East Africa (Tanzania & Kenya): Land of the Maasai & the 'Big Five'

East Africa is a place that speaks to you in an ancient voice, of struggle, transformation, beauty, and love – from Kenya, where the Maasai endure in their traditional practices of cattle herding in the imposing expanse of the Maasai Mara, to Tanzania, where lion and zebra engage in their drama of survival within the isolate expanse of the Ngorongoro crater. Here you will experience the abiding nature of life in the sublime. The passage of time is marked in the weathered ridges of volcanic craters, fossilized footprints of our primordial ancestors, the whispering of wind through savannah grass, and the rhythm of tribal drums. Come to East Africa and experience the ephemeral and eternal reflected in the eyes of those who call this land home.

Degree of Difficulty - Two paws

Slightly Active. May involve some walking and climbing.

The Weather Report – When to Go

Tanzania: Tanzania is located close to the Equator. The temperature, therefore, does not vary too much. During our summer months – their winter (June through August) it is about 10 degrees cooler, but days will be warm and can reach 80’s and evenings can be cool and can drop to the 40’s in the higher elevations. Most programs includes some high elevation spots – the rim of the crater is at 7,500 feet.

Kenya: Kenya is on the Equator, and Tanzania is located close to the Equator; therefore, the temperature does not vary too much during the year. Their winter months are June through August, and it is about 10 degrees cooler, but days will be warm and can reach 80’s and evenings can be cool and can drop to the 40’s in the higher elevations. The program includes some high elevation spots – the rim of the crater is at 7,500 feet.

In both countries the rainy season is in April/May (long rains) and November (short rains). However, it does not rain every day, or all day, and rainstorms are quickly followed by brilliant sunshine which makes for incredible photographic opportunities. Wildlife viewing is good year-round, however the migration of zebra and wildebeest follows the following cycle:

  • January-March – southern sector of the Serengeti
  • April-June – central Serengeti
  • July – western corridor of the Serengeti
  • August-October – northern Serengeti and mostly into Maasai Mara in Kenya
  • November-December – returning back to Serengeti and making their way to the southern sector

The weather pattern in Mombasa is similar to the above with the rainiest month and most humid being May.

Days 1/2 WASHINGTON, DC/ADDIS ABABA/ARUSHA

Begin your journey with an overnight flight to Tanzania and arrive Arusha the next afternoon, where you will be met by your Classic Escapes professional naturalist. Transfer to the elegant Arusha Hotel at the geographic center of East Africa. The rest of your day is at leisure to relax and enjoy your surroundings. THE ARUSHA HOTEL. (Meals Aloft)

Days 3/4 MTO WA MBU VILLAGE/NGORO ~ NGORO CONSERVATION AREA

Depart this morning for the village of Mto Wa Mbu for a traditional lunch and guided tour. Drive to Ngorongoro Crater, a world in a microcosm: expansive grasslands support the black-mane lion, herds of wildebeest, buffalo, hartebeest, eland, zebra, hyena, and the endangered black rhino; wetlands and soda lakes are home to the colorful flamingo and spoonbill; dense fingers of forest provide refuge to Hildebrandt’s Francolin and turaco. Afterwards, visit a Maasai village for a unique cultural experience. In the cool evenings rest at the Ngorongoro Farm House, built in the style of an old colonial farm on the crater’s highlands. NGORONGORO FARM HOUSE. (B,L,D Daily)

Days 5/6 TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK

You drive today to Tarangire, a landscape dotted with towering baobab trees and the largest population of elephants in northern Tanzania. This stretch of Africa is spectacular in the dry season when many of the migratory wildlife species come back to the permanent waters of Tarangire River. Huge herds of wildebeest, zebra, eland and fringed-ear oryx gather to stay until the onset of the rains when they move on to greener pastures. Tarangire is home to some 550 bird species. Your lodging blends into the valley’s wooded slopes and overlooks Tarangire Hill and features comfortable accommodations and modern amenities including a pool. TARANGIRE SOPA LODGE. (B,L,D Daily)

Days 7/8 ARUSHA/AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK

Cross into Kenya to Amboseli National Park at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain at 19,340 feet. Amboseli covers only 150 square miles but it is a giant of diversity and supports a plentitude of birds and other wildlife including lion, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, baboon, gazelle, wildebeest, and notably large herds of elephant. The noted American naturalist Cynthia Moss conducted one of the longest-running studies on elephants here, immortalized in her book and award-winning documentary, Echo of the Elephants. The park is in Maasailand and on your visit you may see a proud Maasai warrior or small children tending to their cattle. AMBOSELI SERENA SAFARI LODGE. (B,L,D Daily)

Days 9/10/11 NAIROBI/LAKE NAIVASHA/LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK

On this leg of you trip you will explore the Great Rift Valley with its sheer, high walls and bubbling springs and Lake Nakuru National Park which plays host to an extraordinary number of flamingos. Here, the Greater and Lesser Flamingo are just two of the 450 avian species that reside in the park. Rare species such as Rothschild’s giraffe and the endangered black rhino may be seen. Next day, start off with a walk at Hell’s Gate named for its natural hot geysers; afterward, take a boat ride on Lake Naivasha with its multitude of water lilies and hippos. Finish your day with a walk on Crescent Island for an up close wildlife encounter. Your lodging is at the historic Lake Naivasha Country Club replete with all of the creature comforts you could hope for LAKE NAIVASHA COUNTRY CLUB. (B,L,D Daily)

Days 12/13/14 MAASAI MARA/NORTHERN SERENGETI

Continue to the Maasai Mara, Kenya’s most famous reserve which covers 700 square miles and hosts the annual migration of up to two million wildebeest, thousands of zebra and an escort of carnivores from the Serengeti plains. Much the setting of the film Out of Africa, its endless savannah includes lion, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, rhino, hippo and over 500 resident bird species. Exciting optional activities (at additional cost) include: a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti, or a cultural visit to a Maasai Village. Your luxury tented camp is perfectly positioned close to the Mara River and offers fantastic views of the surroundings. ASHNIL MARA CAMP. (B,L,D Daily)

Days 15/16 MAASAI MARA/NAIROBI/WASHINGTON, DC

Enjoy a parting African sunrise before your drive flight back to Nairobi (an optional flight is available) and then to the airport for your flights home. (B, Meals Aloft)

OPTIONAL POST EXTENSION TO SAMBURU NATIONAL PARK

Your journey continues as you fly from Nairobi to Samburu on the arid fringes of northern Kenya, home to the colorful Samburu people. Explore the reserve for wildlife species rarely found elsewhere in Kenya – Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe and Beisa oryx. Comb the harsh terrain for the graceful gerenuk, an antelope that spends its day in a bipedal stance amidst the sparse scrub. Discover a pride of lions sleeping in the bushes and watch the rare blue-necked Somali Ostrich lope across the planes. Return in the evenings to your luxury tented camp on the banks of the Uaso Nyiro River. SAMBURU INTERPIDS CAMP.

YOUR JOURNEY INCLUDES:

  • Flights between Nairobi and Samburu on the post extension.
  • Superior accommodations throughout as indicated or similar.
  • All meals while on safari. Other meals as specified.
  • All wildlife viewing by private land cruisers, driven by a naturalist driver/guide.
  • Professional Naturalist with a minimum of 10 travelers.
  • Water in vehicles and during meals.
  • All applicable hotel and lodge taxes and gratuities for baggage handling.
  • All park entry fees.
  • Complimentary baggage tags and passport wallet.
Prices vary by season and package. Please inquire by phone at (800) 627-1244 or email info@classicescapes.com for more information and a pricing estimate.