Cross Kenya and Tanzania through the rich, fertile Masai Mara

The wonders of Kenya and Tanzania unfold before you on this incredible overland adventure, which goes deep into the heartland of the Maasai tribespeople and the finest game parks in eastern Africa. While travelling through the world-renowned Masai Mara and the vast open Serengeti plains and on to the stunning lakes of the Great Rift Valley and the dramatic scenery of the Ngorongoro Crater, you'll spot a wealth of exotic predators and peaceful herbivores. Heading off the beaten track to walk in the footsteps of the Maasai will leave you with memories of Africa that will last a lifetime.

Start
Nairobi, Kenya
Finish
Nairobi, Kenya
Countries
Kenya,
Tanzania
Themes
Overland, Wildlife
Code
YGOCC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 22
Carbon offset
753kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Experience Kenya's tribal life with Maasai warriors at an overnight village visit in Loita Hills
  • Shop for local wares at Musoma market on the edge of Lake Victoria
  • Safari in the iconic Serengeti National Park with two early morning and two late afternoon game drives in our overland vehicle
  • Learn about the Great Rift Valley and the migration of the animals within it.
  • Embark on a mind-blowing safari across the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater in an open roof safari 4x4 for a chance to see a Black Rhino.
  • Travel with 3 local crew members; Group leader, driver and cook.

Itinerary

Jambo! Welcome to Kenya.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
Nairobi - which takes its name from a Maasai phrase Enkare Nyrobi meaning 'place of cool waters' - has a cosmopolitan atmosphere. There are plenty of good bars and restaurants, while markets and shops have most things you could want or need, as well as various arts and crafts from the region.
If you arrive early, you can head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum (author of Out of Africa) or Bomas of Kenya where traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes are displayed in an outdoor village.
While brazen crime is thankfully fairly uncommon in Nairobi, petty theft unfortunately is not and recently arrived visitors to the capital can often make for tempting targets. Your trip leader will verse you in a few worthwhile precautions at the welcome meeting, but if you are arriving early please heed a few simple safeguards.

As a general rule, the safest place for your valuables is on your person in a neck wallet or money belt, though your hotel room or reception may have safes in which it would be advisable to store things if you're wanting to head out. If you do decide to go exploring, make sure you get local advice on where it is and isn't safe to walk - particularly when it's getting on in the day. Thieves and pickpockets have also been known to operate in bars and restaurants, so don't let up keeping your wits about you once you're inside somewhere. Don't leave day packs or handbags unattended on chairs or the floor. There's no need to be paranoid, but appearing vigilant is a great deterrence to would-be thieves. Finally, make colour scans of any important travel documents before you leave and email them to yourself: in the event that you are the unlucky victim of a theft, this will save you hours of police, embassy and travel insurance hassles.
Drive north-west past great views of the Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha and Elementaita to Lake Nakuru National Park, situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley (170 km, approx 3-4 hrs).
Lake Nakuru National Park's small and compact area, based around the often flamingo-filled lake, makes it a great location for spotting wildlife. Along with the other members of the Big Five, Lake Nakuru harbours rhinos and there will be a good chance of taking a great picture of these magnificent beasts.
Our exclusive camp outside the park is well situated and has flush toilets and showers. There is no option to upgrade to a room tonight and WiFi is not available.
Head off to a nearby village where our guide will introduce us to local life. This is the best time and place to interact with the local villagers.
Drive from Lake Nakuru to our camp near Lake Naivasha (110 km, approx 3 hrs).
One of the few freshwater lakes in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha has floating islands of papyrus reeds and a border of flat-topped acacias. It's also home to a healthy population of hippos and a tremendous variety of birds.
Our campsite is basic with showers and flush toilets. Depending on availability there is an option to upgrade to a room. WiFi is available at the bar and there is an opportunity to access an ATM and a market during the day to stock up for the remainder of the trip.
Enjoy some of the optional activities on offer - Hell's Gate National Park, Lake Naivasha boat trip or bike hire.
We depart Lake Naivasha making a short stop in Narok to do a spot of food shopping, taking our lunch break en route to our camp site at Loita Hills (220 km, approx. 5-6 hours).

Today's drive crosses the Great Rift Valley, Africa's immense and spectacular great divide, and takes us into the remote region of Loita Hills, home of the traditional Maasai people. Here we visit the Maasai, known for their vibrant red dress and elaborate jewellery, and gain an insight into the culture and ancient ways of this proud East African Community.
After setting up our tents, it is time to meet our Maasai hosts as we receive a fascinating talk offering insights into this remarkable and ancient culture from a local elder. Enjoy being shown around a traditional Maasai home and their cattle enclosures.
Tonight we stay in a bush camp with drop toilets and bush shower facilities. There is no upgrades available or access to WiFi
It is 70 km from Loita to Masai Mara, which will take us approximately 1-2 hours. The road is dusty when dry and could be slippery and soft when wet.
The Masai Mara is the quintessential African experience with sparse open plains, dramatic skies and the world's most iconic animals living within its boundaries.
After setting up camp (outside the park) and having lunch, we jump back on board the truck for a game drive.
Our campground is located outside of the national reserve and has flush toilets and showers. There is an option to upgrade tonight (depending on availability) however there is no WiFi available.
Venture in to the Masai Mara National Reserve for a full days game drive exploring this diverse environment and view a multitude of wildlife.

An optional balloon ride over the Masai Mara at sunrise is an unforgettable experience. If you have pre-booked this activity (please see 'Important Notes') you will be picked up and driven to the launch site and receive a safety briefing from your pilot. You then glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, providing amazing wildlife photography opportunities; sometimes ascending to get an overview of the enormity of the Masai Mara plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. Upon landing you'll be treated to a bush breakfast before being returned to your vehicle. Please note if you are taking a balloon ride over the Mara you will be taken to the launch place from our campsite before dawn and returned to the group when you have finished your ride.

Please note that we offer this activity as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a spot in a balloon. If you choose to wait and book this activity locally on the ground you may get a better price. However this is a popular activity and places are limited. It is at your own discretion if you wish to pre-book this service with us or try and book it locally while you are on your trip.
Today, we head back to Nairobi. Take a break from pitching tents and relax at a hotel. Take a refreshing dip in the pool and enjoy a cool drink or go for a walk around the town and meet some local people.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and meet your new fellow travellers.
Stay in a simple hotel with swimming pool, restaurant, bar and en suite bathrooms and WiFi access.
You may prefer to stay in the town of Narok tonight as we will be passing by the town again tomorrow in the morning. If you choose to do this you will need to book your own accommodation, sign off the trip and sign back on when the group passes by again in the morning. Please speak to your booking consultant if you wish to do this. However, we find most passengers prefer heading back to our Nairobi hotel for a hot shower, Wi-Fi, a restaurant meal and perhaps swap some laundry if you left some luggage behind.
Board our safari truck and travel west. Crossing the incredibly scenic Great Rift Valley on the way to the tea-growing highlands is a fantastic introduction to the beautiful landscapes of Kenya. Pass through the ancient homeland of the Maasai, keeping a look out for these tall, graceful tribesmen dressed in distinctive scarlet robes tending to their prized herds of cattle.

Stop for a picnic lunch after the town of Narok.

Today’s destination is near the hilltop town of Kisii, our last chance to stock up on supplies before heading into Tanzania. Today's drive will take about 8-9 hours (310 km) and the roads are pretty rough.
You will either be accommodated in very simple shared rooms (bedding provided) or we will set up camp for the night. There is no WiFi available at the camp.
Travel towards the Kenya-Tanzania border and the shores of Lake Victoria (250 km, approx 7-8 hrs).
Lake Victoria is Africa's biggest lake and the world's biggest tropical lake. Its shores are shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
There are plenty of activities to choose from around Lake Victoria. You may wish to hire bicycles for a fascinating local experience from handlebar height, visit an African market place for a chance to interact with the people of Musoma or you may prefer to just chill out with a cold lakeside drink.
Please note that helmets are not provided on the optional bike excursion. Please bring a helmet from home if you wish to wear one during this activity.
Spend the night camping on the shores of the lake - at one of its least visited campgrounds on the outskirts of a small town called Musoma. Depending on availability there may be an upgrade to room available tonight, however, there is no WiFi at the camp. Musoma town has an ATM and market to stock up before your 3 days of wilderness.
Cover the 100 km from Lake Victoria to the gate of Serengeti National Park on a smooth road before enjoying a picnic lunch at the entrance to the park.

The next 150 km is completed through the Serengeti and the driving will be slow as we game drive our way to the campsite.

The wide, open plains of the Serengeti - green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season, and home to thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators - are perhaps the quintessential image of Africa. Flat and rolling with long grasses and dotted with acacia trees, the plains get their name from the Maasai word Siringet - 'the place where the land moves on forever'.

Our campsite is within the Serengeti itself so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal animals as you drift off to sleep. No upgrades or WiFi are available tonight.
Today we awaken at dawn to begin our game drive. We will head out while the animals are at their most active and head back to camp for brunch around 11am. After spending the warmer part of the day relaxing (just like the animals do) we head out again for our dusk game drive, returning in time for another delicious camp dinner.

For an unforgettable experience, you might like to do an optional sunrise balloon ride over the Serengeti. As the balloon only holds 16 people, places are limited and it is recommended you book this activity in advance. Please inquire when booking your trip to secure this optional activity.

If you have pre-booked this activity, you'll be picked up and driven to the launch site where you receive a safety briefing from your pilot. You'll then float over the Serengeti as the sun comes up gaining an overview of the immensity of the Serengeti, seeing the abundance of wildlife in their early morning activity and sometimes descending to tree height for amazing wildlife photography opportunities. Upon landing, you'll be treated to a five-star bush breakfast before being returned to your truck and leader.

Please note that we offer this activity as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a spot in a balloon. If you choose to wait and book this activity locally on the ground you may get a better price. However this is a popular activity and places are limited. It is at your own discretion if you wish to pre-book this service with us or try and book it locally while you are on your trip.
Game drive out of the park and enter Ngorongoro Conservation area after lunch. Our destination today is the Ngorongoro Crater rim ( 80km, approx 3hrs ).
Responsible Travel Note -
You will notice some Masai villages in the region of the Ngorongoro crater. While it is of course fascinating to visit different cultures, past experience has shown that these villages exist primarily as businesses. You will be charged an entry fee of USD20 and the Masai will try very hard to sell souvenirs to you. While many clients still enjoy the experience, others have found it artificial and uncomfortable. We would very much prefer that Intrepid clients choose to bypass this activity as we feel it negatively impacts the Masai culture and your perception of this culture.
Our campsite on the rim of the crater overlooks jagged volcanic peaks and rolling grasslands thousands of feet below - you can be sure that there are few campsites in the world with a better view than this. The campsite also has flush toilets and hot/cold shower. However there is no option to upgrade to a room and there is no WiFi available.
It can get very cold on the crater rim, particularly during the winter months of June to August where temperatures drop below zero. Even in the summer months it can be surprisingly chilly at night so bring a jacket and come prepared.
A huge, perfectly intact volcanic crater, Ngorongoro is home to some 30,000 animals including endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. The crater floor offers excellent game viewing all year round and the photographic opportunities here are unrivalled.
Drive out of the crater and head to Mto Wa Mbu for a look around the town and craft market before continuing on to our campsite (140 km, approx 5-6 hrs).
A small village community, Mto Wa Mbu offers an excellent way to get a close-up look at life in an African town away from the main tourist trail.
Our campsite is in Meserani, on the outskirts of Arusha, and has flush toilets and showers. Depending on availability an upgrade to a room may be an option. There is no WiFi available at the campsite.
Set off early, heading for the border with Kenya and on to Nairobi (390 km, approx 7-8 hrs).
This is a transport day to Nairobi. You can finish your trip in Arusha this morning if you wish to travel further in Tanzania or catch a flight.
We usually depart the Meserani camp site around 7.30am. You can be dropped off at Arusha airport, or a central point in Arusha (if booking a flight from Arusha today please do not book any flights departing before 11.00am), or continue on to Nairobi.
On arrival in Nairobi we'll be dropped at our finishing point hotel. No accommodation is provided for tonight, but we are able to book you additional accommodation in Nairobi. Please ask at time of booking.
Important: Please don't book any flights until after 8pm this evening.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
14 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 12 dinners
Transport
Overland vehicle, 4x4 Safari Vehicle
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nights), Camping (with facilities) (9 nights), Hotel (2 nights), Cottage (1 night)
Included activities
  • Lake Nakuru - game drive
  • Lake Nakuru - Village walk
  • Loita Hills - Cultural talk and village visit
  • Masai Mara - Game drive
  • Musoma - Market visit
  • Kisii - Soapstone carving cooperative
  • Serengeti - Game drive
  • Mto Wa Mbu - Market Visit
  • Ngorongoro Crater - Game drive

Dates

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.
2. This is a combination trip made up of 2 shorter trips. This means the composition of your group may change in Nairobi as some group members leave and new ones join you.
3. An optional sunrise balloon ride in the Masai Mara or Serengeti National Park is possible on this itinerary. Please see the itinerary above for full details of this activity. As the balloon only holds 16 people, places are limited and we recommend you book in advance. Please inquire when booking your trip to book this optional activity.
4. This trip finishes upon arrival in Nairobi on Day 15. Please do not book any flights until after 7pm this evening.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our The Masai Heartlands trips score an average of 4.71 out of 5 based on 17 reviews in the last year.

The Masai Heartlands , March 2016

The Masai Heartlands , November 2015

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