Kenya is without a doubt the most famous safari destination and rightly so, it has the vast plains and huge numbers of animals that other countries are frankly envious of. Often people who are seasoned visitors to East Africa are shocked when they visit other wildlife watching destinations around the world. As well as the typical African safari species we will try and find some of the species that are often overlooked or unknown to the everyday safari goer.
This particular type of wildlife watching will come into action particularly in the last of the three national parks, the little known Arabuko Sokoke Forest, here many of the animals are not found anywhere else and after seeing the more common species in the Mara and Tsavo we hope to find elusive species like the golden-rumped elephant-shrew, Sokoke bushy-tailed mongoose and Ader’s duiker. But before we enter Sokoke we will explore the Mara and then the vast and under-developed Tsavo National Parks. In fact in Tsavo we could have most of the park to ourselves, as the park is seldom visited. Few parks the combination of vast size and few tourists, this means that the experience in Tsavo can be seen as a more ‘authentic’ safari and we do not know exactly what we will see here.
African Bush Elephant
On your arrival into Nairobi you will be collected by your local guide and driver and taken to your accommodation on the edge of the city. If your arrival flight is early enough we can make it to the Mara today, otherwise it will be an early start for us to get to the Mara tomorrow.
Masai Mara National Reserve
This morning we will have our early breakfast at the hotel and then meet our guide and driver before departing the bustling metropolis of Nairobi and heading southwest towards the border with Tanzania and the vast wild plains of the Maasi Mara / Serengeti ecosystem. The journey should take around 5 hours and once we arrive we will head to the lodge. The Masai Mara National Reserve is arguably the most famous wildlife watching destination in the world and home to some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife. As with the vast majority of wildlife around the world it is the early mornings and late afternoons which are the best for wildlife watching and so as the sun begins to get lower in the sky we will have the best chance of seeing lions and leopards. The reserve should still be playing host to around 1.7 million blue wildebeest, 260,000 plains zebra and 470,000 Thompson’s gazelles as they are at the end of their migration and spend the dry season in the Mara. The rains are due in November and with the onset of the rains the huge herds begin to move off again to the short grass plains in time for the wet season and their birthing season in February. Today will be more of a brief introduction to the Mara and we will be opportunistically trying and see anything of interest at the various waterholes and known locations for targeted species.
Masai Mara National Reserve
The next 3 full days will be spent exploring the Masai Mara in the mornings and afternoons. Heading out at dawn before breakfast; this is one of the best times to look for the predators, leopards are very nocturnal and can be seen in the early morning as they ‘finish’ their day and look for a tree to spend the heat of the day sleeping. It is also the time of day that many of the animals in the reserve are most active, the reserve itself is huge with some 1,510km2 of plains there are many places we can go in search of wildlife. As well as the tail end of the Great Migration we will look for some of Africa’s most iconic species including the big five (African elephant, rhino (both black and white), lion, leopard and buffalo) as well as the cheetah. The Mara is becoming a very good place to see leopards, whilst the international plight of the cheetah is being highlighted here. The rivers are also great places to look for wildlife too with lots of hippos and crocodiles all vying for the last remaining spots of water in the drying up rivers. The rivers also attract a huge array of bird life, more than 470 species of birds have been recorded from the Mara. The numbers of wildlife in the park are truly breathtaking and at times it can feel like you are looking at all 1.7 million blue wildebeest, 260,000 zebra, 500,000 Thompson’s gazelles, 18,000 eland and 97,000 topi when we stop and look out across the vast grasslands. Other antelopes that inhabit the park include Grant’s gazelle, impala, Coke’s hartebeest, Kirk’s dik-dik, Bohor reedbuck, bushbuck and common duikers.During these three days we will hopefully see all of the common species and some of the more elusive ones too.
Tsavo West National Park
Very early this morning you will be collected from the lodge to begin the journey to the first of the two Tsavo parks we will visit on this safari. The Tsavo ecosystem is an enormous park, so large it is split into two national parks; the East Tsavo and West Tsavo we will first spend 3 nights in the West Tsavo National Park. Being the ‘smaller’ of the parks it still measures 9,065km2 and is home to huge numbers of wildlife. Established in 1948 the park is less visited than the more famous Masai Mara and as a result the animals are a little harder to get close to. The journey to the park is likely to take all day to get to the park and so today you will be taken direct to the lodge for the night.
Tsavo West National Park
For the next two days we will enjoy game drives around the park and search out various species, as well as many of the same species we should have seen in the Mara, but we will also search from lesser kudu, red duiker, gerenuk, beisa oryx and Grevy’s zebra. The park has a spectacular array of mammals and over 500 species of birds have been recorded here. The array of wildlife is so good here that it is amazing how few people visit the park (even though this is the more visited of the two Tsavo parks), however the park offers anyone visiting the chance to get a ‘real’ safari experience (one that can take people back to the years before the eyes of the world fell onto Kenya as a wildlife watching destination), the scenery of the park is stunning and the Mzima Springs (a series of 4 natural springs) gives the park unique features. The springs are so far away from any other sources of water the hippos and crocodiles that inhabit the waters around here are now completely dependent on the water from the springs. The popularity of the park is partly down to the fact that there are some great rock climbing locations here as well as the guided walks along the Tsavo River. Over these two days we will have morning and afternoon jeep safaris into the park looking for wildlife.
Tsavo West & East National Park
Today we will have a final game drive before breakfast back at the lodge, we will then get ready to depart and head the relatively short distance to Tsavo East National Park, the parks are separated by A109 road that runs from Mombasa to Nairobi and a railway line. Once we arrive in the eastern side of the Tsavo ecosystem we will have another short game drive as we drive to our campsite, on arrival we will have lunch and then head out for our afternoon game drive once the temperatures cool a little as the day progresses. The eastern park is 13,747km2 in area and is drier than the western side, previously known as Taru Desert the area is not a true desert but more a semi arid ecosystem. The whole ecosystem (and the two national parks) were renamed Tsavo after the Tsavo River that flows through the park. The Tsavo River is one of two rivers (the Athi River being the second) that converge to form the Galana River, being less mountainous than Tsavo West the park feels more like the Mara with huge expanses of semi arid savanna. The park is also a biodiversity hotspot and over the nest 3 full days we will spend lots of time looking for wildlife. Once again we will have our evening meal back at the lodge amongst the sounds and sights of the African wilderness.
Tsavo East National Park
For the next 4 full days the Tsavo East National Park will be our home. There is so much to see and do inside this park we feel that anyone visiting Tsavo East will never want to go to another savanna park again. There is a long history associated with the park, a history that spans back all of the way at least 6,000 years. But it is a more recent history that has made Tsavo a famous name worldwide. In 1898 the British were building a railway through the region and during the construction of a bridge over the Tsavo River two man-eating lions started to cause massive problems. The pair killed at least 35 Indian workers before Lt. Col. Patterson managed to shoot them. The now famous lions are stuffed and on display in the Field Museum in Chicago. As well as the famous history of the park there are many other locations of interest that we will try to visit over these 4 days. Depending on what wildlife we see and how much time we spend with the various animals, we will try and visit various sites inside the park such as Mudanda Rock which is a great place to watch the hundreds of elephants that come and drink during the dry season, Yatta Plateau which is the world’s longest lava flow which runs for an incredible 290km, Lugard Falls and Aruba Dam which is a great place to sit and watch wildlife as they come down to the water to drink. Whilst the park has not had famous lions since the infamous man-eaters in the late 1800’s the Tsavo lions are famous for their lack of manes. Many of the males never attain a full mane, no body has found an explanation for this yet and the appearance of maneless male lions is a strange one. The larger ecosystem (Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem) is a vital stronghold of lions and there are around 675 in the entirety of the ecosystem. Like all of our safari days so far on this trip we will have our meals at the campsite in between a morning and afternoon.
Arabuko Sokoke National Park
Today will be a long day of driving as we depart from the Tsavo East National Park and travel eastwards close to the Tanzanian border and towards the Indian Ocean. Our destination is the small forested park of Arabuko Sokoke National Park. We will arrive too late to enter the forest today and if you are not too tired we can look to arrange a short spotlighting trip around the border of the forest for mongooses, galagoes and hedgehogs.
Arabuko Sokoke National Park
Arabuko Sokoke is a unique park, it is the largest remnant of the coastal forest that used to run from Somalia all the way to South Africa. This indigenous forest is home to many endemic trees and therefore endemic birds and mammals. Many of which are now only found in this one national park. For the next two days we will explore the park more fully and shift our focus from the last two parks where the large and well known mammals and birds dominant to smaller and less well known species. There are 240 species of birds recorded here and many of these species will not be found in the other locations we are visiting on this tour. So many of the animals we will see in Sokoke will be new and that is a very exciting way to end the trip. This park is so poorly known but there are a wealth of smaller parks and reserves in Eastern Africa that have so much to offer, despite not having lions, elephants, rhinos and the other larger species. As well as exploring the park it is possible to visit a small cave near the nearby Gede village, the Pangayamba Cave is home to a small colony of heart-nosed bats as well as being the location of an old witch-doctors shop. There is still a mask in the cave from the days when the witch-doctor used the cave. When inside the park we will be searching for some species such as the endemic golden-rumped elephant shrew, they are a large and striking species but there are other small mammals known from the park, including Zanj sun squirrels, red-bellied coast squirrels and four-toed elephant shrews. The park being so small and free from large and dangerous species (other than a handful of African bush elephants) we will be able to walk around some of the forest as well as being confined to the vehicle. Heading deeper into the forest is a great place to go and look for another endemic mammal the Ader’s duiker and on one night we can try a little spotlighting to look for the very rare and unusual Sokoke bushy-tailed mongoose. As well as these mentioned mammal species there are many endemic birds such as the Sokoke scops owl, Clarke’s weaver, Amani sunbird, spotted ground thrush, East Coast akalat and Sokoke pipit. As with the other parks we will have our meals at the camp in between heading into the forest to look for wildlife.
Today we will depart from Arabuko-Sokoke National Park and head the 110km south to Mombasa, Kenya’s second city is located on the coast and we will head straight to our accommodation located along Daini beach and we will have the rest of the day to rest and relax before we head for home tomorrow. Being on the beach and looking out on the Indian Ocean it is great way to end the trip.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
Kenya’s climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland to arid in the north and northeast parts of the country. The area receives a great deal of sunshine every month, and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. It is usually cool at night and early in the morning inland at higher elevations. Expect temperatures in the high 20’s to low 30’s during the day. But the mornings and evenings can be much cooler.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner – expect when in cities). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private vehicle with an excellent driver and naturalist for all transfers and game drives. Zoologists are available on request as well.
All our excursions including guided walks, sunrise, morning, evening, sunset and night drives rides and park entrance fees are also included as per the itinerary.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be light and airy clothes as well as comfortable walking shoes. As the nights can be chilly we recommend you bring a fleece, long trousers, scarf and a woolly hat. A water proof coat is also a good idea. Insect repellent is handy as there can be mosquitoes about during the evenings and nights. Andy medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4-6 people these do not stretch too far.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport.
We recommend Emirates or KML as good airlines for flights to Nairobi and then back from Mombasa. One of the best websites to search for the best fares is for both flights is www.opodo.co.uk. They are an IATA accredited agent and this provides all the securities related to ATOL protection. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for Kenya. However these are given out on arrival at the airport. Usually 30 days is granted but please confirm this as less if sometimes given. The easiest way to find information is by visiting www.southafrica.info (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site).
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Kenya, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus, Yellow Fever and hepatitis A as well as taking a form of malaria prophylactics. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Kenya as soon as you have decided on this trip.
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