East Africa Safari | A Journey Through Africa

Days

13

Journey Type

East Africa Safari | A Journey Through East Africa

Cities and Landmarks

Kenya: Nairobi, Amboseli, Masai Mara | Tanzania: Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha | Rwanda: Volcanoes National Park

Days

13

Journey Type

East Africa Safari | A Journey Through East Africa

Cities and Landmarks

Kenya: Nairobi, Amboseli, Masai Mara | Tanzania: Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha | Rwanda: Volcanoes National Park

Overview - East Africa Safari

Africa as a destination conjures much in the imagination.  Panoramas of wide-open grasslands dotted with flat-topped acacias and grazing herds.  Images of predators in thickets, languidly awaiting the next passing meal.  Fantasies of evenings around the campfire beneath star-jeweled heavens, the air reverberating with the beat of a drum and the warriors’ chant.  Visions of dense jungles inhabited by great apes and mysterious people attuned to life in this near-alien environment.  

When one dreams of Africa, you unwittingly invoke your most primal self, along with a deep, inexplicable longing to return to a place you might never have been to – yet somehow feel that it is a place where you might find your soul has been waiting all along.

Now take these inspirations and layer them with absolute luxury, intuitive service, and innate hospitality.  Add to that a multitude of sensory delights –  of sight, sound, taste, and touch – each carefully selected to stir your emotions and entrench your memories.

With these thoughts in mind – we proudly offer the discerning, yet adventurous traveler, our Best of East Africa Safari.  From the moment you arrive, you will be immersed in an experience that epitomizes the essence of the classical African safari experience.  You will travel in style from one incredible wildlife destination to the next.  You will witness Nature in all her unabashed glory, you will learn of the rich cultural history, and of the innumerable threads that tie entire ecosystems together.  Your comfort, relaxation, and stimulation are all but ensured by hosts that not only care about what they do but live it on a daily basis.

The adventure begins in what many regard as the Safari Capital – Kenya.  An overnight stay in an elegant hotel dripping in the nostalgia of a bygone era is an opportunity to acclimatize and be reinvigorated for the adventure that awaits. 

Next, you swoop over the sprawling savanna, touching down in the renowned Masai Mara – seasonal home of the Great Migration – where millions of herbivores sweep across the plains rich with grazing, yet stalked by hungry predators.

Then you cross into neighboring Tanzania – visiting first the sprawling and spectacular Serengeti before dropping into the largest intact volcanic caldera on Earth – Ngorongoro Crater.  Each of these locations is regarded as an essential destination for any wildlife lover – whether novice or aficionado.  

And finally, you head to Rwanda – a land dotted with volcanoes and clothed in sprawling jungles.  In the company of dedicated conservationists, you will venture into the forest in the hopes of an intimate encounter with endangered great apes.

And when it is all done – you will know you have experienced something very special indeed.  Both in what you have seen – but more importantly, in how it has stirred your soul and blessed you with a sense of connection with the place where life began.

Highlights

Arrive Nairobi, Kenya

Your East Africa safari  adventure begins with a friendly greeting of “Jambo!” from our representative at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenya.  They will accompany you to your lodgings for the first night in a leafy neighborhood at the foot of the Ngong Hills, the setting of Karen Blixen’s much-loved romance – Out of Africa.

Hemingways Nairobi is an elegant plantation-style boutique hotel and a member of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World.  Set on manicured gardens rich with birdsong, this is the ideal place at which to acclimatize and immerse yourself in the history and tradition of safari – starting with a refreshing G&T at the bustling bar, which you will soon learn is a tradition readily repeated.  From the bar, the buzz of safari gossip continues in studded leather lounges, breezy terraces, and its renowned restaurant – The Brasserie.  Attend your therapeutic needs in the spa, gym, or gift shop, or take a dip in the sparkling pool.

As throughout the hotel, the decor and furnishings in your spacious suite are reminiscent of the romantic safari era of the 1930s, complete with a steamer trunk and four-poster bed.  Blending the classical and contemporary, every imaginable amenity is catered for, and the luxurious en-suite bathrooms are polished elegance personified.  This is truly a cocoon in which to metamorphose into safari life, and you will awaken refreshed in anticipation of your coming adventures which include a magnificent East Africa safari.

Hemingways Nairobi

Masai Mara National Park

After a hearty breakfast, you will be chauffeured to the airport in time for an hour-long flight to your first East Africa safari camp.  On arrival, a half-hour ride to your lodgings for the next three nights will likely include your first sightings of Africa’s iconic wildlife.

Bateleur Camp continues the theme of colonial-era opulence which is evident from the moment you arrive.  At the foot of the impressive Oloololo escarpment, in a shaded stretch of forest, the camp is nestled among the trees on the fringe of the vast plains on the Masai Mara National Reserve – the seasonal home of what has been referred to as ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’: The Migration. 

The camp comprises of two portions, each with a central tent that houses a welcoming lounge, bar, and dining area.  The open front facade leads out onto an expansive deck overlooking the surrounding landscape, where wildlife passes almost continuously.  Nearby you will also find a boutique gift shop, massage sala, and a well-equipped gym.  A dramatic infinity pool commands sweeping views of the endless plains.  Dining is a silver service affair, with elegantly dressed tables and refined cuisine the order of the day. Depending on the weather, evening meals may be enjoyed in the boma alongside a crackling campfire.  Throughout, furnishings and artworks sustain the East Africa safari theme, in keeping with the magnificent vista surrounding the camp.

Each of the ten tented suites is thoughtfully situated for your privacy and appreciation of the environment.  Slightly elevated on polished wooden decks, your accommodation is spacious, inviting, and supremely comfortable.  Your personal butler is on hand to acquaint you with the amenities and attend to any request you may have.  Antique furnishings and authentic objet d’arts carry the camp’s theme, while crystal and candlelight in the lounge and private dining area sustain the romantic ambiance.  An en-suite bathroom clad in stone and wood is encased in glass, giving a sense of immersion into the surrounding vegetation.  It features both a free-standing bathtub and a spacious shower.

Between July and November, the Masai Mara is host to the largest land mammal migration on earth.  An estimated 1,5-million wildebeest, accompanied by tens of thousands of zebra, eland, and various gazelle species arrive en masse to take advantage of the lush grasslands brought about by recent rains.

Everything about it is massively impressive, and for many, the highlight is the concurrent concentration of Africa’s large predators that amass to prey on the teeming herds.  Lions are regarded as the apex predator and dozens of these lithe cats await in any available cover to take out the weakest of the herd.  Cheetahs take advantage of the flat terrain to outrun their quarry, reaching up to 70mph at full stride.  Leopards on the other hand rely on superb camouflage and guile to get as close as possible before a final lightning dash on unsuspecting prey.  Hyenas meanwhile, use both intelligent teamwork and incredible stamina to run their target to exhaustion.  From above, hordes of vultures make short work of the remains, while jackals nip in wherever a quick meal looks likely.

Outside of the ‘official’ migration period, the game-viewing on the Mara savanna remains impressive.  Giraffes gaze on with apparent nonchalance at things only they seem to see.  Cape buffalo stare at you as if you owe them money.  Kudu stride with a regal presence, their swirling horns a handsome adornment.  And all the while, warthogs wallow with almost childlike glee, until a scent on the air has them fleeing; antenna-like tails held aloft.

All of this doesn’t even come close to describing the overall mass and variety of wildlife that survive and thrive on these verdant plains.  The story of how this all happens and fits together in a miraculously intricate web will be revealed to you by experienced guides during twice-daily game-drives, taken in the cooler hours of the day.  

Setting out in customized safari vehicles, the guides use their intimate knowledge of the land (along with messages on the bush telegraph) to help you fall ever deeper in love with Nature.  As you progress, you will soon begin to recognize some of the 500-plus bird species, and perhaps discover a passion for plants you never knew existed.

Within the camp’s private concession, you may also join your guide on fascinating nature walks to learn more about things often missed from vehicles.  You can also join a night drive, where a powerful spotlight reveals nocturnal creatures going about their secretive lives.  At any time throughout your stay, you might be pleasantly surprised to come upon a wonderful bush banquet or decked-out bar.  The animals aren’t the only ones hiding surprises, after all.

Arguably the most romantic way to see the Masai Mara is from a hot air balloon in the early morning.  For an insight into the fascinating culture and traditions of the Maasai people, enquire at the camp about visits to a local homestead, or ‘manyatta’, where villagers live true to the ways of their forefathers.  They may even treat you to a display of their unorthodox way of dancing.

Bateleur Camp

Serengeti National Park

Today, the Kenyan leg of your adventure ends as you depart on a series of connecting flights bound for Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania.  From here, a final flight transports you to ‘the other end’ of the wildebeest migration – the game-rich plains of the Serengeti.  Your ultimate destination is situated on a tributary of a river synonymous with the drama of the migration – the Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge, home for the next three nights.

The lodge adorns the riverbank in a far-flung location that promises solitude and exclusivity.  The architecture utilizes clean lines and circles reminiscent of traditional Maasai ‘manyattas’.  

From the moment you are welcomed, you will be impressed, an expansive viewing deck overlooks seasonal hippo pools in the riverbed – a natural magnet for wildlife.  Here, you too can take to the water, in a refreshing rim-flow swimming pool.

The decor is inspired by the vibrant colors of nearby Lake Victoria’s fishing communities, with traditional Kitenge fabrics bold against a neutral background.  Furnishings made for comfort invite you to spend time here, whether to socialize over meals and drinks or take a moment of quiet contemplation savoring the view.  The cuisine adventure is an interactive experience where you are welcome to discuss menu ideas with the chef – or follow their suggestions of traditional dishes with a twist of the familiar.  It cannot be overstated that throughout the itinerary, the emphasis on food is as thoughtful as it is creative.  If it all leads to calorific concerns, head to the fully-equipped gym to restore balance.  If you’re all about the epicurean, you can book an in-room massage followed by a private candlelit dinner.

Your accommodation is a stylish and spacious cottage, contemporary in design, yet steeped in the tones and decor synonymous with the Serengeti.  It includes a private viewing deck complete with a plunge pool, a fabulous en-suite bathroom with an enviable view, and comfortable seating adjacent to a large bed.  Keep a lookout for the cheeky black-and-white colobus monkeys, found nowhere else in the Serengeti.

Perhaps one of the most dramatic moments of the great wildebeest migration arrives when the heaving herd approaches the various rivers on its path.  The ancient collective wisdom of the herd warns of danger ahead and a halt is called.  Not only might the river be in spate, ready to carry away the weak but it is also home to some of the largest Nile crocodiles, who might only eat once a year as the migration passes – and this is the moment they have been waiting for.  

As the herd stalls in indecision, both the tension and the bellowing volume mount.  Inevitably, pressure from the rear builds, forcing those in front to take the plunge.  Now, herd mentality in the truest sense unfolds as thousands pour down the riverbanks.  An unlucky few are lost, while those that make it – wide-eyed with relief – are met with yet more danger as awaiting lions take advantage of the confusion.  

For visitors fortunate enough to witness this drama it is a memory that will live with them forever.  For those that don’t, the Serengeti still offers a profusion of action and world-class game viewing.  These verdant plains attract hungry herds all year round.  Typical plains game species include wildebeest, zebra, topi, buffalo, waterbuck, gazelle, warthog, and giraffe.  This diversity exists because each has its preferred diet, allowing all to coexist in a thriving biomass.

Naturally enough, this means that the predators abound up and down the food chain.  Aside from its legendary lion prides, the Serengeti boasts healthy populations of cheetah, leopard, and spotted hyena.  Smaller predators range from sociable dwarf mongooses to African wild cats, serval, caracal, bat-eared foxes, and more.  

Overall, the birdlife of the Serengeti offers yet more diversity to the viewing opportunities.   Vultures are another bird with which you will become well acquainted.  The high predator density means there is much for them to scavenge.  Perhaps the most colorful bird you will encounter is the gorgeous lilac-breasted roller; flamboyant in eight colors to please the eye.

As you are now in a national park, night drives and game walks are not possible.  Nevertheless, with all the game and the sparsity of other vehicles in the area, you will hardly feel like anything is lacking.

As an alternative, you could soar in near silence over the savanna, while drinking champagne in a hot air balloon.   Please enquire at the lodge about this activity.

Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge

Ngorongoro Crater

The second lodge you will visit is reached on a short flight across the Serengeti and into an expansive conservation area.  A representative awaits at the airstrip, ready to deliver you to your destination for the last two nights of the Tanzanian leg of the safari – the spectacularly situated Ngorongoro Crater Lodge.

Around 2.5-million years ago, a massive volcano quite literally blew its top.  So huge was the eruption, that it caused the entire volcanic cone to collapse in on itself, resulting in what is the largest intact caldera (volcanic crater) in the world.  Within the crater, an expansive wildlife Eden was formed.  

Near its middle, lies Lake Magadi – its high soda content making it a haven for thousands of flamingos.  Dotted around the shores, swamps attract bulk grazers like elephants and buffaloes.  Beyond that, a massive grassland radiates in all directions with nutritious grasses sustaining a throng of herbivorous wildlife.  Nearing the towering escarpment of the crater where the deeper soil can support root structures, woodlands offer shade for predator and prey alike.  As the gradient steepens, montane forest predominates, rising up the inner wall of the crater – on the rim of which the lodge is perched.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, therefore, commands a view second to none – and throughout the lodge, its structures take full advantage.  The lodge comprises three camps dotted along the crater rim, each with its own central gathering place with a cozy bar, lounge, and inviting indoor and outdoor dining areas.  The decor is a whimsical mix of the baroque, cleverly merged with traditional African touches.

There is also a  Safari Shop where you can pick up mementos of your stay.  Enquire at the well-stocked cellar about the various beverage-centric activities on offer – such as sundowners at a viewpoint.  The cuisine is consistently of the highest standards, taking you on a culinary expedition that never fails to delight.  Meals can be arranged at a variety of unique locations from the rim of the crater, to your private deck, to  a magnificent lunch on the crater floor.  The lodge spa offers a range of wellness treatments second to none.

Despite the craters’ apparent permanence, the view each day from your accommodation is ever-changing – a fact fully optimized by the floor-to-ceiling glass of the front aspect and private viewing deck.  Within, a sanctuary devoted to relaxation awaits.  Elaborately carved wooden furnishings are clothed in rich fabrics, a fireplace awaits for cool evenings, and a large bed will cocoon you in the finest linen.  The en-suite bathroom hints at North African influences, complete with a free-standing tub and a rainfall shower.  Each suite is attended by a butler, there to ensure your every need is met with consummate grace.

The crater floor covers nearly 100-square miles densely populated with wildlife.  All that they need lies within the crater, including permanent water.  It is estimated that some 25,000 large mammals are resident here, including approximately 70 lions.  Around 6,000 wildebeest and a multitude of other plains game means that the predators seldom have to venture far in search of food, although it is said that only one in ten attempts among the big cats is successful.  To the surprise of many, spotted hyenas are Africa’s most successful large predators, and you will find them in abundance here.  

The crater is also home to about 16 highly endangered black rhinoceros, meaning that along with lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo – it is possible to see the legendary Big 5.  Don’t expect to see giraffes though – it is thought the steep crater walls make it inaccessible to them.  You will still see plentiful plains game, a myriad of different birds, and some magnificent tuskers among the elephants.

Daily game drives in comfortable safari vehicles are on offer, either in the early morning or afternoon.  We suggest booking a Crater Floor Banquet, where you will find an elaborate meal waiting at a scenic private location.  There is also a special program available for children, offering a variety of interactive activities to help develop a passion for their environment.

Additional activities on offer include an archaeological excursion, various cultural experiences with the Maasai and Hadzabe people, various scenic nature hikes (with exceptional birding), and interactions with the KopeLion conservation team.  Please enquire about the availability of these exclusive options at the lodge. 

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Valcanoes National Park Rawanada ( Optional )

Today it’s time to bid farewell to Tanzania, flying first to Kilimanjaro International Airport and then onward to Kigali International Airport in Rwanda.  At the airport, a representative is on hand to deliver you to your final destination – Bisate Lodge, near the border of the mysterious Volcanoes National Park.  Reached on a sinuous road, it soon becomes apparent why Rwanda is known as ‘The Land of a Thousand Hills’ – and taking full advantage of the scenic landscape, the recently opened lodge has already amassed an impressive array of accolades.

The lodge comprises just six en-suite Forest Villas that beautifully embody this small country’s rich culture.  The Bisate vision is to provide a model of sustainable and responsible tourism, inviting guests to partner in their efforts to conserve biodiversity and have a positive impact, not only on the local wildlife but on the communities who stand to benefit from its preservation.

The lodge is the epitome of sophisticated architectural design, where traditional Rwandan building techniques have been utilized reflecting the style of Rwandan royal homesteads.  Extensive use has been made of locally sourced materials, such as stone, timber, and thatch.  The central building incorporates a welcoming lounge, bar, and dining area.  A roaring fire keeps the cool highland temperatures at bay, while by day, the viewing decks outside offer stunning views of the Virunga massif; with distant volcanoes and the endless undulations of the surrounding landscape.  The cuisine at Bisate is of an exceptionally high-standard; focused on healthy living and the use of locally sourced ingredients.  Touchingly evident is the sincere and attentive service, in a place where gracious hospitality overflows.

Your forest villa is a vision to behold.  Clad in a spherical, intricate basketlike exterior these beautiful suites ooze character and romantic appeal.  Each of the 6 pod-like units is carefully hidden in the luxuriant vegetation, guaranteeing a sense of privacy and immersion in the surroundings.  Within, every imaginable luxurious amenity is provided, while the surfaces reflect Rwandan culture in a variety of hues and woven materials.  Entering via the private viewing deck you are greeted with a massive bed, a comfortable seating area, and a fireplace ready for when the evening temperatures cool.  Polished timber floors lead into a stunning en-suite bathroom, complete with a free-standing bath and large shower.

The nearby Virunga Massif is incorporated within a transnational conservation area, declared a World Heritage Site, primarily for the protection of the area’s highly endangered gorilla population.  Relentlessly exploited for decades and further threatened by rampant habitat destruction, the gorillas are now beneficiaries of multiple conservation efforts, not only to protect them but also to restore the unique jungle habitat essential to their survival.  Bisate Lodge is intimately involved in various programs, bringing education and upliftment to the local community, such that a sense of ownership is fostered to pass on to future generations.  Already, the lodge lays claim to being the ultimate base from which to search for gorillas and be part of an unfolding conservation success story.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of your stay will be the opportunity to have a personal experience with these magnificent, regal apes.  Before setting off on your gorilla trek, you will receive a detailed briefing about the expedition.  A well-established etiquette has allowed conservationists to habituate several of the gorilla families of Volcanoes National Park to humans.

Then, with high hopes, you set off into the jungle, your guide pointing out various indications that gorillas have passed through, whether flattened vegetation where they have slept or broken plants where they have fed.  In all, the park is home to some 604 gorillas, and though it may take some effort when you finally do get to meet them, it is worth every step it took to get there.  

Only chimpanzees share more DNA with humans but one cannot escape the sense that you are looking into a primordial mirror when you observe wild gorillas.  Despite their commanding presence, by and large, they are a very gentle creature, showing profound connections within their troops – particularly delightful when you witness a mother’s bond with her offspring.  Even the stately Silverbacks – as dominant males are known – obviously possess a deep consciousness; their wisdom is evident as they survey their surroundings.  Some would say that an experience with gorillas is quasi-religious, such is the sense of fulfillment when it comes to a close.  As the gorillas melt back into the rainforest, you return to the lodge elated – and ready for a refreshing cocktail and more pampering in the gorgeous surroundings.

An additional primate experience available at Bisate involves a visit to the bamboo forests where you can get acquainted with the beautiful golden monkeys.  They live in large groups of between 30 and 80 individuals and have also been carefully habituated, allowing you to observe them going about their day-to-day lives as if you weren’t there.

For physically fit visitors, a full-day guided hike is well worth the effort when you reach the summit of Mount Bisoke – one of several active volcanoes in the region.  The views of the rainforest and crater lake within are simply breathtaking.

Another challenging hike takes you to the site of Dian Fossey’s erstwhile research center (now in ruins) and burial site.  This pioneer of gorilla conservation was immortalized in the movie “Gorillas in the Mist” which detailed in part her seminal study of the species and her special relationship with a gorilla named Digit, alongside whom she is buried.  The hike takes you through the rainforest to an elevation of around 9,000-ft.  In an interesting aside, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund recently celebrated the opening of a new permanent campus dedicated to the study and preservation of this iconic species.  It can be visited either prior to arrival, or on departure from the lodge.

Visits to the community and various projects supported by the lodge are also on offer.  Please make further inquiries at the lodge.

Bisate Lodge

Kigali And Homeward Bound

Following a final sumptuous breakfast, you will be returned to Kigali International Airport for your homeward flights.

Here, we bid you a fond farewell, leaving you with incredible memories of your East Africa safari, with an open invitation to return.  Magical Africa Awaits!

Options & Extensions

A gorilla sitting in the woods, surrounded by tall trees and lush greenery. It looks calm and peaceful in its natural habitat.

Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda

Without exception, those who have been privileged to spend time with gorillas report a near-mythical experience, as if glancing into our ancestral past.  Sharing upwards of 98% of DNA, the link between our species is undeniable.  While they are massively powerful creatures – with males weighing over 400 pounds – they are by nature shy and placid.  Primarily herbivores, they spend much of their day alternating between foraging and rest.

A picturesque beach setting under a vibrant blue sky dotted with fluffy clouds.

Zanzibar Beach Retreat

For those wishing to enjoy a little pure downtime, perhaps following an action-packed safari, our Zanzibar itinerary offers the perfect blend of luxury, simplicity and all the idyllic pleasures of beach life. We have chosen from among Zanzibar’s best beach lodges options which are suitable for either families or those seeking an intimate, sophisticated retreat surrounded by the warm, clear waters of the Indian Ocean

With table mountain in the background with blue skies, the vibrant Cape Town bay with different ships docked

In & Around Cape Town

With its spectacular landscape, diverse activities and well-developed infrastructure, Cape Town offers the modern traveler the ideal destination for leisure and adventure.  It is frequently voted among the best cities to visit on vacation by noteworthy publications – and much of the local economy thrives thanks to a robust tourist industry.  Visitors from across the spectrum are sure to find the range of accommodation, cuisine and places of cultural and historical interest highly appealing.

Inquire now

Let us give you something to look forward to on your upcoming East Africa safari journey.

Luxury Lodges: Experience the perfect blend of comfort and wilderness in our handpicked lodges. Each stay offers elegant rooms, gourmet dining, and stunning views. Relax in a serene environment after a day of adventure, enjoying modern amenities while surrounded by nature’s beauty.

Unexpected Wildlife Encounters:While the Big Five are the stars, you might come across fascinating creatures you didn’t anticipate. On your East Africa safari, look out for elusive aardvarks, nocturnal hunters with long snouts and sticky tongues.

An Ethnographic Adventure:A good safari journey is all-encompassing. It can incorporate visits to local villages, allowing you to interact with Maasai communities or learn about traditional farming practices. You might even get a chance to try local cuisine, offering a taste of authentic African flavors.

Needless to say, you’re in for 13 days of sensory overload—book now!

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Feel free to get in touch with us to begin planning your personalized dream safari today. Our team specializes in crafting bespoke safari experiences that cater to your specific preferences. Whether you’ve always dreamed of witnessing the Big Five in their natural habitat, marveling at the mesmerizing Great Migration, or simply savoring the enchanting African sunsets, we’re here to turn your safari dreams into reality.

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