We are aware many of you support Elephant Conservation through the fostering of orphan elephants at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi. DSWT does an amazing job sending updates on how the orphans are doing, but how about visiting these special elephants close and in person? Let us take you on an 8-day safari adventure that will include visiting two different Sheldrick rehabilitation locations as well as watching large herds of wild elephants in the Amboseli ecosystem from outside of your vehicle.
We will begin our trip in Nairobi by visiting Giraffe Center, Karen Blixen’s house and the Nairobi Elephant Nursery before heading to Amboseli to experience the elephant herds of peaceful elephants with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background. When we are in the Amboseli area we are able to drive off-road for the best angles and viewing positions, and we are also able to exit our vehicle and watch and photograph the herds from the ground. This is a very unique experience that took us a long time to cultivate. This is the ultimate elephant viewing experience!
After Amboseli we will drive to Umani Springs, which is a private camp that is owned by the Sheldrick organization and exclusive to its donors. Umani Springs is rehabilitation center for the older elephants and is a crucial step in the ultimate goal of releasing them into the wild.
We have an optional 3-night extension at the end of the trip to Ol Donyo Lodge, a Relais & Chateaux affiliated property for even more elephant experience.
June 7 - Arrive Nairobi, Kenya
On your arrival in Nairobi, you will be met by our local representative, who will assist you across the terminal and to check in at Tamarind Tree Hotel for the night.
Tamarind Tree is in the Karen neighborhood of Nairobi, the most recognized neighborhood in the city and for good reason: Karen Blixen lived nearby. The hotel offers easy access to all parts of the city, its national park, as well as to the country’s many diverse attractions via the neighboring Wilson Airport and Southern Bypass. The nearby Langata and Karen suburbs are among the liveliest and most popular in Nairobi with world-class shopping malls and excellent restaurants.
June 8 - Nairobi, Kenya
Today will be a full day of activities! After breakfast we will make our way over to the Giraffe Center, where we will be able to hand feed the Rothschild Giraffe, a subspecies of giraffe that is the most threatened subspecies in Africa. The experience is fun, full of smiles and selfie photographs and it is a great way to start your time in Kenya.
After our time at Giraffe Center we will drive to nearby Karen Blixen’s house, where the famed author of Out of Africa lived. You can see where she lived between 1914 and 1931 and our visit will remind of how iconic the movie Out of Africa was. We will either eat lunch back at our hotel or we will have a light bite to eat at the Blixen Museum before heading over the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust facilities. We have arranged for a private visit to meet with the orphaned elephants. This private visit is a very heart warming experience and will warm your heart at the good work that DSWT is doing for wildlife. The love they have for these baby elephants is apparent in everything they do. You will be up close and personal with orphaned elephants that are under 5 years old.
June 9-12 (3 nights) - Amboseli National Park
Early this morning we will fly to Amboseli National Park, which is a short 30-minute plane flight away. We will be staying at Tortilis Camp for 3 straight nights, in order to take our time and enjoy the process of watching and photograph the largest tusks and elephant herds in east Africa. Tortilis Camp has access to local Maasai land, which is outside of Amboseli National Park, allowing us to have freedom to drive where we want to and to position our vehicles for the best photographs.
With the majestic backdrop of Africa’s highest mountain, Tortilis Camp is widely regarded as the prime location for witnessing the majesty of snow-capped Kilimanjaro. Tortilis Camp is named after the flat-topped, umbrella thorn tree that surrounds the camp, the Acacia Tortilis.
Amboseli is known for its magnificent elephants – a population of over 1500 elephants, and some of Africa’s largest, reside in the park’s unique eco-system. Game drives, walks, sundowners and bush meals all take place both inside the Amboseli National Park and within a private 30,000 acre game concession, offering fantastic opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography.
The rooms are all spacious, with king or twin beds and elegant en suite bathrooms. There is a main lounge, bar and dining area, all exquisitely built with natural materials and thatched roofs, with magnificent views of Kilimanjaro.
Typically we rise just before dawn, have a quick bite to eat, and head out at first light to see what has happened overnight. We often drive to the top of a hill to see where the elephants are and where they are going. We have ample time to sit and drink coffee or tea, look through our binoculars and enjoy the sunrise from a beautiful location. When the time is right we drive down the hill to intercept elephants that are leaving the forest at the base of Mount Kilimajaro, as they head towards natural springs that come up from the ground that are found on the dry and open plains.
In the afternoon, as the sun wanes, we are off again in search of wildlife. Sometimes we drive into Amboseli National Park to watch lions or cheetahs or maybe we stay on private land for elephants and giraffes. It’s a time to savor the African sunset with refreshing sundowner drinks and snacks before continuing our drive as nocturnal animals become more active with dusk. A hearty dinner awaits us back at camp whenever its time to return. We share stories of the day around the campfire and under the stars. So goes another blissful day in Africa.
June 12 - Amboseli to Umani Springs
Today we will enjoy an leisurely drive from the western region of Amboseli, around the Chyulu Hills and to Umani Springs. The northeastern slopes of the Chyulu Hills are much more heavily forested than the more commonly visited southern side, whilst the broad valley that lies between here and the Yatta Escarpment in Tsavo East is heavily farmed, with human habitations running right up to the border of the national park.
The Kibwezi Forest sector of the conservation area is an ancient groundwater forest renowned for its wealth of beautiful butterflies, many of which are endemic and also for its wide range of bird life. Mammals include elephants, leopards, hyenas, serval cats, civets, mongooses, buffaloes, bushbucks, duikers and klipspringers.
Set around a pretty spring inside the forest, just 5km off the main Nairobi to Mombasa highway, Umani Springs Camp is a lovely place, related to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, who operate the famous baby elephant orphanage in the capital and who use this place as a staging post for their release project at the fabulous Ithumba Hill in Tsavo East. The trust is heavily involved in the conservation of these critically important forests.
The camp itself is an extremely comfortable 'bush home', which can only be rented in its entirety by private groups of up to ten guests. In its center is a lovely main building, leading out to a large swimming pool. Guest accommodation is in three lavish bungalows. The home is only available to David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust donors and close friends and we have arranged to stay there for 2 nights. Since Umani Springs is a private home, food services are much different than that of a tourism industry lodge or camp. We will be sending someone to the house to help us prepare all of our meals and we will have an opportunity to participate as well. Or not. It’s up to you, but we find that it is a fun, communal experience to talk about what we have seen so far on the trip as we all participate.
We will arrive by lunch time and will have time to visit the Umani Springs Stockade to visit the elephants by sundown. Overnight Umani Springs.
June 13 - Umani Springs
We will enjoy another full day at Umani Springs enjoying the luxurious, tranquil, and inspiring surroundings. We will spend time creating and visiting the Umani Springs stockade (within walking distance) for the morning and evening elephant feedings as well as daily mud baths.
June 14 - Umani Springs to Nairobi
Today we will drive back to Nairobi and will be transferred to Crowne Plaza Hotel by the international airport. Here you can grab a nice meal and relax until your departure.
The cost of this all-inclusive safari is $7,990 per person. The same rate applies for each participant regardless of whether they are doing photography and participating in the workshop, or not. This fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation as well as hotel accommodation (double occupancy) and all meals.
Due to the limited number of spaces available, if a solo guest is willing to share a room and we can match with another guest of the same gender, we will do so. If a solo guest is unwilling to share, then a single supplement will be charged $1,450 (please contact us if you would like to have your own accommodation as we have only 2 single slots available).
Please note: We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, cultural, or wildlife migrations) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. We reserves the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participant.
NOTE: If you are interested in combining this safari with an additional time in Kenya, we have two options for an extension.
We will drive from Umani Springs to Ol Donyo Lodge, where we will stay for 3 nights. Ol Donyo Lodge is on the other side of the Chyulu Hills and is home to some of the largest bull elephants in the world. If you want more time with elephants, especially sociable bull elephants, this is the place for you. During the dry season the lodge fills up a water hole with 2,500 gallons of water each and every day, which draws the bulls in due to the scarcity of water in the area. Near the water hole there is a newly built photo hide where we can photograph and watch from. Game drives are also available, as well as horseback riding. All of these activities have the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro in the background as your backdrop. Ol Donyo is THE PLACE to end a safari. The quality of accommodations, quick access to the photo hide from the lodge, horseback riding, game drives, mountain biking and the family like atmosphere are all inclusive and part of the feel. Ol Donyo is a Relais & Chateaux affiliated property and for good reason. I was there in March and I didn’t want to leave.
The cost of this all-inclusive safari extension to Ol Donyo is $3,450 per person. If you would like your own room the single supplement cost is $950.
What Do I Do Next?
This group will be super small so space is limited. If this exciting trip has your name on it; if you're excited by the thought of becoming a member of this trip, then now is the time to register. Remember, there will be limited space available for this workshop. When they're spoken for, that's it. If you have any questions before registering, send us an e-mail with any inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• All safari activities and transfers to/from the airports and the hotels
• Emergency evacuation insurance
• All appropriate Game Reserve fees
• Meet & Assist service on arrival in Nairobi
• All meals and drinks at camp
• Round trip private air charter
• The current Tourism Levies and all relevant Value Added Tax or Government Sales Tax
What is Not Included?
• International airfare and/or other transportation between your home and Nairobi.
• Dinner / Drinks in Nairobi on June 7, due to late arrivals
• Travel Insurance
• Personal purchases (including curios, spirit liquors, telephone calls etc.)
• Gratuities for guides and hotel staff (assume $40 per day)
• Pre- and post- safari tours and meals or accommodation before or after the safari