East Africa is the birthplace of “safari” or “the journey”. From the Serengeti’s never ending plains to the world’s tallest free standing mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro, this trip includes properties which, in our opinion, are unequaled in terms of their locations, luxury, and experience. Imagine breakfast with a journey of giraffe, witnessing the world’s large wildlife migration in an exclusive area away far from crowds, and exploring the one of the 7 wonders of the world, Ngorongoro Crater, with your private guide. It doesn’t get any better than this.
You will be met upon arrival and transferred by road to Giraffe Manor for 1 night. This place is a superbly unique experience and is often fully booked more than a year in advance!+
There is simply nowhere else in the world where you have the opportunity to interact with giraffe from the comfort of your room or while enjoying breakfast!
Accommodations: Giraffe Manor, 1 night, dinner, bed and breakfast
Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya: Originally built in 1933 by the Macintosh Family, famous for their Macintosh Toffee, Giraffe Manor allows guests to get up close and personal with a bevy of giraffe! I am not much of a morning person but being able to share my breakfast with a long lashed beauty (other than my wife) is good reason to get out of bed. Betty, our favorite room, is located upstairs in the main house and has a fireplace, the original bathroom from the early 1930s, and a large balcony from which you can feed the giraffe. Often completely booked 1 year in advance some rooms are more basic than others. Bucket list all the way!
Travel by air (included in land cost) to Kenya’s famed Masai Mara and Cottar’s 1920s for 3 nights. This is my favorite Mara hideaway.+
Set in an exclusive concession, bordering both the Masai Mara and the Serengeti in Tanzania, enjoy the wildebeest migration away from the madding crowds. Cottar’s is unique in that they employ 3 of Kenya’s 15 Gold guides. Activities include morning, afternoon and night drives in open 4×4 vehicles. Professionally guided walks are offered and we highly recommend a night spent camping “Under African Skies”. For those wishing to experience a bit of culture you may visit a nearby Masai Village. A hot air balloon excursion followed by a champagne breakfast can be arranged although it is quite a drive very early in the morning. As the balloon takes 16 guests it is quite a social outing. This property is at its best August through October when the migration comes through.
Accommodations: Cottar’s 1920s, 3 nights all inclusive
Cottar’s 1920, Masai Mara, Kenya: From Hollywood’s elite, to heads of state, those in the know head to Cottar’s 1920s. The Cottar Safari tradition began in 1919 and you will be transported to a bygone era that speaks of adventure and elegance. Untouched by any kind of tourism or development the wilderness surrounding Cottars offers the discerning client privacy amongst an abundance of wildlife. The 10 tented rooms are spacious and luxuriously furnished. They include original safari antiques from the ’20s, private ensuite dressing and bathrooms, main bedrooms and verandas. The camp’s main areas include an extravagant dining / lounge tent, curio shop, and chilly spring fed pool with pool house.
Ultimate Africa Exclusive: As an Ultimate Africa guest we will arrange a campaign style bubble bath on your verandah. The collapsible canvas tub takes one back to a time when porters carried an amazing assortment of comforts through wildest Africa. In addition Ultimate Africa guests will receive a complimentary 1 hour massage per person.
Travel by air (included in land cost) and road across the Tanzanian border to Singita Mara River Camp for 3 nights under canvas.+
When it comes to the wildebeest migration location is EVERYTHING. Set within 98,000 acres of untouched wilderness at the Serengeti’s northernmost tip the camp has been built literally a stone’s throw from the Mara River. In fact it is the closest property to the river giving guests a front row seat to dramatic wildebeest crossings (unlike guests at most camps / lodges that have to drive long distances to view the action). Although the camp provides surprisingly good year round wildlife viewing the main show, the wildebeest migration, is only in town from roughly late July through early October. We suggest skipping rainy months when the grass gets tall and it can be very buggy. No crowds, unparalleled location on the Mara River, professionally guides safari walks, and open vehicles. No one does it better than Singita.
Accommodations: Singita Mara River Camp, 3 nights, all inclusive
Singita Mara River, Serengeti, Tanzania: A Tanzanian safari is not complete without a few nights spent under canvas. The 6 tented rooms have en-suite bathrooms with showers along with private open-air baths overlooking the Mara River. You can watch wildebeest crossings right from your bed, toilet or tub. Please note that the rooms are lavishly appointed but do feel small’ish. The camp’s main areas include a communal lounge, dining area, bar and large splash pool with sundeck. In our opinion Singita Mara River Tented Camp it the most luxurious example of a simple under canvas experience we have seen.
Ultimate Africa Exclusive: As Ultimate Africa clients Singita will arrange a private candlelit dinner under the stars for you one evening.
Travel by air (included in land cost) to Lake Manyara where you will be met and transferred by road the short distance to Ngorongoro Crater – one of the “7 Wonders of the Natural World” and home to all of Africa’s wildest inhabitants!+
You will spend 3 nights at Crater Lodge. Perched on the crater rim the views into the crater are breathtaking. On day 9 enjoy a privately guided full day wildlife viewing in the Crater with a lavish private picnic lunch on the crater floor. On day 10 depart on a privately guided full day visit to Olduvai Gorge – the birthplace of mankind, Shifting Sands, and a Masai village with a boxed lunch. In the evenings take care as elephant and buffalo wander freely amongst the rooms.
Accommodations: Crater Lodge, 3 nights, all inclusive
Crater Lodge, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania: Masai meets Versailles… It is as if an African village was inhabited by a mad Victorian aristocrat. Coconut leaf roofs and ochre colored walls contrast with bejeweled chandeliers and ornate wood paneling. Wonderfully large 4 poster beds and equally spacious 5 piece bathrooms with cast iron tubs complete the whimsy. The property is divided into 3 camps: North, South and Tree. We always request North or South Camp for our clients as the suites are twice the size of Tree Camp’s at the same price. Your personal butler will bring you tea in bed, stoke your fireplace and draw your bath. Crater Lodge made Conde Naste’s 2006 Gold List as one of the “Best Located Hotels in the World” and is consistently voted Tanzania’s Best Safari Lodge.
What we do: After a long day viewing wildlife take a relaxing bath overlooking the crater below. As mornings and nights can be cold we request a fireside table for meals. A guided crater rim walk may be arranged at extra cost.
Ultimate Africa Exclusive: As an Ultimate Africa guest you will receive a complimentary bag of Crater Lodge’s incredible organic coffee to take home.
Ultimate Africa Exclusive: As an Ultimate Africa guest your stay includes private wildlife viewing activities, an opulent private picnic on the crater floor, and an intimate private dinner, including French champagne, in the lodge’s wine cellar.
Tip: If you want to avoid the crater crowds sleep in – enjoy an amazing breakfast at the lodge before heading down into the crater midday / early afternoon after most visitors have left.
Light air transfer (included in land cost) to the Kilimanjaro Airport.+
You will be met on arrival and transferred by road the short distance to Kia Lodge where you will have the use of a day room. As the sun is setting head up to the pool deck for a view of the world’s tallest free standing mountain – Kilimanjaro. Later this evening you will be transferred by road to the airport and assisted with the check in to your onward flight.
Kia Lodge, Kilimanjaro Airport, Tanzania: Kia lodge, 3 minutes by road from the Kilimanjaro Airport, is set in 30 acres of lush, tropical and savannah gardens, providing a haven for over 100 bird species. The lodge has 40 basic, en-suite rooms. They are nothing to write home about… in fact the word spartan comes to mind. The swimming pool is located on top of a hill, with panoramic views of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, and the Maasai steppe. Please note that we are not suggesting Kia Lodge as a quality destination. It is simply a very convenient location where clients can clean up and rest before their long international flight home.
January, 2017: $18,300
February through March, 2017: $17,500
April through May, 2017: We do not suggest travel during these months
June, 2017: $18,300
July through September, 2017: $18,900
October, 2017: $16,800
November through December 19, 2017: $15,500
Prices are per person and do not include international flights
Specials and exclusive offers
Depending upon the time of year you intend to travel we may be able to secure free nights or discounted rates at certain properties on this trip. Please don’t hesitate to ask.
Clients paying by check can save 2.5% off their land costs
What you get
– Nairobi, Masai Mara, Serengeti Plains, Ngorongoro Crater and Mount Kilimanjaro
– 14 wildlife viewing / safari activities
– Africa’s Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo) – really close
– Wildebeest migration
– Day and night wildlife viewing drives in open and closed 4×4 vehicles (no minibuses) with unlimited mileage and guaranteed window seat
– Walking safaris with professional guides at Cottar’s Camp and Singita Mara River Tented Camp
– Giraffe up close and personal at Giraffe Manor
– Optional Serengeti hot air balloon excursion with Champagne breakfast (at extra cost)
– A private full day wildlife viewing drive in Ngorongoro Crater
– A private full day Olduvai Gorge, Shifting Sands, Masai Village visit
– Optional Ngorongoro Crater rim walk (at extra cost)
– Bird watching including flamingoes in Ngorongoro Crater
– Campaign style bubble bath at Cottar’s 1920s
– Complimentary 1 hour massage per person at Cottar’s 1920s
– All park and entrance fees
– Expert English speaking guides
– 1 night Giraffe Manor on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis
– 3 nights Cottar’s 1920s Camp on an all inclusive basis
– 3 nights Singita Mara River Tented Camp on an all inclusive basis
– 3 nights Crater Lodge on an all inclusive basis
– 1 dayroom at Kia Lodge
– VIP airport meet and assist in Nairobi
– Private airport transfers in Nairobi
– 5 light air transfers (Nairobi to Cottars, Cottars to Migori, Tarimi to Singita Mara River, Singita Mara River to Lake Manyara, Lake Manyara to Kilimanjaro)
– 10 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 dinners
– Private dinner under the starts at Singita Mara River Tented Camp
– Lavish private Ngorongoro Crater floor picnic
– Private wine cellar dinner at Crater Lodge
– All drinks at Cottar’s 1920s, Singita Mara River Tented Camp, and at Crater Lodge (waters, teas / coffees, sodas, beers, wines, spirits)
– Laundry at Cottar’s 1920s, Singita Mara River Tented Camp, and at Crater Lodge
– Confirmation package with a wealth of predeparture information
– Major bragging rights at the office (and pretty much everywhere else)
What isn’t included?
– International flights from your home city to Nairobi / from Kilimanjaro back home
– Trip insurance
– Tips / gratuities
– Some meals and drinks (i.e. when staying bed and breakfast lunch and dinner and most drinks are not included and when on safari premium spirits / champagne are not included)
– Spa treatments (unless stated)
– Telephone calls
When to travel
This trip is best late July through early October each year as the migration will be in the northern Serengeti / Masai Mara. Other times of the year we may alter the itinerary to maximize the migration experience. Alternate luxury Serengeti properties include Mwiba Lodge, Sasakwa Lodge, Sabora Plains Camp, and Faru Faru. Call or email for more info.
The Western and Northern parts of the Serengeti are home to tsetse fly. Similar to a horse fly we jokingly refer to them as “flying teeth” – they pack a mean bite. Despite warm to hot days we suggest long pants, sleeved shirts, and closed shoes in these areas.
Add 3 or more nights beach nights on Mnemba Private Island – one of Bill Gates’ favorite getaways. Includes a private Stone Town walking tour learning about the island’s slave trading past and a private candlelit beach dinner.
Add 3 nights at Greystoke Mahale in the Mahale Mountains trekking for chimpanzees! As the London Evening Standard notes “you can’t blame the chimps for hanging out in a place like this”. Bucket list all the way.
Getting to Africa
From North America there are direct flights to Africa from Washington DC, New York and Atlanta. Alternatively you may fly via Europe, or even Dubai, to Africa. If you let us know the name of your preferred departure city we can provide you with airfare options. Air tickets may only be booked 330 days in advance. Please note air fares are subject to change over time. Most light aircraft transfers between lodges and camps are included in the land cost and are noted on the itinerary.
Is this a group trip?
This is not a group trip. This trip can depart on any dates for 1 or more people (the trip costs have been based on 2 guests traveling together). With additional guests costs may change.
How much luggage can I bring?
As small aircraft are often used to transfer travelers between lodges and camps body weight and luggage weight are important safety considerations. Baggage is strictly limited to 15 kilograms (33 pounds) packed in one or two soft sided bags plus a small backpack per person. This includes camera equipment. Suitcases will not be permitted. If you wish to exceed the luggage limit please inquire about the extra cost of doing so.
At Ngorongoro Crater you will have your own private safari vehicle and private professional, local English speaking, guides. At Cottar’s 1920s and at Singita Mara River Tented Camp activities, such as wildlife viewing drives, are shared with other guests (no more than 6 guests per vehicle) and led by professionally licensed, local English speaking guides who are based at each safari camp / lodge. They know their areas intimately. Your safety and comfort are their highest concerns. They are also trained and prepared to respond to medical emergencies. If you prefer to have a private guide and vehicle at any location this can be arranged at extra cost.
Do I need shots?
Yes – a yellow fever inoculation certificate is required. You will need to provide a doctor’s letter if you do not receive a yellow fever inoculation. In addition most travelers take anti-malaria tablets for the safari portion of their trip and get a Hepatitis A shot. We recommend that you visit with a local travel health specialist in your hometown to discuss any special concerns you might have.
Do I need an entry visa?
American passport holders require entry visas for both Kenya and Tanzania. A Kenyan visa must be obtained online prior to travel. Upon arrival in Tanzania an entry visa may be purchased for US $100 cash per person.
How far in advance to book
Most of the properties we recommend are small and dearly sought after. To ensure availability of accommodations we suggest planning and booking your travel arrangements at least 9-12 months in advance. If planning closer to your travel dates we may need to look at alternate properties to make things work.
How to make it happen
At Ultimate Africa Safaris we do it all – from hotel and lodge bookings, to air tickets and travel insurance. We handle dinner reservations and celebrations as well – we love celebrations! The first step is to check availability at the various properties. We will then prepare a personal proposal for you. To learn more call our Seattle office toll free 1 800 461 0682. From outside the USA / Canada call on 425 793 8877. We are in between 9AM and 5PM weekdays. Alternatively email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
No money, no funny
To confirm an itinerary we require a 25% of land cost non-refundable deposit per person. Your land payments may be made by credit card (MasterCard, Visa or American Express) or by debit card (MasterCard or Visa). Alternatively payments may be made by personal, business or certified check made out to Ultimate Africa and posted to our office. Clients paying by check can save 2.5% off their land payments which will be credited to your invoice upon receipt of the check payment (please do not deduct this from your deposit amount). Future discounts will be applied to land payments made by check. Deposits must be accompanied by completed reservation forms. Upon receipt of your deposit full trip details will be posted to your address. This includes a confirmation letter, invoice, country specific information, travel checklist (what you need to bring), and final air / land itinerary. Your final trip payment will be due 75 days prior to your departure.
Make sure you are covered
All clients are required to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance plan before trip departure. This should cover you for events such as tour operator bankruptcy / financial default, trip cancellation, delay or interruption, lost or delayed baggage, emergency accident, sickness and evacuation, 24 hour medical assistance, traveler’s assistance, and emergency cash transfer. For coverage we suggest Travel Guard insurance. The total premium will be based on your total land / air cost and your ages. If you provide our office with your credit card details we will purchase / complete the insurance formalities on your behalf.