Highlight: Wildebeest MigrationView Itinerary
Bustling streets, rainbow-hued textiles, and sky-scraping towers of cosmopolitan Nairobi welcome you to Kenya. After your long flight, we'll whisk you away immediately to comfort and relaxation. Overnight and breakfast at the Sarova Panafric Hotel.
Close your eyes and call to mind the African savannah, where a leopard races through golden grasses that dance in the wind. Envision a smiling woman, bedecked in a kaleidoscope of beads and fabrics. See a dazzle of zebras, zigging and zagging across the plains in a coordinated dance of camouflage. Now open your eyes. You are there: here, in the Africa of postcards and of dreams – in the reality of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
The magic of this incredible region is owed to many things: to the friendly Maasai, a centuries-old tribe and enduring culture; to the scenic beauty of these sun-dappled plains; to the vast natural diversity found here, from Africa's Big Five game to the millions of wildebeest that beat a path through the reserve every year. This is the Africa where blackened profiles of giraffes and rhinoceros parade against an orange horizon, and where lions get so close, you can almost feel their breath on your face. Welcome. Dinner and overnight at Sarova Mara Game Camp.
As dawn unfolds over the Maasai Mara, the origins of the region's name soon become clear: Mara, Maasai for "spotted," is an apt description for the whimsical smattering of fluffy clouds, gnarled trees, and ever-changing shadows that dot the landscape. And on today's morning and afternoon game drives, we delve deep into this spectacular scenery.
We search for grazing giraffes, speedy antelopes and wading hippos, but our most sought-after sightings are of Africa's Big Five – the five most fierce and dangerous animals on the continent: African buffalo, black rhinos, bush elephants, leopards and lions. And if we timed our trip right, there's more: the Great Migration. This annual event is considered the Eighth Wonder of the World, and for good reason: every year, millions of wildebeest (gnu) and hundreds of thousands of zebra thunder across Tanzania's Serengeti and into the Maasai Mara, comprising the largest land animal migration in the world. You will remember this sight forever, but it is the cadence of the animals' racing hooves that will forever reverberate through you memories. Dinner and overnight at Sarova Mara Game Camp.
When you first catch sight of Lake Nakuru, your brain won't register what your eyes are seeing. Is the lake rimmed with pink-sand beach? But no, sands don't move… Are those fallen cherry blossoms, dancing in the breeze? They can't be. As we get closer, the mystery is revealed: Lake Nakuru's rosy shores are populated by thousands of flamingos, packed so thick their salmon down creates the optical illusion of a pink-fringed lake.
After lunch at Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge, we'll take a game drive into this unique park, located in the picturesque Great Rift Valley. The park's diverse ecosystems give birth to a startling array of sights and animal sightings. Scan the bushed grasslands, yellow acacia trees and blue-green lake for buffalo, Rothschild giraffes, black and white rhinos, baboons, lions, hyena and more than 400 bird species. Dinner and overnight at Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge.
Your first glimpse of Aberdares National Park stuns the senses: the majestic scenery soars and dips over the landscape, skimming sky-high mountaintops before plunging into verdant valleys. Open plains charge into dense forest, diving under ribbon-thin waterfalls, weaving through dense rainforest, flying over moorland, and whispering a song through the bamboo forests.
Aberdares is a study in biodiversity and natural beauty, and the perfect place to slow our pace. Instead of an afternoon game drive, we settle in for an afternoon of game viewing and our hotel's incredible watering hole, where elephants, antelopes, and other familiar friends gather just outside your window. Dinner and overnight at Treetops Lodge.
A whirlwind travel day begins with breakfast at Aberdares, continues with lunch in Nairobi, and culminates with dinner in the shadow of Kilimanjaro. Amboseli National Park sits on an international border, its Kenyan sights flanked by Tanzania's imposing stratovolcano – the tallest peak in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain the world. Dinner and overnight at Ol Tukai Lodge.
Two game drives take us into the wilds of Amboseli. The park is well known for the vast elephant herds that saunter these plains, seemingly unaware that here, in the shadow of Kilimanjaro, they are not the biggest game in town. Ferocious lions, motionless on their elevated perches, survey their kingdom. African buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, black rhinos and cheetah share the savannah. There's no question why photographers consider Amboseli to be one of Kenya's most photogenic destinations. Dinner and overnight at Ol Tukai Lodge.
When the pink-tinged shores of Lake Manyara appear out the window, you already know: flamingos! As at Lake Nakuru, the birds crowd the lake's shores and create the illusion of pink, pink everywhere. Except when there is grey – the grey of hippos, which jockey for space amidst thousands of salmon-coloured flamingos, pelicans and other waterfowl. This scenic park is also home to giraffes, zebras, and rare tree-climbing lions. Dinner and overnight at Kirurumu Manyara Lodge.
Your breath comes fast; your hands clutch the seat. Your heart beats double-time. It is not a bumpy ride or perilous journey that has your adrenaline pumping, but the sights and sounds outside your window: the reverberating footfalls of a bush elephant that passes just feet from our van; the mother giraffe that nudges her new-born calf toward sustenance; or that king lion, his mane a furry crown, that races over the savannah to chase down his next meal. Welcome to the mighty Serengeti and your first game drive in Tanzania. Dinner and overnight at Serengeti Sopa Lodge.
In a land of indescribable wonders, the Maasai have chosen a fitting name: Serengeti, or "Endless Plains." Here, the wind whispers through sun-dried grasses and tousles the leaves of solitary trees. Blood-red sunsets set the landscape on fire, painting blackened profiles of elephants and giraffes against a distant horizon. Cracked, orange earth spits up clouds of ochre dust. And today, the boundless Serengeti, home to three million animals, is yours to explore.
Our afternoon game drive grants another opportunity to spot Africa's Big Five, as well as cheetah, gazelles, African wild dogs, giraffes and approximately 500 bird species. And if we missed the wildebeest in Maasai Mara, we may be able to spot them here, on the Serengeti. The two reserves, which today straddle country lines, are forever connected by the Great Migration and the millions of terrestrial mammals that make the yearly journey. Dinner and overnight at Serengeti Sopa Lodge.
After breakfast we check out and depart for Ngorongoro Conservation Area via Olduvai Gorge. Here, famed British archaeologist Dr Louis Leakey discovered the remains of Homo habilis, or handyman, widely considered to be the first human ancestor. Walk in the footsteps of the ancients, of the courageous hominids who thrived amidst woolly mammoths and sabre-toothed cats, paving the way for human evolution.
We proceed to Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Africa's Garden of Eden. The focal point is Ngorongoro Crater, the epicentre of a collapsed volcano and the world's largest inactive, intact, and unfilled volcanic caldera. You'll have lunch at the lodge with afternoon at your leisure. Dinner and overnight at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.
Our picnic lunch perches atop Ngorongoro Crater, where a barren volcanic crater spills into rolling green foothills, their emerald carpet abutting blue-tinged mountains in the distance. Ngorongoro Conservation Area hosts this breath-taking sight, and that's not all: Africa's Garden of Eden is also home to almost every animal species in East Africa, making Ngorongoro the exhilarating subject of today's game drive. Dinner and overnight at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.
After breakfast, we'll return to Arusha for lunch. Finally, we'll drive to Nairobi for a farewell steak dinner at the famed Carnivore Restaurant, an African-style churrascaria-steakhouse where servers carve your favourite meats right at the table Enjoy a night in the city or transfer to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for your flight home.
Highlight: Wildebeest MigrationView Itinerary
Highlight: The Big CatsView Itinerary
Highlight: Mara & NgorongoroView Itinerary
Highlight: Mountain GorillasView Itinerary
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