Explore the rich ecosystem of the Masai Mara Game Reserve with daily safaris and the option for hot air balloon rides above the river valley. You'll start in Nairobi with a quick tour of the city, then head to the park where you'll enjoy observing the Great Migration across the Mara River. Along with expert guides, you'll look for the Big Five populations, spotting giraffe, lion, hippo, and zebra from game drives, and elephants from the comfort of your camp's viewing lounge.

Highlights

  • Taste local and regional cuisine in Nairobi
  • Observe the Great Migration across the Mara River in Maasai Mara
  • Learn about the habits of wildebeest, zebra, and crocodile
  • View the Big Five across the savannah, including lions and cheetah
  • Relax at your camp and view an elephant watering hole

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 Explore Masai Mara Reserve - Enjoy an optional hot air balloon safari Masai Mara
Day 4 Watch the Great Migration along the Mara River Masai Mara
Day 5 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, you'll transfer you to your hotel. Along the way, 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.

You can also simply relax at your hotel. The Tamarind Tree Hotel has a shared lounge and pool area, as well as a popular restaurant.

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 back to the airport for your flight to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. You'll arrive in time to check into your accommodation at Ilkeliani Camp, which is set near the Talek River. This is a popular watering hole for the area's elephants and you can relax on the viewing deck in hopes to catch a glimpse.  After settling into your safari tent, you'll enjoy lunch at the camp's restaurant.

This evening, you'll enjoy your first game drive. Wildlife is best viewed in the morning and at dusk, so you'll take advantage of your first night in the savannah. Tomorrow you'll 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: Explore Masai Mara Reserve - Enjoy an optional hot air balloon safari

Lions Relaxing in Masai Mara
Lions Relaxing in Masai Mara

In the morning, you'll depart your camp for a full-day excursion into the Masai Mara Game Reserve, which is arguably Kenya’s most popular game sanctuary. It's the most famous and most visited game reserve in the country. Here, you can easily view an array of wildlife, including gazelle, impala, antelope, giraffe, elephant, buffalo, and warthog, as well as the big cat species, such as leopard, cheetah, and lion.

The biggest draw to the reserve is, of course, the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra from the Serengeti plains. Starting in late June, the animals cross the Tanzania border and the Mara River to reach the Masai Mara grazing fields. The dramatic crossing of the river results in a game of survival, as the species are met with lurking predators below the water. The migration is best seen from July to August.

Other animals you'll view on safari include bat-eared foxes, jackals, and spotted hyenas, as well as the hippos and crocodiles that make their homes in the Mara and Talek rivers. The reserve is also rich in birdlife with about 452 recorded species, including vultures, eagles, common ostrich, cranes, storks, hamerkop, and hornbills.

In the afternoon, you can opt for a hot air balloon safari or visit a local Masai village to learn about the nomadic lifestyle. The Masai are famous for their bravery, as they have co-existed with the region's wild animals for centuries.

In the evening, you'll return to camp where you can relax on your personal veranda, swim in the pool, view the elephants from the lounge, or enjoy a drink in the bar before dinner.

Day 4: Watch the Great Migration along the Mara River

Wildebeest Running Across the Plains
Wildebeest Running Across the Plains

Enjoy breakfast before embarking on another viewing of the wildebeest and zebra on the Mara River. You have the option to enjoy another hot air balloon safari in the morning, or 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: Depart Nairobi

Goodbye Kenya
Goodbye Kenya

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