Day 1: Nairobi, Kenya
Our grand East Africa safari begins in Nairobi, where we transfer to the House of Waine, located in the quiet residential suburb of Karen on the outskirts of Nairobi. Originally built as a lavish private estate, today the stately home and gardens are one of Nairobi's most elegant boutique hotels. Guests enjoy an authentic experience of personalized African hospitality and traditional Kenyan charm. This evening we enjoy a welcome dinner with our safari Expedition Leader.
Days 2–4: Lewa & Borana Conservancies
Transfer to the airport for our flight north to the renowned Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. In 2013, UNESCO extended the boundaries of the Mount Kenya World Heritage Site to include Lewa, recognizing its global significance in rhinoceros conservation. Encompassing 65,000 acres, this pioneering private project has played a critical role in rescuing the black rhino from the brink of extinction. Beginning with 15 black rhinos in 1984, today the conservancy protects 62 critically endangered black rhinos—11 percent of Kenya's entire population—plus 60 white rhinos, 440 species of birds and 70 species of mammals. The adjacent Borana Conservancy, which recently introduced 18 black rhinos, brings the total area of protected land to approximately 100,000 acres.
Natural Habitat's Private Mobile Camp, tucked within the Borana Conservancy, is the ideal base from which to explore this diverse wildlife haven that shelters many of Kenya's endemic northern species, including an important population of several hundred endangered Grevy's zebra. We'll hope to see the legendary Big Five and much more on day and night safari drives and guided nature walks against the backdrop of snowcapped Mount Kenya. And at the end of each exhilarating foray into the bush, we'll return to the exclusive comfort of our classic tented camp, steeped in the romance of Africa.
Days 5 & 6: Private Maasai Mara—Mara Naboisho Conservancy
We fly this morning to Naboisho Camp in the Maasai Mara, one of Africa’s most legendary wildlife realms. Secluded within the private 50,000-acre Mara Naboisho Conservancy, this intimate tented camp is surrounded by all the natural wonders of the Mara ecosystem without the crowds. The conservancy, established in 2011, has already made a name for itself as a place to experience the Mara’s spectacular wildlife in peaceful seclusion, and Naboisho is one of just a handful of camps located within its bounds. Strict limits on guest numbers mean unprecedented wildlife viewing without crowds, especially of the wildebeest migration that occurs in close proximity. The conservancy serves as a migration corridor for several hundred thousand animals between the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Loita Plains to the east.
A multitude of species flourishes on the conservancy, and Naboisho actually has a higher density of wildlife than the adjacent Maasai Mara National Reserve. Great herds of antelope dot the rolling plains while stands of acacia woodland shelter prolific birdlife. Rich volcanic soils nurture a grassy landscape where we find more lion per square mile than anywhere else in Kenya—some 100 lions live on the conservancy, including the largest pride in the Greater Mara region. Prolific herds of elephant, giraffe and zebra are also found here. Our activities make the most of our unrivaled access to this vast, wild country. In addition to daily wildlife drives, we enjoy guided bush walks, wilderness picnics, off-road safaris and night drives in search of nocturnal wildlife—exciting activities not permitted in the national reserve.
Days 7–9: Serengeti National Park—Natural Habitat's Migration Base Camp, Serengeti
Today we fly to the Serengeti, part of the massive Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, a sweeping sea of grass roughly the size of Maryland. The Serengeti’s reputation as one of the world’s iconic nature destinations is well deserved; staggering concentrations of hoofed game and prodigious predator populations engage in an ancient and epic struggle for survival here. Natural Habitat's Migration Base Camp–Serengeti provides a private front-row seat on all the action, as well as the thrill and romance of sleeping under canvas beneath starry African skies.
We spend three days in remote sectors of Serengeti National Park, immersed in the phenomenon of the Great Migration. Depending on the season and in accord with the animals' movements, our mobile camp will be located either in the Grumeti River region (July) or in the Northern Serengeti (October). Each is a main
movement corridor for hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle and their accompanying cast of predators as they make their annual 1,800-mile trek from Kenya’s Maasai Mara to the southern Serengeti and back again.
On daily safari drives
we witness this remarkable spectacle as the enormous herds traverse the savanna while big cats steal behind. We may behold stunning scenes of predator-prey interaction as a lion takes down a sick wildebeest or a cheetah overtakes an infant. In early summer
we witness thrilling crossings of the Grumeti River, where crocodiles lie in wait to prey upon weaker members of the herds. We track the prolific wildlife in private 4x4 vehicles, allowing optimal mobility and proximity. Our luxury mobile camp ensures that we go where the wildlife is, yet we forsake few amenities despite the remoteness of our location. Our walk-in tents are reminiscent of the safari era of yesteryear, offering every comfort and superb seclusion. Each evening, we look forward to dinner in camp beneath a canopy of stars, followed by stories shared around a crackling campfire. Optional hot air balloon safaris with a champagne breakfast on landing are also offered (additional cost) during our stay at Migration Base Camp.
Days 10 & 11: East Central Serengeti—Namiri Plains
We drive to the eastern side of the Serengeti today where we’ll spend two nights at remote Namiri Plains Camp, secluded in the shade of giant acacias, more than an hour's drive from any other camp. The surrounding environs are dotted with dramatic rocky outcrops, and the sunrises
over the magnificent Barafu kopjes to the east of the camp are breathtaking. The camp lies where the short-grass plains meet the acacia woodlands and the Ngare Nanyuki underground river creates pockets of permanent water that support year-round wildlife concentrations. From this private outpost
we can expect unrivaled sightings of the big cats that are so plentiful in this area. Such close encounters with the Serengeti’s apex predators are sure to enthrall even the most seasoned safari traveler! And we’ll have the added bonus of sharing some time with a cheetah researcher on site, to learn even more.
Days 12 & 13: Ngorongoro Crater
Enjoy an exciting wildlife drive en route to the world-famous Ngorongoro Conservation area. Traversing the Ngorongoro Highlands, we reach the crater rim, 7,300 feet above sea level, where Lemala Camp is located, tucked within an ancient acacia forest. Within the steep 2,000-foot walls of the world’s largest unbroken volcanic caldera lies Africa's densest concentration of wildlife, attracted to the perpetual water. On the crater floor, look for zebra, wildebeest, eland
and gazelle, as well as the lions, leopards and cheetah that pursue them. We may even be fortunate enough to spy one of the few endangered black rhinos that also live inside the crater. We'll spend a full day exploring the crater, with a picnic lunch along the way, before returning late in the afternoon to the crater rim to relax in camp and share sightings of the day around the dinner table.
Day 14: Arusha / Depart
Our Kenya and Tanzania tour comes to a close as we drive to Arusha, surrounded by coffee plantations in the shadow of Mount Meru. We'll have a special farewell lunch on arrival and use of a day room at Arusha Coffee Lodge before transferring to Kilimanjaro Airport for flights home. Those who have chosen our Tarangire extension will continue directly from Ngorongoro to Tarangire National Park for some of Africa's best elephant viewing amidst acacia woodlands studded with massive baobab trees.
Physical Rating: Easy