Luxury Kenya Safari

September 1–13, 2024

Luxury Kenya Safari

September 1–13, 2024

An East African safari is the journey of a lifetime. Are you ready for yours?

Experience the legendary Great Migration in Masai Mara National Reserve. Go off the beaten track and visit Samburu National Reserve & the special species there. Discover Ol Pejeta Conservancy and meet the last two northern white rhinos on the planet.

Rest in style at 4 and 5-star hotels and luxury tent camps, knowing that every last detail has been taken care of on this all-inclusive, triple-carbon offset journey.

Solo explorers are welcome in our happy safari family!

 

Trip at a Glance

  • September 1-13, 2024
  • All-inclusive journey includes all tips, laundry, alcohol, local SIM card, extra luggage allowance & more
  • Escorted by BJ & Lauren, owners of RetreaTours
  • Led by expert Kenyan safari guides
  • Enjoy daily safari drives and spot the iconic “Big Five”
  • Witness the Great Migration of wildebeest through Kenya
  • Spot rare species at Samburu National Park, like the reticulated giraffe & Grevy’s zebra
  • Take in the wonder of the rhinos at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, including the last 2 northern white rhinos in the world
  • Explore the wildlife of the Masai Mara, particularly the big cats
  • Relax in 4- and 5-star hotels and luxury camps
  • Safari comfortably with only 4 to 5 guests per vehicle
  • Maximum of 16 guests 
  • Enjoy an online photo album after the journey
  • This journey is triple carbon offset
  • Opportunity for a Mountain Gorilla extension in Rwanda
  • All-inclusive price of $10,999 (based on double occupancy)

Please click the Registration button below to sign up for this journey. After receiving your registration form, Lauren will reach out via email with options for the deposit. 

Nairobi

Samburu National Reserve

Maasai Mara

Ol Pejeta Conservancy

A male lion looks into the breeze in Kenya

“There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne — bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.”

~Karen Blixen

Itinerary at a Glance

September 1   You’ll arrive in Nairobi & rest in a lovely centrally located 5-star hotel.

September 2   Today we’ll drive (4 hours) to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the only spot in Kenya where it’s actually possible to see The Big 5.

September 3  Ol Pejeta is home to the last two northern white rhino on the planet, and we’ll have a moving, special private audience with this mother and daughter pair. The landscape of Ol Pejeta is a feast for the eyes, laid out at the base of Mt. Kenya, the second-highest mountain on the continent.

September 4  Today we’ll drive (3 hours) to Samburu National Reserve. Samburu is home to species we’ll not see anywhere else on our journey, like the reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, and the oryx.

September 5-6  From our home base along the Ewaso Ng’iro river we’ll discover the special species of animals and Samburu’s sizable population of elephants. We’ll also pay a very special visit to the “Women’s Village” of Umoja.

September 7   We’ll fly back to Nairobi and rest up before the next leg of our adventure!

September 8  Today we’ll visit the Giraffe Center & the Sheldrick Trust Elephant Orphanage to learn more about these beautiful species we’ll encounter in the wild. We can feed the giraffes and pet the elephants on their own terms!

September 9  Today we’ll fly to Masai Mara National Reserve; you’ll love our luxury tented camp along the Mara River (and the river’s resident hippos!)

September 10-12   We’ll discover the beauty of the Mara with twice-daily safaris and enjoy the dense population of big cats–lions, cheetahs, and leopards, oh my! This is also traditionally the peak of the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebras up from the Serengeti through Masai Mara.

September 13  We’ll fly back to Nairobi today and enjoy one last afternoon together! Your hotel room near the airport is included tonight, a convenient place to freshen up before a late night flight tonight or an early flight tomorrow. Perhaps you’ll add on an extension to see the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda–see the details below!

What to expect on this journey

We’ve curated a well-paced, luxury journey that maximizes comfort and wildlife viewing. We use an intentional mix of driving and flying to show you the best of Kenya while minimizing travel times between parks. 

While in our conservancies and reserves, you’ll experience daily safari drives (2 on our full days, 1 on any half days). We’ll start in the early light of sunrise to witness the flurry of animal activity, and late afternoon game drives provide gorgeous light and wonderful temperatures to see the animals.

Our vehicles are comfortable Toyota Land Cruisers, never filled to capacity. On our safaris, everyone has a window seat, and we never put more than 5 guests in a vehicle. (Click here for a photo comparison.) 

Our 4- and 5-star hotels and luxury tent camps are perfectly located within or directly adjacent to the national parks & all rooms have a private bathroom with shower. Think “glamping” with these hard-floored, fully-outfitted camps.

We’ve taken out the guesswork and hassle of pulling out your wallet by including all tips to drivers, guides, restaurant staff, and hotel staff; we include laundry, alcoholic beverages, Kenyan SIM cards, extra luggage allowance on flights, and a sundowner experience, as well as VIP airport pick-up and an online album of our photos after the journey.

We’ve worked hard to find outstanding Kenyan-owned safari companies, guides, and hotels, ensuring your money stays within Kenya to benefit the local community.

What our past safari guests are saying…

“At one point I became so overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and wonder of all the amazing animals, I started to weep.”

“Their kind and ethical guidance brought out the best in each of us.”

“It was like a giant field trip—one where I didn’t have to worry about anything and yet any considerations I had were listened to and all questions were answered with a smile.”

“I feel both superbly cared for and proud to travel with their graceful guidance, and in fact don’t intend to travel internationally again without them.”

“I had no worries about anything the whole time I was gone and felt safe at every stop we made.”

 

Click here for more safari testimonials

It was the best vacation ever! At one point I became so overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and wonder of all the amazing animals, I started to weep. And I’m not a weepy person. Absolutely wonderful, educational, safe, and perfect. Heaven on earth!  ~Julie D.

BJ and Lauren are so thoughtful and prepared and helpful and humorous that an atmosphere is established which brings out the best in each participant. It’s like magic!!!!!  ~Barbara B

It was amazing. Even the smallest detail was taken care of for each of us. You also went out of your way to meet our individual needs and desires. I wholeheartedly recommend your company and this trip.  ~Pat N.

This is my second trip with BJ and Lauren; these two people are so loving, and caring, full of energy, and just fun, when you meet them you end up having two best friends. When you travel with them you really don’t have to worry about anything, they will go out of their way to help you with any problems you have. ~ Sue T.

Every person I’ve met since I’ve been home the first words out of my mouth are “GO ON A SAFARI AND USE RETREATOURS!” It truly was a dream come true for me. The people I met on the safari that were part of the tour to all the employees at the different camps and hotels were a pleasure to meet and interact with. To see the animals in their environment and not in a cage was beyond exciting. Lauren and BJ become family after a very short time. I felt like I’d know them forever and feel I’ve made new lifelong friends. I had no worries about anything the whole time I was gone and felt safe at every stop we made. ~Carol W

BJ and Lauren did a great job of making us all feel safe and comfortable. They supported our every whim… Their pre-trip communications were just right, and their kind and ethical guidance brought out the best in each of us.  ~Brooke B.

This has been the best trip ever, full of miracles, truly lovely people in our group, and the best tour leaders in the world. Someone in our group suggested BJ and Lauren seem to attract really nice travel companions. Another wise soul amended that idea: BJ and Lauren seem to bring out the best in us, making us our best selves on the trip.

BJ and Lauren create ‘paint by number’ instructions for [trip preparation]… Huge for me was that BJ and Lauren are phenomenal photographers, sharing their amazing photos every day. Those photos were truly works of art, shared in nearly real time.

They have created extensive relationships in each country to provide support for our travels and to ensure our travel dollars actually get to the people in the country rather than some international chain. BJ and Lauren guided us at every step, giving their valuable information and creating continuous enjoyment. It was such a pleasure and, truly, the trip of a lifetime. Thank you!  ~Jane M.

I travel often and would have never considered a tour. I actually vowed never to take a tour. It does injustice to BJ and Lauren to even mention that it is a tour. It’s an experience that builds into fond memories and life changing opportunities if seized. I did seize and my exposure to the people of Kenya, Rwanda, wildlife and nature, was life altering. ~Andrew B.

This trip exceeded any expectations I had. This was due to Bj & Lauren’s patience and availability at all times. Any obstacle was handled with ease and aplomb. It was a “no worries” vibe.

The order of the trip was exceptional with each day being more amazing than the next. The guides/drivers were knowledgeable, polite, patient and fun. I felt well-taken care of by them-and safe.

Another wonderful service provided was BJ and Lauren’s photos which they made available to us at the end of each day via whatsApp. Very valuable for someone like me who isn’t a photographer and who didn’t want to see everything through a viewfinder. There were times I had a bit of zoom lens envy. That was quickly quelled when I realized I’d get great photos anyway!

The fact that RetreaTours donated so much money to various sanctuaries and research centers, making them available to us, meant a lot. The knowledge gained and experience of them enhanced the trip no end. And it certainly made me feel like the tour contributed to the wellbeing of the communities.

Overall, BJ and Lauren’s first hand experience with venues and in-country partners paid off to create a safe, rich tour. Their well-thought plans offset any “surprises” that can occur on such tours. Plus, we were well-prepared with very, very thorough emails sent out at several and well-timed intervals. Right down to step-by-step instructions for visa applications and vaccination certificates.

It was like a giant field trip. One where I didn’t have to worry about anything and yet any considerations I had were listened to and all questions were answered with a smile.
(Even when they were asked a million times).

Was it worth the money? YES! A great value
Would I do it again? YES! Saving my shillings for another time ’round.

A magnificent trip made more so by the magic of RetreaTours!  ~Vicky R.

BJ and Lauren are extraordinary at what they do. Their knowledge of local conditions is wide-ranging and deep, their enthusiasm for wildlife is infectious, and the care and respect evident in their relationships with local partners is striking. They treat each traveler with compassion and even-handedness. They individually have qualities that complement and support the other, demonstrating a profound personal and professional partnership. I feel both superbly cared for and proud to travel with their graceful guidance, and in fact don’t intend to travel internationally again without them. They are superb travel guides who set and meet a platinum standard. ~Judith S.

This was my first big vacation in 29 years and it far exceeded my expectations. It was a rarified experience to be immersed in nature for 12 days exploring various national parks and conservatories throughout Kenya. BJ and Lauren are true professionals and wonderful hosts who apply an extra measure of care and attention to ensure the trip offers something personal and meaningful to each and everyone of us.

In my case, I was delightfully surprised to plant a tree on the grounds of Ashnil Samburu in memory of my late husband Robert. This is the kind of special care and attention that comes with people who are passionate about their life’s work. Lauren and BJ go above and beyond to ensure our experiences are extraordinary, while simultaneously giving back to the local communities consciously & generously.

I am touched to the core of my being with the people, animals and experiences I had on my safari. I learned that safari means journey in Swahili and this was the first of many journeys I will continue to explore with these two wonderful hosts. ~Stephanie D.

What our past safari guests are saying…

“At one point I became so overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and wonder of all the amazing animals, I started to weep.”

“Their kind and ethical guidance brought out the best in each of us.”

“It was like a giant field trip—one where I didn’t have to worry about anything and yet any considerations I had were listened to and all questions were answered with a smile.”

“I feel both superbly cared for and proud to travel with their graceful guidance, and in fact don’t intend to travel internationally again without them.”

“I had no worries about anything the whole time I was gone and felt safe at every stop we made.”

 

Read more safari testimonials here

It was the best vacation ever! At one point I became so overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and wonder of all the amazing animals, I started to weep. And I’m not a weepy person. Absolutely wonderful, educational, safe, and perfect. Heaven on earth!  ~Julie D.

BJ and Lauren are so thoughtful and prepared and helpful and humorous that an atmosphere is established which brings out the best in each participant. It’s like magic!!!!!  ~Barbara B

It was amazing. Even the smallest detail was taken care of for each of us. You also went out of your way to meet our individual needs and desires. I wholeheartedly recommend your company and this trip.  ~Pat N.

This is my second trip with BJ and Lauren; these two people are so loving, and caring, full of energy, and just fun, when you meet them you end up having two best friends. When you travel with them you really don’t have to worry about anything, they will go out of their way to help you with any problems you have. ~ Sue T.

Every person I’ve met since I’ve been home the first words out of my mouth are “GO ON A SAFARI AND USE RETREATOURS!” It truly was a dream come true for me. The people I met on the safari that were part of the tour to all the employees at the different camps and hotels were a pleasure to meet and interact with. To see the animals in their environment and not in a cage was beyond exciting. Lauren and BJ become family after a very short time. I felt like I’d know them forever and feel I’ve made new lifelong friends. I had no worries about anything the whole time I was gone and felt safe at every stop we made. ~Carol W

BJ and Lauren did a great job of making us all feel safe and comfortable. They supported our every whim… Their pre-trip communications were just right, and their kind and ethical guidance brought out the best in each of us.  ~Brooke B.

This has been the best trip ever, full of miracles, truly lovely people in our group, and the best tour leaders in the world. Someone in our group suggested BJ and Lauren seem to attract really nice travel companions. Another wise soul amended that idea: BJ and Lauren seem to bring out the best in us, making us our best selves on the trip.

BJ and Lauren create ‘paint by number’ instructions for [trip preparation]… Huge for me was that BJ and Lauren are phenomenal photographers, sharing their amazing photos every day. Those photos were truly works of art, shared in nearly real time.

They have created extensive relationships in each country to provide support for our travels and to ensure our travel dollars actually get to the people in the country rather than some international chain. BJ and Lauren guided us at every step, giving their valuable information and creating continuous enjoyment. It was such a pleasure and, truly, the trip of a lifetime. Thank you!  ~Jane M.

I travel often and would have never considered a tour. I actually vowed never to take a tour. It does injustice to BJ and Lauren to even mention that it is a tour. It’s an experience that builds into fond memories and life changing opportunities if seized. I did seize and my exposure to the people of Kenya, Rwanda, wildlife and nature, was life altering. ~Andrew B.

This trip exceeded any expectations I had. This was due to Bj & Lauren’s patience and availability at all times. Any obstacle was handled with ease and aplomb. It was a “no worries” vibe.

The order of the trip was exceptional with each day being more amazing than the next. The guides/drivers were knowledgeable, polite, patient and fun. I felt well-taken care of by them-and safe.

Another wonderful service provided was BJ and Lauren’s photos which they made available to us at the end of each day via whatsApp. Very valuable for someone like me who isn’t a photographer and who didn’t want to see everything through a viewfinder. There were times I had a bit of zoom lens envy. That was quickly quelled when I realized I’d get great photos anyway!

The fact that RetreaTours donated so much money to various sanctuaries and research centers, making them available to us, meant a lot. The knowledge gained and experience of them enhanced the trip no end. And it certainly made me feel like the tour contributed to the wellbeing of the communities.

Overall, BJ and Lauren’s first hand experience with venues and in-country partners paid off to create a safe, rich tour. Their well-thought plans offset any “surprises” that can occur on such tours. Plus, we were well-prepared with very, very thorough emails sent out at several and well-timed intervals. Right down to step-by-step instructions for visa applications and vaccination certificates.

It was like a giant field trip. One where I didn’t have to worry about anything and yet any considerations I had were listened to and all questions were answered with a smile.
(Even when they were asked a million times).

Was it worth the money? YES! A great value
Would I do it again? YES! Saving my shillings for another time ’round.

A magnificent trip made more so by the magic of RetreaTours!  ~Vicky R.

BJ and Lauren are extraordinary at what they do. Their knowledge of local conditions is wide-ranging and deep, their enthusiasm for wildlife is infectious, and the care and respect evident in their relationships with local partners is striking. They treat each traveler with compassion and even-handedness. They individually have qualities that complement and support the other, demonstrating a profound personal and professional partnership. I feel both superbly cared for and proud to travel with their graceful guidance, and in fact don’t intend to travel internationally again without them. They are superb travel guides who set and meet a platinum standard. ~Judith S.

This was my first big vacation in 29 years and it far exceeded my expectations. It was a rarified experience to be immersed in nature for 12 days exploring various national parks and conservatories throughout Kenya. BJ and Lauren are true professionals and wonderful hosts who apply an extra measure of care and attention to ensure the trip offers something personal and meaningful to each and everyone of us.

In my case, I was delightfully surprised to plant a tree on the grounds of Ashnil Samburu in memory of my late husband Robert. This is the kind of special care and attention that comes with people who are passionate about their life’s work. Lauren and BJ go above and beyond to ensure our experiences are extraordinary, while simultaneously giving back to the local communities consciously & generously.

I am touched to the core of my being with the people, animals and experiences I had on my safari. I learned that safari means journey in Swahili and this was the first of many journeys I will continue to explore with these two wonderful hosts. ~Stephanie D.

Daily Itinerary and Highlights

Nairobi & Ol Pejeta Conservancy

September 1-3

Hotels

Destination Highlights

  • Last 2 white northern rhinos on the planet
  • 165+ critically endangered black rhinos
  • Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, the only place to see chimps in Kenya
  • View of Mt. Kenya, 2nd highest peak in Africa
  • The possibility of seeing all “Big 5” in one safari drive!
  • A stop on the equator, 0°0’0″

Nairobi

Berenty Reserve, Madagascar

 Karibu Sana–welcome to Kenya!

Our journey together officially starts with dinner on September 1 (and we can help you with early arrival accommodation if you wish). You’ll rest well in our centrally located luxury hotel, and our adventure begins tomorrow morning.

On September 2nd, we’ll drive to Ol Pejeta Conservancy (~5-hour drive). We only have two big drives on this journey, and we left them in intentionally. Driving out of the city and into the countryside gives you insight about daily Kenyan life. Rolling through tiny towns allows you a peek at the daily rhythm of life in rural Kenya and it is a fascinating drive.

Our luxury tent camp, Sweetwaters Serena, has its own private watering hole which is very popular with the animals, as well as a view of Mt. Kenya, the highest mountain in Kenya and the 2nd highest on the whole continent. We also happen to be at the equator, 0°0’0″, and there’s a fun photo opp sign to prove it!

Ol Pejeta gives the best opportunity to see the “Big 5” animals in one park. The Big 5 are rhinos, elephants, cape buffalo, leopards, and lions. This designation originally referred to the difficulty and danger of hunting these particular animals on foot. Luckily, we only use this designation today to express enthusiasm in seeing these 5 majestic and powerful creatures on safari! Typically, rhinos are the most elusive member of the “Big 5,” but Ol Pejeta is the largest black rhino sanctuary in East and Central Africa. They have 44 southern white rhinos and more than 165 black rhinos living within the conservancy.

In a meaningful and bittersweet visit, you’ll meet the world’s last two remaining northern white rhinos. Mother and daughter, Najin and Fatu, are protected 24/7 by armed guards in their 700-acre enclosure. Although they are the last of their subspecies, efforts are ongoing to use their eggs and frozen sperm from the last of the male northern white rhinos in the hopes that a southern white rhino can be a surrogate.

We’ll also visit the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, which provides a haven for orphaned, abandoned, and rescued chimpanzees. This is the only place in Kenya where chimpanzees can be seen. Established in 1993 with an agreement between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), and the Jane Goodall Institute, the Sanctuary has provided recovery and rehabilitation of chimpanzees rescued from traumatic situations, all victims of illegal pet trade. The Sanctuary is home to 35 chimps, divided into two large groups that live in vast natural enclosures separated by a river.

We know you’ve had an exciting day, but wait–you’ll have the opportunity here for a night-time safari drive! Although it’s not always easy to spot animals on night safaris, there is possibility of seeing white-tailed mongoose, zorillas (striped polecat), and even perhaps the bat-eared fox or aardvark (very rare!)  You may even spot lions & leopards, which can be much more active under the cover of night. Ol Pejeta has even created their own mammal check list for you!

Samburu National Reserve

September 4–6

Hotel

 Destination Highlights

  • Umoja Women’s Village
  • Reticulated giraffe
  • Grevy’s zebra
  • Somali ostrich
  • Beisa oryx
  • Gerenuk
  • Riverside luxury tent camp with regular elephant visitors 

Samburu

Umoja's Women Village

On September 4th, we’ll drive 3.5 hours north toward our next destination, Samburu National Reserve. This is a beautiful drive through the rolling hills and farmland near Mount Kenya; as we near the arid lowlands of Samburu, you’ll see the landscape give way to the red soil that gives elephants here their hue. Samburu’s unique topography makes it a true joy to drive around this reserve, looking for its special residents.

Samburu is an off-the-beaten-track spot and a pristine safari destination in northern Kenya. This is the place to see the so-called “Samburu Special 5”: the reticulated giraffe, Grey’s zebra, the Somali ostrich, the Beisa oryx, and the gerenuk, an adorable long-necked gazelle!

From our luxury tented camp home base along the Ewaso Ng’iro river, we’ll take safari drives through this breathtaking landscape and enjoy the company of these rare creatures. Samburu also has a healthy population of more than 900 elephants; spotting them playing along the Ewaso Ng’iro river is quite a delight.

You may be able to spend your free time animal-watching from your very own room! Vervet monkeys use Ashnil’s property as a playground, and watching them tumble and tussle on your balcony (from the comfort of behind your screened tent flap!) is a hoot. Elephants are also known to mosy along the camp’s exterior walls, using the palm trees as scratching posts.

We’ll also have a special opportunity to meet the women of Umoja. Fifteen brave souls created a women’s village here in 1990. Called Umoja, or “Unity” in Swahili, this village provides refuge to women in a society that still sees them as property; Umoja provides shelter for women fleeing female genital mutilation, child marriage, sexual abuse, and more. It is truly a powerful experience to meet these resilient, strong women, and a joy to support them through purchasing their skillfully made handicrafts. You can read more about Umoja at RetreaTours.com/Umoja.

Nairobi

September 7-8

Hotel

 Destination Highlights

  • Feed endangered Rothschild’s giraffes at the Giraffe Center
  • Watch the baby elephant orphans David E. Sheldrick Wildlife Trust drink their morning milk and learn about conservation efforts
  • Experience Kenya’s famous Dawa cocktail (or a virgin version!) in the restaurant where it was invented

Giraffe Center

Umoja's Women Village

Tamarind Tree & Carnivore

On September 7, we’ll bid farewell to the red soil of Samburu and fly back to the capital. We’ll stay in Nairobi for two nights, at the lively Tamarind Tree hotel. Tomorrow we’ll pay a visit to two special organizations that are dedicated to animal welfare and public education.

In the morning we’ll spend time with Rothschild’s giraffes at The Giraffe Center, and you’ll get up close & personal while feeding them! Breeding the endangered Rothschild’s Giraffe is one of their main programs, along with community education. The Giraffe Center has released more than 40 giraffes into parks and conservancies across the country.

Mid-morning we’ll head to the David E. Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage, a renowned sanctuary for orphaned elephants (and rhinos, too!) Founded in 1977, it provides vital care, rehabilitation, and eventual reintegration into the wild for these majestic creatures. We’ll have the special opportunity to witness the baby elephants’ daily feeding and learn about the conservation efforts aimed at protecting these endangered animals. And, hey if they want a scratch behind the ear, we can even give them a pet (on their terms, of course).

Tonight you’ll experience one of the most famous restaurants in all of Nairobi, Carnivore. (Don’t worry, there are vegetarian options, too!) Local speciality meats are roasted on traditional maasai swords over a huge charcoal pit, and roaming bartenders offer to make you a Dawa, a specialty cocktail in Kenya that was invented right here!

Masai Mara National Reserve

September 9–13

Hotel

 Destination Highlights

  • Explore the same ecosystem as the Serengeti
  • Masai Mara National Reserve is renowned for having the highest concentration of big cats (lions, leopards, cheetahs) not only in East Africa but worldwide
  • Experience the density of animals found only during the Great Migration
  • Relax in our riverfront camp deep in the national reserve
  • Optional sunrise balloon ride high above the savanna

Masai Mara

On the morning of September 9th, we’ll fly to Masai Mara National Reserve. The Masai Mara, named after the indigenous Maasai tribe, is part of the same ecosystem as the neighboring Serengeti in Tanzania. You know how some streets change names as you cross city or county borders? Same idea here: this beautiful ecosystem is called the Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya!

We will be here during the Great Migration, when millions of wildebeest cross into the Mara in search of their favorite food: grass (yum!) While it may be known for the flurry of activity during the Great Migration, the Mara has an amazing population of wildlife year-round, the densest in all of Kenya.

Here is where we will spend the most time with the big cats: lions, cheetahs, and if you’re lucky, leopards! In fact, all members of the “Big Five” call the Mara their home: lions, leopards, elephants, cape buffalo, and rhinos. Masai Mara is an embarrassment of gorgeous creatures, from hippos and hyenas to warthogs and crocodiles. Wildebeest and zebra dot the plains, and all manner of antelope grace the Mara: impala, dik-dik, reedbuck, Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, waterbuck, eland, Coke’s hartebeest, and topi. More than 470 species of birds have been identified in the park!

Our luxury camp in Masai Mara is situated directly on the Mara River. With its swimming pool and lovely lounge bar, it’s the perfect place to rest and enjoy free time between game drives. You might even become fluent in “hippo” as you listen to them trade jokes and laughter across the river. On one of our evenings in the Mara we’ll indulge in a sundowner, enjoying snacks and drinks on the savanna during sunset. 

You may wish to take a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Mara to see the migration from a new perspective. These spots fill up quickly, so we can help you reserve a space sooner rather than later.

On the 13th we’ll say goodbye to our Masai Mara home base and fly back to Nairobi. You’ll have a room waiting you at the Sheraton Four Points hotel adjacent to the international airport, whether you depart later tonight or tomorrow. Or, perhaps you’re interested in continuing on to Rwanda to visit the Mountain Gorillas–read on to learn about that extension!

Please click the Registration button below to sign up for this journey. After receiving your registration form, Lauren will reach out via email with options for the deposit. 

Click here for more information on a Mountain Gorilla add-on in Rwanda (3 days)

What better way to wrap up your time in East Africa than with a visit to the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda!

There are limited permits for this extension, and we can only hold your space with a separate deposit for this experience (more details and pricing below).

Itinerary at a Glance

  • September 14:  Arrive at Kigali International Airport in Rwanda in mid-afternoon. Brief tour of Kigali, including the Genocide Memorial. Overnight in Kigali at Kigali Marriott Hotel.
  • September 15: After breakfast, drive ~3 hours through beautiful rural Rwanda to your base in Musanze. Visit the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.  Overnight at Virunga Inn Resort & Spa. 
  • September 16: Early wake-up & breakfast, and then transfer to Volcano National Park HQ for your gorilla briefing. Now, on to hike to the gorilla group (with a group of no more than 8 guests) and spend one hour in their company. Rest in the afternoon or visit the Iby’ I wacu Cultural Village. Overnight at Virunga Inn Resort & Spa. 
  • September 17: After breakfast, return to Kigali for your departure flight. (We can help you plan an international flight into Kenya and out of Rwanda, for ease of travel)
  • NOTE: If you wish to extend your stay another day for an additional gorilla trek, we can help you arrange that.

 

Itinerary Details

September 14: Fly to Rwanda

You’ll fly to Rwanda morning of the 14th. Upon arrival at Kigali International Airport, you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel. You’ll take a tour of the moving Genocide Memorial site and learn about Rwanda’s history from pre-colonial times to the 1994 genocide and how Rwanda has dealt with that past. The recovery has been incredible, a true testament to humankind’s resilience.

Overnight at Kigali Marriott Hotel

September 15: Drive to Volcanoes National Park

After breakfast, you’ll be driven to Musanze in the northwest part of Rwanda, the main base town for Gorilla trekking. The drive is through beautiful rolling hills on a comfortable paved road and is approximately 3 hours from Kigali. Rwanda has one of the most stunning landscapes BJ and Lauren have had the privilege to drive through!

Today you can visit the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund on a short self-guided tour,

Overnight at Virunga Inn Resort & Spa. 

September 16: Gorilla Trekking

After your morning wake-up call and breakfast, you’ll be picked up (around 6:30 AM) and transferred to the park office for gorilla trekking formalities and briefing by the Volcanoes National Park’s guides “gorilla etiquette.”

Park rangers have already left pre-dawn to locate the habituated Gorilla groups that are accessible to visitors. You will be assigned to a specific group of gorillas based on how easy you want your trek to be.

Groups of trekkers will have a maximum of 8 visitors per gorilla family. Your trek will vary in length depending on which gorilla group you have been assigned to and will commence at about 7,000 feet of altitude in the upper terraced slopes of the volcano. Soon you will enter the forest of bamboo and thick undergrowth.

You follow paths and the walking is steep but not overly strenuous. There are no words to describe the thrill of recognition attached to staring deep into eyes of these gentle giants. After locating your assigned gorilla group, you will spend one hour in their company before retracing your steps back down the volcano slopes.

You’ll head back for a reenergizing lunch at your lodge and have a restful afternoon! You can also visit the “Gorilla Guardians,” the Iby’ Iwacu Cultural Village, a group of ex-poachers who now make their living displaying local cultural customs for interested and engaged guests.

Overnight at Virunga Inn Resort & Spa. 

September 17: Departure

After breakfast, enjoy the scenic drive back to Kigali and head to Kigali International Airport for your departure flight.

Price & Inclusions

This journey is $4499 per person, based on sharing a room. Please contact us for the single supplement price.

 

Inclusions

  • The Rwanda gorilla permit is currently $1500 and is priced as part of the trip. This fee goes to gorilla conversation and 10% of it goes directly back to help the surrounding communities so they don’t have to rely on poaching for income. Please click here for a great Associated Press article about this initiativeIf you wish to extend your stay for a 2nd gorilla trek, you will need an additional $1500 permit. 
  • All airport transfers
  • All accommodation
  • All meals (through breakfast on your departure day)
  • Transport in a 4×4 safari jeep
  • Services of an English-speaking driver/guide
  • City tour of Kigali & visit to the Genocide museum
  • Visit to the Iby’ Iwacu Cultural Village (Gorilla Guardians)
  • Bottled drinking water while trekking and in vehicle

Exclusions

  • Flight from Nairobi to Rwanda (~$199, we can help advise on this)
  • Rwanda visa fees (If you go to Kenya and Rwanda, you’ll apply for an East Africa visa which costs $100 total)
  • Tips to driver, guide, and porters (we can advise on that amount)
  • Beverages at meals
  • Laundry
  • Alcohol
  • Any COVID test requirements for entry or departure
  • Cost for anything not specifically mentioned in the “inclusions” listing above.

How to Reserve Your Spot 

Your non-refundable deposit to confirm your spot for the Mountain Gorilla extension is a total of $2500 USD per person (which includes your $1500 Rwandan park fee). In order to save your spot, you’ll want to reserve this as soon as possible to ensure a spot.

We’ll also need a photo or scan of the information page of your passport to secure your spot.

The Need to Knows

Click each box to expand the information

Price & What is Included

The price for this journey is $10,999 USD per person, assuming double occupancy. (This is only for the Kenya safari; all Rwanda extension pricing is in the Rwanda tab above.)

  • A $2000 non-refundable deposit holds your space.
  • The second installment of $4500 is due by February 1, 2024
  • The balance is due by April 1, 2024.  
  • We will email you an invoice (via PayPal) about a week before each due date.

If you prefer to have your own room, the private room supplement is $1499 USD and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this private room supplement is necessary). We are happy to say we have partially subsidized this single supplement for you! Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you will be responsible for the single supplement.

Price Includes

  • VIP airport pickup and airport drop-off
  • All lodging starting the night of September 1st through the morning of September 14th
  • All ground transportation within Kenya
  • Flights between Samburu and Masai Mara; Masai Mara and Nairobi
  • Extra luggage allowance on all internal flights (an additional 17 lbs, bringing total to 50 lb allowance in total)
  • All meals, starting with dinner on September 1st and ending with breakfast on September 14th
  • All water, on safari and at meals
  • All alcoholic beverages at the hotels and lodges (domestic beer, house wine, house cocktails)
  • All safaris in a private 4×4 Land Cruiser (only 4 to 5 guests per vehicle)
  • All National Park entrance fees
  • All tips to guides, hotels, and restaurants
  • All laundry
  • Online photo album after the trip
  • Triple carbon-offsetting for your time in Kenya
  • Sundowner experience
  • Personal SIM card with data for your use

Price does not include

  • International airfare (although will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements!)
  • Any meals before dinner on September 1st
  • Kenya visa (~$51 USD) or East African Visa if you are adding the Rwanda extension (~$100 USD)
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Premium alcohol or if you choose to have alcohol while on a game drive
  • Optional Hot Air Balloon ride in the Masai Mara ($475 USD for 2022; we’ll update you when we get 2024 prices)

Payments

Please refer to the Price tab for specific information about price & what is included on your journey.

The non-refundable $2000 deposit guarantees your space. The 2nd installment of $4500 is due on February 1, 2024 and the balance on April 1, 2024. The private room supplement ($1499) will be added to the final balance.

The optional Rwanda extension deposit will be taken to secure your spot and the remainder paid with the final balance.

For our American guests, we accept payments via check, credit, or debit card (via PayPal), Zelle, or Venmo. Lauren will send you these details after receiving your registration form.

For our guests outside the U.S., Lauren will connect with you about the best ways to transfer money.

Cancellation Policy

We do everything in our power to do right by our guests. We are proud to say that in the wake of our COVID-related trip cancellations through 2020 and 2021, we were able to offer each of our guests the choice of a 100% credit, if not a full refund.

We’ve re-examined each trip and done our best to reduce the deposit amounts as much as possible. Upon your registration, your deposit immediately goes toward reserving your space for flights, hotels, and excursions that must be booked months in advance and are often non-refundable (particularly in Kenya and Rwanda).

Cancellation by our guests

The cancellation charges are as follows unless otherwise indicated on the detailed itinerary for each trip. All cancellations must be received via e-mail or US mail.

  • Cancellations prior to 120 days to departure, money will be refunded minus the non-refundable deposit.
  • Cancellations received 61 to 119 days prior to departure are subject to a penalty of 50% of the total cost of the trip.
  • Cancellations received 60 days or fewer prior to trip departure will forfeit the entire cost of the trip.

If a trip is cancelled by RetreaTours

When a tour is cancelled in the case of force majeure, the Tour Participant will receive a refund minus any funds that we are unable to recover from any supplier.

You can see the full cancellation policy in our contract here. 

Our Carbon Negative Commitment

RetreaTours is Climate Positive!

We purchase triple carbon offsets for your travels with us—that’s from your home, through the entire tour, and back to your home again, times three

RetreaTours is officially a Carbonfree® Partner with Carbonfund.org, as well as a partner with Cool Effect.

You may have heard the term “carbon neutral,” which means that a company offsets as much carbon as it produces. With this 300% offset, RetreaTours is actually offsetting more carbon than we produce each year, making us “carbon negative” (or “climate positive,” which has a nicer ring to it!)

Since 2012 we’ve focused on making travel safe and easy for our guests; with our triple carbon offset tours, we’re pleased to make our trips as sustainable as they are memorable.

Please see more at RetreaTours.com/CarbonNegative

Vaccines & Staying Healthy on Tour

    Vaccines

    RetreaTours requires proof of a COVID-19 vaccine and booster for this journey.

    No other vaccines are required to enter Kenya, but this is one destination where we highly encourage you to work with your local travel clinic or the travel department of your local health department (often a much cheaper option). (*Please note that a Yellow Fever vaccine IS required if you are continuing on to Rwanda).

    As you can see in the CDC’s map below, the Yellow Fever vaccine is recommended for Kenya.

    It is good general practice to be up to date on your flu shot and tetanus shot; please discuss with your physician if this is right for you.

    Malaria

    As you can see on the CDC’s malaria map below, malaria is endemic throughout Kenya and preventatives are recommended. We can tell you anecdotally that we do not encounter many mosquitos during this dry season, but this is ultimately a decision you’ll have to make with your qualified travel health provider.

     

    Staying Healthy on Tour

    Please visit our comprehensive article, “How to Stay Healthy While Traveling…Naturally,” which addresses all of the most common travel ailments.

    Suggested Fitness Requirements

    Safaris are not physically strenuous, but they do require a decent amount of time sitting in a vehicle.

    We cut down on driving with this itinerary by flying, but we will have two drives between destinations (~5 hours from Nairobi to Ol Pejeta Conservancy and ~3 hours from Ol Pejeta to Samburu).

    Our morning game drives can be up to 4 to 5 hours at a stretch (afternoon game drives about 3 hours), but we will also have time to stretch our legs for our boxed breakfasts and “bush” toilet stops. The roofs on our Land Cruisers pop open so you can stand in the vehicle, as well!

    We have personally provided stepstools to get into the vehicles and even portable folding toilet seats to make bush stops more comfortable for you.

    If you have any questions at all about whether this trip is right for you, please email us and ask!

    Travel Insurance

    Required Coverage

    RetreaTours requires that each guest carries travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and emergency evacuation and repatriation. Please send Lauren your policy information as soon as you have it.

    Suggested Coverage

    We suggest trip cancellation insurance, as well, as you never know what obstacles life can toss at you leading up to a trip. However, we do not require this coverage, we only suggest it highly.

    Please familiarize yourself with RetreaTours’ guest cancellation policy in your journey’s contract. Please read this article to understand a bit more about trip cancellation insurance and what it may or may not cover. “Cancel For Any Reason” policies do exist, as well, although do check to see what percentage of the trip cost they actually reimburse.

    When to purchase your policy

    Please purchase this insurance as soon as we tell you the trip has reached its minimum. Please do not wait until the last minute, should you need to use your (optional) cancellation coverage before then.

    Where to search for policies

    Below you will find some options to start your search for trip insurance. However, we ask that you carefully consider your choice in travel insurance. What works for some people may not work for others, particularly if you have any pre-existing conditions. Please do take the time to consider the best policy for your individual needs.

    Squaremouth.com and InsureMyTrip.com are two sites where you can see and compare many policies at once, and you can refine the options by what coverage you would like. Squaremouth’s interface is very easy and intuitive to use, and you can easily opt out of trip cancellation coverage.

    World Nomads provides policies for guests under 70 that includes trip cancellation options. Use the link above and pop in your info to get an immediate quote.

    It may also be a good idea to check with your credit card companies, especially American Express, to see if they offer any medical coverage for travel.

    "Bugs & Temperature"

    We know these two topics are important! Do you know how we know? We see your Facebook page and this is what all your friends ask you while you are on safari with us!  Here’s the scoop:

     

    Temperature

    Yes, you’re in Africa. Yes, you’re near the equator. But, YES, it can still be chilly! Bank on chilly mornings and evenings (as in 55°F chilly, possibly in places). This is due to weather patterns and altitude (we’ll range from 2500 feet in Samburu to 6000 feet in Nairobi).

    It will also get warm during the heat of the day (85°F+). This means layers, layers, layers. Feel free to bring light t-shirts or even tank tops and shorts for warm afternoons back at the hotels and camps, but please do bring long pants and a sweater or jacket (especially if you plan on doing the optional hot air balloon ride).

     

    Bugs

    You may have a vision of tons of insects and mosquitos invading your space on a safari. It just ain’t so!

    We will be visiting Kenya during the dry season and mosquitos and creepy crawlies, in general, aren’t a big concern. We asked our September 2021 guests in our post-trip survey about the number of mosquitos they saw on tour; 8 guests said “zero,” one guest said “1,” and one eagle-eyed guest said “5.”  My favorite quote was “I saw NO bugs except a grasshopper and a funny rhinoceros beetle.” My personal count was 2; BJ traveled around Kenya for 7 weeks and his total was 7.

    Malaria is still endemic in Kenya and you should have that conversation about antimalarials with your travel doctor (please see the “vaccines” box above for more information about that).

    We say this not to lessen any of your precautions against malaria or yellow fever—we’re big fans of being well-prepared and taken care of. This is to give you a bit of perspective about what the actual situation is on the ground.

    Please do bring personal insect repellent, please do wear it and/or long-sleeves and pants at night, and certainly, feel free to use any mosquito nets around your bedding (available at some camps). But please don’t let fear of bugs put you off a Kenyan safari!

    Passport & Visa

      Passport Requirements

      Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of this journey and have two empty pages in it (three, if you are going to Rwanda, as well).

      Visa Requirements

      A visa is required for this journey, and we’ll give you further visa instructions along with the orientation before the journey. The visa is only good for 90 days from the issue date so we recommend applying after mid-July 2024. 

      The Kenya visa is $51 USD and for those that are extending their journey to Rwanda, you can receive an East African visa for $100 USD.

      Temperature & Suggested Packing List

      The historic temperatures in Kenya and our safari destinations will range between 55°F and 85°F+  (12°C and 30°C). This will mean chilly evenings and early mornings to pleasantly warm afternoons.

      We’ll provide a packing list well before the journey!  Please note that we highly suggest soft-sided luggage in order to fit inside the safari vehicles.

      This journey includes an upgraded luggage allowance for our flights. Typically guests are limited to 33 lbs, but we have increased that amount to 50 lbs total.

      About our Accommodations

      During our time together in Kenya, we’ll be staying at a mix of hotels and luxury tent camps (true “glamping!”).  The camps are stylish and comfortable and each tent has its own bathroom with running hot water and shower. If you’d like to see our accommodations, please see the links below:

       

      WiFi & Electricity

      Wifi

      The internet is accessible throughout this journey, although it may only be available in the common areas at our camps. We recommend staying connected with your loved ones via WhatsApp (which we will also use on the tour to communicate the schedule and updates).

      We will be providing you with Kenyan SIM cards to use on this journey, so that you may access the internet when we are away from the hotels and camps. Please note that you will need an unlocked smartphone to take advantage of this.

      Electrical Outlets and Adaptors

      You’ll need an electrical adaptor for Kenya.  We highly recommend a Universal Adaptor such as this (for its Type G adaptor), which also has USB and USB-C outlets so you can charge multiple devices at once. 

      About your International Flights

      We are more than happy to recommend international flights, but ultimately you will make the purchase yourself. Here is some important information if you would like to research flights yourself:

      When must I arrive in Nairobi / where will I stay?

      We advise arriving before midnight on the 1st at the very latest. You may wish to arrive early to account for any flight delays or cancellations or weather incidents at your departure airport.

      If you wish to arrive early, we can help you with hotel reservations.

      What time should I book my departing flight from Nairobi?

      You can book your outgoing flight for any time after ~9 PM on September 13th, but your hotel night is included on the 13th should you wish to leave on the 14th or later.

      What if I am continuing on to Rwanda?

      Please let BJ help you if you are planning an extension to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Often a flight into Kenya and out of Rwanda is very affordable and much easier for you.

      Contact RetreaTours

      Please write Lauren@RetreaTours.com for any questions you may have about this journey.  If you have not received a reply within 48 hours, please do check your spam folder.

      About BJ and Lauren of RetreaTours

      You’ll be joined on this journey by BJ & Lauren, owners of RetreaTours–and we are so excited to show you the natural beauty of Kenya! 

      Husband-and-wife team BJ Graf and Lauren Rathvon left the U.S. and have traveled the globe year-round since January 2013, researching, designing, and leading impactful journeys.

      We are committed not only to our guests but to our host destinations and the planet at large. We engage with local businesses and guides to keep money within the community, and we triple-carbon offset each of our tours.

      We invite you to visit our Testimonials page to see what other people have to say about us!  You can head to our About Us page to learn more about our story.

      You can have a smartphone safari!

      Do we recommend only having your smartphone on safari? Not necessarily. Can you bring home some excellent shots on your smartphone, though? Absolutely! We get so close to so many animals that sometimes you have to use your phone instead of a zoom lens.

      The video below highlights footage that BJ took exclusively on his iPhone 11 in 2019—nothing edited or zoomed beyond the standard 2x zoom. This video goes to show that it’s not only about what camera you are using on safari!

      Want to relax and not worry about capturing the moment? Bring your smartphone & a pair of binoculars and then rely on our photo album at the end of the safari!

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