- Nairobi Serena Hotel
- The Ark
- Elsa Kopje Camp
- Lake Naivasha Country Club
- Samburu Serena Lodge
- Mara Base Camp
This safari is designed by women, for women.
There is infinitely more to Africa than its wildlife, yet the fascinating cultures of the many tribal peoples are all but ignored in most safari itineraries. Even when the cultural aspect of the tribes is explored, it is generally the male side that is explained, as the guides are invariably men. The women are far too busy farming and raising families to spend time with tourists!
Yet the women of the continent are the glue that keeps families together; they grow the food that prevents starvation. Without the backbreaking labor of African women, and their endless efforts to ensure their children are healthy, safe and educated, African culture would not exist. Yet women traditionally have little or no rights, are unable to take part in village meetings and in many places are even unable to leave their village without their father or husband's permission. Female circumcision is still practiced by many tribes; even when the mother and daughter object, the father has the final say. Monies earned by women are given to the men of the household who then decide how to spend it. Even a bank account in the wife's name is not sacrosanct; a husband may access his wife's account without her permission.
Very slowly, this is starting to change as a few brave women speak out and create new ways of living. This safari is designed to spotlight these women, their ideas and provide an insight into the lives of East African women. Combining traditional game viewing with visits to local villages and women's community projects, you'll learn what it is like to be a woman in Africa, both in a tribal and a colonial culture. Bead with Masai women, grind maize with the KiMeru women, walk with rangers in a national park, help the Samburu women build better businesses and lunch with colonial business women.
A part of your safari charge will be donated to each of the community projects that you visit, helping to further advance these women's groups. Upon your return, spread the word by working together and helping your peers learn about each other's cultures. Together, we can change the world, one journey at a time.
Day 1 Arrive into Jomo Kenyatta Airport, Nairobi, where your Eco-resorts representative meets you. Take the 20-minute drive to the Serena Hotel. Centrally located and with friendly staff, the Serena is famous for being the most eco-friendly chain hotel in Africa. Overnight at the hotel. (Dinner not included)
Day 2 Drive into the Rift Valley, past the extinct volcano of Longonot to the blue-green waters of Lake Naivasha. Surrounded by flower farms and intensive vegetable farming, Lake Naivasha also hosts the delightful small park of Hell’s Gate. It is possible to walk, game drive, camp, cycle and rock climb within this park, famous for its natural hot geysers, eagle and vulture breeding grounds, obsidian deposits and extinct volcanoes. Beautiful rock gorges and natural steam vents add to the beauty of this 68 square km. park. Game to view includes hyrax, buffalo, giraffe, eland, hartebeest, lion and leopard. As with all of the Rift Valley parks, Hell's Gate is also an ornithologist's dream with the cliffs acting as the breeding grounds for vultures, Verreaux eagles, Auger buzzards and thousands of swifts.
Here you will meet Catherine Wakesa, one of the few Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) female park wardens, and learn about her struggles and celebrations as a successful warden. Later, enjoy a walk with some of her rangers on their daily patrols. Learn about the conservation issues in this densely populated area and enjoy learning about the Kenya Wildlife Service itself.
Return to the Lake Naivasha Country Club for the afternoon and enjoy a boat trip to the Crescent Island Sanctuary before dinner and overnight at the Club.
Day 3 Leave Naivasha today for a four-hour drive to Nyeri. We’ll stop at the private home of Grace, one of the members of the Nyeri Upendo Women’s Group. This group of mostly single or widowed mothers was formed to help fund school fees for their school children. A variety of handicrafts are made on special order; the profits are used for personal loans, school fees and medical expenses, as necessary.
You’ll have the chance to see the handicrafts being made, as well as giving it a try yourself! We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch with these wonderful women, as well as the opportunity to sample some of the local dishes of githeri and irio. Enjoy talking to these women about their culture, their difficulties and their successes as you share experiences and learn just how similar we women are, despite our various nationalities!
After your meetings, you will transfer to the Aberdare National Park to the Ark Lodge for superb overnight game viewing. Enjoy dinner and overnight game viewing at the Ark.
The Aberdare Mountain ranges soar to peaks of 13,000 feet and dip into deep, V shaped valleys with streams and rivers cascading over spectacular waterfalls, including Kenya's longest fall of approximately 1,000 feet! Located in the heart of the Kikuyu tribe highlands area, in Central Kenya, traditional folklore states that the Aberdare Mountains are one of the homes of Ngai, God.
To the east of the ranges are the fertile farming lands of the Kikuyu tribe, which were settled by the colonists in the early decades of the twentieth century. The area between the Aberdares and Mount Kenya are part of what became known as the European highlands. To the west, the range falls steeply away into the Rift Valley and offer superb views of Lake Naivasha and the distant Mau Escarpment.
There are three main ecosystems within the Aberdare Mountains: the rain forest, which gives way to dense bamboo forests, which itself gives way to moorland as the altitude rises.
The forest is home to a multitude of elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog and the endangered black rhino. The Aberdares are also an excellent area for spotting the elusive leopard and occasional sightings have been made of the golden cat. Black and white colobus and sykes monkeys are easily seen, as are waterbuck, reedbuck, duikers, serval cats and bushbuck. Melanistic cats appear to be quite common in the high altitudes of the Aberdares and black serval cats are spotted fairly often. The best viewing in the forest areas is in the Salient area of the park, where both Treetops and The Ark lodges provide superb nighttime viewing in this area of gentler slopes and slightly less dense forest.
Day 4 Leaving behind the mountains and fertile valleys of the Kikuyu Highlands, today you drive around Mount Kenya to the arid, scrubby area of Meru. Surprisingly rich in wildlife, the Meru area is where you will be introduced to the conflict between animals and humans.
Here we will enjoy a delicious picnic lunch at the home of a highly successful Meru woman, Florence Imathiu. Florence and her old school friend Grace started the Kithoka Women’s Group in 1982.
In Meru, the elephant often raid the small, subsistence farms of this area, and more importantly, rip up the precious water pipes that feed the farms. The Kithioka Women’s Group raises money from monthly contributions and fundraisers, using those funds to build reservoirs for water storage and to lay pipes to local homes. They are currently raising money to build small dams off their main supply pipe, allowing the elephants to drink water in the dams without destroying the actual pipeline. They have also funded a ‘posho’ (Kenya’s local grain) mill, reducing travel expenses for local people and allowing a cheaper method of grinding. After lunch you’ll get to visit the mill and see how the system works for yourself!
Later you'll head into the Meru National Park itself to spot the wildlife and enjoy a comfortable night at the Leopard Rock Lodge in the Park. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
The Meru National Park first became famous as the home of Elsa, the lioness of Born Free fame. Located to the northeast of Mount Kenya, Meru is an arid area mostly covered with thorny bushes and wooded grasslands.
Rocky outcrops spring out of the ground, forming well used lookout points for the abundant lions of the area. Along the riverbanks, dense riverine forest has sprouted, as have the ubiquitous doum palms.
Heavily poached in the 1970s, Meru has made an amazing recovery in the last few years. Kenya Wildlife Service has tightened security; consequently poaching no longer occurs in the area. All the roads have been graded in the last year; the game circuits are clearly signposted and the lodges have been refurbished. Game has also returned in large numbers, with lion, leopard, cheetah, large herds of elephant, giraffe, oryx, hartebeest and gazelle easily spotted. The Lesser kudu, a rarity in Kenya, is also found in some numbers in this area.
Nearly fifty elephant and many black rhino have been transported and released into the Park, where they are settling into their new homes away from the more populated Laikipia area. This was a historic event as the largest successful elephant translocation of its kind.
The bird life in Meru is also spectacular, with Somali ostrich, Ground hornbills, Secretary birds, Bateleur eagles, oxpeckers, egrets, starlings, bee-eaters and starlings in profusion. The animals are unused to vehicles, as the area has not been used on the tourist circuit for many years. This makes them somewhat shy, but half the fun of a safari is in the searching! The benefit is that when you do find the animals, you are not sharing your view with many other travelers.
Day 5 Today you’ll have the chance to game walk or game drive as you please in the Meru National Park with your guides. Lunch is at the Elsa’s Kopje Lodge and your afternoon is spent relaxing at the lodge or taking another game viewing expedition. Dinner and overnight at the lodge. (All meals included)
Day 6 Leaving Meru Park behind, we head back into Meru town where we meet up with Winfred Kimathi and Gladys Kitonga who run the Gakurine Family Restoration Self Help Group. This small group of volunteers raises money and donates time to help families devastated by the AIDS virus. AIDS orphans have their school fees met; families are helped with burial fees and medical expenses. You’ll have the chance to learn about the effect of this disease on the Meru area and meet some of the children who have lost their parents.
After your meeting, it’s time to head towards Isiolo with a picnic lunch as we go further north to the Samburu Serena Lodge for dinner and overnight in the Samburu National Park.
Northern Kenya is a huge expanse of scrub desert, bisected by a few life saving rivers. A true wilderness, this area of Kenya is very sparsely populated, and game patterns have been little affected by humans.
The Samburu area is part of an ancient lava plain covered with red dirt, thorn scrub, broken volcanic rock, dried riverbeds, steep hills and rocky outcroppings. Unusual for this arid area of Northern Kenya, Samburu has a permanent water supply, the Ewaso Ngiro or "brown river". This permanent water flow provides an oasis for the many elephant, hippo, and crocodile that abound in this area.
The region is also home to the rare Grevvy zebra, Somali ostrich with their distinctive blue legs, the shy Beisa Oryx and the largest African antelope, the Eland. The Samburu area is famous for its leopards. One of the most reliable areas in Kenya for spotting this beautiful but elusive cat, as well as lion and cheetah, Samburu proves very popular with the big cat researchers.
The mix of wood and grassland with riverine forest and swamp is home to a wide variety of bird life as well as mammals. Buffalo Springs records over 365 bird species!
Day 7 After breakfast, we’ll game drive enroute to the small village of Archer’s Post and the Samburu village that is the home of the Meyangar Women’s Group. Here the Chairwoman, Jane Lengima will introduce you to the Samburu culture and the work that her group is doing.
This group helps single or widowed women develop a micro business of their own, thus providing for their children and families. The businesses can be handicrafts, farming, selling second hand clothing sales or just about anything that will help eke out a living in this incredibly arid area.
The group has set up a curio shop and a nursery school within their village; you’ll have the chance to explore the village and share your respective cultures with these wonderful women.
Return to the lodge for lunch and then game drive or relax in the afternoon. Overnight at the lodge. (All meals included)
Day 8 After a morning game drive, fly back to Nairobi and the Serena Hotel. Check-in to the hotel and relax or shop before enjoying dinner at the Carnivore Restaurant. Overnight at the hotel. (All meals included)
Day 9 After breakfast, drive into the outskirts of Nairobi and meet your next guide, who is working with a group of Masai women who have set up a beadwork co-operative to pay for their daughters' education.
You will take the one-hour drive to the Masai village to meet the women involved with this project. Masai women are very seldom educated at all in a formal sense and they have virtually no rights within the village. Daughters are used by their fathers as bartering tools for cattle and goats; little consideration is given to their own needs.
This small group of Masai mothers has started to change this tradition by creating beautiful beadwork dog collars, baskets and jewelry to sell in the United States, thus creating an education fund for their daughters. You will meet the children at their schoolhouse, see the workshop and visit one of the traditional Masai village homes of the women.
If you would like to buy some of the Dupoto Women's Group's fabulous beaded products, but can't go to Africa just yet, then visit www.beadsforeducation.org to learn more!
In the afternoon, drive back to Nairobi and check-into the Serena Hotel for the night.
Day 10 After breakfast, transfer to the domestic airport for your flight to the Masai Mara and the permanent tented camp of Base Camp. This lovely camp is set just on the outskirts of this famous game park and is operated with the assistance of the local Masai tribes people.
Base Camp offers good quality, comfortable accommodation with friendly staff and wonderful wildlife viewing. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit local villages and to learn more about the culture of this famous tribe.
Located to the south of Nairobi, and bordering Tanzania, the Masai Mara forms part of the huge Serengeti eco-system. The Mara spreads over 1510 square kilometers of rolling plains, sudden rocky outcrops, and green winding rivers.
Not only is the Mara blessed with this stunning landscape, but also its animal diversity is one of the greatest in Africa. Surrounded by the grazing lands of the Masai people, the Mara is a sanctuary for all of the Big Five animals: lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard. The sweet grasses and abundant water ensure a full compliment of plains game such as the impala and Thompsons gazelle. The deep river pools provide homes for hippo and crocodiles.
Each year, generally in August/September, the Mara is host to the spectacular Wildebeest Migration, one of the natural wonders of the world! Literally millions of these awkwardly shaped ungulates move across the open plains in an endless stream stretching from horizon to horizon. The movement of this vast herd is fascinating in itself, but seldom a day goes by without the added bonus of watching the predators that follow the herd. Lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dogs rely on the herd for food. Spotting one of these magnificent predators is more or less guaranteed at this time.
The breath-taking beauty of the Masai Mara and its astonishing diversity of wildlife combine to ensure that the Mara is one of the most popular stops on a Kenyan safari.
Enjoy a Masai Manyatta (village) visit after lunch and then game drive in the evening before returning to dinner and overnight at the camp.
Day 11 Spend today exploring the Masai Mara on foot and by vehicle. Keep an eye out for the big game as your guides point out local medicinal plants and trees as well as the birds and animals that you pass.
Being the nomadic wanderers, in charge of the cattle and goats, it is the men who will act as your guides here as they have the experience of wandering through the bush. Contrast their information and points of view with that of the women that you've met; it will make an interesting experience! Dinner and overnight at the camp.
Day 12 After breakfast, game drive en route to the airstrip for your flight to Nairobi. Upon arrival you'll be met and taken to the Serena for a dayroom; the driver/guides and vehicles will be at your disposal for shopping in the afternoon.
Enjoy an early dinner and then transfer to the international airport for your flight home.
Includes: All meals, transport, driver/guide, camping crew includes cook and helper, water when camping and in vehicle, all accommodation, all activities, park fees and local taxes. (Clients must bring own sleeping bag and towel for the camping portion)
Excludes: Drinks, personal purchases, tips, visas and international flights