Have under a week to spare for the safari adventure of a lifetime? Not a problem when your destination is Kenya. Enjoy five action-packed days, starting with Lake Nakuru, whose wetland ecosystem is a haven for wildlife ranging from flamingoes to rhinos. Continue on to the savanna plains of Masai Mara to spot lions, leopards, and other specimens before finishing with water safaris at Lake Naivasha and a trip to marvel at the soaring cliffs of Hell's Gate.


  • Spot Big Five safari animals like lions and elephants at Masai Mara
  • Witness thousands of flamingoes turn the water pink at Lake Nakuru
  • Enjoy a boat safari on Lake Naivasha to see crocs and hippos

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Nairobi, Transfer to Lake Nakuru, Afternoon Game Drive Nakuru
Day 2 Transfer to Masai Mara National Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive Masai Mara
Day 3 Masai Mara Safari Adventures: Hot-Air Balloons & Game Drives Masai Mara
Day 4 Transfer to Lake Naivasha, Afternoon Water Safari Lake Naivasha
Day 5 Day Trip to Hell's Gate, Transfer to Nairobi, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Nairobi, Transfer to Lake Nakuru, Afternoon Game Drive

 Lake Nakuru National park
On your first day in Africa, spot rhinos and flamingoes

Welcome to Kenya! Starting in the capital of Nairobi, you'll meet your driver, hop in a 4WD vehicle, and head to Lake Nakuru National Park. 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 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 2: Transfer to Masai Mara National Reserve, Afternoon Game Drive

Giraffes relax in the shade of an acacia tree on the Masai Mara's vast savanna plains

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-sq-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. 

Day 3: Masai Mara Safari Adventures: Hot-Air Balloons & Game Drives

Enjoy the best views of Masai Mara from the basket of a hot-air balloon

Today is chock full of safari adventures. Start with an early breakfast followed by various activity 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.

Plan your trip to Kenya
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 4: Transfer to Lake Naivasha, Afternoon Water Safari

A hippo and cormorant friend hang out at Lake Naivasha

Say goodbye to the Masai Mara as you leave the reserve for the ride back toward Nairobi. About two hours north of the capital, you'll stop over 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 5: Day Trip to Hell's Gate, Transfer to Nairobi, Depart

There's time left to explore the otherworldly landscapes at Hell's Gate

There's just enough time to squeeze in one last adventure. Wake up early for the transfer to nearby 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. Upon arrival, take the rest of the morning 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, gazelles, 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. At the end of the tour, you'll transfer back to Nairobi in time to catch your flight home or continue your African adventures. Safe travels!

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