Explore three of the most breathtaking big game parks in Kenya with this seven-day safari adventure using the prestigious Sarova luxury hotel chain for accommodation. Starting off in the Nairobi hotel where Ernest Hemingway dreamed up his African novels and continuing the adventure in ‘Born Free Country’, Lake Nakuru and the Maasai Mara, this Kenyan highlights programme combines consistently good game viewing with stylish accommodation.
Flamingos: See lakes take a shimmering pink appearance when thousands of these birds flock to them in wet season
Big cats: Observe lions, leopards and cheetahs relentlessly track wildebeest during the wet season Great Migration (subject to wildlife movement)
Crocodiles: The River Ewaso Ngiro in Samburu where large Nile crocodiles bask in the sun and slither through the water looking for their next meal
A wide range of optional excursions and pre and post-programme extensions are available on request. Please ask tour designer Taqi Moledina for rates and conditions
Shaba National Reserve: The ‘celebrity’ wildlife park that played a lead role in Hollywood classics Born Free and Out of Africa
Lake Nakuru National Park: Fully fenced park that is home to flamingos as well as black and white rhinos among others
Maasai Mara National Reserve: Located in the African Great Rift Valley and a habitat for the Big Five
Upon arrival in Nairobi, you will be met by a representative and transferred to the Sarova Stanley Hotel. This legendary establishment traces its origins all the way back to 1902, when its late Victorian splendour made it Kenya’s first luxury hotel. The Stanley soon became a byword for opulence and sophistication, attracting big game enthusiasts and colonial administrators. Its immortal status was cemented by the experiences here of Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway, whose short story, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, did so much to popularise safaris. Hemingway would gather with fellow adventurers at the Thorn Tree Café – named after the tree on which travellers would pin messages – to plan safaris or regale them with tales of ones just completed. The Stanley has long since been modernised but the spirit of the past is still palpable in every corner. All 220 rooms are en suite and comfortable, and facilities include an excellent gym, a large rooftop swimming pool and an Edwardian lounge bar. Optional excursions for early morning arrivals: Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage visit, Out of Africa (Karen Blixen Museum and Giraffe Centre visit - transfer to Eka Hotel on arrival for breakfast on own arrangements, then continue with the excursion).
Leaving Nairobi after breakfast, travel northwards to Samburu, passing near Thika and continue through breathtaking scenery dotted with rushing mountain streams and plantations of tea and coffee in the shadows of Mount Kenya, the country’s highest mountain and second in Africa only to Kilimanjaro. Circumventing Mount Kenya, pass through the town of Nanyuki before reaching the dusty outpost of Isiolo, the last major stop on the journey to the remote northern frontier district. From here, it’s a fairly short hop to Shaba National Reserve. It earned worldwide fame in the 1960s as the setting of the popular movie, Born Free, which chronicled the lives of Joy and Robert Adamson, and Elsa, the lioness cub they reared. Arrive at Sarova Shaba Lodge in time for lunch and then head off for an afternoon game drive returning to the lodge as the sun sets. Surrounded by trees and located on a rocky bend of the River Ewaso Ngiro, the Sarova Shaba offers a luxury seldom found in a large African bush lodge. There are 80 chalet rooms and four luxurious junior suites as well as one honeymoon suite. The tranquil flow of sparkling spring waters throughout the grounds creates an atmosphere of peace and serenity as they collect and cascade, attracting a great variety of birds. Crocodile feeding demonstrations and evening entertainment are provided by local Samburu villagers.
Added Value: Sarova Shaba Riverside breakfast. Enjoy a ‘bubbly’ riverside breakfast, dining against the backdrop of the Ewaso Ngiro River and Shaba game reserve. Delight in this experience, as the wilderness slowly comes alive around you
Breakfast follows an early morning game drive in the lush and verdant Shaba National Reserve, which was also the setting for the multiple Oscar-winning classic, Out of Africa. There is a large pride of lions as well as elephants, leopards, gerenuks and elands while rare species such as the reticulated giraffe also make this habitat their stomping ground. For the remainder of the morning, you can relax by the pool, which features an island reached by a bridge from the bar, or the terrace, which overlooks the river. After lunch, there will be another game drive, returning to the lodge for sunset.
Bid farewell to Shaba National Reserve after breakfast and travel south through Isiolo, crossing the northernmost foothills of Mount Kenya, passing through Nanyuki, continuing in a north-westerly direction towards Nyahururu, still known by many as Thomson’s Falls because of its 75-metre waterfall, which can be spotted in the distance. Turn south and head to the next destination, the spectacular Lake Nakuru, enjoying a game drive en route to Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge. The waters of the lake are often coloured a shimmering pink, from the thousands of flamingos that line the shores. After lunch, depart for an afternoon game drive in Lake Nakuru National Park. As well as all the beautiful flamingos, both black and white rhino are being carefully protected and given a new lease of life in this fully fenced 188 square kilometre park. The rhino population numbers more than 50 and continues to multiply. The Rothschild’s giraffe is another rarity and the park has its fair share of buffaloes, leopards, zebras, elands, waterbucks and lions. Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge is situated in the heart of what is Kenya's most densely populated wetland national park, which is one of six internationally protected marsh areas, known as Ramsar sites, in the country. The lodge is in the eastern ecological niche of the park, located on high on a plateau by the eastern shore. It boasts commanding views of the lake and what seems like millions of flamingos, pelicans and marabou storks. Lush gardens surround the lodge and cottage, and there is an exciting programme of activities and evening entertainment. Here the ornithological landscape appears to bloom as if it were natural foliage. The lodge has 65 modern en suite bedrooms, and meals are served inside the lodge, by the pool or under a forest of towering acacia trees. The Rift Valley bar on the ground floor has great views of the lake.
Added value: Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge bush lunch. Relish the ultimate safari experience with a perfect outdoor bush lunch, al fresco style, as you take in the panoramic views of the lake and the picturesque Lake Nakuru National Park
Breakfast early before leaving the flamingo-fringed Lake Nakuru to continue the adventure at the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Drive to the town of Njoro, where you begin your ascent over the top of the Mau Escarpment. Then, heading south, travel across the ‘breadbasket’ of Kenya, covered with acres of wheat and barley, towards Narok, the gateway to the Maasai Mara. Check in at Sarova Mara Game Camp and enjoy lunch before departing for an afternoon game drive, returning back to the lodge as the sun sets. The camp is located inside the eastern section of the Maasai Mara and hidden in a wonderful little forested valley. During the annual Great Migration, the camp is teeming with wildebeest, gazelles and zebras as it situated right in the centre of their migration path. The 75 tents are luxurious with a permanent roof and floor, zip-up fronts, attached bathroom, running hot water supply and electricity. Wooden walkways, built over wide lily ponds, link the tents and manicured lawns with the main dining and bar areas. Bird life is abundant, with kingfishers particularly common. The impressive main building consists of a high-thatched lobby, the Oloip Bar with its cosy log fireplace, a large dining area and outdoor terrace with sweeping views. A small area by the pond for private meals if needed. There is also a sparkling swimming pool surrounded by sun loungers.
Enjoy an early breakfast before departing for a morning game drive. The Maasai Mara National Reserve is home to millions of wild animals, including the fabled Big Five of lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros as well as antelopes, gazelles and wildebeest among others. Return to the lodge for lunch before setting off for an afternoon game drive, then returning to the lodge as the sun sets. An optional early morning hot air balloon safari is available today. Flight time is approximately one hour and champagne bush breakfast and return transfers are included.
Following breakfast, say goodbye to the Maasai Mara before passing through acres of rolling wheat and barley farms to Narok. From here, cross the vast plains on the floor of the Great Rift Valley while keeping an eye out for herds of giraffe and gazelle before heading up the rift escarpment on a road built by Italian prisoners during World War II. Arrive at Kenya’s bustling capital by about midday and head to either a drop-off point in the city centre or to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for your ongoing travel arrangements.
We can also set up a plethora of optional activities upon your return to Nairobi, including lunch or dinner at Carnivore Restaurant, Out of Africa excursion (Karen Blixen Museum), a shopping trip to Utamaduni craft centre and Kazuri Bead Factory, or use of Pollman’s Club Lounge.