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Check out our new Best of Kenya & Tanzania Wildlife Safari tour.
|Itinerary at a Glance|
|4||Mt. Kenya National Park|
|5||Samburu Game Reserve|
|6||Samburu Game Reserve|
|7||Lake Nakuru National Park|
|8||Masai Mara National Reserve|
|9||Masai Mara National Reserve|
|10||Masai Mara & Nairobi|
|11||Arusha & Tarangire National Park|
|12||Lake Manyara National Park|
|14||Ngorongoro Crater & Nairobi|
|Istanbul Optional Extension|
|Style||Fully Escorted & Guided
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Highlights||Nairobi, Mt Kenya National Park, Samburu Game Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park, Masai Mara National Reserve, & Ngorongoro Crater.|
|Included in the Price||
|What to Expect||This fast-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations, sometimes on bumpy unpaved roads and may have limited rest stops.|
If you're looking for an African wildlife safari you can afford, look no further. Savvy travelers and novices alike include Kenya & Tanzania on their list of safari tours, and for very good reason. Both countries are blessed with an abundance of spectacular wildlife and lavishly gorgeous, incredibly photogenic landscapes. Everywhere you go, from the teeming cities to the plains of the Masai Mara, the people are friendly and welcoming. Tourist infrastructure is amazing, often offering white glove service where the basics of running water and electricity appear impossible to find. Game reserves are magnificent, filled with all manner of wildlife, beautiful lakes and beaches, and sweeping vistas that seem to go on forever.
With more than 50 parks to choose from in Kenya alone, and almost 25% of Tanzania protected as nature reserves, it's hard to decide where to go. But everyone agrees that the Masai Mara and Samburu parks in Kenya and the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania are must-visit sites. Our Best of Kenya & Tanzania Wildlife Safari includes them all plus a lot more! And like all Friendly Planet tours, you'll enjoy the best of Kenya and Tanzania at prices that are as amazing as the countries themselves.
Traveling to East Africa has been a long awaited dream for me. Last November, I was finally able to realize my dream by going on Friendly Planet's 2 week jeep safari to Kenya and Tanzania. The trip was organized locally by Vintage Africa. I cannot sing enough praises for Vintage Africa, and especially our driver guide in Kenya, James Mungai. James was an extremely knowledgeable and attentive guide. His ability to intelligently answer all of our sometimes unusual questions and spot wildlife from miles away never ceased to amaze us. James went out of his way to accommodate our needs and was always patient with all our requests, from stopping to photograph every sunset and tree cluster to positioning his vehicle for the perfect photo opportunity. As a seasoned traveler, I can truly say that this trip has been one of my favorites and having James as our guide contributed to making it so memorable. I can only hope that my next group excursion will be as enjoyable and well organized.
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Day 2: En Route.
Day 3: Nairobi. Arrive in Nairobi early this morning (approximately 1:30am). Upon arrival, our representatives will assist you with passport and customs formalities and escort you to your hotel.
After a good night's rest and a morning of leisure, begin your tour of Nairobi with a visit to the Karen Blixen Museum, which is the former home of "Out of Africa" author Karen Blixen and served as the farm house for her 4500 acre farm from 1917–1931. Accommodations: Intercontinental Hotel Nairobi or similar.
Next, you'll visit the Langata Giraffe Center, established to protect the endangered Rothschild Giraffe. Guests are permitted to feed the giraffes from a raised feeding platform, from which you'll also see several warthogs which roam freely with the giraffes. Breakfast provided.
Day 4: Mt. Kenya National Park.Depart after breakfast and drive north into the forests of the Aberdare Mountain range to Kenya's highest mountain, Mt. Kenya. On the slopes of Mt. Kenya, some 2000 meters high, you will be surrounded by a dense rainforest, but will still be able to view breathtaking mountain panoramas. Arrive at the lodge in time for lunch. Experience game viewing from the lodge balconies and take in the trumpeting sound of nearby elephants. The waterhole is floodlit at night. In addition, there is an underground viewing platform. Accommodations: Serena Mountain Lodge or similar. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 5: Samburu Game Reserve.Following breakfast, travel north to the remote Samburu Reserve via Isiolo. This is the homeland of the nomadic Samburu people, whose culture attaches great value to tending their livestock of cattle, sheep, goats and camels as their main economic activity.
Samburu is rich in species not seen in southern Kenya's more famous parks, such as Grevy's zebra, reticulated giraffe, kudu and gerenuk. You'll also have a good chance at spotting lions, cheetahs and the elusive leopard. The semiarid landscape is dramatic, with the rugged outcrop known as Mt. Ololokwe a prominent feature. The Ewaso Ngiro River, which forms the southern boundary of the reserve, attracts many birds and is a popular watering hole for elephants. Arrive at your lodge in time for lunch and some relaxation, then take an evening drive for more game viewing. Accommodations: Samburu Game Lodge or similar. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 6: Samburu Game Reserve. Enjoy another day of game viewing drives in the Samburu Game Reserve. The first is early in the morning, after which you'll return to the lodge for breakfast. Spend the day relaxing, then set out again in the early evening. Guided by your expert driver, you'll go exploring in a safari vehicle with roof hatch access for perfect game viewing and photography, searching for animals native to this fascinating and beautiful area. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 7: Lake Nakuru National Park. Early this morning, travel to Lake Nakuru National Park. Travel south through the town of Nanyuki and then head west via Nyahururu (still known to many as Thompsons Falls). Visit Lake Nakuru, which often appears pink from the numerous birds lining its shores.
This park is a rhino sanctuary, offering the rare opportunity to see these endangered animals. It's also home to rare Rothschild's giraffes, buffalo, leopards and lions. Arrive at your lodge for check-in and dinner. Accommodations: Flamingo Hill Camp or similar. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 8: Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. After breakfast, set out for the Masai Mara National Reserve, which borders Tanzania's Serengeti National Park. Every year, between June and September, millions of wildebeests and zebras migrate into the Mara in search of water. The timing of this phenomenon varies, depending on the rains, but they usually start heading back to the Serengeti in October.
Whether you see the migration or not, the grassy plains and lush landscape offer a huge variety of game including lions, cheetahs, buffalo and abundant bird life such as ostriches, cranes and storks. Enjoy lunch at a nearby lodge. After lunch, depart for a game drive en route to your lodge, arriving as the sun sets. Accommodations: Keekorok Lodge or similar. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 9: Masai Mara National Reserve. Today you will take two safari drives, one in the morning and one in the early evening, in a safari vehicle with roof hatch access for perfect game viewing and photography.
You'll have the option of replacing one safari drive with an optional Hot Air Balloon Safari ($450), which provides a thrilling opportunity to soar high over the plains for animal viewing from above. Whether you go by air or land, you will enjoy searching for animals native to this fascinating and beautiful area guided by your expert guide, who will amaze you with his ability to spot game hidden in the bush.
This afternoon you'll have the opportunity for an optional visit to a Masai Village for an in-depth look at this colorful and pastoral people in their natural setting ($25). Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 10: Masai Mara & Nairobi. After breakfast enjoy your final game drive departing the Masai Mara Park. Continue through the acres of rolling wheat and barley farms, stopping for a picnic lunch in Narok, the district headquarters of this part of Masai land. After lunch, continue back to your hotel in Nairobi and enjoy the afternoon at leisure.
This evening, join your fellow travelers for an "all you can eat" dinner at the world-famous Carnivore Restaurant. Here you'll find almost every type of meat imaginable, basted and roasted on traditional Masai swords over a huge charcoal pit at the entrance of the restaurant, then carved to order by your waiter at your table. After dinner, transfer back to your hotel. Accommodations: Intercontinental Hotel Nairobi or similar. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 11: Arusha & Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. This morning, fly to Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania, at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, a dormant volcano that is the tallest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world. After completing border formalities, you'll drive to Arusha, a pleasant and temperate city that serves as a trading center for the surrounding farmlands.
Continue to Tarangire National Park, home to thousands of elephants, and, in the dry season, game which congregates along the river after having migrated from the Masai Mara. Large herds of antelope, zebras, gazelles, buffalo, wildebeest, leopards, rhinos and lots of smaller mammals also make the park their home. Tarangire is an ornithologist's paradise, rich in an incredible diversity of birds.
Enjoy a game drive en route to your lodge located deep within the park. Lunch will be served at the Lodge followed by an afternoon game drive in Tarangire Park. Accommodations: Tarangire Sopa Lodge or similar. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 12: Lake Manyara National Park. After breakfast drive to Lake Manyara National Park. Located at the base of the Great Rift Valley, the park is covered with forest, woodland, grasslands, and swamps. After lunch, take a game drive in search of tree climbing lions and the flamingos that congregate in the thousands on the lake. Accommodations: Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge or similar. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 13: Ngorongoro Crater. After breakfast, drive through the stunning hilly countryside of Karatu and the highlands filled with wheat and coffee plantations. Your destination is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where your lodge is perched on the edge of the famous Ngorongoro Crater. This extinct volcano, whose completely intact rim rises 1800' above the floor, offers among the very finest game viewing in Africa. It is considered one of the world's greatest natural wonders, and its abundant game, including rare species such as black rhinos and cheetahs and magnificent scenery will thrill even the most experienced safari traveler.
Taking along a picnic lunch, descend into the crater. With the passage of time, the crater floor has become grassland with a lake in the middle, a sanctuary and source of water for the abundance of wildlife found here. Accommodations: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge or similar. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 14: Ngorongoro Crater & Nairobi. Heading southeast towards the highlands and Karatu, the scenery gradually changes into wheat plains and coffee plantations, before heading down through the scenic Rift Valley escarpment with great views of Lake Manyara beyond. Once on the main Arusha, Dodoma road, the journey will pass through the Masai Steppe filled with many picturesque African villages as well as maize, coffee and banana plantations. Upon arrival you continue with your picnic lunch to Kilimanjaro Airport for your short flight back to Nairobi. Continue to your hotel and enjoy the balance of the day at leisure. Accommodations: Intercontinental Hotel Nairobi or similar. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 15: Nairobi/USA. Early this morning (shortly after midnight), bid farewell to Kenya as you transfer to the airport for your return flight via Istanbul, arriving at JFK International Airport later this afternoon. Or take advantage of your included international airfare, and choose a 3 night extension in Istanbul.
To enhance your visit to Kenya and make it more complete and memorable, here are some optional excursions that will be available to you through your guide or tour manager. More information, including updates on pricing and availability, will be included with your travel documents.
Masai Village Tour
This is an opportunity to experience what the Masai tribal life is like as you walk through a traditional village compound. You'll be greeted by the village chief and be escorted around the village by a local host who will explain the history, culture and practices of the Masai. Before departing the village, enjoy a cultural performance by the young men of the tribe, the famed warrior "morans". $25 per person, credit card not accepted for this tour.
NOTE: This excursion cannot be booked prior to travel.
Masai Mara: Hot Air Balloon Safari
Take to the sky over herds of wildlife in the Masai Mara game reserve, flying in a hot air balloon. The balloon can soar over the most inaccessible and undisturbed parts of the reserve and offers a bird's eye view of the plains below. Before returning to your lodge, your balloon pilot will present you with a Balloon Flight Certificate. This is certain to become a once in a lifetime experience you will remember long after returning from Kenya! (Please be advised that flight may not operate if weather conditions are not suitable for balloon flying). $450 per person.
NOTE: This excursion cannot be booked prior to travel.
Day 15: Istanbul. Arrive this morning in Istanbul, a city at the meeting point of two continents—Europe and Asia. You'll be met by our representative and escorted to your centrally located hotel.
This afternoon, enjoy an orientation tour to get you acquainted with Istanbul. Start at the Hagia Sophia (also known as Ayasofya), built by the emperor Justinian I between 532 and 537 AD and considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. Originally an Orthodox basilica, it later became a mosque and finally a museum in 1935. The Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, and you'll marvel at its massive dome and cavernous interior. Continue to the Hippodrome, originally built by the Byzantine Emperor Septimius Severus and later renovated by Constantine, which in its heyday was able to accommodate 100,000 spectators. You will also visit a local shopping mall, known for its handicrafts. Accommodations: Kent Hotel Istanbul or similar.
Day 16: Istanbul. This morning, visit some of the unique and iconic sites in the city. Start your tour at the Sultanahmet Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque for the tiles and paint adorning its interior. Built between 1609 and 1616 on the site of several previous palaces, is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period, and even today it is a truly epic sight. More than 200 stained glass windows admit natural light, the floors are covered with thick carpets, and the walls are decorated with incredibly intricate tile work and verses from the Qur'an, many by Seyyid Kasim Gubari, the greatest calligrapher of his time.
Spend the remainder of the morning at the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. The bazaar was opened in 1461, and today there are over 1200 stores, many of which are grouped by the type of goods, with special areas for leather coats, gold jewelry and other wares. The balance of the day is at leisure to explore this fascinating city, or take one of our optional tours. Breakfast provided.
Day 17: Istanbul. Enjoy your last full day in Istanbul. Stop by the Spice Bazaar, take a cruise on the Bosphorus, or visit Topkapi Palace. This evening, enjoy an optional dinner with festive local entertainment. Breakfast provided.
Day 18: Istanbul/USA. Today you'll be escorted to the airport as you bid farewell to Istanbul and Turkey, and board your return flight to the USA. Breakfast provided.
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