Sweeping vistas of the plains, canopies of acacia hiding predators and prey, a tented perch overlooking the wildlife-rich Ngorongoro Crater - these wonders await during a comprehensive journey through Kenya and Tanzania. As the great migration unfolds, follow the route of the ancient, annual event during a seasonally adjusted itinerary that ends with an animal-populated "grand finale."
Days 1-2: USA or Canada/Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi Serena Hotel Depart by overnight flight to Nairobi.
Day 3: Nairobi/Samburu Game Reserve
LarsenÂ’s Camp Fly to the Samburu Game Reserve, a rugged, semi-desert bush that hosts a myriad of unique species of mammals and birds in KenyaÂ’s Northern Frontier District. After lunch, settle in to your luxurious tented camp before embarking on a game drive in search of the elusive leopard along the banks of the Uaso Nyiro River; here, too, watch for large crocodile. Return to camp as the setting sun paints the expansive African sky with warm hues. This evening, attend a welcome dinner and safari briefing. Then, fall asleep to the nocturnal sounds of the great wild.
Days 4-5: Samburu Game Reserve
LarsenÂ’s Camp Spend two days exploring the Samburu during morning and afternoon game drives. While roaming the plains, search for the famed Â“Special FiveÂ” (reticulated giraffe, GrevyÂ’s zebra, beisa oryx, Somali ostrich and gerenuk) found only north of the equator. Samburu Â— with its rocky, hilly landscape flush with vegetation and white wildflowers Â— is an excellent place for photographers to capture vivid contrasts between sky, bush and sand. From the comfort of a private safari vehicle, your knowledgeable guide identifies the indigenous wildlife and provides in-depth insight into the animalsÂ’ habits and characteristics, be it vervet monkey scampering through the trees or mud-bathing elephant with their young. With over 300 resident bird species in the area - including the martial eagle Â— avid birders will have plenty to see and savor as well.
Day 6: Samburu/Masai Mara Game Reserve
Olonana Board a flight to KenyaÂ’s Masai Mara, catching the first sight of herds as you circle to land. Take time to settle in to your luxurious camp. Then, set out to see the greatest concentration of wildlife in Kenya, including the countryÂ’s largest lion population. The delicate ecosystem of the Mara is the focus of world attention as a major conservation effort aims to preserve one of AfricaÂ’s true strongholds of game. In step, Olonana is at the forefront of eco-tourism in Kenya; its 14 spacious tents with private, riverside verandas afford an ideal base from which to experience an intimate, personal safari. Make your stay as active or leisurely as you desire, choosing activities that include game drives and bush walks. You also have a chance to assist with tree-planting or wetlands preservation projects.
Days 7-8: Masai Mara Game Reserve
Olonana Spend two exciting days driving across the boundless, flat plains Â— where prey cannot hide from predator Â— in search of game. Behold never-ending green grassland and blue sky, with wide-open spaces punctuated by an occasional sausage tree. Watch for migrating herbivores; witness the fiery colors of an African sunset; and feel a sense of calm as the Mara washes away thoughts of the outside world. Take in a birdÂ’s-eye view of the plains on an optional hot air balloon excursion. Other exciting possibilities include a visit to a Maasai village, where you meet the colorful, pastoral tribe that has called the Masai Mara home for centuries. You may also choose to take a short flight to Lake Victoria, where picturesque fishing villages have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. On your final evening (weather permitting), dine in style along the banks of the Mara River.
Day 9: Masai Mara/Nairobi/Arusha, Tanzania/Ngorongoro Crater
Exclusive Mobile Tented Camp Fly to Nairobi, where you connect and continue to Arusha and the Lake Manyara airstrip. Upon arrival, drive to the ancient volcanic caldera of the Ngorongoro Crater, home to hippo and gazelle as well as a large population of lion and other predators. Traveling up the scenic highlands, absorb magnificent views before reaching your home for the next two nights: a mobile-tented camp, located on the rim of the crater. After settling in with the help of your dedicated staff, relax by a roaring campfire while the sounds of the African night swell around you. Each custom-made, walk-in tent is tastefully appointed with mosquito netting and twin or king beds, swathed in crisp linens, warm blankets or duvets and hot water bottles for chilly nights. Each has an en suite bathroom, flush toilet, shower and hot water. Coupled with locally-made wall hangings, Persian rugs, bedside tables, wardrobes and luggage racks, these truly are a home away from home.
Day 10: Exclusive Mobile Tented Camp
Exclusive Mobile Tented Camp Explore the craterÂ’s prolific wildlife, pausing for a private gourmet barbecue set within a quiet, picturesque yellow acacia grove. The crater supports as many as 25,000 large mammals, including zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, buffalo, eland, hartebeest and warthog, as well as a dense population of large predators Â— lion and hyena among them. Even the rare and elusive black rhinoceros, one of AfricaÂ’s most threatened species, is a resident here. Bird lovers can view flamingo and countless other species sharing shallow waters that mirror their reflections. You may also see Maasai herdsmen and their cattle; the Maasai continue to coexist with wildlife here as they have for centuries. This afternoon, meet with an elder at a nearby Maasai village to learn about the tribeÂ’s semi-nomadic culture and its traditions. This evening, a local Maasai tribe puts on a private dance performance for you at your camp.
Day 11: Ngorongoro Crater/Serengeti National Park
Kusini Camp Fly to Serengeti National Park, home to species including zebra, gazelle, lion, leopard, hyena, giraffe, elephant and buffalo. Each year, triggered by the rains, 1.3 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebra and 300,000 ThompsonÂ’s gazelle migrate to new grazing lands on a route that roughly mimics the boundaries of Serengeti National Park, extending to KenyaÂ’s Masai Mara Game Reserve. You may encounter these massive herds on their dramatic annual journey, sometimes called the Â“eighth wonder of the world.Â”
Days 12-13: Serengeti National Park
Kusini Camp Spend two days on morning and afternoon game drives through this expansive region, a protected animal refuge since 1929. The Serengeti is one of the most spectacular game parks in East Africa, its complex ecosystem home to some 35 species of plains game and 500 bird species. Needless to say, the SerengetiÂ’s topography is every bit as varied; short- and long-grass plains in the south give way to acacia savannah at its core, which leads to hilly, more densely wooded areas of the north. An extensive corridor of woodland is also located to the west. Because Kusini is situated in a remote region of the Serengeti, the camp affords a particularly secluded setting for game drives and bush walks. During your stay, you may choose to participate in the Serengeti Cheetah Project, which involves photographing cats so researchers can identify and track them; you receive detailed background about any cheetah you document, including information about its history and lineage. After an exciting day on safari, return to your luxurious camp for sundowner cocktails on a kopje (outcropping) overlooking the Serengeti plains just as nocturnal predators prepare to hunt. Then, on your final evening, recount your adventures with fellow travellers during a farewell dinner.
Day 14: Serengeti/Arusha/USA or Canada
Arusha Coffee Lodge Fly to Arusha, where a dayroom is available until you board your international flight.
Day 15: USA or Canada
Connect with your homebound flight.