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The Masai Heartlands

Trip type: 
Wildlife
Adventure level: 
2. Gentle
Max group size: 
14
Avg user rating: 
Awaiting reviews
Africa, Kenya, Tanzania | 17 days
Trip code: 
YGOCC
New
What's included: 

Transport -Overland vehicle, 4x4 Safari Vehicle

Accommodation - Hotel (2 nts) Campaing with facilities (9 nts) Dormitory (1 nt), camping with basic facilities (2 nts)

Meals - 14 breakfasts, 14 lunches & 12 dinners

Trip Highlights: 
Masai Mara game viewing
Flamingos on Lake Nakuru
Meet the Masai warriors
Vast plains of Serengeti
see full itinerary >>

Trip Highlights: 
Masai Mara game viewing
Flamingos on Lake Nakuru
Meet the Masai warriors
Vast plains of Serengeti
see full itinerary >>
What's included: 

Transport -Overland vehicle, 4x4 Safari Vehicle

Accommodation - Hotel (2 nts) Campaing with facilities (9 nts) Dormitory (1 nt), camping with basic facilities (2 nts)

Meals - 14 breakfasts, 14 lunches & 12 dinners

Trip Overview: 

On this overland camping safari adventure you will travel through Kenya and Tanzania. Enroute you will discover the fantastic wildlife viewing in some of Africa's finest parks including Masai Mara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro. As you venture into the heartland of the Maasai you will also meet and learn about these tribal warriors - their life now and their ancient culture. 

Itinerary: 
Day
1-2

Nairobi

Take an overnight flight - on arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Jambo! Welcome to Kenya.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 2.

You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, you recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. You'll be collecting your kitty, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.

Nairobi - which takes its name from a Maasai phrase meaning 'place of cool waters' - has a cosmopolitan atmosphere. There are plenty of good bars and restaurants, while markets and shops have most things you could want or need, as well as various arts and crafts from the region.

If you arrive early, you can head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum (author of Out of Africa) or Bomas of Kenya where traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes are displayed in an outdoor village.

While brazen crime is thankfully fairly uncommon in Nairobi, petty theft unfortunately is not and recently arrived visitors to the capital can often make for tempting targets. Your trip leader will verse you in a few worthwhile precautions at the welcome meeting, but if you are arriving early please heed a few simple safeguards.

As a general rule, the safest place for your valuables is on your person in a neck wallet or money belt, though your hotel room or reception may have safes in which it would be advisable to store things if you want to head out. If you do decide to go exploring, make sure you get local advice on where it is and isn't safe to walk - particularly when it's getting on in the day. Thieves and pickpockets have also been known to operate in bars and restaurants, so don't let up keeping your wits about you once you're inside somewhere. Don't leave day packs or handbags unattended on chairs or the floor. There's no need to be paranoid, but appearing vigilant is a great deterrence to would-be thieves. Finally, make colour scans of any important travel documents before you leave and email them to yourself: in the event that you are the unlucky victim of a theft, this will save you hours of police, embassy and travel insurance hassles.

Optional Activities

  • National Museum - USD10
  • Karen Blixen museum - USD14
  • Bomas of Kenya - USD10
  • Langata Giraffe Sanctuary - KES1000
  • Nairobi National Park safari walk - USD20

Meals Included

1 Breakfast

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

 

Day
3

Lake Nakuru

Drive north-west past great views of the Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha and Elementaita to Lake Nakuru National Park, situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley (170 km, approx 3-4 hrs).

Visit the New Hope Children's Centre - an orphanage that assists the less fortunate in society and gives them hope. The children here very much appreciate when they get reading and writing materials. You have a chance to give the children anything you've brought: toys, pens, pencils, story books etc. (of course these will be handed over to the proprietors).

Lake Nakuru National Park's small and compact area, based around a flamingo-filled lake, makes it a great location for spotting wildlife. Along with the other members of the Big Five, Lake Nakuru harbours many rhinos and will be the best chance to get a great picture of these magnificent beasts.

Our exclusive camp outside the park is well situated and has flush toilets and showers.

Included Activities

  • Visit to New Hope Children's Centre
  • Lake Nakuru - Game drive

Meals Included

1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)

 

Day
4-5

Lake Naivasha

Head off to a nearby village where our guide will introduce you to local life. This is the best time and place to interact with the local villagers.

Drive from Lake Nakuru to camp near Lake Naivasha (110 km, approx 3-4 hrs).

One of the few freshwater lakes in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha has floating islands of papyrus reeds and a border of flat-topped acacias. It's also home to a healthy population of hippos and a tremendous variety of birds.

The campsite is basic with showers and flush toilets.

Included Activities

  • Lake Nakuru - Village walk

Optional Activities

  • Lake Naivasha - Bike hire - USD12
  • Lake Naivasha - Boat trip - KES4000
  • Walk in Crater Lake Game Sanctuary - USD20
  • Lake Naivasha - Hell's Gate National Park - USD25

Meals Included

2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)

 

Day
6

Loita Hills

You depart Lake Naivasha making a short stop in the town to do a spot of food shopping, taking a lunch break en route to your camp site at Loita Hills (220 km, approx. 5-6 hours).

Today's drive crosses the Great Rift Valley, Africa's immense and spectacular great divide, and takes you into the remote region of Loita Hills, home of the traditional Maasai people. Here you visit the Maasai, known for their vibrant red dress and elaborate jewellery, and gain an insight into the culture and ancient ways of this proud East African Community.

After setting up tents, it is time to meet your Maasai hosts as you receive a fascinating talk offering insights into this remarkable and ancient culture from a local elder. Enjoy being shown around a traditional Maasai home and cattle enclosures, and you may even have the opportunity to participate in the milking of the precious cattle.

Tonight you stay in a bush camp with drop toilets and bush shower facilities.

Included Activities

  • Loita Hills - Cultural talk and village visit

Optional Activities

  • Maasai warrior dance - USD10

Meals Included

1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)

Day
7-8

Masai Mara National Reserve

It is 70 km from Loita to Masai Mara, which will take us approximately 1-2 hours. The road is dusty when dry and could be slippery and soft when wet.

The Masai Mara is the quintessential African experience with sparse open plains, dramatic skies and the world's most iconic animals living within its boundaries.

After setting up camp (outside the park) and having lunch, you jump back on board the truck.

Explore this diverse environment and view a multitude of wildlife. Spend an entire day on a wildlife spotting quest in the reserve and take brunch/lunch by the side of the Mara River - a great chance to spot crocs and hippos.

An optional balloon ride over the Masai Mara at sunrise is an unforgettable experience. If you have pre-booked this activity (please see 'Important Notes') you will be picked up and driven to the launch site, receive a safety briefing from your pilot and help inflate the balloon. You then glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, providing amazing wildlife photography opportunities; sometimes ascending to get an overview of the enormity of the Masai Mara plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. Upon landing you'll be treated to a bush breakfast before being returned to your vehicle. Please note if you are taking a balloon ride over the Mara you will be taken to the launch place from camp before dawn and returned to the group when you have finished your ride.

Please note that we offer this activity as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a spot in a balloon. If you choose to wait and book this activity locally on the ground you may get a better price. However this is a popular activity and places are limited. It is at your own discretion if you wish to pre-book this service with us or try and book it locally while you are on your trip.

The campground is located outside of the national reserve and has flush toilets and showers.

Included Activities

  • Masai Mara - Game drive

Optional Activities

  • Masai Mara Balloon ride - USD450

Meals Included

2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)

Day
9
Nairobi

Nairobi

Today you drive to Narok, a town with a large Maasai population. Take a break from pitching tents and relax at a hotel. Take a refreshing dip in the pool and enjoy a cool drink or go for a walk around the town and meet some local people.

Please note that this trip is a combination of our Serengeti Trails and Kenya Wildlife Safari. The composition of your group and crew may change on Day 9. To save you driving all of the way into Nairobi to collect travellers who are doing the second half of your tour, the night of Day 8 is spent with other travellers completing the combination tour in a hotel in Narok. This night is unaccompanied by a tour leader.

Meals Included

1 Breakfast

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Day
10

Kisii

Board your safari truck and travel west. Crossing the incredibly scenic Great Rift Valley on the way to the tea-growing highlands is a fantastic introduction to the beautiful landscapes of Kenya. Pass through the ancient homeland of the Maasai, keeping a look out for these tall, graceful tribesmen dressed in distinctive scarlet robes tending to their prized herds of cattle.

Stop for a picnic lunch in the town of Narok and pick up our fellow passengers who have previously completed an eight day trip around Kenya.

Make a final stop near the hilltop town of Kisii, our last chance to stock up on supplies before heading into the African wilderness. Today's drive will take about 8-9 hours (310 km) and the roads are pretty rough.

Camp with hot/cold showers and flush toilets. If you arrive late, you may be accommodated in very simple shared rooms with en suite (bedding provided).

Meals Included

2 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Accommodation

Dormitory (1 nt)

Day
11

Lake Victoria

Travel towards the Kenya-Tanzania border and the shores of Lake Victoria (250 km, approx 7-8 hrs).

Lake Victoria is Africa's biggest lake and the world's biggest tropical lake. Its shores are shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

There are plenty of activities to choose from around Lake Victoria. You may wish to hire bicycles for a fascinating local experience from handlebar height, hire a boat and visit a local island, visit an African market place for a chance to interact with the people of Musoma or you may prefer to just chill out with a cold lakeside drink.

Spend the night camping on the shores of the lake - at one of its least visited campgrounds on the outskirts of a small town called Musoma.

Included Activities

  • Musoma - Market visit
  • Kisii - Soapstone carving cooperative

Optional Activities

  • Bike excursion around Musoma with local guide (approx 3 hours) - USD20

Meals Included

1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)

 

Day
12-13

Serengeti

Cover the 100 km from Lake Victoria to the gate of Serengeti National Park on a smooth road before enjoying a picnic lunch at the entrance to the park.

The next 120 km is completed through the Serengeti and the driving will be slow as you game drive the way to the campsite.

The wide, open plains of the Serengeti - green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season, and home to thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators - are perhaps the quintessential image of Africa. Flat and rolling with long grasses and dotted with acacia trees, the plains get their name from the Maasai word Siringitu - 'the place where the land moves on forever'.

On your second day here you wake at dawn to begin your game drive. You will head out while the animals are at their most active and head back to camp for brunch around 11am. After spending the day relaxing (just like the animals do) you head out again as the day begins to cool for a dusk game drive, returning in time for another delicious camp dinner.

Your campsite is within the Serengeti itself so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal animals as you drift off to sleep. The bush camp is quite basic with drop toilets and cold showers.

For an unforgettable experience, you might like to do an optional sunrise balloon ride over the Serengeti. As the balloon only holds 16 people, places are limited and need to be arranged in advance. Please enquire when booking your trip to secure this optional activity. 
If you have pre-booked this activity, you'll be picked up and driven to the launch site where you receive a safety briefing from your pilot and help inflate the balloon. You'll then float over the Serengeti as the sun comes up gaining an overview of the immensity of the Serengeti, seeing the abundance of wildlife in their early morning activity and sometimes descending to tree height for amazing wildlife photography opportunities. Upon landing, you'll be treated to a five-star bush breakfast before being returned to rejoin your group.

Please note that we offer this activity as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a spot in a balloon. If you choose to wait and book this activity locally on the ground you may get a better price. However this is a popular activity and places are limited. It is at your own discretion if you wish to pre-book this service with us or try and book it locally while you are on your trip.

You'll notice many Maasai villages in the region of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. While it's of course fascinating to visit different cultures, past experience has shown that these villages exist primarily as tourism businesses offering somewhat contrived performances of their traditional ways. You'll be charged an entry fee of approx US$20-35 and the Maasai will try very hard to sell souvenirs to you. While many clients still enjoy the experience, others have found it artificial and uncomfortable. We recommend our travellers bypass this activity as our Kenyan colleagues observe that it negatively impacts the Maasai culture and travellers' perception of this culture.

Included Activities

  • Serengeti - Game drive

Optional Activities

  • Balloon ride - USD500

Meals Included

2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nts)

 

Day
14

Ngorongoro Crater

Game drive out of the park and enter Ngorongoro Conservation area after lunch. Your destination today is the Ngorongoro Crater rim ( 80km, approx 3hrs ).

The campsite on the rim of the crater overlooks jagged volcanic peaks and rolling grasslands thousands of feet below - you can be sure that there are few campsites in the world with a better view than this. It also has drop toilets and cold showers.
It can get very cold on the crater rim, particularly during the winter months of June to August where temperatures drop below zero. Even in the summer months it can be surprisingly chilly at night so bring a jacket and come prepared.

Included Activities

  • Ngorongoro Crater - Game drive

Meals Included

1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)

 

Day
15

Meserani

A huge, perfectly intact volcanic crater, Ngorongoro is home to some 30,000 animals including endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. The crater floor offers excellent game viewing all year round and the photographic opportunities here are unrivalled.

Drive out of the crater and head to Mto Wa Mbu for a look around the town before continuing on to your campsite (140 km, approx 5-6 hrs).

A small village community, Mto Wa Mbu offers an excellent way to get a close-up look at life in an African town away from the main tourist trail.

The campsite is in Meserani, on the outskirts of Arusha, and has flush toilets and showers.

Included Activities

  • Mto Wa Mbu - Market Visit

Meals Included

1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)

 

Day
16-17

Nairobi

Set off early, heading for the border with Kenya and on to Nairobi (390 km, approx 7-8 hrs).

This is a transport day to Nairobi. Your adventure ends there and you will be transferred to the airport for your overnight flight home to London.

Meals Included

1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

 

Masai Mara Game Reserve

Descend into the Great Rift Valley and rolling grasslands of the world-famous Masai Mara Game Reserve. Sightings of the ‘Big Nine’ (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and hippo) are common, as are herds of wildebeest which roam across the plains. Take an optional balloon flight for a birds eye view on things.

Masai Warriors

You will pass through the ancient homeland of the Maasai and have many chances to see these tall, graceful tribesmen dressed in distinctive scarlet robes tending to their prized herds of cattle. In a village visit you will discover more about Masai life and culture from an elder and may even be able to join in with milking.

Serengeti and Ngorongoro 

The vast open plains of Serengeti make excellent game viewing - from cheetah hiding in the grasses waiting for their prey, to lions basking in the sun on the rocks. Camping on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater gives you possibly the best view in the world to be seen from a campsite.  Ngorongoro is home to some 30,000 animals including endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos.

Our Masai Heartlands trip is just one of our many Africa tours. To find out more visit our Africa holidays page.