Nairobi, Mara North Conservancy, Amboseli National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park, Zanzibar, Kendwa, Stone...
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Celebrating the icons of East African travel, this luxurious, 16-day tour explores untouched nature and magnificent safari destinations. In Kenya, you will immerse yourself in the Masai Mara grasslands and safari with elephants beneath Mount Kilimanjaro. Tanzania will provide intimate wildlife encounters in Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro before three days of magnificent, mobile camping in the Serengeti. Finally, Zanzibar will lead you to white Indian Ocean beaches and the tranquility of island life.
Nairobi – Arrival and a View Over Safari Plains
When you touch down in Kenya, the wilderness will soon take over even though you will land in East Africa’s largest city. While Nairobi skyscrapers paint the horizon, your hotel will be perched above Nairobi National Park, which is a carefully preserved savanna that is home to the Big Five. From your hotel, you can gaze across these plains and watch giraffes as they pass in addition to elephants as they eat dinner. Sometimes, you can hear the distant roar of a male lion. Flight times mean that you will need to make a Nairobi layover before beginning your safari. With such bucolic views, this will never be a hassle. After an airport transfer, you will begin to appreciate East Africa’s wildlife while resting and preparing for your safari to come.
Mara North Conservancy – The Heart of the Kenyan Grasslands
Nairobi Wilson Airport is just a ten minute transfer from your overnight accommodation. A few small aircrafts wait on the runway, and one of these will be taking you directly to Mara North, which is a private safari conservancy that shares a long and unfenced border with the Masai Mara National Reserve. You will touch down to your private safari. You will be bumping off the main trails to get closer to a leopard and other predators. Buffalos will wander past in large herds, while wildebeest and zebra will dot the plains, sometimes in the thousands. These Kenyan grasslands will bring intimacy with a wild animal cast, including most of those on your checklist. From hippos to elephants to lions, this conservancy has just about everything. With private game drives, you can tailor your experience around the animals that you want to see.
Mara North Conservancy – Thrilling Big Game Encounters
Spots may move through the grass at dawn, and you may follow this predator in stealth mode, inching forward without interrupting the hunt. Safari vehicles give you an elevated view over the landscape, so you can see both the leopard and the Thomson’s gazelle that it is hunting. This prowl could result in a chase, and you may very well witness a leopard with a carcass in a tree. A sentinel may raise the alarm, so the gazelle gallops off to safety. Most people arrive in the Masai Mara with the knowledge that this landscape is home to more wild mammals than almost anywhere else in the world.
Once you are in the Masai Mara, you will discover that an African safari is not necessarily about how many animals you see but the interactions that take place between all the different species. You can admire lions as they laze on sun-scorched rocks and zebras as they gallop past you fearfully. There can be moments of complete silence as you watch a cheetah feed her cubs, or a dik-dik couple peek out from the grass. The Mara is a land of big and small, and over these two days, you will experience how wildlife can really flourish on grasslands, including the large wildebeest herds for which this destination is known.
Amboseli National Park – From Grasslands to Mount Kilimanjaro
Today, you will fly from Mara North to Amboseli, and the colors will change. Arid plains will stretch beneath Mount Kilimanjaro’s shadow. There is little for animals to eat here, so each animal must adapt their habits to the scenery. Gerenuk have giraffe-like necks for feeding from branches that other antelope cannot reach, and they absorb all the water they need from their food. Elephants use their trunks to dig beneath dried-up riverbeds, and other animals stay within easy reach of the Amboseli swamps, where there is water but also danger. Amboseli is famous for an image of elephants that roam beneath Kilimanjaro. You will soon discover that the safari experience concerns the battle for survival in a harsh and arid environment that extends beneath the mountain’s shadow.
Amboseli National Park – Elephant Conservation and Wildlife
While much of Amboseli can seem devoid of life, this is simply because most animals must stay near to water. The best Amboseli game drives explore these watering holes. You will encounter dramatic scenes when hyenas arrive, especially if the buffalo are drinking with their calves. You can also witness scenes of pure joy with tropical birds and various ungulates that drink happily beside a pod of hippos. Amboseli is home to one of Africa’s most successful conservation programs, and this helped maintain elephant numbers through a poaching epidemic in the 70s and 80s. This afternoon, you will join conservationists on their day to day activities in the park, learning about what they do to keep the pachyderm population strong.
Arusha – Cultural Experiences on Route to Tanzania
From Amboseli, it will be around four hours by road to Arusha in Tanzania. This is a lovely journey with volcanoes that line the distance, in addition to the small villages that you can stop at along the route. If you stop, you will experience a culture that is mostly unchanged by modernity. While these villages may appear to be impoverished, there is a cultural and traditional wealth that you can take away with you. There will be no need to rush as nothing is planned in Arusha for today. You will be staying at a lodge outside the town that is set in a coffee plantation and dominated by the telltale call of bush babies.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area – East Africa’s Most Beautiful Destinations
Marabou storks will welcome you to Lake Manyara. They guard the treetops above the entrance gate and squawk loudly to all new arrivals. Following the gate, the trail is narrow, and the forest is dense. Baboons move in huge troops, and you can hear them long before you see them. In some areas, the trees may be bent over so you can see the culprits, which will be an elephant herd as they bash down trees in displays of joy and belligerence.
You can spend hours in these trees and realize that the safari experience is much different to Kenya’s more open landscapes. You can even turn a corner to be a few meters from a giraffe or elephant. You can turn another corner, and huge baboon troops may be fighting with each other. The forest will finally give way to an open clearing, and this is where up to a dozen ungulate species graze together. Stunning cliffs overlook this scene, and a hippo-filled lake completes it, but you will experience all of this from a safe distance. From this bucolic safari destination, you will travel uphill into Ngorongoro Conservation Area to a lodge that sits on the crater rim.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area – Wildlife Utopia
Early morning is always the best time for a safari, and this is especially true in Ngorongoro Crater. Not only is wildlife more active, but the crater is quieter as you will avoid the midday rush of day-tripping safari vehicles. You will descend into the crater at dawn to find lions as they use the mist for cover. The first hour of daylight is when they like to hunt, and you can often spot a pride on the move. You can even be lucky enough to come across a pride as they devour a carcass with jackals and hyenas already seeking the scraps.
The crater’s black rhinos will be out strolling at dawn but will retreat to the bushes by mid-morning. Elephants also wander the crater floor early in the morning, but it is mostly the bulls with enormous tusks. Many other species live here, and in a single glance, you can witness more than 10,000 wild mammals. Ngorongoro feels like a wildlife Eden with so many animals that find refuge in an extinct volcanic caldera. Of all Africa’s safari destinations, this is the one that people find the most spectacular. You can drive around it all in just four hours, which will leave a free afternoon to recollect what you have just experienced.
Day 9 - 11
Serengeti National Park – An Intimate Safari and Mobile Camp
When the Ngorongoro volcano erupted, it spread nutrient-rich ash westward and flattened a forest with lava. Millions of years later, the grass began to grow, and the Serengeti was born. These Serengeti grasslands are so nutritious that wildebeest calves grow at twice the speed as anywhere else in Africa. There is such rich bounty that over 2 million wild mammals can be supported, many of which form the great wildebeest migration. The most important thing to remember about this migration is that the wildebeest are on the move. They follow the rains and move to fresh grazing pastures, so there is not one single place to go to see the migration. Every year, the route is a little different, especially given the recent unpredictability of Tanzania’s rains.
Most safaris need a bit of luck to see the migration, and a mobile camp removes much of the guesswork. The camp is packed up every couple of weeks and will move with the herds, so it is always in an ideal location, regardless of the month of the year. You can hear the rumble of hooves from the camp, and sometimes you can gaze out and see thousands of animals as they fill the panorama. Through the night, you will hear hyenas and lions. These camps utilize very traditional methods of keeping you safe from predators, and they are the same methods that are used by Masai people to keep themselves and their livestock safe from the Serengeti’s cats.
On day nine, you will drive onto the grasslands and cross a large section of the Serengeti. Then, you will settle into a safari that is dictated by the herds. Wildebeest scatter across huge areas, and they rut each morning, which is a form of battle that impresses the females. With ebullient faces, they can provide delightful moments of joy, but during your afternoons, you will witness how the long journey is tiresome to many. Hyenas will follow the herds to identify the weak and sick for a nighttime hunt. Resident lions and leopards also watch the herds. They too prefer to hunt after dark, so you can often come across carcasses during your early morning game drives.
Zebras follow the wildebeest but are usually a few days behind. You can drive among the herds, and the abundance will be truly remarkable. You can maybe picture 100 zebra, possibly even 1,000, but to safari with tens of thousands will prove to be an ineffable experience even when you are there. Three days is recommended for a mobile Serengeti camp safari because it will give you time to really tune into the wilderness, including all its smells and sounds. You will also discover moments of drama and charm, in addition to developing an appreciation of the tranquility of a Serengeti safari.
Kendwa – Stop, Breathe, and Relax
From the Serengeti, you will fly directly to Zanzibar before transferring to Kendwa. Located on Zanzibar’s iconic, Northern tip, Kendwa is separated from the more popular resort destination of Nungwe, but it enjoys the same beach. Jagged cliffs stand over the white sand, and at high tide, the beach is divided into small bays, while at low tide, you can walk barefoot to Nungwe. Arriving on the island of Zanzibar is all about slowing down. You will be in Indian Ocean paradise at a boutique resort that lies just off the sand.
Day 13 - 14
Kendwa – White-Sand Tranquility on Zanzibar’s Northern Tip
These two days will be at your leisure. The premier Zanzibar highlight is to do nothing, and it is easy to abide given the spacious beach and laid-back, island atmosphere. The snorkeling is superb, especially around Kendwa and Nungwe. Scuba diving is another activity option along with visiting the monkeys of Jozani Forest. You can also go sailing in a traditional dhow or venture out to explore the local Swahili culture. Mostly, these days will about island tranquility, so do not plan anything just yet. You may want to wait until you arrive.
Stone Town – Rich Cultural Experiences
Evocative sounds will echo through the narrow alleys of Stone Town, and coral houses and coral mosques cluster together here. The architecture has remained mostly unchanged for over 500 years. While a couple of streets now cater to tourists, most of Stone Town offers an intimate insight into old Swahili culture. With a local guide, you will stroll through the town, stopping at many iconic sites, including the old slave market and a market of dazzling colors and spices. In Stone Town, the cultural experiences will find you, and they will provide a lively, final act to your 16 days in Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar.
Stone Town – Departure
After breakfast, you will depart from Zanzibar’s airport, which is a mere 15-minute transfer from your hotel. Your outbound flight will connect via Nairobi.
- Immerse yourself in a luxury mobile camp for three nights, following the great wildebeest migration across the Serengeti
- Discover more about elephant conservation during a full day’s safari in Amboseli, where pachyderms roam beneath Mount Kilimanjaro
- Feel the Zanzibar escapism and spend three nights perched above the white sand in Kendwa
- Track the big cats and enjoy superb safari scenes in the enduring Masai Mara
- Descend into Ngorongoro Crater, which is a wildlife utopia in an extinct volcanic caldera
- Explore Stone Town’s rich Swahili culture from coral houses and artistic doors to hypnotic sounds in mazy alleyways
- Bask in Lake Manyara, which is East Africa’s most beautiful park, and a daytime game drive that will bring you eye to eye with thousands of baboons among other animals
$7,835 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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