Image by Harshil Gudka

Samburu GR, Ol Pejeta, Aberdares NP & Lake Nakuru NP, Kenya

Kenya's Neglected North

£3,395 pp sharing

At a Glance

Dates: August 18th - August 28th, 2022

Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.

Prices: £3,395 pp sharing (with a £995 single supplement)​, excluding international flights.

In a sentence: Escape the crowds and see a different side of Kenya in this trip revealing the highlights of Kenya's quiet northern reaches.

Overview

Kenya is probably the single biggest destination country for safaris in Africa, and with good reason. The natural riches of this beautiful country run deep, ranging from the incredible spectacle of the migration in the Masai Mara to the arid savannas of Ishaqbini towards the Somali border. Most visitors head south from Nairobi, fixated on the Mara and its surrounding conservancies, but those 'in the know' instead look north. Here, crowds are rare and the wildlife is hugely rewarding.

This tour takes in four reserves in seven nights, revealing the wildlife highlights of each area. The jewel in the crown of Northern Kenya must be Samburu Game Reserve, a wildlife destination of great standing and perhaps the finest reserve for Leopard sightings in all of East Africa. Herds of Bush Elephant descend on the Ewaso Ngiro River each evening, and visitors may also encounter Lion, Cheetah and even African Wild Dog. Samburu is particularly special, though, as it is home to a number of dry-country species hardly ever seen elsewhere on the safari circuit, including Gerenuk, Beisa Oryx, Desert Warthog, Reticulated Giraffe, Grevy's Zebra and Somali Ostrich.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a conservation success story, largely due to the hard work of NGO Fauna and Flora International. This conservancy is famed for hosting the last two Northern White Rhinos in the world, under 24/7 armed guard, as well as a sanctuary for Chimpanzees. Elsewhere in the reserve, the conservancy has the highest predator population in Kenya outside of the Mara, and guests can expect to bump into Leopard, Lion, Cheetah, African Wild Dog and even Striped Hyena. 

Aberdare NP is a real departure from the rest of Kenya, situated at a higher altitude and different biome. Dense forest and rough terrain make game-viewing challenging, but the scenery spectacular. Bush Elephant are usually well-seen, and there are remaining populations of Lion, African Wild Dog and Bongo here.

Lake Nakuru, within easy driving distance of Nairobi, is Kenya's busiest park, but also a rewarding one. Home to Southern White Rhino, tree-climbing Lions and a litany of exciting birdlife, photographic opportunities abound in this bijou reserve.

Itinerary

Day One

Nairobi

On arrival into Nairobi, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and transferred to your hotel (Sarova Stanley or similar). The rest of the day is at leisure.

Day Two

Samburu

This morning we will drive the approximately six hours north to Samburu Game Reserve. Arriving in time for lunch, we will settle into our accommodation (Samburu Simba Lodge) and head out on an evening game drive. We recommend using this first drive to follow the course of the Ewaso Ngiro River, which attracts a great deal of wildlife, including large herds of Bush Elephant, as well as prides of Lion. If lucky, we may encounter some of Samburu's 'Special Five', namely Beisa Oryx, Gerenuk, Grevy's Zebra. Reticulated Giraffe and Somali Ostrich. It is rare to see any of these species whilst on safari, so their presence here in Samburu is a real treat. After our drive, we'll spend our first night in the bush in the beautiful surrounds of our lodge.

Days Three to Four

Samburu & Buffalo Springs

A full day in Samburu will present us with morning and evening game drives in pursuit of the incredible wildlife in this area. Our morning drive will be spent in the dry-country away from the main watercourses in search of Samburu's most famous residents, the beautiful Leopards. As the sun rises, these gorgeous big cats tend to sun themselves in rocky areas, and it is here where we hope to intercept them. These dry-country areas are also likely to hold populations of Cheetah, Lesser Kudu, Beisa Oryx and Reticulated Giraffe, which often makes for incredible game-viewing.

After returning to our lodge for lunch, we will head out once more in pursuit of any species we may have missed to this point. There is a huge variety of game to be seen here, and we can focus on species as the group desires. On day four, we may choose to explore Buffalo Springs, on the other side of the Ewaso Ngiro River, depending on which areas are proving most productive for sightings of big game.

Day Five

Ol Pejeta

We have a final morning game drive in Samburu today to focus on any species (particularly Leopard!) that may have avoided us to this point. After breakfast, we will then depart for the short drive to Ol Pejeta Conservancy. This delightful conservancy is home to an impressive array of wildlife and, after settling into our accommodation (Comfort Garden) we will head out to enjoy what much be one of the highlights of this itinerary - the chance to come face-to-face with the last two remaining Northern White Rhinos on earth. Reintroduced to Ol Pejeta from zoos in Europe, these two females are under 24-hour armed guard, and are docile enough to be approached on foot in their large enclosure. Whilst they are not truly 'living wild', the chance to see these two conservation icons cannot be missed.

After meeting the rhinos, we will head out for an afternoon game drive in Ol Pejeta itself. This conservancy has an impressive density of predators, and visitors might be lucky enough to encounter all three 'big cats' here. There is also a good population of wild Black and (Southern) White Rhino here, making for an excellent game drive.

Day Six

Ol Pejeta

This morning we will make the short trip from our accommodation to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Here, a number of rescued Chimpanzees can be viewed, and visitors can learn about the plight of this wonderful great ape in the wild. After lunch, we will then head out for another game drive in search of the exceptional wildlife in the conservancy.

Day Seven

Laikipia Plateau

It is a short hop across to Laikipia Wilderness Camp this morning, an exclusive camp nestled on a hillside in the depths of the Laikipia Plateau. This sensational property boasts excellent views across to Mt Kenya, as well as an impressive diversity of wildlife. The real stars here are the African Wild Dogs that are present in good numbers - until recently, Laikipia Wilderness was the only area in Kenya where sightings were reliable. Excitingly, there are now also known to be melanistic Leopards here, although sightings are exceedingly rare. We will have the chance to enjoy afternoon and night game drives here today, before enjoying a wonderful meal at this sensational camp.

Day Eight

Aberdares NP

After breakfast, we will drive across to Aberdares NP, a startling contrast to the reserves we have visited so far. At comparatively high altitude, the dense forests of this area are home to Lion, Leopard, African Wild Dog, African Golden Cat, Bush Elephant and the elusive Bongo, although sightings of most species are rarely encountered. Our afternoon will be spent overlooking the waterhole at our accommodation (The Ark Lodge), where herds of Bush Elephant often drink. If desired, we can arrange for you to be alerted through the evening and night should any wildlife come down to the floodlit waterhole in the hours of darkness.

Day Nine

Aberdares NP & Lake Nakuru NP

After another early morning overlooking the waterhole, we will then head across to Lake Nakuru NP, our final destination. After reaching our accommodation at Lake Nakuru Lodge, we will undertake an afternoon game drive around the lake itself. Our key focus will be on the occasional conglomerations of Flamingo that descend on the lake, as well as the significant White and Black Rhino populations here. An added bonus are the tree-climbing Lions that clamber into the branches of fig trees in search of a refreshing breeze, an excellent and entertaining photo opportunity.

Day Ten

Lake Nakuru NP

Today we will have a full day to explore Lake Nakuru - a real highlight is likely to be the towers of extremely rare Rothschild's Giraffe, as well as the snoozing pods of Hippo in the shallows of the lake.

 

Day Eleven

Tour end

We will today transfer back to Nairobi where the tour will end - we recommend flights leaving Nairobi after 13.00.

Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.

Dates and Prices

This tour will run in August 2022, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources. The tour will run from August 18th to August 28th.

The cost of this trip is £3,395 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals (except in Nairobi), accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. All drinks, apart from premium brands, are included. We regret that we must levy a single supplement of £995 for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,400 plus any single supplement must be paid.

Flights and Visas

Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Nairobi at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Nairobi after 15.00 on your return to avoid disruption to your plans.

British nationals do require a visa to enter Kenya. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Kenya will be provided to you upon booking, but generally visas can be acquired upon arrival in Nairobi for a fee of $50 in cash. 

Weather and What to Bring

The weather in Kenya in August is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 31 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 14 degrees Celsius.

A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.

Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.

Safety and Security

This tour does not visit any areas with security concerns at present.

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