Discover the charming communities and innate beauty of these wide-open lands

Take 20 days to uncover the best of eastern Africa as you travel across Kenya and Tanzania on a Lonely Planet Experience. Turn your attention to the wild as you search for flamingos in Lake Nakuru, the black rhino in the Ngorongoro Crater and the Big Five in the Serengeti. Swap the savanna for a higher elevation when you visit Usambara Mountains, and then leave all your cares behind as you relax on the endless white sands of Zanzibar’s Northern Beaches. Give East Africa an in-depth viewing as you travel from Nairobi to Zanzibar with a local crew and a small group of avid travellers.


Start
Nairobi, Kenya
Finish
Stone Town, Tanzania
Destinations
Kenya, Tanzania
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience, Overland, Wildlife
Code
YXOHC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 22

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • Venture into the incredible Masai Mara National Reserve for a full-day game drive in an open-top 4WD, looking for lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes and more.

  • An early morning game drive through Lake Nakuru National Park might be your best chance of seeing black and white rhinoceroses in the flesh.

  • Take a cooking class in a small village and learn some Kenyan recipes, then share your creations at a camp dinner under the stars.

  • Explore the Serengeti, a wildlife arena like no other. You're bound to spot most of Africa's iconic Big Five game on your adventures at sunrise and sunset – when the animals are most active.

  • Meet with local community members and join in on village activities in Mto wa Mbu with a guided stroll around the farming areas.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is an overland trip. That means you’ll be travelling with a group in a purpose-built vehicle, visiting remote communities, setting up your own tent, occasionally roughing it in the bush with no facilities, and getting the best possible views of the Big Five. While the trucks don’t have air conditioning, they do have sliding windows which let in the breeze and make it even easier to take spectacular snaps of the local wildlife. The drive days can be long, but it’s as much about the journey as the destination, and half the fun is the camaraderie. For more info on this style of travel, see our Africa overland page: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/africa/overland

  • In Loita Hills we stay in a bush camp while Maasai warriors guard us from the animals.

  • Camp in the Serengeti National Park itself without fences between you and the animals. Your leader will brief you on the safety measures the group will need to take for the 2 nights spent in the park.

  • At Usambara Mountains the group will do an easy hike to the beautiful Irente viewpoint.

  • The overland vehicle is large enough to seat up to 22 passengers and carries all the camping equipment needed for the duration of this trip.

  • There will be many early starts either to make use of the better safari time or to beat the morning traffic on long travel days.

Itinerary

Jambo! Welcome to Kenya, your Lonely Planet Experience begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive with time to spare before the meeting, consider getting to know the city on an Urban Adventure like the ‘Nairobi Experience’. This optional 4-hour tour is a great way to get a feel for Nairobi, and includes lunch at a local restaurant. After the welcome meeting, perhaps join your new travel companions for an optional group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Nairobi - City Experience Urban Adventure - USD55
  • Nairobi - From Farm to Feast In Focus Urban Adventure - USD86
  • Nairobi - Giraffes & Elephants Urban Adventure - USD70
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Unfortunately, petty crime has become common in Nairobi 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 generally you should get local advice on where to walk and keep valuables in a neck wallet or money belt at all times. Stay aware even when inside, as thieves and pickpockets have been known to operate indoors. There's no need to be paranoid but appearing vigilant is a great deterrent to would-be thieves.

For more information on Urban Adventure options in Nairobi go to urbanadventures.com/destination/nairobi-tours or speak to an Intrepid booking agent.
Drive north-west past splendid views of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha and Elementaita to Lake Nakuru National Park (approximately 3–4 hours). Situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru National Park is a great location for spotting wildlife, which you will do in an early morning game drive tomorrow. For now, head to a nearby village with your leader. This is a fantastic opportunity to interact with the local folk and get a feel for everyday life here. Enjoy a cooking class and return later in the evening to share the results for dinner.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Nakuru - Village Walk & Cooking Class
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Your camp, outside the park, is well-situated and has flush toilets and showers. Accommodation upgrades and wi-fi are not available.
Wake early for breakfast and head into the Lake Nakuru National Park for a game drive in the overland vehicle. Along with the other members of the Big Five, Lake Nakuru is home to rhinos, and there will be a good chance of spotting and photographing one of these magnificent beasts. Return to camp for lunch before driving to your camp near Lake Naivasha (approximately 3 hours). 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.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Nakuru - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
There will be an opportunity to access an ATM and visit a market today to stock up on items for the remainder of the trip. Your campsite tonight is basic, with showers and flush toilets. Depending on availability, there may be optional room upgrades available. Please speak to an Intrepid booking agent before your journey or your leader during your tour for more information on room upgrades. Wi-fi is available at the bar.
Enjoy a free day to choose from a variety of optional activities available around Lake Naivasha. Perhaps venture to Hell's Gate National Park, which boasts beautiful cliffs, gorges, rock towers, volcanoes and a range of geothermal phenomena. Another great choice is to take a boat trip across Lake Naivasha – perhaps the best way to take in the atmosphere of this lush area. If you're looking for something active, why not hire a bike for the day and make some of your own discoveries, venturing beyond the cacti and olive trees.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Lake Naivasha - Bike hire - USD12
  • Lake Naivasha - Boat trip - KES4000
  • Lake Naivasha - Game Walk in Crater Lake Game Sanctuary (entrance fee) - USD20
  • Lake Naivasha - Hell's Gate NP (Game Drive) - USD40
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
The Crater Lake game walk, Hell's Gate National Park and bike hire optional activities will also incur a USD 50 transport fee per vehicle.

The Lake Naivasha crater lake game sanctuary walk will also incur a guide fee of USD 25 per guide.

The bike hire will also require an additional USD 26 fee to enter the National Park plus an additional 250 Kenyan shillings to be permitted to ride the bike within the park.

The boat trip is for 1 hour and no additional fees are required.
Depart Lake Naivasha, making a short stop in Narok to do a spot of food shopping. Continue to Loita Hills (approximately 5–6 hours), home of the Maasai people, stopping for lunch en route. We’ll be camping at Tepesua Village, which is known for championing Maasai women’s health and education. Arrive and be welcomed by traditional Maasai warrior song and dance, then your host will explain the details of Maasai warrior training. Take a walk to the community village which was founded to alleviate the poverty of Maasai widows, who traditionally are not allowed to inherit property. The village offers support, safety and economic growth through the ‘Tepesua Widows Income Project’. Spend the evening around a campfire and learn more about their age-old culture and traditions as you share stories with Maasai warriors into the night.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Loita Hills - Cultural talk and village visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Hot bucket showers are available in the morning. Wi-fi is not available and only minimal upgrades are on offer at tonight’s bush camp.
Today you’ll travel from Loita Hills to Masai Mara (approximately 1–2 hours). The road is dusty when dry, and could be slippery and muddy when wet, so the going may be slow. The Masai Mara is the quintessential African experience, with sparse open plains, dramatic skies and some of the world's most tremendous animals. After setting up camp, sit down to some lunch. Then it's time to jump in 4WDs and go for a game drive through the wilderness of the Mara.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Masai Mara - 4x4 Game Drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Your campground tonight is located outside of the national reserve and has flush toilets and showers. There is an option to upgrade, depending on availability. Please speak to an Intrepid booking agent before your journey or your leader during your tour for more information on room upgrades. Wi-fi is not available.
Venture into the Masai Mara National Reserve for a full day's game drive in 4WDs. You'll explore this diverse environment and most likely see a multitude of wildlife. An optional balloon ride over the Mara at sunrise is available today. If you have pre-booked this activity you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site for a safety briefing from your pilot. Then you will glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, to get some amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and of the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, you'll be treated to a bush breakfast, then be returned to your campsite.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Masai Mara - 4x4 Game Drive
Optional Activities
  • Masai Mara National Reserve - Balloon ride (from price) - USD500
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
The balloon ride must be booked in advance to secure a place, which you can do through an Intrepid booking agent. If you would rather wait and try to get a better price by booking this locally on the ground you are welcome to, but keep in mind that this is a popular activity and places are limited. If you participate in this activity you will miss the morning half of the included game drive.
Leave the open expanses of the African bush behind and return to the urban environment of a Nairobi hotel with ensuite, bar, pool and WiFi (240 km, approx 5-6 hrs).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today. You will meet your new fellow travellers and group leader at tomorrows welcome meeting at 6pm.
Today is a free day until your group meeting at 6 pm. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you are going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. During the day perhaps head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum or the highly recommended Bomas of Kenya where traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes are displayed in an outdoor village.
Optional Activities
  • Nairobi - City Experience Urban Adventure - USD55
  • Nairobi - From Farm to Feast In Focus Urban Adventure - USD86
  • Nairobi - Giraffes & Elephants Urban Adventure - USD70
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
It's important not to book any outgoing international flights for earlier than 6 pm today.
Depart early for Mto wa Mbu in your overland truck (approximately 10 hours). The trip includes a border crossing from Kenya into Tanzania, so be sure to have your passport handy. While you're on the road, there will be a stop at an ATM and a market or shop to stock up on any supplies you might need for the coming days. Arrive in Mto wa Mbu and acquaint yourself with this delightful small village – it's a fascinating snapshot of small-town African life, situated well off the tourist trail.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Tonight, you'll stay at a campsite with flush toilets, showers and optional upgrades (subject to availability).
Get up early, put your camping and personal gear into a six-person jeep and head out for an excursion into the Serengeti via the Ngorongoro Crater. Enjoy a safari in the crater, spending 3–4 hours exploring this incredible, perfectly intact volcanic caldera. Watch for black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. The crater floor offers excellent game viewing all year round (some 30,000 animals live here) and the photo opportunities are unrivalled. Next, it's on to the wide-open plains of the Serengeti. Green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season, this is perhaps the quintessential image of Africa – the home of thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators. Your campsite is within the Serengeti itself, so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal animals as you drift off to sleep.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ngorongoro Crater - 4x4 Game Drive
  • Serengeti National Park - 4x4 Game Drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Tonight’s camp is basic with limited running water. No accommodation upgrades or wi-fi are available. Our camp within the Serengeti National Park does not have a fence to separate the camp from the animals. This is quite the experience as animals such as buffalo and hyenas often come close to camp after sundown. On arrival at the camp, your leader will give a detailed safety briefing on what is required to ensure the safety of the group.

You may notice some Maasai villages in the region of the Ngorongoro Crater offering a cultural experience. Intrepid recommends avoiding these villages, as they can impact negatively on the Maasai culture and travellers' perceptions of it by selling an artificial experience.
Awake at dawn and embark on a game drive. You will head out while the animals are at their most active, then head back to camp for brunch at around 11 am. After spending the middle of the day relaxing, just like the animals do, head out again as the day begins to cool. You'll return from this second game drive in time for dinner. There's also the option of a balloon ride over the park this morning – in place of some of today’s game drives. If you have pre-booked this activity, you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site. After a safety briefing, glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, getting some amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, indulge in a five-star bush breakfast, then be returned to camp.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - 4x4 Game Drive
Optional Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - Balloon Ride (from price) - USD599
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
The balloon ride is offered as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a place. If you would rather wait and get a better price by booking this locally on the ground, you are welcome to, but keep in mind that this is a popular activity and places are limited. If you participate in this activity you will miss the morning half of the included game drive.
Rise with the sun and enjoy another game drive as you leave the Serengeti in your dust. Jump back into your overland vehicle and head for Mto wa Mbu. Once camp is set up, join the local community for a guided stroll around the farming areas, milling machine, and local homes and farmlands, before a local meal in town.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - 4x4 Game Drive
  • Mto Wa Mbu - Village walk & local dinner
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Prepare yourself for a long travel day heading for the Usambara Mountains (approximately 10 hours). Stretch your legs during a brief supply stop in Arusha, then jump back in the vehicle and watch the ever-changing scenery, read your favourite book or get to really know your fellow travellers. Your base will be Lushoto – an old German colony and home to the Wasambaa people. This highland town sits at approximately 1400 metres and this evening you'll camp in the grounds of one of the oldest hotels in Africa.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Explore the beautiful Usambara Mountains today – a lovely unspoilt area of Tanzania. Unlike the coast and the north, very few tourists visit this part of the country, so it has a freshness that can be hard to find elsewhere. As beautiful as the surrounding mountains and rainforests are, however, the real jewels here are the local people and villages. You'll experience some hospitality on a visit to some of the small local communities. From your base, you will take a walk out to the gorgeous Irente viewpoint. It's best to pack some water and snacks in a day pack for this trip. On your way back, visit a local cultural project based at an Irente farm and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Irente - Lushoto hike
  • Irente - Local lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Leaving the mountains behind, travel further south to the coastal town of Kipepeo Beach in Dar es Salaam (380 km, approximately 8–9 hours). Your camp at Kipepeo is by the beach, so make the most of it – perhaps take a stroll along the shore after you arrive and settle in.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Tonight’s camp is on the grounds of a hotel, so accommodation upgrades are usually possible (subject to availability).
Catch a ferry to Africa's 'Spice Island' of Zanzibar. Filled with pristine white-sand beaches, winding cobblestone alleyways and fragrant bazaars, Zanzibar has had a colourful history – everything from slave traders to Arabian sultans and fruit exporters. The sight of traditional dhows sailing along the coast evokes what the island must have been like in centuries ago. The old part of Zanzibar's main city is known as Stone Town, and the best way to see this is on foot, exploring the markets, shops, mosques, palaces and courtyards. When the sun is setting, why not grab a drink from a bar overlooking the seafront. A seafood curry at a local restaurant is also a great choice. You'll spend the night in Stone Town at a basic inn.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Stone Town Tour - Dharajani Market, Joseph's Cathederal, Palace Museum, Forodhani Food Market - USD20
  • Zanzibar - Prison Island Tour - USD25
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
As this is a combination trip 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. Please note the Zanzibar portion of your itinerary may have more passengers than the maximum group size of 22 as we have a crossover of trips starting and finishing in Zanzibar.

Tonight's accommodation are double or twin-share rooms and have access to wi-fi.
Once checked out of your Stone Town accommodation, consider booking in to an optional guided tour of the island's spice plantations, learning all about the history of this town's spice trade. You will have the opportunity to smell and taste various spices, such as cinnamon, vanilla and ginger, plus sample some teas made with these spices too. After lunch, head to the Northern Beaches, where white sands and sparkling blue seas await. This is the Indian Ocean at its best.
Accommodation
  • Bungalow (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Zanzibar - Spice tour - USD25
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
If you choose not to book in on the optional Zanzibar spice tour this morning, you will be transported directly to the island's Northern Beaches.
Enjoy free time in this beautiful archipelago today. There are many ways you can spend your day – perhaps talk to your leader for any recommendations they might have. Snorkelling in search of exotic fish is an excellent option, or you could take a traditional dhow boat on the water. You might also like to feast on a sumptuous lunch of grilled local seafood, or just relax in a hammock underneath a coconut tree with a good book. It's totally up to you!
Accommodation
  • Bungalow (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Zanzibar - Dhow Trip - USD60
  • Zanzibar - Snorkelling - USD60
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After checking out of your accommodation this morning, you will make your way back to Stone Town, arriving at a centrally-located hotel around 12 pm. With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave at any time. That doesn't mean your adventure has to come to an end! If you wish to stay on in Zanzibar, either at the Northern Beaches beach resort or in Stone Town, we'll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).

Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
If you wish to organise onward transfers today, please note that the easiest option is to fly out of Zanzibar Airport. However, if you have arranged to fly out of Dar es Salaam Airport, ferries depart Zanzibar at 7.30 am, 9.30 am, 12.30 pm and 3.30 pm. It's important to allow enough time to get back to mainland Africa if you need to catch your departing flight from Dar es Salaam. Speak to your group leader earlier in your trip for more information.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

19 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 13 dinners

Transport

Overland vehicle, 4x4 Safari Vehicle, Ferry, Minibus

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (11 nights), Bungalow (2 nights), Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nights), Hotel (4 nights)

Included activities

  • Lake Nakuru - Village Walk & Cooking Class
  • Lake Nakuru - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
  • Loita Hills - Cultural talk and village visit
  • Masai Mara - 4x4 Game Drive
  • Ngorongoro Crater - 4x4 Game Drive
  • Serengeti National Park - 4x4 Game Drive
  • Mto Wa Mbu - Village walk & local dinner
  • Irente - Lushoto hike
  • Irente - Local lunch

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Best of East Africa trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

Prices may go up, so secure your trip today!
Jump to a departure month

Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. Optional sunrise balloon rides in the Masai Mara National Reserve and Serengeti National Park are possible on this itinerary. 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.
3. This is a combination trip made up of 3 shorter trips. This means the composition of your group may change in Nairobi and Stone Town as some group members leave and new ones join you.
4. The Zanzibar portion of your itinerary may have a few more passengers than the maximum group size of 22 as we have a crossover of trips starting and finishing in Zanzibar.

Essential trip information

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