Arrive in Nairobi, where your family is met at the airport and transferred to our hotel in the tranquil suburb of Karen. Once a rough outpost amid a highland swamp when it was established as the colonial capital of British East Africa in 1907, Nairobi today is the urban heartbeat of independent Kenya and one of Africa’s most vibrant cities. Nairobi has long been a meeting point for travelers from around the globe, and most Kenya safaris still originate here. This evening, our Expedition Leader hosts a welcome dinner and orientation to all the adventures that lie ahead.
Day 2: Nairobi—Giraffe Center / Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage / The Nest
Nairobi holds so many engaging experiences to kick off our family safari adventure. At the Giraffe Center, feed endangered Rothschild's giraffes and feel their long, slick tongues as they lick food pellets from your hand. On a private tour of one of Kenya's most inspiring conservation organizations, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, get a behind-the-scenes look at the Daphne Sheldrick elephant orphanage. These baby elephants, rescued from the wild and being rehabilitated for a return, are sure to steal your heart as we enjoy close-up encounters with them and their devoted keepers. We'll also visit The Nest, a home for children whose mothers are in prison. Caregivers ensure children receive loving comfort, health care, social activities and schooling until they are reunited with their mothers. Time permitting, we may also visit a local handicrafts center and meet some of the artists.
Days 3–5: Maasai Mara Private Conservancy—Private Mobile Camp
Fly from Nairobi's domestic Wilson Airport to the Maasai Mara in southwest Kenya. The Mara is one of Africa’s most acclaimed wildlife enclaves, renowned for its enormous herds of plains game, great prides of lion and a multitude of other creatures. These wide-open grasslands are the northern portion of Tanzania's Serengeti, and we find prolific wildlife here year-round. The Maasai Mara is named for the Maasai tribespeople, the traditional inhabitants of the area who graze cattle here, and the Mara River that runs through it.
Rather than stay at a typical large lodge inside the national reserve, we find seclusion at our own luxury mobile camp on a private conservancy that shares an unfenced border with the park. While we enjoy the same outstanding wildlife viewing, we have the advantage of far fewer vehicles to contend with, as well as exclusive activities not permitted in the park, such as guided nature walks and night drives to search for nocturnal and hunting animals that appear after sunset. Traditional daily game drives in 4x4 safari vehicles offer exhilarating opportunities to view wildlife up close. Our Expedition Leader and and local camp guides are outstanding naturalists and trackers, with a special rapport for kids.
A highlight of our stay is cultural activities with the local Maasai. We'll visit a village, school and market as we learn about the everyday life and customs of these semi-nomadic herders known for their tall stature, bright blanket wraps and long spears. On bush walks with Maasai warriors, witness their expert tracking skills as they teach us to read animal signs and footprints, We'll also hear about traditional hunting practices and learn how to make fire.
Days 6 & 7: Maasai Mara National Reserve—Private Mobile Camp
We drive today to the Maasai Mara National Reserve via a less-traveled corridor and arrive at our second mobile safari camp, allowing us to secure a location in the very best (and most secluded) wildlife regions during the time of year we visit. Explore the park on extended wildlife drives, stopping for a picnic lunch on the sprawling plains in the shade of a broad acacia tree. Resident animals abound, and we traverse a large swath of the national reserve seeking out big mammals such as elephant and buffalo. Plentiful giraffe and zebra are always on view, along with smaller creatures such as bat-eared fox and jackal. Predators are thrilling sightings, and the Mara is home to large lion prides, cheetah and hyena. Return to camp for dinner each evening, then gather around the campfire for stories and stargazing. In a modern world where most kids never see the Milky Way, Africa's night skies are a real treat.
Day 8: Nairobi / Depart
Our safari ends as we fly back to Nairobi where a day room awaits at Ole Sereni, a luxury resort hotel bordering Nairobi National Park near Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. After our farewell lunch at the hotel, the afternoon is free to relax, depending on your flight schedule. Take a dip in the pool, work out in the health club, refresh with a spa treatment, or stop in at the Waterhole Snack Bar to look for lounging giraffe, zebra, antelope and buffalo that may be on view from the terrace. A transfer to the airport is provided to meet departing flights.