Get ready for two weeks of game drives in Africa's most renowned safari destinations. It begins in Kenya, where you'll visit the famous Maasai Mara Reserve, the site of the Great Migration of wildebeests and zebras. Over many days you'll explore the Maasai Mara, Serengeti, and Ngorongoro Crater to spot Big 5 animals like elephants, lions, giraffes, and even black rhinos. Mixed in with all this adventure are cultural exchanges with African tribespeople and fishing trips on Lake Victoria.

Highlights

  • Visit wildlife conservation centers in Nairobi
  • Embark on game drives in the Maasai Mara and Serengeti
  • Take boat tours of Lake Victoria and visit with tribespeople
  • Explore the volcano caldera in Ngorongoro 
  • See pink flamingos and other wildlife at Lake Manyara

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Nairobi Nairobi
Day 2 Conservation Tour of Nairobi Nairobi
Day 3 Transfer to Maasai Mara, Afternoon Game Drive Maasai Mara
Day 4 Morning Game Drive in Maasai Mara Maasai Mara
Day 5 Transfer to Lake Victoria Speke Bay
Day 6 Lake Victoria Activities Speke Bay
Day 7 Lake Victoria Activities, Transfer to the Serengeti Kati Kati 
Days 8-9 Explore Serengeti National Park Kati Kati 
Day 10 Serengeti to Ngorongoro Conservation Area Ngorongoro
Day 11 Ngorongoro Game Drive Ngorongoro
Day 12 Lake Manyara Game Drive Ngorongoro
Day 13 Transfer to Arusha Arusha
Day 14 Depart Africa  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Nairobi

Welcome to Kenya

Welcome to Kenya! This country is home to all the exotic wildlife and natural beauty people associate with Africa, from herds of zebras galloping across the open savanna to maned lions prowling in search of their prey. You'll arrive in the capital of Nairobi, a unique metropolis that sits at the edge of Nairobi National Park. In this protected area, Africa's exotic wildlife roam free on grass plains against the backdrop of the city. 

Upon arrival at the airport, your driver will be waiting to transfer you to your 4-star hotel. After unpacking and settling in, feel free to explore. Besides its proximity to national parks, Nairobi is a rich cultural destination. Head out from your hotel and visit the city's flea markets to browse for souvenirs. If you're hungry, do like the locals and head to a food stall for ugali (a dense maize porridge) or nyama choma (grilled goat meat).

For a more formal experience, you can always partake of Nairobi's increasingly multi-cultural food scene. There's a restaurant here to suit most tastes, be it Thai, Indian, Japanese, Italian, and of course, traditional Kenyan seafood. And if you want to enjoy a nightcap in style, head to the trendy Westlands neighborhood, where popular and chic bars are abundant. 

Day 2: Conservation Tour of Nairobi

Spend time with rescued elephants

Start the day with a visit to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. Here you'll see young elephants that have been rescued and cared for until they're ready to be released back to the wild. On top of viewing the elephants, visitors have 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.

Afterward, you'll visit the Giraffe Centre. Operated by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW), this sanctuary exists to conserve Rothschild's giraffes by breeding them 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. Also, there is a bird sanctuary and a self-guided nature trail.

Then you'll travel to a suburb outside Nairobi, at the foot of the Ngong Hills, that was once home to vast coffee farms. Here you'll visit the Karen Blixen Museum, an estate where Danish author Karen Blixen lived and wrote her famous memoir, "Out of Africa." The museum offers guided tours and exhibits, including memorabilia from the 1986 movie adaptation of Blixen's book. Afterward, you'll have lunch on your own and can spend the rest of the day enjoying optional activities. Perhaps visit the Nairobi National Museum, which offers a range of cultural and historical exhibits.

Day 3: Transfer to Maasai Mara, Afternoon Game Drive

Kenya - A lioness relaxes in Maasai Mara National Reserve
A lioness relaxes in Maasai Mara National Reserve

In the morning, your guide will pick you up for the drive outside Nairobi toward the border with Tanzania. The Maasai 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. The unspoiled savanna, woodlands, and natural springs make this a haven for massive and diverse populations of animals. Besides wildebeests, zebras, and other plains game, there are also great numbers of lions, leopards, cheetahs, and African bush elephants. You'll see many of them on an afternoon game drive in a 4x4 around the reserve—be sure to keep your camera at the ready.

After the safari, you'll head into the heart of the reserve and your lodging for the night. Ilkeliani is more than a camp—it's a collection of spacious tented suites outfitted with comfortable furnishings and modern amenities. The focus here is on privacy, tranquility, and a commitment to personal service. There's no better place to hang your hat in all of Maasai Mara. 

Day 4: Morning Game Drive in Maasai Mara

Spot exotic animals like the cheetah

Today you'll embark at first light on a morning game drive around Maasai Mara. Dawn is the best time to go wildlife spotting since the animals are at their most active as they search for food. You can see the wildebeests grazing on the savanna as the big cats hunt for prey. Later in the afternoon, the viewing opportunities aren't ideal because once the heat takes hold, the animals typically move to the river or sleep in remote, hidden locales. 

After the drive, you'll enjoy meals out on the plains before returning to camp, where you can spend the evening relaxing.  

Day 5: Transfer to Lake Victoria

Hippos call Lake Victoria home

After breakfast, you'll meet your guide and hop the border into Tanzania. Drive a short way to Speke Gulf, on the eastern side of Lake Victoria, where you'll overnight. This bay was named for the explorer John Speke, who discovered that Lake Victoria was the source of the Nile River.

You'll be staying at Speke Bay lodge. Situated on 250 acres of pristine savanna plains on the lake's edge, it's the perfect place to relax, fish for tilapia, or enjoy a stroll along the lakeshore. The lodge also offers boat tours, or you can hop on a mountain bike and hit the trail. In the evening, enjoy dinner at the lodge before heading to bed.

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Day 6: Lake Victoria Activities

Lake Victoria

Get an early start with a morning bird walk. The papyrus wetlands along the lakeshore are great environments to catch sightings of a wide variety of unique avian species. These include warblers, canaries, swamp flycatchers, blue-headed coucal, and more.

Then you're in for a real treat as you embark on a mountain-biking tour into the heart of Sukuma land. The Sukuma people are part of the Bantu ethnic tribe. This group originated in the African Great Lakes region, and, with some 10 million members, represents the largest tribe in Tanzania. After spending the day immersing yourself in the culture of the Sukuma, you'll return to the lodge for dinner. 

Day 7: Lake Victoria Activities, Transfer to the Serengeti

Spend the day with Sukuma tribespeople

Today you'll enjoy a more authentic culture. In the morning, hop on a boat for a trip around Lake Victoria with some local fishermen. Not only will you make friends and gain insight into the daily lives and toil of these folks, but you'll also travel to a Sukuma fishing village. Here you can meet more tribespeople and see the intricacies of daily life in their ancestral homeland. 

After a picnic lunch, you and your guide will drive to the nearby Serengeti National Park. This legendary wildlife reserve is the archetypal safari destination. In the Maasai language, the name Serengeti means "endless plains," and this protected area's 5,700 sq miles (14,763 sq km) deliver on that promise. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a biosphere reserve that supports the world's largest concentration of plains game. This includes famous Big 5 animals like lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and black rhinos.

Upon arrival at the reserve, you won't waste any time, as you'll immediately head out on an afternoon game drive. Along the way, you'll undoubtedly catch glimpses of some of the continent's most famous wildlife. Common sightings include elephants, giraffes, lions, and buffalo.

Afterward, head to the Kati Kati Camp, where you'll spend the next few days. Located right on the Serengeti, Kati Kati offers total immersion into the surrounding nature and is an ideal base from which to explore the Serengeti plains. The tents are comfortable and include modern conveniences, double beds, and a private porch. This camp was also designed to be mobile and thus cause minimal environmental impact. You'll enjoy dinner at the camp before retiring for the evening.

Days 8-9: Explore Serengeti National Park

Marvel at the wildlife in the Serengeti

In the morning, head out onto the plains and discover the Serengeti on a full-day tour. There's a lot to see here, as the Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. Besides being a great place to spot Big 5 animals in their natural habitat, the Serengeti (along with the Maasai Mara) also hosts the great migration. This annual event sees more than a million wildebeest, plus hundreds of thousands of zebras and Thomson’s gazelles, taking the long trek to new grazing grounds. 

In the evening, return to your tent camp for dinner. Get enough rest because tomorrow, you'll wake early and head out for more adventure. 

Day 10: Serengeti to Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Photo taken by Jonathan G
Ngorongoro Conservation Area

After a dawn game drive, you'll return to camp for breakfast. Then head right back out for another wildlife excursion before lunch. Afterward, you and your guide will travel to Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This region is also home to abundant exotic animals and plains game due to its fertile grazing grounds.

The area is named after the Ngorongoro Crater, a real star. It's the world's largest volcanic caldera, measuring 1,968 feet (600 m) in depth and covering 100 sq miles (260 sq km). As for wildlife, on the crater floor, you can spot buffaloes, elephants, hippos, hyenas, jackals, lions, ostriches, servals, warthogs, bushbucks, elands, hartebeests, reedbucks, waterbucks, and vast herds of both Thomson's and Grant's gazelles. 

Also, thanks to anti-poaching patrols, the crater is one of the few places in East Africa where visitors are sure to see black rhinos. Other common sights are leopards and cheetahs lounging under trees, plus countless flamingos loitering in the crater's alkaline lakes. About the only animal you won't see here are giraffes, just because they can't make it over the crater's rim.

After enjoying lunch and wildlife spotting, you'll drive to your accommodation for the night. Rhino Lodge is situated just a few hundred yards from the crater rim, meaning you'll have easy access to the wildlife during your stay. The lodge offers comfortable rooms with ensuite baths, delicious (and authentic) African cuisine, and panoramic views of the caldera and its wildlife residents. 

Day 11: Ngorongoro Game Drive

Herds of zebras in Ngorongoro

After breakfast, head down to the crater's base for a 6-hour tour of Ngorongoro. There will be ample opportunities to spot exotic wildlife throughout the day. This area, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, is home to over 20,000 large animals, including a couple dozen or so of Tanzania's remaining black rhino population. Ngorongoro is also unique in that over 40,000 Masaai tribespeople live here, and their cattle, goats, and sheep graze right alongside the abundant wildlife.

Most interesting, however, might be the anthropological wonders. Archeological studies at Ngorongoro have revealed evidence of human evolution dating back some four million years. This evidence includes fossilized footprints of early Homo sapiens and remains that document the development of stone technology.

After the wildlife tour, you'll drive to the lodge and arrive in time for dinner.

Day 12: Lake Manyara Game Drive

Lake Manyara

Today you'll head a short way south from Ngorongoro to Lake Manyara National Park. It's a region most famous for its namesake body of water. This alkaline lake is home to vast populations of bright-pink flamingos that form a colorful blanket on the water's surface.

On a full-day game drive around the lake, you'll view these birds as they wade in the water and look for food while giraffes graze near the shore. The area is also home to Tanzania's largest elephant population, plus East Africa's famous tree-climbing lions. In the evening, return to your lodge for dinner.

Day 13: Transfer to Arusha

Male lions are actually very lazy | Photo taken by Jonathan G
Enjoy one last afternoon photo safari

After breakfast, take a leisurely drive east toward the city of Arusha, stopping en route to enjoy a picnic lunch on the plains. Then head just outside Arusha to a nature lodge where you'll overnight in a wooden cabin. Enjoy your last evening in Africa, sitting on a wooden balcony and marveling at views of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the peak of Meru Volcano

Day 14: Depart Africa

Photo taken by Jonathan G
Goodbye Africa

You'll transfer to the airport in Arusha for your flight home in the morning. This concludes your grand African safari. See you soon!

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Map

Map of Kenya & Tanzania Adventure - 14 Days
Map of Kenya & Tanzania Adventure - 14 Days