Day 1 – 3 & 10: The Emakoko, Nairobi National Park
Day 3 – 7: Alex Walker’s Serian “The Original”, Maasai Mara
Day 7 – 10: Lewa Wilderness, Lewa Conservancy
Welcome to Nairobi National Park, an island of incredible flora and fauna surrounded by a sea of humanity. Nowhere in the world is there a National Park of this magnitude, home to some of the most endangered species on the planet, next to a capital city. Where on earth can you land on an international flight and be amongst four of the big five in less than half an hour of clearing customs.
Nairobi is the gateway to the safari world, and what better place to arrive than in this incredible city and enjoy a wilderness that has been set aside by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta way back in 1946. This is Kenya’s first national park, and one of the first protected areas set aside for wildlife in the world.
The park is teaming with game and incredible birds, having boasted one of the highest world bird counts of a capital city in one day. There are over 400 species of birds in the park along with 80 species of mammal, over 40 different reptiles and amphibians and well over 500 tree and plant species. It is an extraordinary space!
The park is not only famous for its age, but also, and most importantly the hugely successful Black Rhino population with well over 80 Black Rhino and more than 10 White Rhino. The park is just under 120 Square Kilometres which makes it one of the largest Black Rhino populations in the world per square kilometre. The park Rhinos have been relocated to different areas in the country and the Black Rhino program is one of the most successful in Africa.
From other members of the Big 5, the park has over 30 adult resident Lions that roam the plains, and 10 resident Leopard which are being seen more frequently. Recently a female Cheetah with her three cubs have moved into the park and are seen on regular occasions in The Emakoko area.
Any visitors to Kenya and in fact East Africa MUST visit Nairobi National Park to not only support the incredible conservation work in the park, but also to enjoy the amazing views!
The Emakoko allows people to start and finish their safari in the wildlife environment they have traveled so far to enjoy. Within 15 minutes of clearing customs you can be viewing game in Nairobi National Park. The only “transfer” delays likely to be encountered en route to or from The Emakoko are the natural pauses to watch a pride of lions or waiting for a rhino or journey of giraffe to cross the road.
The Emakoko is a boutique lodge uniquely positioned on the edge of the Nairobi National Park. It is located a short 45 minute drive from either of Nairobi’s airports. The drive through the park itself, with its beautiful scenery and abundance of plains game is a superb way to start any East African safari. What better way to start a holiday by supporting the conservation of this unique area and in particular, by supporting the endangered black rhino which are prolific in this park.
With only ten rooms The Emakoko offers an exclusive and personal environment. Five rooms are situated at the main level and five have been built into the cliff face higher up. The climb to the upper rooms is worth it for the spectacular views, but if you do not fancy the climb you can always jump onto the funicular lift. The room designs and interiors are designed for comfort, from huge, luxurious beds to the black-out curtains. Each room has its own private veranda and a soaking tub.
The Emakoko has recently opened a Private House. The house has two ensuite bedrooms with a shared living / dining area. It also has its own pool and is situated on the upper level with great views over Nairobi National Park.
The Nairobi National Park, despite its proximity to the capital city of Kenya, boasts a spectacular assortment of birds and wildlife, with over 400 species of bird recorded in one day. With an excellent possibility of spotting four of the Big Five, many Nairobi residents find the lodge a perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of city life. By staying at The Emakoko you are directly contributing to the protection and conservation of Nairobi National Park and its wildlife.
Take a private game drive into one of the most unique game parks in the world, Nairobi National Park or visit the communities that border it. Otherwise an excursion into Nairobi to visit the David Sheldrick wildlife trust, the giraffe centre, or the local shops is also possible.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Founded in 1977 by Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE, in memory of her late husband, famous naturalist and founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park, David Leslie William Sheldrick MBE, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust claims a rich and deeply rooted family history in wildlife and conservation. The Nairobi Nursery is open between 11am-12pm to the public, to give people the opportunity to meet these amazing creatures. Entry fees are a donation to the Trust.
The Giraffe Centre is the creation of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (A.F.E.W. Kenya), a Kenyan non-profit organisation. The main purpose is to educate Kenyan school children and youth on their country’s wildlife and environment, as well as give local and international visitors an opportunity to come into close contact with the world’s tallest species, the giraffe. The centre is home to the endangered Rosthchilds Giraffe and visitors have the opportunity to get up close and personal with them!
Karen Blixen Museum
Karen Blixen Museum was once the centre piece of a farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills owned by Danish Author Karen and her Swedish Husband, Baron Bror von Blixen Fincke. Located 10km from the city centre, the Museum belongs to a different time period in the history of Kenya. The farm house gained international fame with the release of the movie ‘Out of Africa’ an Oscar winning film based on Karen’s an autobiography by the same title.
There are a variety of different shopping areas all over Nairobi. The most popular area is in Karen where you can find Utumanduni, House of Treasures and Langata Link Shops.
Utumanduni is an emporium of handcrafted artefacts, fashion, accessories, homeware, beauty products, antiques and more, Utamaduni is a one-stop shop for exquisite products proudly made here in Kenya and across the African continent. Choosing to buy an item online or in-store, you are choosing to support small businesses, grassroots organisations and vulnerable communities.
Nairobi’s culinary scene has been on an upward trajectory in recent years, with new eateries, cafes, and bars popping up almost weekly. A metropolitan city with a diverse restaurant culture, Nairobi’s best dining experiences run from roadside food stalls to five-star dining establishments. Don’t miss local specialities such as nyama choma (grilled meat, usually goat) and ugali, not to mention African-inspired gourmet burgers! Nairobi’s beautiful year-round weather means this is a prime destination for al fresco dining on rooftops, balconies, and gardens.
The most popular restaurants include The Talisman, Embark, Tamarind Nairobi, The Haandi (also with a London branch) and for the meat eaters out there – the world famous Carnivore is a must dine!
The Mara (as it is affectionately known) covers 1510 km2 (583 mi2) and is widely considered to be Africa’s greatest reserve. The backdrop of the Siria escarpment in the west overlooks sweeping savannas, riverine woodlands, and forests on a deceptively flat landscape that extends eastwards towards the Sekenani Hills and northwards towards the Aitong Hills. The Mara is in essence the northern extension of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem and plays host to one of nature’s greatest phenomenons, the Great Wildebeest Migration.
Because of the quality of wildlife viewing, the Mara has for generations been the setting for hundreds of wildlife documentaries, including Disney’s African Cats, and the BBC’s Big Cat Diaries and Planet Earth. It is a wildlife photographer’s paradise and every year visitors come to capture the spectacular wildlife. The reserve and its conservancies contain some of the highest densities of predators in Africa and this only increases as nomads and vagrants follow the huge herds back and forth through this ecosystem during the seasonal wildebeest migration.
Serian was the first of Alex’s camps, and it perfectly captures the essence of its name: meaning ‘peaceful, calm, serene’ in the Maasai language, it was designed to be a retreat from the bustle of contemporary life, and a chance to experience untamed Africa in traditional tented splendour. It lies in the private Mara North Conservancy, and the beauty of this location is that only 10 other camps have access to it – so the feeling of having your own personal piece of Africa is a luxury that Serian Camp has in spades.
The thatched mess area has a stunning view over the Mara River and the Siria escarpment, and is the perfect spot to share a sundowner and stories of the dwindling day. Join Adrian and Roisin by the fireside, and watch as the stars take over the sky. Comfy furniture, smooth wooden decks and an indoor fireplace give a warm feeling of home away from home – and the idea is to treat it like one: so sit back, put up your feet and succumb to the chilled ambiance and good company that constitutes Serian’s nightlife.
Serian consists of four vast marquees perched on beautiful hardwood decking. Each is unique in its own way, but all are furnished with elegant simplicity, complemented by countless thoughtful little personal touches. The beautiful bush bathrooms offer views over the river valley as you soak in your tub, and this openness simulates the delicious sensation of being outdoors. Airy and spacious, they include a shower as well as an enormous bath, twin basins, and a flushing toilet.
Serian’s family suite consists of two separate sleeping tents, joined by a communal living area. The beds can be configured to doubles or twins, and each tent has its own bathroom, ensuring both proximity and privacy. The beautiful bush bathrooms offer views over the river valley as you soak in your tub, and this openness simulates the delicious sensation of being outdoors. Airy and spacious, they include a shower as well as an enormous bath, twin basins, and a flushing toilet.
Serian’s tree house, ‘The Nest’, is perched out on a limb in a lone Warburgia tree overlooking the Mara River, a mere meander away from Serian “The Original” and Ngare Serian. With two double nest-shaped beds, plus space for a couple more bedrolls, it can work either as an intrepid sleepover for the adventurer wanting to engage their senses, or a means for a family to realise that inner-child dream of living in a tree-house… This special little spot will add an extra element to your safari.
The cornerstone of a safari experience at Serian is that each group has their own open-top safari vehicle, and their own dedicated guide and spotter. The freedom this grants you is key to getting the most out of your stay: go where the day takes you, without the limitations of fixed schedules, or fitting in with other peoples’ plans. Nothing but personal desire need dictate what you do.
Serian’s guides and spotters are intimately familiar with these special places, so they know all its secrets and the ways the animals interact with it, from the subtle changes of the seasons, to the stages of an animals lifecycle, to the flora that sustains it all – they are the key that can unlock it all for you.
Walking safaris epitomise the golden chance to get away from the trails and beaten tracks, and immerse in the environment in a way that the noise and speed of vehicles don’t permit. Once you slow down, there’s a whole world that you never noticed before. The beauty of walking is that it engenders an appreciation of an ecosystem’s sheer perfection: every tiny element has its place, and plays its role. At Serian, walking is done in a private conservation area – a strictly no-vehicle zone that no one else has access to. Here, you are likely to have close encounters with elephant, buffalo, hippo as well as more rare species.
Fly camping, night drives, and hot air balloon safaris are also possible.
Lewa is a 45,000 acre private game ranch located 30 miles north of the equator at the foothills of Mt. Kenya, and is home to the world famous Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. There are very few private houses and camps on the reserve so game viewing is as exclusive as it can get. The area is probably one of the best in Africa for viewing rhinos. The reserve not only has Big 5 but the largest population of the rare Grevy’s zebra as well other rare northern species. There are many activities to engage in, including horseback riding, scenic flights, night drives, walking safaris, camel riding, and photographic hides.
The conservancy is a groundbreaking example of conservation in action and community participation. The family who started it, the Craigs, has been instrumental in educating and assisting local communities stretching way to the north about the value and benefit of securing land for wildlife. Their approach has included community support projects such as schools, clinics, and water management. Lewa is also the setting for the Lewa Marathon, a notorious run on dirt trails amongst herds of wild animals.
Situated on the edge of one of Kenya’s most private wildlife and environmental conservation projects, the wildlife-rich Lewa provides guests a home-away-from-home experience that’s hard to find these days. When you arrive at Lewa Wilderness, you’ll immediately feel like you’re with family. Just nine exclusive rooms dot the Lewa Wilderness landscape. Six cottages are tucked into the hillside overlooking the Eastern Marania Valley, plus a further three garden cottages that are cozy yet expansive are set amongst the beautiful lawn.
As a guest at Lewa Wilderness, you are automatically supporting the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, renowned both for its pioneering conservation initiatives as well as for its successful community and education programs.
These are the original rooms built by David and Delia Craig when they started the lodge. They are the cottages closest to the main house and living areas, and each consists of two en-suite bedrooms joined by a comfortable sitting area with a bar and cosy fireplace. The three garden cottages are exceptionally spacious and with recent renovations, bright and sunny, perfect for families and also those who do not wish to be too far from the main areas.
There are six individual hillside cottages, each with a unique layout. These cottages were built to capture the stunning views out over the valley and the sound of the river below where elephant, giraffe, rhino, zebra and more all come to drink. Each cottage has en-suite facilities, a cosy sitting area and fireplace, and a private outdoor verandah where one can enjoy a morning coffee whilst watching the sunrise – as well as a private dinner.
Lewa Wilderness is the hub of all activities on Lewa; there is an endless list of activities on offer, ranging from the traditional game viewing vehicles (they’ve recently converted one of our Land¬cruisers to be 100% electric), to guided walks and breathtaking scenic flights in a retro yellow WACO bi-plane, to unforgettable horse riding safaris for all ages and levels; there is even camel riding and fly camping.
Day trips are available to visit the local community enhancement projects. For the more active, guests can go running in the wild with a Maasai guide or play a few games of tennis before relaxing by the salt-water swimming pool – often with the best game viewing.
Safari on Horseback
For the more advanced riders, spend a night out under the stars with the horses! Leave the lodge behind and experience the magic of Lewa from a whole new perspective. Lewa is a private 62,000 acre conservancy, containing a variation of terrain. Being on the horses allows you to canter across the plains and cross down in to the valleys where no car can go. The campsite is simple but provides everything that you need after an action-packed day of riding. The camp is run by a team of Maasai who will cook for you over an open fire and ensure your mosquito dome tents are set up in the best locations for star gazing.
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