Outstanding East Africa

Duration: 21 days

Highlights: Nairobi, Lewa, Masai Mara, Bwindi, Serengeti, Mahale, Arusha

From rewarding scenic views of the Rift Valley and exciting cultural experiences with the Maasai to up-close encounters with the mountain gorilla and off road game drives in the exclusive Singita Grumeti Reserve, this itinerary showcases some of the most extraordinary spaces in East Africa.

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Nairobi

Arrive: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Upon arrival you will be met by an Abercrombie and Kent representative at the airside, who will escort you through the immigration and customs and collect your luggage. Visa can be obtained at the international airport on arrival. Board your helicopter for a 10 minute transfer to Marula Lane, then board your 3 minutes transfer vehicle to Giraffe Manor for check in.

Giraffe Manor is modelled on an extremely grand Scottish hunting lodge. Set in 140 acres of protected forest on the outskirts of Nairobi, it would be pretty special anyway but it is also a giraffe sanctuary for rare Rothschild's giraffes that come up to the house at all times to see what is going on. These gentle giants have been know to stick their heads through the dining room window in search of a tasty titbit and always come to say hello to strangers. The main house has just six bedrooms, all decorated extremely stylishly in a traditional Scottish way. The giant double staircase is a sight to behold in the middle of Africa, as is the completely Original Art Deco bathroom. One of the bedrooms is suitable for families. The manor recently added 4 new rooms, three bedrooms named after the resident giraffes, Arlene, Helen, Kelly, and the Finch Hatton Suite.

Giraffe Manor is close to Nairobi National Park and the Daphne Sheldrick elephant orphanage. There are lots of good shops in the area and it is convenient for both airports. This eccentric house is a great place to stay with huge attractions.

Overnight: Giraffe Manor

Meal Plan: L,D

 

Day 2 - Enjoy a sight-seeing tour of Nairobi

Breakfast at Giraffe Manor.

Full day in Nairobi including a sight-seeing tour of Nairobi with a visit to Karen Blixen Museum, Daphne Sheldrick visit with animal adoption and shopping in a vintage car.

Karen Blixen Museum
Located in Karen, the beautiful Nairobi suburb that was once part of Karen Blixen’s vast coffee estate, ‘Mbogani’ was Karen’s home from 1917 until 1931. The house and grounds were made famous by the film ‘Out of Africa’ and have been restored by the Danish community of Kenya. Visitors have a glimpse of typical colonial life in Kenya at the turn of the twentieth century. As well as many of Karen’s original belongings, replicas replace items that have been lost over the years.

From the beautiful gardens there are magnificent views of the Ngong Hills, held dear by Karen and described so tenderly in her writings. At the front of the house the original millstone tables can be seen from which Karen conducted much of her farm business.

Lunch at Giraffe Manor.

15H00 – Private visit to Daphne Sheldrick animal orphanage with adoption.

Daphne is the widow of pioneer wildlife ranger David Sheldrick and has set up the orphanage on the edge of Nairobi National Park to successfully raise orphaned wild animals (mainly elephant and rhino) and reintroduce them into the wild.

Overnight: Giraffe Manor

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 3 - Helicopter scenic flight to Lewa Conservancy

Breakfast at leisure with the giraffes.

Check out and transfer to Marula lane for your 2 hour helicopter scenic flight to Lewa conservancy. Fly into Kenya’s northern frontier towards the Aberdare Mountain range and enjoy views of the stunning Karuru and Gura Water falls; fly over the Aberdare National Park before you make your approach to Mount Kenya. Weather permitting, explore the peaks, lakes and valleys of this prolific Mountain. Enjoy a scenic stop on the slopes of Mount Kenya before flying onwards to Sirikoi.

You will arrive in time for lunch at Sirikoi before going out on an afternoon game drive with a sundowner cocktail.

Willie Roberts and his wife Sue set up Sirikoi a few years ago on Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Willie knows everything about the bush and is a great raconteur about his time living in the Mara and working on anti-poaching there in the 1990s. This is a great camp in which to listen and learn and, being on Lewa, it has fabulous wildlife.

Four beautifully appointed tents, each with Victorian baths, overlook the well-watered lawn which attracts the grazing animals. There are also two standard tents and a secluded two bedroom cottage which is situated in a private corner of the camp near the wetlands where elephant and buffalo are regular visitors. In 2010, the three-bed roomed Sirikoi house became the lodge's latest opening. Two bedrooms were built in one unit whilst the master bedroom was a unit on its own with a large sitting and dining room separating them. The swimming pool offers the perfect spot to watch game and birdlife and the lodge also has a 20ft hide, which is a great spot for viewing the diverse landscape, having sundowners and stargazing. Rhino, elephant and Grevy's zebra can be seen on bush walks, horseback rides or from safari vehicles.

Overnight: Sirikoi Lodge

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 4 - Full day game viewing within Lewa Conservancy

Today the day is yours to do with it as you wish – you may want to start the morning off with a horse ride through the plains of Lewa Downs. This is a magical way to see the scenery as there is no sound of an engine in the background and you get a real feel for how vast the distances are and you can start to imagine how daunting it must have been for the first explorers.
Here are the various activities you can enjoy today:

Bush walks / Camel walks:
Accompanied by an experienced armed ranger, a bush walk takes you into a complete sense of connection and appreciation for even the smallest things in nature and the environment around you. Apart from big game viewing, your guide will shares his intimate knowledge of the bush. Stop and learn about insects and even the fascinating system ants have to build and maintain their anthills. Your guide will also point out animal signs and how to identify animal tracks which are everywhere, but not that easily noticed. Camel walks are supported by camels which you can ride when the terrain allows. See the stunning landscapes and a variety of game.

Horse riding:
Another wonderful way to explore the bush in Lewa and the Laikipia area is on horse. A string of home reared polo ponies and horses to suit all riding standards are available.

Community and conservation development projects:
There is strong commitment to community development and conservation projects in this area. The projects have proved successful improving the standards of living, helping to provide water and healthcare and also helping in conservation by educating the local villages on the importance of wildlife and preservation of the environment. There are several projects in the area that you can visit.

Lewa Downs conservancy was one of Kenya’s original ranches in Northern Kenya and has been home of the Craig family since 1924. Having originally started the area as a cattle ranch as was typical for the era, they have now turned their energy to conservation and are now one of East Africa's great success stories. Lewa is host to a variety of mammals including elephant, reticulated giraffe, both Grevy and common zebra, lion, leopard, cheetah, both black and white rhino and a number of different gazelles including the graceful gerenuk.

The game viewing in this region is exceptional and you can go out each day to observe it in custom built safari vehicles, on foot, camel and also on horse.

Overnight: Sirikoi Lodge

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 5 - Full day helicopter scenic tour to Lake Turkana

Depart early and fly north all the way to the southern end of Lake Turkana. Flying close to beautiful springs and the amazing Singing Wells will certainly leave you awestruck. The incredible beauty of this part of the country will take your breath away, with its variety of landscapes including the Suguta Valley, Silale Crater, the Southern Dunes, Lake Lojipe, Cathedral Rock, and the Laikipia plateau.

Overnight: Sirikoi Lodge

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 6 - Helicopter transfer to Maasai Mara

Breakfast at leisure and check out. Board your helicopter for the transfer to Maasai Mara National Reserve. Fly to Lake Bogoria enjoy views of the hot springs and geysers, flamingos are often sited on the lake. Stop for refreshments on the shores, fly down the Great Rift Valley to Lake Naivasha and land at Hippo Point for lunch before departing for the Maasai Mara.

Mara Plains Camp is located on the northern border of the Masai Mara Game Reserve in the Olare Orok Conservancy. The camp areas are hidden among the bush and guests cross a swinging bridge across the river to get to the main area. There are two lounges, one has a small library and writing area, a dining room with a grand wood table and a magnificent chandelier and the décor is rich in browns, coppers and reds, encouraging a relaxing break from the day's adventures. Accommodation is in seven large 'rooms' under canvas which open on three sides to the outside and have raised decks overlooking the vast savannah and the Ntiakatek River. Floor to ceiling net walls and the marquis ceiling make for very open-air environs. The en-suite facilities consist of a double basin vanity, flush toilet and shower with hot water 24 hours a day. A wide range of activities are offered including game drives, night game drives, nature walks, and visits to a local village.

Overnight: Mara Plains Camp

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 7 - Spend full day game viewing in Maasai Mara

Spend today in Maasai Mara with a morning game drive and later visit a local Maasai village & school. A trip to the Maasai Mara is never complete without a visit to a cultural village. The colourful and vibrant Maasai people are one of the few communities in Kenya to retain their culture and traditions. Their history is fascinating and their way of life never grows old. Clients will be welcomed by traditional dancing followed by a guided tour of the village by the chief. He will also give a brief talk to the group and you will have a unique opportunity to experience their nomadic lifestyle as you are introduced to the Maasai families and welcomed into their homes. Learn from the women how to make their beautiful bangles and bracelets that have been a symbol of the community for centuries. This intricate beaded jewellery is almost as amazing as the height that the men can jump or how easily they make fire using just 2 sticks and grass. Their iconic red blanket always comes in handy on a cold night.

Overnight: Mara Plains Camp

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 8 - Spend full day in Maasai Mara

Enjoy a guided morning walk with a bush breakfast and return to the camp at leisure. Later depart on an afternoon game drive that culminates with a sundowner.

Dinner at the camp.

The jewel in Africa's crown, Maasai Mara is host to the most spectacular array of wildlife. Her 1,510 square kilometers of open savannah, woodlands and tree-lined rivers creates an eco-system which supports huge numbers of bird and mammal species. The western border of the park is the spectacular Siria Escarpment, and together with the acacia dotted plains, creates scenery of stunning beauty. Lion are found in abundance throughout the park as are elephant, giraffe, a variety of gazelle species and zebra. Cheetah and leopard are also regularly seen and, if lucky, you may also find rhino. Game viewing is never dull in the Mara, and patience is often rewarded with unique sightings: a pride of lion stalking their prey; a solitary leopard retrieving its kill from the high branches of an acacia tree; male wildebeest sparring to attract females into their harem; or even a herd of elephant protecting their young from opportunistic predators. The annual wildebeest migration traditionally is present in the Mara from July-September and at this time nature's dramas unfold before your very eyes at every turn. As well as wildlife, the Maasai Mara is also home to many members of the colourful Maasai tribe who may be seen around the borders of the park - morans (warriors) loping across the plains, young boys herding goats, or elders grouped under a tree discussing matters of the day.

You will have lunch back at the camp then there will be some time to relax in the afternoon. At about 4.00pm there will be tea available and then you will go on anther afternoon game drive. As the sun sinks lower towards the horizon your driver will stop the car at the top of a valley, under a convenient tree with a stunning view over the plains and sunset. You will then be able to experience the Kenyan tradition of Sundowners – with an ice cold drink in hand and delicious bitings (canapés) to nibble on you can sit and enjoy the stunning view and watch as the world is bathed in golden light. Once the sun has gone down and the darkness closed over you will make your way back to the camp for dinner.

Overnight: Mara Plains Camp

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 9 - Helicopter transfer to Entebbe via Lake Victoria

Early breakfast and check out. Depart after breakfast at Mara Plains for a one-hour flight to Rusinga Island, enjoy sightseeing on the Lake with fishing, time allowing guided bird watching and even visit to the fossil sites. Lunch at Rusinga Island.

14.00 depart for a half hour flight to Kisumu International Airport for Customs clearance and passenger immigration before departing at 14.45 for Entebbe International Airport. Flying time 1hours 40 minutes to arrive Entebbe at 16.30. Upon arrival off your flight, you will be met by our representative and transfer you to Serena Lake Victoria hotel – Helicopter ride – 15mintes.

Styled to replicate the lines of a classically rustic Roman villa, Lake Victoria Serena Resort is the latest addition to the Serena East Africa Portfolio. Rising above white-terraced rose gardens, which descend almost to the shores of Lake Victoria, this tranquil resort has been positioned to offer both a contrast and an extension to the 5-star profile of the flagship Kampala Serena Hotel. A gracious terracotta and cream palace, the central citadel is encircled by broad café and cocktail terraces, where cushioned sofas invite relaxation. Above the marble reception arched galleries rise to a clear glass atrium, through which shafts of light illuminate the fountained courtyard below. Beyond the mosaic frescoes of the main restaurant, a clock tower rises above the pool-deck where colonnades of white arches offer the perfect frame for the hazy blue of the lake and the beautiful Lweza Hills. Widely spaced amongst the rose gardens, clusters of pastel-painted villas offer a choice of rooms and suites, all with panoramic lake views.

Overnight: Lake Victoria Serena Resort

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 10 - Entebbe – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

After an early breakfast, you will be met by our representative who will drive you to Entebbe Airport where you will take your charter flight (10am) to Bwindi National Park. The flight is about 1hr 15minutes. Upon arrival at Kihihi airstrip, you will be met and transferred to Gorilla Forest Camp which is about 1hour 30minutes drive. In the evening there will be the Batwa cultural dance. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is located in south-western Uganda, covering parts of Rukungiri, Kisoro, and Kabale Districts. It is situated in a hilly countryside, which, together with some remnant lowland forest outside the boundary, constitutes an important water catchment area for many rivers, supplying the agricultural land of the surrounding region. This is the richest forest in Uganda, in terms of the number of plant species, as the area is one of the few large expanses of forest in East Africa where lowland and montane communities merge. The valley bottoms contain a dense ground cover of herbs, vines, and shrubs with only a few trees hence its name, the impenetrable forest. This is one of the richest faunal communities in East Africa. There exists about one half of the world’s population of the endangered mountain gorillas. There are also several endangered species of birds with limited ranges.

Overnight: Gorilla Forest Camp

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 11 - Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

After an early breakfast, your guide will escort you to the Uganda Wildlife Authority Park headquarters. On the day you head out, you will meet fellow trackers and gorilla guide who will
then lead you into the forest to find the Mountain Gorillas. The trekking may be fairly strenuous - up to six hours or longer is not uncommon – at relatively high altitude. Mountain Gorillas are wild animals, and so, sightings cannot be guaranteed, however the success rate is well over 95%. These massive primates are extremely rare, only approximately 650 remaining. You will get within meters of the family, and be privileged to spend up to one hour amongst them.

Returning to the lodge later in the day and time permitting, you may have an opportunity for further forest or community walks with the guides, visit the Batwa tribe, a visit to the hospital in Bwindi is an option too or just to relax.

Overnight: Gorilla Forest Camp

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 12 - Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Another day at Bwindi National Park.

Overnight: Gorilla Forest Camp

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 13 - Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Entebbe – Grumeti Reserve

After breakfast this morning, you will depart for Kihihi airstrip for your Charter flight back to Entebbe departing at 0945, arriving Entebbe at 11.25am. Drive to Kihihi airstrip is about 1hour 30minutes from the lodge and the flight to Entebbe Airport will take about 1 hour 15minutes. At Entebbe you will clear customs and immigration then proceed to Mwanza in Tanzania to clear customs and immigration here. You will then carry on to the Grumeti Reserve where you will be met by your Sasakwa Driver guide and transferred to your lodge.

Sasakwa Lodge is situated on top of Sasakwa Hill with panoramic views of the Serengeti Plains. The lodge is built in the style of an East African ranch house. Professionally guided activities include game drives in open vehicles, walks, night drives and mountain biking. You can enjoy the beautiful setting, in addition to other activities on offer which include billiards and swimming. Luxurious all-suite accommodation is offered, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, teas, coffees. All drinks, including premium wines, spirits and liqueurs (excluding champagnes & vintage wines).
Each cottage has a private infinity-edge pool overlooking 'where the land stretches to forever'. The bedrooms with inviting four-posters are beautifully appointed, displaying typical African influences with touches of wood, leather and grass, alongside crisp linens, imported chandeliers and handcrafted furniture. Each air-conditioned cottage features a bedroom, en-suite bathroom with bath and shower, lounge with fireplace, dressing area, a guest toilet, veranda with a Swarovski spotting scope and a heated infinity plunge pool. Cottages have a personal bar and fridge, electronic safe, direct dials telephone (US lines) and wireless internet access as well as wheel chair access to certain cottages.

Overnight: Sasakwa Lodge

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 14 - Balloon Ride, Bush breakfast, game drives

05:00 - An early start for the experience of a lifetime.

05:30 - Leave the lodge and drive to the balloon launching site.

06:00 - Balloon flight in Singita

The most beautiful balloon flight in the world and the ultimate safari experience. At 05h30 you will be collected from your lodge/camp & transferred to our launch site on Singita Grumeti Reserves. Here you will meet your pilot, receive a briefing and watch the inflation of your balloon. At dawn we take off, rising as the sun rises and float in whichever direction the winds of the morning take us.Your pilot can precisely control the altitude of your balloon- sometimes at treetop height, sometimes lower, offering a unique perspective and great photographic opportunities of the wildlife below. At other times he will probably ascend to 1000’ or more to see the enormity and wonderful panorama of Singita Grumeti Reserves. From time to time the pilot must put more heat into the balloon with the powerful whisper burners. In between these burns, there is silence apart from the natural sounds below. The flight is for about one hour depending on conditions. Arrive back at camp at about 08h30 ready to continue your day's activities.

After the balloon excursion you will enjoy bush breakfast and this can be followed with game viewing or watch the game on the plains below with your own telescope.

Overnight: Sasakwa Lodge

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 15 - Walking Safari, PM at Leisure

After breakfast at the lodge this morning you will enjoy the game walk in the Grumeti Reserve. During walking safari at Singita Sasakwa Lodge, you are likely to spot a great variety of wildlife.

Overnight: Sasakwa Lodge

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 16 - A.M & PM game drives in Singita Grumeti Reserve

After breakfast at the lodge this morning. You will head out for game drives in Singita Grumeti reserve. Return to the lodge for lunch, and then head out for game drives again after few hours at leisure. Daily game drives with professional guides provide the perfect opportunity to get up close to Africa’s incredible animals, while evening drives reveal the elusive magic of nocturnal Africa.

Overnight: Sasakwa Lodge

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 17 - Fly Charter to Mahale

After breakfast at the lodge this morning, you will be transferred to the airstrip for your charter flight to Mahale. On arrival in Mahale, you will be met by Nomad guide and transferred to your lodge.

Greystoke Mahale sits on a pristine, white sandy beach overlooking the turquoise water of Lake Tanganyika, with the forested slopes of the 8000 ft Mahale Mountains rising behind.
For many years the camp in Mahale consisted of just simple tents. So when Greystoke Mahale was built, while the designers wanted it to be as unique as its setting, it was important that it didn't dominate its sensational natural surroundings. That's why the rooms were tucked back into the forest line, so that your only view is of beach, and the lake beyond. It's also why the designers chose to make the rooms almost entirely from sustainable materials sourced here on Lake Tanganyika. All the wood was reclaimed from wrecked or retired dhows bought (after much haggling) from villages along the lakeshore. Old fisherman's canoes as ladders, were used, and thatch from palm trees gathered outside the national park for the roofs. The main mess is the only structure on the beach and it's the focal point of camp. Here is where you can look out over the lake to the mountains of the Congo in the haze beyond.

Your days can start there, eating breakfast whilst waiting to hear news of the chimps and deciding what to do with your day. Evenings end with sundowners on the rocks of the headland, where drinks are served around the lamp-lit bar whilst the mountains, rising behind camp, disappear into the darkness. Greystoke affects us in a way that no other place does; we think it's because of its remoteness, and because of the mountains rising from the beach at our backs, the wide lake with its many different moods and the feeling that we are the only ones here. Little has changed since the developers first landed on the beach.

Overnight: Greystoke Mahale

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 18 - Chimp Trekking

Mahale Mountains is famous for containing some of the last remaining wild chimpanzees in Africa and is located on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. The terrain is mostly rugged and hilly, and is dominated by the Mahale Mountains chain that runs from the northwest to the southeast across the park.

Enjoy this rare opportunity to track the chimpanzees in their natural habitat, walking through the forest for an hour or two or maybe more. Once you find the chimpanzees sit quietly on the forest floor for the next hour watching them go about their daily life. As time progresses, you will notice the different relationships, gestures, sound and expression of the various chimps and watch the young fall about the floor and play remarkably human games.

Overnight: Greystoke Mahale

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 19 - Chimp trekking

Today you may like to hike the forest paths looking for birds and butterflies, as well as the other shy mammals that quietly live there. Swim in cool pools up in the mountain waterfalls, take a kayak out for a dawn paddle towards the middle of the lake, and enjoy the sunrise coming up over the mountains.

Go for sundowners on the old wooden dhow, lazily following the shoreline and stopping to fish along the way, or just relax on the warm sands of the beach with a drink in hand.

Overnight: Greystoke Mahale

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 20 - Fly to Arusha

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airstrip for the charter flight to Arusha. On arrival in Arusha, you will be met by your A&K representative and transferred to your lodge.

Located on the outskirts of Arusha in lush tropical gardens and surrounded by a working coffee farm, The Legendary Coffee Lodge is one of a kind in Tanzania. Come and enjoy inspiring views of Mount Meru from the privacy of your own garden cottage whilst lodge staff takes care of your every whim! A convenient distance from both airports, the lodge is 10 minutes drive from the Arusha airport and 50 minutes from Kilimanjaro International Airport. Six garden cottages named after antelope in Kiswahili with a private verandah and stunning views of Mount Meru, make for the perfect place to relax before or after a safari. The interiors have been designed with a unique blend of African arts & crafts combined with Western comforts and old colonial style luxury. Each en suite cottage features comfortable split level living including king size beds with mosquito nets, lounge with fireplace, direct dial phone, broadband connection, complimentary mini-bar & fruit basket and bathrooms each with a bathtub, shower and full range of amenities. Should you prefer a less strenuous activity, Legendary Therapies provides a full range of professional spa services. Rehydrate your skin with a Pevonia Botanica face or body treatment after your safari.

Certain treatments are available in the privacy of your garden cottage but why not enjoy the tranquillity of the therapy suite.

Overnight: Legendary Lodge

Meal Plan: B,L,D

 

Day 21 - Transferred to JRO - Departure

After breakfast, you will be transferred to JRO for your departure flight.

 

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