Approximate Distance: 156 km Estimated Travel Time: 4 hrs The journey begins early with a brief welcome meeting in the morning (7am). Please make sure you have all of the necessary visas for this tour by the time of the welcome meeting. It is very important to read the Visa section in our trip details to make sure which visas you will need, if any. Please note that not all nationalities are able to obtain a visa on arrival at the border. 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: 202 km Estimated Travel Time: 4 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, with excellent chances of seeing the Big five - 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.
Approximate Distance: 200 km Estimated Travel Time: 6 hrs Ascend from the plains to the green hills of Kenya's premier tea-growing, and soapstone region of Kisii. Kenya is the world's 3rd largest tea exporter (after India and Sri lanka), while tea accounts for 20-30% of the country’s export income. The town of Kisii is the commercial hub of the Kisii (also known as Gusii) Highlands. Located in the highlands just east of Lake Victoria, the town and area of Kisii is one of the most densely populated areas in Kenya. Because of the dense population, agriculture is a key component of the daily life of the local people. Along with tea, the main crops of the region are millet, yams, and pumpkins. Approaching Kisii, you will experience breathtaking views of the vast rolling hills covered by the tea plantations that are one of the economic backbones of the local economy. Scattered among the tea plantations are neatly arranged housing complexes for the tea "pluckers” who roughly every 17 days picked the tea leaves on a rotational basis. Good pickers can collect up to 100kg of leaves a day!
Approximate Distance: 163 km Estimated Travel Time: 6 hrs (including border crossing) Crossing into Tanzania, arrive to the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake. Take a boat or canoe ride on the lake, or do some fantastic bird watching on its shores.
Venture to the world famous Serengeti National Park, often touted as Africa's best game park. The park 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! Enter from the less-visited western gate, and enjoy the multitude of animal and bird life while cruising through the acacia-spotted savannah. En route to the central Seronera plains, 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. After an early rise we enjoy an early morning game drive, returning to camp for a hearty lunch followed by a brief but well-deserved rest. Later on in the afternoon, as the animal kingdom comes alive, continue your search for the "Big 5" - lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino - while taking in the vastness of the Serengeti plains. he Serengeti National Park 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 Serengeti, which derives its name from the Masai for “endless plain”, is the jewel of Tanzania’s protected areas, together with the Masai Mara and the Ngorongoro Conservation area it protects the most varied and greatest collection of wildlife on earth. With the Big Five, the Small Five and the extensive amounts of wildlife, this region offers arguably the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the world. That said, with its vast size and varied terrain, game viewing is only one aspect of the Serengeti - the scenery is simply breathtaking. The Masai people arrived into the Serengeti plains in the 17th century, displacing the Datoga pastoralists who had previously lived there. They lived an undisturbed, nomadic life in the region for hundred of years, until the first westerner, American Stewart Edward White, passed through in 1913. He recorded the plains in the chronicles of a journey that began in Nairobi, Kenya. What he wrote still applies today: “... We walked for miles over burnt out country... Then I saw the green trees of the river, walked 2 miles more and found myself in paradise” . 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 buffalos are the animals most commonly found in the region. This area is most famous for the migration that takes place every year; in october over a million herbivores travel toward the southern plains, crossing the Mara River from the hills to the north. They continue west across the Serengeti, and then north once again, crossing the Mara River, after the rains around April, and often totals more than 800km. This phenomenon is sometimes also called the Circular Migration. Over 250,000 wildebeest alone will die along the journey from Tanzania to Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. Note: If you have pre-booked a Serengeti Balloon Safari Theme Pack, your flight be early in the morning of Day 8.
Day 8: Approximate Distance: 82 km Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs (including a Serengeti game drive en route) Day 9: Approximate Distance: 255 km Estimated Travel Time: 4 hrs Break camp and take in the active morning wildlife as you cross the Serengeti plains 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. 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.