Experience a combination of the ultimate greatest wildlife destinations in the Masai Mara, Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater combined with exotic relaxation in the spice island of Zanzibar. Perfect as a family getaway as well, this journey promises to be the trip of a lifetime, packed with adventure, wondrous experiences and cherished memories.
Day 1: Jet into Kenya
On arrival in Nairobi, our representative will meet you and drive you the short distance to the Giraffe Manor in the peaceful and secure up market neighborhood of Karen. This beautiful old stone manor house is set in extensive private parkland where the resident Rothschild’s giraffes roam free. So free, in fact, that they may poke their heads into the dining room to inspect what you are having for lunch! Afterwards, spend the afternoon roaming the picturesque grounds in the company of your statuesque hosts or visit the Giraffe Centre nearby.
In the evening, cocktails are on offer in the elegant drawing room before dinner is served. You may then enjoy a sumptuous meal in the grand dining room along with your fellow travelers or choose a quiet family dinner out on the terrace below the stars.
Days 2 – 3: The plains of the Mara
Enjoy a delightful breakfast in the sunroom, while your enormous hosts vie for your attention through the windows. Bid them farewell and depart for the airport, where your charter flight awaits to whisk you south to the Masai Mara region.
Shortly into your plane journey, you can make out the huge expanse of the Mara’s rolling plains leading into the infinite grasslands of the Serengeti further south – the sheer scale of the landscape below you is astonishing. Touching down at the airstrip, you are taken on the short game drive to Ol Seki Mara Camp. Perched on a hillside overlooking the private Naibosho Conservancy, Ol Seki boasts what must be the finest view in the entire Mara region.
Discovering your suites, built on wooden platforms connected by walkway, you find them elegantly appointed with comfortable beds, beautifully draped mosquito netting, a lounge area suffused in safari chic that brings to mind the pioneering days of old, and a verandah that seems suspended over the splendid view below you.
Your next adventure is one of the best ways to gain an overview of this amazing ecosystem: to fly over it in a hot-air balloon, where you soar like a bird of prey over the plains, taking in a vista that seems to go on forever. Drifting silently on the breeze, you take it all in, giddy with the sensation of such a godlike perspective over this ancient and vital land.
In the golden light of the afternoon, the grasses sway gently in the breeze that brings the warm aromas of Africa to your nostrils: sage, earth and dust. You search out the Mara’s famed lion prides, gaze in wonder at a dazzle of zebra galloping past your vehicle and admire stately giraffe as they peer down at you from their lofty vantage. Huge old elephant bulls wander regally where they wish: their unhurried pace and gentle gait a reminder of their untroubled majesty of this land.
Days 4 – 5: Into the Serengeti
After a final morning activity and breakfast, you depart Ol Seki Mara and head for the airstrip. Crossing into Tanzania involves a short flight to Migori, where a driver assists you with immigration formalities at the border, and then he drives you to Tarime in Tanzania, where you board your next short flight into the Serengeti.
From the air, the legendary Serengeti opens out before you, where vast open plains stretch out endlessly towards a distant horizon. This region is where the famed Great Migration takes place, where at certain times of year, in excess of a million wildebeest, zebra and gazelles migrate in search of water and fresh pastures. Driven on by the unstoppable instinct to survive, these animals face treacherous river crossings, lurking crocodiles and a host of predators as they make the circular journey bound by a rhythm as old as time itself.
Your guide meets you at the airstrip and takes you for a game drive to Serengeti Under Canvas Camp. This lodge is a semi-permanent site that changes locations in order to remain close to the herds as they pass through on their endless journey. Located in a vital migratory corridor between the Mara and the Serengeti ecosystems, twice a year the area is host to the teeming multitudes of wildebeest and zebra as they move through, closely followed by their attendant predators.
The low-impact canvas and wood structures are designed to be removable but in no way does that impact on the level of comfort provided for you to enjoy.
The rugged terrain contrasts with open plains and rolling hills everywhere dotted with game, while herds of elephants emerge from the forested valleys and regally march to water, where you see them indulge in an almost playful enjoyment.
Chances of big cat sightings here are relatively good and the area has a good population of lions, while the more elusive leopard can also be seen. Your guide expertly interprets the phenomena you encounter around you, and with a practiced eye points out things you might never have noticed. The wilderness holds many surprises if you are willing to look for them, and your experienced guide holds the keys to unlock this fascinating world.
Days 6 – 7: Lake Manyara & Ngorongoro Crater
After a leisurely breakfast, depart for the airport where a charter plane waits to wing you to Manyara. Landing at the airstrip, you guide takes you for a game drive to Lake Manyara National Park. This spectacular and diverse region consists of a multitude of habitats centered on the soda lake, which is a haven for thousands of flamingos and water birds, making it a paradise for birders. In addition, the thickly forested valleys and surrounding plains support a large elephant population, many antelope species, giraffe, buffalo and of course, the lions that famously have a propensity for tree climbing.
Leaving the park in the late afternoon, you then drive on to The Manor at Ngorongoro, which is located in the Shangri-La Coffee Estate adjacent to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This delightful lodge is built in a style reminiscent of South Africa’s Cape Dutch architecture, and is surrounded by a lush garden and the rolling hills of the coffee plantation.
Your Stable Cottage is large, airy and well laid out – your butler shows you the pair of bedrooms, separate verandah and dining room, as well as the upstairs playroom, stocked with a variety of toys and games.
Once you have settled in, you wander over to the main building for a sunset drink and to admire the view from the terrace. Shortly after, a delicious dinner is served in the dining room, accompanied by a selection of wines from the amply stocked cellar. A delicious pot of fresh Tanzanian coffee rounds off the evening and, stepping outside, you take in the magnificent view of the Milky Way from the terrace before slipping off to your suite. An early start sees you enjoying a light breakfast before setting off for the Ngorongoro Crater with your guide. This long-extinct volcano is the world’s largest intact caldera and its walls contain an incredible array of habitats, which in turn support an astonishing population of game.
With springs and streams to support their water needs, the animals need never leave the crater, and the natural barricades of its walls have protected a population of elephants with enormous tusks, black rhinos and black-maned lions. With a density of game rarely seen elsewhere, combined with breath-taking scenery, the magic of Ngorongoro is revealed. This is one of the few places in Africa where the Big 5 can be seen in one game drive, but there is also so much more to absorb. Herds of gazelle, wildebeest and zebra are resident here, while smaller predators like caracal and serval are also often seen, along with the spotted hyena. The Lerai forest and the marshes below it are the domain of enormous tuskers, where sightings of these beautiful animals are enhanced by spectacular scenery as a backdrop.
Days 8 – 13: The Spice Island
Enjoy a relaxing morning at The Manor, either sleeping in or taking a stroll or horse ride through the plantations before breakfast. Your guide will then drive you back to the airstrip for your flight to Zanzibar.
Touching down on this island of exotica, the warm tropical air carries a hint of spices, mixed with a briny tang from the Indian Ocean. A representative will meet you at the airport and take you on the drive through plantations and tropical forest to Zanzibar’s north-eastern tip, where you arrive at Essque Zalu. The main building is a huge white-washed space under an enormous pitched makuti roof, airy and invitingly cool as the sea breeze gently drifts through it. Stepping inside, the limpid Indian Ocean comes into view beyond the gardens and swimming pool. An attendant appears with glasses of refreshing coconut juice and leads you to your suite. Perched on a low rocky bluff right above the beach, your home for the next five nights is beautifully crafted from timber and thatch, with a delightfully quirky décor of local sculptures and fabrics adding pops of colour to the pale palette that reflects the ever-changing tones of the sea and sky.
Essque Zalu and Zanzibar Island are yours to enjoy. Miles of white sand beaches, warm waters and sunshine are the ideal environment for complete relaxation. The resort offers scuba diving, sailing and snorkeling if you are feeling active, and a gorgeous spa featuring a range of indulgent treatments if you are not. If you are in a contemplative mood, the art gallery will fire your imagination with its selection of established as well as undiscovered Zanzibari artists.
For some time alone, the Petit VIP co-coordinators run a daily programme for children featuring a host of exciting and educational activities that they will love, and give you the quality time you need.
If you feel the need to venture further afield, the island of Zanzibar holds many fascinating attractions. A tour of the spice plantations evokes the island’s grand history as these precious commodities where sought after and traded across the globe. Walking through the gardens you inhale a whiff of cloves, nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon, spices that were once worth more than gold.
The narrow cobbled streets of Stone Town are an irresistible attraction to explore: bazaars stacked with brightly coloured wares, the aromas of spices wafting on the breeze, ancient, ornately carved doors concealing hidden courtyards, and the sound of the muezzin’s call to prayer drifting over the jumbled rooftops. The sense of the exotic is palpable as you wander the alleys where veiled women haggle with storekeepers, and where old met sit on older walls engaged in their conversations and hookah pipes.
Your days can be filled with excitement and adventure, sailing by dhow to nearby reefs in search of coral gardens, dolphins and turtles and hiking in the forests to encounter red colobus monkeys; or you may choose to simply enjoy the gorgeously tranquil atmosphere of Essque Zalu, relaxing on the beach or at the infinity pool while the attentive staff ensure you are pampered at every moment of your day.
In the evenings after yet another spectacular sunset, you enjoy a delectable meal in your choice of venue, whether it is surf-fresh seafood or a Moroccan meze platter. Slipping between the sheets, the gentle breeze in the palms and the soft susurration of the surf lulls you into blissful slumber.
Day 14: Farewell to East Africa
You reluctantly depart after breakfast, and your driver takes you for the last trip across the island to the airport. A short flight delivers you to Dar es Salaam, where your journey comes to an end. As you fly over the Indian Ocean, memories and images float through your mind: the vast plains of the Serengeti teeming with herds of wildebeest, having breakfast with giraffes, your first sight of a lion, the pristine sands of Zanzibar…. These will remain with you forever, and you know that one day you will return.
This marks the end of what we hope will be an adventurous trip- Thank you very much!!