An East Africa Itinerary

November 2023
Alice Baker

With vast landscapes, huge skies and a relaxed atmosphere it is understandable why Kenya is a top travel destination in Africa and top of the list for many travellers’ first time to Africa. Guests to Kenya can have an incredible a complete travel experience all within the one country – city, safari & beach. With easy access to either the Kenyan coast or the case of our itinerary, Zanzibar, that post safari R&R is just a short flight away.

Stop 1: Nairobi, Kenya

Property: House of Waine

Number of nights: 2

Landing off a long-haul flight to only have a 30-minute drive to a warm comfortable bed is completely ideal and with so much to see in Nairobi, not having to rush off straight away felt like such a treat.

The leafy suburb of Karen does not feel like part of the same city as you drive past high walls, huge trees and perfectly tended gardens and House of Waine is like an oasis in the heart of Karen. Previously a family home, that feeling is still very much alive 18 years on, the hotel has just 11 rooms giving it an intimate feeling. The staff welcome with warm smiles and even warmer beds, heavenly during the cooler days of Kenya’s November rains. Drier days can be spent strolling the 2 acres of manicured lawn and lounging by the pool, while some of Nairobi’s key attractions can be enjoyed whatever the weather…    

Destination Highlights:

- Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage: for an inspiring conservation story and completely gorgeous baby elephants (and rhino)! Advice is to pre-book this as there is only one slot per day.

- Giraffe Centre: for more conservation inspiration and to feed the endangered Rothschild giraffes. Perfect for those heading off on safaris who would like to impress with their giraffe knowledge!

- Karen Blixen Museum: for a deep dive into the Nairobi suburb’s namesake and a look around the house she called home in the years she stayed in Kenya. For those who know and love the book and movie Out of Africa, this is a wonderful place to start their journey in Africa.

- Cultiva: for a delicious lunch in a cool, breezy setting. The farm to fork movement is strong here, the staff are cool and laid back and the rosé ice cold

- Karen Golf & Country Club: for those who would like to tee off and get a little active following a long flight

Stop 2: Masai Mara National Reserve

Property: Naibor Camps

Number of nights: 2 (recommended 3-4)

A short flight from Nairobi and you can land in one of Africa’s most iconic destinations, the Masai Mara. During the high season (July – October), one can expect enormous herds of wildebeest and zebra embarking on one of the world’s largest migrations. During our time, the wildebeest may have migrated over the border to Tanzania but other animals were abundant, in just a two night stay we had seen 4 of the big 5 alongside cheetahs with cubs and lazy hyena to name a few.

Naibor Camps provided a classic first stop and a real “Out of Africa” experience. Located on a bend in the Talek river, the tented suites were comfortable and spacious carefully spaced out for optimal privacy. The canvas main area sweeps through to an open deck overlooking the river, the grunts of hippo the background music when dining and relaxing here. Exciting game drives were punctuated with heavenly meals in the shade of acacia trees and riveting conversation with our guide Duncan.

Destination Highlights:

- Abundant game and exciting animal encounters throughout, even during a short stay

- While busy during the high season, travelling during the low season means guests have encounters to themselves and the Mara enjoys a quieter, slower pace

- Big landscapes and huge skies – the Mara feels like the sky never ends the like you have all the space in the world

- The Great Migration: July – October (approx.) this is one of nature’s most exciting spectacles

- Extra activities like Hot Air Balloons are an iconic and seriously special way to experience the reserve

Stop 3: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Property: Lewa Wilderness

Number of nights: 2 (recommended 4+)

A beautiful contrast to the wide open plains of the Mara, Lewa stuns with mountainous landscapes, rocky outcrops and Mount Kenya as a backdrop. Lewa has been at the forefront of conservation in Kenya for over 4 decades in particular rhino conservation. While we missed them in the Mara we were thoroughly spoiled during just two nights here  - it feels as though rhino are as abundant as antelope!

Lewa Wilderness is as much a family home as it is a lodge with the Craig family having lived here for over 100 years. Guests arrive here and immediately feel like part of the family, drinks by the fireside with guides and communal dining make one feel at home from the start. The cottages offer a spacious yet cosy retreat with those set on the hillside enjoying the most breath-taking views over the conservancy. This region of Kenya has received precious little rain over the last few years, however it was clear on our arrival that the El Nino over Kenya had provided more than enough to create what can only be described as an Eden. The landscape had been transformed, rivers flowed higher than they had in and the grass no longer the colour of straw was thick and bright green.

Destination Highlights:

- Visit the Conservancy HQ to learn about the state-of-the-art technology they utilise for the protection of the wildlife in this area

- Head out on horse-back for up close experiences with the wildlife and a different perspective

- Explore the conservancy on foot either in a morning/ afternoon activity or for the intrepid traveller, head out for 3 days walking and fly camping on Lewa’s “Walking Wild” programme

- Dine in Lewa’s food garden where the farm to fork movement comes alive, select your veg and watch the chef prepare it right in front of you

Stop 4: Zanzibar Island

Property: Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa

Number of nights: 2 (recommended 3-5)

Time for some R&R and the peaceful white sand beach of Paje was the perfect spot. An hour drive from the airport through the bustling Zanzibar streets lead us to Zanzibar White Sand, a Relais & Chateaux resort with lush gardens and access to one of the world’s most epic kite-surfing spots.

The villas at White Sand provide complete space and intimacy, days can be spent lounging by the pool or on the beach… or there is plenty else to explore. A short walk or bike ride up the beach is Paje village, guests can embark on an adventure through the Jozani Forest, a visit to Stone Town, spice tours or lunch at the iconic Rock Restaurant. Within White Sand guests can enjoy paddle-boarding, kayaking or even try their hand at kite-surfing!

Destination Highlights:

- Temperate climate year-round making this a destination for every season

- Lots of activities on Zanzibar from water-sports to museums making this perfect for active travellers and families

- Easy access from Nairobi or Dar es Salaam so adding from a safari is easy

- The spacious resort makes this a perfect spot for honeymooners wanting privacy while also being set up well for families

- A Relais & Chateaux property – incredible dining experiences throughout

Experiencing this circuit throughout proved not only how seamless this itinerary can be but also how well the properties and experiences at each complement one another throughout. For further information on each property, head to their Accommodation Hub links below (you just need to create a free login to access)

House of Waine - https://www.theafricahub.co.uk/accommodation/house-of-waine

Naibor – https://www.theafricahub.co.uk/accommodation/naibor-camps

Lewa Wilderness – https://www.theafricahub.co.uk/accommodation/lewa-wilderness

Zanzibar White Sands – https://www.theafricahub.co.uk/accommodation/zanzibar-white-sand