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Ultimate 2-Week Kenya and Tanzania Safari Itinerary & Costs

So you want to go on safari in East Africa but can’t choose between visiting Kenya or Tanzania. Well, the good news is, with 14-days of safari, you don’t have to decide!

You can easily visit both countries within 2 weeks, exploring the highlights of each.

A leopard known as Luluka feeds on a gazelle kill in the Masai Mara
A leopard known as Luluka feeds on a gazelle kill in the Masai Mara

However, visiting two countries in 14-days can easily get exhausting so it’s essential that you have the right itinerary that factors in the distance and travel time between each sight as well as just giving you some great things to do.

I recently visited both countries in one trip and there were some things I loved about the itinerary and some things that were less than ideal. I want to help you to craft the perfect Kenya and Tanzania itinerary so you don’t have to make the same mistakes that I made.

Alternatively, if you’d prefer to spend longer in each country you can view my Tanzania and Kenya itineraries. 

In this guide I’m going to bring you the ultimate 2-week Kenya and Tanzania safari itinerary. I’m going to provide you with everything you need to know, including the cost, how to find the perfect tour operator, tips and tricks to make your trip go smoothly and much more so that you can have the safari of your dreams!

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Kenya and Tanzania Safari Itinerary Map

2 Week Kenya and Tanzania Safari Itinerary Map
Map: © OpenStreetMap

Lioness in Amboseli National Park, Kenya
Majestic lioness in Kenya

Why Go on Safari in Kenya and Tanzania?

Kenya and Tanzania are both prime wildlife destinations. Kenya is home to the Masai Mara, one of the best places in the world to see Africa’s big cats, whilst Tanzania houses the Serengeti, arguably the most famous national park in Africa.

Together the two countries house all of the Big Five (lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and buffalos) as well as a host of other animals which are no doubt on your bucket list, such as cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, hyenas and much more.

The landscape in both countries is also incredible. You have the tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, as well as the second tallest, Mount Kenya, in Kenya. The Great Rift Valley carves through both countries and means that they both contain a number of impressive lakes, both freshwater and saltwater, which are teeming with life.

A safari that visits both countries allows you to see the highlights of each. Furthermore, due to the location of the parks in both countries, it’s very easy to do a circuit that hits the Masai Mara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and more, which doesn’t involve too much driving.

Many airlines allow you to book multi-city tickets which allow you to land in one city and leave from another. The price isn’t too dissimilar to booking return flights in and out of the same city which makes this an extremely convenient option.

A male cheetah on the hunt in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya
A male cheetah on the hunt in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya

How to Book your Kenya and Tanzania Safari

I’d always recommend booking your Kenya and Tanzania safari through a local tour operator. After doing copious amounts of research when trying to organise my own first trip to East Africa, I came to the realisation that local tour operators offer the perfect combination of good value for money as well as a seamless safari experience with minimal hassle.

Let’s face it, organising a trip to East Africa can be incredibly daunting. So one of the fantastic benefits of a local safari company is they organise pretty much everything for you: accommodation, park fees, meals, the vehicle, an expert driver guide, beverages in the vehicle and more.

Save time and get quotes from the same tour companies who I use to organise my safaris and who I highly recommend

There are other types of safari available such as self-drive safaris, safaris through your hotel and safaris booked through an overseas travel agency. Which you choose will have a large impact on your safari cost and the overall experience.

Below I will go into more detail on the pros and cons of each option.

Ella McKendrick on Safari in Amboseli National Park in Kenya
Me thoroughly enjoying my Kenya safari with a local safari tour operator

Option 1: Self-Drive Safari

A self-drive safari is the most budget-friendly safari option. However, the cost savings may not be as great as you’d imagine.

The most expensive aspect of any safari is the park fees. A single entry to the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, for example, costs $100 + 18% tax per person in low-season (January to June) and $200 + 18% tax per person in high season (July to December). A single entry into Ngorongoro Crater costs $70 + 18% tax per person plus an additional vehicle entry fee of $299 + 18% tax per vehicle.

These fees are exactly the same if you have a self-drive safari or a safari with a tour operator.

Accommodation costs are also similar. Tour companies are often able to get reduced rates at hotels which offsets some additional costs of booking with a tour operator.

For a self-drive safari in Kenya and Tanzania you cannot hire just any vehicle. Only Toyota Land Cruisers are allowed within Tanzania’s national parks so you’d have to hire one of these. The typical cost for hiring a Land Cruiser per day is $150.

The main saving on a self-drive safari is not having a driver guide.

With self-driving safaris you have an additional cost of a permit to cross from one country to another. This cost isn’t present when booking with a local tour operator.

Lion in the Masai Mara in Kenya.
Lion in the Masai Mara in Kenya

In terms of experience, self-driving gives you the ultimate freedom and flexibility. You can set off exactly when you want and stop where you want. I absolutely loved this freedom when on a self-drive safari in Namibia.

However, private safaris with tour operators give you similar amounts of flexibility. You’re still able to dictate when you set-off, how long you spend on safari and at each sighting, and even request detours and stop-offs on your journeys. Group safaris however don’t have any flexibility.

Although I loved my safari in Namibia, it is notable that I see a lot more wildlife when on safari with an expert driver guide compared to on self-drive safaris. Driver guides not only know a lot about the wildlife and their habits but they also have a radio system which helps them to take you to the best sightings. You sadly don’t get this when self-driving.

Another consideration is how difficult the parks are to drive in. The Masai Mara in particular is a maze with self-drivers frequently getting lost and having to be helped by other drivers.

Another con of self-driving for this particular multi-country itinerary is that if you hire your car in Kenya, you are likely to get stopped by police in Tanzania for having a Kenyan registration plate and vice versa. Even though you’re doing nothing wrong as you will have paid for your permits, police in both Tanzania and Kenya have been known to do this.

In southern Africa self-driving makes perfect sense but honestly, I don’t think it’s worth it in East Africa. The cons far outweigh the pros.

Ella McKendrick by safari truck in Kenya
Me with one of my recommended local safari companies in Kenya

Option 2: Local Tour Operator

Booking with a local tour operator isn’t much more expensive than booking a self-drive safari. Tour operators generally don’t make much profit on their safaris – around 10%. This cost is often off-set as they are able to get special rates at hotels, so in reality, the cost saving of booking a self-drive safari is minimal.

Booking with a local tour operator is considerably cheaper than booking with an overseas travel agency as the agency makes a huge mark-up on the safari and then outsources the actual safari to local operators. The end experience is therefore very similar.

Local tour operators typically take care of booking your hotels, park fees, organising full board for you, the vehicle, the driver guide, the fuel and much more. The only costs that are excluded from your safari package are your international flight costs, visa fees, tips, alcoholic beverages and souvenirs.

There are two key types of safaris that you can book with tour operators: private and group tours. Should your budget permit it, I’d always book a private safari (unless you are a solo traveller looking to socialise) as it gives you so much more flexibility and customisation for your safari. With group safaris you can’t typically choose your hotel, parks you visit or times you go on safari. Additionally, safari companies tend to reserve their very best guides for private safaris.

Ella McKendrick on safari with an Elephant in the background in Serengeti, Tanzania
Me on safari in the Serengeti with an incredible male African elephant in the background

However, there can be a big difference in your safari experience depending on which local tour operator you select. I always recommend reading reviews to ensure the tour operator consistently provides a satisfactory service. Reviews on third-party platforms such as Google Reviews are more reliable than reviews on the company’s own website as they have no way to manipulate them.

Reading and watching past customer experiences is one of the best ways to get a sense of how good a company is.

I’ve been on safari with a number of different tour operators and had vastly different experiences. Some tour operators were extremely helpful and flexible whilst others really battled with me when I made a request, even if it was something small such as going on safari just 30 minutes earlier than they suggested.

I want to help you choose the perfect local safari tour operator. You can get safari quotations from my favourite local tour operators who I have personally been on safari with and had an excellent experience with here on Safaris By Ella.

Recommended Booking Options For Your 2-Week Kenya and Tanzania Safari

Private Safari

Most popular & best experience – typical prices start from $300 per person per day.

Visit safarisbyella.com for free quotes from trustworthy local tour companies I use to book my own trips.

Ella Mckendrick with lions in Serengeti

Group (Shared) Camping Safari

Good for budget or solo travellers – from $160 per person per day.

My recommended Tanzania and Kenya tour operators only provide private safaris, however, I’ve listed the best group options for the most similar itineraries I could find, on Safari Bookings below. Please note that none of them follow the exact itinerary below. To get the exact itinerary in this article, you’ll need to book a private safari.

Click the links below to request quotes for the group safari options on the safari bookings website.

14-Day Best of Kenya and Tanzania Combined Safari

12-Day Best of Kenya and Tanzania Combined Safari

11-Day Budget Kenya & Tanzania Safari

9-Day Best of Kenya and Tanzania Safari

Option 3: Hotel-Provided Safaris

Some lodges and tented camps also provide safaris. These can be a good option if you wish to base yourself in one hotel for a decent amount of time. However, it’s not the most convenient option if you wish to travel around (such as with this itinerary) as you don’t have a vehicle with you so would have to use public transport to travel between hotels.

The most convenient way to journey between hotels in different parks is by plane. The parks are often linked via airstrips and hotels within or near the national parks often offer transfer services to and from the airstrips, although this can be at an additional cost. The flights themselves are pretty expensive. It costs over $100 per person per flight, sometimes up to $500 per person for some flights.

If you are flying between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti (or any park in another country for that matter), you’ll have to take two flights. The first takes you to an international airport which has immigration within it, the second to your destination. Sometimes you have to transfer by road between two airports in between flights.

For this itinerary, going on safaris hosted by your hotel probably isn’t the most convenient or cost-effective option.

A grey crowned crane in the Masai Mara, Kenya
A grey crowned crane in the Masai Mara, Kenya

Option 4: Overseas Travel Agents

Booking through an overseas travel agent is perhaps the most convenient option. However, it’s also by far the most expensive option.

The main advantage of booking with an overseas agent is they have the ability to book your international flights as well as the safari. Otherwise, the experience is pretty much the same as booking with a local tour operator as the overseas agent will sub-contract the safari work to a local operator, giving you ultimately a very similar safari experience.

Overseas travel agents have to make a profit on each safari which is why this option is always more expensive than going direct to the local tour operators.

Overview: Booking through a local tour operator is by far the best option. It’s cost effective, convenient and provides an amazing safari experience when you book through the right operator.

You can get quotes from the local tour companies I use to organise my own trips.

A baby giraffe strolling through the plains in the Masai Mara
A baby giraffe strolling through the plains in the Masai Mara

How Much Does a Kenya and Tanzania Safari Cost?

Prices for a typically private Kenya and Tanzania safari using a local tour operator start from $280 per person per day.

The cost of a shared group safari is slightly less at around $190 per person per day. For this price you can expect basic accommodation including camping.

Below you can view a chart of typical safari costs based on your budget.

Comfort LevelPrice Per Person Per Day7 Days10 Days
Shared BudgetFrom $140 PPFrom $970From $1,400 PP
Private BudgetFrom $300 PPFrom $2100 PPFrom $3,000 PP
Private MidrangeFrom $400 PPFrom $2,800 PPFrom $4,000 PP
Private LuxuryFrom $650 PPFrom $4,550 PPFrom $6,500 PP
Private Luxury +From $1,000 PPFrom $7,000 PPFrom $10,000 PP

Please note that the costs above are for booking through a local operator. Prices will be quite a bit more if you book through an overseas company or travel agent.

Recommended Booking Options For Your 2-Week Kenya and Tanzania Safari

Private Safari

Most popular & best experience – typical prices start from $300 per person per day.

Visit safarisbyella.com for free quotes from trustworthy local tour companies I use to book my own trips.

Ella Mckendrick with lions in Serengeti

Group (Shared) Camping Safari

Good for budget or solo travellers – from $160 per person per day.

My recommended Tanzania and Kenya tour operators only provide private safaris, however, I’ve listed the best group options for the most similar itineraries I could find, on Safari Bookings below. Please note that none of them follow the exact itinerary below. To get the exact itinerary in this article, you’ll need to book a private safari.

Click the links below to request quotes for the group safari options on the safari bookings website.

13-Day Budget Group Kenya and Tanzania Safari Option 1

13-Day Budget Group Kenya and Tanzania Safari Option 2

12-Day Budget Group Kenya and Tanzania Safari

Kenya and Tanzania Safari Cost Breakdown

It’s a similar cost to visit both Kenya and Tanzania. Kenya was once regarded as cheaper than Tanzania but recent hikes in park fees make them comparable destinations price-wise. A typical Tanzania safari cost for a 7-10 day safari is around $250-$300 per person per day and is very similar for a 7-10 day Kenya safari cost.

The park fees make up the majority of the cost. For example, it’s $100 + 18% tax per person per day to enter many parks in Kenya. It’s actually $200 + 18% tax per person per day to enter the Masai Mara between July and December.

Costs are similar in Tanzania with it costing $70 + 18% tax per person per day plus an additional $60 + 18% tax per person per night to visit the Serengeti. Ngorongoro Crater costs $70 + 18% tax per person per day plus an additional charge of $299 + 18% tax for your vehicle to enter.

Hotels and lodges are the next biggest expense. A budget tented camp in the Serengeti costs around $150 per person per night (excluding nightly concession fees mentioned above). Budget tented camps in the Masai Mara are a similar price.

Below I’ve included a chart which breaks down where the money goes for a safari of 2 people.

Factors Affecting Kenya and Tanzania Safari Cost

There are a number of factors that can affect the cost of your safari. The most obvious factor is the level of accommodation that you choose. A safari staying in mid-range will be more pricey than a safari where you stay in budget accommodation.

Another factor that can greatly impact the cost of your Kenya and Tanzania safari is the time of year that you visit. In low season, park fees can be cheaper. The main park that’s affected by monthly fluctuations in prices is the Masai Mara. Masai Mara park fees between January and June are $100 + 18% tax per person per entry whereas between July and December they are $200 + 18% tax per person per entry.

The vehicle that you choose can have an impact on your safari cost. In Kenya there are two types of vehicles that you can go on safari in: a Toyota Land Cruiser or a minivan. The Land Cruiser is around $50 more expensive per day. You can also upgrade your Land Cruiser to a specialist photography one which is $100 more expensive per day.

You can choose to fly between parks rather than travelling by road. This can significantly increase the cost of your safari as the flights are typically at least $100 per person per flight.

Great migration of wildebeests in the Serengeti
Great migration of wildebeests in the Serengeti

Best time to Visit Kenya and Tanzania

Both Kenya and Tanzania can be visited year-round. However, the rains can greatly affect your experience and what you see.

East Africa has two distinct dry seasons. The long dry season runs from June through to mid-October and is generally classed as the best time to visit. This is because the days are warm yet not too hot and there is little to no rain. The lack of thick vegetation also means that animals are easier to spot and the lack of water means they are easier to find as they often congregate near waterholes.

The short dry season runs from mid-December to late-February. This is the hottest time of year. Although classed as a dry season, some rain can’t be ruled out. Sitting between two rainy seasons, the landscape at this time of year is lush and green; it makes for some striking photographs! The thicker vegetation technically means that animals are harder to see. However, due to the vast quantity of wildlife in this area, I have never personally found this to be an issue. There’s an abundance of baby animals around at this time of year which is a lovely bonus.

The long rains run from March to the end of May. This is considered the worst time to visit Kenya and Tanzania as days are typically very wet. However, the rains have been increasingly unpredictable in recent years, sometimes not arriving at all.

Lion cub in Amboseli National Park in Kenya
Tiny lion cub in Kenya

The short rains run from mid-October to mid-December. At this time of year you can expect some light showers in the evening but otherwise it’ll be dry and sunny. Again, like with the long rains, the short rains have become more unpredictable recently. The short rainy season in 2023 was particularly heavy and caused terrible flooding in both Tanzania and Kenya.

The best time to visit can also be determined by the great wildebeest migration, the largest migration of terrestrial mammals on earth.

The prime time to see the migration is between mid-July and mid-September, when the great herds risk their lives crossing the Mara River. It’s an intense spectacle, characterised by hundreds of wildebeest plunging into the fast-flowing river, battling against strong currents and crocodiles in order to reach the other side. This can be seen from both the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Masai Mara in Kenya.

Another great time of year to see the wildebeest migration is from mid-January to late-February in southern Serengeti. This is when the wildebeest give birth. Up to 8,000 wildebeest calves are born each day and it’s delightful watching them get to their feet so quickly and tentatively take their first steps. It’s also a great time of year to see the Serengeti’s predators as so many new lives catch their attention.

Overview: Whilst you can do this itinerary at any time of year, visiting between June and October is perhaps the best time. And if you want to ensure you see the wildebeest crossing the Mara River, visit between mid-July and mid-September.

Wildebeests crossing the Mara River as part of the Great Migration
The Mara River crossing is part of the Great Migration in Northern Serengeti / Southern Masai Mara around September. Watch out for the crocs!

How Long to Spend in Kenya and Tanzania

In order to make the most of your visit, you need to allow at least 5 days in each country.

However, whilst a 5-day itinerary in Kenya and another 5 days in Tanzania may allow you to glimpse each country, I’d recommend 2 weeks for this trip so that you aren’t rushing around and have a greater chance to encounter the wildlife. It also allows you to visit the island of Zanzibar for the last days of your trip.

Cheetah in Amboseli National Park in Kenya
Male cheetah in Kenya

Kenya and Tanzania Safari Logistics

When you book your safari with a local tour operator, the safari company will organise much of the trip for you. However, there’s still a few things to keep in mind and organise.

Border Crossings

You don’t necessarily have to organise anything here (other than your visa and make sure your documents are in order) but it’s useful to understand how border crossings between Kenya and Tanzania work so that you can ensure they go smoothly.

You can cross either land borders between the two countries or airport borders. Generally, airport borders are considered smoother as there are less people arriving this way. However, my experience crossing land borders between Kenya and Tanzania has been extremely positive.

When flying from the Masai Mara in Kenya to the Serengeti in Tanzania, you have two take two flights with a 45 minute car-ride in between to a land border as there’s no international airport border at any of the airstrips in this area.

Ella Mckendrick by small plane in Tanzania
Me standing in front a small plane which was delayed by the herds of wildebeests on the runway

If you decide to cross from one country to another via a land border, there’s a few things to note.

Safari companies based in Kenya cannot drive in Tanzania and vice versa. This rule was imposed to allow local companies to flourish and not have their business taken away by companies across the border. This means that when you arrive at the border you’ll have to meet your new driver and switch vehicles.

When you arrive at the land border, you’ll need your passport, visa and yellow fever certificate to display to the border officials. You may also need to bring your bags into the building to have them scanned but I’d recommend waiting to see if your guide advises you to do this or not.

I crossed two land borders between Kenya and Tanzania (first crossing into Tanzania from Kenya and then a week later crossing back into Kenya from Tanzania) and both went incredibly smoothly. There weren’t any queues and I got seen immediately. The whole thing lasted around 10 minutes. It is worth noting however that I visited during the short rainy season which is significantly quieter than the peak season between June and the end of September so queues are likely to be larger at that time of year.

The Kenya part of your trip will be organised by a different company to the Tanzania part of your trip. However, both Kenya and Tanzania companies tend to have partners in the other country so the booking will be made with one company and they’ll then outsource half of the trip to their partner company across the border.

Ella McKendrick on safari in the Masai Mara
Me on safari in the Masai Mara

Visas

Many countries including the UK, US, Canada, Australia and many countries in Europe need a visa to enter Tanzania for tourism purposes.

A single-entry visa to Tanzania which costs $50 per person is what is required when entering from most countries. However, American citizens need to purchase a multiple-entry visa which costs $100 per person.

Tanzania offers both visas on arrival and the option to apply in advance online using their e-visa system for single-entry visas. You have to apply in advance using the e-visa system if you are applying for a multiple entry visa – these will not be given on arrival.

I always advocate for applying for visas in advance where possible. It just saves time and hassle when you arrive.

You can apply for your e-visa to Tanzania here.

I’d recommend applying for your e-visa between 1 and 2 months in advance of your trip as it can sometimes take a couple of weeks to receive approval of your visa.

In contrast, as of 2024, Kenya is now officially visa-free so you don’t need a visa to travel here. You do however need to apply online for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) in advance of your trip. There are a couple of exemptions – you can view a full list of them here.

Elephant in Central Serengeti in Tanzania
Elephant in Central Serengeti in Tanzania

Vaccinations

A Yellow Fever vaccination is required as Kenya country has a risk of Yellow Fever. Tanzania however has a low risk of Yellow Fever.

When travelling between the two countries you’ll be asked to display your Yellow Fever vaccination certificate and will be refused entry if you don’t have one.

Other vaccinations are not mandatory but are recommended, such as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid and more. You can view a full list of recommended vaccines here.

Medications

Both Kenya and Tanzania have a risk of malaria so it’s recommended that you take anti-malarial tablets with you for your trip.

 I’d recommend talking to a medical professional about which medication is right for you.

Save time and get quotes from the same tour companies who I use to organise my safaris and who I highly recommend

Male lion from Topi pride in the Masai Mara
Male lion from Topi pride in the Masai Mara

Kenya and Tanzania Safari Overview

I’ve spent copious amounts of time in both Kenya and Tanzania. Based on my experience in both countries, I have crafted what I believe to be the perfect 2-week Kenya and Tanzania safari itinerary.

This itinerary allows you to visit the best safari destinations in each country whilst also allowing enough time in each location in order to make the most of it. I’ve also chosen locations that are relatively near each other, trying to minimise travel time between locations as much as possible.

It’s hard however to cut-down on travel time completely as crossing from one country to another inevitably takes some time, whether you journey between them by road or air.

The itinerary ends on the beautiful island of Zanzibar, allowing you some time to relax after a fabulous safari.

Zebra in Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Day by Day Breakdown of the Ultimate 2-Week Kenya and Tanzania Safari Itinerary

Day 1: Nairobi

Today drive time: dependent on what activities you choose to do on this day

Your East African adventure starts in Kenya’s bustling capital city of Nairobi.

Depending what time your flight arrives you will either journey straight to your hotel for the evening or you can spend the day exploring the city.

About Nairobi

Nairobi is the largest city in Kenya and is home to over 4 million people. It’s a vibrant city with a host of wonderful eateries. Interestingly, it’s the only city in the world to border a national park.

Nairobi can be a little intimidating for first time visitors due to its size and its reputation as being a little rough around the edges. However, if you apply common sense and maintain an open mind, Nairobi can be a wonderful place. I’ll go into this in more detail in my ‘tips for visiting’ section below.

Where to Stay in Nairobi

Nairobi contains a range of hotels and guesthouses. Airbnbs are my preferred choice of accommodation when staying in Nairobi as they are reasonably priced, often located in great areas and extremely convenient.

Nairobi is made-up of a number of neighbourhoods. My favourite neighbourhood to stay is Karen, south west of the city. Another great location is Loresho. Both Karen and Loresho are classed as suburbs. If you want to stay in a more central location then Westlands is a good choice.

Airbnb in Nairobi Kenya
An Airbnb that I stayed in when in Nairobi

Things to Do in Nairobi

There’s an array of things to do in the city. From dining in one of the many wonderful restaurants to visiting the only national park that borders a city, feeding rare giraffes or doing a bout of shopping in the local markets.

Below are some of my favourite things to do in Nairobi.

1. The Giraffe Centre

Ths Giraffe Centre is a sanctuary for the endangered Rothschild giraffe. Over the years the sanctuary has successfully reintroduced Rothschild giraffes into various national parks across the country, doubling their numbers.

You can visit The Giraffe Centre and get to meet some giraffes in person. At the centre you’ll be given a coconut shell full of pellets and have the opportunity to hand-feed some of the resident giraffes.

2. Nairobi National Park

Just south of Nairobi’s Central Business District is Nairobi National Park, an area of wilderness which is remarkably home to the big give (elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards and buffalos). It feels crazy how you can have so much wildlife so close to a massive city!

The national park is one of the smallest in Africa so can easily be explored in one afternoon. The most amazing thing about this park is that you can spot wildlife and see Nairobi’s skyline in the background, a surreal merging of nature and our modern world.

Zebras in Nairobi National Park with the city in the background
Zebras in Nairobi National Park with the city in the background
3. David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is committed to rescuing orphaned baby elephants from throughout Kenya and nurturing them until they are old enough to be released back into the wild.

As well as this, the David Sheldrick Trust has helped to fund anti-poaching units across the country and has been involved in the construction of permanent waterholes within Kenya’s driest national parks, protecting wildlife from drought.

The positive impact that the trust has on wildlife throughout the country makes visiting the orphanage a worthwhile trip.

Not only are you supporting a good cause but it’s adorable to watch the baby elephants have their morning feed.

Do note the orphanage is only open for an hour a day, between 11am and 12pm and you have to make a reservation in advance.

4. Eat at One of Nairobi’s Delicious Restaurants

Nairobi has an impressive food scene with restaurants lining pretty much every street. My absolute favourite restaurant in the city is Talisman Restaurant in Karen. This restaurant serves Asian-inspired dishes made with local ingredients.

One of the most popular restaurants in Nairobi is The Carnivore Restaurant, recommended if you are an avid meat eater. At this all-you-can-eat restaurant meat comes round on Maasai swords and you can eat as much as you like until you decide to lower the white flag on your table in surrender. Carnivore is famous for serving some unique meats such as crocodile and ox balls.

Lamb koftas, homemade hummus and flatbread at the Talisman Restaurant in Karen, Nairobi
Lamb koftas, homemade hummus and flatbread at the Talisman Restaurant in Karen, Nairobi

Tips for Visiting Nairobi

When visiting a big city such as Nairobi, being street-smart is essential to ensuring you have a positive experience. This means not flashing valuables around when in public places. Instead refrain from taking excessive valuables out with you and the ones that you do need to bring (for example a mobile phone) should be safely stored in a bum bag or fanny pack.

Refrain from going out at night. Crime such as muggings are much more likely to happen after dark. Additionally, car accidents are also more likely at night.

There are some neighbourhoods in Nairobi that should be avoided, such as Eastleigh and Kibera. Taxi drivers know to avoid these areas so it shouldn’t be an issue.

I’d personally recommend taking an Uber between locations rather than walking, even if it’s only a short distance away. When walking in Nairobi, being approached by individuals trying to sell you things like tours or souvenirs is incredibly common and can quickly get exhausting so driving between locations avoids the stress of it.

Ubers are widely available throughout the city and are reasonably priced. I’d recommend using Uber rather than a traditional taxi service as prices are pre-agreed, saving you the hassle of haggling or ensuring the metre is working correctly.

Uber Eats is also available. This is a great service if you don’t feel like venturing out for some food as you can order takeaways or even shopping straight to your door.

My Experience Visiting Nairobi

I had a wonderful time in Nairobi! I found it extremely easy to get around using Ubers and loved the convenience of Uber Eats when I was feeling too tired to go out.

Additionally, Nairobi has some fantastic restaurants which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I personally felt safe in Nairobi and everyone that I met was extremely friendly. However, I was cautious and never put myself in a position where I could feel unsafe. Security is high at Airbnbs, hotels and restaurants which increases peace of mind.

Before visiting Nairobi I was actually pretty nervous. However, I’d now happily go back and spend even more time there as I enjoyed it so much.

Male lion in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya
Male lion in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya

Day 2: Lake Nakuru National Park

Total drive time (excluding game drives): 3 hours

Today your adventure truly begins as you leave the lively capital and venture to your first safari destination: Lake Nakuru National Park.

Lake Nakuru National Park is famous for its high density of both black and white rhinos. It’s one of the best places in East Africa to see them.

Itinerary

Lake Nakuru National Park is just 3 hours north from the city of Nairobi. I’d recommend setting off from Nairobi at around 8am so that you arrive at the national park by late-morning. Setting off early increases the chances of skipping the traffic.

There are a number of ways for you to explore Lake Nakuru National Park. You can go on a typical game drive, a cycling safari or even a horse riding safari.

I’d be inclined to recommend that you embark on a game drive as it covers the most ground and gives you the best chances of encountering a rhino. Lake Nakuru is the location on this itinerary where you are most likely to encounter a rhino.

As lunch-time approaches you can either eat a hot lunch at your nearby lunch or enjoy a picnic lunch within a park. Ensure your guide knows your choice beforehand so he can make preparations for your meal.

You’ll then enjoy an afternoon game drive through the park.

Rhinos on Safari Ant's Hill & Nest in South Africa

About Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru National Park surrounds Lake Nakuru, an alkaline lake which attracts thousands of flamingos. The lake has an abundance of algae, a favourite source of food for greater and lesser flamingos. It’s the flamingos’ diet that gives them their striking pink colour as naturally flamingos are in fact white.

Lake Nakuru is within the Great Rift Valley and sits at an elevation of 1,754 m (5,755 ft) above sea level. Within the last 10 years the lake has expanded massively, from 40 to 68 square kilometres (15 to 26 sq mi). This expansion has caused the flooding of over 600 homes and has started to deter the flamingos. It’s a sad reminder of the effects of climate change.

The national park has become a sanctuary for endangered white and black rhinos and is one of the few places in East Africa where you have a high chance of encountering them. To protect the rhinos from poachers the park is encircled by a fence. It’s the presence of the fence which means that you won’t find elephants within the park as they roam wide areas and wouldn’t do well being restricted in their movements.

As well as rhinos, you can find lions, leopards, buffalos, giraffes, zebras and more within the national park.

Where to Spend the Night

Spend the night in one of the lodges or tented camps which can be found just outside Lake Nakuru National Park.

Flamingo Hill Tented Camp and Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge are both good choices. The latter is actually within the boundaries of the national park.

Black rhino and ostrich in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Rare black rhino in Kenya

Day 3: Masai Mara National Reserve

Total drive time (excluding game drives): 5 hours

Today you will journey to Kenya’s flagship safari destination – the Masai Mara National Reserve.

It will take all morning to reach the Masai Mara from Lake Nakuru. For the afternoon you then have a choice of either going on a game drive or visiting a local Maasai boma.

Itinerary

You’ll set-off from Lake Nakuru National Park at around 8am; the drive takes around 5 hours. This means that you’ll arrive in the Masai Mara in time for a nice hot lunch at your lodge.

This afternoon you can either go on a game drive or visit a local Masai boma.

The Masai Mara National Reserve charges you each time you enter the park so if you have an afternoon game drive within the park it will cost you $100 + 18% tax per person between January and June and $200 + 18% tax per person between July and December.

Visiting a Maasai boma for the afternoon is significantly cheaper, around $20 per person.

It’s entirely up to you which activity you do. As you have two full days of game drives within the reserve coming up and visiting the Masai Mara for a couple of hours is the same price as a full day, it may be better value for money to visit a Maasai boma. Plus I always recommend visiting the Maasai at least once on your trip to understand more about their vibrant culture.

However, if you have the budget and you want to pack-in as much wildlife viewing as possible into your safari, an afternoon game drive in the Masai Mara will increase your chances of seeing more wildlife as the more game drives you go on, the more chances you have of seeing everything you wish. Additionally, the late afternoon is a great time to see predators in action.

After your afternoon activity, you’ll return to your lodge for some dinner.

Maasai women in a Maasai boma in Kenya
Maasai women in a Maasai boma in Kenya

About Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most famous wildlife destinations in the world. It’s particularly renowned for its high density of predators. There are numerous lion prides in the Masai Mara as well as a high concentration of cheetahs, hyenas and leopards. A lot of these animals have been featured in countless wildlife documentaries.

As well as being a great place to find predators, the Masai Mara houses all of the Big Five. Elephants, buffalos and even black rhinos can be found here, although black rhinos are the trickiest to see as there are only estimated to be around 80 individuals in the entire reserve.

From mid-July to mid-September the great wildebeest migration arrives in the Masai Mara from the Serengeti. At this time of year you can expect to see millions of wildebeest throughout the Mara. They have to cross the treacherous Mara River in order to reach the Masai Mara and this is the only time of year where you can see the dramatic crossing.

Tips for Visiting Masai Mara National Reserve

The best time to see wildlife in action, particularly the predators, is either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. I’d therefore always recommend starting your safaris early so you can be at the gate as it opens at 6am. With afternoon safaris I’d recommend staying out until the gate closes at 6pm.

The Masai Mara has tsetse flies which can give an uncomfortable bite. These pesky flies are attracted to dark colours such as navy blue and black so avoid wearing these colours. Instead opt for light neutral colours such as beige, light brown, grey or cream. Also wear insect repellent.

The temperature can fluctuate quite a bit throughout the day so I always recommend wearing multiple layers for game drives. In the early morning you’ll need a jacket or jumper and then as the day gets hotter, you can take this off. Beneath that I typically wear a shirt over a vest top and can always remove the shirt if still too hot.

Don’t forget to wear plenty of high-factor sunscreen! Bring the bottle out with you so you can re-apply accordingly.

A hyena clan and a pair of jackals squabble over a kill in the Masai Mara
A hyena clan and a pair of jackals squabble over a kill in the Masai Mara

Where to Spend the Night

There are a number of lodges and tented camps both within the reserve and surrounding it. 

The accommodation options within the reserve are preferable as it eliminates driving time to and from your lodge to the reserve. However, there are limited options and they are typically quite expensive.

The Talek region is just outside the reserve but the lodges here are only around a 10 minute drive to the gate which makes it a desirable area to stay. There are a lot of options here ranging from budget to luxury. This would be my recommended place to stay due to its close proximity to two gates to the Mara.

Sekenani and Ololaimutiek are also options, both to the east of the Masai Mara and just outside the gates. These typically house more budget accommodations.

Male cheetah in the Masai Mara National Reserve
Male cheetah in the Masai Mara National Reserve

Day 4 – 5: Masai Mara National Reserve

Total drive time (excluding game drives): 0 hours

For days 4 and 5 you will go on full-day game drives within the Masai Mara National Reserve.

Itinerary

For these two days I recommend that you go on full-day game drives from dawn to dusk. As you pay each time you enter the Masai Mara, this option is by far the best value for money.

For full-day safaris you will need to bring a picnic breakfast and lunch with you so you’ll need to let your guide know this the day before so he can make arrangements with your lodge.

The Masai Mara’s gates open at 6am so you’ll want to be at the gates by this time, ideally just before as sometimes queues to the gates can form, so that you’ll be within the reserve as early as possible.

Mid-way through the morning you’ll stop for a picnic breakfast at a scenic spot within the Masai Mara before continuing your safari.

You’ll stop again for a picnic lunch before the game drive continues into the afternoon.

You can leave the reserve whenever you like but if you have the energy, I’d recommend staying until the gates close at 6pm. You’ll then return to your lodge for some dinner.

Male lion with a buffalo kill in the Masai Mara National Reserve
Male lion with a buffalo kill in the Masai Mara National Reserve

Where to Spend the Night

You’ll spend another night at a lodge or tented camp either within or near to the Masai Mara National Reserve.

My Experience Visiting the Masai Mara National Reserve

I was lucky enough to be able to see all of the Big Five (lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and buffalos) over my few days in the Masai Mara.

The leopard was actually the hardest for me to find as they kept eluding me. On one occasion, I arrived at the site of a kill just moments after the leopard had slunk away. I waited for several hours for it to re-emerge and feed on the freshly-caught zebra but soon gave up. Of course, after I left, the leopard returned!

On my final day in the Masai Mara I came across a beautiful female leopard feeding upon a gazelle. I watched in amazement as she grabbed her gazelle kill from the topmost branches of a tree and climbed down with it, deciding to feed out in the open, just inches from my vehicle! It was a magical moment.

Other favourite sightings within the Masai Mara included seeing seven individual cheetahs. The best cheetah sighting was of a mother with her four young cubs. It was adorable watching them play with each other and pounce affectionately on their mother.

I also saw more lions than I can count. My most memorable lion sighting was of a huge male lion from Topi pride feeding on a huge buffalo kill right beside the road!

Here we are having a picnic lunch within the Masai Mara
Here we are having a picnic lunch within the Masai Mara

Day 6: Serengeti National Park

Total drive time (excluding game drives): 10 hours or 3 hours by plane

Today you will journey from Masai Mara National Reserve to Serengeti National Park.

The two destinations are actually linked together and are part of the ecosystem. The Masai Mara is like the northern tip of the Serengeti but has a different name and is managed differently as it sits in Kenya whilst the Serengeti is in Tanzania.

There are no fences between the two, just regular border markers. The animals don’t care for international borders and frequently cross from one to another.

However, despite their close proximity to one another, journeying between the two is sadly a complicated affair as there’s no international border post between the two locations.

You can either embark on a 10 hour drive, crossing between the two countries at the Isibania border 80km west of the Masai Mara. It takes around 5 hours to drive from the Masai Mara to Isibania and then another 5 hours form the border to Central Serengeti.

Alternatively, you can fly between the two. But again the process isn’t simple.

You have to first fly to the Migori Airstrip from the Masai Mara. The Migori Airstrip is a 30 minute drive from the Isibania border post.

You’ll then cross the land border at Isibania and drive for 14 minutes into Tanzania to reach the Tarime Airstrip. Finally, you will then fly from Tarime to Seronera in Central Serengeti.

Plane in the Masai Mara
Plane in the Masai Mara

Itinerary

If you’re driving, you’ll depart from the Masai Mara at around 7am. You will then start your journey towards the Serengeti.

First you have to drive through the Masai Mara National Reserve. You don’t need to pay for an entrance fee as you are just transiting through. However, if you exit the park later than 10am, you will be required to pay the fee.

You leave the Masai Mara from its northern Musiara gate. It’s then around 3 hours to journey from the Masai Mara to Isibania on very bumpy roads. The road between the two was perhaps one of the worst roads I’ve been on so it’s pretty slow going!

You should arrive at Isibania around noon. You’ll then have to cross through immigration which can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or so, depending on how busy it is. It only took me 10 minutes but I was visiting in the short rainy season, outside of peak season.

You’ll then need to switch from your Kenya vehicle to a Tanzania one which should already be there waiting for you. You’ll also meet your new driver guide.

If you are journeying to Central Serengeti (you’ll be heading here except if you are visiting between July and the end of September), it’s a 3 hour drive to Fort Ikoma Gate, on the western edge of the Serengeti.

If you are journeying to Northern Serengeti (you’ll be heading here between July and the end of September to see the great wildebeest migration), it’s a 3 hour drive to Tabora B Gate which is to the north west of the Serengeti.

Once within the Serengeti National Park it will take you a couple of hours to reach your tented camp or lodge. This is the most scenic part of the drive and you can expect to see some wildlife on the way.

If you are not completely exhausted and have the time, you can ask your guide to meander slightly through the Serengeti so that you can see some animals on the way to your accommodation.

If you are flying between the two, you don’t necessarily need to set-off quite as early. However, I’d recommend arriving in the Serengeti earlier rather than later so you can enjoy an afternoon game drive there.

There are flights from all Masai Mara airstrips to Migori daily at 8:15am and 11:30am. The flight takes 30 minutes. You can expect to pay around $300 per person for the flight. However, as there are limited flights per day, they can quickly get booked up so you’ll need to book at least a couple of months in advance.

Safari Toyota landcruiser, Tanzania

Tips for Your Journey to Serengeti National Park

The journey by road is very long and involves contending with some pretty rough roads. If you get travel sick easily then you may need to take some travel sickness pills with you. I’d also recommend bringing a neck pillow if you plan on napping and have either an audiobook or music downloaded to your phone to help you with the long journey.

You’ll need a picnic lunch for your journey so simply let your guide know the day before so they can make arrangements for you.

Have your passport, Tanzania visa and Yellow Fever vaccination card easily accessible so you can quickly get them out when passing through immigration at Isibania.

For long drives, I always recommend carrying some toilet paper with you in case you need to use public bathrooms. They don’t always have toilet paper.

Where to Spend the Night

Spend the night in a tented camp or lodge within Serengeti National Park. If you are visiting Central Serengeti, you’ll want to stay at an accommodation in the Seronera region as this is closest to where much of the wildlife can be seen.

Staying outside of the park is cheaper as you don’t need to pay nightly concession fees, however, I really wouldn’t recommend it as it takes time to drive to and from the Serengeti, taking up time that could be used for game viewing.

My Experience Driving from Masai Mara to Serengeti

My drive from the Masai Mara to Central Serengeti took me 10 hours. Most of the roads were unpaved so it was pretty bumpy.

The main mistake that I made was not arranging a packed lunch with my lodge. As the drive was taking so long and I needed to be at my lodge in the Serengeti in time for an online meeting at 6pm, I couldn’t afford to stop for some lunch on the route. Besides, there weren’t many places to actually stop for food.

I wasn’t expecting the drive to take as long as it did. The tour operator that I booked with for this particular trip told me it would be 3 hours from the Masai Mara to Isibania and then another 3 hours to our lodge. It’s for this reason that I didn’t have any lunch with me. This is why it’s important that you book with a tour operator that has ample experience and can set the correct expectations from the start.

Leopard in a tree in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Majestic leopard resting in a tree in the Serengeti, Tanzania

Day 7: Serengeti National Park

Total drive time (excluding game drives): 0 hours

Today you will have a full-day game drive in the beautiful Serengeti National Park.

Itinerary

Wake up early in order to start your full-day game drive at around 6am, as the sun is starting to rise. Going on safari at this time best ensures that you will see some of the Serengeti’s predators. Lions and hyenas are particularly active at this time.

Continue your game drive, stopping half-way through the day to have a picnic lunch at one of the Serengeti’s scenic picnic spots.

You’ll then continue your search for wildlife throughout the afternoon, ending your safari at sunset.

About Serengeti National Park

The name Serengeti means ‘endless plains’ in the Maasai language. It’s an accurate description of this national park, where savannahs roll for as far as the eye can see, broken up by the occasional kopje (rock formations made up of large granite boulders) or towering hill.

The Serengeti is a great place to see predators. Lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas can all be found here in healthy numbers. There’s estimated to be around 3,000 lions across the Serengeti and around 6 leopards per 100 square kilometres.

The Serengeti is perhaps best known for its incredibly high numbers of wildebeest which make an annual migration through the park. Each year over a million wildebeest journey from the southern Serengeti plains to the Masai Mara, which sits atop the Serengeti. It’s estimated that at least 250,000 wildebeest die on this annual journey from a mixture of starvation, drought, predation and exhaustion.

The most dramatic part of the great wildebeest migration is when the wildebeest have to cross the crocodile-infested Mara River in the north of the Serengeti. This is the most dangerous part of the journey as they have to contend with hungry crocodiles, strong currents and predators waiting at the banks of the river.

Lone cape buffalo in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
A lone cape buffalo in the Serengeti National Park

Tips for Visiting Serengeti National Park

I’d recommend going on a full-day safari in the Serengeti and having a picnic lunch rather than returning to your lodge for a hot meal. This is because the Serengeti is so vast and going out all day gives you a chance to explore more of it, not just the plains near your lodge.

The Serengeti has tsetse flies so avoid wearing dark colours such as black and navy blue as these are attractive to the flies. Wear light colours instead as well as insect repellent.

Wear high-factor sunscreen for your safari, even if it’s a bit cloudy. Take the tube out with you so you can reapply throughout the day.

Mornings in the Serengeti can be chilly but the middle of the day can get quite hot. Therefore it’s best to layer up so you can be prepared for all temperatures.

The best time to visit the Serengeti is within the long dry season, between June and October. However, the short rainy season between mid-December and the end of February is also a great time.

In order to make the most out of the Serengeti, you need to spend a minimum of 2 nights and 3 days here.

Where to Spend the Night

Spend another night in the Serengeti National Park.

If you spent the previous night in Central Serengeti, you will spend another night here.

If you spent the previous night in Northern Serengeti, you will spend tonight in a lodge or tented camp in Central Serengeti.

A typical mid-range tented camp in the Serengeti Tanzania
A typical mid-range tented camp in the Serengeti

My Experience Visiting Serengeti National Park

I’ve visited the Serengeti on numerous occasions and can confidently say it’s my favourite national park in the world! A highlight for me was spotting three individual leopards in one day, all relaxing in acacia trees.

Another magical moment was watching two cheetah brothers feed on a freshly-caught wildebeest one evening. They were bathed in golden light as they gorged themselves, their bellies quickly becoming very round!

You can watch my video on my big cat experiences in the Serengeti here.

I have also witnessed the famous Mara River crossing, watching several groups of wildebeest run the gauntlet and risk their lives swimming across the river. One wildebeest was not so lucky and was taken out by a massive crocodile as it struggled to battle against the current.

You can watch my video on the Mara River crossing here.

Two cheetahs eating a kill in the Serengeti
Two cheetahs eating a kill in the Serengeti

Day 8: Serengeti National Park

Total drive time (excluding game drives): 3 hours

Today you will have another full-day game drive in the Serengeti. However, instead of spending another night in the Serengeti, you’ll end the day at a lodge on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater which is a 3 hour drive from Central Serengeti.

Itinerary

Embark on another early morning game drive at around 6am. Today you’ll have the chance to enjoy another full-day safari, increasing your chances of seeing as many of the Serengeti’s key animals as possible.

On today’s safari you will gradually journey further south, journeying through the vast open plains of Southern Serengeti.

You’ll stop for a picnic lunch part-way through the day before commencing your game drive.

This afternoon you will leave the Serengeti National Park and journey through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, past the Olduvai Gorge Monument before journeying across the rim of Ngorongoro Crater to your lodge for the night.

Where to Spend the Night

You’ll spend the night in a lodge that’s ideally located on Ngorongoro Crater rim. Alternatively, you can spend the night just outside Ngorongoro Crater, in the town of Karatu.

Two lion cubs in Serengeti, Tanzania
Two lion cubs in Serengeti, Tanzania

Day 9: Ngorongoro Crater

Total drive time (excluding game drives): 3 hours (30 minutes to the crater and 2.5 hours to Tarangire after your safari)

This morning you will descend into the majestic Ngorongoro Crater for a full-day safari. After your safari, you will journey to your onward accommodation which is near your next safari destination – Tarangire National Park.

Itinerary

The gates to Ngorongoro Crater open at 6am. I’d recommend arriving at the gates as early as possible as this increases your chances of seeing Ngorongoro’s rare black rhinos, who can often be found together in the early morning. As the day goes on, they tend to disperse and hide.

You’ll then go on a full-day game drive within the crater. All of the Big Five can be seen here (elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and buffalos) as well as hippos and flamingos on the crater’s large lake, Lake Magadi.

You’ll have a picnic lunch in the early afternoon at the crater’s designated picnic area, Ngoitokitok Picnic Area, which sits overlooking a hippo pool.

You’ll then continue your safari for an hour or so before exiting the crater.

It’s then a roughly 2.5 hour journey to your lodge for the evening which is just outside Tarangire National Park. You’re then ready for an early morning safari in Tarangire tomorrow.

A slight adjustment to this itinerary is spending the night in Karatu after your safari instead. Karatu is only 30 minutes outside the crater and has more budget accommodation options. If you are on a budget safari then this will be the preferred option as the lodges outside Tarangire are mid-range and luxury.

Zebras and Wildebeest within Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Zebras and wildebeests within Ngorongoro Crater

About Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater is in fact the caldera of a collapsed ancient volcano which once stood taller than Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s the world’s biggest caldera and there’s nowhere else like it on earth. The crater formed 2.5 million years ago when the volcano erupted and collapsed in on itself.

The vast plains on the crater floor provide a sanctuary for tens of thousands of animals. Herbivores such as zebras, wildebeests and gazelles like the open plains as they can easily see predators approaching.

The crater is home to the highest density of lions in the world.

Ngorongoro Crater can be visited year-round as due to the enclosed nature of the crater, animals don’t migrate out of it.

Tips for Visiting Ngorongoro Crater

When having lunch at the picnic site, be wary of black kites. These birds of prey have grown confident around humans and will frequently try to grab food out of your hands. You’ll therefore want to keep any food that you’re not currently eating covered and not wave any food around in your arms. I witnessed a black kite swoop down and snatch a woman’s sandwich right out of her hands!

Black kites aren’t the only bird you have to watch out for. I also saw a marabou stork sip someone’s champagne when they weren’t looking!

The crater floor is surprisingly windy so I’d recommend wrapping up in layers to keep warm and wear a hat if you have one. My ears ended up getting extremely cold and painful, even with a cap on.

Despite the iciness of the breeze, the sun still shines brightly and you can easily get sunburnt. Therefore you need to wear high-factor sunscreen and I’d recommend bringing the tube with you so you can reapply throughout the day.

Serval hunting in Ngorongoro Crater
I was fortunate to see a serval hunting in Ngorongoro Crater – they normally hunt at night

Where to Spend the Night

I’d recommend spending the night outside or within Tarangire National Park which is a mere 2.5 hour drive from Ngorongoro Crater. Spending the night here ensures you’re able to get up bright and early tomorrow for a game drive within Tarangire.

It is worth noting however that Tarangire only houses mid-range and luxury accommodation options at present. Therefore if you are on a budget safari, you’re probably better spending the night in Karatu, the town just outside Ngorongoro Crater, and journeying to Tarangire for your safari tomorrow morning.

My Experience Visiting Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater is a truly magical safari destination. Even driving atop the crater rim provides an incredible experience as in the morning it is often shrouded by mist.

When you first lay eyes on the crater, I’m confident it will take your breath away, like it did with me. Towering crater walls surround the crater on all sides, providing you with a unique landscape to marvel at.

In terms of wildlife experiences, Ngorongoro Crater is the only place I’ve been to so far where I have seen a serval cat. Smaller than a cheetah, the serval is normally active at night and so seldom seen. I was lucky enough to see an entire family wandering through the open plains of the crater, on the hunt for rodents. They were successful and I watched them leap into the air and accurately land on their quarry before devouring them in a few hungry gulps.

I was also excited to see a golden jackal in Ngorongoro Crater. Despite what Scientists long believed, this canine is in fact a wolf and has since been renamed as the African golden wolf. The wolf found in Tanzania and Kenya is in fact a sub-species known as the Serengeti wolf. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the best places to see them.

I also saw lions, elephants, buffalos, hippos, zebras, wildebeest and more.

You can watch my video on my experience in Ngorongoro Crater here.

A herd of wildebeests on the vast Ngorongoro crater floor with the crater walls in the background
A herd of wildebeests on the vast Ngorongoro crater floor with the crater walls in the background

Day 10: Tarangire National Park

Total drive time (excluding game drives): 3 hours

Today you’ll go on a full-day game drive in Tarangire National Park, one of the best places in the world to see African elephants.

Itinerary

If you spent the night just outside Tarangire or within the park itself, you will rise early for a game drive starting at 6am, when the gates open.

If you spent the night in Karatu then you will depart from Karatu at around 7am in order to arrive in Tarangire National Park at around 10am.

You’ll then embark on a full-day game drive within the park, stopping for a picnic lunch at a scenic site, known as Matete Picnic Site, which overlooks the Tarangire River at lunchtime.

After lunch, you will gradually make your way through the park, back towards the northern entrance gate. You will then journey to Arusha which will take around 3 hours. You’ll spend the night in Arusha.

African Elephant in Tarangire National Park
African Elephants are the largest land mammal in the world. Photographed in Tarangire National Park.

About Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park is home to over 4,000 elephants. They can be seen in herds of up to 500 individuals at a time. This makes Tarangire one of the best places in the world to see African elephants in the wild.

As well as being a haven for elephants, Tarangire is also well known for its impressive baobab trees, some of which are 100 metres in size. Easily recognisable by their wide trunks, baobabs almost look like upside down trees, their small branches like roots in the air. Old baobab trees often have hollow trunks with gaping holes in them. The old baobabs of Tarangire were once used by poachers who would hide in the hollow trunks.

Tarangire National Park houses a number of migratory animals which means that the time of year that you visit can have a big impact on what you see. The best time to visit is during the long dry season between June and October as this is when you’ll see the large herds of migrating herbivores such as elephants, wildebeest and zebras.

Tips for Visiting Tarangire National Park

If you want to see Tarangire in all its glory then you’ll need to plan your visit to coincide with Tanzania’s long dry season, between June and October. Although you can still have a good experience at other times of the year, this is where you’ll see the highest density of animals and have the highest chances of seeing huge elephant herds.

As with all your safaris on this itinerary, remember to wear high-factor sunscreen and insect repellent. I also recommend bringing the tubes with you on your game drives so you can reapply when necessary.

A mother baboon with her two babies in Tarangire
A mother baboon with her two babies

Where to Spend the Night

You’ll spend the night in the bustling city of Arusha which is around a 3 hour drive from Tarangire. There are a vast number of accommodation options here, including hotels, lodges, Airbnbs and even some hostels.

My Experience Visiting Tarangire National Park

The first thing I noticed about Tarangire was how the scenery was so vastly different to other parks I had visited in Tanzania. The grass is long and baobab trees dot the landscape. It’s a very scenic park – great for photographs.

As soon as I entered the park gates, I was greeted with my first wildlife sighting. Wildebeests, zebras, warthogs, elands and banded mongooses were all out and about.

It didn’t take long until I had my first elephant sighting. A family of elephants were crossing the road up ahead, on route to a watering hole. I watched as the family drank from the pool and tossed water over their heads. Amongst the family was a small baby elephant who enjoyed rolling around in the water. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I watched it play!

I saw a number of other elephant families that day. I also saw giraffes, lions, baboons and many types of antelope including a pair of dik-diks.

You can watch my video on my experience in Tarangire here.

Giraffe, zebras and wildebeest in Tarangire National Park
Giraffe, zebras and wildebeest in Tarangire National Park

Day 11: Zanzibar

Total drive time (excluding game drives): 3 hours (around 1 hour from Arusha to the airport and around 2 hours from Zanzibar airport to your hotel)

Today you will leave mainland Tanzania and fly to the island of Zanzibar.

Zanzibar is famous for its pristine white-sand beaches that are lapped upon by crystal clear waters. Scuba diving and snorkelling are popular activities here, as well as visiting the island’s capital of Stone Town.

Itinerary

You’ll journey from your hotel in Arusha to either Arusha Airport or Kilimanjaro International Airport in order to fly to Zanzibar.

Arusha Airport is closest to the city, a mere 30 minute drive from the centre. Several flights depart from Arusha Airport to Zanzibar each day. They are typically 1.5 hours long and cost between $100 and $200 per person.

Kilimanjaro International Airport is 1 hour outside of Arusha. Again, there are a number of flights that depart for Zanzibar each day, each lasting around 1.5 hours in length and costing between $100 and $200 per person.

Some flights available stop in Dar Es Salaam before Zanzibar. Ensure that you book a direct flight as stopping can add a lot of time to your journey.

Flights are available throughout the day so exactly what time you depart is up to you. I’d recommend a flight around 10am so that you don’t have to wake up too early for your flight yet still have plenty of time to enjoy Zanzibar.

Once you arrive in Zanzibar, you will journey to your hotel for the evening.

Zanzibar
The beautiful white sand beaches of Zanzibar

About Zanzibar

Zanzibar is the name given often to the largest island off the coast of Tanzania. In reality, Zanzibar is the name of the entire archipelago and the largest island is actually called Unguja. As Zanzibar has become so synonymous with the large island of Unguja, in this article when I talk about Zanzibar, I am talking about Unguja.

Zanzibar is perhaps most famous for its miles of white sandy beaches that are fringed by swaying palm trees. Many of its flagship beaches can be found on the east coast. Jambiani and Paje are considered some of the best beaches on the island.

The island’s capital city is Zanzibar and can be found on the island’s south west coast. Within Zanzibar city is a historical old town called Stone Town which is a must-visit for travellers who wish to learn more about Zanzibar’s heritage and culture. Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a melting point of cultures.

You can enjoy a number of water-related activities on Zanzibar, such as snorkelling, scuba diving, kite surfing and going on boat trips to nearby islands.

Tips for Visiting Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a predominantly muslim island so when in public spaces it’s respectful to dress modestly. Long trousers or skirts for women are acceptable as well as tops that cover the shoulders.

Remember to wear plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent!

Where to Spend the Night

You’ll spend the night in a hotel in Zanzibar. I’d recommend booking a beachfront hotel on the island’s east or north coast as this is where the nicest stretches of beach are.

A typical Zanzibar resort
A beachfront resort in Zanzibar

Day 12 – 14: Zanzibar

Total drive time (excluding game drives): dependant on what activities you do

For the last few days of your Kenya and Tanzania itinerary, you will get to explore Zanzibar island at your own pace.

On your final day, you will fly home from Zanzibar.

Things to Do in Zanzibar

There are a number of things you can do in Zanzibar. Below are some of my favourites.

1. Go Snorkelling

The coasts of Zanzibar are fringed with beautiful coral reefs. One of the best spots for a snorkel is Nungwi Beach, in the very north of Zanzibar. The reef herer is a narrow strip and amongst all the corals you can often find starfish.

Other great locations to snorkel include Pingwe Beach, Paje Beach and Jambiani Beach on the east coast.

Snorkel with turtles in Zanzibar
Snorkel with turtles in Zanzibar
2. Explore Stone Town

Stone Town is the colourful hub of Zanzibar, characterised by old crumbling buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, rows of quaint shops and lively markets.

You can explore Stone Town as part of a city tour or simply wander the streets on your own.

There are a lot of monuments to look out for in Stone Town including the Old Fort, the oldest building in Zanzibar, on the seafront and Freddie Mercury’s house.

3. Go Scuba Diving

Mnemba Island atoll off Zanzibar’s east coast is a fantastic place to go scuba diving. Lionfish, moray eels, stingrays, dolphins and turtles are some of the many critters that you can expect to see here.

Where to Spend the Night

Spend the rest of your nights in a beachfront hotel on Zanzibar island.

Recommended Booking Options For Your 2-Week Kenya and Tanzania Safari

Private Safari

Most popular & best experience – typical prices start from $300 per person per day.

Visit safarisbyella.com for free quotes from trustworthy local tour companies I use to book my own trips.

Ella Mckendrick with lions in Serengeti

Group (Shared) Camping Safari

Good for budget or solo travellers – from $160 per person per day.

My recommended Tanzania and Kenya tour operators only provide private safaris, however, I’ve listed the best group options for the most similar itineraries I could find, on Safari Bookings below. Please note that none of them follow the exact itinerary below. To get the exact itinerary in this article, you’ll need to book a private safari.

Click the links below to request quotes for the group safari options on the safari bookings website.

13-Day Budget Group Kenya and Tanzania Safari Option 1

13-Day Budget Group Kenya and Tanzania Safari Option 2

12-Day Budget Group Kenya and Tanzania Safari

Final Thoughts

Both Kenya and Tanzania are incredible destinations for a safari. Combining the two countries into one itinerary can provide a diverse safari experience, taking you to the very best of each of them.

If you have more time, consider a 10-day Kenya safari followed by a 10-day Tanzania safari as this will allow you to see even more of what the countries have to offer.

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