Explore the wildlife of Kenya at the Maasai Mara Nature Reserve on the Mara River by spending three days following expert guides and observing the wildebeest, zebra, and crocodiles that make the Great Migration so fascinating. You'll explore different vantage points and take incredible photos and videos of the migration in action. To end the trip, you'll discover Lake Naivasha by bike, boat, or hot air balloon, and view its hippo population.

Highlights

  • Learn about the habits of wildebeest, zebra, and crocodile
  • Explore Lake Naivasha and its hippo population
  • Taste local and regional cuisine in Nairobi
  • Observe the Great Migration across the Mara River in Maasai Mara

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Nairobi - Explore the city Nairobi
Day 2 Transfer to the Maasai Mara National Reserve Masai Mara
Day 3 Observe the zebra and wildebeest in Masai Mara Masai Mara
Day 4 Watch the Great Migration along the Mara River Masai Mara
Day 5 Discover Lake Naivasha on a bike, boat, horseback, or hot air balloon Naivasha
Day 6 Depart Nairobi  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Nairobi - Explore the city

City of Nairobi
City of Nairobi

Welcome to Kenya! Upon arriving at the international airport in Nairobi, your driver and guide will transfer you to your hotel in the city. Your guide will discuss the details of the trip and what to expect in the upcoming days. After settling into your accommodation, your driver is happy to bring you into the city for a little exploration.

Nairobi is known for its markets, restaurants, and cafes that feature local and regional cuisine. You can also visit some of the religious sites in the city, including The Holy Family Minor Basilica and the Jamia Mosque. Enjoy a stroll through Uhuru Park before returning to your hotel.

Day 2: Transfer to the Maasai Mara National Reserve

The Chaotic Crossing of the Mara River
The Chaotic Crossing of the Mara River

After breakfast, you'll transfer six hours west from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. You'll arrive in time to check into your accommodation and enjoy lunch. After settling in, enjoy the facilities at your hotel and a relaxed evening. Tomorrow you will view wildlife near the Mara River.

Each year, nearly two million wildebeest, zebra, and other antelope gather their young and trek across the crocodile-infested Mara River in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Their migratory nature takes them in search of greener pastures and rainfall. The Great Migration is a unique event; no other migration features such a high number of wildlife, except perhaps butterflies and smaller birds.

Day 3: Observe the zebra and wildebeest in Masai Mara

Wildebeest near the Mara River

Today you'll join your guide for a viewing of The Great Migration across the Mara River, which includes the one type of wildebeest in Maasai Mara and Serengeti Park, the blue wildebeest. They're considered "blue" because, in the sunshine, their glossy coats glisten a shade of blue. You may also hear the species referred to as "gnu” by the local tribes and residents. This is an interchangeable name and onomatopoeic derision of the sound the animals make.

A symbiotic relationship exists between zebra and wildebeest of the Masai Mara and Serengeti because, without zebra, the wildebeest wouldn’t be able to survive. Wildebeest are fussy eaters, as they are selective grazers and only feed upon the shorter parts of the grass. Luckily, zebra are bulk grazers and essentially act as a lawnmower, cropping the grass and making it palatable for the wildebeest to consume.

You'll spend most of your day in Maasai Mara to observe these two species in particular. You can watch the movements and interactions, as well as the attempt to cross the Mara River. In the late afternoon, you'll return to camp to relax and enjoy dinner.

Day 4: Watch the Great Migration along the Mara River

Born to move
Wildebeest Running Across the Plains

Enjoy breakfast before embarking on another viewing of the wildebeest and zebra on the Mara River. You'll transfer to the park in a 4x4 safari vehicle, which helps to ensure excellent viewing of the animals. Your guide will explain more about the migration, as well as the two different species.

While the migration may seem like a chaotic frenzy of movement, research has shown that a herd of wildebeest possesses what is known as "swarm intelligence", where the wildebeest systematically explore and overcome an obstacle as one. And although the wildebeest may seem extremely vulnerable, they are an intelligent species and adapt their behavior for survival. For example, once a wildebeest is born, it must be able to walk within 4-5minutes or the mother will leave the young to predators.

The biggest threat to the animals crossing the Mara River is the crocodiles awaiting the herds. They slink silently under the water, waiting to drown their prey by clutching them in their strong jaws and pulling them below the surface. A crocodile can lunge more than half of its body length out of the water to grab a potential victim and can also use its tail as a secondary weapon.

You'll spend your day viewing the river and the migration, moving from vantage point to vantage to enjoy the best viewing opportunities. Once again, you'll return to camp in time for dinner and to enjoy a relaxing evening.

Day 5: Discover Lake Naivasha on a bike, boat, horseback, or hot air balloon

Hippos on Lake Naivasha
Hippos on Lake Naivasha

In the morning, you'll enjoy breakfast and one final viewing of the Mara River. Later, you'll trade the hectic wildebeest migrations for the tranquility of Lake Naivasha. This freshwater lake is set in a rift valley about 75 miles (120km) from Nairobi.

After settling into your accommodation and enjoying lunch, you can opt to experience several different activities at Lake Naivasha. You can simply relax in the lakeside hotel and edit your photos in the comfort of your room or lounge, or you can partake in an active excursion. These include a one-hour boat ride to view the hippo population in the lake, or a visit to Hellsgate Park, a nearby park known for its birdwatching, cycling, and hiking. You can also enjoy a ride around the lake via bicycle, horseback, or hot air balloon. 

In the evening, you'll enjoy your final dinner in Kenya at your hotel.

Day 6: Depart Nairobi

Goodbye Kenya
Goodbye Kenya

Time to say goodbye to Naivasha and Kenya. After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport in Nairobi in time to catch your flight.