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East African Explorer

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East African Explorer

1-Join tour Nairobi; Drive to Lake Naivasha
After arriving in Nairobi this morning we drive north towards one of Africa’s most important physical features. Created by the collision of the great continental masses of Africa and the Middle East, the African Rift Valley is more than 9656km long, stretching from Jordan to Mozambique. At the southernmost end of the Kenya Rift Valley lies the fertile oasis of Lake Naivasha, one of the Rift Valley’s freshwater lakes and the site for our overnight camp. Translating as Rippling Waters Naivasha is a picturesque setting of grazing
hippos and floating islands of papyrus, occupying the floor of the Valley and dominated by the towering heights of Mount Longonot. There may be an opportunity today to visit Elsamere Conservation Centre (optional), once the home of Joy and George Adamson of Born Free fame, where you can take high tea on the lawn, amidst a tranquil lakeside setting and look around the museum presenting an in depth history of Joy Adamson’s remarkable attempts to raise Elsa the lion cub and introduce her back into the wild. Another optional alternative is a boat trip on Lake Naivasha to enjoy the splendours of the abundant birdlife.
Overnight: Basic Camping

2-Morning Visit Crescent Island Nature Reserve; Drive to Ilariak
This morning we include a visit to Crescent Island Nature Reserve, where we can explore on foot this great bird and wildlife sanctuary in the company of a local guide, hoping to find giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and some of the 350 bird species that have been recorded here. Afterwards we head south to our Maasai community campsite at Ilariak. In the Maasai language Ilariak means a place of salt lick rivers which provide much needed minerals for the animals in the area.
Overnight: Basic Camping

3-In Ilariak; drive to the Masaai Mara
This morning we will head for the incredible setting of the Masai Mara National Reserve, without doubt one of Africa’s dazzling jewels and Kenya’s finest wildlife park. Situated at the northern end of the Serengeti National Park, there is almost every species of animal native to East Africa here and during our game drive in the area this afternoon we may well find some of the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino), as well as the herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle that roam in large numbers across the grasslands. We aim to enter at the Sekenani Gate and head for our campsite located near the exit at Talek Gate, situated close to the river. You may also be interested in an optional visit to a Maasai boma to gain a greater understanding of the local culture and lifestyle.
Overnight: Basic Camping

4-Game drives in the Maasai Mara
The Masai Mara is not actually a park, but is in fact a national reserve and, as such, the Masai people have been able to retain their traditional way of life. Unchanged through the centuries, tribesmen are often seen herding their cattle along the many trails. The areas that we will be travelling through on our game drives are teeming with herbivores and carnivores, the hunters and the hunted and, depending upon conditions, we may even see this constant battle for life in all its grim glory. The Mara boasts large prides of
lions, as well as leopard, cheetah and hyena, so a hunt is always a possibility across these open plains. One of the most memorable and unique spectacles of this area is the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle as they move between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti Plains. This annual trek costs the lives of many of the old and the sick, picked off by the predators that thrive here, both on the plains and in the muddy waters of the Mara and Talek rivers. Trips running between August and October fall within the time frame of these annual migrations, although obviously we cannot guarantee that specific trips will witness this most unique natural phenomenon. Along the forested banks of the Mara and Talek rivers are excellent places to view hippos, crocs and waterfowl and the reserve is also home to some 450 species of bird, including Denham’s Bustard, Black Coucal, Red Tailed chat, Yellow Bellied Hyliota and Magpie Shrike.
Overnight: Basic Camping

5-Drive to Kisii
Leaving the Mara behind this morning we head for the fertile landscapes of the Western Highlands and the lively market town of Kisii, famed for its soapstone. Home to the Gusii people, Bantu speaking tribes who migrated here from the Congo, Kisii sits amidst a landscape rich with tea and coffee plantations, banana groves and agriculture and our journey north takes us through some of the most productive land in the country.
Overnight: Basic Hotel
Single Room option available

6-Drive to Musoma via the Isebania border crossing
Today’s scenic drive takes us across into Tanzania, travelling via Migori and crossing the border at Isebania, before continuing along the eastern shores of Lake Victoria to Musoma. We plan to arrive at camp in the late afternoon and spend the remainder of the day relaxing by the waters of Africa’s largest freshwater lake. Discovered by the explorer John Speke in August 1858, Lake Victoria is the second largest on the planet, covering over 69,000 sq km. and bordering Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The source of the White Nile, scattered with islands and reefs, it is home to over 200 species of fish and fishing is a major contribution to the economy and livelihood of the Bantuspeaking tribes that live along the lakeshore.
Overnight: Basic Camping

7-Drive to Serengeti National Park
From Musoma it is a short drive before we enter the Serengeti and continue through its remote Western Corridor. Covering some 15,000 sq km the Serengeti is the oldest and largest park in Tanzania, its name derived from the Maasai word for endless plains, Although particularly famed for its lions, it offers unrivalled opportunities to photograph many other species of wildlife, including an amazing number of birds. The area encompasses the largest concentration of wildlife on the continent and the annual migration of tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebra is a truly impressive spectacle as they battle their way to fresh grazing land, running the gauntlet of the great African predators as they go. It is on these plains that we focus most of our attention over the next couple of days, spending two nights in the Seronera region and taking early morning and late afternoon game drives in search of the Big 5 and so much more.
Overnight: Basic Camping

8-Games drives in Serengeti N.P.
Our exact movements today are very much dependent upon the location and concentration of the wildlife. We may head to the Retima Hippo Pool, the Moru Kopjes or perhaps the Seronera River area in search of leopard and lion. Cheetahs are often seen in family units out on the Serengeti plains, a special sight indeed. During the annual migration hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra move westward, covering some 800 km from the central plains through the park’s long corridor, towards richer grazing lands and fresh water. These spectacular journeys are often fraught with danger as their long trek invariably draws the attention of the ever-present predators – lion, leopard, hyena and crocodile. This is nature in its rawest sense, where the struggle for survival is played out daily across these expansive plains and churning rivers. The unique sight of hunting packs are always a possibility during our time here. For an alternative view of the magnificent wildlife, depending on the weather, there may be the possibility to take an unforgettable early morning balloon safari (optional) during our stay here.
Overnight: Basic Camping

9-Drive to Ngorongoro Conservation area. Visit Olduvai Gorge
Driving to Ngorongoro today we stop to visit the remarkable setting of Olduvai Gorge, where in 1959, anthropologists Dr and Mrs Leakey discovered the remains of an almost intact human skull that was eventually discovered to be 1.75 million years old. Named Nutcracker Man on account of its powerful jaw, this incredible discovery proved to be an important milestone in the search for human evolution, only being eclipsed when even older finds were later made in Ethiopia and Laetoli. Accompanied by a local guide we visit Olduvai Gorge Visitor Centre and Museum overlooking the gorge itself, to learn something more of this fascinating discovery. Our journey today affords an opportunity to enjoy more game viewing as we depart the Serengeti, and also offers a chance to view several Maasai settlements along the route. To the south east of Olduvai Gorge lies the huge bowl-like crater of Ngorongoro, a spectacular almost circular depression with a diameter of some 19 kilometres that lies amidst Tanzania’s Crater Highlands. Technically classed as a caldera, the crater owes its existence to the violent fracturing of the Rift Valley over a period of some 25 million years. At one time a volcano occupied this spot, until it became extinct and finally collapsed into the empty magma chamber below, leaving only the gigantic natural basin that we see today. This incredible natural amphitheatre presents us with the perfect setting for some remarkable game viewing and an ideal spot from which the sun setting over the African plains. Come prepared for a cold night tonight.
Overnight: Basic Camping

10-Game viewing in Ngorongoro Crater, then drive to Karatu
This morning we enter the caldera, descending from the upper rim in specially chartered 4WD vehicles in search of big game. As we negotiate the steep track that drops some 600m to the grassy basin below, we enter a setting that provides a rich haven for herbivores and carnivores alike. The open plains thunder beneath the hooves of countless zebra, buffalo and antelope, whilst predators like lion, hyena and cheetah thrive amidst this plentiful open-air buffet, all against a stunning backdrop of dramatic cliffs and lush vegetation that present the perfect photo opportunities. Elephant, black-maned lion, cheetah, buffalo and rhino are in abundance here, whilst the perennial marshes teem with all manner of birdlife, including Egyptian vultures, ostriches, Verreaux’s eagles and kori bustards and, during the summer months, the plains echo to the spectacular migrations of millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles as they make their way from the Serengeti. After our morning’s game drive we depart for our camp at Karatu, set amidst an area of cool verdant hills on the Manyara Escarpment. Once a popular spot for the German settlers and farmers during the country’s colonial occupation,
this area was once an important coffee growing area and the hills on the approach to the town are still dotted with plantations. Tonight we camp just on the outskirts of the Conservation area, in a region that is home to the Barbaig and Iraqw tribes.
Overnight: Basic Camping

11-Free Day. Optional 4×4 excursion to Lake Eyasi or local walk to Gibbs Farm
Today you have the option of heading into the Great Rift valley, driving along dusty tracks to Mangola village at Lake Eyasi, home to one of the Datoga families. They are pastoral like the Maasai and grow crops such as maize and collect honey. The women traditionally tattoo a circle of dots around their eyes, usually when they are teenagers. The Maasai call these people Mangati, the Feared Ones though they are actually very friendly and welcoming to visitors. We’ll also head out into the bush with our local guide in search of the Hadzabi Bushmen, transient people living in small family groups. The men hunt with bows and arrows, whilst the women will gather roots, berries and honey or beg maize from their neighbours, the Datoga. There are only 1000 or so of these true hunter-gatherers left in East Africa. Alternatively, you may like to take a walk in the local area around Karatu to Gibb’s Farm. This is a working farm built in 1929 and located on the forested slopes of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This ecofriendly farm grows organic coffee, organic fuit and vegetables, flowers and herbs, has a tree nursery and a working dairy and pig farm. En route we may have the opportunity of visiting a local market, a local artist, a wood carver, a traditional wedding dress maker and a distillery depending on what is available on the day.
Overnight: Basic Camping

12-Drive to Tarangire; Afternoon game drive
Travelling via Makunyi today we head for the Tarangire National Park, which derives its name from the Tarangire River flowing through its expansive landscapes. Lying to the southeast of Lake Manyara this is one of Tanzania’s lesser known parks and one of its most striking features are the majestic old baobab trees whose massive silvery trunks and gourd-like fruits dominate the skyline. Tarangire has the greatest concentration of wildlife outside of the Serengeti Ecosystem and is part of a much larger ecosystem that extends further south into the Maasai Steppes. Here we can find vast herds of elephants and unprecedented numbers of birds, attracted by the permanent water sources. This is also home to the shy fringed eared oryx and the gerenuk antelope, a species not seen in other parks and during our game drive this afternoon we will hopefully catch sight of some of this abundant wildlife.
Overnight: Basic Camping

13-Morning game drive. Drive to Arusha
This morning we will take a final opportunity to have a short game drive on our exit from the park before making our way back to Arusha where the tour ends. Depending on the schedule of your flights, you may want to explore the small town of Arusha independently or buy the last souvenirs in the market.

Tour includes

12 Breakfast
13 Lunch
12 Dinner
11 nights Basic Camping
1 night Basic Hotel
Tour Staff:
Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader, Cook
Group Size:
Generally 10 – 16

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explore holidaysExplore have been running small group adventure holidays throughout the world since 1981 and have a vast array of experience, knowledge and well established close personal contacts in all the countries in which they operate, which makes them stand out as one of the most trusted adventure tour operators in the UK.

They are passionate about what they do, and above all, simply love nothing more than to travel. The founder directors ran overland trips through Asia, Africa and the Americas in the 1960s and 70s prior to setting up the company, and were determined that the spirit of adventure that was such an important part of those early pioneering days, should continue to play key role as part of the driving ethos of Explore.

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