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Best of Kenya Bush to Beach

Best of Kenya: Bush to Beach” tour, exploring iconic national parks such as Meru, Nakuru, Maasai Mara, Amboseli, Tsavo West, and Shimba Hills. Experience the diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes, and relax on the beautiful beaches of Diani. Best of Kenya is an off-beaten circuit, an authentic African safari experience with abundant wildlife, and finally enjoying the warm white sand beach.

Day 1: Arrival 

Pick up from the airport and transfer to Nairobi for overnight on a B&B {Bed and Breakfast} basis.  

Day 2: Nairobi – Meru National Park

We leave Nairobi at 8:00 a.m. and drive to Meru National Park through Thika, Makutano, Embu, Chuka, and Meru. The route encompasses rich agricultural farmlands covered in pineapple, coffee, rice, bananas, tea, and khat. Check-in at Meru National Park. We do our first evening game drive in the park, visiting the rhino sanctuary. Dine and stay overnight at a camp or lodge.

Meru National Park: Get a chance to see the BIG five and the SPECIAL five in their natural habitat, christened “God’s Backyard”.

Meru National Park, where George and Joy Adamson released their most famous lioness, Elsa, back into the wild (a story immortalised in the book and film Born Free), is increasingly re-appearing on safari itineraries. It was founded in 1966. Expectations include predator sightings, including lions and cheetahs. The overall wildlife-viewing rating here is high. The characteristic northern varieties of plains mammals are easily seen: the magnificent reticulated giraffe, the fine-striped Grevy’s zebra, the dapper Beisa oryx, the skittish and beautifully marked lesser kudu, and the distinctively long-necked browsing gerenuk gazelle. You’ll also see Grant’s gazelles (though not Thomson’s) and some of the biggest herds of buffalo you’ll encounter anywhere in Kenya, as well as good numbers of elephants. All mammals thrive because of Meru’s abundant water, and in many of the streams and rivers, you can see crocodiles, freshwater turtles, and hippos.

As well as unmistakable ostriches and the smartly plumaged vulturine Guinea fowl that you’ll see as you drive around, look out for red-necked falcons, which nest in the stands of doum palms, and after dark, the remarkable Pel’s fishing owl, a rare and very large owl with a wingspan of around 1.5m. You’re most likely to identify it by its unusual call—a deep, horn-like note, audible for a couple of kilometres. The characteristic of the streams is the African finfoot (much sought-after by birdwatchers), though these are hard to see from the banks, and you’ll probably have more luck with kingfishers, including the ubiquitous pied and more elusive giant kingfisher.

The forested areas along the watercourses are also good for specialist flower-feeding sunbirds, including the smaller black-bellied sunbird that feeds on parasitic Loranthus flowers growing in riverbank acacias. If you’re a keen birder, you’ll also want to spot some of the park’s four species of honeyguides, and you won’t need to be reminded to look out for flocks of gloriously coloured golden-breasted starlings, for which Meru National Park is a stronghold. Not to forget the protected rhino sanctuary, which makes sighting easy.

Day 3: Meru National Park—full-day game drive.

We leave Ikweta Safari Camp after breakfast with a picnic lunch (lunch box) for a full-day game drive, giving us time to explore the national park. Our full-day drive takes us down to the south of the park. The Adamson Falls and the grave of Elsa the Lioness are out in this remote area on the north bank of the Ura River, a major tributary that forms the park’s southwest boundary. The park offers unique scenery, topography, game and history.  Dinner and overnight at a camp or lodge.

4: Meru National Park – Nakuru National Park  

After breakfast, drive west to Nanyuki, taking in a glimpse of Mt Kenya and the Laikipia Plains. We drive to Nakuru via Nyahururu (Thompson Falls) to arrive in the afternoon. Embark on an evening game drive, dine, and overnight at a camp or lodge.

Lake Nakuru is one of the alkaline lakes of the Great Rift Valley. Lake Nakuru is also known as “Pink Lake” or Africa’s Bird’s Paradise. The lake is ideally located in central Kenya, within Lake Nakuru National Park. The park occupies an area of 188 km² while the lake occupies an area of 62 km². The lake is famous for the millions of flamingos that flock to the lake, although flamingos are unpredictable birds and are not always to be found in such vast numbers in the lake.

From a distance, i.e. the baboon cliff, the lake looks pink in colour due to the flamingos. The topography at Lake Nakuru is comprised of grasslands alternating with rocky cliffs and outcrops, acacia woodlands, and a forest made up of Euphorbia trees. In the early 1960s, Tilapia Grahami was introduced to the lake, and it flourished despite the alkaline nature of the lake. There are two species of flamingos, namely lesser flamingos and greater flamingos.

They feed on algae, which flourishes due to the warm, alkaline waters of Lake Nakuru. It is believed that flamingos consume about 250,000 kg of algae per hectare of surface area per year. The abundance of algae in the lake is what attracts millions of flamingos to Lake Nakuru. Apart from flamingos, other bird species include ducks, pelicans, cormorants, plovers, vultures, eagles, and buzzards. Lake Nakuru has over 50 animal species, which include hippos, reedbucks, waterbucks, Rothschild giraffes, baboons, black and white Columbus monkeys, hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, lions, gazelles, and impalas, among others.

Day 5: Nakuru – Maasai Mara 

Start the day with a pre-breakfast morning game drive at 6:00 a.m. After a full breakfast, depart the Maasai Mara National Reserve and have lunch at Narok. We do a game drive en route to our camp. Dine and stay overnight at a camp or lodge.

The world-recognized Maasai Mara Game Reserve is a northern extension of the Serengeti National Park, which is located in Tanzania. Maasai Mara covers an area of 1,510km². The Maasai Mara ecosystem is composed of two rivers, i.e., the Talek River and the Mara River, which is the main water supply for the ecosystem. The Mara River is a hurdle to wildebeest migration, as the wildebeests have to cross the river from Serengeti, most of them perishing in the jaws of crocodiles and big cats. The western part of Maasai Mara lies in the Siria escarpment and Loita plains, and the rest is Maasai pastoral land.
The Maasai Mara game reserve is owned and run by the county council of Narok, which is the richest county council in Kenya due to the revenue collected as park entrance fees. Part of the Maasai Mara, which is called the Mara Triangle, is contracted out and privately run. Park fees are paid by the number of nights one spends in the Mara Conservancy.
The Maasai Mara lies at an altitude of 1500 to 2100 metres. It rains twice a year in the game reserve: during the long rains that fall in March and May and during the short rains that fall in October, November, and part of December. June and July are the coldest months, and January and February are the hottest months. Temperatures during the day rarely exceed 85°F (30°C) and during the night they hardly drop below 60°F (15°C). Maasai Mara is a mosquito-prone area, but campsites are sprayed with mosquito repellents, and the tents have treated mosquito nets.
Maasai Mara has a large population of wildlife. All the big five can be seen in this reserve, and a large number of ungulates are also easily visible; they include the wildebeest, Thomson gazelles, grant gazelles, buffalos, rhinos, impalas, topis, elands, zebras, giraffes, and duikers. The common predators include lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, jackals, and foxes. Maasai Mara has over 450 identified species. Some common birds include the common ostrich, secretary bird, Kori bustard, hornbills, storks, eagles, and vultures.
The wildebeest migration happens annually; this spectacle is considered one of the seven wonders of the world. More than a million wildebeests, accompanied by topis, zebras, gazelles, and elands, make their journey from Serengeti National Park to Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Many of them perish while crossing the Mara River, where crocodiles and big cats make a kill on the vulnerable ungulates. The migration happens every year during July, after the long rains. The grass is big and plenty, and for the next three months, the wildebeests will clear the lush grass of the Maasai Mara. The migration varies annually due to climate change. If the climate changes and it doesn’t rain as usual, the wildebeest may delay crossing over or cross over and go back since there isn’t grass to feed on.
The Masai people, who by definition speak the Maa language, hence the name Maasai, have held on to their culture even in these times of modernization. A Maasai’s home is called a manyatta, where he lives with his wives and children. From childhood, boys are obligated to look after their father’s cows, while girls are obligated to do house chores, fetch water, and milk the cows. After every fifteen years, there is an initiation where boys are circumcised and they become young morans, and the existing morans graduate to junior elders. The Maasai enjoy eating meat and milk mixed with blood during rituals such as initiation and marriage. The use of herbs as medicine is still embedded in their day-to-day lives. The Maasai are an attraction in Kenya since they have managed to stick to their culture.

Day 6: Maasai Mara – Full-Day Game Drive

Early breakfast is followed by a full day of game drive within the reserve. The Maasai Mara is famous for its black-maned lions, elephants, and buffalo, making three out of the ‘big five’ though luck is essential for spotting the other two, namely the park’s animal concentration and abundance, which are second to none. We will cater a picnic lunch at the hippo pool, where, with luck, you may spot crocodiles basking on the rocks. Numerous plains game, including antelopes, wildebeests, zebras, and Maasai giraffes, can be seen as well as scavengers like hyenas and vultures. In the late afternoon (at an extra cost), go for optional activities like having a nature walk, visiting Maasai villages to see the nomadic lifestyle, or swimming in the nearby lodges. Rest of meals and overnight at a camp or lodge.

Day 7: Maasai Mara – Naivasha   

We start for Naivasha after breakfast at 8:00 a.m. Visit a Maasai village to get a first-hand nomadic lifestyle from their day-to-day living, their food, medicine, vibrant clothing, energetic dances, and much more.  Arrive in Naivasha and check in at Fisherman’s Camp by the shores of Lake Naivasha. Afternoon game drive in Crater Lake National Reserve. Optional boat ride in search of hippos. You will experience camping at Fisherman’s Camp.

Day 8: Naivasha – Amboseli   

After breakfast, depart Naivasha for Amboseli National Park and have lunch at Emali. We check in at our camp or lodge before embarking on the evening game drive. Dine and stay overnight at AA Lodge. 

Amboseli National Park is located south of Nairobi, 140 kilometres (3 ½ hours’ drive). The park occupies an area of 392 km². The ecosystem is made up of a seasonal lake called Lake Amboseli, where the park derives its name, swamps, open plains, acacia woodland, rocky outcrops, thorn bushes, and marshes. The landscape is dominated by the backdrop of the majestic snowcap of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. The snowcap is visible when the clouds are clear, mainly in the early morning and late evening, and this scene allows one to capture wonderful memories on camera for friends and loved ones back home.

Amboseli National Park is considered Kenya’s second-best after the Maasai Mara Game Reserve by many tourists and is the only national park in Kenya that has the biggest population of elephants. The ecosystem of Amboseli, though small compared to other parks, sustains a large number of bird species and games. Amboseli offers some of the best opportunities to see African animals because its vegetation is sparse due to the long, dry months. The park is considered ideal for writers, filmmakers, and researchers. The Maasai are the local inhabitants of this area, which they call Empusel, meaning “Dusty place”. Other communities have moved to Amboseli in search of greener pastures. Besides game viewing and the ecstatic views of Mount Kilimanjaro, one can visit a local Maasai village to learn about their way of life and to interact with the locals.

Day 9: Amboseli—full-day game drive

After breakfast, embark on a full-day game drive where plains game, namely zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, and various antelopes, can be seen. You will have a picnic lunch at an observation point. You will have a great sighting of the majestic snow-capped Kilimanjaro in the morning. During a clear day’s weather from the observation hill, the panoramic view of the plains is worth yearning for. Large herds of elephants and hippos can be seen bathing in the swamp grounds, whose water source is Mt. Kilimanjaro. After the full day’s activities, we return to the camp/lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 10: Amboseli – Tsavo West National Park   

Breakfast at the hotel and thereafter depart for Tsavo West National Park. Tsavo West has spectacular scenery, with a rolling volcanic landscape carpeted in long grass and dense bush. Although the tall vegetation makes game spotting trickier than in some of the other parks, the big five are in residence, along with a fine collection of antelope. Dinner and overnight at a camp/lodge.

Tsavo West National Park.

Tsavo West National Park covers an area of 9,065Km² and is located in south-eastern Kenya, 240 km from Nairobi or 250km from Mombasa to Mtito Andei Gate. The park has magnificent scenery, Mzima Springs, rich and varied wildlife, a good road system, a rhino reserve, rock climbing at Kichwa Tembo Cliffs and guided walks along the Tsavo River. Tsavo West National Park has a variety of wildlife, such as black rhinos, cape buffalo, elephants, leopards, and lions.

Other smaller animals can be spotted in the park, such as the bushbaby, hippo, hartebeest, lesser kudu and Maasai giraffe. Mzima springs are a natural reservoir under the Chyulu Hills to the north. The Chyulu range is composed of volcanic lava rock and ash, which is too porous to allow rivers to flow. Instead, rainwater percolates through the rock and may spend 25 years underground before emerging 50 kilometres away at Mzima Springs. The spring produces 450 million litres of water in a day that serves the Tsavo ecosystem and some of the water serves the coastal region through a pipe. In the spring, you will find schools of hippos, crocodiles, fish and water birds like cormorants. During the night, hippos come out to graze and during the day, they just laze in the full or half submerged.

The Shetani Lava flow, a black lava flow of 8 km long, 1.6 km wide and 5 metres deep, is the remains of volcanic eruptions which were the subject of tales among local communities who named the flow “shetani,” meaning evil, in Kiswahili after it spewed from the earth 240 years ago. Climbing the flow is not an easy task, as the thick black soil is composed of uneven chunks of solid magma. The cave, located near the centre of the outflow, has two large openings and one ancient tree is growing between them.

Although the cave is only a few metres long, the exit is not accessible (although it can be seen) as the place is too narrow. The Roaring Rocks will give you magnificent panoramic views, usually only seen by the eagles and buzzards that fly around. these cliffs, over the plain called Rhino Valley and the Ngulia Hills (1,821 m). The Roaring Rock, located near the Rhino Sanctuary, has been for long an observation point for the protection of black rhinoceros and the fight against poaching. The eerie Roaring Rocks are named after the buzz of cicadas that inhabit them and the howl of wind that hits the bare rocks, producing a roaring sound.

Day 11: Tsavo West – Full-day game drive                                                                                      

After breakfast, start a full-day game drive with a lunch box. We will also make a special stopover at the Shetwani lava flow and the Mzima Springs; a favourite hunt for crocodiles and hippos, from an underwater tank; it is sometimes possible to spot hippos along the floor of these crystal springs. As the sun starts going down, return to our camp/lodge for rest, dinner and overnight.  

Day 12: Tsavo West – Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.

After breakfast, an en-route game drive is made towards Taita Hills (Saltlick) Wildlife Sanctuary, famous for its large number of lions’s pride. Also to be seen are the elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, impalas, baboons, warthogs, and waterbucks. The night will be spent at a camp/lodge.

Day 13: Taita hills – Shimba Hills

Breakfast will lead to our morning game drive en route to Shimba Hills National Reserve. Check-in at our camp/lodge and proceed to search for the unique animals of the reserve. Visit Fredrick’ Falls and Mwaluganje Forest. The night will be spent at Shimba Hills Lodge. 

Some of the leading wildlife attractions in this reserve include elephants, sable antelopes, genet cats, leopards, civet cats, waterbucks, hyenas, buffaloes, bush pigs, bushbucks, white Columbus, bush duiker, back-faced vervet monkeys, serval cats, sykes monkeys, red shrew, red duiker, and many others.

There are also more than 111 bird species. These include the African hawk, ostrich, eagle, quail, sunbird, crowned hornbill, and honey guide.

Reptiles such as pythons, lizards, cobras, and geckos also reside here.

Day 14: Shimba Hills – Diani

After breakfast, we do our last game drive en route to Diani Beach, which is only 45 minutes from Shimba Hills Reserve.

Your home for total relaxation in the next three nights will be at the beachfront hotels, either Leopard Beach Resort or Diani Beach Reef Resort & Spa. There are varied activities to engage in.

Day 15: Diani Full-day beach.

Full-day activities of your choice. 

Day 16: Diani

Full-day activities of your choice.                                                                         

All-inclusive relaxation

If you are visiting Diani for your next vacation, stay at some of the most stunning and luxurious resorts and hotels in the town. The hotels and resorts feature relaxing spas for exciting therapy and all-out indulgence, chic bars and restaurants for fine dining, relaxing swimming pools and much more.

Stunning beaches and scenery

Many people visit Diani because of its smooth, sandy beaches and crystal-clear water. Diani beaches feature a host of pristine coasts, beach resorts, beachside restaurants and sea activities. There is a beach for everyone in Diani. The beaches are perfect for water activities such as deep-sea fishing, surfing, diving, water skiing, snorkelling, and many others.

Exciting activities

Many tourists and locals visit Diani to seek excitement and pleasure and the coastal town gives them all that in out-sized doses. The town is full of exciting activities such as sightseeing, boat tours, scuba diving, kite surfing, boating, Dhow excursions, wildlife safari, aquatic activities and many others.

Amazing places to visit

The coast is undoubtedly rich in its history and culture. The coastal towns have some amazing places that should be a must-visit in everyone’s lifetime. In this town and nearby areas, you will discover beautiful and historical places that will mesmerise you, such as nature parks, Wasini Island, Kaya Kinodo, Bora Bora Wildlife Park, Alibaba and Forty Thieves, Columbus Conservation, and other amazing places.

The perfect climate

Diani has beautiful weather and a tropical, dry savanna climate. With a temperature between 24°C and 28°C, you will enjoy your stay in the coastal town.

Vibrant nightlife

The Diani love to party and the town is famed for its vibrant nightlife. Diani holidays are the best time to relax and enjoy the company of your friends. The relaxed atmosphere of the town is so different from that of Nairobi and Mombasa, but it’s quite amazing. You can enjoy lively nightlife at the town’s various clubs and bars. Nightlife is always thriving in Diani.

Fun for everyone

Be it a family vacation, romantic weekend getaway, thrilling adventure, retreat or sightseeing tour. Diani offers fun and excitement for all ages, preferences and budgets.  A vacation in Diani is fun and exciting and creates lifetime memories.

Day 17: Mombasa – Nairobi {Departure}

Pick up after breakfast to drive back to Nairobi to catch a homebound flight.

Option 2: Transfer to Miritini railway station

Option 3: Enjoy the beach, and have lunch before a transfer to Ukunda airstrip to catch a flight to Nairobi. Check in at the airport for your flight back home.  

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