Arrive in Nairobi, the safari capital of East Africa, where upon arrival you will be welcomed by your Classic Escapes expert driver/guide and escorted to your luxurious hotel. The evening is free to settle in, relax and enjoy your fabulous resort at leisure.
Located within a pleasant forested area overlooking the second hole of a golf course, The Residences at Karen embody comfort, luxury and serenity, perfect for any getaway. The Residences at Karen, it is truly your home away from home offering all the luxuries of a five star hotel, with special personalized service, a relaxed atmosphere and great attention to detail. A team of professional staff is eager to serve you and anticipate your every need. The Residences host six cottages and twelve apartment suites. The stunning cottages have two spacious bedrooms with its own accessible door from outside and a luxuriously furnished living room with a beautiful stone fire place, service area, dining area, and furnished terrace. All rooms are equipped with modern amenities. Overnight at THE RESIDENCES AT KAREN. http://www.theresidences.or.ke/
An interesting day is in store for you. After a briefing about the wonderful events ahead, get set for an exciting adventure as you visit Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage at the edge of Nairobi National Park, which is a nursery and rehab center for infant elephants that have lost their families, as well as rhino and occasionally zebras and other wildlife. Daphne was the first person to successfully master the art and raise orphan infant elephants. The wife of the famous naturalist David Sheldrick, Daphne has dedicated her life to conservation. David was founder Warden of Kenya’s giant Tsavo East National Park, in which he served from 1948 until his death in 1976. Daphne has continued her involvement and has had real impact on the lives of elephants and rhinos, which would have normally died due to human poaching and surrounding population conflict. You’ll enjoy a visit with the elephants as they’re brought by their keepers to the waterhole and salt lick to be fed and socialize – see how they roll in the mud and play fight, and their affectionate interaction with their keepers. Daphne, or a member of her staff, will be on hand to discuss their habits, as well as impart interesting facts about their upkeep. These infants are eventually released into the wild at Tsavo East National Park and end up in the care of other orphans who have been successfully reintroduced to the wild.
Enjoy lunch at Karen Blixen’s Garden Restaurant before visiting the Karen Blixen House, the former house of the Danish Baronness, Karen Blixen (1885-1962) author of the book Out of Africa. Karen lived in this green residential area from 1914 to 1931 when she left permanently for Denmark. The house was built in 1910 and when Ms. Blixen bought the property, it had 6,000 acres of land but only 600 acres were developed for growing coffee; the rest was retained under natural forest.The house was bought by the Danish Government, which offered it back to Kenya in 1963. In 1986, the house, formerly used as a school, was transformed to a National Museum. Much of the original furniture is on display in the house and most objects were either used by Karen herself or for the shooting of the film or donated to the museum.
Continue to the AFEW Nature Center near Giraffe Manor where you may hand-feed the Rothschild giraffe that live here. The giraffe were brought here by Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville, who founded AFEW (African Fund for Endangered Wildlife) and built the Nature Center to help educate young African children about wildlife conservation. The Rothschild giraffe are the tallest species and may reach 18 feet in height, but you can see eye to eye with them on the elevated walkway at the center. This evening get acquainted with your fellow travelers at your welcome dinner at your hotel. Overnight at THE RESIDENCES AT KAREN.
Begin your exploration of this magnificent country as you drive on its rugged roads, through rich farm land, en route to Samburu Reserve. Samburu lies on the hot and arid fringes of Kenya’s vast northern region. (An optional flight between the Nairobi and Samburu is available at a cost of $300 per person.) En route, stop for lunch at the Trout Tree Inn in Nanyuki, a market town in central-east Rift Valley region. Continue to the Buffalo Springs Reserve, set within the lands of the colorful Samburu people, close relatives of the Maasai. The landscapes are magnificent with extremely colorful birds and numerous wildlife species found only north of the equator and rarely elsewhere in Kenya. Species include the Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe and beisa oryx while the graceful gerenuk, an antelope with a characteristic long neck, spends most time in a bipedal stance seeking relaxation in the sparse scrub. The dramatic, harsh landscape is subjected to the hot equatorial sun for most of the year and relief comes only from the cool waters of the Uaso Nyiro (“Brown”) River. Rising to the West on the foothills of the Aberdares, the river vanishes beyond Samburu in the soggy expanse of the Lorian swamp.
The Ashnil Samburu Camp is located in the Buffalo Springs Reserve, separated from amburu Reserve by the Uaso Nyiro River. Each of the 24 comfortable, deluxe tents have perfect views of the river and consist of a king size or twin beds, dressing area, sitting area, luggage rack, and ensuite facilities. This is the perfect lodge to view large the numbers of elephants who use the river to drink, bathe and play. Huge troops of baboons patrol the riverbanks and, in the camp itself, vervet monkeys socialize in the trees. Overnights at the ASHNIL SAMBURU CAMP www.ashnilhotels.com
Travel overland for a fabulous day of nature viewing. You are now in the heart of the Great Rift Valley (which roughly bisects Kenya North to South), a huge geological fault-line that stretches round one-sixth of the Earth’s circumference and is visible from far out in space. At 2,000 feet deep and 30 miles wide, it runs as far as the eye can see. Its walls are sheer and high and, along its length, there are many volcanoes mostly dormant. The landscape, with bubbling springs and geysers, is spectacular.
Arrive to Lake Nakuru National Park, a shallow alkaline body of water, once world-renowned for the huge concentration of flamingos. Today, there aren’t many flamingoes left, but the park boasts a huge variety of animals including leopard – often found snoozing on the branches of magnificent yellow-barked acacias – lion, buffalo, hippo, waterbuck, warthog, baboon, and the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe (Only found in this part of Kenya), white rhino and the rare, protected black rhino. For the bird-watching enthusiast there are 450 species found in the park vicinity, with a big concentration of water birds including Marabou Stork and pelican.
The Sarova Lion Hill overlooks Lake Nakuru. Built on a natural dais (platform), it is cleverly laid out so that most rooms afford stunning views of the lake and the Park. The lodge incorporates natural landscaping of tall acacia trees, winding walkways and greens dotted with bird feeders that attract over 50 species. All 64 rustic, chalet- style rooms are comfortable and offer en-suite bathrooms and private patios. Additional amenities include the Flamingo Restaurant, the Rift Valley Bar, swimming pool, sauna and novelty shops. Local dancers perform traditional dances nightly. Overnight at the SAROVA LION HILL LODGE (B,L,D) www.sarovahotels.com/lionhill Approximate driving time Sweetwaters to Lake Nakuru Reserve: 4 ½ hours
Drive to the Maasai Mara, Kenya’s most famous wildlife reserve. Known as the “Jewel of Africa” and
setting for the film Out of Africa, it covers an area of 700 square miles and forms part of the Serengeti ecosystem. The reserve is a classic savannah landscape of rolling grasslands with free roaming animals and spectacular vista. Wildlife shares the land with minimal conflict with local, cattle tending Maasai tribes. Spend three days of exciting wildlife-viewing in the Maasai Mara, site of one of the world’s largest and the most spectacular animal migrations. Up to two million wildebeest and thousands of zebra move from the Serengeti plains, surrounded by an escort of carnivores, following the rains and subsequent presence of succulent new grass. It is a costly trek. Many of the lame, laggard and sick animals fall prey to ravening packs of predators while many more die in the swirling flood waters of the Mara River which crosses the reserve from north to south. The Mara has its own resident herds and shelters many of Africa’s most popular wild animals including lion, elephant, leopard, black rhino and hippo. The Mara has one of Africa’s highest concentrations of cheetahs, as well as magnificent black-maned lions. Over 500 species of birds live in the park including ostrich, larks, sunbirds and the lovely Lilac-breasted Roller.
Optional activities abound while you’re in the Maasai Mara. You can try a balloon safari for an exhilarating experience over the savannah as the early sun rises and the animals are more active. Duties permitting, a Maasai warden will discuss current conservation issues faced in the Mara. If you wish, for a nominal fee, you can also visit a Maasai Village to experience this nomadic tribe’s way of life and see their colorful culture.
Ashnil Mara Camp is a luxury tented camp perfectly positioned near the Mara River. Its 30 tents sit along the riverbank, are spacious yet intimate and are individually decorated in vibrant bush colors. They feature large en-suite facilities, walk-in closets and a sun deck for relaxation while watching game. The restaurant serves buffet meals, while the open-air bar offers a wide selection of beers and spirits. The modern lounge is decorated with special African touches. Overnights at the ASHNIL MARA CAMP (B, L, D) www.ashnilhotels.com Approximate driving time from Lake Naivasha to the Maasai Mara: 7 hours