For a first time visitor to Kenya the Essential Kenya itinerary gives you 3 very different safari destinations - Mount Kenya, Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara - staying in popular first class lodges at an affordable price. With a duration of just 6 nights it's ideal for a safari plus beach combination - add 7 nights on the Kenyan coast or on the island of Zanzibar (Tanzania) for a perfect two-week holiday.
We've suggested a night in Nairobi at the beginning to allow you to rest after the long overnight flight. There's also quite a few interesting visits to be made in Kenya's capital. One is Nairobi National Park which, despite its proximity to the city, has a surprisingly high concentration of wildlife including black rhino, giraffe, cheetah, leopard and lion. Other attractions include the Giraffe Centre, run by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW), and the Karen Blixen Museum. Nairobi also has some of the country's top restaurants.
Another option is to get yourself immediately into safari mode by staying at the Nairobi Tented Camp (opened in 2012), the only accommodation in Nairobi National Park.
On the other hand, if you're happy to start your holiday in Kenya with a 3 or 4 hours' drive, then you could head off immediately from Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the Mount Kenya area and the Serena Mountain Lodge.
If you choose to do the latter then you could either spend 2 nights at the Serena Mountain Lodge or else keep to one night there and then spend 2 nights at Nakuru. We would recommend the second option as you would then be able to enjoy a full day's safari in Lake Nakuru National Park before heading off to the Mara. The Sarova Lion Hill Lodge is one of only two lodges located within the National Park. It's a good choice, but for a little extra you could stay at Atua Enkop's excellent Mbweha Camp just outside the park in the private 6,400 acre Congreve Conservancy, which would give you the added bonus of game drives at night.
This supreme National Reserve fully merits a stay of at least 3 nights. The Sarova Mara Camp has the advantage of a great location and a lovely free-form swimming pool, but with 73 tents it's quite a large camp. If you prefer something more intimate then we would suggest either Atua Enkop's Mara Ngenche Camp with just 6 luxurious tents (no pool, however) or the Ngerende Island Lodge (7 luxurious canvas, wood and stone suites, infinity pool).
FLY TO AND FROM THE MARA?
If there are only two of you travelling together*, then it might not be a lot more expensive to travel to and from the Mara by scheduled light aircraft. It cuts the journey time down considerably and you get some spectacular views of the wildlife below as you fly over the Mara. Please ask for a quote.
*With 3 or more passengers it's less expensive to keep to the road journeys, as the cost of the safari vehicle and driver comes down considerably.