At a Glance
Dates: July 30th - August 13th, 2022
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £10,550 pp sharing (with a £1,500 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, the Shimba Hills, Arabuko-Sokoke 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 & Shimba Hills
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 to one of Kenya's hidden gems, the Shimba Hills. This little-frequented reserve is best known to many as being home to Kenya's last remaining sable antelope, a particularly attractive species. But there is plenty more to see, including a booming population of elephant, several species of galago and, unusually in 2021, lions! We will overnight in the park at a comfortable lodge.
We have a morning drive in Shimba today, before heading to a beautiful section of coastal forest, Arabuko-Sokoke. An evening walk or drive in the forest is a great introduction to the gentle and thoroughly enjoyable game-viewing and birding here, before we return to Watamu where we spend the night.
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 to relax at our hotel, before returning for an evening walk or drive.
We may have time for a final morning walk in Arabuko-Sokoke today to spot any endemics we have missed so far. It is then a relatively long drive this afternoon to Tsavo East, arriving at Voi Gate and our accommodation before nightfall. If time permits, our first evening drive may reveal our first lions, leopard, cheetah or wild dog of the trip.
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.
Days Seven to Eight
We have two full days 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, set in a luxurious private concession just outside the park), 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.
It is undoubtedly a travelling day today, as we fly north to Nairobi and south to the Mara.! We will overnight in Naboisho, a conservancy just to the north of the Mara itself.
Days Twelve to Fourteen
Masai Mara NR & Naboisho Conservancy
Over the next three days, we base ourselves deep within Naboisho Conservancy. This community-owned land offers us the best of both worlds, with a real sense of seclusion and exclusivity, but access within just an hour or so to the heart of the Masai Mara and the herds associated with the Great Migration. Enjoying the spectacle of tens of thousands of wildebeest and other grazers streaming across the Mara River is hard to beat, even with the growing crowds watching from the banks, and the concentration of predators in the reserve itself can be remarkable. In fact it is not uncommon to see lion, leopard, cheetah and serval in just one day, in addition to rhino, elephant and much more. At the end of each day, we have the privilege of retiring to the quiet and relaxed conservancy, where night drives are also available.
Sadly we must say goodbye to this incredible area today and return to Nairobi on an early morning flight. Your tour ends on arrival at Nairobi Wilson, but we are happy to make onward arrangements on request.
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 2023, 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 30th to August 13th.
The cost of this trip is £10,550 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 £1,500 single supplement for this trip, which will be waived should you share with another single traveller.. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £4,250 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.