Two Weeks - Best Of Kenya
Two Weeks - Best Of Kenya
This spectacular trip takes you to magical Mt. Kenya and its stunning alpine environment, to the legendary plains of Masai Mara where encounters with lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes are all in a day’s outing, and to the beautiful Tsavo-Amboseli-Kilimanjero eco-system and Big Life Foundation in support of wildlife and communities. Activities include hiking to second base camp on Mt Kenya, game cycling, game walks, and game drives and horseback riding.
* Rates are quoted all inclusive, per person sharing. Accommodation includes world class eco-lodges.
Arrival to Kenya
* Guests will make their own arrangements to arrive in Kenya. The above rates includes all meals and beverages (alcoholic and non), equipment, portage and activities, airport shuttles and in-country transport. Excludes international flights.
You may want to arrive a couple of days early or simply on the eve of the tour. We can make suggestions on pre-tour activities. Recommended hotels in Nairobi are The Serena, The Fairmont and The Kempinski Villa Rosa which are all conveniently located in the downtown area. A little bit further away in the legendary neighborhood of Karen is Hemmingways.
High Season: 16 December-31 March & 1 July-31 October
Low Season: 1 April-30 June & 1 November-15 December
Day 1: Nairobi and Safari Simbaz
We meet at 9:00 am at Hemmingways for a tour briefing and introductions. Your tour leaders will give an overview of the tour and will answer any remaining questions. We then shuttle to Kikuyu to spend the day with the Safari Simbaz. The Safari Simbaz were created by David Kinjah, Kenya’s legendary cyclist who mentored the Tour de France winner, David Froome.
Kinjah remains an enthusiastic cyclist and has turned his attention to empowering young Kenyans through skills training, sports, and community engagement. We learn about the activities of the Simbaz and then cycle together from Kikuyu to the Ngong Hills via Kibiku. At the end of the day we return to Nairobi where the evening includes dinner at one of Nairobi's most authentic Restaurant's, the Abyssinia.
Day 2: Nairobi to Mount Kenya
We have an early departure from Wilson Airport to Nanyuki, near Mount Kenya (Safarilink 021, 8:00-8:50 am). Leaving Nairobi by air gives a good view of the urban challenges that the capital is facing and then quickly the beautiful countryside comes into view. Nanyuki is a short flight and the town is the gateway to the exciting region of Laikipia and of course Mount Kenya. Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and, after Kilimanjaro, the second highest mountain in Africa. It’s about 16 kilometer south of the equator and has a most stunning profile.
Our home for the night is the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club with its sweeping views of Mount Kenya. A range of activities are available at the hotel, including cycling, horseback riding, and a walk through the maze. We meet at 4:00 pm in the library for tea and a briefing of the next day’s hike which will take us to an amazing overnight stop at the second base camp of Mount Kenya, at 3,900 meters.
Day 3: Hiking Mount Kenya
We leave after an early breakfast and transfer to the Mount Kenya National Park which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Mount Kenya stands out for its spiritual significance, great scenic beauty, and biodiversity. The local name is ‘God’s Resting Place’ or ‘Where God lives”. We arrive at Mt. Kenya National Park gate on the Sirimon route and then drive through dense equatorial forest rich in flora and fauna, particularly bird life. We might see elephants, buffaloes, baboons, and bushbucks on the track. After ten kilometers we arrive at the first camp - Old Moses camp (3,100m, 10,000ft). The guides brief us on the the mountain and its environment, vegetation, and give high altitude tips. The guides set a leisurely and relaxing pace and we trek up the mountain through different climatic zones - from heathers trees to the moorland zone covered with tussock grass and flowered cabbage roberias.
There are great views of the lowland and Aberdare ranges. Along the way we enjoy the changing vegetation and flowers of the increasing altitudes. After a two hours hike we reach the top of the Liki North valley and rest for lunch (3,600m).
After the lunch we continue our hike up to the crest of the ridge from where we have a splendid view of the main peaks – Batian peak at 5,188m, Nelion peak at 5,177m, and Lenana peak at 4,985m and , and of the Liki North camp, our stop for the night. The camp is set between two beautiful little valleys below the secondary peaks of Teleki and Sendeyo, two ancient vents of the main peaks. Arrival time at the camp will be approximate 3:00 pm and the chef welcomes you with a hot cup of coffee, tea or chocolate. The Liki North tented camp is at 3,900 meter or 12,800ft. Those who are still energetic, can join for a short hike up to the ridge. A three-course dinner is ready at 6:00 pm in the dining tent and the guides will share more on people, culture, politics, farming and history. We sleep under the stars in comfortable dome tents.
Day 4: Hiking Mount Kenya and return to Mount Kenya Safari Club
The wake call comes at 7:00 am, in time to see the beautiful sunrise. The support team has hot water ready, please note no showering on the mountain. Breakfast is served at 8:00 am facing the giant peaks of Mt. Kenya and looking out over the Laikiapia plain and Aberdare ranges. We slowly descend through the moorland to the heathers zone and back to Old Moses camp. We shuttle to the Mount Kenya Safari Club where we arrive in the afternoon. The rest of the afternoon is free and we meet again for dinner.
Day 5: Mount Kenya to Maasai Mara
We leave Nanyuki after breakfast and are now on our way to the iconic wildlife paradise of the Maasai Mara. The Mara which is named in honor of the Maasai people who are its ancestral inhabitants, means “spotted”, which is an apt description for the circle of trees, scrub, savanna, and cloud shadows that mark the area. The Greater Mara Ecosystem encompasses a vast area of fenceless group ranches and borders Tanzania’s Serengeti. The Serengeti and Mara are home to the famous annual Great Migration and should you be there at the right time, we take a full-day drive to the Sand River where animals cross. Our guides meet us at the airstrip and take us on a first game drive on the way to our home for the next three nights, the luxurious Great Plains Conservation Mara Plains Tented Camp.
We might see hippos, elephants, zebra, wildebeest, and eagles, to name just a few of the species. The lodge is stunning and very quickly you feel that you are part of the camp family as you enjoy the warm hospitality and luxury accommodation. While we're at Mara Plains Tented Camp, you can join in as many activities as you like, the choice is your's. In the afternoon our private guide takes us on game drive. Before dinner we meet around the fire and reflect on the day that has taken us from the foothills of Mount Kenya to the vast open plains of the Maasai Mara.
Day 6: A walk in the Mara
The gentle wake-up call is accompanied by your choice of Kenyan tea or coffee. We leave camp at 6:30 am with our guide and a ranger on a long game walk. Our guides are very well trained and make sure that we’re safe at all times as we see elephants, zebra and maybe even lion and cheetah. Our walk takes us up a ridge with sweeping views where a sumptuous picnic breakfast awaits us.
We continue our hike and our guides help us interpret the many animal prints that we see. Walking on the African plains is a special experience of sounds, colors, and smells and you’ll feel completely immersed in this beautiful open space. We continue until we reach our lunch spot and return to the lodge by vehicle. The afternoon is free to enjoy the luxury of your tent, the beautiful open setting of the main lodge, or another game drive. Dinner is at the lodge and can be followed by a night game drive.
Day 7: More animal encounters and the Maasai women
Start the day with a pre-breakfast game drive or sleep in a bit. We meet for breakfast and share stories about the bird song and hippo chatter that we heard during the night. We then set out for a game drive and our guides will find a surprising range of animals for us. When you least expect it, there might be a female lion lying by the road or a leopard might come for a drink of water to the river. We stretch our legs with a walk up a ridge which takes us to the bead workshop of the Maasai women.
Maasai women have few opportunities to earn an income and this thoughtful community-based initiative enables over 450 women to supplement the family income through bead-working and honey making. The women invest their income in education for their daughters, water tanks which cut down on many hours collecting water, or solar lighting which is a cleaner and cheaper alternative to kerosene. We spend time with the women to learn about traditional bead-work and can make our own designs. The quality and creativity of the products is amazing and there are plenty of beautiful items to admire. After a picnic lunch we return to the lodge. The afternoon is free for another game walk or drive and dinner will be served under the stars.
Day 8: Discovering Maasai culture and traditions
There is time for a pre-breakfast walk or game drive to make further discoveries of the amazing animal diversity. The guides know which animals were active at dawn and take you to there preferred places. After breakfast we visit a nearby Maasai village to learn about their daily lives and traditions. A number of villages were resettled when the conservancy was established and they now actively participate in the activities of the Mara Plains Camp. The Camp has a well thought-through and respectful engagement with the communities and our visit won’t be a typical tourist experience. We learn about the importance of livestock, age-old customs, and how seniority determines family and clan life. We return to the lodge for lunch and then it is time to good-bye to our friends. We take the return flight to Wilson and transfer to the hotel. The evening is free and guests make their own arrangements for dinner.
Day 9: Chyulu Hills and Big Life
We depart Wilson early for a beautiful flight to the south, overflying Tsvao West National Park and the Chyulu. Tsavo National Park was established in 1948 and Tsavo West National Park is famed for striking geographical formations, plentiful bird- and animal-life, and an eventful history.
Wildlife in the park includes all the Big Five, as well as a number of rare and threatened species. The Kenya Wildlife Service has recorded an extraordinary 600 bird species, including the threatened corncrake and near threatened Basra Reed Warbler. Volcanic activity in the area has formed unusual rock formations and caves. At Mzima Springs, water filtered underground from the Chyulu Hills erupts from below a lava ridge into a series of pools so clear that hippos and fish can be seen with ease. Shetani, meaning evil in Swahili, was the name given by locals to the vast flow of lava that spurted from the earth forming what is now an 8km mass of solidified lava, chunks of magma and curving caves.
Our guides meet us at the airstrip and we take a drive over the open veldt to Mbrikani where Big Life Foundation has its headquarters. Big Life Foundation was co-founded by award-winning conservationist Richard Bonham and photographer Nick Brandt in September 2010. Since its inception, Big Life Foundation has expanded to employ hundreds of Maasai rangers protecting two million acres of wilderness in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro eco-system. It was the first organization in East Africa to establish coordinated cross-border anti-poaching operations and establish a holistic engagement with the Maasai communities to enable a sustainable co-existence of livestock and wild life. We meet Big Life Foundation staff and hear about their passionate work to protect wildlife and promote a sustainable co-existence with communities. The challenges are big but so are the rewards and especially the lion population has already rebounded.
We arrive at Great Plains beautiful Ol Donyo Lodge in time for lunch. There are plenty of activities and once again the choice will be your's. After a siesta, we go for a game walk and might see a group of elephants hanging out at the waterhole. The density of wildlife is not as high here as in the Mara and we can enjoy more activities under our own steam: hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
Big Life’s co-founder Richard Bonham will join us for sundowners and share with us his experiences of living in this beautiful corner of Kenya and his passion for conservation. During dinner Big Life Foundation staff will join us and we hear more about their work.
Day 10: A day with Big Life
The wake-up call and coffee come at dawn and we get ready for a morning of cycling. We ride through beautiful open savannah to Lenkiloriti Ranger Outpost which is 11km away. We are liking to see zebra, warthog, Thompson gazelle and giraffes. Paw prints on the road tell us that lion, cheetah and other passed here during the night.
We meet the rangers and chat with them about their work in protecting the last remaining black rhinos in this part of the country. Over tea and a picnic breakfast they tell their stories how they became engaged with Big Life Foundation and how life is changing. We join the rangers on foot patrol and learn first-hand how the capable dog team finds the poachers. We return to the lodge by bike or vehicle and will be there for lunch. For the afternoon, we propose a game drive to the Lava Tubes and a hike into a cave-like maze that is home to bats. We enjoy a sundowner at the end of the hike and then return to the lodge in time for dinner.
Day 11: Cycling, hiking or horseback riding in the Chyulu Hills
We take full advantage of the range of activities at Ol Donyo and you can choose between cycling, hiking or horseback riding. There is a cycling and walking option to the Kopjes from where you’ll have sweeping views over the plains. Breakfast will await you there and we then cycle back to the lodge. For experienced horseback-riders, there is a full-day outing and you can have an amazing experience watching wildlife which graze or sleep as you ride past. At special lookout points breakfast and lunch is set up.
For those who are interested to learn more about the work of Big Life Foundation and its rangers there is a drive and hike to a ranger outpost in the Misty Hills. We return to the lodge for sundowners around the fire and for a splendid dinner under the stars.
Day 12: Return to Nairobi and end of the trip
Enjoy a final wake-up call with coffee and join your guide for a pre-breakfast walk. Say good-bye to the animals which have become your friends and marvel again at their important place on earth. After breakfast we bid farewell to the friends of the lodge and the Big Life Foundation staff and return to Nairobi. In Nairobi we transfer guests who have booked day rooms to their hotels or to the airport.