Buckle up for a once-in-a-lifetime safari through some of Kenya's lesser-visited natural highlights. This week of wildlife adventures starts in Nairobi, where you'll learn about conservation efforts and meet endangered Rothschild's giraffes at a local sanctuary. Then, it's off to spot elephants in the wild mountains of Aberdare and seek out the"Special Five" species of Samburu. Later, travel to Ol Pejeta Conservancy to marvel at the rarest specimens of all: the critically endangered northern white rhino.


  • Learn about conservation work at giraffe and elephant sanctuaries in Nairobi
  • See a different side of Kenya's landscapes in the lush mountains of Aberdare
  • Spot the rare "Special Five" animals of Samburu National Reserve
  • Spend time with rescued chimps and the last white rhinos in the world

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Nairobi, Elephant & Giraffe Tour 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, Game Drives Samburu Reserve
Day 5 Samburu Game Drives & Village Visit Samburu Reserve
Day 6 Transfer to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, White Rhino Tour Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Day 7 Transfer to Nairobi, Visit National Museum, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Nairobi, Elephant & Giraffe Tour

Giraffe center
Make new friends on visits to a giraffe center and elephant orphanage

Welcome to Kenya! Over the next seven days, you'll not only experience major highlights but also enjoy wildlife experiences that exist only in this corner of the world. It begins with your arrival in the capital of Nairobi, which is located right next to a popular safari destination: Nairobi National Park. At the airport, a driver will pick you up for the transfer to your hotel 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. 

A more in-depth wildlife encounter awaits when, after checking into your hotel, you'll visit the Giraffe Centre. Operated by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW), this sanctuary conserves Rothschild's giraffes by breeding and releasing them into the wild. When AFEW was founded in 1979, a mere 130 wild Rothschild's giraffes survived in Kenya, but today, thanks to this organization, that number is around 300. You can snap photos of the current residents from a raised viewing platform and even feed them. Also, there's a bird sanctuary and a self-guided nature trail.

Capping your first day in Africa is a trip to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. Here, you'll see young elephants rescued and cared for until they're ready to be released back into the wild. On top of viewing the elephants, there's the option to sponsor an orphan. If you do, you can return later in the day to help feed and tuck your newly adopted elephant into bed.

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

Aberdare National Park
Drink your morning coffee amid views of elephants (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
Discover more unique specimens, like Grévy's zebras, at Samburu National Reserve

Leave Aberdare this morning on a four-hour transfer northeast to Samburu National Reserve. Situated around the Ewaso Nyiro 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.

Day 5: Samburu Game Drives & Village Visit

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

This morning, venture out on safari for another chance to spot the Special Five. Two game drives are on the itinerary today, 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 6: Transfer to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, White Rhino Tour

Visit the last remaining white rhinos on earth at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Plan your trip to Kenya
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Buckle up because 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. 

The day culminates with a trip 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, you'll 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.

Day 7: Transfer to Nairobi, Visit National Museum, Depart

Get your last look at iconic African wildlife on the drive back to Nairobi
Time flies when you're spending time with rare and endangered wildlife species. In the morning, your driver will meet you for the 2.5-hour drive back to the capital. If time remains, you can squeeze in one last tour at the Nairobi National Museum. One of the country's most prominent cultural institutions, it features fascinating exhibits on Kenya's dozens of ethnic groups. Later, at the appropriate time, you'll transfer to the airport in time to catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Kenya Off-the-Beaten-Path Safari: Nairobi, Aberdare, Samburu & Ol Pejeta - 7 Days
Map of Kenya Off-the-Beaten-Path Safari: Nairobi, Aberdare, Samburu & Ol Pejeta - 7 Days