The Conservancies of Cardamom Kenya & Tanzania

I’ve been on safari since the age of 4. In that time, I have been fortunate to have a front row seat to the wilds of East Africa. And each visit, something connects with me emotionally, whether it’s the Matthews Forest, or the Mbulia Conservancy. Beyond the great migration, there is something special, that leaves me speechless, that awaits on this safari. President's Picks | Big Five Tours

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President’s Picks

COUNTRIES VISITED

Tanzania including Zanzibar

Kenya Safari Tours

STARTING AT..

Price starts at 1500 Land per person, per day, double occupancy.

TOUR LENGTH

18

Tour Highlights/Full Description

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  • Go on fascinating Game Drives & Walks. It has established itself as one of the ‘hot spots for quality leopard viewing in Africa and equally, for close-up sightings of the normally extremely shy lesser kudu antelope.
  • Enjoy two full days of game viewing activities in the famous ‘Seventh’ natural wonder of the world, the Maasai Mara in Kenya.
  • Free yourself of all cares as you indulge in one of the most up and coming self-sustainable properties in Kenya, nestled along with the shore this elegant Swahili-influenced gem, perched on a coral outcrop that overlooks its private beach cove. Today the Cardamom House takes great efforts to aide and uplift social economy of this fishing town through responsibile tourism.
  • Visit a nearby fossilized giraffe skull and contemplate how long ago these animals roamed the Serengeti.
  • One of the most exciting ways to explore the Serengeti is on foot.  When you step down from the vehicle, appreciate all the small things that you miss on a game drive. Identify butterflies, ants, termites, and dung beetles, or get closer to birds when they’re not startled by the engine noise. This is a great opportunity to learn how the whole Serengeti ecosystem works.

DAY 1: ARRIVE in NAIROBI, KENYA                                                                                                    

Karibu ni Kenya! Welcome to Kenya! Upon arrival at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, a representative will meet you as you exit the aircraft and VIP assisted through the arrival immigration process. Afterward, you are met by your local guide and transferred to your hotel. Villa Rosa Kempinski offers guests a 24-hour front desk, a spa, and a fitness center. The spacious rooms are elegantly furnished and offer city views. They are equipped with a mini-bar, desk and flat-screen TV. Some of the rooms have balconies. Villa Rosa Kempinski features a variety of restaurants, featuring local and international cuisine. Guests can enjoy a selection of Italian dishes at Lucca Restaurant and Deli at Cafe Villa Rosa. Guests can unwind in the Spa for relaxation, which features 9 treatment rooms, a sauna, a fully equipped fitness center, and an outdoor swimming pool. VILLA ROSA KEMPINSKI 

DAY 2: NAIROBI

This morning is at your leisure to recover from yesterday’s long flight. Then you will meet your private guide and proceed to the Karen Blixen House and Museum. For anyone with an interest in Karen Blixen’s book Out of Africa or the subsequent film, this museum is a must-see. The author lived on a coffee estate in a house known as Bogani from 1914 until 1931. This area has now developed into the modern suburb of Karen on the outskirts of Nairobi. The house is now a National Museum and is maintained for visitors in its original condition. Those who have read the book or seen the film (which was filmed on location here) will recognize the house with its sprawling tropical garden and the nearby Ngong Hills views. Efforts have been made to decorate all rooms of the house in their original style. The house itself is furnished with a mixture of original decor and props from the 1985 film production. The grounds contain displays of farming equipment from the plantation. You will also have time to visit some local markets and the Kazuri beads factory in the Karen district. Afterward, return to your hotel for dinner and overnight. VILLA ROSA KEMPINSKI – Executive Balcony Room (B,L,D) Included:  Bed and breakfast and supply of mineral water in the room.

 

DAY 3: NAIROBI / MATTHEW’S FOREST / NAMUNYAK WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY

This morning you are transferred to Wilson airport for your charter flight to the Matthews Forest airstrip. On arrival, you are met and transferred to your camp. Sarara is found within the lands of the Namunyak Wildlife Conversation Trust. An area is approximately 850,000 acres which lie folded around the southern corner of the fabled Mathews Mountain Range of northern Kenya. This is home to the proud Samburu tribes’ people, a group of semi-nomadic pastoralists who have long shown tolerance for the wildlife that co-exists alongside their cattle. Six spacious tents each with ensuite bathrooms and open-air showers await you. A visit to Sarara is a chance to experience a wilderness like no other in Africa. Between 1977 and 1995 over 30,000 elephants and rhinos were killed by poachers and with all the elephants gone, the Grevy zebras and reticulated giraffe went too. In 1993, Ian Craig of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy persuaded the neighboring Il Ngwesi community to become the first community conservation initiative in the north of Kenya. Set up in 1995, the Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust was established to bring peace to this troubled region. The conservancy has grown from 185,000 acres of pristine wilderness to 850,000 acres, and today there are seventeen similar community projects up and running under the umbrella of The Northern Rangelands Trust working with the indigenous Samburu people. The trust has changed the attitudes of the local communities towards wildlife and, most importantly, made the area safe from poachers. With the income from the camp and people like you, the trust hopes to keep attracting more and more animals back to the area. Today 4,000 elephants have returned to the Mathews range. And where there are elephants, the other animals know it is safe to go and they too are coming home.

The camp is powered by solar energy generated by several sets of solar panels. Fresh food is kept, not in a refrigerator, but in a specially designed charcoal store. Twice a day the charcoal is soaked with water and evaporation keeps food at cellar temperatures. All water is gravity fed through fresh, pure mountain springs – no pumps required – and then passed through a UV filter. Bottles/glass/plastic/tins are all removed from Sarara and recycled. Solar panels run all freezers etc. Minimal chlorine is used in the pool. Sewage is sent into a soak-away tank. The buildings all use local naturally felled trees and local stone. Begin your game activities later today. SARARA CAMP – Luxury Tent (B,L,D) Included: Full board accommodation, soft drinks, beer, house wine & non-premium wines and spirits, laundry, local airstrip transfers, safari activities including day and night game drives, guided bush walks, horse riding, hiking in the montane forest of the Mathews, trips to Reteti Elephant Sanctuary (Entrance fees extra) fly camping and village visit. / Excluded: Special drinks, tips & any other expenses of personal nature

 

DAY 4: NAMUNYAK WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY

A full day to enjoy game activities offered at the camp. Game Drives & Walks – Sarara has established itself as one of the ‘hot spots for quality leopard viewing in Africa and equally, for close-up sightings of the normally extremely shy lesser kudu antelope. The African wild dogs are frequently encountered in the Sarara valley too. Elephant, buffalo, giraffe, gerenuk, impala and warthogs are now regularly seen on the game drives and bush walks and are very much on the increase in numbers. Unusual sightings include striped hyena, aardwolf, civet cat, African wild cat, greater kudu, Grevy zebra and cheetah. Singing Wells – The Samburu people have a wonderful tradition which our guests are welcome to come and watch. Every morning the Samburu warriors bring their cattle to the dry riverbed near the camp. The warriors begin to dig deep wells which will provide drinking water for their cattle.  Naked, the warriors sing as they dig. The singing creates a rhythm that synchronizes the teamwork as buckets are lifted from one warrior to the next as the well is dug. But the songs also have the additional function of calling each warrior’s cattle to his particular well. In keeping with the camp’s promise not to photograph this very personal and important ritual, we can’t show you a photo but one of our guests did a lovely drawing of the singing wells. Guests have commented that their morning with Mark at the Singing Wells was the highlight, not just of their time at Sarara, but of their trip overall. Sarara is the only place in the world where one can view this magical and timeless tribal tradition. SARARA CAMP – Luxury Tent (B,L,D)

 

DAY 5: NAMUNYAK WILDLIFE CONSERVANCY / MASAI MARA GAME RESERVE  

This morning depart by scheduled flight from Kalama airstrip for the South to the Masai Mara, on arrival you are met and transferred to your luxury tented camp. The award-winning Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp has its own 7608-acre private conservancy and is situated one kilometer from the famous ‘seventh’ natural wonder of the world, the Maasai Mara in Kenya and the Tanzania Serengeti game reserve. Owned and managed by the oldest established and continuing safari family in Africa, it extends an era of luxury and quality and returns to the original spirit and essence of ‘safari’. Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp provides the romance of safari under cream canvas tents, the style of the bygone era of the twenties, while at the same time supplying the amenities required by today’s modern world travelers and professional guides whose qualifications are the highest in Africa. The camp offers an abundance of wildlife, a guarantee of privacy, and the highest standards of professional guiding in a luxurious and authentic camping environment. Begin enjoying the camp’s activities this afternoon, ranging from walking and guided bush walks, to night safaris and traditional game drives. COTTARS CAMP – Luxury Tent (B,L,D) Included: Full board accommodation, water, tea & coffee, local drinks – soft drinks, house wines, beers & selected spirits, safari activities including shared day and night game drives, bush walks/runs, Keekorok Airstrip transfers, canvas baths, transfers to cultural visits and laundry. / Excluded: Champagne, luxury wines & spirits, cultural village entry fee, massage and spa treatments, gratuities to guides and staff and anything of a personal nature.

 

DAY 6 & 7: MASAI MARA GAME RESERVE

For the next two days, you have full days of game viewing activities with your naturalist guide. At Cottars they provide genuinely stunning wildlife and wilderness experiences, engaging in the original spirit and essence of Safari. The activities are tailored to give you the most authentic African safari experiences with a guiding style that is different from other safari operators. They emphasize the quality not the quantity of the wilderness and wildlife, the emotional intelligence of the guide to become your friend in a short time, and to have the guests appreciate and join the pace of the wilderness. They also strive to maintain a balance between a prosperous business and sustainable conservation, social entrepreneurship, and community development and all our activities are centered around this. COTTARS CAMP – Luxury Tent (B,L,D daily)

 

DAY 8: MASAI MARA GAME RESERVE / SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK, TANZANIA

After an early morning game drive and breakfast, fly to Migori. After clearing border formalities you continue with another short flight to Seronera Airstrip in the central Serengeti. You are met on arrival by your guide and transferred to the camp. Africa’s most famous park is unequaled in its primitive natural beauty and fantastic abundance of plains game.  Throughout the ages, naturalists and writers have singled out this very special sanctuary in their paeans of praise. And with good reason!  Here, since time immemorial, the world’s most astonishing annual migration takes place.  Herds of plains game numbering more than a million stretch to the horizon in long slender lines.  Naturally, some hosts of predators follow along.  No words can adequately describe this stronghold of wildlife. Our luxury tented camp is unique, cleverly located on one of the main annual migration corridors for over one million wildebeest, half a million zebras and gazelles, and their accompanying cast of predators it is also located at the very epicenter of one of the world’s most famous national parks. Game drives with safari luncheons, lantern-lit bush suppers and unforgettable conversations are what make the Serengeti a prime location for the best game viewing. NAMIRI PLAINS CAMP – Luxury Tent (B,L,D) Included: Full board accommodation, water, tea & coffee, local drinks – soft drinks, house wines, local spirits & beers, shared game drives/ Excluded: Champagne, luxury wines & spirits, cultural village entry fee, massage and spa treatments, gratuities to guides and staff and anything of a personal nature.

 

DAY 9 & 10: SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

Before Namiri Plains was built, these grasslands were closed for 20 years to allow the cheetah population to restore. The nearest other camps are over an hour’s drive away so you can experience the vast plains all to yourself. When not out in the bush spotting lion and other big cats or watching huge wildebeest herds, while away an afternoon around the pool or schedule a massage in the spa. Feed your mind in the library and information center, or simply chill out and soak up the views from your own private deck. All food is made in the camp, including fresh bread, biscuits, and muffins. Breakfast is a continental buffet or full English, and lunch is a light buffet with salad or fresh vegetables. If you opt to extend your game drive into the day, a packed lunch will be provided for a bush picnic. Later, a three-course dinner is served in the dining tent or under the stars.  The grasslands around Namiri are vast and unspoiled, thanks to the time they spent off-limits to tourists. Whether you choose to explore the surrounding Serengeti on foot or by air, or if you prefer to spend some time relaxing in camp, there is plenty on offer at Namiri Plains. There are two game drives each day: one first thing in the morning, the other in the late afternoon. With expert guides, spot the area’s big cats — lions or cheetahs and sometimes the elusive leopard. One of the most exciting ways to explore the Serengeti is on foot. When you step down from the vehicle, appreciate all the small things that you miss on a game drive. Identify butterflies, ants, termites, and dung beetles, or get closer to birds when they’re not startled by the engine noise. This is a great opportunity to learn how the whole Serengeti ecosystem works. There’s ancient history to be discovered on the plains around Namiri Plains. Visit a nearby fossilized giraffe skull and contemplate how long ago these animals roamed the Serengeti. If you’re keen to find out more, page through the fossil literature in the library or have a look at the information displayed around the bar area. A unique opportunity to spend an informative evening with Namiri Plains’ resident cheetah researcher while donating to the incredible Serengeti Cheetah Project. The Serengeti Cheetah Project has operated for over 30 years and is part of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). This dedicated project monitors and studies fluctuations in birth and survival rates of cheetahs, which leads to predicting the future of cheetah numbers in other parts of their range, as well as providing valuable insight into the challenges facing cheetah, recognizing solutions to reduce these conflicts, hopefully resulting in the conservation of this elegant species. NAMIRI PLAINS CAMP – Luxury Tent (B,L,D)

 

DAY 11: SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK / ARUSHA

Your morning game drive ends at the local airstrip where you board the flight to Arusha. You are met by our representative and transferred to your lodge. Arusha Coffee Lodge lies cradled in the endless acres of Tanzania’s largest coffee plantation.  This exclusive, boutique hotel lodge has been designed around the farm’s original plantation homes, radiating the warmth and invitation of the old colonial plantation homes historically distinctive to the coffee plantations. Luxurious accommodation, fine cuisine, and roaring fires beckon to the most seasoned traveler. The Arusha Coffee Lodge accommodation consists of 18 plantation houses lavishly furnished, featuring a split-level living room area and a private deck patio.  Offering every guest amenity and fancy, the Arusha Coffee Lodge is the place to relax and rejuvenate before or after a Tanzanian Safari.  Laze around the swimming pool, enjoy a sundowner at the Safari Bar, unwind after a delectable meal in the lounge with good liquor and a fireside chat. ARUSHA COFFEE LODGE – Cottage (B,L,D) Included: Full board accommodation / Excluded: all drinks, laundry and anything of a personal nature.

 

DAY 12: ARUSHA / MBULIA CONSERVANCY / TSAVO NATIONAL PARK, KENYA

Today you drive via the Taveta border crossing point to your next camp in Tsavo. Perched on the side of the Mbulia Hills, Kipalo Hills enjoys fantastic views looking out across the 12,000 acres Mbulia Conservancy towards Ngulia Hills and Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance. Kipalo Hills was built with the people and for the local community to benefit from protecting the resident wildlife, especially elephants. Kipalo Hills enjoys easy access to Tsavo West and East National Parks for game drives, renowned for the largest elephant population in Kenya. The waterhole below the camp attracts a range of wildlife including elephants, buffalo, and leopards which can be spotted as they descend on the area for an early morning drink. The Tsavo area is also a bird haven, and every room comes with a complete bird list. Fly-camping down on the Galana and Tsavo Rivers offer an exciting opportunity to sleep out under the stars for a night or more. This wilderness features extreme diversity of landscape, from fields of baobabs to huge rocky kopjes framed against vast blue skies. The Yatta Plateau and its lashes of lava flow stretch 300km to the ends of Tsavo and is the longest lava flow in the world. Tsavo is a vast untapped arena of the arid bush, split by the azure and emerald meandering Galana and Tsavo Rivers, a water-haven and lifeline to the resident wildlife. Beyond the stunning landscape and wildlife, Tsavo is rife with a fascinating history – from its part in the First World War to the first railway, ‘The Lunatic Line’, and the famous Man-eaters of Tsavo. KIPALO HILLS CAMP – Safari Tent (B,L,D)

 

DAY 13 & 14: MBULIA CONSERVANCY / TSAVO NATIONAL PARK

Experience a comfortable camp with delicious, fresh innovative cuisine coupled with breathtaking scenery. Each of the six luxury double mobile tents has an en-suite flushing loo and a traditional safari shower. The tents are located far apart, and all enjoy wonderful views of the spectacular scenery and impenetrable wilderness across the Mbulia Conservancy plains that stretch as far as the eye can see. The name ‘Kipalo’ means ‘the place to return to again and again in the local Taita language, taken from the ancient elephant rubbings on the rock and baobab trees surrounding the Lodge. Kipalo Hills is more than just a luxury, boutique art lodge in Tsavo that is family-friendly. It is a home away from home with delicious, innovative meals and cultural experiences that allow our guests to see a new side of Kenya. Kenya is more than just Masai and Samburu tribes. At Kipalo Hills, you can learn about and engage with the Taita people. You will also get to meet Kamuti, a reformed poacher who is our exclusive guide. Kamuti is one of the few true bushmen left. He will show you how and why he lived his life as a poacher, teach you how to survive in the bush using traditional African medicine and teach you how to track animals as taught him by his ancestors. KIPALO HILLS CAMP – Safari Tent (B,L,D)

 

DAY 15: TSAVO NATIONAL PARK / KURUWITU BEACH, VIPINGO

After a final morning game drive and breakfast, you are transferred to your next stop, a beautiful beach hideaway nestled in the quiet coastal village of Kuruwitu. You will find Cardamom House on a piece of wild untamed land fringed by the sea in the east and a jungle in the west, surrounded by beautiful old trees whose roots hug the soil and branches create a canopy of shade. With just 10 rooms, this Afro chic property is spiced with Swahili influences. In addition to being a sustainable travel establishment, staying here means you support the Kuruwitu Marine Area, the first locally managed marine park in Kenya stretching7.5 miles protecting marine life while sustainably supporting almost 30000 villagers. Beach entry is private, only house guests, the blue seas, white sand, and coconut palm trees. Guests can enjoy a dinner on the private beach under the stars, refreshing sundowners at the only sunset and sunrise spot for miles around, or wake up with yoga and 360-degree views. All furnishings have been locally made or upcycled from old Swahili boats or driftwood. CARDAMOM HOUSE – Villa Shela / The Tower (B,L,D) Included: Full board accommodation and meals, bottled water, tea & coffee, soft drinks, beers & non-luxury selected spirits, laundry, beach breakfasts/dinners, airport transfers, and hotel excursions./ Excluded: Champagne, luxury spirits, massages, deep-sea fishing, horse ride (has to be pre-booked), gratuities, and anything of a personal nature.

 

DAY 16 & 17: KURUWITU BEACH, VIPINGO

Days at leisure to relax and enjoy. It is said when you awake your eyes open to the sea and thus begin a new day…. CARDAMOM HOUSE – Villa Shela / The Tower (B,L,D)

 

DAY 18: KURUWITU BEACH, VIPINGO / NAIROBI

This morning you are transferred to Vipingo airstrip where you board your flight back to Nairobi. On arrival, you are met and transferred to the Kempinski hotel where you have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Then it is Kwaheri (a Swahili goodbye) as you are transferred back to the airport in time for your departing flight home. After check-in, you’ll have some time for last-minute shopping at the Duty-Free Shops near your departure gate. VILLA ROSA KEMPINSKI – Dayroom (B,L,D)

 Land price, per person, double occupancy: Price starts from USD $1,500 per person per day, double occupancy.

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