Eclectic Northern Kenya and Masai Mara Safari

A 13 day trip to Kenya 
5 out of 5 stars
9 reviews

The Masai Mara and Northern Kenya provide an eclectic safari experience, packed with thrills, charms and spectacular big game alongside diverse safari experiences. This 13-day safari unravels the wild as you visit five different safari destinations. Start with intimate Big Five encounters in the private Solio Reserve, explore the vast and untouched Samburu and then walk and mobile camp in the enchanting Aberdare forests as you lose yourself in the Masai Mara.  You will finish well with a safari at an exclusive Mara Conservancy.  

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Nairobi, Giraffe Centre, Solio Private Game Reserve, Samburu National Reserve, Aberdare National Park, Masai Mara National Reserve, Olare Motorogi Conservancy

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Nairobi – Arrival in Kenya

Your late arrival into Nairobi is balanced by the charm of your manor accommodation in the city's green suburbs. Giraffe roams freely through the grounds, and you can already sense the wild in the midst of the cityscape. While Nairobi city can be chaotic, the outlying suburbs gaze out onto vast green hills and give an immediate sense of space as for these first few days you will see more giraffe necks than skyscrapers. You will be greeted at the Nairobi International and transfer to your hotel, where long-necked silhouettes roam and a regal bedroom provides a restful first night.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer

Day 2: Nairobi – Wildlife in the Heart of the City

On most safari days, you will have early starts as the premier time to explore are the hours immediately after sunrise. Rather than fly straight into big game country, this free day will give you a chance to relax and acclimatize. There are still many wildlife opportunities as endangered Rothschild giraffe pass by your bedroom window, the success of a local breeding program. A nearby elephant center will provide a safe space for injured pachyderms rescued from poachers. Author Karen Blixon's house is also nearby, and you will not need to travel far to see giraffe necks juxtaposed with distant city skyscrapers. Today is free to use at your leisure, and a private driver guide is provided to take you like to see.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Days 3 – 4: Solio Private Game Reserve – Idyllic Big Game Introductions and a Range of Activities

Your early-morning flight will depart from Nairobi Wilson Airport, and the small plane will offer stunning views of Mount Meru as you journey north to Solio. Nestled into Meru's slopes, Solio is a private and compact game reserve that provides a classic Big Five introduction. In Solio, you will never have to travel far to see the famous mammals. A fenced reserve, the black rhino population is kept from the eyes of poachers.  On your first game drive, you will not miss the critically endangered rhino as these bashful characters quickly return your gaze before they bound onwards. Just around 1,000 of these animals remain in the wild, but you will be able to spot them from your lodge balcony.

Begin with two game drives and sweep through a habitat that supports a rich variety of life. Lions bask beneath the trees as an enchanting pride lazes in the shade. A buffalo herd marches across the savannah, their bulk and power are immediately apparent. A couple of leopards lurk in the trees, and your guide will intimately understand their hiding places. You won't need to look for elephants as they roam across the green landscape with their trunks swinging beneath the inspiring summit of Mount Meru. On a first safari, most people are anxious to see the famous animals and in Solio, there is a strong chance of seeing the Big Five on one game drive.

Your next day will bring the opportunity for new activities as one of the very few East African reserves where cycling and horse riding safaris are a possibility. These specially guided safaris create a thrilling proximity as they bring you into the herds and make you a part of the landscape. Try them both, or combine one with an afternoon game drive to create a personal safari program in a reserve that values privacy and exclusivity. The rest of your safari will be more of a raw and rugged adventure, but these two days are all about settling in and smiling at the easy encounters with the Big Five.

What's Included: accommodation, domestic flight, transfers, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 5 – 6: Samburu National Reserve – The Enchanting Safari Landscapes of Northern Kenya

Rolling across Northern Kenya is the land of the Samburu, a mystical plateau untouched by modernity. In comparison to Solio, a safari here feels like you're living out the adventures of intrepid explorers from the past. It seems like ancient Africa as the landscape responds to so many revered preconceptions. Elephant bull migrate across the endless savannah, hyenas and eagles swoop around, and from elevated plateaus, you will watch the wild bushland blur into the horizon. This is the land of Samburu warriors, and it is a vast wilderness that is only really explored by visitors on fly-in safaris.

Game drives will take you on bumpy journeys as the vehicle kicks up dust as you traverse the savannah's rustic colors. You will not see animals all the time, as sometimes you will drive for 15 minutes and see few very few clues to their whereabouts. But there is always a surprise waiting to pounce. Continue to a river and two male lions are fighting with a large hyena cackle, the scavengers stealing the kill through menace and razored teeth. Watch elephant and giraffe on their long journeys, following the emotion of nomads on the trail. In this wild land the animals quickly show who the boss is; like when elephants flap their ears as they emerge from woodland or a bachelor buffalo herd that starts to surround the vehicle.

The Samburu dances to an ancient rhythm and the lack of visitors enhance the authenticity of the experience. You are not just admiring the animals as you are getting a complex understanding of how all of this wildlife interacts on the landscape. For these two days, you can create a program of game drives and walking safaris with the focus on going off the beaten track rather than constantly ticking off the Big Five. The sense of the wild is often mystical, with a persuasive soundtrack that adds to the atmosphere. Even when you sleep, you can feel the pull of nature as you hear a throaty lion roar through the night.

What's Included: accommodation, domestic flight, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 7 – 8: Aberdare National Park – Mobile Walking Safaris in a Wonderful Forest Canopy

Samburu is an expressive landscape and a land of continual views. Journey into the Aberdare Forest and the tree canopy quickly changes the scale. Rather than sight, you're predominantly guided by sound. Sykes monkeys and vervet monkeys chirp from the trees; reedbuck can be heard grazing, and your ears will soon tune into any nearby rustling. You will not find lions here; instead, the national park is home to a full sweep of forest dwellers ranging from the very rare African golden cat to the duiker, mongoose, and giant forest hogs. Look up with your eyes, and half a dozen monkey species will grace the trees, like the shy black and white colobus with their elegant striped tails.

These two days submerge you in the woodland world on a walking safari. No extreme level of fitness is required as this is not a race or expedition. Instead, it's a slow and surreal journey that introduces you to animal tracking and the clues of nature. The fresh woodland bursts with color and you will step slowly into the animal world to come face to face with an inspiring array of primates and smaller antelopes. Rhino and leopard also occupy these trees, and you might also get a glimpse of their prints, if not their distant frames. The wilderness experience is completed with excellent mobile camps, which allow you to sleep deep in the forest reserve. With a campfire crackling and birdsong fluttering through the trees, Aberdare is a mix of wild adventure and pure serenity.

What's Included: accommodation, domestic flight, transfers, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9 – 10: Masai Mara National Reserve – Savoring the Big Cat Wonders of the Masai Mara

Arrive next to the Masai Mara, justifiably one of Africa's most famous safari destinations. It will feel as if the big cats are everywhere, and you will not count the lions spotted, you will count the number of pride encountered. Touch down in the National Reserve and the first game drives go in search of these predators. Follow a rustle in the grass and watch the spots emerge as a cheetah brings goosebumps as it stalks impala. Tension will build and the hornbills will squawk to alert the herd to the threat. But the cheetah is hidden, and the impala stands in confusion, so the alpha male impala takes charge to stand proudly in front of his harem and challenge the cheetah in a show of defiance.

Like everywhere you go in Kenya, your safari is not just about taking photos of the animals; rather it is about watching the interactions play out. Later in the game drive, you will watch a predatory scene come to a more dramatic conclusion as lionesses chase down an old wildebeest who had been separated from the herd.  You will be close enough to hear the jaws crunch through bone, and then to watch the alpha male aggressively chase away the younger males in the pride. Often you do not see the cats hunting, but you will see a leopard sprawled across a tree, seemingly asleep but always with one eye open.

It's the profusion of prey that maintains such a vibrant cat population here, and it's hard for a game drive to go a minute without a sighting of plains animals. Wildebeest congregate in the thousands, zebra always provide a beautiful sight, and you will see thousands of Thompson's gazelle as they bound through the grass. You will admire them from your camp, which is indelibly perched above the famous Mara River. For these two days, you will enjoy twice-daily game drives that explore the evocative grasslands of the Masai Mara.

What's Included: accommodation, domestic flight, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 11 – 12: Olare Motorogi Conservancy – Exclusive Masai Mara Safari

The Masai Mara National Reserve is bordered by a series of unfenced private conservancies, and each offers an exclusive safari experience within the Mara ecosystem. Olare Motorogi is one of these, a wild stretch of bushland that's only accessible to a handful of guests at a time. The game drives continue here, and there is no interruption to the thrilling sights. Lions roam, huge elephant bulls are on the charge, the echoed gallop of wildebeest herds are present as the Olare Motorogi's exceptional safari sights are all yours to enjoy.  The area is not shared with other guests, so other safari vehicles do not appear in your photos. It will feel as though you have nature's greatest spectacles at your fingertips.

Vultures circle, and it will be evident that there is a carcass in the grassland. In a private conservancy, you can drive off the trail and bounce across the land to discover what's being torn apart by scavengers. Follow a leopard with a fresh kill, and then watch her take a carcass back into the trees. Rather than admire through the binoculars, you will go into the forest and savor a thrilling intimacy with some of the safari's rarest sights. Leopard cubs may emerge, and the driver will bring you around for the finest view as family life plays out before you are eagerly snapping your camera shutter. Expect to see all the iconic Mara sights here with this atmosphere of exclusivity and proximity.

Masai warriors are the guides on walking safaris and it's wonderful to compare the experience and tribe with that in Samburu. Afternoon game drives do not stop at dusk as instead they stay out with the herds as the guide will park in the middle of the wildebeest and cut the engine. Mammals become silhouettes and sounds guide you as tension floats through the air; your guide will turn on a spotlight to reveal a menacing hyena cackle. It is now the tenth day of your safari, but the fresh sights will keep coming; perhaps a caracal on the prowl, maybe elephants fighting at the river, or baboons cradling their hairless babies as they journey through the night. As always, your camp will continue the uninterrupted impression of the wild, just with all the appropriate comforts.

What's Included: accommodation, domestic flight, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 13: Olare Motorogi Conservancy to Nairobi – Departure

After breakfast, it's a short transfer to the conservancy's airstrip and a scheduled light aircraft flight back to Nairobi. You will land at Nairobi Wilson Airport and then transferred to Nairobi International Airport and your intercontinental departure. Day access at an airport hotel will be arranged for late departures.

What's Included: transfer, domestic flight, breakfast 


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.