Day 1: Nairobi to Samburu National Reserve
The Kenyan breeze whips through your hair, a welcome respite from the already rising heat of the day. On our drive north from Nairobi to the Samburu National Reserve, you spot crocodiles along the sun-baked banks of the Ewaso Ng'iro River. And if Samburu's scenery looks familiar, it's not déjà vu; these open plains featured prominently in the award-winning British drama, Born Free.
Our destination is Samburu National Reserve, a wilderness retreat of grassy savannah, rolling mountains and glimmering horizons obstructed only by passing elephants, lions, leopards, zebras, and giraffes. Your very first game drive is a smorgasbord of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, including sightings of hippos and Nile crocodiles (oh my!). The reserve is also home to kind-hearted Kamunyak ("Blessed One"), the miracle lioness who adopted at least six oryx calves. She hasn't been seen since 2004; will you be the one who spots her next?
Dinner and overnight at Ashnil Samburu Camp.
Day 2: Samburu National Reserve
Awake with the sun for an early morning game drive. You're on the lookout for Samburu's special "Big Five" – rare sightings of Beisa oryx, gerenuk, Grévy's zebra, Massai ostrich, and reticulated giraffe (Somali giraffe). Just as the outdoors heat up, we're back inside for breakfast and leisure time at the lodge's pools, poolside bar and health club.
As the sun's golden rays descend into the horizon, the bush comes alive with big game and hulking predators. Take advantage of dropping mercury and rising animal sightings, and head out on your second game drive (16:00) to spot hunting wildcats and lumbering elephants.
Dinner and overnight at Ashnil Samburu Camp..
Day 3: Samburu to Aberdare National Park
Early morning breakfast in Ashnil Samburu and check out for Aberdare as you check in The Ark Lodge, your Aberdare National Park lodge. The vista that unfolds at your final destination, Aberdare National Park, is enough to stun the senses: the majestic park soars to 4,300 metres (14,000 feet) above sea level, skimming mountaintops and diving into v-shaped valleys, swooping under waterfalls, and soaring over moorland, rainforests and bamboo forests.
Aberdare is your first chance to spot Africa's famed "Big Five" – the African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, lion, and black rhinoceros – all in one place.
Dinner and overnight at The Ark Lodge.
Day 4: Aberdare National Park to Lake Nakuru National Park
Your first glimpse of Lake Nakuru is almost unbelievable, as a sparkling, blue lake materializes before your eyes, its shoreline an explosion of cherry-blossom pink. These rosy hues are owed not to flowers, but to flamingos – millions of these blush-coloured fowl line the coastline.
An afternoon game drive introduces you to flamingos, and then some: more than 400 bird species reside in Lake Nakuru National Reserve, which share its lands with endangered Rothschild's giraffes, black rhinos, white rhinos, lions, buffalos and baboons, among other incredible animals.
Dinner and overnight at Lake Nakuru Lodge.
Day 5: Nakuru to Maasai Mara National Reserve
Today welcomes you to an iconic Kenyan experience: Maasai Mara. After breakfast, we'll motor through the Great Rift Valley to end the day in the homeland of the Maasai. The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the world's most famous safari destinations, and for good reason: incredible wildlife live here and the region is cradle to a rich and colourful culture.
Late afternoon finds your hands latched to the vehicle's safety bar, as we bump out onto our first expedition into the Maasai bush lands. And we've arrived just in time: if the timing is right, you'll have the chance at a front-row seat to the Eighth Wonder of the World: the Great Wildebeest Migration. For two months a year, millions of hulking gnu abandon the Tanzanian Serengeti to thunder over the plains of Maasai Mara, in search of shelter and sustenance. Thomson gazelles and zebra accompany the migration, infusing the region with big predators including cheetahs, lions, wild dogs, jackals, hyenas and vultures.
Dinner and overnight at Mara Sentrim Lodge.
Day 6: Maasai Mara
Rise and shine for an early-morning game drive through the Maasai Mara Reserve, named for its hospitable people and their description of the land, "Mara:" "spotted" with scrub brush, trees, and cottony clouds. The reserve is the perfect place to test your photography skills: focus your lens on the picturesque savannah, grasslands, winding rivers, and sloping hills that give shelter to hippopotami, zebra, topi, antelopes and Africa's incredible "Big Five:" African elephants, lions, leopards, black rhinos, and African buffalo.
Retreat from the mid-day heat just in time for a late breakfast and day of relaxation. A late afternoon game drive rounds out your day's adventure.
Dinner and overnight at Mara Sentrim Lodge.
Day 7: Maasai Mara to Nairobi
On your final morning in Kenya, can you imagine a better farewell than a fantastical ascent into the skies aboard a balloon safari (optional)? Drift above the savannah, and enjoy an entirely new view of grazing giraffes, charging elephants and stealthy lions.
(If You do not choose Hot Air Ballon Safari)After breakfast, you'll return to Nairobi. Arrive mid-day for drop-off at your Nairobi hotel or the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.