Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mara North Conservancy, Maasai Mara National Reserve
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
A million wildebeest crossing the Serengeti, gorillas in the mist, Ngorongoro Crater’s animal paradise, big cats chasing zebra in the Masai Mara; explore East Africa’s four legendary destinations in just 12 days with this handcrafted fly-in safari. From savanna to grasslands to mystical rainforests, you explore East Africa’s legendary destinations, getting intimate with its evocative mammals. Three countries, four destinations, and 12 days of contemporary luxury and wildlife charm; enjoy East...
Ngorongoro Crater – Gazing Over the Famous Crater
All great fables start with a dramatic opening, one that fires the imagination. Ngorongoro Crater wondrously sets that scene, an intact volcanic caldera that rises above the grasslands of the Serengeti. A luxury lodge is perched on the rim, and you can see across the crater from your verandah. Down below the colors swirl; a lake tinged pink by flamingos, clumps of dark green forest juxtaposed with the scorched yellow of the grassy plains. Wildlife comes and goes, so you’ll see elephants marching past the lodge on their way into the crater. Your international flight will land at Kilimanjaro International, where you transfer to a light aircraft that brings you down close to the crater rim.
Ngorongoro Crater – Game Drive in an Animal Paradise
On a sunrise game drive, you explore the crater floor. Lion prides are on the prowl, lurking in the shadows as they prey on zebra herds. A handful of black rhinos graze in the open, beautiful creatures that are as endangered as the gorillas you’ll see later in the itinerary. Occupying the trees are some of Africa’s largest elephants, placid old bulls with majestic tusks and towering rumps. Stop beside a quarreling buffalo herd, watch wildebeest galloping about, and trace the route of hyenas that pass the vehicle.
Ngorongoro Crater has six distinctive habitats, creating a haven for almost all the big and famous safari animals (the only notable exception is giraffe). It’s a surreal place for a first East African game drive, allowing you to quickly become acquainted with the dazzling wildlife world. Stop for a coffee beside a lake of hippos then drive around the caldera floor and take in all the astonishing sights. You’ll return to the lodge for a late lunch and the rest of the day is at your leisure.
Southern Serengeti – Admiring the Endless Plains
When the Ngorongoro volcano exploded, ash spiraled westwards, blanketing a huge area. Rich in nutrients, this ash formed one of the fastest growing grasslands on the planet, the Serengeti. If you were a grazer, then these plains would be the ultimate banquet. And if you were a predator, you’d want to be where there’s the highest density of grazers. Close to two million mammals occupy the Serengeti plains, and the abundance is extraordinary. Descending from Ngorongoro onto the plains is an iconic introduction to the scale. And as you explore the southern part of the park, you’ll quickly be lost in the details.
In the Serengeti, it’s never just a few zebra. It’s a herd numbering a few hundred. Spot one hyena and there’s a very good chance that another five will be close by. When buffalos march, they’re often in a big burly ball of fur. The expressive openness of the landscape provides the ultimate safari visibility. Just gaze out, and you can see all the giraffes and elephants that dot the horizon. Sounds float across the air and the guide will follow them for poignant portraits of the big cats on a hunt. You’ll spend the whole day on a game drive, and then enjoy an evocative evening at the camp, surrounded by the sounds of the Serengeti.
Day 4 - 5
Southern Serengeti – Lost in the Drama of the Great Wildebeest Migration
A million hooves kick up dust as the migration moves north and wildebeest fill the panorama. Not far behind are the zebra, tens of thousands of them forming a black and white procession. Watching them pass are lion prides, who perch on rocks to inspect the dinner menu. Hyenas follow the migration, keeping pace with the herds and feasting on any animal too exhausted to continue. Vultures circle overhead while the grass isn’t quite high enough to fully hide leopards and cheetahs. Your mobile camp has been erected in the heart of the spectacle, gazing down on the drama of the moving herds. You won’t even need a game drive, just sit back and watch the show.
The morning and afternoon private game drives provide a new perspective, allowing you to look beyond the masses and focus on the details. Watch the adoration as a zebra cares for her calf, admire the enthusiasm of male wildebeest trying to attract a mate, and watch the contrast in emotions as hunter meets hunted. When the great migration passes through, the resident cats are on the prowl. You’ll see herds seeking protection, huddling together when the sentinels raise the alarm. You’ll see lionesses hunting, admiring how they rile the herd to separate a pre-identified target. And you’ll watch with hands over your face as the predators take down their prey.
Hunting scenes have many stages. The driver takes you closer to a kill, and there’s a frightening crack as jaw tears through bone. The male lion roars vociferously, forcing the younger males to wait a respective distance. Jackals are already close to the carcass, and they impishly steal discarded pieces. Hyenas aren’t far behind, although they’ll wait until the satisfied lions become full and lethargic. Of course, with the great wildebeest migration, this is just one scene amongst many. With two days you’re likely to encounter many vivid displays of predator and prey.
All these exquisite individual scenes are a huge contrast to the hot air balloon safari. You’ll soar over the plains at dawn, enjoying an experience that’s on the top of many East Africa travel wish lists. Herds are scattered below, and there’s a brilliant evocation of how the migration moves. Touch down to a glass of champagne then jump into the safari vehicle for a journey to the migration and the mobile camp.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – From Wild Savanna to Mystical Rainforest
Flight connections between the Serengeti and Bwindi are surprisingly good, and the move from savannah to rainforest takes around four hours. A morning flight departs from a dusty Serengeti airstrip, and then cruises over Lake Victoria to Entebbe. From here, there’s a convenient micro flight to the west of Uganda, where the volcanic mountains are coated in forests and shrouded in mist. Take a moment to inspect the realm of wild mountain gorillas; a dense rainforest where light flickers, hills of green rolling uninhibited, an atmosphere of mystique hanging in the air. Then settle into a luxurious lodge that offers this panorama from your suite.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
Shards of light disperse as they pierce the canopy, creating golden tones as you trek through the undergrowth. Trails are narrow, most of them created by forest elephants or the gorillas themselves. As you approach the troop, the guide must slice a fresh path, an indication of just how deep and remote you need to travel. Only around a thousand wild mountain gorillas remain and well over half are found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The first glimpse is magical, stirring the heart as you gaze upon the world’s biggest primate. Then there are a few moments where time seems to stand still. The gorillas are looking at you. Return one’s gaze, and you realize that they’re staring at you. Although habituated, the gorillas are very wild. And they want to inspect everyone who enters their realm.
You’ll spend an hour with the troop, captivated by all the intricate details. Infants and their watchful mothers, a giant silverback bounding past on his knuckles, playful gorillas feeding in the canopy above your head. Just seven meters separates you from them and the hour passes in a blur of snapshots, filled with glances between gorillas or particular behaviors that grabbed your attention. This is one of the world’s most unique wildlife experiences and vastly different from a game drive on the savannah. It’s more than worth the side trip out to Uganda. Gorilla trekking usually takes up the entire day, and you’ll take a picnic lunch with you, before returning to the lodge in the afternoon.
Nairobi – Admiring Golden Monkeys Then Onwards to Kenya
Return to the depths misty rainforest this morning, a guide leading you on more exhilarating trails. This time the focus is troops of golden monkeys, surreal primates that have most people shaking their head in disbelief. A blue tint stretches across the monkeys’ mischievous faces, contrasting their golden fur. You savor intimate moments with another of East Africa’s endangered animals, adding it to the continual list of highlights throughout the safari. Return to the lodge for lunch before flying back to Entebbe in the afternoon. From Uganda’s colonial capital you then fly to Nairobi on a scheduled flight. An overnight in the Kenyan capital is essential in order to add the Maasai Mara to the safari. It’s definitely not time wasted. You’ll enjoy a decadent five-star hotel overlooking Nairobi National Park, plus a dinner at East Africa’s most famous restaurant.
Day 9 - 11
Mara North Conservancy – Private Concession Maasai Mara Safari
The Maasai Mara is another name from storybooks, one that evokes so many exotic images. In reality, the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti are the same overarching ecosystem but have been separated by international borders. Every July and August, the great wildebeest migration crosses the Mara River and grazes on the plains of the Mara. Many of the animals are the same in the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara, and the density of life is just as astonishing. Yet the safari experiences can be very different, especially in the private conservancies along the northern edge of the Maasai Mara.
After the flight from Nairobi, you settle into an opulent tented camp in Mara North. You start exploring. But not in a vehicle. Maasai warriors lead you across the plains on foot, creating a thrilling perspective on the zebra and wildebeest herds. Elephants and giraffe are seen from a new angle, buffalo herds are encountered, and there’s something incredibly iconic about walking with the Maasai across the Maasai Mara. Another exhilarating activity is the nighttime game drive. Everything changes with the cloak of darkness and a roving spotlight reveals the nocturnal characters of the plains. It’s an excellent time to see the cats on the prowl, and there are some tense scenes by the water as those animals with limited vision easily riled.
In a private concession, you also enjoy an exclusivity and seclusion. Only those staying overnight can explore, so the plains are blissfully devoid of other tourists and vehicles. There’s nothing ruining the photos, and when you see a leopard on the prowl, the sight is all yours. Drivers can also leave the main trails and bump across the grass, helping to bring an enhanced proximity to the animals. You’re not restricted here and the three days offer a completely flexible safari program. Choose the activities you’re interested in and explore the grandeur of an East African fable.
Nairobi – Departure
The Mara North airstrip provides a convenient departure from the wilderness. It takes just less than an hour to fly back to Nairobi, where you’re greeted by a guide and transferred to the international airport for your homebound flight.
- Follow the great wildebeest migration across the Serengeti plains and stay at a private mobile camp that follows the herds.
- Descend into Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater and explore an animal paradise that defies the imagination, with black rhinos and lion prides offering supreme safari moments
- Wander beneath Uganda’s rainforest canopy and spend an hour with a wild troop of mountain gorillas
- Savor all the drama of the Maasai Mara with three nights in Mara North, a private conservancy that gives you all the animals without any of the tourists
- Try out famous East Africa safari experiences, including a hot air balloon flight, private game drives, intimate walking safari, and a nighttime game drive
- Fly efficiently between destinations using light aircraft, maximizing your time on safari as you hop from wilderness to wilderness
- Stay in luxurious tented camps and lodges, each offering contemporary comforts while ensuring a charming immersion in the wild
$6,115 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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