- Bond with orphaned elephants and playful giraffes in Nairobi.
- Take in the displays of big game (especially elephants!) at Amboseli National Park.
- Get a special perspective at Elephant Watch Camp, hosted by the Samburu people.
- Spend quality time in the presence of elephants – some of the world’s most sentient, long-lived, intelligent and socially complex animals.
- Experience the savagely beautiful wilderness of Samburu National Park.
DAY 1: Arrive Nairobi
Arrive Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. After clearing customs and immigration formalities, you will be welcomed by a representative and transferred to Giraffe Manor.
Giraffe Manor is modeled on an extremely grand Scottish hunting lodge. Set in 140 acres of protected forest on the outskirts of Nairobi, it would be pretty special anyway. The highlight, though, is that it’s a giraffe sanctuary for rare Rothschild’s giraffes that come up to the house at all times to see what is going on. These gentle giants have been know to stick their heads through the dining room window in search of a tasty tidbit and always come to say hello to strangers.
The main house has just six bedrooms, all decorated extremely stylishly in a traditional Scottish way. The giant double staircase is a sight to behold in the middle of Africa, as is the completely original Art Deco bathroom. One of the bedrooms is suitable for families. The manor recently added 4 new rooms, three bedrooms named after the resident giraffes, Arlene, Helen, Kelly, and the Finch Hatton Suite.
Giraffe Manor is close to Nairobi National Park and the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. There are lots of good shops in the area and it is convenient for both airports. This eccentric house is a great place to stay with huge attractions.
Dinner tonight is at the hotel.
DAY 2: Nairobi
This morning visit the famous Daphne Sheldrick Animal Orphanage and Giraffe Centre. Dame Daphne Sheldrick started the Elephant and sometimes, rhino, orphanage in honor of her late husband David, the Warden of 6,000 square mile Tsavo National Park where they lived and raised orphans of every species at their home.
The Orphanage is on the edge of Nairobi National Park where the youngsters feed in their mini herds with their matriarch every day, coming back three times a day for their milk feeding and in hot weather, a mud bath. Visitors can see this at 1100 hrs.
There is a semi private encounter with them again at 5:00pm, when they come in for their bedtime meal and sleep. Each elephant sleeps with a ranger, who rotate between the orphans found there at any time, to prevent the orphans becoming too attached to one person. All this is explained by a head keeper during the visit as are the harrowing stories of how many became orphans, mostly the result of poaching. They also explain what happened when the residents reach the age of three or four and graduate to the next stage, a release site in Tsavo. This is the most famous, the largest and most successful elephant orphanage in Africa and even during a short visit you can see what unique personalities they are. You can tell the difference between one who came from high altitude and one from low altitude.
Giraffe Centre is the headquarters for AFEW, the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife. Made famous by ‘Daisy Rothschild’, a giraffe calf rescued from Soi, on the border of Western Kenya, Giraffe Manor was established in 1983 as a sanctuary for the then-endangered Rothschild giraffe. The breeding program has been a great success and visitors can now watch these gentle giants at eye level from a raised platform. There is also the opportunity to learn more about giraffe at the interpretation center and hand-feed them whilst watching the semi-tame family of warthogs snuffle around their hooves in search of tidbits.
Later return to Giraffe Manor. The rest of the day is free to relax with lunch and dinner at the hotel.
DAY 3: Fly to Amboseli
This morning, fly to Amboseli National Park. You will be met on arrival by Tortilis Camp driver/guide and transfer to the camp with game viewing drive en-route.
Named after the trees from which it takes shade (acacia tortilis), Tortilis Camp lies on the boundary of Amboseli National Park. The omnipresent snow-domed Mount Kilimanjaro sets the stage for excellent game viewing and magnificent sunrises. The 15 accommodation tents are spacious and thoughtfully spaced at some distance from each other offering total privacy and breathtaking views across the plains to Africa’s highest mountain.
Perched on a look out hill, the main house offers relaxation, attentive service and delightful home-cooked Italian food. As well as game drives, guests at Tortilis can enjoy bush walks with a Maasai guide – an experience which brings the sights, sounds and smells of the bush to life. In between game viewing, guests can relax by the swimming pool or sit on their verandah and watch a dazzling array of bird life.
There’s time to freshen up before lunch is served. The early afternoon is free to explore your camp or relax by the pool before taking a late afternoon game viewing drive.
Days 4-5: Amboseli National Park
You will have two full days to explore Amboseli with morning and afternoon game drives and a visit to Cynthia Moss’ Amboseli Elephant Trust.
Amboseli National Park, at the foot of Africa’s highest mountain 5895m (19,340ft) Kilimanjaro is one of the most popular of all Kenya’s national parks. It lies some 240 kms (145 miles) southeast of Nairobi. The snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro rising above a saucer of clouds dominates every aspect of Amboseli National Park, which covers 392 sq. kms (151 square miles). The Tanzania border runs along its base and also forms the boundary of the Park. Years ago this was the locale around which such famous writers as Ernest Hemingway and Robert Ruark spun their stories of big-game hunting in the African wilds. It is also the home of the famed Maasai people, which numbers more than 240,000.
The snows of Kilimanjaro, white and crystalline, also form a backdrop to one of Kenya’s most spectacular displays of wildlife – lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, cheetah, buffalo and hosts of plains game and the combination makes the park a photographer’s paradise. Part of the park is composed of a dried-up lake bed which in the shimmering heat produces mirages. Swamps and springs, fed by underground rivers from Kilimanjaro’s melting snows, form permanent watering places for the wildlife in times of drought. Many attractive birds can be easily seen and equally easily photographed around the lodges. This is one of the few places where the rare and beautiful Taveta Golden Weaver is found.
The Amboseli Trust for Elephants aims to ensure the long-term conservation and welfare of Africa’s elephants in the context of human needs and pressures through scientific research, training, community outreach, public awareness and advocacy. ATE has highlighted the ethical implications of dealing with sentient, long-lived, intelligent and socially complex animals. Their research provides powerful and authoritative support to elephant conservation and advocacy campaigns worldwide. For more than four decades AERP’s presence has helped ensure the survival of the elephants as well as the Amboseli ecosystem.
Day 6: Fly Amboseli / Nairobi / Samburu
Elephant Watch Camp
After breakfast transfer to the airstrip for the scheduled flight to Nairobi and connect to another scheduled flight to Samburu. You will be met on arrival by your Elephant Watch driver/guide and take a game viewing drive en route to the camp.
Elephant Watch Camp is one of the most exciting and talked about camps in Africa. The award winning camp has just six fabulously glamorous and luxurious tents on the edge of the Ewaso Nyiro River. It is run by Samburu people in partnership with the Douglas Hamilton family, who are elephant scientists, safari hosts and TV stars. The family has been living with elephants for 40 years, both in Kenya and Uganda and are experts on their behavior. They also have great taste so the camp is wonderfully romantic.
The camp is extremely eco-conscious – built entirely from trees knocked down by the resident elephants. The water and lighting is solar-powered. The family has a farm at Lake Naivasha where much of the food for the camp is organically grown – it’s too dry to grow much in Samburu. Elephant Watch Camp is a great way of learning about elephants and about the Samburu people who live in this arid area. It is also a glorious place to relax in beautiful and harmonious surroundings.
After lunch, there is time to relax before taking a late afternoon game viewing activity.
Days 7-8: Samburu Game Reserve
Elephant Watch Camp
You will have two full days to explore the reserve with morning and afternoon game viewing drives and get to know the gentle elephant herds being protected by Save the Elephants, The organization founded by your hosts.
Samburu National Reserve (225 sq km) offers what is arguably Kenya’s greatest – and least changed – encounter with the wild Africa of yesteryear. This harsh, savagely beautiful wilderness depends on the steady flow of the Uaso Nyiro River for its existence; the river waters a wide variety of animal species not found south of the Equator, including the majestic Beisa oryx, the reticulated giraffe, the thin-striped Grevy’s zebra, and the ‘giraffe-necked’ gerenuk antelope, which stands on its hind legs to feed.
Elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard can all be seen along the river, and the 400-plus species of birds are positively spectacular. Together with neighboring Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves, this area comprises 844 sq km of protected semi-desert land. This is the home of the Samburu tribe, cousins of the Maasai, who share the same nomadic, cattle-herding existence, and an even stricter adherence to their age-old rites and customs.
Day 9: Depart from Nairobi
Ole Sereni Hotel
You have an option of an early morning game drive. After breakfast transfer to the airstrip for the scheduled flight to Nairobi.
On arrival at Wilson Airport, met and transferred to Ole Sereni Hotel, overlooking Nairobi National Park where a dayroom is reserved for you until 6pm.
This evening, transfer to the airport for your international departure flight.