Deeper Africa - vacations and travel

Kenya: Southern Circuit

Kenya

from $7,899* per person 13 Days June-April
Boutique accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Deeper Africa 8 people max
  • Nairobi, kenya
  • Active & Adventure trips
Looking for wilderness wildlife viewing without the crowds?  Still want luxury accommodations?  Then Kenya's southern reserves of Tsavo West, Tsavo East, and Amboseli are the right choice for your safari. 

Southern Kenya contains huge tracts of land that allow you to view wildlife in settings where you rarely encounter other tourists.  The Tsavo reserves and Amboseli are well-known for large herds of elephants.  The Tsavo reserves have amazing predator viewing as well.  With one of Deeper Africa's silver-rated guides and your private Land Cruiser you will see and learn more each day - experiencing why Kenya holds a special place in every safari lover's heart. 

At the end of each day you'll return to unique accommodations: a Nairobi mansion, an upscale tented river cottage, an extraordinary old British safari lodge, and the most luxurious eco-safari camp you can imagine.  And the food is luscious throughout. 

Locations visited/nearby

Kenya

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Itinerary

Day 1   
Travel day   
International Flight

Day 2
House of Waine
Nairobi
Pickup at airport by Deeper Africa driver after clearing customs.  He will have a sign with your name on it and will transport you to the House of Waine.

Overnight at House of Waine. 

Day 3   
Galdessa Camp
Tsavo East National Park   
Breakfast at the House of Waine.  Transport to Wilson airport for your bush flight to Tsavo East National Park. 

Bush Flight
Departs Nairobi Wilson Airport @ 14:00 am
Arrives Voi Kilagunia bush strip @ 15:15 am

Your Deeper Africa guide will be waiting for you with the Land Cruiser at the Kilagunia bush strip.  Drive first to Galdessa Camp on the south bank of the Galana River. The camp’s riverside location ensures sightings of wildlife along the river banks, including rich and varied birdlife. 

Dinner and overnight at Galdessa Camp. 

Day 4   
Galdessa Camp
Tsavo East National Park   
Breakfast at Galdessa Camp.  Full day of wildlife viewing with your guide, scheduled as you choose.  Tsavo is massive untamed grassland in southern Kenya bisected into Tsavo East and Tsavo West. Historically, Tsavo supported at least 70,000 elephants, but poaching and drought caused huge calamities with the herd populations dropping to 5,000 in the 1980s.  Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has been very active in Tsavo, assisting the in the comeback.  A recent KWS census demonstrated a insignificant decrease in poaching with the herd strength at 11,696.  Three years prior the census numbers were at 10,397.  The last KWS census also counted 50 black rhinos in Tsavo East. 

Today, both Tsavos have large herds of “red” elephant, colored by their dust baths in Tsavo’s red earth.  Tsavo forms a continuous eco-system with Amboseli National Park.  The parks are havens for the many elephant which pass between the parks and they are a major dispersal route for elephants crossing into Tanzania.     

Together Tsavo East and West form the largest national park in Kenya. This is Kenya’s largest wildlife stronghold and the parks together are larger than Wales.  The vastness of the park land encompasses a great diversity of habitats including mountains, rocky ridges and outcrops, isolated hills, belts of riverine vegetation, palm thickets, mountain forest, open plains with savannah bush and semi-desert scrub, lakes, and wooded grassland.  Mainstream tourism has little impact here.  If you are looking for wilderness in Africa you will find it in Tsavo.  There are tremendous views of mountains and hills, including the abruptly rugged Ngulia range, the gently rolling Chyulus, and the more distant snowy peak of Kilimanjaro. 

Tsavo is also a favorite place for bird watchers.  Prolific birdlife includes white-headed buffalo weavers, golden-breasted starlings, eight species of hornbills, as well as birds of prey, bustards, sunbirds, starlings, parrots, barbets, and rollers.   
  
Dinner and overnight at Galdessa Camp.

Day 5   
Galdessa Camp
Tsavo East National Park   
Breakfast at Galdessa Camp.  Full day of wildlife viewing with your guide. Picnic lunch available.  Tsavo is vast and most of the time you will have the uninterrupted pleasure of exploring the wilderness completely alone.  Tsavo is one place to see the beautiful spiral-horned Lesser Kudu.  Frequently sighted game include buffalo, common waterbuck, eland, oryx, impala, Maasai giraffe, and small mammals including mongoose, rock hyrax, dik-dik, and occasionally nocturnal porcupine. 

Your Deeper Africa guide can arrange guided walking along the river with a Galdessa guide, if you chose.   

Dinner and overnight at Galdessa Camp.

Day 6   
Severin Safari Camp
Tsavo West National Park   
Breakfast at Galdessa Camp.  Drive after breakfast with a picnic lunch toward your camp in Tsavo West. 

There is much of Kenya’s history in Tsavo.  At the turn of the 20th century the infamous “maneaters of Tsavo” terrorized railway workers as they built the railroad from Kenya’s coastal port of Mombasa into Uganda.  These two, mane-less, man-eating lions ate many humans working on the railroad before they were shot by John Henry Patterson.  Patterson wrote a book “Bwana Devil” about his adventures – later made into the movie “The Ghost and the Darkness” starring Michael Douglas. 

In the nineteenth century, Mt. Kilimanjaro, visible from many parts of Tsavo, would have been in Kenya had it not been for Queen Victoria’s giving it as a wedding gift to the German Kaiser, thus permanently signing it over to what is now Tanzania. 

The railroad opened up the area. New settlers glimpsed the vastness of Tsavo, and often Kilimanjaro, from their train carriages as they headed inland toward Nairobi.  Hunting enthusiasts, including Karen Blixen’s lover Denys Finch-Hatton, fell in love with the wildness of Tsavo.
       
Dinner and overnight at Severin Safari Camp. 

Day 7   
Severin Safari Camp
Tsavo West National Park   
Breakfast at Severin Safari Camp.  Full day for wildlife viewing and sightseeing, with picnic lunch available.  The volcanic zone in Tsavo West includes many lava flows and cones, including the starkly impressive Shetani (Swahili for “devil”) lava flow.  Giant fingers of bare black lava extend into the surrounding bush country, some formed only 600 years ago.  

You’ll enjoy viewing hippopotamus at Mzima Springs, both from above ground and below ground.  This will be your only opportunity to observe hippo from below the water level in the observation chamber.  Over 50 million gallons of fresh, clear water gushes out daily from below a lava ridge – all created by the melting snows of Kilimanjaro, which flow underground and are joined by a subterranean river beneath the Chyulu Hills.  Walk downstream into the wild date and raphia palms to see the crocodiles basking on the banks of the springs.  
 
Dinner and overnight at Severin Safari Camp.

Day 8   
Severin Safari Camp
Tsavo West National Park   
Breakfast at Severin Safari Camp.  Full day for wildlife viewing.  Lunch at the lodge, or picnic lunch in the Land Cruiser, as you choose.
 
Dinner and overnight at Severin Safari Camp. 

Day 9   
Mara West Camp
Maasai Mara Game Reserve   
Breakfast at Severin Safari Camp. 

Bush Flight
Depart Kilaguni bushstrip @ 8:30 am
Arrive Nariobi Wilson Airport @ 9:50 am 

Bush Flight
Depart Nariobi Wilson Airport @ 10:00 am
Arrive Mara Olkiombo bushstrip in Maasai Mara @ 11:00

Pickup in the Mara by staff from Mara West Camp.  Check in and lunch at camp. Meet up with a resident guide from Mara West Camp and enjoy your afternoon in one of their 4 wheel drive vehicles while you wait for your Deeper Africa guide and Land Cruiser to arrive from Tsavo.  He will join you tomorrow morning at breakfast. 

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.

Sundowners (drinks at sundown), dinner, and overnight at Mara West Camp.

Day 10
Mara West Camp
Maasai Mara Game Reserve   
Breakfast at Mara West Camp.  Full day of wildlife viewing in the Mara, as you schedule with your Deeper Africa guide and Land Cruiser.   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.       

Sundowners, dinner, and overnight at Mara West Camp.

Day 11
Mara West Camp
Maasai Mara Game Reserve   
Breakfast at Mara West 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. 
 
Sundowners, dinner, and overnight at Mara West Camp.

Day 12   
Macushla House (Day Room)
Nairobi
Breakfast at Mara West Camp.  Early morning wildlife viewing with lunch at Mara West 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 staff and transfer to Macushla House for a day room.  Time for relaxing, showering, and packing.   Dinner at Macushla House

Evening transport to Jomo Kenyatta Airport for your international flight.

Day 13
Travel Day
International Flight

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