Extravagant East Africa: Kenya & Seychelles

Highlights

Kenya’s magic is indefinable; it’s in the feeling you get as you first step off the plane, a feeling which deepens and expands the more you experience. This 12-night journey leads you not only through some of Kenya’s most extraordinary areas before indulging beachside in the exquisite Seychelles, it treats you to the kind of experiential, life-changing luxury that goes beyond thread count and fine dining.

Begin in Nairobi, at the chic and artsy OneFortyEight boutique hotel. This once-private home has just eight rooms in the city’s quiet Langata neighborhood, ensuring a peaceful respite after your international flight. Relax in the fresh air of the garden—where you’re likely to encounter warthog, parrots, peacocks and monkeys roaming—or admire the original artwork is featured throughout.

The following morning, make your way into the heart of northern Kenya's Laikipia region in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy — a reserve close to our hearts and known as a haven for endangered species and rhino conservation in particular. Wildlife abounds, and you’re apt to see everything from elephant and rhino to dik dik, to reticulated giraffe, two species of zebra, along with predators like lion, leopard, and cheetah. Stay at Sirikoi Lodge, the ultimate in casual luxury, with standout service and guiding. Enjoy classic game drives through the rolling hills, or experience the African wilderness on camel or horseback for a new perspective. For active excursions, set out on a bush walk with your guide to explore the area’s unspoilt natural beauty, hike the Samburu’s sacred Mt. Ololokwe or canopy walk in the Ngare Ndare Rainforest.

Guests can also peek behind the curtain and get to know people and local communities central to Lewa’s mission. Meet the rangers and tracker dogs of the reserve, visit schools and clinics supported by conservancy efforts, or visit tribes in the area. Learn first-hand about local customs, culture and the daily lives of the Laikipia Maasai with a visit to the Il Ngwesi community as they offer insight into traditional hunting practices, learning to live alongside wildlife in a new capacity, and the crucial importance of their livestock. Additional eye-opening visits to the more remote Rendille or Pokot communities can be arranged by helicopter.

Continue to the world-renowned Masai Mara for three nights in the private 35,000-acre Olare Motorogi Conservancy. Settle into Mara Plains Camp, nestled in lush forest on the meandering bends of the Ntiakitiak River and created with meticulous attention for a truly exceptional guest experience. Beyond the deep copper soaking tubs and expansive luxury canvas tents, the views of the plains are endless and you’re in the heart of big cat country. Head out on expertly guided day and night game drives with the camera and lenses on loan to use throughout your stay (the camp is owned by the Joubert’s, National Geographic Photographers in Residence) to capture the action. For spectacular views from a different vantage point, take to the skies in a hot air balloon to appreciate the vastness of the plains and its wildlife.

After the spectacle of the Mara plains, return to Nairobi. Opt to stop by the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage to visit these sweet animals before continuing on to Giraffe Manor for one night. Set on 12 acres of private land within 140 acres of indigenous forest in the suburbs, Giraffe Manor is an oasis of comfort. Spend your morning dining with the Manor’s resident giraffes sticking their necks through the window.

From Nairobi, fly to the crystalline waters of the Seychelles on the exclusive North Island. A private island with only eleven villas, North Island feels a little like having your own personal piece of paradise. Spend your days at your leisure, whether that’s a barefoot stroll down one of the island’s secluded sandy beaches, walking inland routes up Spa Hill to the best views of the island, learning about the indigenous wildlife of Seychelles, and maybe meeting a tortoise or two. The lapping waters of the Indian Ocean steal the show, though. Scuba dive or snorkel through inshore reefs, passing turtles and schools of fish darting this way and that, or stay above the gentle waves as you kayak or paddleboard, to name but a few options at your disposal.

Summary

  • 1 Night – OneFortyEight – Nairobi

  • 3 Nights – Sirikoi – Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

  • 3 Nights – Mara Plains – Mara North Conservancy

  • 1 Night – Giraffe Manor – Nairobi

  • 4 Nights – North Island – Seychelles

Cost

Price starts at $26,600 per person sharing.

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Marcia Gordon