Hike to Old Moses Point for views over the twisting valleys and rugged peaks of Mount Kenya National Park. Embark on a game drive in the Ol Pajeta Conservancy, where you’ll see giraffe, zebra, elephant, jackal, hippo, rhino, baboon and gazelle roam among the acacia trees and ‘whistling thorn’ shrubs. Visit the crater lakes that sit atop Mt Marsabit. The aptly named Lake Paradise is partly covered by Nile cabbage and rimed by verdant forest. Visit the Dorze people and immerse yourself in a culture well known for their unique beehive houses and colourful woven fabrics.
Travel from the rarely visited northern region of Kenya to the Ethiopian highlands, an area steeped in natural beauty and human history. Head north from Nairobi to Nanyuki and Samburu, hiking in the shadow of Mount Kenya and searching for the ‘Special Five’, wildlife unique to this area. Spend some time learning about the traditional peoples of northern Kenya, including the Samburu and Hamar, before crossing into Ethiopia where you’ll witness the ancient cities of Gondar, Lalibela and Axum, as well as the World Heritage-listed Simien Mountains National Park.
Breakfast Included: 25 Lunches Included: 5 Dinner Included: 10
Jambo! Welcome to Kenya. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, but if you arrive early then why not head out on an Urban Adventure. Not only is Nairobi an energetic capital city, it's also the only major city in the world to contain a game reserve – Nairobi National Park. After you've met your fellow travellers, join them for an optional group dinner at a local restaurant with your leader.
Nanyuki (Ol Pejeta Conservancy)
Rise and shine: it's your first morning in Kenya! Enjoy breakfast in the hotel before the group travels to the Mount Kenya region, arriving at the hotel in time for lunch. Mount Kenya is Africa's second-highest mountain, rising to an elevation of 5199 metres, and the national park in which it sits is circled by a number of communities including Nanyuki, where you'll be based. In the afternoon, embark on a game drive in the Ol Pajeta Conservancy, a 24,000-acre rhino sanctuary. Here, among the acacia trees and 'whistling thorn' shrubs, you'll see giraffe, zebra, elephant, jackal, hippo, rhino, baboon and gazelle roam the savannah grasslands and the banks of the Uaso Nyiro River.
Nanyuki (Mt Kenya)
Today, after breakfast, you'll set off for hike in Mount Kenya National Park. Begin walking from the park's entrance gate and continue through the forest to Old Moses Camp at an altitude of 3000 metres. If the weather's right you'll have fantastic views of Mount Kenya and the surrounding high country. It's a favourite spot for ornithologists thanks to the opportunities for bird watching, and there'll hopefully be an opportunity to see Grevy's zebras as you walk through the forest. Also known as imperial zebra, they were given the name 'Grevy' after Jules Grevy, the French president in 1882, who was given one as gift. These are the largest and most threatened of the three zebra species, and are found almost exclusively in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia.
Drive north after breakfast to the Samburu National Reserve, where you'll be spending the next two nights, via an optional visit to the Ngare Ndare forest canopy walk and waterfalls. Samburu is a rugged, remote reserve that provides some of the best game-viewing in the entire country. Covering an area of 104 square kilometres, it's home to a number of northern Kenya specialities including Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk and the beisa oryx – known as the Special Five. Have lunch at the lodge on arrival, then take an afternoon game drive through the reserve keeping an eye out for not only the Special Five, but also leopards, elephants, hyenas and an abundance of birdlife.
Head off in search of the Special Five, this time on a full-day game drive through the reserve. Keep your eyes peeled for lions too, and crocodiles stalking the waters of the Ewaso Nyiro River that flows through the park. This region is home to the Samburu people, semi-nomadic pastoralists who live to the south and the east of Lake Turkana. They're a sub-tribe of the Maasai people and speak the same language, and can often be seen in their colourful dress leading cattle around. Return to the lodge for dinner and a relaxing evening.
Pack your bags for a four-hour drive to Marsabit, a small town bordering Marsabit National Park and Marsabit National Reserve. The views of the plains during the drive are phenomenal, and you'll stop by the appropriately named Lake Paradise on the way. Arrive in the late afternoon and, after settling in at the hotel, the rest of the evening is free for you to enjoy. Perhaps take a stroll through the small town.
Today the group will take a long drive through the highlands, allowing plenty of time to appreciate the beautiful scenery. Your destination is Moyale, a market town on the border of Ethiopia and Kenya that's split between the two countries. The larger section is in Ethiopia, where the hotel is located, so after crossing the border and checking in at the hotel, the evening is free to check out the town.
Konso / Arba Minch
Enjoy a relaxed breakfast in Moyale before driving to Konso, a journey of approximately six hours. Stop en route at the beautiful El Sod Crater, which locals have been extracting salt from for centuries. Some members of your group will be departing tomorrow as this is a combination trip, so after arriving in Konso you may wish to get the group together for dinner to farewell those who are leaving.
Today is a free day until the rest of your group arrive on a flight from Addis Ababa. Take the time to walk around this World Heritage-listed town. Keep an eye out for the carved wooden grave markers in the area, a Konso tradition where the deceased warriors features are enhanced by using teeth made from animal bones. As the evening sets in, spend time relaxing in the Kanta Lodge and getting to know your new group members and leader.
Visit a village within Konso and learn about the clan-based societal arrangement comprised of nine clans. Head onwards to Jinka to visit an ethnographic museum dedicated to the tribes speaking South Omotic languages. Jinka is a lively trading hub and known as a capital of sorts for the range of ethnic groups that call this region home.
Head into Jinka's lush surroundings, home to the traditional Ari people. Spend some time in their villages, some of the most beautiful in the country, surrounded by banana, mango, avocado and enset (false banana) trees. Travel on to Turmi and visit one of the Hamar villages for an insight into their different way of life. There may be a chance to witness the highlight of the Hamar calendar – a bull-jumping ceremony. The culmination of a three-day rite of passage, this ceremony involves a young man having to jump on the backs of, and run down a line of 15 bulls before returning the same way. Overnight in Turmi.
Travel south towards Omorate this morning, driving down a 75-kilometre stretch of paved road passing through acacia forests. Omorate lies on the bank of the Omo River, close to the border of Kenya, and is a popular base for exploring the rugged area. Wildlife roam freely in the nearby landscape and there's a good chance of seeing antelope grazing or raptor birds stalking their prey overhead. The local Hamar and Daasanach people hold on to their customs tightly, and you may witness evidence of their traditional scarification practices. The Daasanach are cattle herders that practice flood retreat cultivation. The women beautify themselves with colorful bead necklaces and bracelets. There may be a chance to visit a local market, savouring the smells and tastes alongside the Karo, Hamer and Benna people while checking out plenty of interesting handicrafts on offer.