The following itinerary has been designed for the person that has three weeks to experience East Africa in depth. The safari takes place when over one million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra and impala travel north from the Serengeti Plains to Kenya’s Maasai Mara in search of fresh grasses. During April, the Serengeti is rich with grass and the wildebeest and impala have had their babies. There are many active "kids" on the Serengeti at this time of year.
We begin our safari in Kenya and visit to Lake Nakuru National Park and the famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve. We continue to Mount Kilimanjaro where we meet the Maasai struggling with the issue of water as the "Snows of Kilimanjaro" disappear. The people living around Kilimanjaro have depended on the glaciers for centuries to provide water for their cattle and their families.
Our safari will include the Tanzania "Northern Circuit." We will visit Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti Plains.
At the end of our safari, we will have the option to visit Zanzibar where optional tours will be offered.
The proposed itinerary is based on flying into Nairobi and out of Kilimanjaro Airports on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
We will need time to adjust to the change in time-zone. To allow our mind and body to adjust we will start our day after a leisurely breakfast followed by a safari briefing. We will then visit the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, the Karen Blixen Museum and Home, and Giraffe Center, where we can hand feed the rare Reticulated Giraffe. Our lunch will be at the famous Carnivore Restaurant. We will return to our hotel in the late afternoon.
Karen Blixen Coffee Gardens (BL)
Monday – Tuesday, 12 – 13 April 2010
NAIROBI – LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK
Our safari begins with a drive to one of the Rift Valley Lakes. The Rift Valley's system of deep lakes includes Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and Lake Baringo. Lake Nakuru is known for its stunning pink vision as millions of flamingos congregate to feed in the alkaline waters. Visitors to this area will be taken with the beauty of the fever trees and the richness of the wildlife, which includes a rhino sanctuary with both white and black rhino. In recent years, Lake Nakuru National Park has also been a good place to see leopard.
We depart after breakfast with a picnic lunch for Kenya’s most popular game park where we spend three days. From the Rift Valley escarpment, to the rolling plains and the groves of woodlands, the Maasai Mara is a vast and varied landscape. The Mara River bisects this great reserve and provides a rich habitat along its banks. And everywhere the seemingly endless herds of animals live out their daily lives to the rhythm of nature. The Mara, host to lion, cheetah, hippo, elephant, leopard, buffalo, warthog and giraffe, to name a few, holds splendor and surprises within its boundaries. The visitor is sure to see why the Maasai Mara is Kenya's most famous and favored park.
MAASAI MARA – NAIROBI – PRIVATE MAASAI GROUP RANCH
After one last game drive in the Mara, we fly to Nairobi where we meet our driver who will drive us to Namanga, the border town that separates Kenya and Tanzania. We then continue to the area south of Mount Kilimanjaro and Amboseli National Park. Since this area is owned by the Maasai, are game drives are not restricted to roads. We will spend two days here photographing the scenery and the flora and fauna. However, the highlight of visiting this area of East Africa will be the interaction with the Maasai people. If we are lucky, we might even be honored by photographing one of their ceremonies.
We leave Sinya and our new Maasai friends this morning. We will be in no hurry, so we have time to stop at a Maasai village or capture another image of an elephant with Mount Kilimanjaro as our backdrop. We will stop in Arusha for lunch and then continue to Tarangire National Park. Wide panoramas of open acacia woodland and grassy savanna studded with large baobabs mark Tarangire, a lesser-known scenic gem located in southern Maasailand. You can expect good game viewing throughout the year. Fringe-eared Oryx and lesser kudu are among the unique resident species and lion and leopard are common. This un-proclaimed jewel is also an ornithologist's paradise.
After breakfast, we drive through the park photographing along the way. After exiting the park, we head for our next destination. As we approach Lake Manyara National Park, the Rift Valley escarpment looms on the eastern horizon forming an impressive backdrop to the lake. The mosaic of the Park's different habitats is easily seen: the rift wall, the ground water forest, acacia woodlands, open grassland, the lake shore, swamp and the lake itself. We are likely to see lion, often times resting up in the acacia trees, elephants, waterbuck, hippo, baboon, zebra and a large variety of bird life. All this variety within a small area makes Lake Manyara a diverse place to visit.
We rise very early to begin our excursion to the nearby Lake Eyasi in the Rift Valley, still inhabited by a tribe of hunter-gatherers, the Hadzabe, a relic of ancient times who still follow a style of life similar to the humans who inhabited the Earth before the discovery of agriculture. Another interesting tribe is the Datoga or Barabaig, also called Mangati (fierce enemy) by the Maasai who expelled them from the Ngorongoro Highlands during their unstoppable advance to the south some time in the nineteenth century. In the afternoon, those interested may visit the village of Karatu and the Njia Panda School, a stop for anyone interested in cultural interaction or in helping to the development of the rural communities of Africa.
Ngorongoro Farm House (BLD)
Friday, 23 April 2010
We depart from our lodge early this morning with a packed picnic lunch so that we can spend the entire day photographing in the crater. We have paid an extra fee for a permit to drive off-road for a day in the crater.
Millions of years ago, Ngorongoro may have rivaled Kilimanjaro in size, but as its volcanic activity subsided, it collapsed inward, forming a caldera. On the floor of the 102 sq. mile crater, an African paradise is found. The Crater is a perfect haven for lion, elephant, hyena, wildebeest, gazelle and some of the last remaining rhino in Tanzania. The crater's lake is home to thousands of flamingo, which carpet the area with the glow of their pink plumage. Our day in the Crater begins with a decent 2,000 feet down the wall of the Crater to the Crater floor. Within this "Garden of Eden" you are likely to see Black Rhino as this is one place they find refuge from the poachers. Once numbering over 20,000 in Tanzania, the rhino population is estimated to be less than 100 today.
Nearby in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are the famous archaeological sites of Laetoli and Olduvai Gorge, allowing the visitor a glimpse into our own past, asthe pastoral Maasai can be seen tending their herds of cattle, sheep and goats in their colorful and traditional dress. We will visit Olduvai Gorge on our journey to the Serengeti Plains where we will spend four days in two different camps.
Serengeti National Park is the largest of Tanzania's national parks and arguably Africa's premier game park. The Serengeti is the setting for the most awesome wildlife spectacle on earth. Each year, more than two million wildebeest and zebra begin their great circular migration across the open plains and acacia woodlands. Huge numbers of advancing zebras and ungainly wildebeest and their calfs stretch as far as the eye can see with the predators following alongside.
Serengeti means "endless plains" in the Maasai language. The extensive grasslands are interspersed with "kopjes", islands of rocky outcrops which are home to their own wildlife communities which include cheetah, leopard, and hyrax, to name a few. The Serengeti leaves the visitor with images of vastness and breathtaking beauty.
The most popular time so visit the Serengeti is during January through May when we will find 1.5 million wildebeest and one-quarter of a million zebra in the southern part of the park. This herd which stretches as far as the eye can see.
We depart the southern Serengeti and drive north following the migration. We spend two more days observing and photographing. For the next two days our home will be in a place where the migration is predicted to be. By staying in two locations, we are sure to find the big herds somewhere!
Today, you have the option to return to Arusha with your driver/guide or return by air. The drive will take approximately eight hours unless you stop to take photographs. Those photographers that fly to Arusha will have one final morning game drive and then fly mid-morning to Arusha where a dayroom will be provided until 5:00PM. You will depart for the airport for your flight home. Those who continue on to Zanzibar will need to fly to Arusha to connect with their flight to Zanzibar.
Game viewing drives and parks entrance fees as per itinerary.
All Government taxes and levies.
All meals on safari as indicated.
Mineral water during game drives.
Comprehensive safari preparation.
Not included are international airfare and personal expenses such as personal insurance; excess baggage fees; phone calls; gratuities to camp staff and driver/guides; airport departure taxes; passport and visa fees, and beverages, and any additional nights in Nairobi or Arusha, which are not noted in itinerary.
Focus on Planet Earth understands that air travel contributes to increased green house gases and global warming. Therefore, we encourage our expedition participants to assist us in making each Focus on Planet Earth expedition carbon neutral. You can offset your air transportation carbon impact by purchasing carbon off-sets. To offset the emissions from your flights go to Carbon Off-Set Calculator. Use JRO (Kilimanjaro) as your destination.
International Air Transportation:
You are responsible for booking your own international air transportation. To assist you, we have provided you with the airport codes and the dates you need to arrive or depart.
Arrival Airport Code: NBO on 10 April 2010
Departure Airport Code: JRO on 28 April 2010 unless continuing to Zanzibar