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 evening. You will be met and transferred to your hotel, where we'll enjoy a Welcome Drink and a briefing on our upcoming explorations. We’ll also be joined by fellow travelers who took our optional pre-trip extension, Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve.
With a morning at leisure, you can opt to enjoy this time to relax at our hotel. Or, perhaps, you’ll decide to join our optional tour to Kibera, a slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. You’ll meet the people who call this sprawling village home. Perhaps you’ll also have a chance to discover the Nubian Quarter, which houses the descendants of soldiers who once fought for the British army and whose families first settled this land during World War I. Kibera comes from the Nubian word Kibra, meaning “land of forest.” Although they've struggled historically for tribal recognition by the government, the Nubian people have a significant legacy here.
Following lunch at a restaurant near the Nairobi National Museum, we’ll delve a little deeper into Kenya’s rich heritage during a tour of the 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.
Then, we explore one of Africa’s most cosmopolitan cities—Nairobi—during a city walking tour with our Trip Leader. 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, you'll have time to freshen up at our hotel before we enjoy a Welcome Dinner together at a local restaurant.
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 near Lake Nakuru National Park, in a setting that boasts more than 430 different avian species.
We'll arrive in time to enjoy dinner at our 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.
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 enjoy a game-viewing drive en route to our camp. Along the way, we’ll pause for a picnic lunch in the park.
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. Dinner is at our camp this evening.
We rise early to enjoy a light breakfast before traveling to experience A Day in the Life of a Maasai village and visit Amboseli Primary School (when in session). We will 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 an afternoon 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 our camp in the early evening in time to relax before we gather for dinner.
After breakfast, we depart for the Kenya-Tanzania border, enjoying a game-viewing drive en route. 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 a tented lodge overlooking a flood plain, which is a seasonally rich feeding ground for herds of elephant, Cape buffalo, and more. Upon arrival, we’ll have the option to join a guided walk of our surroundings before dinner at our lodge.
Today, we rise early to 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 lodge 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 the park 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 on the outskirts of Karatu in the early evening, with some time to rest 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. Alongside our Trip Leader, 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.
This morning after breakfast, we check out of our lodge and depart for the Ngorongoro Crater area. 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 the crater, we'll continue our game-viewing drive inside the crater before departing for our tented camp set in the Ngorongoro Highlands, overlooking the Great Rift Valley escarpment. We enjoy dinner here this evening.
After breakfast, we set out to explore the forest and plains of the Ngorongoro Highlands by foot. Our tented camp overlooks the Ngorongoro Conservation Area—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and is an ideal base for our discoveries of the surrounding area. During our walk, we'll discover the diverse flora and fauna that make up this vast expanse of highland plains, savannah, savannah woodlands, and forests.
After savoring lunch in the bush, we'll embark on another excursion to discover our natural surroundings. You may choose to do this on a walk or bicycle ride.
We'll return to our lodge in the late afternoon for time at leisure before dinner.
This morning after breakfast, we'll set out for a game-viewing drive to Oldupai Gorge, which is 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. We may have an opportunity to visit the small museum here, which explains the Leakeys' methods and findings.
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 lunch in the park and a game-viewing drive en route to our lodge, where we'll arrive by 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. On this optional tour, you'll celebrate with a Champagne toast. After touchdown, enjoy a special breakfast out on the plains with your fellow travelers.
Or you can begin your first full day in the Serengeti with coffee and tea followed by an early-morning game-viewing drive. 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 return to our lodge for a late breakfast, time to rest, and lunch. Then we head into the bush again for an afternoon game-viewing drive when animals resume activity again.
Dinner is at our lodge this evening.
We set out in the morning for a game-viewing drive, enjoy a relaxing lunch back at the lodge, and then return to the bush in the afternoon for a second game-viewing drive. The great diversity of Serengeti wildlife is also 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 in the early evening and gather for dinner.
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 return to our lodge for a leisurely lunch before heading out to enjoy one more game-viewing drive.
Our final night in the Serengeti is spent at our lodge, where we enjoy dinner under the vast expanse of the African skies.
Today, we rise early, departing the Serengeti for our flight to Arusha, where we’ll enjoy lunch at our hotel for the day. Later this afternoon, we'll have a light snack before checking out and traveling overland to Kilimanjaro International Airport for our overnight flight back to the U.S. Or, stay in Arusha to join our post-trip extension to Arusha National Park.