Journey to East Africa and experience the natural and cultural highlights of the continent in one of the best places for it: Kenya. Perfect first-timers, this safari adventure will take you both on and off the beaten path, starting with game drives around the capital city of Nairobi, followed by a deeper dive into the legendary Masai Mara, ancestral home of the Maasai people. Then venture to the wetland ecosystem of Lake Naivasha, where boat tours get you up close to hippos, crocs, and more.


  • Meet locals in Nairobi and spot exotic animals just outside the city
  • Spend a few days on safari in the legendary Masai Mara National Reserve
  • See crocs, hippos and more on boat tours of Lake Naivasha
  • Take a day trip to the soaring rock formations of Hell's Gate National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Nairobi, Cultural Exchange & City Tour Nairobi
Day 2 Nairobi National Park Morning Safari, Elephant & Giraffe Tour Nairobi
Days 3-4 Transfer to Lake Nakuru, Safari Activities Nakuru
Day 5 Transfer to Masai Mara, Afternoon Game Drive Masai Mara
Days 6-7 Masai Mara Safari Adventures: Hot-Air Balloons & Game Drives Masai Mara
Day 8 Transfer to Lake Naivasha, Afternoon Water Safari Lake Naivasha
Day 9 Day Trip to Hell's Gate National Park Lake Naivasha
Day 10 Transfer to Nairobi, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Nairobi, Cultural Exchange & City Tour

Meet locals and make new friends in Nairobi

Welcome to Kenya! Nothing can prepare first-timers to the East African nation for all the treasures, both natural and cultural, that await. You'll arrive in the capital of Nairobi, a modern metropolis with a multilingual population. It's the economic, political, and educational heart of the country, and as such, there's no shortage of fun things to do. Speaking of which, the famous safari destination, Nairobi National Park, is actually within the city limits.

At the airport, a driver will pick you up for the ride to your hotel in the leafy Nairobi suburb of Karen. (Keep an eye out for exotic animals, like antelope and giraffes, on the park boundaries adjacent to the highway.) 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. 

After checking in, it's time to get a closer look at Nairobi on a very special city tour. Another driver/guide will pick you up at the hotel for a ride around the capital, taking you to some of the most authentic neighborhoods. Here, you'll meet former street kids who, through the Nai Nami Foundation, have found a career in tourism. This three-hour cultural exchange is an ideal way to glean new perspectives, see how the locals live, learn about the obstacles they have to overcome, and, of course, make new friends.

Day 2: Nairobi National Park Morning Safari, Elephant & Giraffe Tour

Learn about the important breeding program for endangered Rothchild's giraffes at the Giraffe Centre

The adventure begins! Your driver will meet you early for a quick ride outside the city limits to Nairobi National Park for a morning game drive. Despite its proximity to Kenya's capital, this 47-square-mile (117 sq km) protected area is home to a spectacular variety of wildlife. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded here, and there's an excellent possibility of spotting four of the famous Big Five animals (lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos).

Afterward, you'll visit 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.

Capping the day is a trip to the Giraffe Centre. Operated by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW), this sanctuary exists to conserve Rothschild's giraffes by breeding and releasing them into the wild. At the time of AFEW's foundation in 1979, a mere 130 wild Rothschild giraffes survived in Kenya, but today, thanks to this organization, that number stands at around 300. You can snap photos of the current residents from a raised viewing platform and even help with their feeding. There's an on-site bird sanctuary and a self-guided nature trail.

Days 3-4: Transfer to Lake Nakuru, Safari Activities

 Lake Nakuru National park
Lake Nakuru's wetland ecosystem is a haven for various safari animals

Hop in the rugged 4WD vehicle once again this morning as you leave Nairobi with your driver bound for Lake Nakuru National Park. Located about three hours north of the capital, this ecological wonderland is located in the Great Rift Valley, 105 miles (170 km) northwest of Nairobi. The 73-square-mile (188 sq km) park surrounds Lake Nakuru, one of the Rift Valley's soda lakes. On the way, you'll stop at a lookout point to marvel at panoramic views of the vast Rift Valley and snap plenty of photos.

Upon arrival at the park, you'll check into the comfortable Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge, which overlooks the lake. Drop off your things, then head right back out on an afternoon game drive. Lake Nakuru is famous for many things, not least of which is the abundance of wildlife congregating in the area. You'll get up close and personal with many of the park's residents during today's and tomorrow's safari adventures.

Regarding birdlife, there are over 450 species here. One of the great spectacles is passing the lake to see the surface of its waters tinged pink with large colonies of greater flamingoes. Also inhabiting the park are lions, leopards, and cheetahs. Other wildlife includes buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, waterbucks, and baboons. Perhaps most crucially, Nakuru is a sanctuary for both black and white rhinos, and its conservation efforts have led to the successful protection and breeding of these endangered species.

Day 5: Transfer to Masai Mara National Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive

Masai Mara National Reserve
A lion relaxes in the late afternoon at Masai Mara

The wild ride continues as you leave Lake Nakuru after breakfast and continue toward the border with Tanzania. The Masai Mara National Reserve comprises a large part of this region. This 580-square-mile (1,510 sq km) game reserve is one of Africa's most famous safari destinations, and it borders the equally renowned Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Together, these two contiguous protected areas host the great migration, an annual occurrence that spans July to November and sees millions of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles migrate across the grassy plains.

The reserve on the Kenyan side was named in honor of the regional Maasai people, and its unspoiled savanna, woodlands, and natural springs make it a haven for massive and diverse populations of animals. Your destination within the reserve is the Ashnil Mara Camp, a luxury tented camp nestled between the Mara and Olkeju Rivers. Relax with a drink on the terraces, then get ready for an afternoon game drive in a 4WD around the reserve. Be sure to keep your camera at the ready—alongside grazing herds, you're likely to spot lions, leopards, cheetahs, and African bush elephants.

Days 6-7: Masai Mara Safari Adventures: Hot-Air Balloons & Game Drives

Masai Mara Game Drives
Begin the day with a dawn balloon ride over the savanna
Plan your trip to Kenya
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

The next two days are chock full of safari adventures. Each morning, you'll enjoy an early breakfast followed by various safari options. You can choose separate morning and afternoon game drives or spend the entire day in a 4WD searching for the reserve's lions, cheetahs, hippos, leopards, and countless other creatures. Should you opt for the full-day safari, lunch will be served picnic-style under the shade of an iconic African acacia tree.

If you like, there's also the option for a morning hot-air balloon ride over the park. There's nothing like enjoying a bird's-eye view of the great Masai Mara plains as you watch herds of gazelles and wildebeests migrating below. This is a dawn tour, so expect to see the first rays of light kissing the savanna as the wildlife awakes and travels to water sources for their morning drink. After about an hour, the balloon will touch back down on earth, and you'll toast the experience with a champagne breakfast.

Day 8: Transfer to Lake Naivasha, Afternoon Water Safari

Spot hippos and their feathered friends at Lake Naivasha

Say goodbye to Masai Mara as you leave the reserve for the ride back toward Nairobi. About two hours north of the capital, you'll stop over for two nights at Lake Naivasha. This is another star freshwater lake of the Great Rift Valley, and like Nakuru, it's a wildlife haven. Upon arrival, you'll check into the Lake Naivasha Sopa Resort, where charming cottages surround a refreshing pool, and resident giraffes and monkeys frequent the surrounding acacia forest. Cool off with a dip in the pool and put your feet up for a bit, then it's time to head out for an afternoon activity.

There are many fun adventures to choose from, including water safaris by boat. These tours are an excellent opportunity to see the lake's endemic birdlife, plus aquatic animals like hippos, up close. It's quite the experience, zipping across the shimmering waters as cormorants and pelicans skirt the surface while zebras and antelope graze along the shore. You can also enjoy a walking safari at Crescent Island, a private game sanctuary on the lake where giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, and other wildlife roam free.

Day 9: Day Trip to Hell's Gate National Park

Hell's Gate is famous for its otherworldly landscapes

One of Lake Naivasha's other draws is its proximity to Hell's Gate National Park. Though not quite the inferno its name suggests, this 26-square-mile (68 sq km) park is known for its dramatic landscapes, geothermal features, and otherworldly rock formations. On a day trip this morning, you'll transfer to Hell's Gate by vehicle.

Upon arrival, take the rest of the day to explore this semi-arid environment with its sheer cliffs, open plains, and deep gorges. There are no large predators here, so it's a great locale to enjoy a bike ride or nature hike. As you go, expect to see various plains animals like giraffes, zebras, impalas, and (if you're lucky) rhinos. You can also visit the area's various geysers and embark on a canyon walk with a local guide. 

Day 10: Transfer to Nairobi, Depart

Farewell, Kenya
Your 10-day adventure in Africa ends right back where it began, in Nairobi. It's a two-hour drive south from Naivasha to the airport in the capital, where you'll board your flight home. Until next time!

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