Masai Mara & Rift Valley Lakes - Kenya
The Mara and Lakes safari is a fantastic journey giving you the best of Kenya's wildlife and iconic landscapes with plenty of time to explore the Great Lakes of the Rift Valley and the World famous Masai Mara. We enjoy the saline waters of Lake Nakuru then travel to the freshwaters of Lake Bogoria and enjoy the amazing aquatic (hippo, crocodiles) and bird life inhabiting the Lakes Naivasha and Baringo. This safari also takes you to the open savannahs of the Maasai Mara, one of Africa’s prime wildlife destinations, where you can experience incredibly close encounters with the Big Five. The safari runs all year round and is a wonderful combination of all types of wildlife encounters from the very big to the very small and also allows you to see the diverse and spectacular landscapes of Kenya.
Parks and Animals
Found on the floor of the Rift Valley, Lake Bogoria is home to many flocks of Flamingo and its waters are often carpeted in pink. The lake is still volcanically active and is lined with spouting geysers and spurting steam and bubbling geothermal pools. The fresh water springs attract many birds and wildlife including the Fish Eagle, Gazelle, Zebra, Baboons and Greater Kudu.
The most Northerly of the Rift Valley Lakes, Lake Baringo is an oasis in the arid plains, with its picturesque islands and encircling ranges that stretch far beyond the eyes view.The lake is fed by two rivers, El Molo and Ol Arabel and has no obvious outlet, despite this it's one of only two freshwater lakes (it is in fact slightly saline, but not enough to bother the crocodiles and hippos that live in it). The surrounding cliffs are home to the Rock Hyrax, who are of interest to watch as they are a favourite meal of the Vereaux's Eagle sometimes seen soaring over the Western shores of the Lake. A birders' paradise, Lake Baringo is home to a huge variety of birds that are found in and around its shores: the Pale and dark phase Gabar Goshawk, Paradise Flycatcher, African Fish Eagles, Marabou Storks, Shikra and White-faced Scops Owl are amongst the regular sightings, while the less common birds that can be seen include Hemprich's Hornbill (along the cliffs), the African Darter and occasionally the African Skimmer. The scrub around the edges of the lake also has some interesting birds -if you can find them! Heuglin's or Three-banded courser is common and you may also be able to see Lichtenstein's Sand-grouse and the Spotted thick-knee.
The lake area is home to the traditional Njemps tribe of Kenya, unique for being the only pastoral community who also fish. There are opportunities for boating where bird watching and hippo spotting are ideal. On Gibraltar Island, another birders' paradise, there are more breeding Goliath herons than anywhere else in East Africa. Bird walks and boat rides are the most popular activities around Lake Baringo and cultural tours to local villages can also be arranged.
Heading further northwest is Lake Nakuru, which was established to protect its stunning flocks of lesser flamingo, which literally turn the lakeshore pink in color. Lake Nakuru is one of the alkaline Rift Valley lakes populated by up to one million flamingos and one of the great natural spectacles on earth. Lake Nakuru National park is world-renowned as a beacon for ornithologists, scientists and wildlife filmmakers. The park is also home to many larger animals including lions, rhinos, buffalos, baboons.
The beautiful deep-green Lake Naivasha is a fresh water lake fringed by thick papyrus and forest. The Lake supports a diverse water-bird community. It provides a diverse habitat for a variety of mammals and fish such as tilapia, black bass, and Cray fish. Among the birds that can be spotted here are Cormorants, Warblers, Black Herons, Grey-backed Fiscal, and the Fish Eagle.
Nearby is Hell’s Gate National Park, which is famous for its massive cliffs and hot springs and is home to a variety of bird and wildlife. Unlike Kenya’s other National Parks, walking and biking is permitted here, making it ideal for the adventurous at heart. The more energetic can also hike up the spectacular volcano Mt Longonot, which provides a fulfilling hike along the crater, making it one of the most beautiful day hikes in East Africa.
The Masai Mara
The Masai Mara fulfils the dreams of any visitor searching for an amazing safari experience. The iconic African landscape – large endless plains dotted with picturesque acacia trees - all of which is home to cheetah, leopard, large prides of lions, elephants, giraffe, hyena, huge Nile crocodiles, frolicking hippos and many other species including the Big 5. Wildlife viewing in the Mara is fantastic all year round, and from August to October it is the site of one of the most spectacular wildlife experiences on earth - the annual migration of close to two million wildebeest and zebra following the seasonal rains in a quest for greener pastures. During these months, you might be lucky enough to catch a dramatic river crossing, as these animals swim for their lives across the crocodile-infested Mara River. In addition to exciting game drives the conservation areas surrounding the Masai Mara also offer the opportunity for beautiful bush walks and visits to Masai villages.
Activities and Highlights
• Hot springs
• Amazing and countless Flamingoes
• Diverse bird and wildlife including Fish Eagle, Gazelle, Zebra, Baboons and Greater Kudu
• Sheer variety of birdlife, birdwatching and bird walks
• Boat rides
• Cultural tours to local villages
• Crocodiles and hippos
• Countless Flamingoes and other water birds at the Lake
• Game drive – game include: Lions, Zebras, Giraffe, Warthog, Rhino
• Great views of the hippos wallowing in the lake
• Visit historic home of Joy Adamson and see the local conservation projects
• Boat rides on the lake
• Great views of the hippos wallowing in the lake
• Biking and hiking at Hells Gate National Park
• Exciting game drives and close encounters with wildlife – including the Big 5
• Crocodiles and hippos at the Mara River
• Bush walks
• Maasai cultural village visits
Dates and Itinerary
We run trips to the Mara at all times of year but the period from July to October is especially popular as it pays host to the great migration.
All the safari's listed on the website are our most popular safari itineraries. However, we can tailor make a safari to suit your needs.. Whether that means joining one our our standard advertised trips and up-grading your accommodation and adding a couple of extra days in a different Game Reserve at the end of the trip or building a personal safari itinerary from scratch, our experienced staff will be able to help and advise.
Individuals, couples and groups, such as families, charities or clubs can easily create their own trip in the Booking Section and personalise any details according to their preference. The Booking Page becomes a live trip summary for any number of people in a group, and it allows our staff in Kenya to monitor the arrangements. The Booking Page also allows you to add your flights and personal arrangements, such as your dietary requirements or medical history.
|1||3- 4 hours||Depart Nairobi for Lake Bogoria through the Rift Valley and stop over at Lake Bogoria for a game drive, a picnic and view its hot springs. We proceed on to Lake Baringo for the night (30-40min).|
|2||1.5 hours||Early morning boat trip in Lake Baringo to see the famous African Fish Eagle dive for its food as well as pelicans, cormorants and herons. Crocodile and hippo are also a common sight. Scenic drive and overnight at Nakuru.|
|3||1 hour||Fll day game drive in Lake Nakuru, home to millions of flamingoes and the rare white and black rhino. Lunch at baboon cliff, a good spot to view the entire park. Drive to Naivasha.|
|4||Early norning boat trip on Lake Naivasha. Visit hell's Gate National Park, an exciting adventurous park where yu can cycle or walk among the herds of plains game. Wind down the day at the famoue Elsamere Centre of Born Free Fame.|
|5||5 hours||Depart Naivasha for Masai Mara. This is the perfect place to spot the Big 5 on your evning game drive.|
|6||Full Day game drive, take a guided walk to the Mara River to view hippopotamus and crocodiles.|
|7||6-7hours||Early morning game drive and visit as Maasai cultural village before departure to Nairobi.|
Masai Mara & Rift Valley Lakes cost: £1,295.00
- Safari vehicle (with pop up roof for game viewing) including fuel
- Driver & Guide/Chef
- Park entry fees
- Boat trip on Lake Baringo and Lake Naivasha,and visit to Elsamere
- Visit to traditional Masai Village in the Mara (optional)
- All meals prepared by our staff and bottled water throughout the safari
- Accommodation in safari tents, either permanent camps on-site or in our own safari cottage tents which accommodate two people very comfortably
- UK/Kenya Administration and Staff Support
- All activities in the itinerary
- Return flight to Nairobi.
- Accommodation outside of the safari itinerary
- Visa/Travel Insurance
- Travel vaccinations.
- Additional hard / soft drinks
- Personal gratuities and tips
Cost of Add-Ons and Some Optional Extras
City Tour In Nairobi: £20.00
Nairobi is a vibrant city with no shortage of good restaurants and bars, souvenir shops and local tourist attractions. We can offer a programme to suit your needs and advise on areas to be avoided. Accommodation We have rooms at our Nairobi Guest House. Room only is £10, B&B is £15, half board is £20 and full board is £30 per night.
Masai Mara Balloon Trip: £312.00
Embark on 1 hour balloon ride over the Mara plains to enjoy magnificent birds’ eye view of the wild game in this reserve. After an hour of spectacular views, you will oland to the welcome of a sumptuous breakfast in the wild.Weather permitting, this is a wonderful way to dicover the magic of the Mara from a different perspective and is ideally taken on the 2nd or 3rd day of your safari.
We recommend that you take out holiday insurance after you have made your booking, in order to cover cancellation due to illness or injury. Your travel insurance should have general holiday cover for this safari but please do check with your insurers to make sure you are adequately covered.
Integral to our business model is the principle that we provide full time salaries and benefits to our core staff in Kenya, in order to prevent the tactic of skimming budgets and reducing variable costs (such as staff wages). We avoid paying ‘per trip’ to an outsourced agency and not having a contract which defines issues such as workers conditions. This represents a long term commitment and involves a strategic plan of investment for training, equipment and the usual benefits one would find in the work place.
We practice a responsible policy towards the environment, waste management and water usage and follow guidelines set in place by Kenya Wildlife Service to ensure minimal impact on the fragile environments of the National Parks and Game Reserves.
A safari with Adventure Alternative directly benefits Moving Mountains Kenya and the projects it runs, because Adventure Alternative underwrites the administrative cost of running the charity.
Adventure Alternative Kenya is a registered Tour Operator. We provide training, equipment and insurance to our staff and educational grants to other students who are coming through Moving Mountains to gain qualifications in specific areas of tourism. All staff on safari will receive an additional daily allowance for food and accommodation which is not deducted from their monthly salary.
Type of Terrain
Outside the National Parks the majority of roads around Kenya have improved dramatically and although very far from being perfect there are nowhere near as many potholes as you would have experienced previously. Animals crossing, police check points and speed bumps are all common across Kenya but they shouldn’t provide too much of a delay. Getting out of Nairobi during rush hour can be a frustrating experience so best to start as early as possible to avoid the worst of it.
Roads to the Maasai Mara are not of a high standard and you should be aware that to drive on these roads sometimes requires a style of driving that will not be common anywhere else particularly on sections that are not tarmac! These sections need to be tackled at a steady speed to avoid damage to vehicle suspension and the driver will drive to avoid potholes and obvious obstacles.
Adventure Alternative Support
Adventure Alternative will provide staff, vehicles, comfortable walk in safari tents, bedding and cooking/safari equipment.
We prefer everyone to have a day in Nairobi before your safari itinerary starts so that you can meet your safari team and receive a briefing before the start of the safari (though we also understand that this is sometimes not possible due to other commitments/time restraints, in which case we will endeavour to answer all your queries before travelling to Kenya). You will also have email access and/or Skype with the Kenyan staff before you leave home.
The briefing is also a chance for you to get to know your driver and guide and discuss any last minute queries that you may have. It will help to improve the overall standard of your safari and ensure that you know exactly what to expect.
The following is a list of points should be discussed during this briefing:
• Safari Itinerary - departure times, journey times, comprehensive details on the standard of accommodation, standard of roads on the way to and inside the different National Parks visited, maps of the areas you will visit and details on the cultural history of area’s visited
• Costs and availability of optional extras that may be available during safari (for example - visits to Cultural Villages/Centres, use of swimming pools, walking safaris inside National Parks, extra bicycle hire or hot air balloon trips)
• Pre-trip information on the variety of animals/flora & fauna to expect
• Brief history of the area’s to be visited, the local tribes and culture
• Special dietary requirements
• Clothing and personal equipment that is suitable
• Question and answer time for you to ask any queries that you may have
The golden rule here is to pack as lightly as possible. Lots of unnecessary baggage will only reduce your space and comfort inside the vehicle, although when you get to the campsite it will be removed and put inside the tents.
The following should give you a good idea as to what is required; clothing should help you blend in to the environment, loud colours are not a good idea:
- Selection of short & long sleeved shirts shorts and trousers. Remember the best way to avoid getting a bite in the evening is to cover up. Include a jacket or light fleece for the evenings and a wide brimmed safari hat.
- Shoes should be comfortable trainers/shoes and a pair of sandals. You will need some type of hiking or safari boot if you plan on any walking safaris.
- Binoculars and camera plus accessories
- A small day pack to contain daily items, including small personal first-aid such as aftersun lotion, plasters and headache tablets, sunglasses and sunscreen
- African/Kenya Guide Book
- Money belt
- Torch (important on camping/budget safari)
- Water bottle (we will supply clean water)
- Insect Repellent
Links to Retailers
Graham Tiso - Stores in Northern Ireland and Scotland - www.tiso.com
Blacks - Stores across the UK - www.blacks.co.uk
Cotswold - Stores across the UK - www.cotswoldoutdoor.com
53 Degrees North - Stores in Ireland - www.53degreesnorth.ie
Online Outdoor store - www.facewest.co.uk
- We offer small scale, authentic safaris, which can also be tailormade.
- All our guides and safari staff are professionally trained and have years of proven experience We do not contract out our trips, we employ full time staff, offering job security and good benefits, and we are continually improving our quality service year on year.
- We are passionate about responsible tourism and our company supports sustainable development in Tanzania and Kenya in a real way.
- Adventure Alternative underwrites the charity Moving Mountains.
- Financial security guaranteed as we are AITO bonded.
- We are members on Interhealth which gives you access to pre-trip health information and on-site assistance by phone in the event of an emergency.
- Our staff only work for Adventure Alternative.