Discover Kenya’s iconic wildlife and its diverse cultures with Rupi Mangat, a third generation local and a leading Kenyan travel writer who lives in this tropical paradise on the Equator, the denizen of big game – elephants and rhino; lions, leopards and cheetahs; rhinos and mighty raptors that soar the skies. Imagine waking up every day to a saffron sun rising over the savannah plains teeming with wildlife. Kenya’s tapestry of sweeping grasslands, arid plains and lush swamps with snow-topped mountains is home to spectacular life. November is one of the most exciting months to be on safari and watch the land turn lush and green with the start of the short rains after the long dry spell. Typically, the days are interspersed with spells of showers followed by hours of sunshine for the wildlife (and us) to soak in. It’s a beautiful time to be on safari.
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip
Fly into Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. Our representative will meet you at the airport, fast-track you through arrivals, and drive you to your hotel, the Villa Rosa Kempinski. The Villa Rosa Kempinski, overlooking Nairobi’s skyline, lavish and soaked in tropical sunlight, has hosted Barack Obama, Lupita Ny’ongo, and many more.
The day is yours to relax, unwind, and recover from jet lag. The hotel is a few minutes drive from the central business district if you’d like to explore. Why not pop into the Nairobi National Museum with galleries dedicated to prehistory, ornithology, ethnography, and the making of modern Kenya?
We will meet for cocktails and dinner at 7 p.m. at the Tambourin Restaurant (not included) for a lively chat about your exciting safari before calling it a night.
It’s an early start to the day. After a hearty breakfast we will fly to Tsavo West National Park 240 kms southeast of Nairobi, on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest stand-alone mountain and capped with snow.
This is big life country, home of the ‘red’ elephants of Tsavo, the black rhinos and the ‘man-eaters of Tsavo’ (If you live in Chicago make sure to visit the Field Museum of Natural History to see the two lions on display). It’s a 45-minute flight over Nairobi National Park, the only wildlife park in a capital city that even today is home to Nairobi’s original inhabitants: the black rhinos, big cats and plains game like the Maasai giraffes.
We will be collected from the airstrip and driven to Severin Safari Camp on the foothills of Kilimanjaro and overlooking the vast plains of Tsavo, home to its wildlife and history where the battles of World War 1 were fought and where the man-eaters of Tsavo terrorized the Indian railway builders commissioned by the colonial British to construct the epic Uganda Railway, East Africa’s first modern travel. We will enjoy a game drive en route in our custom-made safari cruisers driven by expert driver/guides.
The 7,065-square-kilometer Tsavo boasts dramatic vistas that include the rhino sanctuary, Mzima the crystal clear springs, lava flows and of course, Kilimanjaro. Enjoy your gourmet lunch overlooking the plains of Tsavo with the occasional herd of elephants browsing within sight. Or maybe even a cat slinking through the grass.
Tsavo is a great conservation success story. At the height of the ivory trade, between 1970 and 1990, Tsavo’s black rhinos and elephants were nearly wiped out and many wildlife rangers killed. The international community and the Kenya government stepped in, staffed the rangers and embarked on a re-stocking program to return it to its former glory.
Late afternoon, we will embark on a game drive in search of big game like the northern species: Fringe-eared Oryx, the maneless lions of Tsavo, gerenuks, Maasai giraffes, crocs and hippos, leopards and elephants, plus the rich birdlife with sundowners before returning to camp for dinner.
It's an early start to the day at 6 a.m. Wake up calls can be arranged.
Enjoy a cuppa coffee or tea and biscuits before you set out for an early morning game drive. By 9 a.m. we will be back at the camp. Take time to relax, visit the spa, swim, read a book or enjoy the grounds, discovering its many rare plants including the baobab tree - the world’s largest succulent.
The afternoon game drive will have us explore this amazing wilderness in search of her maneless lions and more.
We will return to the lodge by 6.30 pm.
Take some time to refresh with a cold beer at the bar or a cool shower.
We’ll meet at 7:30 pm for another gourmet feast and after relax with a nightcap reminiscing about terrific Tsavo before retiring to bed.
Wake up to a glorious sunrise and breakfast before our one-hour flight via Nairobi to Ol Pejeta Conservancy under the gaze of Mount Kenya. We'll drive from the airstrip to Sweetwaters Serena Camp in the shadow of Mt. Kenya with a game drive en route in custom-made safari cruisers driven by expert drivers/guides.
Kenya’s largest black rhino sanctuary, this wildlife conservancy is home to two of the world’s last remaining northern white rhinos and chimpanzees rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. The conservancy is known for its spectacular tapestry of grassland, forest, and swamps.
By now, it’s lunchtime. Enjoy your gourmet buffet lunch as you watch for trumpeting elephants or rhino sauntering to the waterhole a few feet away.
Ol Pejeta has morphed from a cattle ranch to a wildlife conservancy and today boasts a healthy population of lions and other endangered species that, until recently, were on the verge of extinction.
We'll leave for an afternoon game drive in search of big game like lions, elephants, and rich birdlife before returning to camp at sunset for drinks.
Prepare for a delicious dinner on God’s mountain, where we’ll share the day's highlights, while spying on wildlife at the water pans. Who knows who might visit?
The Morani suite, your private tented abode, is named after the black rhino that became the conservancy’s mascot in its early days.
It’s an early start to the day at 6 a.m. Enjoy coffee or tea with biscuits before you set out for an early morning game drive at 6.30 a.m. This, and the late afternoons before the sun goes down, are the best times to enjoy wildlife.
It’s the time when the animals are most active before the sun becomes too hot for them and lethargy sets in. The lionesses would rather hunt when it’s cooler, but being opportunistic, the hunt is on if the quarry is easy. Lions do not have sweat glands, so you’ll hear them panting.
We'll return to camp for a delicious breakfast after an exhilarating morning game drive. Take time to unwind and soak up the serene surroundings before we visit the chimpanzee sanctuary. Prepare to meet some amazing characters, the lucky rescued few.
A chimp ‘carer’ who will introduce you to the great apes by name will guide you. You can’t help falling in love with them. Later, we’ll stop briefly at the Equator, where you can straddle both hemispheres at once! After that, it’s off to the rhino sanctuary to meet one of the rhinos born in the conservancy for a close encounter. Then, it’s off to lunch and a siesta.
This afternoon, we'll enjoy another game drive and tick as many rare and endangered species, from the African wild dog to the reticulated giraffe, the Grevy’s zebra, and more.
Let’s take a break at the swamp, a popular wildlife watering spot! We’ll sip sundowners with the animals. Later, we will gather for a gourmet dinner, and with some luck, we’ll witness the magnificent wildlife wishing you a good evening.
After breakfast, we’re off to the airstrip for a 60-minute flight from Ol Pejeta to land in the Maasai Mara, a flight over the Great Rift Valley. The ‘crack’ is the planet’s longest valley on land, stretching 6,000km from Lebanon in the Middle East to Mozambique in South-eastern Africa and best seen in Kenya. The flight then enters the savanna grassland in the mighty Mara, home to the Big Five – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, and leopard (and cheetah). It is possible to see all three big cats – lion, leopard, and cheetah - in one day.
The Mara is a stronghold of the cheetah, whose global population in the wild is less than 10,000 today compared to 100,000 a century ago.
We will be collected from the airstrip and driven to the glam canvas camp with a short game drive en route.
Relax and enjoy an exquisite lunch after check-in at the Maasai Mara IlKeliani Safari Camp. Later this afternoon, we’ll depart for a game drive and return at sunset to the camp.
Take a few minutes to refresh before we meet for cocktails on your first night in the Mara, dubbed one of the seven natural wonders of the modern world.
Dinner will be under the stars with lots of lively exchanges and talks with the resident naturalist about the wonders of the Mara. Finally, it’s lala salama, ‘a peaceful sleep’ in Kiswahili.
After an early cup of tea to start the day, we have an exciting game drive planned before we return to the camp for lunch. For those looking for adventure, there is an optional sunrise balloon safari followed by a champagne breakfast upon landing. It is a remarkable new way to watch the animals.
On the way back to the camp, we have the morning for our leisure. Enjoy a siesta or a spa massage in the wild.
After lunch, we’ll enjoy our last game drive and sundowners, raising a toast to an amazing African safari and new friends made. It’s followed by dinner and then off to a restful sleep in your luxury tent.
After a sumptuous breakfast in the Mara, we’ll fly back to Nairobi to arrive by midday for your flight home or onward to the beach if you’re joining us for the trip extension (see below). For those heading home, we’ll decamp to the Four Points at Sheraton at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to relax while you wait for your return flight home. You’ll have the option of getting a “day room” at the hotel or booking a room overnight, depending on your flight time. This stay is not included in the trip price.
Saying goodbye to your new friends and this beautiful country will be hard, but you’ll have many wonderful life-long memories to take home.
We hope your African adventure has amazed you. As Joy Adamson said: ‘Wildlife is something which man cannot construct. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. Man can rebuild a pyramid, but he can’t rebuild ecology or a giraffe."
After a short flight, we'll land at Ukunda, Kenya, and transfer to the Waterlovers Beach Resort, our gorgeous beach hideout. It's a labor of love created by Riccardo and Valentina, who fell in love with Africa and decided to make it their home.
Diani Beach is rated one of the world's best beaches. After settling in, we'll enjoy the evening on the beach, swimming in the warm ocean waters and strolling along the wide sweep of the Indian Ocean.
Prepare to indulge in a seafood dinner prepared using only the freshest ingredients. The food combines Mediterranean and Swahili cuisine so expect exotic dishes. How about trying some crab fagottini served with avocado and lime sauce, followed by passion fruit mousse topped with white chocolate flakes and fresh mint leaves? The menu changes every day, with choices of fish and meat. You may ask for a personalized menu if you are vegetarian or on a special diet.
After dinner, we’ll chill at the beach under a star-decked dark sky and enjoy a leisurely night exchanging safari highlights until sleep calls.
You may wish to enjoy a sunrise walk on the beach before breakfast – it’s as easy as slipping out of your bed onto the beach. It’s magical watching the sunrise from the ocean.
The beach is adjacent to the lush rainforest, making it an ideal destination for birders. It is home to the rare breed of Angolan Colobus monkey. An organization called Colobus Conservation has strung 'colobus bridges' across the main road to ensure the endangered species' safety while crossing to the other side of the forest.
After a fulfilling breakfast of tropical fruits and freshly cooked spicy Swahili morsels, the rest of the morning is yours to explore. Lounge around the turtle-shaped pool, take a dip, or go snorkeling, surfing, or even swimming when the tide is high. Don't miss the exciting opportunity to sail in a traditional canoe called 'ngalawa' powered by the wind and waves to the reef.
Check in at the Kola spa for a revitalizing treatment if you'd prefer to relax.
Lunch is followed by a well-deserved siesta or snorkeling, session depending on the tide.
Later, we’ll head out for dinner to Ali Barbour's iconic cave restaurant. The cave has connecting chambers with a huge opening above it, providing an exciting atmosphere to enjoy the finest seafood at the seaside. (Vegetarians and non-fish eaters are catered for on prior notice).
After dinner, we’ll return to our stunning hideout resort.
After a refreshing breakfast, we’ll embark on an adventure further south. We'll board a dhow, an ancient sailing vessel, which, powered winds and waves, brought ancient mariners from the East, giving rise to the Swahili civilization. We’ll sail to the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Reserve, famous for its dolphins, turtles, and spectacular reef for snorkeling.
After exploring the marine reserve, we're off to Wasini Island for lunch. Wasini Island is another seafood paradise that will delight your senses.
After a relaxing lunch followed by a swim or a stroll on the mangrove walkway, we’ll return to the resort by late afternoon.
Enjoy a massage at the Kola Spa or relax until dinner.
Our last day starts with a healthy tropical breakfast spiced with exotic flavors.
You will enjoy the morning lounging on the beach, soaking in the sun, or treating yourself at the Kola spa for one last time.
Lunch will be served around noon, after which we’ll begin our journey home, departing for the airport at 2 pm.
We’ll arrive at Nairobi at 4.45 pm for our onward flight home, leaving behind cherished memories of Kenya's amazing wildlife and beautiful landscapes.
May you one day return to savor more of Africa’s amazing wildlife and wild spaces.
Camp Severin is a 5-star lodge with luxury tents, an outdoor pool, and a spa to refresh and rejuvenate after your safari.
The Sweetwaters Serena Camp in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Nanyuki, Kenya is a relaxed all-inclusive resort with tent-style quarters.
The Maasai Mara Ilkelian is an elegant oasis in the center of the world-famous Maasai Mara. The redesigned camp overlooking game-filled plains has stylish new tented suites, a selection of viewing decks, and a wealth of enticing activities.
Rupi is a travel writer with a particular interest in wildlife conservation and sustainability. She’s a third-generation Kenyan who’s been on safari countless times since she started writing professionally in 1998. She works with the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya as the editor of Komba, a magazine that promotes wildlife conservation among schoolchildren. With her strong connections to conservation not-for-profits like the East African Wild Life Society, Nature Kenya, and Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (to name a few), we’ll receive an insider's view of the amazing and challenging world of today’s wildlife.
Mary Wykstra began working in Kenya in 2001. After working with the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, Mary initiated her own research in Kenya. She completed her Master of Environmental Management at Yale University to enable her to further develop the Action for Cheetahs in Kenya program alongside local staff and partners. Under Mary's leadership, the Action for Cheetahs Project works closely to monitor cheetahs across the vast Kenya landscape. Mary is a bronze-level Kenya Professional Safari Guide and leads trips for several university programs as well as joining her colleague Rupi to share her passion for Kenya's big cats and their relationship with people.
After a week on safari, it’s time for some serious relaxation and restoration. Diani Beach Waterlovers is the perfect place to rest your head. During our 3 day stay, we'll enjoy the beach and everything it has to offer.
If you are eager for your own African experience, there are plenty of fascinating places to explore in Kenya. The country is steeped in history, endowed with bountiful natural beauty, and renowned for refining its rustic ambience and cultural elegance
Everything stated in itinerary above including meals plus wine or beer with your evening meal (except otherwise noted)
Lodging at 5-star tented camps
All guides, experts and entry fees
All in-country transport
All meals unless noted
Transfers to/from airport
Roundtrip airfare to Kenya
Additional wine, beer, or spirits beyond what is offered at meals.
All personal souvenir purchases
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)
Additional outings as indicated such as the Balloon Ride
GG2P's Kenya safari is a dream come true! From excellent accommodations and seamless transportation to educational opportunities and expert guides, Doni and Rupi have thought of everything. I saw every single animal and bird I wanted to see, even rhinos! The weather was perfect and the group of ladies was amazing. I'm already booked for my third trip next spring!
Fly into Nairobi which is the capital of Kenya. The destination airport is the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The weather in Kenya in November is generally warm and humid, with average temperatures ranging from 23°C to 30°C (73°F to 86°F). Kenya's coastal region is generally warmer and drier than the interior, with less rainfall. The Maasai Mara National Reserve, a popular tourist destination, is also relatively dry in November.
We will have a zoom call about 6 weeks before the trip starts to discuss all that information and give you a packing list.
Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.
You do need to fill out and pay for the E-Visa before you travel to Kenya. A single-entry visa (valid for 3 months) is $50 USD. We will go over all this information in detail on the Zoom call we have about six weeks before the trip starts.
Don’t forget your passport. It’s the one item that’s tough to replace. Please have enough empty pages without stamps in your passport. Your passport must be good for a full 6 months after the date you return from your trip.
The trip officially starts on November 6, 2024. If you are traveling across an ocean to get to Kenya, consider arriving a day early so you have time to relax and adjust to the local time zone. If you do decide to arrive early, please let us know and we will book your room for you and make sure that you stay in the same room as you will be in when the trip starts.
You are lucky and have two guides on this trip. Rupi Mangat and Mary Wykstra. To read more about them.
HERE is a link to their bio's.
We will discuss this on our pre-trip call. We recommend looking at the CDC guidelines for Kenya for this time of year. Most people will opt to get malaria tablets and make sure they are up to date on all their shots.