Laikipia Safari - the itinerary
This itinerary offers the ultimate 10 night (11-day) safari in Kenya, Samburu Reserve, Laikipia, Lakes Nakuru and Bogoria, and the Maasai Mara. These combine the best wildlife viewing, the most varied and spectacular scenery, and the most colourful and interesting local tribes. We use our own small private luxury camps, a home-stay on 4000-acre farm in Rongai, with one night in a lodge en route.
· Wed: Drive (flight optional) Nairobi to Samburu Reserve, overnight in our Private Camp.
· Thu: Explore the Samburu and Buffalo Springs reserves.
· Fri: Morning in Shaba Reserve, optional visit to Samburu village p.m.
· Sat: Laikipia, private lodge.
· Sun: Lake Nakuru Park, overnight Gogar Farm, Rongai.
· Mon: Day trip to Lake Bogoria. Afternoon and overnight Gogar Farm.
· Tue: Drive to Maasai Mara, for a late lunch in camp. Four nights in Grant and Cameron’s Mara private tented camp.
· Wed/Thu/Fri: Explore the Maasai Mara, by 4WD vehicle and on foot.
· Sat: Morning game drive, Fly to Nairobi 11am
Special features: quality guiding, personal groups limited to ten, four wheel drive vehicles, options to walk where possible, our own private luxury tented camp in Samburu and Maasai Mara, small private lodge in Laikipia.
Price on application depending on number of guests traveling.
You will be collected from your hotel in the morning and we travel north via the lush farms of Kikuyu-land and the cultivated slopes of Mt Kenya. After a delicious lunch with friends who live on the slopes of Mt. Kenya we descend into the dry bush landscape, the border of Kenya's vast Northern Frontier District.
Alternatively (if you choose the optional flight to Samburu) you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to Wilson Airport for the hour-long flight to Samburu National Reserve. You will be met at the Samburu airstrip and transferred to our camp.
Our safari crew will meet us with a friendly smile and a cold drink before showing us around our own private camp overlooking the Ewaso Ngiro River. The tents are spacious and cool, with extra long wooden frame beds and duvet quilts (or sheets and blankets if you prefer). Behind each tent is an adjoining private toilet and shower with hot water available all day.
We will spend the next two full days game viewing both from our specially outfitted 4 wheel drive vehicles and on foot in some of the most dramatic country in Kenya: Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba National Reserves. The open acacia savannah of Samburu provides an ideal habitat for all the big game of Africa: elephant, lion, cheetah and leopard are often seen. Also endemic to this area are several rare species such the Beisa oryx, gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich and Grevy’s zebra. The backdrop of the table top, Mount Ololokwe, and other imposing mountain ranges and the gentle rustle of the leaves of the magnificent doum palms along the water courses make this some of the most spectacular and unforgettable game-viewing country in Africa.
We will have the option of a walk in Shaba along the Ewaso Ngiro River. This shows you a completely different perspective, as well as giving you the chance to get some exercise. You can learn more about the smaller mammals, the reptiles, the plants and the geology to help you understand more about the fascinating interactions, which characterise these amazingly rich and diverse ecosystems
We will also get a chance to see a manyatta (village) of the Samburu native people who live around the reserve. We will have an opportunity to see their houses, learn about and interact with them. Even in the 21st century they maintain most of their traditional lifestyle; they dress in vivid scarlet and are adorned with numerous bracelets and necklaces. The morani, who often have long braided hair covered with ochre, are particularly striking. Let them show you about their culture and traditions and tell you in their own words what it means to be a Samburu warrior.
The Laikipia plateau
We leave camp early to have a full game drive and bush breakfast on our way out of the Samburu Reserve. We drive to our overnight stop at one of the small private lodges on the Northern Laikipia, either Sabuk, Ol Malo or Ol Pinguan. Please see “Laikipia Small Private Lodges” for details.
We will have the afternoon at leisure, with one of more optional activities such as a walk with camels and Samburu tribesmen, or a visit to a Samburu village, or some other local point of interest. Which of these we will do depends on where we are staying, and what you would like to do.
We drive through Nyahururu (formerly Thomson’s Falls) stopping briefly shortly after to enjoy the breathtaking view across the Rift Valley. We descend through the fertile Sabukia Valley past Menengai Crater (Africa’s second largest caldera after Ngorongoro) to Lake Nakuru on the floor of the Rift.
Lake Nakuru Park, Kenya’s first designated World Heritage Area, is world renowned for the spectacular concentrations of pink flamingos that can gather here, as well as the remarkable variety of other wildlife. The park has been secured as a rhino reserve, with breeding populations of black and white rhino. We will also keep an eye out for leopard and lion, occasionally found along the dramatic cliffs that form the Rift Valley’s western wall. There is also a sizeable population of the endangered reticulated giraffe and a large variety of plains game: zebra, buffalo and antelope of many types. We will have a bush lunch along the Makalia River, or under the cliffs.
Late afternoon we will leave the Park, driving west through Nakuru town to Gogar Farm, Rongai. It was here, in the early years of last century, that Hamish Grant’s grandfather established a farm that has been in the family ever since. It now incorporates land that belonged to his friend Denys Finch-Hatton of “Out of Africa” fame. We stay in the original farmhouse, now Hamish’s home, which consists of cottages, mostly thatched, around the lawns which surround a central dining house with a long, cool, typically colonial veranda.
We will have two nights in Rongai, giving everyone a glimpse of farm life in Kenya on one of the oldest family owned properties in East Africa. We may have time for a walk with the dogs before night falls.
Rising at dawn we travel north, dropping in altitude from 6200ft in
Rongai, to Lake Bogoria at just over 3000ft. We pass through vast sisal estates down a little used and dramatic road, towards the eastern edge of the Rift Valley, where the lake nestles beneath a 2000ft high escarpment.
Dwarfed by this stunning backdrop, we stop for a leisurely picnic breakfast underneath magnificent sycamore fig trees on the lakeshore, often with very large numbers of flamingo in the foreground, and a magnificent vista along the lake behind them.
We will then make our way around the lake, taking in the diverse bird-life, magnificent views and perhaps a chance sighting of the greater kudu – a stunning striped antelope with spiral horns. We arrive at the natural hot springs around noon, where you can stretch your legs on the crust of the lakeshore as gaggles of flamingos preen and feed knee deep in the alkaline water, near geysers belching steam and spray.
We head home, avoiding the heat of the day, for a late lunch and an afternoon at leisure on Gogar Farm. We can read, rest, bird-watch, walk, ride a horse, or a mountain bike around the picturesque 4000-acre farm, one of Kenya’s leading mixed farms, with dairy, beef, crops and agro-forestry, as well as natural bush, forest and views over the Rift Valley.
After an early breakfast we journey up and out of the Rift Valley travelling south west along
the Mau escarpment to
Kericho, one of the largest tea growing areas in the world. We will stop to watch the tea pluckers at work and learn a little about this pristine crop, Kenya’s largest agricultural export earner. We continue to skirt along the Mau highlands, through picturesque small farms belonging to the Kipsigis people, through the Aitong range of hills and emerge overlooking the plains of the Maasai Mara.
Driving through game country on the edge of the reserve, we arrive at camp set under spreading greenheart trees, with spacious ensuite tents overlooking the Ntiekntiek River. We have a late lunch in camp and time to relax before setting out on an evening game-drive or walk.
With three full days at our disposal, we can roam the vast plains, unhurried in our search for hippos bathing in the Mara River, the imposing silhouette of a lone bull elephant, and the predators – lion, hyena, leopard, and cheetah – that shadow the herds of herbivores. We can sit with these animals observing and photographing them in their natural surroundings and gain an in-depth understanding of the niche that each fills in this complex tapestry of life
If you travel between June and October you can also expect to witness one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles – the “migration” – when hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle converge on the plains in their search for better grazing and waterholes. When concentrations of animals come up against the ominous Mara River, the ensuing chaos gives rise to a melee of action as animals crash through the crocodile infested waters. Occasionally predators lurking in the wings also take advantage of the confusion to snatch a straggler. A breathtaking experience!
Another possibility is to take to our feet, providing both some exercise and a completely different and intrinsically African perspective. This is a chance to observe the little things often missed – plants, insects, smaller animals and tracks. Although not compulsory, it is a wonderful opportunity to experience the wild and provides a welcome break from the limitations of a vehicle.
We may also do one or two night game-drives to glimpse another world of nocturnal creatures; smaller cats, mongooses, bat eared foxes, honey badgers, and marsupial-like springhares.
The Mara remains home to the remarkable Maasai, a proud race of nomadic pastoralists, who have herded cattle here for many centuries. Their tradition of burning the grassland year after year has helped create the plains ecosystem that predominates today. This encourages new grass growth for their animals and keeps tsetse flies at bay. Unwittingly, they create the perfect environment for the huge herds of ungulates roaming the Mara plains today and keep off neighbouring tribes who would otherwise hunt the animals.
Both our viewing and camping fees go to the Maasai landowners as part of a groundbreaking initiative called “Campfire Conservation”. This allows the fruits of tourism to filter through to the people whose wise game conservation has assured the survival of this last great plains ecosystem
There will be an opportunity to visit a Maasai village, or manyatta, meet them and get a feel for their lifestyle and values.
We return to camp for breakfast after an early morning game drive and bid farewell to the camp crew. After an easy one-hour flight at 11am over the Rift Valley to Nairobi you will be transferred, either to your onward flight, or to your hotel.
Even though this is a group safari, we do our best to make it as personal as possible. If you would like an independent opinion, we will willingly put you in touch with others who have done a Grant and Cameron safari.
This itinerary does not include accommodation or transfers at the start and end of the safari. We would be delighted to organise these for you to ensure that all your arrangements dovetail seamlessly. Please check our rates for these, as they are very competitive.
Normally the maximum number of guests per four-wheel-drive vehicle (3 rows of seats) will be five. However, if there are six guests on safari we use only one vehicle.
For more details on Grant and Cameron Safaris see our on-line video (if you have a fast internet connection) - details on our home page. Every picture used above was taken by Hamish Grant on a Grant and Cameron Safari.
This itinerary departs Nairobi 8am Wednesday between June 01 and October 31, and December 15 to March 15. Please check "Departure dates" to see if there is already a departure scheduled for your dates (and if this has availability). If there is no departure mentioned for your chosen dates, please contact us to request one for you.
Flight from Nairobi to Samburu (including transfers)
Flight from Rongai to Mara (including transfers)
Balloon trips in the Maasai Mara
Fishing trips to Rusinga on Lake Victoria
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