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Kick off your Vantage Adventure with the perfect small-group safari experience! Right from your private veranda, watch as rhinos, elephants, zebras, and numerous other species come to drink at a water hole. Sweetwaters Tented Camp overlooks the central water hole in private Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which boasts one of the highest wildlife concentrations in Kenya. In addition to the wildlife right outside your front door, you’ll also go on three guided game drives to seek out the Big Five and other rare and endangered animals, plus you’ll visit the preserve’s chimp sanctuary. Your route to the camp takes you across the equator, where you’ll stop to witness an uncanny water demonstration of the Coriolis effect, which explains the opposite spinning direction of storms in the Northern versus the Southern hemispheres.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Nairobi 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.
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.