Summary : Enjoy traveling with the tour operator named "World's Best" by readers of Travel+Leisure magazine an unprecedented nine times. The absolute ultimate in luxury travel, the Grand Safari offers the excitement and glamour of the African bush together with a romantic itinerary featuring the most exclusive and luxurious resorts in all of Africa. For those who have seen the world and stayed at the finest venues in the most elegant cities on the planet, this experience will be of equally extreme splendor! This Grand Safari is an homage to those old and romantic days, to their indulgent and exquisite grace.
The Grand Safari’s six flights make travel between game preserves and luxury camps a seamless, time-saving joy. And your stays in places like the airy Tortilis Camp in Amboseli; Bateleur or Governor’s Il Moran camps in the Maasai Mara; the charmingly luxe Four Seasons Safari Lodge in the Serengeti; and, of course, the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club bring you into close and comfortable contact with some of Africa’s richest game lands and most stirring landscapes.
Activities : Birding, Culture
$999,999,999 to $0
The adventure begins as you board your international flight.
Welcome to Nairobi, the City in the Sun. An awaiting Safari Director accompanies you to the elegant Norfolk Hotel.
The next day, you’ll tour the occasionally spellbinding, always excellent National Museum, wend your way over to the Giraffe Center for some interspecies camaraderie, and visit the former home of Karen Blixen, author—writing as Isak Dinesen— of Out of Africa, one of the most evocative books ever written about any earthly place. And you’ll head over to Lavington, the nearby home of Felix and Jane Pinto, your tour operator’s founding couple, for a hearty, familial, and story-flavored lunch.
Fairmont Norfolk Hotel
This morning you wing your way over the scenic Athi Plains and into the bush country of Amboseli Park. Nestled in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli is home to the legendary Maasai tribesmen and is world famous for its tremendous variety of big game–elephant, antelope, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo and giraffe. Game runs which will introduce you to the intense beauty and drama that fill each day here. Predators stalk the herds of grazing animals, recreating the age-old drama of life and death under the African sun, in a setting so lushly beautiful. You return to Tortilis for a steaming bath, cocktails and a sumptuous dinner. Very quickly you are ready for a deep evening slumber in the luxurious tents.
Tortilis Camp is your base for visits to Maasai villages and game drives in this almost incomparably rich animal kingdom. Your spacious, luxuriously furnished, thatch-covered tents nestle under the huge and reposeful Tortilis acacia trees from which the camp takes its name. Unwinding on your veranda, you might, like Isak Dinesen, watch a parade of elephants “pacing along as if they had an appointment at the end of the world.”
Arrive at the charming Mount Kenya Safari Club where the original owner's cottage or cozy river suite awaits you. Sprawled on the slopes of majestic Mount Kenya, this historic private club was perhaps the first in Africa to offer travelers the ultimate in refined elegance and luxury. All of the amenities that you would expect from such an establishment are here, including riding stables, golf, trout streams, tennis and sauna. While lounging at the pool one may indulge the senses in an endless display of beauty, from the towering snow-capped mountain, to the kaleidoscope of colours which surround you in a sea of gorgeous flowers.
Over the years the club has been a second home to legions of internationally renowned members and guests. Sir Winston Churchill, the Duke of Manchester, numerous American presidents and Lord Mountbatten have enjoyed its pleasures alongside founding members William Holden, Clark Gable and John Wayne. Fine dining and gracious hospitality are sure to be highlights of your stay. Traveler are afforded the finest in luxury accommodations and preferred service at the Mount Kenya Safari Club thanks to a long-standing professional relationship and the original club membership of tour operator's founders, Felix and Jane Pinto.
Fairmount Mount Kenya Safari Lodge
This morning you fly to Maasai Mara, winging your way over the scenic Great Rift Valley and the unspoiled savannah that the Mara shares with the legendary Serengeti. Below you lies the Africa of your dreams! A country of rolling grasslands, dense thickets and groves of acacia woodland, the Mara is home to an incredible variety of wildlife. Deep forest grows along the Mara River and its tributaries, where many hippos and crocodiles bask lazily in the sunlight. Here you find the largest population of lions in Africa, carefully watched by their neighbors, the stunning Coke's hartebeest, large herds of topi and the stately African buffalo. Black rhino are also to be found. Huge herds of elephant often block the roads. Glorious creatures are everywhere—it is difficult to decide where to look first!
This is also the home of the Maasai people. The Maasai guarding his cattle is an enduring and proud figure across the plains of East Africa. Livestock represents status, wealth and livelihood to these ancient people. Here you will also thoroughly enjoy a visit to a Maasai village, learning about their tribal social systems, customs and the place of the Maasai in today's Africa. The residents live in their manyatta, or village, much as they have for centuries and you will have an opportunity to see the interior of these mud-hut homes, spotless and unadorned, contrasted with the Maasai themselves, bedecked with brilliantly colored beads and cloths. The bright smiles and warmth of the tribe once considered among the fiercest warriors on earth will surely win your heart. As will your accommodations at the utterly glorious Bateleur Camp or equally stunning Governor's Il Moran Camp.
Governor's Il Moran Camp
This morning you fly to the Serengeti via Nairobi and Arusha. Her vast rolling plains spread out before you…one of the greatest wildlife spectacle in the world offers up views of over three million large animals—elephant, zebra, gazelle, rhino, cheetah and more. Within this huge park a complex ecosystem gives you the opportunity to view every variety of habitation, from the dry south where the grasslands stretch out in a sultry dance with the breeze to the park's center, a green oasis of open woodlands and thicket. Streams are lined by dense, brilliantly green forests. Weathered domes of granite and gneiss are a favorite retreat of the big cats, a place to rest and to watch the surrounding vegetation for both danger and for prey. Giraffe browse in small groups among the trees. Bohor reedbuck and waterbuck restrict their travels to the vegetation near the rivers and streams. Great numbers of ostrich, Grant's gazelle, topi, hartebeest, impala and African water buffalo abound. Lion, cheetah, wild dog and hyena! Leopards are seen resting in the trees.
No matter what your expectations, you will not fail to be astounded by life in the Serengeti. You have delightful accommodations at either the Four Seasons Safari Lodge or Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp. The magnificently conceived Four Seasons is set on a fine collection of kopjes, looking out at what seems to be a golden eternity, with sunrise skies “banded with rose and lemon and the colour of flamingo wings,” as Elspeth Huxley wrote. Grumeti is a chic, 10-tent camp set along the banks of an oxbow lake, bustling with stunningly sizable crocs and hippos, always heftier than we remember. These are the kinds of African places that seduce us into slowing down.
Four Seasons Safari Lodge
Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp
The Ngorongoro Crater is your next destination, including a call at Olduvai Gorge, where for more than fifty years the Leakey family has been uncovering fossils of our human ancestors and of animal life, laboriously peeling away the layers of mystery attached to the history of the continent. After honoring the jumping-off point for humankind, enjoy the lovely drive across the Crater Highlands and up to the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, perched on the rain-forested rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, one of our solar system's greatest geographic ornaments.
Ngorongoro Crater—one of the natural wonders of the world. A spectacular game haunt, the 102-square-mile crater is a perfect caldera, one of the largest on earth. Millions of years ago a smoldering volcano collapsed, creating the crater and a home for thousands of animals amidst its many types of vegetation grown and nourished over the centuries. Over 30,000 animals live here: prides of lion, elephant, leopard, cheetah and giraffe, gazelle by the thousands and multitudes of wildebeest. Uniquely beautiful, you will never see its likes again. You spend a memorable morning ensconced in the crater, exploring its breadth and depth.
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
After breakfast and a last look at the Edenic lands below, drive to Lake Manyara and hop on your flight to Nairobi, where you’ll have a day room at the Norfolk and get a bite to eat before being driven to the airport for your late departure.
Continue on your homebound flights.
Itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Hotel accommodations as outlined in the itinerary; all meals based on evening arrival on Day 2; porterage at hotels, camps and airports (strict luggage restrictions may apply); pre-tour documentation with extensive travel information; travel amenities including safari duffel bag, bush hat, luggage tags, flashlight and more; Africa welcom kit; services of expedition staff and field team; lunch or dinner at private home of Felix and Jane Pinto in Nairobi; complimentary bottled water and soft drinks (wine and beer may be included at select lodges); sundowner cocktails; bush walks with guides; all game park and entrance fees; hotel taxes; Flying Doctor’s emergency evacuation out of bush in Kenya and Tanzania; airport transfers; all gratuities.
International airfare; internal airfare; passport, visa, and/or travel insurance fees; excess baggage charges; items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, communication (calls, faxes, emails, etc.); international airport departure tax (to be paid in US dollars or acceptable foreign currencies); deviations from the tour.
PHOTOS: © Cathryn Thomas; © Tom Lemery