Summary : Enjoy traveling with the tour operator named "World's Best" by readers of Travel+Leisure magazine for an unprecedented nine times. This safari is an ingeniously crafted program offering both Kenya and Tanzania in less than two weeks. For travelers with a limited timeframe, yet who desire to see both countries, it is the ideal safari. The focus is on wildlife and the big herds, visiting four of East Africa's most renowned game viewing areas: the Maasai Mara, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, and Lake Manyara National Park. Three flights make the adventure as comfortable as it is comprehensive. Your accommodations are outstanding—exclusive, romantic, remote yet luxurious and reflecting the indigenous natural materials, art and culture.
Activities : Birding, Culture
$9,250 to $10,400
The adventure begins as you board your international flight.
After arrival at Jomo Kenyatta Airport, you’ll be met by your Safari Director and driven to the classic Norfolk Hotel, for more than a century the world’s preferred pre- and post-safari stomping ground. The next day you’ll tour the succinctly informative National Museum, consort with the world’s tallest terrestrial animal at the Giraffe Center, make a pilgrimage to the home of Karen Blixen—aka Isak Dinesen, one of Africa’s supreme laureates—and have lunch at Lavington, home of tour operator founders, Felix and Jane Pinto (be sure to ask about Jane’s adventures in the world of international table tennis).
Fairmont Norfolk Hotel
Fly from Nairobi to northern Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro International Airport, gateway to the great game lands you’re soon to see. After lunch, fly onward to Tarangire National Park and the Tarangire Sopa Lodge, a classic example of unobtrusive, beautifully designed modern lodge architecture.
Tarangire is an apt place to begin a wildlife safari. Home to just about all the headliner beasts, including a large and robust elephant population, Tarangire also shelters such rarities as the fringe-eared oryx and the long-necked gerenuk, a particularly winsome and creatively constructed antelope. Tarangire charms us with its exemplary African landscapes: acacia trees, brawny brown hills, sweeping vistas, clear nights of “soft velvet,” as Elspeth Huxley wrote. “[Like] a warm conservancy whose great dome was encrusted with all the diamonds in the world, and all the scents in the world were there too, changing like currents in the sea.”
Tarangire Sopa Lodge
Drive from Tarangire up into the green Crater Highlands, weaving your way to the lodge, the Ngorongoro Sopa, perched at well over 7,000 feet on the rim of the fabled Ngorongoro Crater.
As geologic masterpieces go, Ngorongoro has had quite a career. It’s been a gigantic peak, perhaps a rival of Kilimanjaro, and, after it blew its snowy top in what must have been a rather impressive explosion, Ngorongoro spent many millennia as an alternately quiet and occasionally bubbling lava lake. Now the crater is home to upwards of 25,000 personality-rich animals, who roam—as you will—over a sweetly lush area larger than 76 Central Parks.
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
After stopping at Olduvai, known as the "cradle of mankind" the symbolic wellspring of our DNA, drop down to the Serengeti, the known universe’s largest and arguably the most watchable collection of illustrious mammals: elephants, giraffes, tumbling pools full of hippos, elegantly slinking serval cats, zebras with incredibly muscular haunches, and scores of other species, all of them going about their business unconcerned by your presence. “But make no mistake,” an old Africa hand once wrote, “these aren’t theme parks. The truest owners of these lands are the animals who roam them free and, if that’s their nature, fiercely.”
Soak up the essence of the Serengeti from the Sopa Lodge, set on an escarpment overlooking the seemingly limitless plains, enjoying a sundowner after a game drive, watching clouds build up as the day cools, big clouds that “look like you could scoop them up with a spoon,” Elspeth Huxley wrote.
Serengeti Sopa Lodge
Fly back to Kilimanjaro International, then to Nairobi, and on to the Kenyan section of the Serengeti– Maasai Mara ecosystem, a world treasure, one with no counterpart, anywhere. (During humanity’s tenure, the closest any place on earth has come to equaling the Serengeti’s incredible wealth of wildlife may be paleolithic Siberia, with the ancient North American Plains another contender.) The size of Vermont (with Liechtenstein thrown in for good measure), the Serengeti–Maasai Mara ecosystem is, amongst much else, famed for the dramatic migration of its 1,000,000-plus wildebeest and 750,000-or-so zebras (and the intense attention that migration gets from predators, both mammalian and reptilian). Though the migration reaches seasonal crescendos, the movement of animals—north after the Long Rains, south as the rains return to nourish the southern plains— is more or less continual, and the sight of a three-mile-long train of animals on the move is extremely memorable.
Up here in the system’s north, the landscapes are grandly varied but tend to be more green (which is why the migration heads up here, in search of water), with somewhat less savannah than in the south. Stay in a characteristically attractive tented camp, either Kichwa Tembo or Fairmont Mara Safari Club, both of which take advantage of the Mara’s scenic mix. Kichwa is set in riverine forest on the banks of the Sabaringo River, and the Mara River nearly wraps around the Mara Safari Club. Both camps offer balloon excursions; wafting over the Mara in the piercingly fresh and golden morning, floating over elephants and hippos, feeling a mild and worthy intoxication-by-grandeur, is one of those things that, having done, you wonder how on earth you ever contemplated not doing.
Kichwa Tembo Camp
Fairmont Mara Safari Club
Fly back to Nairobi in the morning for some relaxation and maybe a swim or a nice lunch on the Lord Delamere Terrace at the Norfolk, and perhaps a visit to the America Share Harambee Center a guaranteed spirit-lifter before your late evening flights.
Already nostalgic for safari life, arrive home.
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 welcome 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: © Bill Falik; © Bob Lucie Fjeldstad; © John Schnibbe; © Michael Pettibone; © Susan White