On Safari in Kenya & Tanzania: Up Close with the Big Five - 2020

Nairobi • Amboseli • Lake Manyara • Ngorongoro Crater • Serengeti • Masai Mara
  • $499
  • 16
  • 27
18 DAYS FROM $9,598
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Sweetwaters Tented Camp, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya

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This brand-new, enhanced itinerary for 2020 has taken one of our most popular and highly rated adventures and made it even better! We've added  an additional night in the exclusive, luxurious Kirawira Tented Camp in the Serengeti (two indulgent nights total) and two extra game drives... adding to what is already the best value in deluxe travel. It's safe to say that this may be our best East Africa safari ever.

This is the true home of safari, which means "journey" in the local Kiswahili language. On this classic safari adventure, we’ll travel to five of east Africa’s most famous parks. Our special round-trip loop itinerary features the legendary triumvirate of the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and Masai Mara National Park, and assures us of some of the best wildlife viewing in Africa.

Our small group will explore the game-rich reserves of Kenya and Tanzania in exclusive six-passenger 4x4 pop-top African safari vehicles, where every traveler receives a window seat. We’ll have incredible opportunities to witness Africa’s wildlife panoply unfold in front of us on 17 professionally-guided safari game drives, including a full day spent inside the incomparable Eden of the Ngorongoro Crater (one of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites on this African safari). 

In addition to these superlative safari adventures, we’ll also get to experience many other facets of east African life. We’ll be able to approach baby elephants on a visit to an elephant orphanage, and feed giraffes at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi. In Amboseli, we’ll pay a visit to a traditional Maasai Village, and on the shores of Lake Victoria, we’ll watch local fishermen bringing in their catch. We’ll sing with schoolchildren at a village near Lake Manyara, and tour an organic farm and coffee plantation that’s become a Tanzanian institution. There are a total of six fascinating Cultural Discoveries like this — wonderful experiences that allow you to connect to the people and culture. 

Every night, we’ll stay in top-of-the-line Serena lodges, each ideally located to enhance our safari experience. We’ll also enjoy a thrilling stay in a luxury tented camp inside the Serengeti National Park, where we’ll feel just like the legendary hunters of days gone by. This quintessential African safari weaves together all the rich strands of the heritage and habitats we pass through on our journey. Join us on this quintessential safari adventure in 2020, and see for yourself why we believe 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

Pre-Trip Extension

Sweetwaters Tented Camp, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya

FROM: $1499 PER PERSON | 4 DAYS | $375 PER DAY
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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 “Green City in the Sun”

Today we’ll arrive in Nairobi where a Vantage representative will meet us and transfer us to our luxury hotel. This evening, we’ll have time to rest and prepare for a day of adventure tomorrow.

DAY 3:

Meet orphaned elephants, feed giraffes, and visit the home of Karen Blixen

After breakfast this morning, we’ll take a short drive to Nairobi National Park to visit the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. Born from one family’s passion for Kenya, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world. A keeper will give us a talk about the baby elephants and we’ll be able to get very close to them. The orphanage also takes in rhinos, so we may get the chance to see a young rhino.

From here, we’ll visit the Giraffe Center. First opened to protect the endangered Rothschild's giraffe, the Giraffe Center offers you the chance to see and even feed the giraffes from an elevated viewing platform.

We’ll continue to the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden, where we’ll have lunch in the historic farm manager’s house, dating back to the early 1900s. After lunch, we’ll visit the Karen Blixen Museum nearby, which was once the home of the author of Out of Africa. Here we’ll see how she 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.”

We’ll return to the hotel to relax before our safari briefing this evening, which will be followed by a welcome dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 4:

Arrive in Amboseli National Park and take an afternoon game drive

After breakfast, we begin our Kenyan safari with a drive through unspoiled savannas and past rocky thornbush to Amboseli National Park. If it’s a clear day, we’ll be able to see the snowcapped summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, looming above us.

We’ll arrive at our lodge in time for lunch in the restaurant. After some time to relax and settle in, we’ll meet for coffee and tea, and a safari briefing on the veranda. Then we’ll set out on our first game drive.

The name "Amboseli" comes from a Maasai word meaning "salty dust" — a reference to the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli. We’ll explore an exciting range of habitats here, from wetlands with sulphur springs to savanna plains and woodlands ­— all against the majestic backdrop of Kilimanjaro. Wildlife is prolific here, and we’re sure to spot all sorts of game, from herds of elephants and zebras, to lazy lions and towering giraffes. We’ll return to our lodge for dinner and a pleasant night’s rest.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 5:

Explore Amboseli and spot wildlife on two game drives

Today we’ll fall into the rhythm of safari life. On most safari days, we rise early to catch sight of predators as they finish their nighttime hunts. We usually rest in the middle of the day, just as the animals do, before setting out again on our afternoon "hunt."

Every detail has been considered to ensure you have fruitful game-viewing experiences. Your guides know the bush inside and out, and can offer fascinating insights about the ecosystems and environment. Specially outfitted six-seat safari vehicles ensure you have a window seat, and the pop-up roof allows for excellent viewing and photography. Your sharp-eyed driver-guides help you spot even the most elusive wildlife.

On our morning game drive today, we’ll also get to witness a way of life virtually untouched for thousands of years when we visit a local Maasai village. Despite the encroachment of Western civilization, the Maasai people have clung tenaciously to their traditional ways, making them one of the world’s last great warrior cultures. We’ll be welcomed by a dance display, and be shown around their huts. We’ll see a fire-making demonstration, visit the kindergarten, and witness a spear-throwing contest.

After lunch and a relaxing afternoon at the lodge, we’ll return to the bush in the late-afternoon for another game drive, followed by a delicious three-course dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 6:

Learn about Tanzanite gemstones and visit a community workshop on your way to Lake Manyara

After breakfast, we’ll bid farewell to Amboseli and start our journey to Tanzania’s Lake Manyara National Park. Our drive is long today, but it will be enriching, filled with breathtaking vistas.

We’ll pause at Namanga for border formalities, then drive through the town of Arusha, which is famous as the gateway for Mount Kilimanjaro. The foothills of Kilimanjaro are also the only place in the world where the unique Tanzanite gemstone is found. Displaying incredible blue and violet hues, it was first discovered in 1967. New York jewelers Tiffany & Co declared it, “the most beautiful blue stone to be discovered in 2,000 years.” We’ll visit the famous Tanzanite Experience to learn more about its formation and history.

Next, we’ll pay a visit to the Shanga Riverhouse, an open workshop for glass-blowing, weaving, sewing, tingatinga painting, bead-making, and metal work. Here we’ll see how Tanzanians with disabilities create unique, high-quality, handmade jewelry, glassware, and homeware using recycled materials.

After a traditional Tanzanian lunch at Shanga, we’ll continue our journey. We’ll arrive at our luxury lodge inside Lake Manyara National Park in time to relax and enjoy dinner overlooking the stunning Rift Valley.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 7:

Visit a local village and look out for tree-climbing lions

After breakfast, we travel through sweeping farmland to Mto Wa Mbu village. Here we’ll meet the local people and have the chance to glimpse their daily lives inside a home, church, primary school, and 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.

We’ll return to our lodge for a leisurely lunch, and then we’ll set out on a safari game drive in Lake Manyara National Park. The park offers a spectacular setting for game-viewing, with its soda lake speckled with thousands of flamingoes, and dense woodlands where lions lounge around in the trees. Large herds of buffalo, Masai giraffe, and impala roam the lake shores and the forested valley slopes.

This evening we’ll be entertained by a local song and dance performance around the pool before enjoying another sumptuous dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 8:

Tour a local coffee plantation and arrive at 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, the crater is the largest intact caldera in the world.

On our way, we’ll stop at the renowned Gibbs Farm, a model for sustainable, environmentally-respectful practices. The farm has won numerous awards and we’ll take a fascinating tour of its vegetable gardens and coffee plantations. Then, we’ll feast on a lunch of organic cuisine, fresh from the farm’s gardens, bakery, and dairy.

At last, we’ll ascend to the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, where our lodge overlooks its vast expanse. Named by the Maasai pastoralists after the sound produced by cowbells, this huge bowl is still grazed by herds of Masai cattle, accompanied by their red-cloaked herdsmen. It’s also home to a staggering number of wild animals, most of which never leave the crater. As livestock and wildlife live peacefully side by side here, the nickname Africa’s "Garden of Eden" seems quite apt.

There are no hotels or lodges inside the crater, but, because our lodge is right on its rim, we’ll enjoy easy access to it tomorrow. Meanwhile, we’ll relax at our lodge this afternoon, taking in the spectacular views and enjoying a memorable dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 9:

Spend the day exploring the incomparable Ngorongoro Crater

We set off early today on a magnificent full-day safari game drive to experience one of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife sanctuaries, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll drive 2,000 feet down into the crater, then spend the day exploring its 100-square-mile floor.

There’ll be plenty of opportunities to see zebras, gazelle, wildebeests, buffalo, and black-maned lions — and perhaps even the rare black rhino. In all, more than 30,000 animals range across the wide grasslands, which are watered by a burbling spring and a large soda lake. We’ll stop for a picnic lunch inside the crater and continue our game viewing all afternoon, returning to our 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 plains.” To the rest of the world, it’s synonymous with unspoiled Africa, brimming with iconic African flora and fauna, from acacia and baobab trees, to leopards and hippos. One of the oldest and most important ecosystems on Earth, the Serengeti is believed to have changed very little in more than a million years, giving the area a primordial character. This morning, we’ll depart early for a full-day transfer into this wondrous wilderness.

On our way, we’ll visit Olduvai Gorge. Dubbed the "Cradle of Mankind," this gorge revealed the earliest evidence of the existence of our human ancestors. It was here, in 1959, that Drs. Louis and Mary Leakey uncovered hominid fossils more than 2.5 million years old. In addition to the fascinating archaeological insights we’ll gain here, the realization that humanity had its roots in this valley is poignant. Thousands of miles from home, we’re reminded of where it all started.

Continuing our journey, we’ll arrive at the entrance to the Serengeti National Park in time for a picnic lunch. We’ll then take a game drive through the park to reach our lodge, where we’ll relax and enjoy dinner together.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 11:

Go on an optional balloon safari and two remarkable Serengeti game drives

Early risers may take advantage of the experience of a lifetime today: an optional Serengeti Balloon Safari. There’s nothing quite like soaring over the seemingly limitless plains of the Serengeti as the sun rises and the savannah awakens.

After breakfast, we’ll go for a morning game drive through the park, returning for lunch, followed by another game drive in the afternoon. We’ll take in the vast seas of grass swarming with wildlife, and witness the largest community of migrating plains game in the world. The Serengeti truly is the classic Africa of your imagination — and 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: $549 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 4 - 5 hours
  • Location: Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • When: Early morning tour

One of the most magically memorable of the Serengeti experiences, a balloon safari allows you to drift in silence above the splendor of the plains. Awakened by an early morning cup of tea, you’ll be driven to the balloon take-off point. There, you’ll meet your fully qualified balloon pilot and watch as the team inflates the enormous rainbow-colored balloon.

As dawn breaks and the balloon slowly rights itself, you’ll be helped into the wicker basket. Then the sandbags are cast off and the balloon rises majestically into the cool of the morning air and floats in whichever direction the winds of the morning take you. You may dip down to visit the hippo pools of the Grumeti River, or float just above the tree-tops to enjoy a bird's-eye view of the wildlife theater as it is enacted below you.

After a 45-minute flight, your balloon will descend to the plains, where the ground crew will greet you with a glass of chilled champagne. Then you’ll be treated to a full English breakfast, which is traditionally cooked on the burners of the balloon. After breakfast, enjoy a leisurely game drive back to the lodge.

DAY 12:

Enjoy a classic safari experience in a tented camp in the Serengeti

Today we’ll take a game drive to the Serengeti’s famous Western Corridor for an unforgettable safari experience at a luxury tented camp. Situated high on a ridge, with sweeping views of rolling terrain and volcanic outcroppings, the camp is styled to replicate the elegant camps of legendary hunters such as Denys Finch Hatton and Baron Bror Blixen. Your safari adventure here will be complemented by attentive personal service and 5-star amenities.

After a fabulous lunch at the camp, you'll embark on an afternoon game drive, getting to know your ruggedly beautiful environs and seeing some of the creatures in this remote part of the Serengeti. Tonight, after a delicious dinner in the opulent dining tent, the sounds of the African night will lull you to sleep.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 13:

A full day of exploring the legendary Serengeti

Safari life is enchanting . . . each day seems to bring new vistas, special moments, and exhilarating discoveries. You’ll set off on morning and afternoon game drives today, scouring these timeless wilds for some of the Big Five and the countless other species that roam here.  Between game drives and after you can revel in the luxuries afforded you at Kirawira Tented Camp, perhaps enjoying a dip in the pool or a refreshing beverage at the Edwardian-style bar. The gourmet meals you’ll savor here will be another highlight of a day filled with them.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 14:

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

We continue our circular route today, with special permission to cross the Kenyan border into Masai Mara National Park. On our way, we’ll 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 supports some of Africa’s most vivid bird species, and we might be able to watch as fishermen bring in their catch to market. Upon arrival at our lodge, we’ll relax and sit down to dinner overlooking a water hole where animals come to drink.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 15:

Explore the Masai Mara on game drives and consider an incomparable balloon safari

This morning you have another opportunity to go on an optional hot air balloon safari. Float above the Mara plains at dawn in unsurpassed tranquility and beauty. Glide over the treetops and be wafted gently over the plains, cruising close to enjoy the spectacular scenery.

We’ll explore this prolific park on morning and afternoon game drives today. After so many spectacular safari adventures, what can we possibly experience that we haven’t already? The Masai Mara may surprise us. It’s globally famous for its exceptional population of lions, leopards, and cheetahs, so we may be lucky enough to have some close encounters with spotted cats. This seems particularly appropriate, since the word "Mara" means "spotted" in the local Maa language. And, while there are never guarantees on safari, it’s not unheard of to see all of the Big Five in a single game drive here.

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: Early morning 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, starting early in the morning, 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 just as the sun begins the rise. A champagne breakfast in the bush after you land adds to the buzz you’ll get from the early morning air, and the sense of serenity that comes from drifting silently above one of the world’s most beautiful wildernesses. A morning game drive back to your lodge offers an excellent opportunity for wildlife viewing, as early morning is the ideal time to see wild animals on the plains.

DAY 16:

Return to Nairobi for a memorable Farewell Dinner

After a last breakfast in the bush, we’ll drive back to Nairobi, stopping for a picnic lunch along the way. Back in the city, we’ll enjoy a Farewell Dinner at the hotel, where you'll get a chance to try several exotic meat dishes.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 17:

Bid farewell to Africa and fly home

Our African wildlife safari comes to an end today. After breakfast and some last-minute souvenir shopping, we transfer to the airport for our flight home. You have now joined a collection of intrepid adventurers who have roamed Africa’s wildernesses and fallen under their spell. The memories will last a lifetime.

Included Meals:


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 Adventure Leader 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. 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 - 2020

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