Iconic Amboseli and Masai Mara Safari

A 9 day trip to Kenya 
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Elephants roam beneath Mount Kilimanjaro, lions chase zebra across the grasslands, and vast wildebeest herds are on the move as Amboseli and the Masai Mara are home to some of Africa's most iconic safari images. These fabled destinations offer an excellent first-time African safari to combine exceptional game viewing with the raw wonders of the landscape. This 9-day safari reveals it all and culminates in a private conservancy that enhances the exclusivity of the Masai Mara.

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Nairobi, Amboseli National Park, Masai Mara National Reserve, Mara North Conservancy, Mara River

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Nairobi – Elegant Welcomes in a Surprising City

Nairobi might be one of the continent's economic powerhouses, but its city skyline still glimpses at the wildness of Africa. Gaze out across the hills and you will see giraffe and elephants as they roam in the same panorama as towering as skyscrapers. It's a bizarre juxtaposition to see nature such an integral piece of the cityscape. You will be greeted at Nairobi International Airport and transferred to a hotel on the edge of the city, where your premium suite will overlook the savannah of Nairobi National Park. It's just a glimpse at wildlife, yet one that helps the anticipation build for the start of the safari tomorrow. The afternoon and evening are at your leisure, and the hotel is a quiet place to rest and relax with dinner in the hotel's restaurant included.

What's Included: accommodation, transfer, dinner

Day 2: Amboseli National Park – Elephants Beneath Kilimanjaro

Your descent into Amboseli will be special as the snow-capped dome of Mount Kilimanjaro rises majestically to dominate the landscape and send your eye east as Mount Meru also twinkles far in the distance. Beneath your plane is the rustic colors of the plains, as scorched yellow mingles with rusty reds and shoots of green. As the plane comes down, you will start to spot the pachyderms as black dots on the landscape that become trunks and tusks as the flying altitude drops. Roads and buildings disappear as the view becomes pure Africa in its quintessence that extends before your eyes. It is wild and raw, a land uninterrupted and this is what you came for. Your anticipation is rewarded as giant mammals are seen in the background as you land.

Your journey to camp is a game drive, and the personal encounters will begin. Stop beside the huge tusks and admire as you slowly come past a huge buffalo herd with their curled horns that rise defiantly in the air. Elegant giraffe colors fill one view, and you then turn around to see a spotted hyena half snarling in the grass. Arrive and settle into your canvas suite and the iconic panorama is revealed from your wooden verandah as elephants walk beneath the towering dome of Kilimanjaro. In the afternoon, take a dedicated game drive through Amboseli to continue the introductions to all the wildlife. There is usually far too much to take in, and half of your drive may be spent looking through your camera lens, but with a full week on safari, you can relax and fully settle into the rhythm of these beautiful landscapes.

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

Day 3: Amboseli National Park – Game Drives and Thrilling Big Game Experiences

Early morning is the best time to explore. As the sunrise stretches into dawn, the big cats are on the move as they inspect the breakfast menu. Throughout the day, you can spot a lion pride, but it is at dawn that there is a good chance to see them hunting. Lionesses hide behind a bank, and you will hold your breath. Nothing happens right away, so you must keep watching. Minutes pass, and nothing moves, especially not the impala who do not know whether to run or graze. It will all happen in an instant as three lionesses charge the herd to separate an impala who gallops straight into the pride's waiting ambush. Remember, a first-time safari is not like being in the zoo. You cannot expect to see everything in one game drive, but as you move slowly and stay patient, these revered scenes can be yours.

Your morning game drive will return to camp late morning for your second breakfast of the day. Midday hours are the hottest, and most wildlife is at rest, so it is a chance for you to do the same and look out for the outstanding view of Kilimanjaro. Your afternoon game drive will leave mid afternoon to continue your amazing encounters. Be close to the elephants and admire the herds as they interact with the young males put in their place by the tusks of giants. Stop by the pools, and wait for the hippos to yawn and reveal their stupendous jaws. A variety of antelope occupy the plains, and you will slowly get to recognize them and their behavior. You will return to camp just before sundown with time to shower before your dinner is served beneath the stars.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Masai Mara National Reserve – Lost in the Enormity of the Masai Mara Plains

The Masai Mara will meet any of your preconceptions of Africa as it does look like the landscape from The Lion King.  Picture an African safari and there's a good chance it looks a little like the Masai Mara. But what cannot be preconceived is the scale. You are expecting the lion pride, the elephants, the hyenas, and vultures, but it's hard to anticipate just how far this ecosystem stretches. For your next few days, you will be immersed in this landscape as nothing interrupts the rhythm of life.  You will stay in a charming collection of luxury tents that will effortlessly blend into it all.

Today you will fly from Amboseli to the Masai Mara, where the landscape is one from travel reveries. A game drive transfer will loop you across the waterholes and rivers to bring tense wildlife encounters into view. Battles between four hooves and four paws are the focus of most safari destinations, and they are magnified in the Masai Mara. Watch a hunt through the zebras' eyes and read the furtive and alert expressions in their eyes. Follow a cheetah and look at the emotion as she searches for food for her two small cubs. As in Amboseli, midday is quiet time before an afternoon game drive, where you can expect a series of intimate scenes and the untrammeled unraveling of the Mara theater.

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

Day 5: Masai Mara National Reserve – Following the Wildebeest Along the Mara River

Every June and July, over a million wildebeest and zebra make their famous Mara River crossing to swap the Serengeti for the Masai Mara. The months of June to September sees the Mara plains flood with this influx of herds. But this is a place of mammal abundance all year around as not all wildebeest and zebra migrate. Most big cats stay put and protect their territory while they await the bounty of prey. Whenever you visit this famous reserve, you are guaranteed to see galloping herds of wildebeest, mass groups of zebra, and a wide variety of predators.

Today you will go on a full-day game drive to seek out the parts of the Masai Mara where most animals congregate. On open grasslands, you will see a leopard out hunting as it hides in the grass before it strikes a Thomson's gazelle herd. Drive onwards until buffalo block the trail and you must wait for them to pass. Next, you will see elephant bulls as they roam freely in the trees and crash against the branches as a baboon troop shouts. Move next to the Mara River to stop for a picnic with a prime view of the bathing hippos. Continue across the plains to a lion pride which rests with bloated bellies and then to the iconic sight of the big herds, as thousands of mammals graze together to a backdrop of predatory fear. One full-day game drive is a perfect way to see these incredible sights and begin to grasp just how big this landscape is.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Mara North Conservancy – Exclusive Safari in the Masai Mara

Mara North Conservancy is just a short aerial hop north, and this morning is a chance to lie in and leisurely eat your breakfast as you overlook the vibrant savannah. A conservancy is a private safari destination and reserved to the handful of guests that actually stay in the conservancy. There are no day visitors, and there are strict limits on the number of guests. It is still the Masai Mara, and the conservancy has an unfenced border with the neighboring national reserve. It is a very exclusive area, and other safari vehicles do not spoil your photos as the wildlife sights are not shared with other tourists, so it feels as if you have the Masai Mara all to yourself.

Touch down to land and then follow the classic twice-daily game drive program. Spot a leopard in a distant tree, and in this reserve, your driver can go off the trail to take you to within meters of its blue eyes. See vultures as they circle and bump across the savannah to find the carcass. The predator-prey encounters continue and because you can drive off the trail, you can get closer than it's even possible to imagine. You will be close enough to see and hear as the hyenas snarl as bones are being crunched and black and white fur being ripped from skin. As always, between and after the game drives, your camp accommodation will provide all of the comforts of home while maintaining a sense of intimacy with the bush.

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

Day 7: Mara North Conservancy – A Game Walk Followed by an Afternoon Game Drive

An evocative soundtrack will fill your morning as sporadic calls float across the plains. You can hear that the big mammals are close, and your game walk will prove just how close they are. With a Masai warrior as a guide, step out onto the savannah to head across the grassland towards the herds. The zebras are much bigger when you are also on ground level. Wildebeest are even more enjoyable when they approach you with a look of curiosity. The elephants are real giants now as their tusks rise high above your head. The Masai have lived among these wild animals for millennia, and they know how to respect this environment to keep you safe while also offering intimate encounters with the many animals with four hooves.

An afternoon game drive continues your safari experience, and you can never be bored here. Every drive will bring new sights; perhaps a new animal like an aardwolf or wild dog, or maybe a new scene as herds meet head on at the water. Your safari is not just about seeing the animals and taking a snapshot; rather it’s about constantly watching how they interact, both with themselves and the landscape. Safari for seven days and you will tune into the landscape and appreciate all the subtleties. By now, you are not watching it through the camera lens; rather you are watching it all go by as dozens of majestic mammals grace every moment of the experience.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Mara North Conservancy – A Hot Air Balloon Helps Complete the Big Game Experience

After all of your personal encounters, it is easy to forget how big the Masai Mara is. You will soar into the air at sunrise as your hot air balloon will effortlessly take you above the savannah. Bucolic colors blur below, and you can see where the herds have been by the colors of the grassland. A patchwork of dots is a sporadic clump of wildebeest and zebra that graze below. You are high enough to look far across the ecosystem, yet low enough to pick out the individual elephants and giraffe below. Your flight will last an hour, and you will float where the currents take you and touch down to a champagne breakfast in the Mara.

The final safari afternoon is flexible, and you can choose between a game walk or a game drive. Then there is a final treat with a nighttime game drive that will unveil the landscape in a way you have not yet seen. Your visibility is reduced, and the atmosphere will get tense as the nocturnal hunters are on the move. Follow the sounds to trace the cats as a flurry of silhouettes will suggest that you are surrounded by buffalo and elephants. The guide will turn on a spotlight, and you will see how close they are. After the scale of the hot air balloon ride, this final safari activity is another chance to absorb the beautiful rhythm of the wild.

What's Included: accommodation, tour, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9: Mara North Conservancy to Nairobi – Departure

After a leisurely morning, you will be transferred to the Mara North Conservancy's airstrip, where a light aircraft will bring you back over the plains to Nairobi. A representative will transfer you from Wilson Airport to Nairobi International Airport for your intercontinental departure. For late evening flights, day use of an airport hotel can be arranged.

What's Included: transfer, domestic flight, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$4,045
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.