See a side of Kenya that most travelers miss on a two-week hop around its most exotic parks, reserves, and conservancies. The rewards for your intrepid exploration are many and include visits to flamingo-filled saline lakes and romantic waterfalls. In parks and reserves like Aberdare and Samburu, you'll marvel at rare animals like Grévy's zebras and Somali ostriches, plus stop in at rescue centers that look after everything from chimpanzees to the last remaining white rhinos in the world.


  • Embark on safaris in hidden-gem national parks like Aberdare and Samburu
  • Spend the day with chimpanzees and critically endangered white rhinos
  • Hike to the dramatic cascades of Nyahururu and see the "hippo pools" below
  • Visit the soda lakes in Kenya's Great Rift Valley and marvel at flamingoes

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Nairobi, Brazilian/African Steakhouse Dinner Nairobi
Day 2 Transfer to Aberdare National Park, Afternoon Game Drive Aberdare National Park
Day 3 Aberdare Morning & Afternoon Game Drives Aberdare National Park
Day 4 Transfer to Samburu National Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive Samburu Reserve
Days 5-6 Samburu Game Drives & Village Visits Samburu Reserve
Day 7 Transfer to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Afternoon Game Drive Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Day 8 Ol Pejeta Activities: White Rhinos & Lion Tracking Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Day 9 Transfer to Loisaba Conservancy, Afternoon Game Drive Loisaba Conservancy
Day 10 Loisaba Safari Activities: Game Drives & Bush Walks Loisaba Conservancy
Day 11 Transfer to Nyahururu (Thomson Falls), Nature Hike Nyahururu
Day 12 Transfer to Lake Elmenteita, Afternoon Game Drive Elmenteita
Day 13 Lake Elmenteita Activities: Nature Walks & Horseback Rides Elmenteita
Day 14 Transfer to Nairobi, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Nairobi, Brazilian/African Steakhouse Dinner

The Nairobi National Museum is a great place to spend the first afternoon of your trip

Welcome to Kenya! Easily one of the finest safari destinations in the world, its dozens of national parks, reserves, and conservancies are the stuff of legend. Those with even a passing interest in safari adventure and African culture have likely heard the names Masai Mara, Tsavo, and Nairobi National Park. That last one is the only national park safari destination that runs right up to the borders of a capital city. 

Upon arrival in Nairobi, your driver will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to your accommodations in the leafy Nairobi suburb of Karen. You'll check into the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden & Cottages, a tranquil boutique hotel nestled amid the historic farm once owned by the "Out of Africa" author. Afterward, head into the city—a hotbed of culture and history filled with friendly, multilingual residents. If you like, visit the Nairobi National Museum. One of the country's most prominent cultural institutions, it features fascinating exhibits on Kenya's dozens of ethnic groups.

When you get hungry, do like the locals and head to a food stall for ugali (a dense maize porridge) or nyama choma (grilled goat meat). Make sure to save room for dinner because it's sure to be a memorable experience. Nairobi's food scene is increasingly multicultural, and there's a restaurant here to suit most tastes. Tonight, you'll dine at one such eatery: a Brazilian steakhouse utilizing local meats and ingredients. Here, the succulent grilled meats keep coming until you finally surrender. It's an epic feast showcasing Kenya's famous hospitality and culinary creativity (vegetarian options available).

Day 2: Transfer to Aberdare National Park, Afternoon Game Drive

Your hotel is also a popular gathering spot for local wildlife (Photo courtesy of The Ark)

Today, you're off to safari destinations only the most intrepid of visitors know about. Your driver will pick you up in the morning for the four-hour drive to Aberdare National Park. This 296-square-mile (767 sq km) protected area lies in the dazzling Aberdare Mountain Range, known for its diverse ecosystems and dramatic landscapes. You'll be staying at The Ark, a luxury safari lodge in the park. It's located next to a watering hole that attracts various animals, including elephant herds. If all goes according to plan, you'll arrive in time for lunch and can enjoy your meal while marveling at the wildlife just beyond the terrace.

Afterward, kick off your grand adventure with an afternoon game drive. Aberdare, known as "The Majestic Moorland," is a great introduction to Kenya's natural beauty as it's defined by lush forested ravines and wide-open moorlands home to various animals. These include elephants, black rhinos, leopards, spotted hyenas, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, buffaloes, warthogs, and bushbucks, among others.

Day 3: Aberdare Morning & Afternoon Game Drives

Beyond the Big Five, Aberdare is home to fascinating smaller creatures like the Anubis baboon

Rise and shine for a full day of safaris! The first of the day's two game drives begin at dawn when the animals are most active. Set off in a 4WD vehicle across the park's lush terrain, where your driver/guide will lead you to sites where the animals often congregate, like water sources. Throughout the morning, you'll spot most (if not all) of the famous Big Five animals: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos.

Return to the lodge in time for lunch, after which you can relax. Later, head out on an afternoon game drive to spot some of the more elusive park residents, like giant forest hogs and the African golden cat. There are also more than 250 species of birds in Aberdare, including the Jackson's francolin, sparrow hawks, goshawks, eagles, sunbirds, and plovers. At the end of the day, you'll return to the lodge in time to enjoy a sundowner followed by dinner.

Day 4: Transfer to Samburu National Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive

Samburu National Reserve
Travel to Samburu to see interesting wildlife like Grévy's zebras

Leave Aberdare this morning on a four-hour transfer northeast to Samburu National Reserve. Situated around the Ewaso Ng'iro River, this 64-square-mile (165 sq km) game reserve is famous for its ruggedly beautiful landscapes, including acacia woodlands and savanna grasslands. The river provides a lifeline for the rare wildlife here, known as the "Samburu Special Five." These include the reticulated giraffe, Grévy's zebra, Somali ostrich, Beisa oryx, and the gerenuk (a long-necked antelope). Spotting these rare and endemic species is a highlight of visiting Samburu.

Your destination is the Ashnil Samburu Camp, a luxury tented camp set in a prime location overlooking the river. After checking in, sit down for a leisurely lunch. Then, it's time to venture out on an afternoon safari for your first chance to spot the Special Five.

Days 5-6: Samburu Game Drives & Village Visits

Besides game drives, you'll have the chance to meet the local Samburu people and learn about their way of life

Over the next two days, you'll venture out on multiple safari adventures in search of the Special Five. Two game drives are on the itinerary each day, affording more opportunities to witness the park's unique species. But that's not all—the reserve is also home to traditional safari animals like lions, leopards, cheetahs, and buffalo.

You'll also take a trip to Buffalo Springs, adjacent to the reserve. This is another off-the-beaten-path safari destination and features an abundance of elephants. Another fun activity is visiting a Samburu village to meet the locals and learn about their agrarian way of life. The cattle, goat, and camel-herding Samburu people are closely related to the Maasai and also wear a traditional dress of handmade blankets and beads.

Day 7: Transfer to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Afternoon Game Drive

Ol Pejeta is also a haven for rescued chimpanzees
Plan your trip to Kenya
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Ready to go beyond the traditional safari adventure? Today, you're off on a three-hour ride south to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, where a truly incomparable experience awaits. This leading wildlife conservation and community development organization is dedicated to initiatives that protect endangered species. As such, it's home to the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa and is also a sanctuary for the last two remaining northern white rhinos in the world, protected under 24-hour armed guard.

But that's hardly the entire story. The conservancy is also a habitat for Big Five safari animals, and it's a refuge for orphaned and rescued chimpanzees (the only one in Kenya). That's in addition to the other diverse wildlife in the area, including giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, hyenas, and numerous antelope species. After settling into your luxury tent at Sweetwaters Serena Camp, located in the heart of the conservancy, you'll see this grand menagerie up close when you embark on an afternoon game drive. Dinner will be served at camp upon your return, where you can watch the sunset over the plains and Mount Kenya.

Day 8: Ol Pejeta Activities: White Rhinos & Lion Tracking 

Ol Pejeta protects some of the last remaining white rhinos in the world

Get ready for the experience of a lifetime. In between game drives, you'll find time to meet the northern white rhinos. In 2009, this conservancy welcomed four of the world's last remaining northern white rhinos from the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic. Here, visitors have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet these remarkable creatures up close and to hear their incredible stories from the keepers who look after them 24/7. All proceeds are reinvested into the continuing efforts to pull the species back from the verge of extinction.

The rest of the day is yours to enjoy various safari activities within Ol Pejeta. Besides game drives, you can accompany a guide to track resident lions by their prints or visit the chimps during feeding time. Another memorable activity is a horseback riding tour around the 600-acre (242 ha) white rhino enclosure. Also, the fun needn't end when the sun goes down—there's always the option for a night game drive to spot nocturnal denizens like aardvarks, leopards, and the bat-eared fox.

Day 9: Transfer to Loisaba Conservancy, Afternoon Game Drive

See plains animals (and much more) up close at Loisaba Conservancy

Today's destination is another dazzling conservancy as you transfer three hours farther north to Loisaba. Encompassing 77 square miles (200 sq km) of pristine wilderness, there's a diverse array of animals prowling its savannas and acacia woodlands. You'll arrive at Elewana Loisaba Tented Camp, a luxury tented safari camp located in the middle of these savannas, which features jaw-dropping views out to the craggy peak of Mount Kenya. At 17,057 feet (5,199 m), this is the continent's highest mountain after Kilimanjaro.

Following a leisurely lunch, you'll hop in the 4WD vehicle for an afternoon game drive. Interesting species you'll spot during the outing include lions, leopards, cheetahs, buffalo, giraffes, zebras, and antelope. The scenic wilderness here is as attractive as the wildlife, so enjoy the panoramic views of the Ewaso N'giro River as it meanders through the plains and woodlands. 

Day 10: Loisaba Safari Activities: Game Drives & Bush Walks

African wild dogs were thought to be extinct in the Loisaba area, but their numbers are now growing

Choose your own itinerary of safari adventures today. You'll have the option for morning and evening game drives to spot the conservancy's flourishing big cat population, or a guided bush walk to learn more about the area's ecology and spot smaller animals and diverse flora and fauna up close.

For those looking for something more exhilarating, horseback riding and mountain biking excursions can be arranged to glimpse the wildlife and landscapes of Loisaba from a different vantage point. If you're interested in learning more about the conservancy's anti-poaching team, arrange a visit to the headquarters and meet the sniffer dogs who help keep the resident wildlife safe. 

Day 11: Transfer to Nyahururu (Thomson Falls), Nature Hike

Nyahururu is one of the tallest waterfalls in Kenya

It's a two-hour transfer to Kenya's central highlands and Nyahururu. Also known as Thomson Falls (after a 19th-century Scottish explorer), this dramatic waterfall plunges an impressive 243 feet (74 m) over a lush mountain into a ravine. Your accommodation here is a welcome break from the safari tent camps (luxurious as they are) because you'll be overnighting at the Panari Resort, a 5-star property with all the creature comforts.

However, most of your time here will be spent at the falls. Besides snapping Instagrammable pics from epic viewpoints, you can hike a trail down to the bottom of the ravine to see the falls from a lower angle. Nature hikes are also a great way to see the abundant wildlife in this forested region. There's a wide array of birds, thousands of elephants, and rare species like Grévy's zebras. Don't miss the "hippo pools" dotting the Ewaso Ng'iro River, where hippos congregate at dawn and dusk.

Day 12: Transfer to Lake Elmenteita, Afternoon Game Drive

Lake Elmenteita's blue waters are tinged pink with flocks of flamingoes

After breakfast, you're off to Kenya's famous Great Rift Valley, a highland plateau surrounded by mountains and dotted with saline lakes. It's a 1.5-hour drive south to one such body of water, Lake Elmenteita. It covers approximately 47 square miles (123 sq km), and while not as large as some of the other Rift Valley lakes, it's significant for its ecological importance and biodiversity. You'll stay right on the lakeshore in the Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp, where luxury tents with four-poster beds and terraces with lake views await.

After checking in, you'll meet your driver for another memorable safari. The lake is part of the Soysambu Conservancy, a private reserve home to abundant wildlife, including over 400 species of birds. The most famous specimens here are the tremendous flamingo colonies that have made this soda lake's shallow waters their home. Besides the flamingoes, you're also sure to spot zebras, buffalo, giraffes, monkeys, leopards, gazelles, impalas, warthogs, and plenty more species. 

Day 13: Lake Elmenteita Activities: Nature Walks & Horseback Rides

Opt for a nature walk today to spot the smaller creatures around Lake Elmenteita, like mongoose
While certainly a highlight, game drives are not the only thrilling activities at Lake Elmenteita. After a lakeside breakfast, you can choose between excursions today, including a one-hour nature walk from camp, horseback rides, and night game drives to spot animals like porcupines and the white-tailed mongoose. If you're lucky, you'll glimpse big cats like lions and leopards out for their nightly hunt.

Day 14: Transfer to Nairobi, Depart

The sun setting over the plains of Kenya
Today, your memorable adventure to some of the most exotic corners of Kenya ends right back where it began, in Nairobi. In the morning, your driver will meet you for the 2.5-hour drive back to the capital and the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Until next time!

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Map of Kenya Off-the-Beaten-Path Safari: Aberdare, Samburu, Loisaba & More - 14 Days
Map of Kenya Off-the-Beaten-Path Safari: Aberdare, Samburu, Loisaba & More - 14 Days