this period of aggressive poaching. The park is a beacon of hope to conservationists, and a tour here will shed light on the widespread efforts put into the creation and maintenance of Kenyan parks. As the day winds to a close, you will find a scenic lookout point over the lake to watch the sunset with a sundowner in hand.
you will leave Nakuru and travel to its sister lake, Lake Bogoria, via a quick photo stop on the equator. If you had found the flamingos of Nakuru to be impressive - prepare to be amazed on the banks of Bogoria. In recent years, the water levels of Nakuru have risen significantly, causing many flamingos to reestablish themselves here. A literal sea of cotton candy pink engulfs these shores, making the blue water nearly impossible to see. Reassurance that this shallow lake does exist comes as geysers erupt feet into the air, spraying the surroundings with boiling hot water. Hot springs also dot the shoreline, and act as a natural kitchen for local residents who are often seen boiling eggs in the water as they test the water temperature. Intrepid individuals may choose to set out on a boat trip across the lake, gaining a new perspective on the thriving bird life.
you will wake up and drive into Samburu County, home to tribes of Samburu and Turkana people. Both tribes are relatives to the Masai people of the south, but hold nuanced cultural differences, which you will have the opportunity to observe. As you enter the sparsely populated arid northern lands, you will drive along the Ewaso Nyiro River, which sustains the park’s rich wildlife. The landscape in this region is vastly different from the plains of the south; desert scrubland and distant mountains characterize the Samburu region - ideal conditions for game viewing. Time and energy permitting, you will be able to squeeze in a late afternoon safari in this new landscape.
you will explore the plains of Samburu National Park in search of the ‘Samburu Special Five’. Home to a unique combination of wildlife, today you will have the opportunity to see the reticulated giraffe, the gerenuk, the Grevy’s Zebra, the Somali ostrich and the beisa oryx. The Oryx of Samburu became particularly famous when a lioness in the park adopted three of these mythical looking ungulates into her pride. In direct contradiction to normal lion behavior, this particular lioness was reported to be fiercely protective over the calves, defending the calves from humans and deeply mourning their deaths. Biologists and conservationists were truly baffled by this peculiar behavior, attributing it largely to maternal instinct.
As you traverse this interesting landscape, you may also be lucky enough to spy the endangered African wild dog. These fierce spotted hunters generally live in packs, and rely on a single dominant pair for breeding. As a highly social species, wild dogs are known for supporting weaker members of the pack, sharing food and assisting them in times of illness. It is this cooperative pack dynamic that have made the species one of the continent’s most successful hunters, tackling prey as large as wildebeest. They do however require large territories and are susceptible to domestic animal diseases, which has led to marked decline in their population. They are a rare, but truly wonderful, sighting.
Set against the backdrop of park’s two stunning mountains, it is often surprising that more tourists do not choose to visit this park. In direct comparison to the throngs of vehicles that cover the Mara, you will enjoy near exclusivity during your wildlife encounters today, giving a sense of true authenticity in this African wilderness.
you will drive into the expansive shadow of Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak. From the town of Nanyuki, you will set off in the afternoon to explore the Mau Mau Caves, a critical hide away for Kenyan Freedom Fighters during the Mau Mau Uprising in the 1950s. During the early days of the independence struggle, a group of young Kikuyu men vowed to rise up against the British colonizers. Over years of warfare, these caves in the Karura Forest Reserve were a critical hideaway for the revolutionaries. Unfortunately, in 1959 British authorities obtained the hideaway location and carried out heavy bombing on the region, remnants of which are still visible today. Your tour through these caves will highlight the foundations of Kenya’s struggle for independence, which ultimately culminated under the leadership of Jomo Kenyatta in 1963.
you will leave early from the town of Nanyuki in order to reach Amboseli National Park for the midafternoon. You will leave the sparsely populated north, traveling through the agricultural lands and into Nairobi where we will stop for lunch in this bourgeoning metropolis. Be sure to ask your driver about the development of the east African ‘Silicon Valley’ - a current source of great pride for Kenyans. Carrying on out of the city, you will be launched back into the wilderness as we approach Amboseli National Park. Located under the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro’s glacial peak – the highest point in Africa - every turn of this park is nothing short of post-card worthy. Energy and time permitting, you may embark on a preliminary exploration of the region on an afternoon safari.
morning you will wake to hot tea and coffee before setting out on a pre-breakfast safari across Amboseli, catching the wildlife while they are most active. As you cruise along the plains abutting Mount Kilimanjaro, the park’s huge population of elephants will gracefully walk the horizon before you. Lions, leopards, and gazelle are also among the park’s familiar residents, and are seen with patience and luck. As the sun climbs high, you may choose to have a breakfast picnic at a scenic vantage point overlooking the park before returning to the lodge in search of shade and relaxation.
Having sought refuge from the midday sun beside a pool or in the shade with a book, you will head out into the bush again in the late afternoon. As your guide tours you between the park’s many highlights, take time to pause in a hide overlooking a waterhole fed by Kilimanjaro’s glaciers while you observe activity hidden away in the sidelines. While this park is among Kenya’s busier parks, the total silence at a hide will help you to escape back to that exclusivity you experienced in Samburu. If interested, part of this afternoon could also be spent visiting a local Masai community, where you would be able to compare and contrast the Masai experience with that of the Samburu. As the sun sets, you will position yourself perhaps at Observation Hill where you will be able to watch an iconic sun set behind Kilimanjaro before retiring to the lodge for dinner and a fire.
you will drive to explore your final Kenyan National Park. You will travel by way of Chyulu Hills, an inactive volcanic mountain range in southern Kenya noted for ragged frozen lava peaks and fertile volcanic soil. The thick lush montane forest starkly contrasts the fertile plains that abruptly end where the mountains begin. To many visitors, this landscape has a mythical air to it - again, a dramatic contrast from the parks before. Chyulu Hills National Park is ultimately a mountainous extension of Tsavo West National Park, your ultimate destination today in Kenya’s easternmost province. As you relax around camp tonight, be sure to listen for the wails and shrieks of the bush baby - a small nocturnal primate that hurls itself wildly through these trees at night.
you will set out on your final full day of safaris. Tsavo West offers a surprising number of activities in addition to the standard driving safari, which you may be interested in partaking in. One especially unique activity occurs at Mzima Springs, where there is a prolific hippo and crocodile population in these four shallow springs connected by rushing rapids. These breathtaking springs are filled by water that runs through the Chyulu Hills and splashes out from below a lava ridge into the pools. The bright blue water is crystal clear, allowing guests to observe the hippos with ease as they trundle between the shore and the pools. For those craving a more intimate look, it is also possible to descend into a slightly decrepit viewing chamber to observe the animals hopping about underwater. From Mzima, you can set out on foot into the forest, following trails that educate hikers about the trees and their various purposes.
For those interested in rock climbing, the mountains of Tsavo West offer some of the best climbing in the country. Infamous along the walls and crevasses is the 300m east face of Kichwa Tembo, which took initial explorers three attempts before successfully summiting. Alternatively, guests can choose to spend their final full African day exploring Tsavo West by vehicle, Kenya’s largest national park. Home to a large population of lions, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras and gazelles, a drive through the park will be a perfect send off. The beauty of this entire package is that we will work to customize every day to your whims and desires, ensuring the perfect Kenyan experience.
morning you will be able to squeeze in one final early morning game drive as the sun rises over Tsavo West. From here, it will be time to return to Nairobi for your flight home. It is worth noting however that Tsavo is very close to the Indian Ocean shoreline, and many visitors choose to tack on a couple extra days on this package to relax along the white sand shores and turquoise waters of Lamu.
Mr Mr. Martin
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