Approximate Distance: 156 km Estimated Travel Time: 4 hrs The journey begins early with a brief welcome meeting in the morning (7am) before we travel north from Nairobi (approximately at 8am) through the Great Rift Valley stopping at Lake Nakuru National Park, home to a vast variety of birdlife, particularly hundreds of thousands of flamingoes. Search for white and black rhino, buffalo, impala, hyena, and even leopard on our afternoon game drive in this renowned game park. Kenya's fourth largest town and the capital of the Rift Valley province, Nakuru, meaning “dusty place” in the Masai language, is a cheerful and vibrant agricultural town with a variety of coulourful local markets. We camp outside of the town itself and within the Lake Nakuru National Park, the area’s principal highlight and best natural attraction. Lake Nakuru itself is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes. The alkaline lake's abundance of algae attracts the large quantity of flamingos, estimated into the millions, which famously line the shore. The surface of the shallow lake is often hardly recognizable due to the continually shifting mass of pink. There are two types of flamingo species: the Lesser flamingo can be distinguished by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage unlike the greater flamigo, which has a bill with a black tip. But flamingos are not the only avian attraction, also present are two large fish-eating birds, pelicans and cormorants. The park is rich in other birdlife, including grebes, white winged black, stilts, avocets, ducks, and in the European winter, the migrant waders.
Approximate Distance: 86 km Estimated Travel Time: 2.5 hrs At the beautiful Lake Naivasha, spend your time enjoying various optional activities, such as a walking safari to view giraffes and antelope on Crescent Island, or a visit to the flamingo-filled Green Crater Lake, or simply viewing birds and wildlife around your camp - spotting ibis, lovebirds, fish eagles, hippo, and the black and white colobus monkey on the banks of this scenic lake. The name Naivasha comes from the Masai “Nai’posha”, which means “rough water”, though Lake Naivasha is general calm in the morning, the best time for spotting hippos, crocodiles, and birdlife. A freshwater lake, Lake Naivasha is currently about 20km long and 15km wide, but the lake levels have fluctuated enormously over the years. In the early 1880s during the time of Joseph Thompson’s travels, it was reduced to a swamp, while in the 1920s lake levels were about eight meters higher than at present. Surrounded by forests of the yellow barked Acacia Xanthophlea, known as the yellow fever tree, Lake Naivasha has a fairy-tale beauty to it which is rarely matched. Abound prolific birdlife from majestic fish eagles and waterfowl to tiny malachite kingfishers, is known as a world class birding destination, and is an international Ramsar site. Between 1937 and 1950 this beautiful, peaceful lake was used as a landing place for plane passengers destined for Nairobi. The flying boat from London would land on the lake where the Lake Naivasha Country Club now stands, and travellers would board a bus for Nairobi. Today the lovely lake, with its cool climate, has become a retreat for Nairobi residents and tourists looking for peace. Because the lake is fresh water and the surrounding soil fertile, this is a major production area for fruit and vegetables and, more recently, vineyards. Many animals call the area home; giraffes wander among the acacia, buffalo wallow in the swamps and colobus monkeys call from the treetops while the Lakes large hippo population sleep the day out in the shallows.
Approximate Distance: 163 km Estimated Travel Time: 4 hrs Within the lands of the Masai people, be welcomed into a community by our local Masai guide and his villagers. Spend some time learning the ways of these semi-nomadic people on a guided tour of their land and village. Learn about their diet (the daring may even try it!), clothing, social and cultural traditions, as well as their belief systems. Our camp site allows us not to infringe upon the village, while still allowing for meaningful interaction with these wonderful people and their territory.
Approximate Distance: 80 km Estimated Travel Time: 2 hrs With its vast open plains and distinctive flat-topped acacia trees, no visit to Kenya would be complete without a visit here! Spend time game viewing in our overland truck, with excellent chances of seeing the "Big 5" - lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino, and marvel at gazelles, impala, and ostrich from wonderful vistas along the Esoit Oloololo Escarpment. In addition, stop at a traditional Masai village for an optional visit to learn about the local Masai culture. The Masai Mara (also spelled Maasai Mara) is a game reserve in south-western Kenya, which is effectively the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Named for the Masai tribes people, who are the traditional inhabitants of the area, and the Mara River, which divides it, the reserve is famous for its exceptional population of game and the annual migration of the wildebeest every September and October, a migration so immense to be called the Great Migration. Thousands of wildebeest die in the crossing due to crocodile attacks. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving an immensity of herbivores: some 1,300,000 wildebeest, 360,000 Thomson's gazelle, and 191,000 zebra. With an area of 1510 km sq., the Masai Mara is not the largest game park or reserve in Kenya, but it is probably the most famous. The entire area of the park is nestled within the enormous Great Rift Valley that extends from the Mediterranean Sea to Mozambique. The terrain of the reserve is primarily open grassland, with clusters of the distinctive acacia tree in the south-east region. The western border is the Esoit Oloololo Escarpment of the Rift Valley, and wildlife tends to be most concentrated here, as the swampy ground means that access to water is always good. The easternmost border is 224 km from Nairobi. The Masai Mara is perhaps most famous for its lions, though the other members of the "Big Five" (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, and rhinoceros) are as well found. This said, the population of black rhinoceros is severely threatened, with a population of only 37 recorded in 2000. Hippopotami are found in large groups in the Masai Mara and Talek Rivers, and many cheetah, zebra, impala, gazelles, hartebeest, warthog, ostrich, topi, the Masai giraffe, among other mammals, all consider the “Mara” their home territory. As well, the large Roan antelope and the nocturnal bat-eared fox, rarely present elsewhere in Kenya, can be seen within the reserve borders. Like in the Serengeti in Tanzania, the wildebeest are the dominant inhabitant of the Masai Mara, and their numbers are estimated in the millions. Around July of each year these animals migrate in a vast ensemble north from the Serengeti plains in search of fresh pasture, and return to the south around October. These numerous migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by a block of hungry predators, most notably lions and hyena. The Masai Mara is a also major research centre for the spotted hyena. Additionally, over 450 species of birdlife have been identified in the park, including vulture, marabou, secretary bird, hornbill, crowned crane, ostrich, long-crested eagle, and pygmy falcon.
Day 6 Approximate Distance: 320 km Estimated Travel Time: 6 hrs Arrive back into Nairobi in the mid afternoon and enjoy a good shower and a cold drink at our centrally located hotel. This evening gives us a nice break from the wilderness and a chance to charge our batteries before continuing our adventure into Tanzania. Day 7 Approximate distance: 286 km Estimated travel time: 10 hrs (depending on border crossing) Today we will journey to low altitudes through African savannah into Tanzania, and settle at our camp outside of Arusha. Spend some time exploring the town and its bustling markets, before settling down at our campsite for the night. Arusha, also known as Tanzania’s “safari capital”, is undoubtedly the most important center in northen Tanzania. With many protected national parks, reserves, and mountains nearby (on a clear day, you can see Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance), Arusha is a modern town, with markets, services, and fine location. Please note that this is a COMBO tour. Some of your fellow travellers might be finishing their tour in Nairobi and you may be joined by new travellers who will be beginning their journey in either Nairobi or Arusha.
Approximate Distance: 320 km Estimated Travel Time: 8 hrs (including game drive into Serengeti) After breakfast, we begin our 2 night/3 day excursion to the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, two of Africa’s premier wildlife areas. Changing to specialized 4WD 7-seater safari vehicles, we are met by experienced safari driver/guides, who will ensure us wonderful wildlife encounters. Our safari vehicles each have sliding windows and a large pop-up roof, perfect for game viewing. They are smaller than our overland truck, and will allow us to maneuver easily through the wildlife areas. As the vehicles are smaller than our overland truck, our group will split up among several vehicles,. The Serengeti is to Tanzania what the Masai Mara Game Reserve is to Kenya, though with an area of 14,763 sq km, it is actually over 7 times as large! The area where you will be staying and game viewing is in the central Serengeti 'Seronera' area, which lies in the southeast of the National Park. Because of the sheer size of the National Park other areas will not be accessible during your stay. As we drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and on to the Serengeti National Park, en route you will begin to experience the sheer vastness of this territory, and you will marvel at the multitude of animal and bird life while cruising through this acacia-spotted savannah. The next day, we continue your search for the "Big 5" - lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino - while taking in the vastness of the Serengeti plains with a game drives through out the day. There is no bad time to visit the Serengeti as every season has its own special highlight – even the rainy season has the daily thunder and lightening to look forward to. Changing seasons and light patterns form the most beautiful backdrop to view Africa’s majestic and incredible wildlife. It has more than 1.6 million herbivores and thousands of predators. Blue Wildebeests, gazelles, zebras and buffaloes are the animals most commonly found in the region.
Day 3 Ngorongoro Crater (B,L,D) Approximate Distance: 160 km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs (including game drive out of Serengeti) Before leaving the Serengeti, enjoy one last morning game drive to see the animal kingdom come to life in this incredible expanse of grassland savannah. You will return and break camp, and journey to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, famous for Africa's best game viewing. The views from the Ngorongoro Crater rim are stunning, and there is an ever-present abundance of wildlife, due to the permanent water supply on the crater floor. You will arrive at your campsite at the crater rim in the late afternoon. The 8,300 km² Ngorongoro Conservation Area is named after its central feature, the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, and arguably its most spectacular natural arena. Ngorongoro Crater has often been described as one of the wonders of the world, not only because of its inherent geological significance, but also because it serves a quite extraordinary natural sanctuary for some of Africa’s most dense population of large mammals. The Ngorongoro was part of the original Serengeti National Park proclaimed in 1951, but it was made a separate conservation area in 1956 so that the Masai could graze their cattle there. The Ngorongoro Crater became a World Heritage Site in 1978. Land in the conservation area is unique to Tanzania as it provides protection for the wildlife whilst allowing human habitation. The landscape is made up of a blend of volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and mountain forests, where the wildlife is extensive. The southern and eastern boundaries are approximately defined by the rim of the Great Rift Valley, which also prevents animal migration in these directions. The annual ungulate migration passes through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with wildebeest and zebra moving south into the area in December and moving north in June. The area has healthy resident populations of most species of wildlife.
Approximate Distance: 200 km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs (including game drive in the Crater) After breakfast we embark on a half-day crater tour. The rich pasture and permanent water of the Crater floor supports a resident population of more than 20,000 to 25,000 large mammals. They are not confined by the crater walls, and can leave freely; they stay because conditions are favourable. Since most of the crater floor is grassland, grazing animals predominate: zebra, gazelles, buffalo, eland, and warthogs. The swamp and forest provide additional resources for hippos, some of Tanzania's last remaining black rhinos, giant-tusked elephants, waterbucks, reedbucks and bushbucks, baboons and vervet monkeys. All these animals in turn support large predators such as lion and leopard, and scavengers such as hyena and jackals. After this fabulous experience within the crater, we have to leave the wildlife behind us and start heading back to Arusha, where we will set up camp for the night.
Approximate Distance: 680 km Estimated Travel Time: 14 hrs Depart Arusha, passing the majestic Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain, and head towards, Dar Es Salaam. The city started as a fishing village in the mid 19th century before becoming a port and trading centre. Between independence and 1996 – Dar Es Salaam was the countries capital. Today, Dar remains the principal commercial city and the de facto seat of most government institutions in Tanzania. It is the major seaport for the country and its landlocked neighbours. Dar Es Salaam - Arabic for “Abode of Peace” (a word closely related to the familiar “Yer u-salem” in Israel) - is the largest city in Tanzania. With a population estimated around 2,500,000, it is also the country’s richest city and an important economic centre.
Day 12 - Estimated Travel Time: 3 hrs (ferry ride) Day 13 - Estimated Travel Time: 4 hrs (including 2hr Spice Tour) Day 15 - Estimated Travel Time: 2 hrs After arriving on Zanzibar, spend the remainder of the day exploring Stone Town, the heart of the island. It has an intriguing maze of narrow, cobbled lanes hemmed in by Arabic buildings. The best way to see the Stone Town is, literally, to get lost. You can spend hours just wandering the alleys and squares, drinking potent coffee from pavement vendors, or buying sweetmeats from scores of tiny cafes. At this point you may be joined by other G Adventures travellers who are starting their tour here on Zanzibar. A group meeting with your tour leader for this portion of your trip is scheduled for the early evening. Please look for information from your tour leader on the hotel bulletin board regarding the time of this meeting. Zanzibar Island, 'the spice island,' has an extremely interesting history and culture as it was the centre of the slave and spice trade in the 1800s. Zanzibar is one of the most fascinating places in East Africa, despite a heavy increase in tourism since the early 1990s. Thanks to an ambitious and far-reaching preservation programme funded by UNESCO and the Aga Khan, many famous old buildings have been restored, or are in the process of being renovated. The following morning we head north to Nungwi for two days/ two nights at one of Zanzibar's major highlights. Here you can either relax on the idyllic white-sandy beaches, take an optional diving/snorkeling excursion, or take a wander through the village of Nungwi. No visit to Zanzibar would be complete without a visit to the spice plantations - an activity that is included on our way north to Nungwi on Day 7. Your senses will be aroused as you will receive a detailed description on the assortment of spices (black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, breadfruit, jackfruit, vanilla, lemon grass) and their various uses. It was the wonderful spice plantations that brought the beginnings of Zanzibar’s infamous slave trade dating back to the 1840’s. On our fourth day on the island, we head back south to Stone Town, for our final night on this enchanting island. It's your last chance to shop and/or enjoy all that Stone Town has to offer. This maybe the last night for some of your travel companions as some will be finishing their G Adventures tour here on Zanzibar. Remember that Zanzibar is a Muslim society, and immodestly dressed women, or men in shorts, will get harassed and cause great offence in Stone Town. In Nungwi, customs are a little more relaxed, but passengers are encouraged to be respectful of the islands culture and still cover up when walking around. Never try to take a photograph without asking permission. The polite way to ask is “Tafadhali (pronounced tougher-thaarli) naomba ruhusu kwa kupiga picha yako.” Many guidebooks say the correct phrase is “nataka kupiga picha yako”, but this is incredibly rude, the equivalent of saying “give me your picture”.