Deeper Africa - vacations and travel

Deeper Kenya


from $7,549* per person 14 Days June-April
Boutique accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Deeper Africa 8 people max
  • Nairobi, kenya
  • Culture & Nature trips
This safari offers the scope, breadth, and quality which have made Kenyan safaris famous. Begin your safari in Samburu National Reserve. The elephant viewing in Samburu is spectacular, but the truly amazing thing about the Samburu area is the ecosystem differentiation which brings unique species for observation including Grevy zebra, gerenuk, reticulated giraffe, and somali ostrich.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a 90,000 acre wildlife reserve, is part of the vast Laikipia Plateau. Your visit to Ol Pejeta includes very good big five wildlife viewing, including black rhino, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and lion. About one quarter of the reserve is given over to the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. Visit Jane Goodall’s Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary which provides a safe, secure, and permanent refuge for chimps orphaned at a young age by the bush meat trade. 

Continue on to Nakuru, a small, beautiful park with ecosystems that include an acacia forest, woodlands, and a famous soda lake that draws flocks of flamingos. End your safari in the northern section of the Serengeti ecosystem, the Maasai Mara, the most famous reserve in Kenya. During the months of late July to October the spectacle of the migration unfolds as a million and a half wildebeest and zebra move across the vast open plains. The rest of the year is never dull with large resident game population.  Return to Nairobi having experienced the richness of a Kenyan safari. 

Locations visited/nearby


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Day 1  
Travel day   
International Flight

Day 2
Fairmont Norfolk Hotel
Pickup at airport by Deeper Africa guide after clearing customs. He will have a sign with your name on it. Your guide will transport you to the Norfolk Hotel. Older than the Ritz, younger than the Savoy, no other hotel in Kenya has as rich a history as the Norfolk. Built in 1904 as a watering hole for early settlers, some say Nairobi grew up around the Norfolk. With 167 bedrooms, many overlooking the famous courtyard gardens, a swimming pool and spa, two restaurants and two terrace/lounge bars, this hotel is a luxurious start and end to any safari.

Dinner and overnight at the Norfolk Hotel.  Swimming pool available.

Day 3   
Samburu Intrepids Camp
Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs Reserves       
Breakfast at the Norfolk Hotel.  Pick up for transport to Wilson airport for your bush flight to Samburu Game Reserve. 

Bush Flight
Departs Nairobi Wilson Airport @ 10:20 am
Arrives Samburu bush strip @ 11:30 am

Your Deeper Africa guide will be waiting for you with the Land Cruiser at the Samburu bush strip.  Check in first at Samburu Intrepids Camp, a tented camp inside the reserve. You’ll spend the next three days exploring Samburu Game Reserve and the neighboring Shaba Reserve and Buffalo Springs Reserve – all offer incredible scenery, cultural immersion, and premier wildlife viewing opportunities.  The complex formed by Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba Reserves offers some of the most unique wildlife viewing available in Kenya.  They are the most accessible of the protected areas in the country’s north, right at the edge of the evocative NFD or Northern Frontier District.   

Wildlife viewing right after lunch. Our Land Cruisers have a cool box and are stocked with water and sodas. Samburu National Reserve offers shelter to 66 known elephant family matriarchal groups and approximately 100 bulls, numbering about 750 elephants.  Two thousand elephants undertake a seasonal migration from the Laikipia plains northward into the rangelands of Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and the Shaba reserves.  Seven hundred and fifty of those elephants consider Samburu their home range, with the remainder of the elephants spread out over the larger northern reserve lands.  Electronically tagged elephants are monitored as they migrate across the Laikipia plains and throughout the reserves, research made famous by well known conservationist, Iain Douglas Hamilton.  Because of Dr. Douglas Hamilton’s research, elephant migration corridors in this area of Kenya are better mapped and the human to elephant conflicts are better understood.        

These three reserves stretch along the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River.  Even in times of drought the Ewaso Nyiro, 32 km or 20 miles, of permanent water provides water to the local game. When the water levels are very low the elephants dig into dry sand in order to create small water holes. When the river is higher they are a common sight bathing all along the river, their young playing and the squeals, rumbles, and trumpets thrilling their human observers. The Ewaso Nyiro waters countless humans and animals in the Samburu District before its sleepy brown waters head north-east, where several hundred kilometers later the life-giving river sinks into the Lorian Swamp.

The river attracts plentiful wildlife due to its permanent water supply and forest shade.  Of particular interest, besides the opportunities to see leopard, are certain rare species well adapted to the drier climate in this part of Kenya.  They include:  reticulated giraffe, beisa oryx, Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk, and Somali Ostrich.  Predators include most members of the cat family, with very good chances of leopard viewing.  

The juxtaposition of the wildlife inside the reserve and the Samburu herdsmen across the river is fascinating: you can sit on the river bank and watch the Samburu warriors and younger boys going about their daily routine of herding large flocks of goats and sheep accompanied by whistles and the soft tones of traditional wooden goat bells.

The luxury-tented Samburu Intrepids Camp lies under a canopy of shady giant fig and acacia trees along the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River. A spacious deck for al-fresco eating and relaxing surrounds the public dining room, lounge, and bar.

Dinner and overnight at Samburu Intrepids Camp.  Swimming pool available.

Day 4   
Samburu Intrepids Camp
Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs Reserves       
Breakfast at Samburu Intrepids Camp.  Full day of wildlife viewing in Samburu, Shaba, or Buffalo Springs, as you schedule with your guide.  Picnic lunch available.   

Buffalo Springs, in the Reserve of the same name bordering the eastern side of Samburu reserve, is formed by underground streams coming from Mount Kenya. These springs give rise to freshwater pools and streams – attracting thousands of sandgrouse and doves, as well as many other birds and animals. One of the springs has been walled in to keep out crocodiles. Braver visitors who want to cool down from the hot sun can swim here.

The dusty plains are broken by the Koitogorr (“uplift” in the language of the Samburu tribe) and, lying far beyond, the flat head of the reddish Ol Olokwe Mountain, as well as many other ranges of hills and mountains further north. Turning back you can also see the peaks of Mount Kenya to the south, dwarfed by distance. The dry, dusty heat, the extraordinary shapes of the pale blue, mauve and indigo hills, the local people and the life-giving river and springs, with their rich variety of animals and birds, all combine to make this area of Kenya a treasured experience.

Grevy’s zebra, Somali Ostrich, kudu, beisa oryx, reticulated giraffe, and gerenuk are among the northern species that can be seen in Samburu. Leopards, lion, cheetah, crocodiles, buffalo, tiny dik-dik, and spotted and striped hyena are frequently sighted. Immense flocks of helmeted and vulturine guinea-fowl drink at the river, while it is not uncommon to see over a hundred species of birds in a day, including the giant martial eagle and tiny pygmy falcon.

Dinner and overnight at Samburu Intrepids Camp. 

Day 5   
Samburu Intrepids Camp
Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs Reserves       
Breakfast at Samburu Intrepids Camp.  Full day of wildlife viewing in Samburu, Shaba, or Buffalo Springs, as you schedule with your guide.  Picnic lunch available. 

Education is a fundamental part of every Deeper Africa safari.  Your guide is a well-educated Kenyan naturalist, holding a silver or bronze certification with the Kenya Professional Guide Association (“KPSGA”).  His knowledge of Kenyan wildlife runs deep and he’ll be helping you learn animal identification and animal behaviors, as well as bring you up to date on the leading animal research.  He’ll be sharing with you his spotting and tracking skills and helping you learn these skills.  This is experiential learning at its best.  There are reference books on East African mammals and birds in your Land Cruiser for easy use by your guide or our guests. 

Dinner and overnight at Samburu Intrepids Camp.

Day 6    Ol Pejeta Ranch House
Ol Pejeta Conservancy – Laikipia Plains   
Breakfast at Samburu Intrepids Camp.  Depart early in the morning for the drive to the foothills of Mount Kenya and onto the Laikipia Plateau.  Sited to the northwest of Mount Kenya and east of the Great Rift Valley lakes of Baringo and Bogoria, Laikipia is formed from an ancient lava-plain.  Lunch at the ranch house after you check in.   Afternoon wildlife viewing in the conservancy. 

During the colonial era, the Laikipia Plateau was utilized as an extensive cattle ranching area. Lacking the rainfall required to successfully cultivate crops, cattle ranching was seen as the next best way to utilize the land. In those days, wildlife was perceived as having little or no value to landowners. Over time, cattle ranching became less and less profitable. Elephant populations that previously used the ranch as a transit area from the north to Mount Kenya and the Aberdares were forced to take up permanent residence on the property. As a result, the fences required to maximize cattle productivity were destroyed, becoming impossible to effectively maintain cost. Consequently, in the face of declining wildlife populations elsewhere and as a means to effectively utilize the land, the recent past has seen increasing emphasis placed upon wildlife conservation.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 90,000 acre wildlife reserve.  Because of conservation efforts wildlife populations through out the Laikipia area have increased and profit is being derived from wildlife tourism with reinvestment into local community development.  Ol Pejeta Conservancy has some of the highest wildlife densities in Kenya.  About one quarter of the reserve is given over to the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa with successful translocations into other Kenyan national parks.  Ol Pejeta boasts an astounding variety of animals including the non-indigenous chimpanzees and the big 5 – the endangered black rhino, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and lion. The combination of wildlife and stunning views across the open plains of Ol Pejeta guarantees an unforgettable safari experience.     

Dinner and overnight at Ol Pejeta Ranch House.  Swimming pool available. 

Day 7   
Ol Pejeta Ranch House   
Breakfast at Ol Pejeta Ranch House. In the morning, visit Jane Goodall’s Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary.  Sweetwaters provides sanctuary and housing to two groups of chimpanzees orphaned at a young age by the bush meat trade.  The Sanctuary is partitioned into two parts, with the river acting as a natural border between the two groups.  The objective of the sanctuary is to provide a safe, secure, and permanent refuge for the chimps in an environment that is as natural as possible.  The destruction of the West African rainforest and continued demand for bush meat compels Sweetwaters to continue accepting new orphaned and abused chimps.  The sanctuary now holds 40 chimpanzees with a staff of 16 that care for them day and night. 

Afternoon wildlife viewing in Ol Pejeta Conservancy. 

Dinner and overnight at Ol Pejeta Ranch House.

Day 8   
Mbweha Lodge
Lake Nakuru National Park   
Breakfast at Ol Pejeta Ranch House. After breakfast you’ll leave the Mount Kenya region and drive further south, dropping down the escarpment to the floor of the Great Rift Valley, passing Lakes Naivasha and Elementaita on the way to Lake Nakuru, eating a picnic lunch en-route to Nakuru.

Lake Nakuru is world famous for, and was created as a national park to protect its stunning flocks of lesser flamingo, which literally turn its shores pink. Its birdlife is rich: a beacon for leading ornithologists, scientists, and wildlife filmmakers.  It is easily accessible, lying immediately south of Nakuru Township.  Nakuru is a small, beautiful park with ecosystems that include:  an acacia forest, woodlands, and the famous soda lake that draws flocks of greater and lesser flamingos and over 400 species of birds such as white pelicans.   Up to four million flamingoes roam the Rift Valley lakes in great flocks throughout the year, searching for the best feeding and bathing conditions.  Each day a substantial number of these flamingoes settle on Lake Nakuru producing an interesting cacophony of sights and sounds.  

Historically, Lake Nakuru was a remote wildlife park; but development and urban sprawl have brought many people to this once remote area.  Human and wildlife conflicts were a constant problem.  As a solution, Kenya Wildlife Service (“KWS”) built an electric fence around this small park.  The fence solved the conflict problems and it allows you to experience substantial wildlife populations in a small geographic area.  This means that every turn reveals new species and large quantities of wildlife per square mile or meter of land. 

Dinner and overnight at Mbweha Lodge.  Swimming pool available.
Day 9   
Mbweha Lodge
Lake Nakuru National Park   
Breakfast at Mbweha Lodge.  Full day for wildlife viewing in Nakuru.  Lunch at the lodge, or picnic lunch, as you choose.  Wildlife viewing is relatively easy in Nakuru National Park, and it is not uncommon to spot leopard in trees.  Nakuru’s lions sometimes sleep on the broad acacia branch. The springs in the northeastern corner of the lake provide pools for hippo. Numerous antelope roam on the shores, including the defassa waterbuck. The shoreline is also a good place to observe the Bohor’s Reedbuck, which sleeps in the sedge grasses. 

The woodlands and forest are also home to many rhino. In 1987, only two black rhino remained following devastation by poachers. By creating a rhino sanctuary within the park and reintroducing a breeding herd from Laikipia, KWS (“Kenya Wildlife Service”) has now successfully reestablished rhino in the park. A solitary browser, the black rhino can often be seen in the woodlands. As well, the white rhino is not indigenous to Kenya, but has been successfully introduced from Southern Africa. In Nakuru, impressive numbers of white rhino graze along shorelines, often accompanied by small calves, an indication that they are breeding successfully.

In 1977, the Rothschild’s giraffe were introduced to the park from their threatened home area, Soy, in western Kenya. They have also successfully bred in the area. Although you will not see elephant around Nakuru, driving around the national park you are likely to see large herds of buffalo, impala, warthog, eland, troops of olive baboon, the occasional steinbok, Chandler’s reedbuck, dik-dik, and colobus monkeys – amongst many other species. Rock hyrax and klipspringer occupy the cliffs and escarpment. Sightings of leopard and lion are common as are jackals and hyena. Recently two wild dogs have been sighted in the park.

Dinner and overnight at Mbweha Lodge.

Day 10
Mara Intrepids Camp
Maasai Mara National Reserve   
Breakfast at Mbweha Lodge.  Today is an early start as you head off towards the Maasai Mara and across the Rift Valley to these famous open plains, teeming with vast numbers of wildlife.  You’ll stop for lunch en-route, arriving at the lodge in the afternoon.

The Maasai Mara is probably the most famous reserve in Kenya.  Its breathtaking views became familiar worldwide when the film Out of Africa  was released, as much of it was filmed in the Mara.  It is perhaps the only region left in Africa where the super-abundance of animals that existed a century ago can be viewed.  

The Maasai Mara is the northern section of the Serengeti.  Serengeti means endless plain.  This vast savannah grass land extends southward into Tanzania for over 5,000 square miles of land, forming one of the world’s largest wildlife refuges.  This is land as it was in the beginning:  no fences, no settlements, just a perennial migration of wildlife.  In a journey that dates back through time, these herds of animals (currently estimated at 1.25 million) follow the seasonal rains, traveling north into the Mara from Tanzania and instinctually moving with the seasonal rainfalls.  They sometimes migrate as much as 300 miles a year.  Wildlife is allowed to roam freely across the Kenyan and Tanzanian borders, uniting the two parks into a single ecological unit which supports the largest concentration of large mammals on the planet.    

Wide arrays of habitats are represented in the Mara - each with a unique complement of flora and fauna.  Acacia woodlands attract giraffes, while hippos occupy the deeper river pools.  But it is the East Africa savannah grasslands and the herds and predators of the savannah that make the Mara famous.  Wildebeest are well suited to harvest the short grasses that cover the semiarid plains of the Serengeti.  The soils of this region have an underlying hardpan covered by a fertile layer of volcanic soil.  Grass growing in this soil is highly nutritious, taking up nutrients trapped by the hard pan.   The eastern and western Mara, as well as the Mara River areas, are all accessible to you by Land Cruiser.  The variety of ecosystems makes the Mara a superb place to hone your tracking and spotting skills allowing you continued opportunities to increase your wildlife knowledge.

Dinner and overnight at Mara Intrepids Camp.  Swimming pool available. 

Day 11
Mara Intrepids Camp
Maasai Mara National Reserve
Breakfast at Mara Intrepids Camp.  Full day of wildlife viewing in the Mara, as you schedule with your guide.   Picnic lunch available.  

The annual migration is what makes the Mara famous.  The herds gather in the hundreds of thousands on the plains of the Mara during July, August, September, October, and into November.  The herds are drawn into the northern Serengeti region by areas of greater rainfall where the grasses grow taller and stay greener longer.  The migration includes vast herds of wildebeest, but also zebra and Thomson’s gazelle.  Those herds remain in the Mara for up to four months chomping, trampling the grass, grunting, and stampeding across the Mara River in search of fresh grass for grazing.  It is the superabundance of prey that accounts for the Mara’s big predator populations.  The onset of the “short rains” sometime in November or early December sends them south into the Serengeti for fresh grass.

The Mara savannahs with their open country and grasslands support a healthy cheetah population.  Cheetahs face increasing pressure from humans and land encroachment - with between 9,000 to 12,000 left in the world.  You’ll be scouting for cheetah in one of the two remaining cheetah strongholds in the world - the Mara/Serengeti ecosystem.  (The other significant cheetah population is in Namibia and Botswana.)  

The Mara cheetah population is threatened by a lack of genetic variation, making them susceptible to disease and decreasing reproduction.  Still, there have been a number of cub births in the Mara cheetah population over the past five years.  Cheetahs live in small groups or singly, not in prides.  The famous BBC documentary Big Cat Diary has filmed quite a number of Mara cheetah mothers with their cubs in the past few seasons.       

Dinner and overnight at Mara Intrepids Camp.

Day 12   
Mara Intrepids Camp
Maasai Mara National Reserve
Breakfast at Mara Intrepids Camp.  Full day of wildlife viewing.  While in the Serengeti, you can also study some of the great challenges facing the stability of the Serengeti migratory herds.  In most other areas of Africa, major wildebeest herds have died out because of ever-expanding human populations which demand land for agriculture, domestic livestock, and water resources.  Humans’ need for land and water resources at the edges of the Mara threaten to reduce the migration range and access to water resources.  It is land available for grazing and access to water that determine the size of the Serengeti wildebeest population.  The herd’s population varies yearly depending on rainfall and how much grassland is available.  When there is not enough food or water, the weakest members of the population starve.  In the absence of severe drought, most of the culling will occur late in the dry season, just before the “short rains” begin. 

It is the superabundance of prey that accounts for the Mara’s big predator populations.  At last count there were 22 lion prides in the Mara.  Females within a lion pride are related to each other.  Daughters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and nieces live together for up to 15 years - the typical lifespan of a lioness.   Males are forced to leave the pride at between two to three years of age.  When not attached to a pride, lions are nomadic, occasionally banding together with other male cousins or brothers.  The majority of prides in the Mara have two or three adult males, but the males-in-power can form larger alliances.   Nomadic males are a constant territorial threat to the pride males. 

Ask your guide about the better pride viewing opportunities for your safari season.  He will definitely be taking you near Musiara Marsh, which is prime territory for the Marsh lion pride.  Other pride territories are near Rhino Ridge, near Paradise Plain, and near Kichwa Tembo.  Each of these pride territories vary in size.  The controlling factors tend to be habitat and the availability of food.  Some Mara prides can do quite well with small amounts of territory, while other prides require substantially larger amounts of ground.  While pride members defend their territories they can never keep an exclusive lock on all of their territory.   Overlaps at the edges of the territories find young nomadic males creating confrontations whenever possible.  During migration season, the lions prosper with sufficient food to feed all of the pride members.  But once the herds migrate south into Tanzania, the resident wildlife becomes the prime target; and territory and hunting skills become the means of survival.   

Dinner and overnight at Mara Intrepids Camp.  

Day 13
Ole Sereni
Day Room   
Breakfast at Mara Intrepids Camp.  Early morning wildlife viewing with lunch at Intrepids Camp with late morning bush flight to Nairobi. 

Your guide will have your plane tickets for you.  He will make sure you are checked in and that your luggage is loaded on your bush plane.  Say goodbye to him at the airstrip, as he needs to drive the Land Cruiser back to Nairobi. 

Bush Flight
Departs Mara bush strip @ approximately 11:00 am
Arrives Nairobi Wilson @ approximately 12:15 pm

Pickup by Deeper Africa guide and transfer to Ole Sereni for a day room.  Time for relaxing, showering, and packing.   Lunch at the Carnivore Restaurant. Evening transport to Jomo Kenyatta Airport for your international flight.

Day 14      
Travel Day
International Flight

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