Dry Season East Africa, 2023: Kenya

12 Days

Overview

Guided by Jim Heck

July 25 – August 5, 2023

$ 9,995

This classic “Dry Season Safari” allows you to tour Amboseli, Kenya, Tanzania – or all three!  The highlight of the tour is the great wildebeest migration in Kenya’s Maasai Mara and the possibility of witnessing a dramatic river crossing.

Although it is called the “Dry Season Safari,” the reason the million or so wildebeest are in the Mara, now, is precisely because it’s the only place in East Africa’s great big game parks where it’s still raining! The wildebeest are drawn here from all over East Africa, mostly north from the great Serengeti because those areas are now dry as a bone and the grass has stopped growing! Wildebeest eat nothing but grass. So at this time of the year Kenya’s Maasai Mara is the most productive, beautiful and exciting place in all of the continent!

With this safari, you can choose to visit Amboseli, Kenya, Tanzania, or all three.  This page details the itinerary for the Kenyan safari.

The Kenyan safari visits three radically different ecosystems (four if you add Amboseli). The Aberdare is smack dab on the equator but between six and eleven thousand feet high, an unusual and spectacular highland rain forest. The brilliant jungle-like vegetation in a sometimes cold atmosphere gives rise to incredibly beautiful plants, animals and very rare birds. Loisaba in Laikipia is where this highland plateau meets a semi-arid lowland many compare to America’s southwest, but the wildlife here is stunning and extremely rare, including the world’s most beautiful giraffe, rare Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk and other unusual species. Birdlife is outstanding and includes the most colorful species in all of sub-Saharan Africa. Ending in the Mara without question will provide the best game viewing in all of Africa at this time of the year. In addition to the million wildebeest and zebra which have migrated here for the abundant grasses, virtually every other species of big game can be seen from elephant to buffalo. And the Mara has the highest density of all the cats of any park in Africa, now. Add Amboseli and you have Africa’s most magnificent wetland incomparably set literally just under Mt. Kilimanjaro!

And remember that guided by Africa’s legendary Jim Heck, you’ll be introduced to a lot more than just East Africa’s animals. Early man, contemporary politics and fascinating history are all on the agenda!

This page details the Kenya tour.  You can choose to visit Amboseli, Kenya, Tanzania or all three:

2023 Dates Sharing Single Local Air
Amboseli July 22-25 $ 2,770 $ 3,440 $ 0
Kenya July 25-Aug 12 $ 9,995 $ 11,990 $ 820
Tanzania August 5-12 $ 6,890 $ 8,790 $ 1,585

Jim’s been guiding safaris in Tanzania for nearly a half century. His experience and field knowledge is unmatched and his love of showing you this most amazing part of the world cannot be duplicated by anyone else. Join him on this certain trip of a lifetime!

About your guide . . . . JIM HECK

Few people know Africa as well as Jim Heck. For nearly a half century he has worked, lived and guided in Africa. His popular blog, Africa-Answerman, includes investigative journalism of some of Africa’s most critical news stories as well as anecdotes and features of daily African life. His award-winning novel, Chasm Gorge, will soon be followed by a second one, The World by Ole Kulit. His companies have organized safaris into Africa for more than 10,000 visitors including most of the country’s major zoos and conservation organizations. And in 2016 he became the first American to be named an honorary senior elder by Kenya’s Maasai tribe.Jim was the first westerner allowed to leave Addis after the Red Terror; had canoes overturned among crocs and hippos on the Zambezi; been charged by an elephant that he hit with a plate of waldorf salad; lost in the jungles of Cameroun; marooned in the Ituri Forest and rescued by Rhodesian sanction busters; and was among the few outsiders to travel through Uganda during the time of Idi Amin. Jim has never lost a client or fired a gun.

Itinerary

Whenever you arrive at Nairobi’s international Jomo Kenyatta Airport you’ll be personally met and privately transferred into the posh suburb of Karen for your overnight at Hemingway’s Resort. [no meals]
A great day to relax at a fantastic resort and shrug off that jetlag! But Jim also has a full day of sightseeing available for anyone who would like it. There are too many attractions in and around Nairobi to squeeze into a single day, so he’ll feel you out on your preferences. Nearby is the famous Karen Blixen Museum, the set that was used to film Out of Africa and which beautifully portrays colonial life giving Jim the perfect opportunity to tell you something about East Africa’s history. There’s also the famous Giraffe Center, where you can feed the rare Rothschild Giraffe while learning about the exciting DNA research reclassifying this famous animal. The Kazuri Beads Womens’ Cooperative is now a global enterprise, a successful venture by around 100 single Moms to create some of the finest porcelain beads, kitchen cutlery and more and you’ll be able to buy directly from their factory discount store after touring the facility! Further in town is the old Stanley’s Café where the White Mischief colonials gathered on the weekends and enjoyed their Pims No. 3. The center city also has the Kenyatta Mausoleum, Parliament and the Memorial to the terrorist bombing of 1998. Whatever is finally arranged, you’ll likely end the day with surprises and inspiration! Overnight at Hemingway’s Resort. [b- - ]
After a leisurely breakfast and checkout Jim takes you into the city to visit the National Museum. The National Museum is most famous world-wide for its displays and warehousing of early man artifacts and bones. No paleontologist today can further her career without time spent here, for there are more early man items carefully curated and preserved than anywhere else on earth. What is particularly exciting is the small, carefully monitored “Turkana Boy” room with some of the most dramatic original finds of early hominid on display. The museum also houses great examples of Kenya’s many peoples and cultures, as well as the fiberglassed preservation of Ahmed, the largest tusked elephant ever known! This gives Jim the chance to introduce you to the turbulent and widely misunderstood story of elephants before you actually begin to see them in the wild. Time for a quick sandwich and coffee in the Deli before the afternoon drive into the highlands. Arrive in the Aberdare Mountains in time for dinner. Overnight at the Aberdare Country Club. [b-l-d]
The day is spent game viewing in the Aberdare National Park . Jim takes you into the west side entrance so that he can explain some of Kenya’s tea farming since this is the “highlands” where excellent tea is grown. After crossing into the park the beauty of this highland rain forest immediately appears in its gargantuan trees covered with moss and squawking hornbills and other unusual birds. It’s likely you’ll see elephants pretty quickly, along with buffalo and warthog. This enormous park has all the big-game but is important because of its rare monkeys and high altitude birds and antelope. Where Jim actually decides to go will depend upon circumstances at the time but one option is to the very top of the mountain range, where at 11,000' feet there are a number of beautiful waterfalls. You’ll enjoy a picnic during the day, and by the end of the afternoon the safari arrives at The Ark tree hotel. Here the traditional format for game viewing is upended as the animals come to you! The lodge is built over a natural water hole and salt lick. Flood lights which don’t seem to bother the animals come on at dusk and a never-ending parade of Africa unfolds throughout the night. There’s a buzzer you can activate near your bedside to wake you to anything spectacular, but many find it difficult to leave the viewing areas for the sleep which comes so easily in the cold mountain air. [b-l-d]
Game view very early out of the park, then continue through ranching country towards Mt. Kenya, Africa’s second highest mountain. This is one of the most spectacular drives on safari! Round Mt. Kenya through massive wheat and cut flower farms. To the right of the road are the often striking views of the mountains glaciers and far below to the left is the seemingly endless desert that stretches for nearly 300 miles to the Ethiopian border. For the entire morning the safari drives through prime Kenyan ranching country, a high butte area very similar to western Montana or Colorado. But as the safari moves further and further north spectacular changes start to occur as you drop down towards the great desert just to the north. We’ll never actually reach the desert, but there will be some extraordinary views. This area is known as Laikipia and in recent times many of the ranches have converted into tourist properties because of the enormous amount of game – much of it quite rare. We’ll head to one of the furthest north in the area, Loisaba. This is a private reserve of 57,000 acres and we’ll enjoy being the only tourists here! It’s a beautiful, luxury tented camp and most activities are included. Dinner and overnight at Loisaba Tented Camp. [b-l-d]
Jim’s drivers and vehicles will provide game drives and you’ll be searching for some of the rarest and most beautiful game on earth. The Reticulated Giraffe is the most strikingly patterned of all giraffe and found only in these areas of northern Kenya. There are less than 3,000 Grevy’s zebra in the wild and they actually resemble donkeys rather than zebra. The peculiar long-necked antelope, the gerenuk, is found here together with the semi-arid Beisa oryx. But there are many common species like elephant, giraffe, impala and much more including all the cats. Outstanding birds include the magnificent colored bush shrikes and a variety of neon-sparkling starlings and a multitude of fascinating sunbirds. Meals, activities and overnights at Loisaba Tented Camp. [b-l-d]
Another full day to enjoy the area! More game drives are always available, but in addition to game drives the fact that this is a private reserve rather than a national park allows many other activities, including camel rides, horseback riding and fishing. Meals, activities and overnights at Loisaba Tented Camp. [b-l-d]
To get to Kenya’s best game park we must cross mountain ranges, traverse the Great Rift Valley lakes then careen through another large Kenyan tea highlands. It would take days, but we’ll do it in less than a couple hours using private aircraft! You’ll get some spectacular views as you leave the semi-arid northern Laikipia for the lush grasslands of the Maasai Mara! The flights will arrive in the central Maasai Mara around noon and drivers and vehicles from camp will take everyone to check-in and lunch for the first of four full days and nights in Kenya’s best game park! This first camp has a perfect location for the great migration set right along side the great Mara River. After lunch the first game drive in the Mara will follow the river looking not just for the wilde but also the giant crocs which are found here. These great behemoths are among the largest in the world and eat twice annually – when the migration crosses up here to the north starting around July and when it returns south in November! Meals and overnight Entim Camp. [b-l-d]
Another day of game viewing from Entim Camp. Jim will schedule game viewing based on the information gleaned from our drivers and guides. This is the most popular time for Kenya’s best game park because of the great migration. More than a million wildebeest and zebra flow into the park from Tanzania’s Serengeti looking for the nutrient grasses which are dying throughout the rest of East Africa with the onset of the long dry season. It rains almost every other day in the Mara throughout the year, except October and November, so that’s the reason the great herds are found here, now. There’s also a strategic reason for Jim taking you to two different camps. Entim is located at the normal starting location for a number of the river crossings so iconic among wildlife viewing. The second camp further up the river is the normal ending location. This relatively small 20-mile area is where the millions of animals must cross to reach the more nutrient grassland even further north. Of course on their long journey from the southern Serengeti the animals cross numerous rivers, but none as big as the Mara. At points the Mara is deep enough for white water and its embankments are steep. Meals and game viewing from Entim Camp. [b-l-d]
This morning the safari moves north to the funnel of what’s known as the salient. We’ll also stay on the opposite side of the river, which is much less crowded, so that our opportunities for actually seeing a river crossing are maximized. Remember nothing at all can be guaranteed in the wild! So much depends upon weather and probably more on luck, so don’t hold your breath for too long. Know, though, that the Mara with its wonderful gently rolling hills and numerous rivers is one of the best places at any time for game viewing! Wonderful families of elephant and large groups of buffalo are common, along with hartebeest and topi, hyaena and almost any other species of big game found in East Africa. So whether we’re lucky enough to see a migration, the drama on the Mara veld is never-ending! Meals and overnight at Little Governor’s Camp. [b-l-d]
Game viewing is available throughout the day and Jim will be grilling the other guides for the best intel! And for those interested you can also book a hot air balloon safari in place of an early morning game drive. This area in the northern part of the salient is one of the best in all the Mara for hot air balloon safaris! And no long drive to get to lift-off as Little Governor’s is one of the few actual balloon lift-off stations in the Mara! This evening Jim will gather everyone at the camp fire to debrief the exciting moments on the trip! Meals and overnight at Little Governor’s Camp. [b-l-d]
After a final morning of gameviewing you fly back to the local Wilson airport. IF YOU ARE ENDING YOUR TOUR IN KENYA, vehicles will take you back to Hemingway’s Resort. The afternoon and evening are free. Some returns to the States depart tomorrow morning, but many more will leave late this evening. Whenever you need your transfer to the airport, you’ll be privately taken there to begin your journey home. IF YOU ARE CONTINUING TO TANZANIA, you will be privately transferred to Nairobi’s international airport so that you’ll be well-positioned for tomorrow’s early morning flights into Tanzania. The afternoon and evening are free. Overnight at the airport Crowne Plaza. [b- - ]
If your flight leaves this morning you’ll be transferred to the airport after breakfast. Hotel checkout is at 10 a.m. [b- - ]

Cost Includes

  • Prices include accommodations and meals as named
  • Transport in specially outfitted 4x4 safari vehicles with pop-top roofs operated by professionally trained, English-speaking driver/guides
  • All government fees including park entrance fees, property concession fees, transport fees and V.A.T.
  • Guiding by Jim Heck after six persons are reserved

Additional Expenses Not Included

  • Anything not specifically mentioned including but not limited to all international air fares including those between Kenya and Tanzania
  • Gear and medical precautions
  • Visas and exit fees
  • Tipping (Jim Heck does not accept tips)
  • The costs of obtaining requisite documentation such as visas and proof of vaccinations
  • Some meals and most beverages
  • Any costs associated with Covid-19 or any other pandemic