This 21-day trip is a wonderful fit for photographers looking to see the African landscape and its impressive wildlife. Visit 10 different parks and conservations to find the big five–lions, buffalos, elephants, and leopards. Bask in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa, and Mt. Kenya, the second-highest in Africa. Along the way you'll also see the Great Rift Valley and meet local people, making the entire itinerary a "photographer's paradise" and an incredibly memorable trip to Africa.

Highlights

  • Come face to face with lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards, and rhinos
  • Drink in a spectacular view of the Great Rift Valley
  • Immerse in local culture as you meet the Maasai and stay with them for a night
  • Gain the best view of elephants at Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest summit

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Airport Nairobi
Day 2 Drive to Samburu and See Mt. Kenya Samburu reserve
Day 3 Head Out on a Game Drive at Samburu Reserve Samburu reserve
Day 4 Safari Day in Samburu National Reserve Samburu reserve
Day 5 Drive to Ol Pejeta Conservancy Nanyuki
Day 6 Experience Treetops Lodge in Aberdare National Park Aberdare National Park
Day 7 Travel to Lake Nakuru National Park Nakuru
Day 8 Take a day trip to Lake Bogoria Nakuru
Day 9 Look for wildlife in Lake Nakuru National Park Nakuru
Day 10 Experience Loita Hills with the Maasai Maji Moto
Day 11 Drive to the Masai Mara National Reserve Masai Mara
Day 12 Go on safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve Masai Mara
Day 13 Watch wildlife at Masai Mara Masai Mara
Day 14 Rise for an early game drive in The Mara Masai Mara
Day 15 Take a safari in the Mara with an option to go by hot air balloon Masai Mara
Day 16 Visit Crater Lake Tented Camp Naivasha
Day 17 Take a day hike to Mt. Longonot Naivasha
Day 18 Visit Hell's Gate National Park for the day Naivasha
Day 19 Transfer to Amboseli National Park Amboseli park
Day 20 Enjoy game drives across Amboseli National Park Amboseli park
Day 21 Depart Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Airport  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Airport

Nairobi city
Nairobi city

Most of the international flights are on British Airways and KLM, which arrive at Jomo Kenyatta Airport at night due to our East African time zone. If your flight arrives early, depending on your country of origin, you will be picked from the airport by our team who will drive you to your hotel for check-in.

There are many activities and places to visit in Nairobi, and you can visit the elephant orphanage where baby elephants are rescued from parks when their mother dies. The giraffe center is also a good place to visit. You can even feed the giraffes.

In the evening, you can have a special welcome dinner at a restaurant that will serve game meat. Our team will drive you back to your hotel in the early evening to catch some sleep for a fresh start to the next day's journey.

Day 2: Drive to Samburu and See Mt. Kenya

Crossing the equator in Kenya
Crossing the equator in Kenya

Depart Nairobi after breakfast and set out north passing through central highlands with the beautiful landscape ranging from coffee farms to pineapple fields. You'll stop at the bottom of Mt. Kenya, the second-highest mountain in Africa at 17,060 feet (5,200 m) above sea level. It's also the mountain that the country was named for. 

Local ethnic people are known as the Kikuyu tribe and are agriculturalists that make use of the highly fertile volcanic soil of the mountain's lower slopes. One of the Kikuyu sub-tribes, Tharaka, believed standing in the middle of the equator for an hour will align your spinal-cord and cure any back problems. Your adventure today will include a water-rotating with a local guide so you can experience how gravity works while walking on the northern and southern hemispheres.

Stop for lunch en-route, and drive on to arrive at Samburu in the late afternoon.

Day 3: Head Out on a Game Drive at Samburu Reserve

Elephant in Samburu reserve
An elephant in Samburu Reserve

Capturing incredible photos of birds and other wildlife takes a lot of patience and time. Depart your lodging early in the morning with a picnic lunch for a full day of game watching on the Samburu National Reserve. Alternatively, choose to drive back to the hotel for lunch after a morning game drive, then set out again in the afternoon. You can plan your day as you like with your guide.

Day 4: Safari Day in Samburu National Reserve

The leopard is part of the popular Big Five
The leopard is part of the popular Big Five

You'll spend most of the day in Samburu National Reserve on the banks of the Ewaso Ng'iro River after leaving camp to have as many chances as possible to take wonderful photos while on safari. In the middle of this reserve, the Ewaso Ng'iro flows through doum palm groves and thick riverine forests. It provides life-giving water to the game in this arid region–without which, the animals could not survive. On the other side of the river is Buffalo Springs National Reserve as well. 

Day 5: Drive to Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Two large chimpanzees
Two large chimpanzees

After breakfast, you will depart for Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which is on the equator and west of Nanyuki between the foothills of the Aberdares and Mt. Kenya. Arrive in time for lunch and enjoy an afternoon game drive. You might even spot chimpanzees, some of the world's last northern white rhinos, and more of the big five animals.

The conservancy boasts the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. It also houses the two remaining northern white rhino in the world, who were moved here from Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic. On top of this, the conservancy's Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary provides a haven for orphaned, abandoned, and rescued chimpanzees. It is the only place in Kenya where you can view these impressive great apes. 

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a non-profit wildlife conservancy that operates in Central Kenya's Laikipia County. It works to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for great apes, and to generate income through wildlife tourism. The conservancy also creates complementary enterprises that focus on reinvesting funds into conservation and community development such as health, education, and infrastructure development projects.

Day 6: Experience Treetops Lodge in Aberdare National Park

Treetops Lodge

Depart in the morning to take lunch at Outspan hotel before arriving at Treetops Lodge for an overnight stay. The lodge lies at 6,450 feet (1,966 m) above sea level and the famous hotel started life in a very humble way.

In 1932 its first visitors gingerly climbed the wild fig tree supporting the two-room treehouse. By 1952, Treetops had expanded to a four-room construction. A young English princess, Elizabeth II, climbed the tree one afternoon only to descend the next morning to learn her father, King George VI had died. Today, Treetops Lodge has a reputation that's spread far and wide. No safari in Kenya is complete without experiencing an adventure here. 

Day 7: Travel to Lake Nakuru National Park

Flamingos in Nakuru
Flamingos in Nakuru

Leave Aberdare National Park  with extra time in the morning to have spare time for a stop along the way at the "Great Rift Valley viewpoint." The famous valley is a series of contiguous geographic trenches that run approximately 3,728 miles (6,000 km) from Beqaa Valley in Lebanon to Mozambique. Dotted with lakes and mountains, it's a terrific sight to see. 

At the end of the day, arrive and check into your accommodation at Lake Nakuru, one of the Rift Valley soda lakes at an elevation of 5,754 feet (1,754 m). 

Day 8: Take a day trip to Lake Bogoria

1.5 million flamingos in Lake Bogoria

After breakfast, start the day at Lake Bogoria after arriving with a packed lunch and water around mid-morning. The lake lies in a trough below the Ngendelel Escarpment, a sheer wall 1,969 feet (600 m) high. It's also geothermically active on the western shore and therefore has geysers and hot springs. The lake has even been described as "the most beautiful view in Africa" by geologist J.W. Gregory in 1892. 

Spend the day photographing birds and wildlife over a picnic in the park. The alkaline lake is filled with blue-green algae that feed flamingos and sets the scene for stunning photographs. There can even be up to two million flamingos at the shores of the lake at once. In total, 135 species of birds have been recorded at the lake including tawny eagles, little grebes, pratincoles, swifts, little beet-eaters, cape wigeons, and yellow-billed storks among many others. So, this is a must-do for all bird watchers and photographers.

After a long day of observation and shooting photos, return to Lake Nakuru in the early evening. 

Day 9: Look for wildlife in Lake Nakuru National Park

White rhinos in Lake Nakuru National Park

Spend most of the day in Lake Nakuru National Park with a packed lunch in hand after departing breakfast. Created in 1968, this national park is a truly remarkable place that has achieved international fame as an animal sanctuary. Both black and white rhinos are protected here alongside a wide variety of birds such as the park's famous flamingos. There are also large flocks of pelicans in addition to waterbucks, leopards, and Rothschild giraffes.

Return to the hotel in the late afternoon to freshen up before dinner. 

Day 10: Experience Loita Hills with the Maasai

Masai morans
Maasai morans

Depart in the morning and drive to Loita Hills where you will spend a night with the Maasai community in their village. Immerse yourself into the authentic, traditional life of the Maasai and get to know the people living and working in the camp. Visit traditional homes and get insight into their daily lives from cooking to fetching water.

While visiting the Maasai, you'll undergo warrior training during which you can try your skill at spear-throwing, close-up warrior battle, fire-making, and so much more. Listen to the songs and stories of the warriors around a campfire, or plan for a ceremony of blessing and celebration. You'll even experience the hills and plains as the Maasai do–on foot–as you learn how they survive in the wilderness using only holy and medicinal plants. 

Day 11: Drive to the Masai Mara National Reserve

Lilac-breasted roller perches in sunlit thorn tree
Lilac-breasted roller perches in a sunlit thorn tree

Depart in the morning and drive through fields of wheat with great views of the farms and rolling plains to the Masai Mara National Reserve. The reserve is a vast and scenic swath of gently rolling African savannah located in southwest Kenya and bordering the Serengeti in Tanzania. It's a famous and unique destination that is home to amazing, diverse wildlife.

The premier safari location in East Africa, the Masai Mara National Reserve has large numbers of lions, cheetahs, elephants, buffalos, wildebeests, and many other types of animals at home in their natural habitat. The reserve has even been voted one of the new "Seven Wonders of the World." Filled with flat-topped acacia trees, shrubs, and bushes, you will find plenty to photograph here. 

After you arrive in the afternoon, you'll take a walk with the local experienced Masai guide. Then check into your hotel and settle in for a restful night. 

Day 12: Go on safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve

Wildebeest hastily cross the Mara River
Wildebeest hastily cross the Mara River

Head out in the morning after breakfast for a full day in the park. You'll take a picnic lunch and water to keep you energized to take tons of photos before returning to camp in the late afternoon. Today you will likely see animals that make up the "big five" as well as wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, and more.

These animals make up more than a million in a spectacular annual migration from the Serengeti to the Mara River between July and October. It gives the herds a chance for fresh feeding grounds and plenty of water, though the migration is brutal and does cull some of the animals.

Day 13: Watch wildlife at Masai Mara

Masai Mara
Colorful birds of the Masai Mara

Much like the previous day, you'll set out with a picnic lunch again for a full day game drive. This day can also be broken up into two drives, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Your guide can help you plan the best day for relaxing and having amazing wildlife sightings. 

Day 14: Take an early game drive in The Mara

Male lion feasting in Masai mara.
Male lion feasting in Masai Mara

Visit the Masai Mara, simply known as "The Mara" locally, for an early morning drive. Make the most of the early hours during which animals are looking for food before taking a mid-day reprieve from the heat. Keep a keen eye out for more zebras and antelopes among other animals. This is another full day with plenty of time for capturing incredible photographic shots to take home to remember this incredible trip. 

Day 15: Take a safari in the Mara with an option to go by hot air balloon

sported hyena Masai mara
Spotted hyena in The Mara

With some many wonderfully diverse wild animals in this park, Masai Mara attracts tourists throughout the year. It's a national reserve where day and night there are active wild animals, so the action never stops. Spend another early morning in the park and return to camp for lunch and a relaxing afternoon of photo editing. 

Other optional activities for the day include a one-hour balloon safari across the Masai Mara. The balloon takes off at dawn and rises with the sun. The balloon floats at treetop height or slightly lower for a unique perspective and an unforgettable experience. It's a great opportunity to photograph the wildlife below. 

Day 16: Visit Crater Lake Tented Camp

Giraffe grazing on the plain

Depart the Masai Mara National Reserve in the morning and drive until you arrive at your next destination in the late afternoon, Lake Naivasha National Park.  There will be a relaxed lunch along the way on the road. After arrival, check into your room and enjoy the stunning Crater Lake Tented Camp and Game Sanctuary situated right on the Crater Lake. It's a lush and beautiful setting for a relaxing afternoon and evening. 

Day 17: Take a day hike to Mt. Longonot

The crater at Mount Longonot
The crater at Mount Longonot

Depart in the morning with a picnic lunch and drinking water for a hike before it becomes too hot. Mount Longonot is a stratovolcano that last erupted in the 1860s. Located at the bottom of Great Rift Valley, its name is derived from the Maasai word oloonong'ot, meaning "steep ridges."

The stratovolcano is not that high, but it has a good view if you make it to the top, which is 9,108 feet (2,776 m). You'll want to have good hiking boots, sunglasses, and plenty of drinking water for the two- to three-hour hike. Return to camp in the late afternoon. 

Day 18: Visit Hell's Gate National Park for the day

Cyclist in Hellsgate park.
Cyclists in Hell's Gate National Park

Take a short drive, about 30 minutes, after breakfast to arrive at Hell's Gate National Park. It's a peaceful setting with plenty of wild, but not dangerous, animals. You'll see giraffes, zebras, warthogs, gazelles, and much more. Carry your picnic lunch and water as you walk, ride bikes or drive the five miles (eight km) to the trailhead. It's another hour's walk to the gauge creator and back for lunch. Drive back to your accommodations in the late afternoon and prepare for tomorrow's departure.

Day 19: Transfer to Amboseli National Park

Elephants in Amboseli at the bottom of Mt. Kilimanjaro
Elephants in Amboseli at the bottom of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Any African trip of a lifetime cannot be complete without at least reaching the bottom of Mt. Kilimanjaro, nicknamed "the rooftop of Africa." At 19,340 feet (5,895 m), it is the highest mountain in Africa, and you can have a great view and good photos of elephants at the bottom, assuming the weather is clear. The legend says the mountain was in Kenya but was given to the governor of Tanzania as a birthday present from Queen Elizabeth. Locals like to believe that she gave away the mountain but left the view in Kenya.

You will arrive in the late afternoon after having lunch on the way. Having walked and hiked for the past two days, you will need rest in the afternoon to adjust and to edit photos. It is normally drier with good weather in this part of the country, so going for a swim at the pool or spending time on your photos are good ideas.

Day 20: Enjoy game drives across Amboseli National Park

Male elephant in Amboseli park.
A male elephant in Amboseli National Park

Today you'll have a game drive in the morning and afternoon across Amboseli National Park, which was established in 1974, with a mid-day picnic lunch. The Amboseli swamp comes from Kilimanjaro, keeping it wet throughout the year. This wildlife photography journey inside the park is best known for its large number of elephants and flocks of lace flamingos. 

Day 21: Depart Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Airport

Masai Mara to Nairobi
Driving from Masai Mara to Nairobi

Leave early in the morning after breakfast with plenty of time to reach Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. You will have lunch on the way, or from one of the hotels in Nairobi, to be sure you can catch your international flight in the evening. Leave Africa with tons of beautiful photos and stunning memories of the many national parks and reserves you have visited and the wild animals that inhabit them. 

Map

Map of Kenya Wildlife Photography Safari  - 21 Days
Map of Kenya Wildlife Photography Safari - 21 Days