This East African adventure combines Tanzanian culture and wildlife with a relaxed break on the idyllic Kenyan island of Lamu. Jump right into the action in Arusha with a hike up Mount Meru, then head to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area for a sunrise game drive and a tour of a traditional Maasai Village. Fly to Nairobi to visit a giraffe sanctuary, then hop over to the UNESCO-listed island of Lamu, where a boat cruise, snorkeling tour, and cooking class await.


  • Look for the Big Five in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area
  • Visit the Serval Wildlife sanctuary to admire the graceful wildcat
  • Learn how to sail a dhow, a traditional wooden boat, on the island of Lamu
  • Visit the Lamu Fort and Museum on a walking tour

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Arusha (Tanzania), Gentle Hike Up Mount Meru Arusha
Day 2 Transfer to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Ngorongoro
Day 3 Sunrise Game Drive, Visit a Traditional Maasai Village Ngorongoro
Day 4 Transfer to Arusha, Visit the Serval WildLife Sanctuary  Arusha
Day 5 Transfer to Nairobi (Kenya), Visit the Giraffe Center  Nairobi
Day 6 Fly to Lamu, Relax at Leisure Lamu
Day 7 Cooking Class, Explore Lamu Old Town, Learn How to Sail Lamu
Day 8 Full-Day Snorkel Tour Lamu
Day 9 Fly to Nairobi, Transfer to Arusha, Explore on Your Own Arusha
Day 10 Shop at Maasai Market, Depart Arusha  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Arusha (Tanzania), Gentle Hike Up Mount Meru

The action starts as soon as you land in Arusha with a gentle hike up Mount Meru

Welcome to the bustling city of Arusha, often called the "Safari Capital of Tanzania." Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your city hotel. Once you've settled in, lace up your hiking shoes and venture out on a gentle hike up Mount Meru, the second-highest peak in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro. You won't be hiking to the summit, though, so don't worry. Instead, head up to one of the lower slopes along a more accessible trail that still offers excellent views.

Another benefit of hiking to one of the lower slopes is that it offers the chance to see animals like monkeys, birds, buffalo, and even giraffes. While you walk through the lush rainforest, listen as your guide teaches you about the area's diverse ecosystems and abundant wildlife. After two to three hours of walking, stop for lunch and take in the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including glimpses of Kilimanjaro if it's a clear day. Then, trek back down the mountain and return to your hotel, where you can rest and fight off your jet lag. 

Day 2: Transfer to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Gather around the campfire for dinner and watch the sunset over the highlands

Trade the city for the countryside this morning as you transfer 2.5 hours to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, perched at the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, often called the "eighth wonder of the world." When you arrive, check into The Highlands, a luxury safari camp whose perch on the slopes of the Olmoti Crater affords breathtaking views all the way to the edge of the Serengeti. The rest of the day is then yours to spend as you wish. You could relax at the camp and enjoy its amenities. Unwind at the on-site spa, sit down for afternoon tea, or relax with a book in front of the library's wood-burning fireplace. 

Those who want to explore the area can hike up the dormant volcano crater directly from camp by following an old Maasai cattle trail through mountain forests, across grasslands, and over rocky outcrops. On the way up, you may spot buffalo, zebra, and hyena, so keep your eyes peeled. When you reach the crater rim, enjoy panoramic views of the expansive highlands, surrounding calderas, and distant, mist-covered peaks. After taking in the view, trek back down the volcano and return to camp for a delicious three-course dinner around the fire. 

Day 3: Sunrise Game Drive, Visit a Traditional Maasai Village

Look out for the endangered black rhino on your game drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Get ready for an early wake-up call to spend the morning exploring the conservation area, starting with a game drive at sunrise when the wildlife is most active. Look out for the Big Five game animals—lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and Cape buffalo—as you traverse the rugged terrain and descend into the crater. Once in the caldera, you have a better chance of spotting wildlife, including the endangered black rhino. Around midday, enjoy a picnic lunch on the crater floor before ascending back to the top and enjoying a final panoramic view of the lush landscape. 

In the afternoon, set off on a culture and heritage tour of a traditional Maasai village. As soon as you arrive, you'll be welcomed with spirited songs and dances. Wander through the village and engage in activities that have defined the tribe's culture for centuries, such as listening to age-old stories from village elders, herding cattle, making jewelry, and sharing a traditional meal. After eating, watch the warriors train, then follow your guide on a nature walk to learn about indigenous flora and fauna. At the end of the tour, thank the villagers for their time and return to your lodge.

Day 4: Transfer to Arusha, Visit the Serval WildLife Sanctuary 

Watch elegant servals roam freely in the Serval WildLife sanctuary

Leave Ngorongoro behind as you make your way back to Arusha on a 2.5-hour transfer. While you drive, look out at the rolling hills dotted with charming villages and expanses of farmlands to spot Maasai herders tending their cattle. When you arrive, leave your bags at the hotel and refresh, then head straight to Serval WildLife, a sanctuary almost two hours outside of the city. Although the sanctuary is dedicated to the rehabilitation and conservation of servals (graceful wildcats native to Africa), you can also find animals like Maasai giraffes, elands, ostriches, lions, and monkeys within the sanctuary.

Wander through the well-maintained grounds covered in 3,000 hand-planted endemic species of flora to get an up-close look at some of these remarkable creatures. On a clear day, you can also enjoy mesmerizing views of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. After meeting some of the sanctuary's animals, feeding them, and petting them when possible, sit down for lunch before returning to your hotel to unwind with a drink overlooking Lake Duluti. When you get hungry, head inside to the on-site restaurant to choose from an array of Tanzanian and international dishes.

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Day 5: Transfer to Nairobi (Kenya), Visit the Giraffe Center

Get an up-close look at the Giraffe Center's residents as you feed these gentle giants

After breakfast at the hotel, set off on a 4-5 hour transfer to Nairobi, Kenya's vibrant capital. Check into your hotel and refresh, then get ready to meet the gentle giants of the Giraffe Centre. As soon as you arrive, you'll be greeted by endangered Rothschild's giraffes roaming freely around the sanctuary. Check out the informative exhibits in the visitor's center to learn more about this species of giraffe and the sanctuary's efforts to protect them, then head to the elevated feeding platform to get up close and personal with this graceful animal.

Hold the provided food pellets out to the giraffes and wait for them to come close enough to eat straight from your hand. After interacting with these creatures, you can explore more of their habitat by following one of the surrounding nature trails. As you walk along the tranquil Gogo River, look out for the birds that also call this sanctuary home. End the tour at the center's gift shop, where you can purchase souvenirs with the proceeds going toward giraffe conservation and education programs. Souvenirs in hand, transfer 15 minutes back to your hotel to relax.

Day 6: Fly to Lamu, Relax at Leisure

Board a dhow and cruise down Lamu's coast at sunset

After a restful night in the city, head to the airport for a 1.5-hour flight to Lamu, a UNESCO-listed island off the eastern coast of Kenya. Try to snag a window seat to watch the urban landscape transform into turquoise waters and pristine beaches. When you land, meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel on the coast. Spend the rest of the day enjoying the hotel's amenities and activities, including the pool, daily yoga classes, guided meditations, and an on-site spa. If you want to explore the area, head to the nearby beach or book a sunset boat cruise.

Make your way to the pier, board a traditional dhow (a wooden boat typically used for maritime trade), and set sail down the coast. Look out at Lamu's historic town and the silhouettes of towering palm trees while the sun begins its descent, transforming the sky into warm hues of red and orange. Depending on the tour you choose, you may also be able to enjoy a delicious dinner on board. When darkness starts to fall, return to shore and transfer back to your hotel for the night. 

Day 7: Cooking Class, Explore Lamu Old Town, Learn How to Sail

Stop at landmarks like Lamu Museum on your walking tour

You may want to skip breakfast this morning so you're ready for an early cooking class led by experienced local chefs. Mix spices and prepare key ingredients to craft dishes like pilaf rice or couscous paired with aromatic curries. As you cook, learn about the importance of each spice, as the class is a celebration of traditional Swahili flavors. When everything is ready, sit down as a group to enjoy the savory dishes paired with sweet chutneys. After eating, set off on a walking tour of Lamu Old Town's winding streets and narrow alleys lined with well-preserved Swahili architecture.

Admire the centuries-old stone buildings adorned with ornate balconies, graceful archways, and vibrant bougainvillea, stopping at landmarks like the Lamu Fort, built in the 19th century. Step through the massive coral stone walls and climb to the rooftop for panoramic views of the historic town. Don't miss the small museum inside, where you can learn more about the island's maritime past. Continue to the larger Lama Museum down the street to learn more about local history and culture as you browse the collection of artifacts, traditional crafts, and exhibits.

If you didn't get a chance to board a dhow yesterday, you will today, as you're going out on the water for a sailing lesson. Under the guidance of seasoned sailors, learn how to harness the wind, adjust the lateen sail, and steer the dhow through the archipelago's serene channels. The hands-on lesson not only imparts practical sailing skills but also provides insight into the cultural significance of dhows in the region's seafaring heritage. After sailing and taking in the coastline for two hours, return to shore and transfer back to your hotel for the night.

Day 8: Full-Day Snorkel Tour

Snorkel in the warm waters around Manda Toto to see the colorful coral and tropical fish

Explore more of Lamu today from the water as you set off on a snorkeling tour down the coast. Jump in a boat around 8:00 am and cruise for 30 minutes to the nearby island of Manda Toto. When you arrive, don your gear, then jump in the water to discover the coral gardens below. Look for tropical fish, like clownfish, pufferfish, and angelfish, while you swim above the coral.

You may even spot sea turtles, rays, or whale sharks swimming below you, depending on the time of year you visit. Continue to various snorkeling sites throughout the archipelago, stopping for a barbecue lunch onboard or on a secluded beach when you get hungry. After a full day on the water, return to your hotel to dry off and relax with a drink at the hotel's bar. 

Day 9: Fly to Nairobi, Transfer to Arusha, Explore on Your Own

Head to the Tanzanite Experience to admire this beautiful gem and find a unique souvenir

Bid farewell to Lamu this morning as you return to Nairobi on a 1.5-hour flight. When you touch down, meet your driver outside the airport and start the 4-5 transfer back to Tanzania and Arusha. After a long day of flying and driving, you may just want to relax at the hotel, but those who want to explore a bit more can visit the National Natural History Museum to dive into the country's geology, paleontology, ethnography, and archaeology. Step inside and browse the fossilized remains, botanical specimens, and geological formations, helping you learn more about the evolution of life in the region.

Then, head to the Tanzanite Experience, the only Tanzanite museum in the world, to learn about the history and allure of this rare gem. If you want to take home a unique souvenir, a piece of Tanzanite jewelry may be the perfect option. When you get hungry, wander down to Boma Road, a bustling thoroughfare in the central business district lined with an array of shops, cafés, and restaurants. Find an international restaurant or sit down for a local meal, like pilau, a flavorful rice dish cooked with aromatic spices, meat, and vegetables.

Day 10: Shop at Maasai Market, Depart Arusha

Shopping at the Famous Maasai Market
Browse the stalls lined with handmade goods, like colorful textiles, at the Maasai Market
Spend your last few hours in Africa shopping at the Maasai Market, a treasure trove of handmade goods and local delights. Browse the stalls full of Maasai jewelry, colorful fabrics, and traditional decor. If you find something you like, try your hand at negotiating a price to really immerse yourself in Tanzanian culture. When you get hungry, snack on mandazi, deep-fried doughnut-like pastries, or Zanzibar mix, a combination of deep-fried cassava, plantains, and lentil fritters. When it's time, return to your hotel to grab your bags and meet your driver, then transfer to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

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