The Heart of Kenya & Tanzania
Join this iconic safari for world-class guiding and extraordinary properties. We consider this operator to be offering the "gold standard" of East African safaris.
East Africa: Drink It In
The names alone are magic: The Serengeti. Ngorongoro Crater. The Maasai Mara. We’re reminded that when we travel, we visit names as well as places—names with romantic heft, names that resound, names that may have captivated us for many years. Names like Ngorongoro. (Then again, if we’d never heard that sonorous name, and we made the exhilarating drive up the flank of the old volcano and reached its rim and suddenly beheld the green and animal-thronged crater far below, Ngorongoro would be just as utterly amazing.) In less than two weeks, The Heart of Kenya and Tanzania brings us to fantastic places, fantastic in the sense that their like is to be found exactly nowhere else on earth.
Travel Curator’s Insights:
- • Enjoy spectacular early evening sundowners and unscripted, familial visits in Maasai villages.
• Visit soul-expanding Harambee Centre in Nairobi to witness this operator's inspiring education program in action.
• Travel with an operator who pays attention to every detail. No request is too trivial or too difficult for them to fulfill.
From $15,750 per person
Policies and protocols provided before you book.
Best Time to Go: Mid-June - Late October
Departs Every Wednesday
Ask us about specific dates for group departures.
Year-Round Dates Available
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Trip Sustainability Awards
This operator pays for an African child's education for every safari guest.
Committed to educating travelers on the best cultural and ecological practices.
Supports several local conservation efforts and takes travelers to the sites.
Day 1: Nairobi
Our adventure begins as we board our flight.
Days 2 & 3: Nairobi Explorations
After arrival at Jomo Kenyatta Airport, we’ll be met by our Safari Director and driven to the classic Fairmont Norfolk Hotel or the elegant and contemporary Kempinski Villa Rosa. We’ll meet sassy pachyderms at the Daphne Sheldrick elephant orphanage, consort with the world’s tallest terrestrial animal at the Giraffe Centre, make a pilgrimage to the home of Karen Blixen—aka Isak Dinesen, one of Africa’s supreme laureates—and have lunch at Lavington, home of this operator's founders.
Accommodation: Fairmont The Norfolk, Nairobi
Fairmont The Norfolk: Fairmont The Norfolk has been a starting point for African safaris for over a hundred years, and it’s easy to see why when you set foot here. It’s a calm oasis in the middle of the city, and thus the perfect place to kick back and unwind, recalibrating from your flight and preparing for the grand adventure ahead of you. At The Norfolk you’re part of a rich safari history, and black and white photos of past guests (Churchill and Roosevelt among them) grace the walls of the open-air lobby, seemingly urging you to relax and enjoy the journey of a lifetime.
Day 4: Tarangire's Animal Superstars and Sopa Lodge
We’ll tour the informative National Museum and after lunch fly in early afternoon from Nairobi to northern Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro International Airport. We fly onward to Tarangire National Park and the Tarangire Sopa Lodge, a classic example of beautifully designed modern lodge architecture.
Tarangire is an apt place to begin a wildlife safari. Home to just about all the headliner beasts, including a large and robust elephant population, Tarangire also shelters such rarities as the fringe-eared oryx and the long-necked gerenuk, a particularly winsome and creatively constructed antelope. Tarangire charms us with its exemplary African landscapes: acacia trees, brawny brown hills, sweeping vistas, clear nights of “soft velvet,” as Elspeth Huxley wrote. “[Like] a warm conservancy whose great dome was encrusted with all the diamonds in the world, and all the scents in the world were there too, changing like currents in the sea.”
Accommodation: Tarangire Sopa Lodge
Tarangire Sopa Lodge: Tarangire National Park, a wonderfully varied land of savannahs, riverine forests, set-piece rocky kopjes, and rolling hills, is famous for its tree-climbing lions (tree-snoozing might be a better description), its stately baobab trees, and what is probably Africa’s largest population of elephants (who “pace along like they had an appointment at the end of the world,” Isak Dinesen memorably wrote), making game viewing at Tarangire Sopa Lodge especially exciting. The lodge, lovingly designed to blend with its lush surroundings, is a model of the modern bush lodge, offering Micato guests a deep African experience and a bountiful range of amenities and signature African hospitality.
Days 5 & 6: Zig-zagging into the Fabulous Ngorongoro Crater
We drive from Tarangire up into the green Crater Highlands, weaving our way to our lodge, the Ngorongoro Sopa, perched at well over 7,000 feet on the rim of the fabled Ngorongoro Crater. As geologic masterpieces go, Ngorongoro has had quite a career. It’s been a gigantic peak, perhaps a rival of Kilimanjaro, and, after it blew its snowy top in what must have been a rather impressive explosion (our forefathers over at the nearby Olduvai Gorge, busy getting their humanoid act together, probably saw it), Ngorongoro spent many millennia as an alternately quiet and occasionally bubbling lava lake. Now in an extended pacific mood, the crater is home to upwards of 25,000 personality-rich animals, who roam—as we will—over a sweetly lush area larger than 76 Central Parks.
Accommodation: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge was built with deep appreciation for the vast Lost World of the Ngorongoro Crater. It’s famous floor-to-ceiling windows face the setting sun (African sunsets being rivaled only by African sunrises for sheer spectacle). The Lodge sits on the rim’s highest point, looking 1,600 feet down to the 100 square-mile, animal-thronged caldera of the once-fiery, now sublimely peaceful, volcano. A great lodge, paying happy respect to one of the world’s greatest natural masterpieces.
Days 7 & 8: Game Viewing and Sundowners in the Serengeti
After stopping at Olduvai, the symbolic wellspring of our DNA, we drop down to the Serengeti, the known universe’s largest (and, happily for us, most wonderfully watchable) collection of illustrious mammals: elephants, giraffes, tumbling pool-fulls of hippos, elegantly slinking serval cats, zebras with incredibly muscular haunches (leading us to wonder why they were never ridden— very weak backs, that’s why), and scores of species more, all of them going about their business unconcerned by the likes of us. (“But make no mistake,” an old Africa hand once wrote, “these aren’t theme parks. The truest owners of these lands are the animals who roam them free and, if that’s their nature, fiercely.”)
We’ll soak up the essence of the Serengeti from the Sopa Lodge, set on an escarpment overlooking the seemingly limitless plains, enjoying a sundowner after a game drive, watching clouds build up as the day cools, big clouds that “look like you could scoop them up with a spoon,” Elspeth Huxley wrote.
Accommodation: Serengeti Sopa Lodge
Serengeti Sopa Lodge: Serengeti Sopa Lodge honors its setting in the great plain of the Serengeti with Africa’s traditional generosity of spirit and hospitality, carefully chosen African motifs, and especially by its openness to what Cyril Connolly called “an immense, limitless lawn,” where “the light is dazzling, the air delectable; the magic of the American prairie here blends with the other magic of the animals as they existed before man. There is a lightening of spirit….” Serengeti Sopa is a true and enthusiastic celebration of the Serengeti.
Days 9 & 10: The Maasai Mara, Big Game and Beauteous Landscapes
We fly back to Kilimanjaro International, then to Nairobi, and on to the Kenyan section of the Serengeti– Maasai Mara ecosystem, a world treasure, one with no counterpart, anywhere. (During humanity’s tenure, the closest any place on earth has come to equaling the Serengeti’s incredible wealth of wildlife may be paleolithic Siberia, with the ancient North American Plains another contender.)
The size of Vermont (with Liechtenstein thrown in for good measure), the Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem is, amongst much else, famed for the dramatic migration of its 1,000,000-plus wildebeest and 750,000-or-so zebras (and the intense attention that migration gets from predators, both mammalian and reptilian). Though the migration reaches seasonal crescendos, the movement of animals—north after the Long Rains, south as the rains return to nourish the southern plains— is more or less continual, and the sight of a two or three-mile-long train of animals on the move is extremely memorable.
Up here in the system’s north, the landscapes are grandly varied but tend to be more green (which is why the migration heads up here, in search of water), with somewhat less savannah than in the south. We’ll be staying in a characteristically attractive tented camp, either Kichwa Tembo or Fairmont Mara Safari Club, both of which take advantage of the Mara’s scenic mix. Kichwa is set in riverine forest on the banks of the Sabaringo River, and the Mara River nearly wraps around the Mara Safari Club. Both camps offer balloon excursions; wafting over the Mara in the piercingly fresh and golden morning, floating over elephants and hippos, feeling a mild and worthy intoxication-by-grandeur, is one of those things that, having done, we wonder how on earth we ever contemplated not doing.
Accommodation: Fairmont Mara Safari Club
Fairmont Mara Safari Club: The Mara Safari Club—situated in the northwest of the Maasai Mara at the foot of the Aitong Hills—is your base for adventure in this reserve. Built on an ox-bow of the Mara River, all en-suite tents have their own private game viewing verandas with a view of the hippo-filled river. The gentle chortling of the hippo pods in the water will soothe you to sleep each night in your four-poster bed, with pillow-top mattresses and fine linens. You awake to coffee or tea in bed and a gentle breeze buffeting the canvas walls of your tent, in which you are snug and well-situated, with oriental rugs, wooden floors, and antique furniture.
Days 11 & 12: Back to Nairobi and Thence to Home
We fly back to Nairobi in the morning for some relaxation and maybe a swim or a nice lunch on the Lord Delamere Terrace at the Norfolk or possibly the Four Points by Sheraton at the Nairobi Airport, and perhaps a visit to the AmericaShare Harambee Centre, a guaranteed spirit-lifter before our late evening flights.
Already nostalgic for safari life, we arrive home.
I have such deep respect for this operator. Their brilliant itineraries and attention to every detail set a world standard you will absolutely appreciate. Every day with them is a delight!
Joy Martinello, Founder
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