East Africa Sky Safari

Two African giants. Millions of animals. Near-endless wilderness. One seamless, epic journey… Our combined trip to Kenya and Tanzania encompasses the very best of this intoxicating pair, from the heat-hazed, star-streaked Kenyan savannah, teeming with wildlife, to the highlands of Northern Tanzania, home to the continent’s highest mountain, the planet’s largest intact caldera, vast golden plains, truly enormous skies.

Our carefully curated flying safari will deliver the deepest, most engrossing East Africa immersion. We’ve thought of everything: luxurious lodges, executive planes, smooth transfers, the most incredible locations – every last detail covered, so all you have to do is relax into your trip of a lifetime.

Day 1: Nairobi

There’s no other capital quite like Nairobi  - A city where giraffe and zebra roam right in the city limits. The hubbub can seem overwhelming, but we’ll ease your arrival, fast-tracking you from airport to Hemingways, an enclave of sophisticated calm. This five-star all-suite retreat sits at the foot of the Ngong Hills, in extensive bird-flittered gardens; it’s the perfect spot for sinking into holiday mode, enjoying a delicious dinner, toasting the start of your SkySafari with a cocktail or two. Overnight - Hemingways (1 night)

Day 2: Nairobi & Amboseli National Park

Rise and shine: it’s your first morning in Africa - Your butler will know how you like your tea and, after breakfast, we’ll drive you right onto the runway for your SkySafari flight, direct to Amboseli National Park.  In no time you’ll be kicking back at Elewana Tortilis Camp, eating lunch in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro: unlike most Amboseli lodges, which are in the middle of the park, Gold Eco-rated Tortilis is set away from the rest, on the pristine southwest border, with the best mountain views and full access to both Amboseli and an exclusive private conservancy. Tortilis has been key in developing community-owned conservancies, where land outside national parks is secured for wildlife preservation. It’s beneficial for animals and local people, and for you too – encounters with big game here tend to be higher quality, more frequent, more electrifying.

Also, few other travelers explore this area – when you head out on your afternoon game drive, you’re unlikely to see anyone else, just prolific wildlife: from huge herds of habituated elephant (Tortilis’ guides know all the elephant families and their histories) to cape buffalo and hyena, giraffe and zebra, and over 600 species of birds. 

Discuss the late-afternoon’s action over a delicious dinner back at camp, before a night in your luxe tent, sleeping soundly in the bush. Overnight - Tortillas Camp (2 nights)

Day 3:  Amboseli National Park

Early AM wake-up to get out for that morning game drive when the plains are a-stir, the animals most active, the big cats returning from a night on the hunt. These are also the golden hours for photographers, as dawn light rose-tints the savannah and Kilimanjaro is most likely to be free of cloud. After a wild start, enjoy a lavish bush breakfast, served out amid the acacia trees. There’s time to relax back at camp – with a swim, a massage, a good book in the sun – before a buffet lunch. Then prepare for your most intimate encounter with the bush: local guides, who know almost every blade grass, will lead you on a walking safari; you’ll follow animal tracks, taste bush herbs, revel in the tiny details, perhaps encounter something larger… It’s a fresh, thrilling perspective.

As the day draws to a close, raise a classic African Sundowner. Nothing says safari like an ice-cool G&T, sipped as the sun disappears, before a private dinner under the stars. 

Day 4: Amboseli National Park & Loisaba Conservancy, Laikipia

Breakfast will never be the same again, now you’ve eaten it with Kilimanjaro looming beyond the coffee cups.  Take it all in, before venturing out in the camp’s custom-designed 4WDs for one last game drive – one last chance to see Amboseli’s big cats, big herds, big drama. Then we’ll whisk you to the airstrip for a seamless and spectacular flight to Loisaba Conservancy on the Laikipia Plateau. With the second-highest density of wildlife in the country and a groundbreaking attitude to conservation, this is one of the most exciting destinations in Kenya.

You’ll be met like a VIP and plunged right into the action: the transfer from airstrip to Loisaba Tented Camp doubles as a game drive. Laikipia is one of only a few places in Africa where wildlife numbers are on the increase, and a huge array of animals – from the Big Five to endangered Grevy’s zebra – might be spotted.

Gold Eco-rated Loisaba Tented Camp sits perched on the edge of an escarpment, with unhindered views over rolling river valleys, rich forests and open plains to Mt Kenya. Intimate and elegant in design, the camp – now owned by the Loisaba Community Trust – is also a hub for cutting-edge conservation. Find out more over drinks and dinner, before retiring to your tent, where floor-to-ceiling windows invite the outside in and the night sky views are unmatched. Overnight - Loisaba Tented Camp (2 nights)

Day 5: Loisaba

Another game drive, perhaps? Or how about a bush walk – or run – with your Samburu guide? Or maybe an outing on horse or camel back – an exhilarating way to get unusually close to wild animals. Whatever activity you pick, follow it up with breakfast in the bush and a rejuvenating pamper in the spa. Linger over lunch on the deck before your afternoon game drive: Loisaba is an important migration area for Laikipia’s huge elephant population, so excellent sightings are frequent; unusual species such as greater kudu and beisa oryx are found here too.

Tonight, you could choose something rather special. Poised on a rocky kopje, Elewana Loisaba Star Beds – sister property to the Tented Camp – offers the chance to sleep outside in style. Roll your rustic four-poster out onto the verandah, lay back and look up at the endless, unpolluted, star-spangled African sky.

Day 6: Loisaba Conservancy, Laikipia & Masai Mara National Reserve

If you can bear to leave your bed in the bush… tuck into breakfast and scour this astonishing wilderness one last time on your game-drive ride to Loisaba’s airstrip. Then hop aboard your SkySafari flight and prepare to touch down in an African icon: the matchless Masai Mara. Your ride from the airstrip to Sand River Masai Mara Camp, a secluded spot in the southern area of the reserve, is your first game drive: don’t be surprised if you meet most of the Big Five before lunch. Even if you don’t, your afternoon game drive might oblige: these acacia-dotted plains are dense with game. Keep your eyes peeled for lion, leopard and cheetah, hyena, giraffe and elephant, and 500-plus species of bird. 

Raising a Sundowner in this classic tranche of wilderness is the perfect way to toast the day. Returning to Sand River Masai Mara is the icing on the cake – there are few more elegant places to stay than this enclave of 1920s glamour. The Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards 2020 named it one of the 50 Best Resorts in the World and seventh best in Africa. Overnight - Sand River (2 nights)

Day 7: Masai Mara National Reserve

After a dawn breakfast, set off with a packed picnic hamper for a full day’s game drive, so you can delve deeper into the reserve. Nowhere in Africa is wildlife more abundant. And while the seasonal migration of two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle crossing from the Serengeti is one of Mother Nature’s greatest spectacles, the profusion of wildlife in the Mara – from 450 species of bird to the Big Five – makes it one of the best safari spots year round. Of course, you might enjoy your best sightings without going anywhere at all. The Sand River Masai Mara, overlooking its namesake river, sits right on the annual migration route, so the drama may play out just beyond your verandah. And, as you tuck in to your farewell dinner, under the stars, you’ll still be listening to the calls of the wild.

Day 8: Masai Mara National Reserve & Serengeti National Park

Enjoy your last few hours, gazing out across the water and riverine forest, looking out for breakfasting beasts and birds … before driving back to the airstrip for your onward SkySafari flights – we’ll ease you through customs, so you touch down in Tanzania’s sweeping Serengeti in time for lunch. It’s hard to take in this African behemoth. The Serengeti is huge, an endless-seeming swathe of short-grass plains, braided with life-giving streams, speckled with rocky kopjes, riffled by occasional hills, rich in Masai culture, absolutely teeming with life. And while you can revel in the bigger picture, it’s also the place to embrace the individual moments: the will-they-won’t-they tension of a lion pack on the hunt; the shock of a crocodile bursting from the river; the white-knuckle charge of an angry bull elephant.

We’ll deliver you to the best lodge for the season. We might introduce you to the bygone-luxe tents of Elewana Serengeti Pioneer Camp, perched on a kopje in the south of the park. As well as being renowned for its immense wildebeest herds, the area is rich in prehistoric paintings while nearby Lake Magadi is popular with flamingos.

Alternatively, we’ll take you to the sophisticated stilted tents of Elewana Serengeti Migration Camp, further north. This peaceful part of the park sees few other visitors; you’ll feel you’ve arrived in your own private wilderness. The variety of wildlife here is remarkable, the drama intense – especially when the Great Migration passes through: the camp is perfectly placed for watching the herds run the gauntlet of the Grumeti River.  Either way, your first afternoon’s game drive will be a wildlife revelation. Overnight - Serengeti Pioneer Camp (3 nights)

Day 9: Serengeti

You never quite know how the drama might play out. Most dramatic of all is to witness the pinnacle of the Great Migration, when more than a million animals cross the northern rivers. The Serengeti Migration Camp sits on their route, so you barely need travel at all to catch a life-or-death crossing. Also nearby are hippo-filled pools – you can hear their grunts and chortles from camp. To maximize your wild time, we’ll dish up a delicious lunch on the go, while, come nightfall, dinner will be served by candlelight, out under the stars.

Day 10: Serengeti

A whole day, with lunch in the wilderness, so you don’t waste a minute. Exploring from Elewana Serengeti Pioneer might mean witnessing the replenishing of the Serengeti’s mighty herds: each year, 400,000 wildebeest calves are born in the park’s south, a staggering event, which draws many predators. Indeed, big cats are a particular pleasure around the Pioneer camp. Lions love to sun-bask on the rocks of Moru Kopje (where Masai paintings can be found). Also, the camp supports the Serengeti Cheetah Project, and talks by experts will introduce you to the local cats, and help you identify them when you’re scanning the plains.  

After a full, fabulous day, it’s time to raise a final Sundowner to the Serengeti, as the light softens, the earth cools, the horizon glows. Enjoy dinner back at camp, then sit out and listen one last time: to the eerie call of the nightjar and the whoop of a hyena, to the hippos’ belly guffaw and the lion’s nerve-trembling roar.

Day 11: Serengeti National Park & Lake Manyara

Your drive to the airstrip gives you a final chance to soak up the sights, smells, sounds and sensations of the Serengeti. Then it’s a scenic flight to reach Lake Manyara – according to Ernest Hemingway, the ‘loveliest in Africa’. This small park is certainly varied: your game drive here could encounter an astounding mix of life, from bushbuck and blue monkeys in the forests to tree-climbing lions in the acacia woods; from cheetah stalking antelopes on the grasslands to hippos wallowing in the mud. Most dazzling, though, is the flamboyance of flamingos – hundreds of the blushing birds flock here, along with more than 400 other avian species. 

After a picnic by the water’s edge, we’ll continue through the highlands to arrive at The Manor – quite possibly the most enviable address on the safari circuit. This handful of Cape Dutch-styled cottages sits within the lush gardens of a working coffee farm, near the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater. Settle in, with a drink overlooking the rippling forest, while your butler sorts the luggage. Then enjoy a pampering in the spa, a soak in your Victorian bathtub and a delicious dinner – the food here is always sublime. Overnight - The Manor at Ngorongoro (2 nights)

Day 12: Ngorongoro Crater

It’s well worth the early breakfast when you’re about to head into the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. Measuring over 20km wide and 600m deep, Ngorongoro Crater is a natural volcanic amphitheatre, a geological marvel, a festival of wildlife. Its acacia thickets, riverine forest and glittering lakes throng with around 30,000 animals: one of the highest densities of wildlife in Africa.

Spend a full day in Ngorongoro – our expert guides will introduce you to its vast cast of characters: lions, elephants and buffalo, cheetah and serval cats, hyena, jackal and black rhino. Plus The Manor has special permission to host beautiful bush lunches in a private part of the crater, away from the crowds. You can picnic in exclusive style without missing a wildlife-packed minute.

Sundowners and dinner back at The Manor will be abuzz, as you exchange stories with your fellow travelers about what you’ve seen on this once-in-a-lifetime day.

Day 13: Ngorongoro Crater & Arusha

Enjoy your last lavish Manor breakfast before we whisk you off for your final SkySafari flight. Keep your eyes out the window, to look down on the rolling highlands and, perhaps, Kilimanjaro peeping through the clouds. There’s no need to hang around at the airport – we’ll deliver you back to Arusha Coffee Lodge’s oasis of calm so you can relax in a day room amid the birds and the beans before we take you back for your flight home, head, heart and soul full of African magic. Day room - Arusha Coffee Lodge
* All SkySafaris can be booking as a full buy out for travel with your family and friends. Please inquire for 2024 dates/rates.