Map of The Masai Heartlands including Kenya and Tanzania, United Republic Of

Cross Kenya and Tanzania through the fertile Masai Mara

Watch the wonders of Kenya and Tanzania unfold before you on this incredible 15-day overland adventure with Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel. Head deep into the heartland of the Maasai tribespeople and the finest game parks in eastern Africa. Travelling through the acclaimed Masai Mara and the vast Serengeti plains 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. Follow in the footsteps of the Maasai with local knowledge each step of the way, leaving you with memories of Africa to last a lifetime.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Nairobi, Kenya
Finish
Nairobi, Kenya
Destinations
Kenya, Tanzania
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience, Overland, Wildlife
Code
YGOCC
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

  • Spend the night in a Maasai village to learn about life from community elders, visit a widows’ community and maybe even learn to throw a spear.

  • 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 National Park in depth – with two early-morning and two late-afternoon game drives through this spectacular wildlife arena, you’ll have the best chance to spot the Big Five.

  • Swap the safari vehicle for two wheels on a guided biking adventure near Lake Victoria, stopping to shop for local wares and meet townsfolk at the Mwigobero Market.

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/au/africa/overland

  • In Loita Hills we stay in a bush camp with no shower facilities while Maasai warriors guard us from the animals.

  • 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.

  • Some passengers on this trip will have been travelling together prior to the start of your trip.

  • As the early bird catches the worm, the early camper sights the animals. 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.
Today, head back to Nairobi, and take a break from pitching tents and instead, 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. If you’re feeling energetic, 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. Keep in mind that, this evening, there will be another briefing to welcome new travellers joining you for the next stage of your adventure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today. There will be a welcome meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and to meet new travellers joining you. It’s important that you attend as your leader will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information.
Board your safari vehicle and travel west (approximately 8–9 hours). Today’s destination is near the hilltop town of Kisii, which will be the last chance to stock up on supplies before heading into Tanzania. Crossing the incredibly scenic Great Rift Valley on your way to the tea-growing highlands is a fantastic introduction to the landscapes of Kenya. You will pass through the ancient homeland of the Maasai. Keep a look out for these tall tribesmen dressed in distinctive scarlet robes as they tend to their prized herds of cattle. The roads on the way are pretty rough, but there will be chances to stop and stretch your legs, including a local homestead lunch in the town of Kaprong. The food for the lunch is grown and sourced locally, plus the lunch is a great way to learn from and interact with the women from the local village.
Accommodation
  • Basic Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
You will be accommodated in either very simple shared rooms (with bedding provided) or in a camp which will be set up for the night. There is no wi-fi available at the camp.
Travel towards the Kenya–Tanzania border and to the shores of Lake Victoria (approximately 7–8 hours). This is not only Africa's largest lake – it's the largest tropical lake in the world. Its shores are shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The guided bike excursion is a great activity to stretch the legs, learn about the town, visit an African marketplace and meet some locals. Or you can simply chill out on the lakeside sand with a cold drink. Make the most of the ATM and local market to stock up for your next three days of adventuring in the wilderness. You will camp on the shores of the lake tonight, at one of its least visited campgrounds, on the outskirts of a small town called Musoma.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kisii - Soapstone carving cooperative
Optional Activities
  • Musoma - Guided Bike Excursion - USD20
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
For today’s bike ride, if you wish to wear a helmet, you’ll need to bring your own as our local provider does not supply them for this leisurely cycle.

Depending on availability, you might be able to upgrade to a room for tonight. No wi-fi is available at your accommodation this evening.
Travel from Lake Victoria to the gate of Serengeti National Park on a smooth road (approximately 3 hours). Enter the Serengeti and enjoy a game drive and picnic lunch en route to your campsite. The wide-open plains of the Serengeti see myriad colours during the year – green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season – but one thing is a constant: this never-ending landscape is home to thousands upon thousands of animals travelling as herds across the plains. This region gets its name from the local Maasai word ‘siringet’, meaning the place where the land moves on forever, and you’ll begin to understand why on your game drive today. Enjoy a picnic lunch, then head to your campsite which is right in the action – located within the park itself! At night, listen out for the sounds of nocturnal animals as you drift off to sleep.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
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.

Tonight’s camp is basic with limited running water and no upgrades or wi-fi available.
Start the day nice and early with a game drive at dawn. You will head out while the animals are at their most active, then head back to camp for brunch at around 11 am. This morning, there’s also the option of a balloon ride over the park today. 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, where you’ll get some amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the vastness of the plains and the early morning movements of the herds. After landing, dig into a delicious bush breakfast, then return to your camp. After spending the warmer part of the day relaxing with your herd – just as the animals do – depart again at dusk for another adventure through the wild, returning in time for dinner.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - Overland Vehicle 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 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. Please note if you choose this activity you will miss most of the included game drive with your group.
Enjoy a leisurely game drive and picnic lunch on your way out of the park today. Soak up final views of the animals and landscapes that make the national park such an incredible spot, before entering the Ngorongoro Conservation area. Your destination today is the rim of the crater about 3 hours away. Your campsite 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!
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
You will 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.

The campsite has flush toilets and hot showers available, but there is no wi-fi or optional upgrades. It can get very cold on the crater rim, particularly during the winter months (June to August) when temperatures drop below zero. Even in the summer months it can be surprisingly chilly at night, so be sure to bring some warm clothes.
A gigantic, perfectly intact volcanic crater, Ngorongoro is home to some 30,000 animals. Among these are endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. The crater floor offers excellent wildlife viewing all year round, and the photo opportunities here are unrivalled. Later, join the local community for a guided afternoon stroll around the farming areas, milling machine and local homes before enjoying a traditional meal. Your campsite this evening is located in Mto wa Mbu.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ngorongoro Crater - 4x4 Game Drive
  • Mto Wa Mbu - Village walk & local dinner
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Tonight, there may be the option to upgrade your accommodation (subject to availability).
Set off early this morning, around 7.30 am, heading for the border with Kenya after passing through Arusha to say goodbye to some travellers. You also have the option to travel back to Nairobi if it is more convenient for you (approximately 7–8 hours). On arrival, you'll be dropped at a centrally located hotel, and with no accommodation provided for tonight, you are free to leave at any time. If you would like to extend your stay in Nairobi, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Please note that, if it is more convenient for you, there is the option to finish your journey in Nairobi today rather than Arusha. The group will be travelling through Arusha at approximately 9 am, and you can either be dropped at the Impala Hotel in the centre of town or at Arusha Airport, which offers some onward connections. If flying out of Kilimanjaro airport, you will need to make your own way from Arusha and arrange a transfer at additional cost.

If you wish to arrange an onward connection today, it’s important to book flights departing Arusha after 11 am, or from Nairobi after 8 pm.
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

14 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 12 dinners

Transport

Overland vehicle, 4x4 Safari Vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Camping (with facilities) (8 nights), Hotel (2 nights), Basic Hotel (1 night)

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
  • Kisii - Soapstone carving cooperative
  • Serengeti National Park - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
  • Ngorongoro Crater - 4x4 Game Drive
  • Mto Wa Mbu - Village walk & local dinner

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 The Masai Heartlands trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. This is a combination trip made up of two shorter trips. This means the composition of your group may change in Nairobi as some group members leave and new ones join you.
3. This trip finishes upon arrival in Nairobi on Day 15. Please do not book any flights until after 8 pm this evening.
4. If it is more convenient, we offer the option to finish the trip in Arusha or Nairobi. Please do not book flights out of Arusha airport until after 10.30 am.
5. 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.

Essential trip information

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