Do 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 me take you on your private Yocum family safari adventure that will include visiting three different Sheldrick rehabilitation locations as well as watching large herds of wild elephants in the Amboseli ecosystem from outside of your vehicle (Amboseli is completely optional).
We will begin our trip in Nairobi by visiting Giraffe Center, Karen Blixen’s house and the Nairobi Elephant Nursery before heading to a very private area within Tsavo National Park, staying at Ithumba Hill private house. Ithumba Hill is where the older orphaned elephants are introduced to wild herds and we get to watch this amazing interaction take place. After Ithumba we make a short drive over 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.
Following Umani Springs we will finish our safari in Amboseli (optional but recommended) 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!
July 24 - 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 One Forty Eight Hotel for the night.
One Forty Eight is a boutique luxury hotel 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.
The location itself is completely unique with warthog, parrots, peacocks and monkeys freely coming and going through the garden. Often lions and hyenas can be heard from the proximity of the incredible Nairobi National Park - the only major city in the world to share spaces with wildlife.
An incredible private home forms the foundation of the hotel, original artwork is featured throughout - making this hotel a living gallery. The 5 brand new suites are converted from the on site artist's studio, the hotel itself spares no modern convenience - delicious food and wine, beautifully appointed rooms, first class service, in room televisions and wifi, boutique designer shops on site, as well as access to amazing restaurants, museums and wildlife on our very doorstep.
July 25 - 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.
July 26 - Private Charter flight to Tsavo National Park
Today we will take a private charter to Tsavo National Park and will have 2 days of accommodation and elephant interaction at Ithumba Hill, a private camp that is located in a normally off-limits area within Tsavo National Park. Here is the place where the Sheldrick organization slowly starts to introduce the older orphaned elephants back into the wild. Wild elephants and our orphaned elephants greet each other and interact at the local water hole and we will be there to watch this reintroduction take place.
July 27 - Ithumba Hill
A full day of interacting and observing our orphaned elephants with the process of being reintroduced into the wild. We will walk with these magnificent animals, interact with them up-close and watch them interact with wild elephants down at the water hole. This will likely be the most moving experience in the wild you have ever experienced. It is uplifting, heartwarming and filled with joy. Overnight at our private residence, Ithumba Hill.
July 28 - Umani Springs
Today we will drive from Ithumba Hill to Umani Springs, the other Sheldrick ‘private house in the bush’. 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.
July 29 - 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.
July 30 (2 nights) - Amboseli National Park
Early this morning we will continue our journey to Amboseli National Park. 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.
August 1 - Amboseli to Nairobi
Today we will fly back to Nairobi and will be transferred to Tamarind Tree Hotel where we can relax, have our last meal together and discuss the experiences and moments we have experienced over the 9 days. We will transfer you to the airport in time to make your international flight back home.
The cost of this all-inclusive safari is $55,631 for the entire group of 7. This fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation as well as hotel accommodation and all meals and drinks. If you would like to also visit Amboseli National Park, and I highly recommend that you do so you can see the wild elephant herds with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background, the cost will be $66,429.
If you would like to have someone from Kenya guide the trip in my absence to control the costs, I can do some calculations to come up with a new figure. Flexibility is what I can do, so all you have to do is let me know what you would like and I can take care of absolutely everything.
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 so many ideas for places for you to visit. Please ask us so we can assist in extending your safari.
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.
Safari Leaders: Andy Biggs
Dates: July 24 - August 1, 2020 (including the Amboseli days, otherwise it ends on July 30)
• 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
• Private air charter to Tsavo National Park and air service back from Kilimanjaro
• 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 July 24, 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