Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!
Travel Africa on safari and experience east Africa’s stunning national parks ... its Maasai tribespeople, who can often be seen herding their cattle across the plains ... its big game, from lions to hippos ... the towering, cloud-shrouded peak of Mount Kilimanjaro ... and of course, the awe-inspiring migration of the wildebeest across the vast Serengeti plains. On this popular African safari, you'll discover all of this and more, as we explore the wild beauty of Kenya and Tanzania. Talk with local residents in a Maasai village and school, tour the home of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa, and stay in intimate lodges in breathtaking locations—including the heart of the Serengeti.
You depart the U.S. in the late afternoon on an overnight flight to Amsterdam.
We arrive in Amsterdam this morning. After a short layover, we fly to Nairobi, and arrive in the afternoon. We’ll gather at our hotel for a briefing and Welcome Drink with our Trip Leader. We’ll also be joined by fellow travelers who took our optional pre-trip extension, Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve.
After breakfast at the hotel, we travel to the nearby Karen region, named for famed author Karen Blixen. Our first stop is the Giraffe Center, where you can get close to these towering animals and photograph them. In 1974, Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville relocated five orphaned and rare Rothschild giraffe to their home here, which was quickly dubbed "Giraffe Manor." Over the years, the giraffe have thrived, and now have their own young. The center plays an important part in the conservation of the Rothschild giraffe species.
Leaving the Giraffe Center, we visit a museum dedicated to Karen Blixen, who wrote Out of Africa under the pen name Isak Dinesen. The Kikuyu people she wrote about with great affection are still one of Kenya's major ethnic groups. The Danish writer, as you may know, "had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills," where she lived from 1914 to 1931. The Danish government gave her beautiful house to the country of Kenya upon its independence, and today it is a museum furnished with much of her original period furniture and is open to visitors. A visit to this museum offers a fascinating peek into the lives of early 20th-century Kenyan settlers.
After enjoying a lunch at the Karen Country Lodge, we'll depart for the Lake Nakuru area, traveling through the Rift Valley, enjoying splendid views as we go. Our lodge is located just 12 miles from Lake Nakuru National Park, in a setting that boasts more than 430 different avian species.
We'll arrive in time to enjoy a Welcome Dinner at the lodge this evening.
Today, we'll have breakfast a little earlier than usual so we can travel overland to Lake Nakuru National Park in time for a morning game-viewing excursion. Lake Nakuru is famous for the seasonal migration of vast rings of flamingos that often transform its placid waters into a shimmering sea of pink. The park is also home to a relatively large population of black and white rhinos. These are normally elusive due to their dwindling populations, but recent conservation efforts have made Lake Nakuru one of the most likely spots in East Africa to lay eyes on one of these stunning beasts.
After lunch at our lodge, we embark on an afternoon nature walk. Be sure to keep those cameras ready—we'll have another great chance to explore the diverse landscape and colorful birdlife here. Dinner tonight is at our lodge.
Departing Nakuru, we leave the Great Rift Valley and continue overland to Amboseli National Park, set on the border of Tanzania and in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. We pause for a picnic lunch en route.
On arriving at Amboseli, we check in at our permanent tented camp and then enjoy an afternoon game-viewing drive. The park shelters more than 400 bird species, including pelicans, flamingos, kingfishers, and ibis. But by far, elephants are the kings of the park. Amboseli's elephants, which are said to be among the largest in the country, are fond of the swamps, where they share the cool waters with the hippos that hide beneath the papyrus. Amboseli is also home to a large population of wildebeest and Burchell's zebra. We arrive at the camp close to dinnertime.
We rise early to enjoy a light breakfast in an open-air dining area, with views of the majestic snow-covered flattop of Mount Kilimanjaro, which forms a memorable backdrop to today’s explorations.
After breakfast, we travel to a nearby Maasai village, and join the local children for their walk to school. At the school, we'll meet more students, take part in some morning activities, and discuss the school's future with the headmaster.
Upon our return to the village, we'll learn more about Maasai culture, including how they tend their livestock, make their natural medicines, and create their ceremonial dress. We'll take part in daily activities both inside and outside the boma huts and enjoy free time to mingle with the villagers.
After bidding our Maasai hosts farewell, we return to our tented camp in time for lunch.
After lunch and a short rest at our lodge, we embark on another game-viewing drive. Look for the elusive gerenuk, a delicate antelope with a long, giraffe-like neck that enables it to browse the middle branches of acacia trees. You may see families of giraffe, herds of zebra and antelope—and if you are lucky, you may spot the rare serval cat. Because Amboseli’s abundant elephants are tracked almost constantly by researchers, they largely escaped the ravages of 1980s poaching, so you are apt to see some older “tuskers” here. You’ll be fascinated by the abundant birdlife—from the colorful little lilac-breasted roller and the comical guinea fowl to graceful hawks and eagles. We return to the camp in the early evening in time to relax before we gather for dinner.
After breakfast, we depart for the Kenya-Tanzania border. We continue to the town of Arusha, Tanzania, where we lunch at the Shanga River House.
We then transfer to Tarangire National Park, where we’ll stay in comfortable tents in a secluded area on Lake Burunge. Upon arrival, we’ll have the option to join a guided walk before dinner at the lodge.
Today we experience Tarangire's diversity on a full-day game-viewing drive, during which we'll pause to enjoy a boxed lunch in the park. As Tanzania's third-largest national park, it features nine distinct vegetation zones ranging from grassland to woodland, from deep gully vegetation to scattered rocky hilltops, Tarangire offers a diverse geological landscape, as well as diverse wildlife—including the largest recorded concentration of breeding bird species in the world. Baobab trees dot the landscape, and the valley of the Tarangire River dominates the entire scene. Each of our driver-guides has extensive knowledge of the behavior of the native animals.
After our full day in the park, we’ll return to our camp for dinner this evening.
Today, we embark on an early morning game-viewing drive at Lake Manyara National Park, in the heart of the Great Rift Valley. Encompassing an area of just 125 square miles, the park is relatively small, but is still one of East Africa’s most popular and beautiful wildlife sanctuaries. Lake Manyara National Park is home to one of the largest herds of elephants in Africa. Chances are also good we’ll see wildebeest, giraffe, blue monkeys, vervets, impala, zebra, buffalo, bushbuck, and baboons.
We enjoy a picnic lunch in this scenic area before continuing on to Karatu. As we journey toward the Ngorongoro Highlands, the valley unfolds below us and we can see Lake Manyara stretching in the distance. We may see elephants or other wildlife along the roadside.
We arrive at our lodge in the early evening. We then have time to relax or take a stroll through the extensive grounds before dinner.
After breakfast, we travel to a local Iraqw village, where we'll spend the morning learning more about this tribe (whose people are only found near Karatu and Arusha) and its customs.
We then return to our lodge, where we'll enjoy lunch before continuing our explorations of a Karatu village. We'll visit a local produce market and may have the opportunity to see other enterprises—such as coffee roasting and clay brick making.
We enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Dinner is at our lodge tonight.
After breakfast, we enjoy the morning at leisure before departing our lodge in Karatu for an exploration of the surrounding area by foot.
We return to our lodge for lunch before setting out for a game-viewing en route to our camp in the Ngorongoro Conservation area. We enjoy dinner together at our camp this evening.
This morning after breakfast, we depart for the Ngorongoro Crater. We'll enjoy a thrilling drive up the side of the crater, and then we'll descend 2,000 feet to the crater floor to explore this natural zoological park, and observe an extraordinary variety of wildlife: elephant, rhinoceros, lion, hyena, zebra, wildebeest, Thomson's gazelle, reedbuck, and buffalo. The lovely crested crane (similar to a peacock) can be found in great profusion here, and we may even spot a bat-eared fox. The balance of predator and prey in this extraordinary ecosystem is so precise that animals seldom leave. Our exact route is decided on the spot by our expert safari guides, depending on where the animals are.
After a picnic lunch in view of a hippo pool, we'll begin our ascent from the crater floor, and travel through cloud forest on our way back to camp. We have some time at leisure, before enjoying dinner together this evening.
This morning after breakfast, we'll explore Oldupai Gorge, preserved as part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It was here in 1959 that Louis and Mary Leakey discovered the fossil fragments that led them to a new understanding of human evolution. They developed the theory that this gorge was the home to Homo habilis, a race of early humans that survived other species to become the ancestors of all present-day humanity.
In the afternoon, we set out for Serengeti National Park, perhaps the most famous wildlife-viewing destination in Africa. We'll drive into the infinite expanse of the Serengeti Plain, where masses of wildlife roam the stunning landscape. We enjoy a game-viewing drive before arriving at our lodge in the late afternoon.
The Serengeti stretches over 5,700 square miles of plains, riverine bush, and acacia woodland, with savanna grassland as the dominant environment.
During the next few days, we venture out from our lodge in special safari vehicles to try and spot a wide range of wildlife species—lion, cheetah, hyena, and jackal stalk herds of gazelle, zebra, wildebeest, and impala. Comical warthog bend down on their front knees to graze and elegant cheetah rest in the shade of acacia trees after a hunt. Isolated rock groups, called kopjes, provide shelter to lion, leopard, and cheetah—and to the tiny rodent-like rock hyrax, closest relative of the elephant.
We dine at the lodge this evening.
This morning, you may have the option of rising before dawn for a balloon flight. As you float high over the Serengeti, watch the morning sun wash across the plains. The views you'll observe during this one-hour ride are spectacular. After touchdown, celebrate with a Champagne breakfast.
We explore the Serengeti wilderness area further today. The Serengeti’s varied landscape of savannas, grassy plains, and riparian woodlands make it one of the world’s most hospitable places for wildlife, which you will likely see in large numbers.
We follow our standard safari schedule. Our day begins with coffee and tea, followed by a morning game-viewing drive. We return to our lodge for a late breakfast, time to rest, and afternoon tea. Then we head into the bush again when animals resume activity in the late afternoon.
We return to our lodge for dinner.
We set out in the morning for a game-viewing drive. The great diversity of Serengeti wildlife is evident here—look for buffalo, hippopotamus, elephant, lion, giraffe, antelope, and Thompson's and Grant's gazelle. In certain seasons, you may also see the spectacular migration of the wildebeest herds, which travel from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara each year.
We return to our lodge for lunch before having an option later this afternoon to join a nature walk to discover our surroundings. In the early evening, we share dinner together at our lodge.
After breakfast, we continue to explore the vast ecosystem of the Serengeti at a pace that allows us to truly focus on observing animal behavior and interaction.
After the morning game-viewing drive, we enjoy a picnic lunch in the heart of the park, before continuing our game-viewing drive this afternoon.
Our final night in the Serengeti is spent at our lodge, where we enjoy dinner under the vast expanse of the African skies.
After breakfast we head to a small airstrip in the Serengeti and enjoy a short but scenic flight to Arusha. Next, we depart for our hotel in Nairobi, enjoying a packed lunch en route. Or, board a flight to Selous Game Reserve (via Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar) to join our post-trip extension to Tanzania's Selous Game Reserve.
After breakfast, explore one of Africa’s most cosmopolitan cities—Nairobi—during a city walking tour. Though it began as a simple trading post for the British East Africa Company, today’s Nairobi is an active business and political capital with more than two million residents, and serves as the African headquarters for organizations, such as the United Nations Environment Program and the World Health Organization.
After our walk, we’ll enjoy lunch at a typical Kenyan restaurant near our hotel.
This afternoon, delve a little deeper into Kenya’s rich heritage during a visit to Nairobi National Museum, where a host of exhibits showcase the best of east Africa’s past and present, from natural and cultural wonders to a fascinating history that archaeologists say extends back as far as the origin of our species.
You will have a day room available for the remainder of the afternoon, and dinner at a local restaurant is included. This evening, you fly from Nairobi to Amsterdam, where you connect for your flight back to the U.S. which arrives the next day.