Venture into the incredible Masai Mara National Reserve for a full-day game drive in an open-top 4WD, looking for lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes and more.. An early morning game drive through Lake Nakuru National Park might be your best chance of seeing black and white rhinoceroses in the flesh.. Take a cooking class in a small village and learn some Kenyan recipes, then share your creations at a camp dinner under the stars.. Explore the Serengeti, a wildlife arena like no other. You’re bound to spot most of Africa’s iconic Big Five game on your adventures at sunrise and sunset – when the animals are most active.
Take 20 days to uncover the best of eastern Africa as you travel across Kenya and Tanzania on a Lonely Planet Experience. Turn your attention to the wild as you search for flamingos in Lake Nakuru, the black rhino in the Ngorongoro Crater and the Big Five in the Serengeti. Swap the savanna for a higher elevation when you visit Usambara Mountains, and then leave all your cares behind as you relax on the endless white sands of Zanzibar’s Northern Beaches. Give East Africa an in-depth viewing as you travel from Nairobi to Zanzibar with a local crew and a small group of avid travellers.
Breakfast Included: 19 Lunches Included: 13 Dinner Included: 13
Jambo! Welcome to Kenya, your Lonely Planet Experience begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive with time to spare before the meeting, consider getting to know the city on an Urban Adventure like the ‘Nairobi Experience’. This optional 4-hour tour is a great way to get a feel for Nairobi, and includes lunch at a local restaurant. After the welcome meeting, perhaps join your new travel companions for an optional group dinner.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Drive north-west past splendid views of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha and Elementaita to Lake Nakuru National Park (approximately 3–4 hours). Situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru National Park is a great location for spotting wildlife, which you will do in an early morning game drive tomorrow. For now, head to a nearby village with your leader. This is a fantastic opportunity to interact with the local folk and get a feel for everyday life here. Enjoy a cooking class and return later in the evening to share the results for dinner.
Wake early for breakfast and head into the Lake Nakuru National Park for a game drive in the overland vehicle. Along with the other members of the Big Five, Lake Nakuru is home to rhinos, and there will be a good chance of spotting and photographing one of these magnificent beasts. Return to camp for lunch before driving to your camp near Lake Naivasha (approximately 3 hours). One of the few freshwater lakes in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha has floating islands of papyrus reeds and a border of flat-topped acacias. It's also home to a healthy population of hippos and a tremendous variety of birds.
Enjoy a free day to choose from a variety of optional activities available around Lake Naivasha. Perhaps venture to Hell's Gate National Park, which boasts beautiful cliffs, gorges, rock towers, volcanoes and a range of geothermal phenomena. Another great choice is to take a boat trip across Lake Naivasha – perhaps the best way to take in the atmosphere of this lush area. If you're looking for something active, why not hire a bike for the day and make some of your own discoveries, venturing beyond the cacti and olive trees.
Loita Hills Maasai Village
Depart Lake Naivasha, making a short stop in Narok to do a spot of food shopping. Continue to Loita Hills (approximately 5–6 hours), home of the Maasai people, stopping for lunch en route. We’ll be camping at Tepesua Village, which is known for championing Maasai women’s health and education. Arrive and be welcomed by traditional Maasai warrior song and dance, then your host will explain the details of Maasai warrior training. Take a walk to the community village which was founded to alleviate the poverty of Maasai widows, who traditionally are not allowed to inherit property. The village offers support, safety and economic growth through the ‘Tepesua Widows Income Project’. Spend the evening around a campfire and learn more about their age-old culture and traditions as you share stories with Maasai warriors into the night.
Masai Mara National Reserve
Today you’ll travel from Loita Hills to Masai Mara (approximately 1–2 hours). The road is dusty when dry, and could be slippery and muddy when wet, so the going may be slow. The Masai Mara is the quintessential African experience, with sparse open plains, dramatic skies and some of the world's most tremendous animals. After setting up camp, sit down to some lunch. Then it's time to jump in 4WDs and go for a game drive through the wilderness of the Mara.
Masai Mara National Reserve
Venture into the Masai Mara National Reserve for a full day's game drive in 4WDs. You'll explore this diverse environment and most likely see a multitude of wildlife. An optional balloon ride over the Mara at sunrise is available today. If you have pre-booked this activity you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site for a safety briefing from your pilot. Then you will glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, to get some amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and of the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, you'll be treated to a bush breakfast, then be returned to your campsite.
Leave the open expanses of the African bush behind and return to the urban environment of a Nairobi hotel with ensuite, bar, pool and WiFi (240 km, approx 5-6 hrs).
Today is a free day until your group meeting at 6 pm. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you are going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. During the day perhaps head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum or the highly recommended Bomas of Kenya where traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes are displayed in an outdoor village.
Mto wa Mbu
Depart early for Mto wa Mbu in your overland truck (approximately 10 hours). The trip includes a border crossing from Kenya into Tanzania, so be sure to have your passport handy. While you're on the road, there will be a stop at an ATM and a market or shop to stock up on any supplies you might need for the coming days. Arrive in Mto wa Mbu and acquaint yourself with this delightful small village – it's a fascinating snapshot of small-town African life, situated well off the tourist trail.
Ngorongoro Crater / Serengeti National Park
Get up early, put your camping and personal gear into a six-person jeep and head out for an excursion into the Serengeti via the Ngorongoro Crater. Enjoy a safari in the crater, spending 3–4 hours exploring this incredible, perfectly intact volcanic caldera. Watch for black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. The crater floor offers excellent game viewing all year round (some 30,000 animals live here) and the photo opportunities are unrivalled. Next, it's on to the wide-open plains of the Serengeti. Green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season, this is perhaps the quintessential image of Africa – the home of thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators. Your campsite is within the Serengeti itself, so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal animals as you drift off to sleep.
Serengeti National Park
Awake at dawn and embark on a game drive. You will head out while the animals are at their most active, then head back to camp for brunch at around 11 am. After spending the middle of the day relaxing, just like the animals do, head out again as the day begins to cool. You'll return from this second game drive in time for dinner. There's also the option of a balloon ride over the park this morning – in place of some of today’s game drives. If you have pre-booked this activity, you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site. After a safety briefing, glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, getting some amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, indulge in a five-star bush breakfast, then be returned to camp.