December through March are the warmest summer months. July and August are considered their winter and are the coolest months. September and October are springtime and weather again gets a little warmer.
In late July through September, you will see the annual migration of wildebeest into the Masai Mara. Although the sun is intense, early mornings and evenings can get quite cool, especially in the mountain areas.
Kenya is GMT + 3 hours in the winter, and GMT + 2 in the summer
Travel in East Africa normally begins and ends at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi or Kenya Moi International Airport in Mombasa.
Upon arrival, proceed through immigration and baggage claims and customs. Big Five personnel will be waiting for you with a Big Five sign with your name on it. We will help you with baggage and escort you to your hotel and assist with check-in formalities.
Kenyan Shilling (KES)
Day 1: Kilimanjaro, Tanzania / Arusha
This evening, you are welcomed to Tanzania. After exiting Customs & Immigrations Hall, your uniformed Big Five Tours & Expeditions driver/guide will assist you with your luggage and transfer you to Arusha Coffee Lodge. Located in the northern highlands of Tanzania, beneath the twin peaks of Mt. Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha is the safari capital of the country. This is where your safari in northern Tanzania will begin. The dramatic crater of Mt. Meru stands over the town like a majestic sentinel, its crater strewn with thick clouds, its slopes dark with verdant forest. Arusha’s ideal location near the major national parks and its highland setting offer a beautiful peaceful beginning to you safari. Built by the Germans as a center of colonial administration in the early 20th century, Arusha was a sleepy town with a garrison stationed at the old boma and a few shops around a grassy roundabout. From its backwater status amidst the farmlands and plantations of northern Tanzania, Arusha has grown into one of the country’s most prosperous towns. Arusha has also become a major center of Tanzanian diplomacy and international relations as it is home to the United Nations Criminal Tribunal on the Rwandan genocide and the headquarters for the tripartite commission for East African Co-operation. Arusha Coffee Lodge – Plantation Room
PLEASE LIMIT LUGGAGE WHILE ON SAFARI TO ONE (1) PER PERSON, MAX. 32lbs, PLUS REASONABLE CARRY ON CAMERA EQUIPMENT.
Day 2: Arusha / Burunge Wildlife Management Area
After breakfast, you are met and transferred to the local airport for your flight to Kuro airstrip in Tarangire, where camp staff wait to welcome you and take you to the sunrise camp. Little Chem Chem sits on the edge of an acacia forest, surrounded by the characteristic landscape of the Tarangire River including impressive baobab trees, and overlooking the freshwater lake, Lake Burunge. The Babati Mountain Range offers a magnificent backdrop to the southwest, with the distant hills of Tarangire visible to the northeast. The atmosphere at Little Chem Chem is welcoming, elegant and exuding authenticity of a bygone era. The luxury of sharing 16,000ha with only ten guests sets the ideal stage where you can perfectly blend into the wilderness.
Lions roam the camp and call to each other at night; stately elephants march down to Lake Burunge to get a sprinkling of fresh water; cheetahs hunt on the plains facing the lake; leopards, eland and lesser kudu can be seen in the more dense woods in the inner part of the concession. And wherever there is water, the bird life is abundant and colorful. Little Chem Chem’s intimate, elegant but authentic atmosphere, is the ultimate setting from which to explore Africa. Little Chem Chem – Tent (B,L,D)
Days 3/4: Burunge Wildlife Management Area
The concept of a “slow safari” was born at Chem Chem out of a deep passion for the African bush. It is very easy to get caught up in the 4×4 ‘rush hour’ in a fevered quest to spot the ‘Big Five’, however, true safari aficionados understand it is what you discover yourself – and sometimes about yourself – outside the vehicle, that counts. In essence, a slow safari allows you to experience Africa at its most essential. It is a tangible, sensual experience beyond the confines of a vehicle, where you travel on foot to engage with the land; where you to see, feel, touch and smell the African bush.
Some experiences that form part of Chem Chem’s slow safari ethos include walking safaris with a private guide in Chem Chem’s 4,000-hectare/9,884-acre private wildlife concession. Learn to read wildlife tracks and spoor, enjoy wilderness picnics, visit Maasai villages, dine under the stars or simply take time to sit and absorb the expansive Tanzanian landscape with a glass of Pinot Noir in hand. In the Chem Chem Wildlife Concession, the action simply never stops: majestic elephants, agile tree-climbing lions, giraffe, wildebeest, warthogs, zebras, impalas, aardvarks and hyenas – each taking a turn at the various water holes. The Tarangire Valley is famous for its large density of elephants and its remarkable, giant baobab trees. You can track down groups of giraffe in the palm forest, or listen to the cheeky chatter of baboon and other primates, and more than 300 species of birds, including pelican, storks and, of course, lesser pink flamingos, call this home. Little Chem Chem – Tent (B,L,D)
Day 5: Burunge Wildlife Management Area / Serengeti National Park
This morning, you are transferred to the airstrip for your flight to Mwiba Airstrip in the Serengeti, where you are met by a Mwiba camp guide. Enjoy a game drive on the way to your accommodation at Mwiba Lodge in a private wildlife reserve to the north of the Lake Eyasi Escarpment within the greater Serengeti ecosystem. Your location in a private concession insures that you have exclusive access to the camp and the surrounding wilderness. You can also enjoy walking safaris here, which are unavailable in the neighboring national park. It is a sophisticated, secluded haven among massive stone boulders, ancient coral trees and acacias, overlooking a rocky gorge on the Arugusinyai River. Set in harmony with this idyllic natural backdrop, Mwiba offers an unmatched experience in luxury adventure. This exclusive destination mixes both traditional and modern design elements, creating an inviting, sophisticated hideaway. The interiors artfully integrate the natural surroundings with layer upon layer of textured creams paired with suede, tans and accents of chocolate and charcoal. From the linen-dressed, slope-armed sofas to ornately carved wooden leg tables and cascading lighting, the eight double suites all give way to a wide-open layout where each room flows to another. The bathroom brings the outdoors inside with traditional canvas walls accented with copper fixtures, large soaking tubs with private outside showers, all with transporting views from hardwood plank decks. The grey slate-lined infinity-edge pool overlooks three springs where guests can enjoy the sights and sounds of a constant parade of wildlife. Vast and privately controlled, this exquisite 20,639-hectare/51,000-acre wildlife reserve is vibrantly lush with color-infused botanicals, 33 freshwater springs and a diverse array of wildlife. Mwiba Lodge – Suite (B,L,D)
Days 6/7: Serengeti National Park
Spend your days on game drives, doing bush walks deep into the landscape and savor cultural excursions to the local tribe’s village. These magical experiences begin at Mwiba, where a world of adventure awaits. Game drives in the Serengeti give you an opportunity to seek out a wide variety of wildlife with the largest concentration of mammals and over 2,500 lions. Spend time exploring one of the rarest and most captivating ecosystems in the world with your private guide on foot or in an open vehicle. Other activities include bush meals, star gazing, sundowners and painted cave visits. Mwiba Lodge – Suite (B, L,D)
Day 8: Serengeti National Park
After breakfast, you will be transferred back to Mwiba airstrip for your Tanganykia Air flight to Seronera airstrip in the central Serengeti. Your guide from One Nature Nyaruswiga awaits you at the airstrip to take you to your next stop. En route, you catch up with the herds of wildebeest and zebra. Your luxury camp is surrounded by breathtaking views of endless plains and embraced by the majestic Nyaruswiga Hills. Harmoniously nestled into the pristine woodlands overlooking the stunning open savannah, the camp's ultra luxurious 13 safari tents, which includes one family tent, offer a sensational connection with the surrounding nature. Propped up by poles made from solid African Eucalyptus wood, and capped with the most elegant brass crown befitting royalty, the upscale canvas tents were designed to incorporate luxury into an exciting African safari camping experience, using only eco-friendly materials, including hardwood. The camp offers an Astral Observation Deck equipped with a high-powered telescope that is strategically situated at an area of the property for perfectly unobstructed views of the majestic night skies. The privacy created by the surrounding hills combined with the year-round vast number and diversity of wildlife of the Central Serengeti make for an unforgettable African safari experience. One Nature Nyaruswiga Camp – Tent (B,L,D)
Days 9/10: Serengeti National Park
Over the next two days, you have opportunities to enjoy safari game drives, a balloon safari (weather permitting), a private photographic safari, and a walking safari as well as enjoying a scenic flight, bush dining and a memorable trip to the famed Ngorongoro Crater, which supports a resident population of up to 25,000 large mammals. During January or February, you might experience the remarkable wildebeest calving season where around 8,000 calves are born per day. Encounter an incredibly rich diversity of resident wildlife and an almost surreal backdrop for the millions of migrating animals that pass through its plains year after year. With easy prey available throughout the year, there is more than enough big cat activity here, including cheetah, lion and leopard on the lookout for prey. One Nature Nyaruswiga Camp – Tent (B,L,D)
Day 11: Serengeti National Park / Migori / Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya
This morning, board your flight to the Migori crossing point. Here you clear passport formalities before boarding a second flight to your camp in the Masai Mara. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred by 4x4 to your luxury tented camp, a striking combination of contemporary style and comfort in the heart of Kenya’s world famous Masai Mara Game Reserve. The camp is hidden in a grove of riverine woodland on the banks of the Talek River. Sweeping pale canvas tents, king-sized beds made from local fig-wood, wide sofas furnished with bolster cushions, and wool rugs make for a luxurious base from which to explore the Mara. Main Naibor has a total of seven tents. Each tent is a private unit complete with shady verandah, en-suite bathroom with flush toilet and safari shower. Little Naibor is located within the immediate vicinity of Naibor Camp, and is made up of two spacious suites which are uniquely designed. Each suite contains a double and a twin bedded room, with their own bathrooms, inter-connected by a communal lounge and verandah area. A dedicated team of staff caters to your every need. Each of these stunning suites has a private fireplace and dining area set up strategically overlooking the Talek River with complete privacy and spectacular views. Little Naibor can be booked and used as an exclusive private arrangement, or used in conjunction with the main Naibor Camp and its facilities. The tents are all carefully positioned among the trees so that each can enjoy the surrounding woodland in complete privacy. Little Naibor – Tent (B,L,D)
Please note: The passport connection at Migori is handled by airline representatives who will direct you where to go for the appropriate stamps and which plane to board to fly to the appropriate airstrip.
Day 12: Masai Mara Game Reserve
Explore this incredible ecosystem. Naibor is strategically placed for the annual wildebeest migration, being close to all the major wildebeest crossing sites over the Mara River. The Maasai Mara Game Reserve is widely considered to be Africa’s greatest wildlife reserve. The Mara comprises 518 sq kilometers/200 sq miles of open plains, woodlands and riverine forest. Contiguous with the plains of the Serengeti, the Mara is home to a breathtaking array of life. The vast grassland plains are scattered with herds of zebra, giraffe, gazelle, and topi. The Acacia forests abound with birdlife and monkeys. Elephants and buffalo wallow in the wide Musiara Swamp. The Mara and Talek rivers are brimming with hippos and crocodiles. The prime interest for most visitors to this area, obviously, is to see wildlife. The sheer volume and variety of the Mara will certainly not disappoint. Little Naibor – Tent (B,L,D)
Day 13: Masai Mara Game Reserve / Nairobi / Sera Conservancy, Northern Kenya
Board your flight this morning to Samburu via a connection in Nairobi. On arrival, you are met by camp representatives and transferred to the luxury camp in the north, Saruni Rhino in the Sera Community Conservancy. It is located in a private conservancy belonging to the local Samburu Sera Community. In the wild, undiscovered northern frontier of Kenya, the camp is a little over an hour and a half drive from Saruni Samburu lodge in nearby Kalama Conservancy. Saruni Rhino offers the first rhino tracking experience in East Africa. This amazing walking safari provides a uniquely thrilling adventure, while allowing guests to actively contribute to the protection of this highly endangered species. Comprised of two elegant ‘bandas’ (open stone cottages, previously known as 'Kauro Guesthouse') sleeping 4-6 initially and a main ‘mess’ cottage for dining and relaxing, Saruni Rhino is nestled amidst swaying doum palms dotted along a dry river bed (the Kauro ‘lugga’, in the heart of the conservancy) with sweeping views of a nearby waterhole and dramatic landscape so typical of the north. The waterhole is a popular watering stop-off for a diverse range of wildlife: elephant, impala, birdlife, hyena, oryx, Grevy's zebra and much more, making it great theater from the comfort of your cottage’s sandy verandah at any time. The dry river bed proves the quintessential torch-lit bush dinner location under the vast African skies. Saruni Rhino Camp (B,L,D)
Please note: Saruni Rhino is a bit rustic. The camp is the first to allow tracking by foot. This camp is not recommended for guests with mobility issues.
Day 14: Sera Conservancy
The Saruni Rhino experience echoes the classic safari adventure from eras past. You explore remote areas of a yet largely undiscovered terrain, where the main draw is the rhino, and the reason for the camp’s name. After years of hard work, substantial investment, passion and determined commitment by Sera community members and Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), two years ago, Sera Community Conservancy became the home to the ‘Sera Rhino Sanctuary’. Sera Community Conservancy is a vast, untouched wilderness of more than 350,000 hectares/864,868 acres, larger than Luxembourg and Hong Kong combined. It is the first community conservancy in Africa to own and operate a sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of the critically endangered black rhino.
The sanctuary currently provides state-of-the-art protection for 11 black rhinos relocated from Lewa Conservancy, Nakuru National Park and other areas. This move sees the rhino back in its natural habitat in northern Kenya after 30 years. Saruni offers you the thrill of a lifetime as you set out tracking black rhino on foot, accompanied by an expert Saruni guide and a highly-trained Sera Community Conservancy ranger, equipped with a transmitter correlating to the GPS whereabouts of the 11 rhinos throughout the sanctuary. The vast rhino sanctuary has been fenced in what is one of the most advanced conservation projects in Kenya. Operational only throughout certain hours of the day for maximum protection, the use of the transmitter allows us to game drive our guests a tracking distance away from the nearest rhino, leaving the vehicle and continuing on foot (very lightly to not give away our presence) to within feet of the grazing rhino. The tension is palpable as you come across the rhino in such close proximity for the first time; heart beating, pulse racing, curiosity and excitement mounting – it doesn’t get more thrilling than this!
The adventure doesn’t stop there. Following your ‘up close and personal’ encounters with the rhino of Sera, game drives take you out to spot the Samburu specials species – oryx, gerenuk, ostrich, Grevy's Zebra and reticulated giraffe. You’ll also search for buffalo, elephants, antelope and a plethora of birdlife. Sera is also home to The Fifty Wells, ‘Kisima Hamsini’, a series of 50 springs where local pastoralists take their livestock to water, digging up water from the wells to fill up holders and troughs. The Singing Wells are also a driving distance away and can be visited with some notice. Here you watch the local community members singing songs that are recognized by their own cattle to call them to the wells to drink. At nearby waterholes, early morning and late afternoon, an amazing natural spectacle can be witnessed. Thousands of sand grouse swoop in to take the water. Their flapping wings en masse create one of the most sensory delights possible. Sera is the ultimate birding enthusiast and photographer’s playground. Saruni Rhino Camp (B,L,D)
Day 15: Sera Conservancy / Kalama Conservancy
After breakfast, depart overland to the neighboring 97,125-hectare/240,000-acre Kalama Conservancy adjacent to Samburu National Park. Upon arrival at the airstrip, you are met and transferred to the distinctive Saruni Samburu Lodge within the conservancy. The conservancy, like Sera, is part of the Northern Rangelands Trust, an umbrella organization creating long-lasting local solutions through habitat and wildlife conservation, rural community development projects, protection of endangered species, and environmental education. This is an exciting and pristine wildlife destination in northern Kenya. With the elegant style and private atmosphere of its four villas, Saruni promotes the feeling of exclusivity, of having an incredibly large area all to yourself; and all that with a high level of comfort and tailor-made service. Activities include day and night game drives, professionally-led game walks, and visits to nearby caves where guests can see traditional Samburu rock art. Saruni Samburu (B,L.D)
Day 16: Kalama Conservancy
Spend the day enjoying the rhythms of the East African bush. On foot safaris, you walk the Kalama Mountains, among the most spectacular in Northern Kenya. See, feel, touch and smell its trees, bushes and rocks and watch for birds. Track animals with your guide, where the tracks and the animal droppings tell a story that is unique to this area. Walk with Samburu warriors in the wild lands for an intimate and close up experience; and learn how they use berries and leaves, about their traditions and their everyday lives. During game drives, you are accompanied by a professional guide and by a Maasai tracker, a team that will help you to read the book of nature.
Enjoy special moments during bush dinners. A picnic lunch by the river allows you to be with elephants. Visit a genuine Samburu village and, because they are our friends, you will be allowed to share moments of their life. Saruni Samburu (B,L.D)
Day 17: Kalama Conservancy / Nairobi
Depart this morning by air for Nairobi. On arrival, you are met and transferred to your hotel for a final night in Kenya. In the late afternoon, enjoy a singular visit to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage run by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, overlooking Nairobi National Park. The late David Sheldrick stands out, even today, as one of Africa's most famous and proficient Pioneer National Park Wardens of all time. With just one vehicle, and a handful of laborers, he was given the task of transforming a huge chunk of inhospitable arid land, previously uncharted and known only as the Taru Desert, into what today is Kenya's largest and most famous national park – Tsavo. His wife Daphne Sheldrick was the first person in the entire world to successfully hand rear orphaned, newborn, fully milk dependent African elephant. It took her some 28 years of trial and error to achieve this remarkable feat. By the year 2008, the trust had successfully saved and hand-reared over 82 infant African elephant calves, two from the day of birth. When a tiny newborn elephant is orphaned, often its mother and family are gunned down for their ivory, its life support gone. Any survivors flee in terror, and its fate is to suffer and die in hopeless and lonely isolation that this intelligent animal cannot understand. For an elephant, the family is vitally important; its very existence dependent upon its mother's milk for the first two years of life. Just like us, the young elephant, if left with its family, would experience a life filled with fun and joy through the companionship of friends and a close-knit and loving family, whose love is pure and unconditional all the days of its life. Big Five believes and champions this mission so we foster an orphan in your name. This allows you the opportunity to visit the orphanage when it is open only to fellow foster donors and not the general public. As the expert handlers introduce the lively elephant and rhino orphans and feeding time begins, you will have a close encounter with these delightful little creatures. Later you enjoy a final dinner before being transferred to the airport for your evening flight out. Hemingways Hotel – Day Room (B,L,D)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: From US$1,200 per person per day.