On Safari in Kenya & Tanzania: Up Close with the Big Five - 2019

Nairobi • Amboseli • Lake Manyara • Ngorongoro Crater • Serengeti • Masai Mara
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Travel to the heart of Kenya and Tanzania on this classic East Africa safari adventure. Our special "loop" itinerary featuring the legendary triumvirate of Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and Masai Mara National Park assures you the best wildlife viewing on the planet. And that’s just the beginning of your adventure.

In a small group of 18 travelers or less, you’ll set off on 15 safari game drives to seek out the Big Five, exploring the game-rich reserves of Kenya and Tanzania in exclusive 6-passenger 4x4 pop-top African safari vehicles. You’ll also enjoy three additional included features, including a visit to an elephant orphanage as well as a Masai village, and you'll explore two UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Ngorongoro and Serengeti). Plus, there are brand new enhancements, including an additional night in the esteemed Kirawira Tented Camp and two extra game drives... adding to what is already the best value in deluxe travel.

Stay in top-of-the-line, ideally-located Serena lodges, as well as a luxury tented African safari camp in Serengeti National Park. If you prefer, you can even embark on a Private Safari: An opportunity that offers an unforgettable adventure with just your companions.

What’s more, your Vantage Adventures small group lets you experience East Africa’s rich culture and tradition up close during six Cultural Discoveries, giving you more time to mingle and get to know the people who call this magnificent place home. For example, you'll visit a local village and primary school and see the handiwork of talented artisans at a nonprofit community project.

Join us on a quintessential African safari tour that is equally thrilling and enriching, and see for yourself why Vantage offers the best value in deluxe adventure travel.

Click here to get a glimpse of the wildlife you may encounter on this adventure — plus, tips on how to capture the perfect photo for a lifetime of memories.

Nairobi to Masai Mara

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DAY 1:

Depart home for Nairobi, Kenya

Your African wildlife safari and cultural tour begins with an overnight flight to Kenya. Or, depart three days earlier for your pre-trip adventure at Sweetwaters Tented Camp in Kenya.

DAY 2:

Arrive in Nairobi: the “City Under the Sun”

We arrive in Nairobi this evening, where we'll check into our luxury hotel to rest and prepare for a day of adventure.

DAY 3:

Get to know some orphaned elephants and visit the home of Karen Blixen

After breakfast, we'll visit the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and Giraffe Center, where these majestic creatures found in the wild are nursed to health. We meet some of the residents and learn about Ms. Sheldrick’s efforts to protect these vulnerable symbols of Africa from poachers. Continue to the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden for lunch, followed by an afternoon visit to the Karen Blixen Museum. Here, we will see how the author of Out of Africa lived and admire some artifacts from her days in the bush. This visit transports us back in time to the golden era of safari, when Blixen herself said, “There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows … bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.” Later, return to the hotel for a safari briefing followed by a Welcome Dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 4:

Explore Amboseli National Park on a game drive

After breakfast, we begin our Kenyan safari with a drive through unspoiled savannas and past rocky thornbush to Amboseli National Park. On clear days we can see the snowcapped summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. After lunch at the lodge, which is fashioned after Maasai Manyatta architecture, we set out on our first game drive. Nothing compares to the thrill of this first exposure to the untamed wilds, your breath bated as you scan the horizon for wildlife. As we traverse the pristine landscapes, our trained driver guides will be on the lookout for signs of wildlife, perhaps spotting elephants, impalas, or giraffes. Dinner is at the lodge.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 5:

Continue your explorations of Amboseli on two game drives

We’ll fall into the daily rhythm of Africa today. On most safari days, we rise early to catch sight of animals as they finish their nighttime hunts. Cultural Discovery: 

Today, we'll also witness a way of life virtually untouched for thousands of years as you spend an afternoon with the people of a local Maasai village. You’ll be welcomed by a traditional dance show, tour a Maasai hut, visit the village kindergarten, and more. Return to camp for lunch and rest time. Then we return into the bush to enjoy late-afternoon game drives. Every detail has been considered to ensure you have a fruitful game-viewing experience. These guides know the bush inside and out, and offer unique insights not only on where the animals are, but about the ecosystem and the environment. Specially outfitted, 6-seat safari vehicles ensure you have a window seat, and the pop-up roof makes for excellent viewing and photography. Your sharp-eyed driver-guides help you spot even the most elusive wildlife. More than 50 large mammals and over 400 bird species call Amboseli home.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6:

Experience the work of a non-profit en route to Lake Manyara

After breakfast, depart Amboseli for Lake Manyara National Park. Our drive is long today, but enriching, filled with breathtaking vistas and complemented by several stops to observe and participate in local culture. Unforgettable Moment and Cultural Discovery: Stop at the Shanga Riverhouse, a nonprofit organization that fuses African and Western design element in textiles, jewelry, and glassblowing. During our visit, we will see how Tanzanians with disabilities create beautiful arts and crafts, and enjoy a traditional lunch with our hosts. Heartwarming and enlightening, this experience is memorable — and only the first opportunity we’ll have to connect with locals. The next awaits us tomorrow. En route, we pause in Namanga for border formalities.

We also visit the famous Tanzanite Experience today for a showcasing of this highly precious stone. Dinner is at your lodge, overlooking the stunning Rift Valley.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7:

Visit a local village and keep your eyes open for tree-climbing lions

Unforgettable Moment and Cultural Discovery: After breakfast, we travel through sweeping farmland to Mto Wa Mbu village, where we’ll meet some local people and have the chance to glimpse their daily lives inside a home, church, primary school, and a working banana plantation. Seeing the village from different perspectives, we gain insights on what life is like as well as how it has evolved for the people of the village. It’s an opportunity to connect in a real way, thanks to our small group size. Afterward, have lunch at the lodge and take a short African wildlife safari game drive in Lake Manyara National Park, known for its fascinating tree-climbing lions. Mere hours ago we were in a village, and now we scan the trees for lions! Days like these are as exciting as they are enlightening. Dinner is included at the lodge.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 8:

Tour a local coffee plantation and experience “Africa’s Garden of Eden”

Today’s destination is the Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, created when a massive volcano exploded more than two million years ago. Cultural Discovery: We stop on the way to enjoy lunch at the renowned Gibbs Farm, a local institution that grows organic vegetables and coffee. After a delicious meal, we enjoy a tour of the coffee plantations.

Then, ascend to the rim of the crater as we transfer to our lodge. It’s impossible to describe the feeling of looking out over the broad expanse of this caldera that is home to a jaw-dropping variety of animals. The nickname "Africa’s Garden of Eden" seems quite apt. Unlike other tour companies that place groups outside of the park, Vantage has arranged for you to stay at the crater’s edge so you can spend less time driving and more time viewing the diverse array of African wildlife on safari. Relax at the lodge in the afternoon, taking in spectacular views of the crater.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 9:

Spend the day exploring incomparable Ngorongoro Crater

We set off early today on a magnificent nine-hour tour to experience one of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife sanctuaries. Descend 2,000 feet into the crater; then spend the morning exploring the 102-square-mile floor, perhaps viewing zebras, wildebeests, lions — or even the rare black rhino. In all, more than 30,000 animals call the crater home. Pause for a picnic and watch the wildlife action while you enjoy lunch. We return to the lodge in time for dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 10:

Visit the “Cradle of Mankind” on your way to the Serengeti

To the Maasai people, Serengeti means “endless plain.” To the rest of the world, it is synonymous with unspoiled Africa, teeming with flora and fauna, from leopards to hippos, from acacia to baobab trees. We enjoy a spellbinding full-day transfer into this wondrous wilderness today. Unforgettable Moment and Cultural Discovery: En route to our lodge, we stop to view African wildlife and visit Olduvai Gorge, the “Cradle of Mankind,” where Drs. Louis and Mary Leakey discovered hominid fossils more than 2.5 million years old. In addition to the fascinating archaeological insights we’ll gain here, the realization that humanity has its roots in this valley is poignant. Thousands of miles from home, we’re reminded of where it all started. Have dinner at our lodge this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 11:

Optional balloon ride and two remarkable Serengeti game drives

Early risers may take advantage of the adventure of a lifetime: an optional "Serengeti Balloon Safari" tour. This tour does not disappoint. There is nothing quite like soaring over the seemingly limitless plains of the Serengeti in the early hours of the morning, watching as the savannah awakens. Then, enjoy another spectacular day of taking in beautiful vistas and experiencing the densest concentration of plains mammals in the world. Our morning and afternoon game drives reveal the Serengeti’s natural beauty to best advantage. What you’ve imagined in your mind’s eye, what you’ve seen in pictures and in film . . . it’s all right here in front of you.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Optional Tour: Serengeti Balloon Safari with Champagne Breakfast

Serengeti Balloon Safari with Champagne Breakfast

  • Approximate Cost: $599 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 4 - 5 hours
  • Location: Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • When: Half-day tour
This is the most beautiful balloon flight in the world — and the ultimate African safari tour experience you do not want to miss! At dawn you will take off, rising as the sun rises and floats in whichever direction the winds of the morning take you. Your pilot can precisely control the altitude of your balloon: sometimes flying at treetop height, sometimes lower, offering a unique perspective and great photographic opportunities of the wildlife below. At other times he will ascend to 1,000 feet or more to see the enormity and wonderful panorama of the Serengeti. From time to time the pilot must put more heat into the balloon with the powerful whisper burners. In between these burns, there is silence apart from the natural sounds below.The Serengeti plains and woodlands are world famous for the variety and sheer number of its animal population. A Serengeti Balloon Safari however, is not merely a game viewing experience, but rather an opportunity for an adventure and unique perspective over outstanding quintessentially African landscapes. This tour ends off with an included champagne breakfast treat in the Serengeti bush. Don't miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

DAY 12:

Enjoy a tented camp experience in the Serengeti

Our next accommodations at a luxury tented camp offers an unforgettable experience while transporting you to the continent’s grand wild safari days. Situated high on a ridge with sweeping views of rolling terrain and volcanic outcroppings, the camp features large individual safari tents with private bathrooms and verandas for views over the Serengeti. This is yet another experience that adds some variety to your adventure — giving you another way to relish the wonders of safari life. You'll embark on an afternoon game drive, getting to know your ruggedly beautiful environs and to see the creatures in one of the worlds' most famous centers of wildlife. Tonight, after a delicious dinner in the open-air dining room, let the sounds of the African night lull you to sleep. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 13:

Venture to a local fishing village on your way to the famed Masai Mara

We continue a circular route today, with special permission to cross the Kenyan border into Masai Mara National Park, in order to maximize opportunities to see wildlife. We pause to enjoy a boxed lunch along the way.

Cultural Discovery: We stop to visit a local fishing village at Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake and the source of the White Nile. The lakeshore habitats support some of Africa’s most vivid bird species. We might be able to watch as fishermen bring in their catch to market. Upon arrival at our lodge, relax and sit down to dinner, with views of a water hole where animals come to drink.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 14:

Seek out the Big Five on two Masai Mara game drives

What can we possibly experience that we haven’t already? The Masai Mara may surprise you. Enjoy the incomparable experience of seeing the Masai Mara from above on a hot air balloon ride on an optional tour. There is nothing like floating over this wilderness and getting a bird’s-eye view of this breathtaking panorama. Explore the park on morning and afternoon game drives today. The Masai Mara's splendid and verdant terrain is home to grazing animals and predators, as well as a profusion of birds, amphibians, and reptiles. While there are never guarantees on safari, it’s not unheard of to spot all of the “Big Five” — the lion, elephant, cape buffalo, rhinoceros, and leopard — in a single morning here. In the evening, attend a Farewell Dinner at the lodge.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Optional Tour: Masai Mara Balloon Safari with Champagne Breakfast

Masai Mara Balloon Safari with Champagne Breakfast

  • Approximate Cost: $549 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 4 - 5 hours
  • Location: Masai Mara National Park
  • When: Half-day tour
Enhance your African safari tour by floating above it all as you embark on the balloon ride of a lifetime. This one hour flight will give you a bird’s eye view of the best East Africa has to offer, in the magnificent setting of the Great Rift Valley. A champagne breakfast in the bush after you land adds to the buzz you will get from the early morning air, and the sights and sounds that only an eagle ever sees. The morning drive back to your camp/lodge offers more opportunities for game viewing. Early morning is the ideal time to see wild animals on the plains. In the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya on safari, it is an experience you will never forget.

DAY 15:

A delightful dinner, then fly home from Nairobi airport

We transfer to Nairobi today with a picnic lunchbox on the way. Early this evening, enjoy dinner at a Nairobi restaurant where you'll get a chance to try several renowned meat dishes. Our African wildlife safari comes to an end as we transfer to the airport for an evening flight, arriving home the next day. You have now joined a collection of intrepid adventurers who have roamed this land and fallen under its spell. The memories will last a lifetime.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Tour Director or regional expert.

Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary. That hotel ratings are based on the Hotel and a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.

Note: That hotel ratings are based on the hotel and a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.

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On Safari in Kenya & Tanzania: Up Close with the Big Five - 2019

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