Samburu to migration Masai Mara
14 days highlight safari
The lovely landscape of Samburu will capture your interest with the rare Grevy Zebra, the beautiful Reticulated Giraffe, Beisa Oryx, Gerenuk and others. In the Aberdare you will find a vegetation you won’t expect in Africa.
The Great Wildebeest migration is not the only highlight on this safari!
From the dry thorn bush savanna in Samburu, to the foot of Mount Kenya, mountain forest, alpine moorland, Great Rift Valley Lake and the famous wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara with its rolling hills covered by grass.
We have over 24 years experience with the Wildebeest migration and take you to the right place at the right time. The movements of the large herds depend on the rains so each year the Great wildebeest migration has a different pattern.
We also tailor-made your safari around the migration depending on the time you wish to travel. If you are a bit adventurous you might like our mobile tented camp on a private campsite on the bank of the Mara River.
From around the second week of February wildebeests give birth in Ndutu and Ngorongoro area. Females synchronize the birth date in a way that almost all calves are born within 3 weeks. This reduces the risk of the individual animal to be taken by predators and the herds can move on again sooner.
From March until June the journey takes wildebeests and zebras north. It is in June or July when the Plain zebras and Western White-bearded wildebeest will cross Sand River which is the border between Masai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania. From here they are heading North, North West and some stay in the Eastern region of the Masai Mara.
The migration is a continuous circle in search of pasture.
During their journey – called the Great migration – to fresh pasture they have to cross Mara River and or Talek River and this is the highlight we will patiently await to witness in the 4 full days you will spend in the Masai Mara Game Reserve.
But it is not only the Great migration that is fascinating – lions, cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyenas have the best time of the year with plenty of food and we might see them hunting or feeding while vultures wait for their share.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is not the largest but for sure the most famous wildlife reserve in Kenya due to the annual migration. The area got protected in 1961 to ensure the migration can continue. Prof. Dr. Bernhard Grzimek showed this in his documentary movie, “The Serengeti shall not die“.
The area covers 1.530 km² and is bordering the Serengeti in the South and is as well surrounded by private conservancies and Maasai pastures.
The plains and the hills are ranging from 1.500 to 2.000 m above sea level. The nights are sometimes pretty cold but at day time temperatures of 20 – 30 degrees Celsius can be measured. Open grass plains interspersed with acacia and desert dates alternate with rivers and their skirting forests. In this beautiful landscape the migration takes place.
Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves are an ecological unit on both sides of the Ewaso Nyiro River. Shaba national reserve is the 3rd and largest and just half an hour away.
All 3 reserves are managed by local people (Samburu and Borana) and not by the Kenya Wildlife Service. But still the rules have strictly to be followed.
These tribes are specialized in keeping goats, sheep and cattle. Up to now they are still partly nomadic to search pastures for their domestic animals. Dromedaries and donkeys carry water and other items.
They live in small round huts and follow the old traditions. At Archer’s Post you have the chance to visit their homes and learn more about their live style.
The Samburu side is hillier than the Buffalo Springs part. Buffalo Springs and as well as Shaba have permanent springs providing water for wild and domestic animals.
The Ewaso Nyiro River is fed by rain in the Aberdares and surrounding areas. Depending on the amount of rain it has different faces. It can be a brown water torrent (in February 2010 it swept away several camps), a gentle flowing shallow river or a dry river bed with rivulets or just sand. The river flows north-east and seeps into the sand never reaching an ocean.
The altitude ranges between 800 und 1.500 m. The temperatures are high at day time and cool down slightly at night. Most rain falls in April/May and less in March, June and October to November. Grass and leaves shoot after the rain and you find colorful flowers all over.
Samburu and Buffalo Springs are very rich in flora and fauna. If you allow yourself to spend 2 to 3 days you will be rewarded with beautiful pictures of animals within a scenic landscape.
Typical inhabitants of this dry northern area are e.g. Beisa Oryx, Gerenuks , Grevy zebras, Reticulated giraffes und Somali ostriches. Beside occur elephants, buffaloes, various antelopes, lions, cheetahs, leopards, mongoose, genet cats, crocodiles, hippos and over 400 species of birds.
Samburu has one of the most exciting campsite! no fence and always animals around from small to huge!
Ol Pejeta Conservancy – from a working cattle ranch during colonial time of Kenya, to a trailblazer of conservation innovation – the story of Ol Pejeta is as enchanting as it is inspirational.
Today, Ol Pejeta is the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, and home to the 2 last remaining northern white rhinos. It is the only place in Kenya where you can see chimpanzees. The sanctuary was established by Jane Goodall to rehabilitate animals rescued from wildlife trade.
At Ol Pejeta you find an extremely high predator density and still they successfully breed the famous Borana cattle. Ol Pejeta also seeks to support the people living around its borders to ensure wildlife conservation translates to better education, healthcare and infrastructure for the next generation of wildlife guardians.
The Aberdare National Park was founded 1950. The hilly park lies in between 1.829 m and 4.001 m (Oldonyo Lesatima) above sea level and covers an area of 767 km². The Aberdare hills stretch over 70 km to end 40 km before Nairobi.
Tectonic forces lifted the earth’s crust 5 to 6 Million ago. years ago and made the Rift valley drop which caused many volcanic eruptions leaving volcanoes behind. Erosion rounded off the peaks for thousands of years and created moorland at 3.000 m.
In the year 1884 Joseph Thomson, a Scottish explorer, named them after the president of the ‘Royal Geographical Society’, Lord Aberdare. The old name Nyandarua, given by the local tribe of the Kikuyu, means drying animal hide, which characterizes the shape of the landscape. In the 1950s the Mau Mau rebellion used the area as hiding places.
Lake Naivasha and Baringo are the only 2 fresh water lakes in the Rift Valley. Lake Naivasha lies at an altitude of 1.890 m and covers currently around 160 km².
Its area has fluctuated a great deal over thousands of years. As Lake Naivasha, Elementaita and Nakuru were one big lake, the outflow went through the Ol Njorowa Gorge in Hell’s Gate National Park. Today Lake Naivasha has no visible outflow, but it is suspected, that there are underground connections between the lakes.
Lake Naivasha area is home of many hippos, antelopes, monkeys, giraffes, zebras and birds.
This safari will reveal the diversity Kenya has to offer! from the Northern special animals to more land and the famous wildebeest migration.
You can follow the Great migration in Kenya or in Tanzania!
Photos of wildlife and migration by Elvira Wolfer
Itinerary: Samburu to migration Masai Mara 14 days highlight safari
Day 1 – Arrival in Nairobi
Upon your arrival in the evening at Jomo Kenyatta international Airport you will be awaited and taken to the hotel outside Nairobi.
Safari Park Hotel, deluxe room, breakfast only – established 1967 with a rich history and a large compound with swimming pool
Day 2 – Nairobi – Samburu National Reserve 300 km, 6 hours
After breakfast your driver/guide will pick you and you start your journey on the Thika Highway towards Mount Kenya. While driving through large corn fields you will hopefully see a clear Mount Kenya before the road descends to the drier area of Samburu.
You will reach the lodge at the bank of Ewaso Nyiro River for late lunch.
Later in the afternoon you will enjoy your first game drive in this beautiful landscape with the Ewaso Nyiro River and its Gallery forest
and the unique hills.
Samburu Lodge, Larsens Camp, Sopa Samburu Lodge, Elephant Bedroom, Samburu River Camp, full board
Days 3 + 4 – Samburu National Reserve
Extended morning and afternoon game drives and lunch in the lodge. During the hot midday you can take a stroll in the compound and look into the river. Maybe you a family of elephants is taking a bath. Or you look for some of the very colourful birds and Red-headed agamas.
The morning game drives will start as soon as you have finished your breakfast. Then you will stay in the bush until it is too hot and animals start seeking shady places. The afternoon game drives are from 4 p.m. to 6 pm. when the park rules say it is time to leave the wilderness to the wild animals.
You surely will search for the special Northern species: Grevy zebra, Reticulated giraffe, Gerenuk, Beisa oryx and Somali ostrich. Lions, leopards and cheetahs are often found and we wish that you find them close by and active. Elephants, Grant gazelles, Impalas and Dikdiks are normally found all over the reserve.
Samburu Lodge, Larsens Camp, Sopa Samburu Lodge, Elephant Bedroom, Samburu River Camp, full board
Day 5 – Samburu – Ol Pejeta Conservancy
On your way out of the Samburu National Reserve you have
time to watch animals spotted before the road takes you up again to the foot of Mount Kenya. For lunch you will have reached the tented lodge inside Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Afternoon game drive to look for Black and White rhinos. If you wish you can book a night game drive at the lodge or
prior with us.
Sweetwaters Tented Lodge, full board
Day 6 – Ol Pejeta Conservancy
The morning game drives are always longer than the afternoon game drives so you have more time to explore the swamps with elephants and
water birds, visit the sad rhino cemetery and maybe you find lions. Leopards are rare to be spotted but you never know one might cross your way.
You will also visit the Chimpanzee orphanage and watch them in their activities.
Sweetwaters Tented Lodge, full board
Day 7 – Ol Pejeta – Aberdare National Park
You have time in the morning to watch wildlife before you are off to Aberdare Country Club at the foot of the Aberdare Range for lunch.
The drive takes about 1.5 hours. Take a stroll in the large compound of the Aberdare Country Club before you are driving for 40 minutes to the Aberdare National Park. After checking in at The Ark Gate you drive through mountain forest and look outfor the impressive Giant forest hogs grazing on clearings.
After checking in at The Ark in the afternoon you will have time to watch Elephants, buffaloes , Bush bucks, Giant forest hogs, spotted Hyenas and other coming to drink, lick salt and graze.
At the bird feeding place on the wooden path Sunis and Genet cats often visit. From the various platforms you can still observe animals at night since strong flood lights are lightening the area.
The Ark, full board
Day 8 Aberdare – Lake Naivasha – crossing Aberdares
In the lower part you are in the mountain forest where you have chances to find one of the large leopards. For sure you will meet many buffalos along the rivers, on clearings and on the road. Then you ascend through bamboo forest where often White-throated monkeys are searching for food. In the next vegetation belt consisting mainly of Hagenia (Rosewood) and Podocarpus trees the Kikuyu black and white Colobus monkeys are at home. Sometimes also elephants wander in this steep terrain and so do buffaloes and bush bucks.
Once you are in the moorland you will visit Chania Falls on foot. A short steep path leads down and you can see the clear water spraying in the light. Elephant bulls, water bucks, bush bucks, mountain reedbucks are at home here and find there food in-between the tussock grass. You will also notice some very lovely flowers related to those in the Swiss Alps and Rocky Mountains.
At a lovely place you will rest and enjoy your picnic lunch.
In the afternoon you exit through Mutubio Gate and descend into the Rift Valley. Then proceed to Lake Naivasha for overnight. Elsamere is the former home of George and Joy Adamson with the lioness Elsa. Have a look at items they were using exhibited in the small museum. Several paintings of Joy Adamson are hanging on the walls.
Elsamere, full board
Day 9 – Lake Naivasha – Masai Mara National Reserve
Early morning you will go for a one hour boat ride to see hippos and water birds. Then start the long journey about 6 hours to Masai Mara Game Reserve. You are moving in Maasai land and you will see their villages and livestock. Please don’t take picture without their consent. For a bit late lunch you will have reached the camp at the bank of Talek River.
Later in the afternoon you explore the area around the camp on a game drive.
Basecamp Explorer or any other camp of your choice, full board
Days 10 -13 Masai Mara National Reserve – Wildebeest migration
Mostly you will undertake full day excursion and have picnic lunch under a shady tree. This allows you to spend a lot of time near the Mara River without stressing back to the camp for lunch. Often the White-bearded wildebeest and zebras cross late morning or in the afternoon. It requires a lot of patience to observe the herds and stick to one which shows intention to cross.
If there is something disturbing them they can keep on moving up and downstream until the pressure is strong enough to make them cross. The danger in the river are large Nile crocodiles and territorial. Lions also know when it is crossing time and tend to hide on the steep banks and in the Orange-leaved croton bushes fringing the river. River crossings are amazing experiences – but we can’t guarantee it.
Basecamp Explorer at Talek River has an ideal location. Game drives can go in any direction making it possible to react to the whereabouts of the herds and also to see different landscapes.
On your way to the Mara River you drive through migrating herds. Where there are so many herbivores, carnivores can’t be far. Lions, cheetahs, leopards have their feasting time of the year! You might be lucky and find them hunting or feeding. Vultures, black-backed jackals and spotted hyenas are then waiting to finish the meal and leave nothing except a few bones behind.
Masai Mara National Reserve is also home to a large variety of antelopes: Eland antelopes are the largest and Dikdiks the smallest. Maasai giraffes tower over the grass land, elephants roam the area and a few Black rhinos live here. Birds of prey are majestic birds and many non birders also like having a look a them. The large Martial eagle can even kill small antelopes but loves guineafowls the most.
Basecamp Explorer, or any other camp of your choice, full board
Day 14 – Masai Mara – Nairobi
It is time to leave Kenya’s beautiful wilderness! On your way out of the Masai Mara you might have some lucky sightings. The drive to Nairobi will take about 5 to 6 hours.
Lunch at the famous Carnivore Restaurant is always a nice place to let the safari pass in your mind again. Then you will be dropped at Four Points by Sheraton where you will have a day room up to 18.00. Here you say good-bye to your driver/guide. A hotel vehicle will take you to the terminal on time.
Who doesn’t like driving long distances has the opportunity to fly from the Masai Mara to Nairobi and also from Nairobi to Samburu.
We wish you a safe journey home and hope you had a wonderful time on your Samburu – migration Masai Mara safari. Kwaheri – good bye and see you again
Kindly note that we don’t indicate prices. The difference between the various lodges is high.
Send your wishes to firstname.lastname@example.org and we gladly get back to you with a tailor-made offer.