At a Glance
Dates: July 31st - August 12th, 2022
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £4,895 pp sharing (with a £995 single supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: A chance to see the jewel in Kenya's crown, as well as the underappreciated gems of Tsavo and Amboseli.
Kenya must be responsible for starting more love affairs with the bush than any other country. With reserves and national parks filled with game, it has something to appeal to everyone. This tour of southern Kenya allows visitors to take in the spectacle of the Great Migration in the Masai Mara, with our visit timed to coincide with the Wildebeest and Zebra streaming across the Mara River. But we also take in two less-visited, but no less spectacular, national parks, Amboseli and Tsavo West.
Amboseli is a small park which packs a real punch. Lacking the populations of big cats that the Masai Mara boasts, it instead offers exceptional Elephant viewing, as these gentle giants are drawn in by the marsh at the centre of the park. Perhaps most impressive, though, is the astonishing view of Mt Kilimanjaro across the border in Tanzania, a backdrop that makes from excellent photos. If we're lucky we may even come across Craig, one of the last remaining 'Big Tuskers' in Kenya.
Tsavo East is a world away from Amboseli. Sprawling and dry, this is a true wilderness - game densities are lower than in some destinations, but sightings are often highly rewarding. Leopard, Cheetah and African Wild Dog are all encountered fairly often and dry-country species such as Lesser Kudu and Fringe-Eared Oryx are well-represented. Visitors may even see the exceptionally rare Hirola, a real treat.
Mombasa & Arabuko-Sokoke
On arrival into Mombasa, you will be met by your local guide and Pictus Safaris representative and transferred to a local hotel for lunch. Please note that we will pick clients up in Mombasa in the morning, so we can arrange accommodation in Mombasa for the previous night if desired.
After lunch, we will drive for approximately two and half hours north to Arabuko-Sokoke, a pristine coastal forest not often visited on the traditional safari route. We will check in to a resort hotel not far from the forest, where we are sure you will want to freshen up after a long journey! A brief drive to the forest may be possible this evening, or you may choose to relax at the hotel ahead of a busy schedule to come.
Arabuko-Sokoke & Shimba Hills
An early morning start will allow us to get to the forest at first light today, vital for good wildlife-watching. The Arabuko-Sokoke is home to a variety of extremely rare or endemic species, including the Golden-Rumped Elephant Shrew, Aders' Duiker and Sokoke Dog Mongoose. Whilst these species may not have the 'sex appeal' of a Lion or Leopard, they are much more special! We will use the services of a local expert to guide us through the forest on foot, quietly searching for these hidden gems.
As the heat of the day increases, we will head out of the forest and transfer south along the coast to another rarely-visited corner of Kenya - the Shimba Hills. We won't be able to access the hills this evening due to our long drive, but after negotiating the bustling Ukunda ferry, you will probably be glad to settle into your excellent accommodation at Diani Beach.
Shimba Hills & Tsavo East
We begin today with a game drive into the Shimba Hills, the only location in Kenya where we can see the stunning Sable Antelope - a real Pictus Safaris favourite! The hills are also home to an improbably large population of Bush Elephant, many of which we are likely to encounter today - be sure to take plenty of photographs!
It is a long drive this afternoon to Tsavo East, arriving at Voi Gate and our accommodation before nightfall.
Today we have a full day in Tsavo East, with two game drives available to explore the area. Lions and Leopards may be our key target today, as well as dry-country species including Lesser Kudu and Aardwolf. Game densities in Tsavo are lower than in the Masai Mara but with hard work and a little luck today could provide some magical sightings. This national park is also an excellent chance we will find Hirola in Tsavo East, a little-known antelope that was translocated from the Somali border many years ago - this striking mammal is a real specialty here.
After a short morning drive in Tsavo East, we will head to its beautiful sister park Tsavo West today. Covered in characteristic red dust, this other-worldly national park lends itself to incredible photography, stunning sunsets and a true sense of wilderness. We could encounter almost anything on our afternoon drive here, with Leopard, Cheetah and Lion all seen regularly. If very lucky, we may even come across Black Rhino or African Wild Dog in this prehistoric landscape.
We have a full day to explore the vast open spaces of Tsavo West today and there is no telling what we might find. Our focus can shift to adapt the interests of the group, but typically these drives (or optional walks) can focus on anything from Elephant to Serval - even rarities including Caracal and Aardvark pop up here every now and then, so keep your eyes peeled.
After one final morning game drive in the beautiful Tsavo West, we will head west to Amboseli, arriving just in time for lunch. Once we are all settled into our accommodation (Kibo Safari Camp or similar), we will head to the centre of this small national park to take in the Ol Okenya Marsh. This wetland area is a recent formation, with much of its area becoming true marshland in the deluges of the wet seasons in the 1990s. During the dry season, which is in full swing during our visit, the sweet grasses here attract large herds of Elephants. We recommend spending much of this evening quietly watching these numerous herds interact, feed and play, a humbling and awe-inspiring experience.
This morning we will head out on a full-day game drive to explore the entirety of Amboseli. As the heat of the day is just beginning to build, we will make a beeline for Observation Hill, the premier location for views of Mt Kilimanjaro as the mist begins to peel off the highest mountain in Africa. Provided the weather is clear, we should have excellent views across the border to the mountain and, by carefully positioning the vehicle, we may even have Elephants and over game in the foreground, allowing for perfect photographs.
Once we have drunk in this majestic view, we recommend heading to the peripheries of the park where Craig, one of the last remaining 'Big Tuskers' in Kenya tends to reside. Sadly, he lost his fellow tusker, Tim, early in 2020, but even alone Craig is a majestic specimen. As the evening light sets in, we will target Amboseli's predators, including Lion, Leopard and Cheetah, and even smaller cats such as Serval and African Wild Cat that are known to frequent the park.
Masai Mara NR
It is undoubtedly a driving day today, as we head north to Nairobi and south to the Mara. We expect to be driving for over nine hours today, so be prepared for a long trip! We will overnight at Sekenani Camp (or similar) right on the doorstep of the Mara
Days Ten to Twelve
Masai Mara NR
Today we will head directly for the highlight of any Kenyan safari - the Masai Mara. Our first priority is obvious - heading straight for the Mara River. It is here that large herds of Wildebeest and Zebra will be crossing intermittently as a part of the Great Migration. These crossings happen at the same locations on an annual basis, so with a bit of luck and know-how we hope to be able to find a crossing in full flow. The spectacle attracts an array of predators, and Cheetah, Leopard, Lion and Crocodile kills are all possible in the coming days.
Sadly we must say goodbye to this incredible area today and return to Nairobi after a final early morning game drive. Due to the possibility of delays on our return journey, please do not book flights departing before 19.30 today - we can arrange accommodation in Nairobi for an additional cost if desired.
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, as well as coinciding with the height of the Great Migration. The tour will run from July 31st to August 12th.
The cost of this trip is £4,895 per person excl. international flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. All drinks, except water, are excluded. We regret that we must levy a £500 single supplement for this trip, which will be waived should you share with another single traveller.. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £2,000 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 or Mombasa before the tour begins, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Nairobi after 19.30 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 the Kenya in August is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 26 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 12 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
There are currently no security concerns in the areas visited by this tour. However, all Pictus Safaris must be able to evidence appropriate travel insurance prior to travelling with us.
To secure a booking on this fantastic holiday, please fill out the details below.