Luxury Masai Mara & Samburu Safari in a Week

A 8 day trip to Kenya 
4.95 out of 5 stars
106 reviews

Celebrate the best of an African safari on an express week in Kenya, staying at exclusive conservancies in the Masai Mara and Samburu. Game drives, walking safaris, hot air balloon rides and bush dinner beneath the stars are all yours for the taking. These incredible destinations offer varied activities and an exhilarating abundance of wildlife. You are not just here to see the Big Five; rather you are here to lose yourself in the Kenyan wilderness while relaxing at some of Africa's most distinctive accommodations.

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Nairobi, Samburu National Conservancy, Kalama Conservancy, Masai Mara, Mara River, Lemek Conservancy, Mara North Conservancy, Mount Kili Leoni

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Nairobi to Samburu (Kalama Conservancy) – Sundowners and Wildlife in the Pristine Wilderness

As you land in Samburu, the first impression will be of the vast amount of space. As the landscape extends, you will strain your eyes to find something artificial or manufactured, but find nothing.  Rather you will see a wild sweep of hills and grasslands that have not been interrupted by modernity. An elephant herd migrates on the plains below while a giraffe stalks away from the airstrip. The panoramas do not fit on camera as they just keep rolling and encase the magnificent wildlife of Africa. Saruni Samburu offers the epic view, and your private villa is built around natural rock features. Lounge on the sofa and watch animals pass and then dine beneath the rocky overhang before you slip into the infinity pool with a cocktail as sunset paints the sky. It's a one hour from Nairobi Wilson Airport to Samburu by light aircraft, where you will be greeted and transferred to the villa for a 30-minute massage and the unforgettable sense of being alone in the wild. Note that your international flight will land at Jomo Kenyatta airport in Nairobi, and you will be transferred privately to Wilson Airport.

What's Included: accommodation at Saruni Samburu, domestic flight, transfer, spa treatment, dinner

Day 2: Samburu (Kalama Conservancy) – Game Drive Introduction to Wild Africa and Spa Treatments

A roar ripples across the Samburu at sunrise to alert your eyes to the two mating lions on the plains below. As you are sipping on morning coffee, the herds will be on the move and their migration is spotted from your premium vantage point. Descend into the reserve and the distant sights become thrilling close-ups. With two lions competing for a mate, their testosterone-fueled rivalry sends loud echoes into the sky. A little later and another predator will emerge with a leopard yawning as it ambles to a rocky lookout. Buffalo rumble past the safari vehicle on both sides, as does an elephant herd nurturing a handful of calves. One morning game drive and you're already close to the Big Five.

You will quickly see that safari is not just about the Big Five. There are dozens of species in Samburu, too many for any tick list. Watch the adorable affection of Grevy zebra pairs, stand in surprise at the horns of beisa oryx, then follow Somali ostrich as they hop into the unknown. Beneath the acacia trees are the long necks of gerenuk, a strange antelope that rises onto hind legs to reach the branches. Above the trees are reticulated giraffe, an endangered subspecies painted in vibrant colors. Game drives here are flexible and react to the environment, although you will usually return to the lodge for lunch. After you finish, you can watch the plains with a spa treatment before a late-afternoon game drive continues the evocation of remote Africa.

What's Included: accommodation at Saruni Samburu, spa treatment, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Samburu (Kalama Conservancy) – Nature Walks and Learning From Samburu Warrior Guides

Wildlife roams freely between Kalama Conservancy and Samburu National Reserve, but tourists do not. So when you explore Kalama, there are only a dozen other guests in some 200,000 acres of wildlife conservancy. Such a scale brings the notion of space, but when you move slowly, there is a complete rainbow of detail. Two Samburu warriors lead you on a morning walking safari, following the path of the antelopes into an eery silence. Senses are alerted by minute clues, like a branch picked clear of seeds or a soft call from the distant grassland. Smells guide you, from squashed dung to fruit trampled by an elephant's mighty foot. Soon the animals emerge. Stay silent, walk slowly, and the mammals are unfazed by your presence. They are curious and will take a few steps closer to see what these strange creatures on two legs are all about. Gaze into their eyes and the Samburu isn't about scale, it's about the emotion of every mammal on their own personal journey.

Your walking safari can continue to caves filled with ancient rock paintings, or head out onto a small peak where a picnic lunch comes with the indelible Samburu view. This afternoon is flexible, and you can choose either a game drive, walking safari, or relaxed few hours at the villa. Move into the evening, and the Samburu warriors will create resplendent local traditions as they dance beneath the vast African skies. You will dine in the bush with your food illuminated by candles and fire as Samburu warriors perform the dances of their ancestors. And just when you think Africa couldn't be more like the imagination, a herd of buffalo will rumble past just 20 meters from the dining table.

What's Included: accommodation at Saruni Samburu, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Samburu to Masai Mara – Iconic Plains and the Wild Nighttime Soundtrack

Light aircraft connect the Samburu with the Masai Mara, an aerial journey that takes two to three hours dependent on whether the plane stops on route to pick up additional passengers. With an express safari, it is still recommended to have a quiet day for recharging in the heart of the itinerary. So rather than the early safari start, you will wake at leisure to relax on your verandah over a prolonged breakfast and then fly across the country to the Masai Mara to arrive in the middle of the afternoon. The safari continues, of course, with the many mammals that are spotted from the window of the small plane.

From a remote airstrip, you will be transferred to Saruni Wild, a camp for just six guests in the private Lemek Conservancy. While Saruni Samburu is opulent, Saruni Wild provides classic luxuries as well as providing a truly wild safari experience. Grazers often surround the tent, and it is possible to see various animals from the comfort of your bed. Fire-lit meals are taken on the verandah as the iconic plains extend in all directions from the tent as a wild soundtrack perforates the nights' stillness. Sometimes it's elephants sounding like trombones, other times its hyenas cackling, or baboons hooting and hippos wheeze-honking after emerging from the water.

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

Day 5: Masai Mara (Lemek Conservancy) – Exhilarating Full-Day Game Drive in the Masai Mara

There's an enormity to the Masai Mara that is hard to comprehend. You will set out on a game drive and spot a lion pride, with the lionesses roused by the scent of zebra grazing nearby. A few miles later, and there is another pride with this one draped across the rocks that dot the Mara as iconically as the wildebeest. Keep driving, and you will find a third pride resting in the shade of an acacia as thousands of Thomson's gazelle roam past. Keep driving, and will be a fourth pride, also surrounded by zebra, gazelle, and wildebeest. Four lion pride, perhaps 10,000 other mammals, and you've only seen a small piece of the Masai Mara.

While you are staying in a private conservancy where the game drives are more exclusive, it is still recommended that you spend a full day in the main Masai Mara National Reserve. Yes, there are other tourists and vehicles here, but the experience evokes an appreciation for the landscape's scale. You will keep driving, and you will keep seeing the big cats; you will see not just lions, but also leopards, cheetahs, and an uncountable number of hyena. You will admire the interaction of predator versus prey on grasslands that seem to stretch for eternity. Take a picnic lunch and stop beside the Mara River to watch the hippos, and then continue to travel through the Mara before a deserved 30-minute massage back at Saruni Wild.

What's Included: accommodation at Saruni Wild, game drive, spa treatment, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Masai Mara (Lemek Conservancy) – Hot Air Balloon Above the Mara and a Wild Bush Dinner

With an early start, you will be drifting across the plains at sunrise as a hundred colors reflect off of the grassland. From your hot air balloon, you will spot the herds with some huddled together and others on the march. Migration patterns are understood as you inspect the color of the grass as the fresh long green indicates where the herds are yet to graze. And like yesterday, there is a beautiful evocation of the enormity of it all as the Masai Mara extends beyond where the eye can see in every direction. Touch down after the 90-minute flight for a champagne breakfast before you return by game drive to the lodge.

Your afternoon is flexible, and you can game drive into both the Mara North and Lemek Conservancies. Together, there is some 30,000 acres of Mara wilderness to discover, all of it rarely explored by visitors. Since the conservancies' creation, many animals have moved here from the main Mara Reserve to enjoy a newfound tranquility. In particular, these more exclusive conservancies are where Africa's giants and cats go to raise their young. Local guides expertly understand their realm and know where to find some of the youngest and most enchanting of Mara's animals. Their understanding of the environment will inform other experiences such as tonight's bush dinner, where a table is erected on the plains with wild animal silhouettes ambling past. Tonight it's the Masai warriors who will entertain with their dances, jumping, and throaty songs.

What's Included: accommodation at Saruni Wild, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Masai Mara (Lemek Conservancy) – Game Drives and Walking Safari in the Private Conservancies

After six days in the wild, you will have your favorites by now. Perhaps yours is the female leopard on the prowl, or maybe the comical wildebeest as they gallon on the plains, or could it be the thrill of a walking safari in the wilderness? Today is completely flexible, and your adventure can take you to both the Lemek and Mara North Conservancies, either in a safari vehicle or on foot with Masai warrior guides. If there is an animal yet to grace your camera, then the guides can search for it.

Seven days on safari is usually long enough to experience the beautiful diversity of Kenya's mammals, and you will probably have spotted over 30 different species by now. This length of time also ensures you can move at a relaxed pace. On a three or four-day express safari, there is a slight tension as you are trying to see everything all at once, rather than letting the wild slowly reveal itself. Seven days also keeps the experience fresh, and there's always a new activity to try. Tonight you can take a nighttime game drive and see the plains under the canopy of darkness as the driver cuts the engine for you to use sound and smell to locate the animals.  The spotlight turns on, and the herds are grazing far closer than you had imagined. Stay out for a bush dinner or return to the camp for a last meal beneath the stars, with the main course interrupted when an elephant ambles past and barges down a branch from a nearby tree.

What's Included: accommodation at Saruni Wild, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Masai Mara to Nairobi – Departure

Wake up and listen to the rustling to guess which antelope is on the other side of the canvas. Open the curtains, and this morning you may be greeted by hartebeest, the usually bashful antelopes finding fresh grass beside your verandah. A relaxed morning follows, and there are no planned activities other than to sit back and watch the Masai Mara unfold. Later in the day, you will fly from the Mara North Conservancy to Nairobi Wilson Airport, where a representative will transfer you to Nairobi International Airport for your international flight home.

What's Included: airport transfer, domestic flight, breakfast, lunch


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.