We head northwest out of Nairobi upon arrival, eventually dropping down the escarpment of the Rift Valley to Lake Naivasha. In the afternoon we visit Elsamere, the former home of Joy Adamson, now a conservation centre where you can enjoy afternoon teas on the lawn and watch the Colobus monkeys.
Day 3 - 4
In the morning we drive into the Masai Mara using 4WD vehicles for two incredible days in one of the most famous ecosystems in the world. In and around the reserve, plains game including wildebeest, gazelle, topi, zebra and buffalo abound, and never far away are the predators; cheetah, lion and hyena. Nothing is guaranteed on safari but we hope to see the three-foot-tall Secretary bird stalking snakes and rodents through the grass, impala jousting furiously or vultures homing in on carcasses. On both nights we stay in a permanent camp in the Masai Mara.
After a morning game drive, we drive to Kembu Farm, where there is an opportunity to do a farm walk this afternoon.
In the morning we drive to Lake Nakuru National Park (45 mins), a small park that is home to an amazing variety of animals. We game drive around the dazzling soda lake, sometime home to thousands of flamingos. We will see plenty of animals, maybe even the elusive leopard and rhino, of which there is a healthy population here. There is a stunning view from the top of the hills above the lake, and here we may see the Rock hyrax; this tiny creature is the elephant's nearest relative! We camp in the park.
Our long drive today is up through the Western highlands and allows plenty of time to appreciate the superb scenery. The road begins to descend and we leave behind the neatly ordered rows of tea bushes as we cross the border into Tanzania at Isebania. We camp in a pleasant spot at Musoma on the shore of Lake Victoria.
We turn east and enter the vast Serengeti plain, one of the largest parks in Africa. There is a choice of routes into the Serengeti, depending on the weather: if it is dry, the 130km of the Western Corridor, usually well stocked with all the plains game, is open. If it is wet, however, this road, which is built on black cotton soil, turns to glue, and we have to enter the park from the north, at Ikoma gate. We have plenty of time to enjoy the vast open spaces and the variety of game, and eventually come to Seronera. Here there are various camping areas, all of them in open bush, with no fences to prevent the animals from visiting during the night. We'll get a real taste of wild Africa!
We leave early and it is often possible to watch elephants and other animals browsing close to the campsite. The morning is spent game driving in the eastern part of the park, where it is unusual not to spot a pride of lions, in their favourite place - under a big, shady tree. After crossing the vast grasslands we come to the Ngorongoro entry gate at Naabi Hill. The truck bumps its way up towards the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, the wide-open plains below stretching as far as the eye can see. Finally reaching the top, the Ngorongoro Crater opens up in front of us, a huge, natural amphitheatre, one of the great sights of Africa. Ngorongoro is a caldera, a collapsed volcano 16 km across and with steep walls up to 600m high. It acts like a natural zoo, and over 100,000 animals co-exist here with a population of Masai herdsmen and their cattle. Our campsite here is very basic indeed and can be cold at night so please come prepared.
We descend to the crater floor in 4WD vehicles and spend the morning watching large numbers of plains game, and the ever-present predators around them. We'll search for hippos in the murky pools, and try to protect our food at lunchtime from the fearless Brown kites, as they swoop and snatch anything that appears to be edible; please take care. After a fantastic morning we continue our journey through beautiful country to the edge of the Rift Valley, where there is a great view over Lake Manyara (often tinted pink around the edges from large numbers of flamingos) and on to Arusha. Depending on the time available we will visit the Snake Park and Masai Museum either today or tomorrow morning.
Day 11 - 12
We drive into Amboseli National Park, famous for its elephants and with the impressive backdrop of Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro. We spend a day on game drives in the park: it is a small park, and we will not get the volume of animals of the Masai Mara, but as the vegetation is not so dense the animals, and especially predators, tend to be easier to spot
We drive to Nairobi in the morning, and visit the Giraffe Centre. After lunch, we head to the airport for our flight to London.