Kenya's Northern Frontier Samburu & Maasai Mara - African Encounters

Kenya’s Northern Frontier
Samburu & Maasai Mara

(1 Review)
9 - 20 June 2025
9 - 20 June 2025

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    • 12 days / 11 nights
    • Max Guests : 8
    • Nairobi - Nairobi
    • 9 - 20 June 2025

    Kenya’s Northern Frontier District is largely unexplored and uninhabited, but rich in colour and traditions. This vast, arid land with its stunning landscapes and unique wildlife, is home to the fascinating Samburu people. Explore Sera and Kalama, two community-owned conservancies where you can enjoy fantastic game-viewing, with rarely another vehicle in sight. Your safari ends in the heart of the Maasai Mara eco-system with its abundant wildlife – the perfect end to your Kenya safari. 

    Remote Sera Conservancy is a hidden treasure in the untamed and pristine landscape of Kenya’s Northern Frontier District. Here you’ll find a community-run sanctuary where black rhinos have been successfully reintroduced to their former habitat. Together with the Samburu rangers who protect these critically endangered animals you’ll track them on foot – the only place in East Africa where you can do this!

    Kalama Conservancy is a community-owned wildlife reserve that borders the Samburu National Reserve in northern Kenya. Here, you’ll encounter unique wildlife like the Beisa Oryx, Reticulated Giraffe, Grevy’s Zebra, Gerenuk, and Somali ostrich, all endemic to the Samburu ecosystem. A visit to the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, a community-run haven for rescued baby elephants and other wildlife, is always a highlight – especially when you get to meet your baby elephant, with a 12-month adoption included.

    Your last camp is in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy, nestled within the Maasai Mara eco-system. Here, you’ll experience a breathtaking landscape that’s a refreshing contrast to the arid north. Mara Naboisho is teeming with wildlife both day and night, and is especially renowned for its exceptional lion sightings. Sit back and watch animals at the waterholes directly in front of the camp from the deck of your stunning tent.

    Due to the intimate size of these camps, the group size will be limited to just 8 guests.

    If you’re keen to venture off the well-trodden tourist route to explore some of Africa’s best-kept secrets and learn about Maasai and Samburu traditions and wildlife conservation first-hand, then this safari is for you!

    Optional extensions: Your Northern Frontier safari combines perfectly with a Tanzania safari which can be added before or after your Kenya’s Northern Frontier safari. 

    Add on a few relaxing days on exotic Zanzibar Island

    …or join me on safari in Tsavo National Park and a few days exploring Lamu Island, the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa  (itinerary coming soon)


    Kenya's Northern Frontier Highlights

    Your twelve-day Kenya’s Northern Frontier safari takes you into some of Kenya’s remote community-run conservancies where you’ll enjoy an authentic wilderness experience and cultural encounters – up close and personal!  And you’ll get to see the difference that conservation initiatives are making for both people and animals.

    • Tracking endangered black rhinos with Samburu rangers
    • Visiting your adopted baby elephant at Reteti Elephant Sanctuary - 12 month adoption included
    • Bush picnics, sundowners, & dinners under the stars
    • Stay in exclusive community-owned conservancies - no crowds around wildlife sightings here!

    Price Includes

    • Arrival & departure transfers
    • 11 nights in quality accommodation, all rooms with en-suite
    • All meals and drinks (mineral water, soft drinks, beer, wine and G&T)
    • Guided walks with professional guides
    • Day & night game drives
    • On-foot black rhino tracking
    • Visit Reteti Elephant Sanctuary and meet your rescued baby elephant - 12 month adoption included
    • Cultural visits to local villages & communities
    • Our famous surprises!
    • All Conservancy and National Park fees

    Price Excludes

    • International flights
    • Visa
    • Travel Insurance (mandatory)
    • Any personal expenses
    • Tips & gratuities
    • Balloon flight over the Maasai Mara (highly recommended!)


    Day 1: Independent arrival in Nairobi

    You will be met on arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and transferred to your accommodation.

    Day 2:Nairobi excursion

    Today you’ll explore the streets of downtown Nairobi on a walking tour with former street kids, an eye-opening insight into life in Nairobi, followed by a visit to a couple of my favourite social enterprises which provide employment and vital income for local artisans. 


    Day 3 : Sera Community Conservancy

    After breakfast transfer to Nairobi’s Wilson Airport for your one hour flight to Samburu. You will be met by your driver/guide on arrival and enjoy your first game drive on the 1.5 hour journey to your first camp.

    This afternoon you’ll have a game drive in the conservancy, followed by sundowners at a viewpoint, before returning to camp for dinner.

    Our rustic camp has just 5 bandas (stone cottages) with traditional thatched roofs. The bandas are situated along a dry river bed lined with beautiful doum palms. The camp is rustic, but very comfortable, with flushing loos, hot & cold water and natural stone showers. There is a swimming pool, a bar in the dry river bed, and a waterhole in front of camp provides game viewing right from your room. Herds of elephants roam this vast landscape, and there is amazing birdwatching as well as fascinating cultural experiences.

    Days 4 & 5: Sera Community Conservancy - rhino tracking

    The highlight of your visit here is tracking critically-endangered black rhinos on foot, the only place in East Africa where this is possible. The black rhino sanctuary was established in 2015 when the first 10 black rhinos were reintroduced to the area. With the birth of several babies the population has since grown to 21, a tribute to the efforts of the community to protect these incredible animals. You’ll be escorted on your walk by an experienced guide and the Samburu rangers who look after the rhinos. This really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    Other activities here include game drives, and cultural interactions with the Samburu community.


    Day 6: Kalama Conservancy

    On the drive to your next camp you’ll visit Reteti Elephant Sanctuary where you’ll meet your adopted baby elephant. A 12 month adoption of one of these rescued babies is included in your safari. Reteti is another very successful community project which rescues young elephants, orphaned due to abandonment, drought, poaching, separation or falling into wells from which they cannot escape. You’ll meet their keepers and learn about the journey to rehabilitate these babies back into their own habitat, rather than relocating them to the larger, and more famous, facility in Nairobi. 

    Your lodge is the only accommodation in Kalama Conservancy, a community-owned wildlife reserve that borders Samburu National Reserve, with 200,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness to explore and enjoy exclusively. Its six open and spacious villas are perched on a plateau with spectacular views over the Northern Frontier District and Mt Kenya in the distance. 

    Enjoy one complimentary 30-minute back & neck massage per room/tent. A short evening game drive culminates in sundowners at a waterhole, and a starlit dinner back at the lodge. 

    Days 7 & 8: Kalama Conservancy

    Samburu is known for the Samburu Special 5 – Beisa oryx, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich and gerenuk, all of which are endemic to this arid region. There is also a good population of predators and large herds of elephants. The Ewaso Nyiro River is a lifeline for wildlife in this arid region of northern Kenya. Your guides on game drives and walks are Samburu warriors who will share with you their fascinating customs and traditions, as well as their local knowledge – a truly authentic experience.

    Day 9: Maasai Mara eco-system

    After breakfast you’ll board your plane for a 1.5 hour flight south to the Maasai Mara, a refreshing change of landscape from the arid north. Your camp with just six superb tents is in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy, part of the Maasai Mara eco-system. It is located close to a series of three waterholes where animals come to drink during the day – and you can watch them from the deck of your luxury tent!

    Enjoy an afternoon game drive, followed by dinner in camp and an optional night game drive.

    Days 10 & 11: Maasai Mara eco-system

    Your days here will be filled with morning and afternoon  game drives within this wildlife-rich conservancy. With no boundary fences wildlife is free to roam between the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the surrounding conservancies. And the conservancies, where the animals aren’t hassled or surrounded by a multitude of safari vehicles, are becoming their preference. The Naboisho Conservancy spans across 145 square kms and is home to only nine safari camps and lodges. This area is known for having one of the highest densities of lions in Africa, and Naboisho’s wide open savannahs make it easy to spot the big cats in action. One of the area’s largest lion prides, made up of 22 lions, resides in the conservancy. As if that wasn’t enough, there are also over a dozen leopards living in the area. 

    Naboisho supports a number of projects including the Maa Trust, which involves local communities in occupations as diverse as honey collection and bead making; they also support the Kenya Wildlife Trust, which runs various conservation projects. As this is a wildlife conservancy the rules are much more relaxed than in the public Maasai Mara National Reserve. You are can go on night drives here to look for nocturnal species such as white-tailed mongoose and bush babies, and participate in walks with Maasai guides – activities that are not permitted in the National Reserve. 

    Enjoy a bush dinner under the vast African sky, with traditional Maasai singing and dancing, 

    An optional hot air balloon flight can also be arranged here (extra). 

    Day 12: Departure

    After breakfast enjoy a last game drive through the conservancy to the airstrip for your flight back to Nairobi and transfer to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for your flight home.

    Optional extension: Tsavo National Park & Lamu Island

    Travel by train to Tsavo National Park, where you’ll spend 3 nights in the Lumo Community Wildlife Sanctuary, another community success story. Your lodge here is spectacularly sited at the end of a ridge, with a view of Mt Kilimanjaro and stunning sunsets. Tsavo is famous for its red elephants, thanks to the volcanic soil in this region, as well as its extensive lava flows and the crystal-clear Mzima Springs where an underwater viewing chamber provides a unique view of hippos and crocodiles.

    Lamu Island, just off the Kenya coast, is the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa. It’s a wonderful place to immerse yourself in Swahili culture and relax after your safari.

    Itinerary coming soon.


    Are airfares included?

    International airfares are not included. We are happy to recommend a travel agent to book your flights.

    What airlines fly to Kenya?

    Emirates, Qatar and Ethiopian airlines all offer flights from New Zealand or Australia to Nairobi, with stops in Dubai, Doha, and Addis Ababa respectively.

    Do I need a visa?

    Australian and New Zealand passport holders require an  e-visa to visit Kenya for up to 90 days. This is purchased online prior to arrival in Kenya. Visas are no longer issued on arrival. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from your planned date of departure from Kenya.

    What vaccinations are required?

    There are no mandatory vaccinations, however malaria prophylaxis (tablets) is strongly recommended. 

    Can you organise accommodation before or after the safari?

    We are happy to arrange accommodation before or after your safari.

    What kind of people join my safaris?

    Most of our guests are from New Zealand and Australia. They are typically mature, well travelled people who are looking to venture off the main tourist route to explore some of Africa’s less well-known destinations – but they also appreciate quality accommodation back at base after an exciting day of game drives and guided walks! They are flexible and easy going, and they are keen to give back by supporting local conservation and community projects during their safari. A sense of humour is always welcome!

    Still have a question?

    Have a look at our FAQ page, you may find the answer there.

    OR email me – I love to chat about Africa! 

    1 Review
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    Helen & Patti Ranson

    Family Traveller

    Apart from the fact that Africa is THE destination we want to go to, travel with Karen is the only way we would do it. We have traveled to Africa with Karen 3 times now and just love the small intimate groups and the feeling that the whole trip is planned with just us in mind. And the daily surprises!! We love Karen’s philosophy about travel and her intimate knowledge of and love for Africa.