Maasai Mara & Zanzibar Escape
Explore the world famous Maasai Mara, a land of quintessential African plains where wildebeest migrate in large numbers and predators rule. Rest and reflect on the pristine white sand beaches of Zanzibar.
Prices: On request
Duration: 10 nights
Availability: Year round
Destinations: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Zanzibar Island
i) Enjoy Big 5 game viewing in the world famous Maasai Mara
ii) Observe one of the largest densities of big cats in the world.
iii) Witness the seasonal wildebeest migration (late July through October)
iv) Rest and recuperate on the pristine beaches of Zanzibar
v) Visit UNESCO World Heritage Site Stone Town for a unique cultural experience
vi) Snorkel or dive to unearth the underwater world of Zanzibar Island
Embark on this excellent wildlife trip that combines the wilderness of the Maasai Mara with culture, marine safari and spectacular beaches on Zanzibar Island. The Maasai Mara promises an abundance of close encounters with Africa’s iconic wildlife including the Big 5, the seasonal wildebeest migration and excellent big cat action. Perfect for first time safari goers or those wishing to spend their honeymoon on safari.
Best time to visit?
So when is the best time of year to take this trip to maximise your overall experience? Without knowing you yet this is a difficult question to answer. With so many variables to consider we need to know what is important to you before we advise on the preferable time for you.
There are many variables to consider when attempting to recommend the best time to visit. Specific considerations include the whereabouts of migratory animals, the effect the density of the vegetation and height of the grass has on wildlife viewing, special wildlife moments such as the birth of baby animals, and the effect weather patterns has on wildlife behaviour. Other factors to consider are the variation in prices at different times of the year, visitor traffic, whether you prefer a lush or relatively arid environment and of course the annual climate, namely temperature and rainfall values.
For this reason we present detailed information for each individual destination in the locations section to help you understand what may work best for you. We will of course have an in-depth discussion with you prior to making a booking so you are completely happy with the time of year you decide to travel.
- Game drives in the Maasai Mara
- Hot air balloon safari
- Visit to Stone Town
- PADI 5 star diving
- Domestic flights Nairobi to Maasai Mara to Zanzibar Island
- Airport transfers in Kenya & Zanzibar
- 10 nights accommodation as stated
- Meals as stated on the daily itinerary
- All included activities as described above
- Half board accommodation in Zanzibar
- Bottled water on safari
- All relevant taxes and surcharges
- International flight to Kenya
- International flight from Zanzibar
- Airport transfers in home country
- Optional activities as stated above
- Meals not stated as included in the daily itinerary
- Drinks unless otherwise stated
- Applicable VISAS
- Tips and gratuities
- Health innoculations and medications
Your Ultimate Wildlife Adventure Begins
Board your overnight flight to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi.
Naboisho Camp, Maasai Mara National Reserve (L, D)
On arrival in Kenya you will be greeted by one of our representatives who will assist you with your onward flight to the Maasai Mara. Upon arrival at the airstrip you will be met by one of the guides from camp and transferred back to camp. The drive will be deliberately slow and will double up as a transfer and game drive.
Time in camp will be spent with a briefing and orientation then it will be time to freshen up and grab a bite to eat before you are back out for your first proper safari activity.
Naboisho Camp, Maasai Mara National Reserve (B, L, D)
These three days will be spent exploring the Maasai Mara National Reserve from several perspectives, by vehicle, on foot, and if you so desire by hot air balloon. The Mara is a special place and provides a superb safari experience simply due to the sheer abundance of wildlife. Wildlife densities are as high here as anywhere else in Africa. Predator numbers are phenomenal and big cats are as easy to observe here as anywhere on the continent. Leopard and cheetah, difficult predators to see in many wildlife reserves on the continent are surprisingly conspicuous in the Mara.
Safari activities start at first light to take advantage of nocturnal wildlife still being out and about and diurnal animals being more active before the sun heats the plains. Its back to camp for brunch and a rest from the heat of the sun before having lunch and preparing to head back out into the bush for the afternoon game drive. There is usually also an option to head out onto a night game drive after dinner.
Breezes Beach Club & Spa, Zanzibar Island (B, D)
Today you will leave behind the gentle undulating plains of the Maasai Mara and fly to the island known as the Spice Island, Zanzibar. You will have one last opportunity to spot any animals you may not have already seen on the way to the airport.
Your flight from Maasai Mara to Zanzibar is via Nairobi and will take around 5 hours when considering transit times. On arrival at Zanzibar a representative from Breezes Beach Club and Spa will greet you and transfer you to the resort. Relax, orientate yourself with your new surroundings and the facilities on offer before settling down for a much needed pre-dinner drink at the beach bar.
Breezes Beach Club & Spa, Zanzibar Island (B, D)
With 5 full days to enjoy the plethora of activities on offer at Breezes and beyond you can be as active or inactive as you desire. Some guests choose to relax with a good book around the pool or watch the world go by on the award-winning white sandy beach. Others are simply waiting for the next experience. Whichever type of guest you are Breezes can accommodate your desires. Take a cultural visit to Stone Town, visit the Jozani Forest to observe the endemic and endangered red colobus monkeys, kayak in the Indian Ocean, snorkel or even learn to dive at the on-site PADI 5 star diving centre.
The End Of Your Ultimate Wildlife Adventure (B)
Today marks the end of an unforgettable experience in Africa. The Maasai Mara and Zanzibar, extremely contrasting destinations, no doubt provided a wealth of memories for you to reflect on and talk about for years to come.
You will transfer back to Zanzibar Airport for your flight back to your final destination.
Mara Naboisho Conservancy, Kenya
Overview: Located in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy adjacent to the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Naboisho Camp offers guests a place of seclusion and tranquility. With resident game in abundance and fellow travellers by the few it offers a truly authentic African safari. With over 100 lions living in the vicinity of the camp, the conservancy has one of the highest lion densities in the world.
Accommodation: 9 spacious en suite tents (including 2 family tents). All en suite bathrooms are equipped with running hot water showers and flushing toilets.
Facilities & amenities: Central lounge and dining area. Swimming pool and complimentary laundry service.
Power & communication: Solar power, with back-up generator. Battery-charging facilities in central lounge area. WiFi is available but at times unreliable. Mobile phone network coverage is unreliable due to the wilderness location of the camp.
Activities: Guided game drives, night drives, walking safaris, fly-camping (at an additional cost), cultural visits, children’s safari programme, hot-air balloon safaris (at an additional cost) and photographic safari.
Children: Children above the age of 5 are warmly welcomed at Naboisho Camp.
Breezes Beach Club & Spa
Overview: Breezes Beach Club and Spa is a beautiful resort located close to the village of Bwejuu in the quieter south-east part of Zanzibar. the island. It is fronted by a pristine and relatively untouched beach that has previously been voted one of the top 30 beaches in the world by Conde Nast.
Accommodation: 72 bungalows of which 20 are suites, 40 are deluxe, 10 standard and 2 villas. All rooms are well appointed and have all the amenities and facilities one would expect of an accommodation of this stature.
Facilities & Amenities: Frangipani Spa. Fitness & Aerobics Centre. 4 restaurants, 3 bars, and a tea room. Swimming pool. Tennis courts.
Power & communication: Full mains electrical power. WiFi is available. Good mobile network coverage
Activities: The water club offers snorkelling, kayaking, pedal boats, sailing, kite surfing, and wind surfing. The resort is home to the only National Geographic affiliated Dive Centre in East Africa. This PADI 5 star dive centre caters for beginners through to advanced divers with 14 dive sites available for exploration. The Swahili Experience and The Zanzibar Experience (see website for details).
Children: All ages are welcome at the resort. Breezes also boasts a fitness and aerobic centre and flood lit tennis courts, as well as the Frangipani Spa to relieve sore muscles and aching joints after all the strenuous activity.
- Special Status: National Reserve with adjacent Private Conservancies
- Location: South-west Kenya
- Land mass: 1510 km² (excluding private conservancies)
- Mammal species: 95
- Bird species: 500+
- Big 5 reserve: Yes
- Game drives
- Night drives (private reserves only)
- Walking safaris (private reserves only)
- Hot air balloon safaris
- Cultural visits
- Wildebeest migration (late July to November)
- Exceptional game viewing year round
- Amongst the densest populations of predators in Africa
- Phenomenal big cat populations
- Extremely habituated wildlife
- Superb photography destination
The mere mention of Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, or simply the Maasai Mara as it is more commonly known, immediately conjures up images of quintessential Africa. Its topography is indeed that of endless savanna punctuated with acacia trees and rivers, namely the Sand River, Talek River and famous crocodile-infested Mara River. It is a place where an unprecedented abundance of herbivores graze and predators stalk in the never ending cycle of life.
The Maasai Mara is undoubtedly Kenya’s premier wildlife reserve and one of the most famous in Africa. When asked, the majority of travellers who have experienced safari will have visited the Mara. Its appeal extends from first-timers, to photographers to experienced tourists.
Located in the South-west of Kenya its relative proximity and excellent road infrastructure with Nairobi ensure it is a relatively easily accessible place to safari. This coupled with the promise of outstanding game viewing and relatively low prices ensure it is a favourite amongst many.
The Mara is quite simply exceptional for game viewing. It boasts unprecedented game volumes and biodiversity. It has been estimated the reserve supports a phenomenal 240 large herbivores per square kilometre, this is truly remarkable abundance. Herbivores include impala, giraffe, wildebeest, both Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, common reedbuck, the beautiful Defassa waterbuck, Coke’s hartebeest and bushbuck. Less common sightings are the endangered black rhinoceros, common eland, and topi. The African elephant and common hippopotamus occur in large numbers and are guaranteed sightings on all safari trips to the Mara. A sighting we particularly enjoy is that of the beautiful Klipspringer, a small and shy antelope that prefers the safety of small rocky outcrops.
As an overwhelmingly positive consequence of all this potential prey is the largest density of predators in the whole of Africa. Lion, leopard, cheetah and spotted hyena stalk the plains whilst huge Nile crocodile’s wait submerged in the Mara’s rivers waiting for their next unsuspecting victim. As well as these iconic larger predators the reserve also supports a variety of smaller carnivores. The feline family are also represented by the caracal, African wild cat and serval. The dog family are represented by the bat-eared fox, side-striped jackal, black-backed jackal and the critically endangered African wild dog.
Nocturnal, and therefore more elusive, wildlife include the zorilla, honey badger, aardvark, springhare, Cape pangolin, striped hyena and aardwolf amongst many others.
The real wildlife spectacle is undoubtedly the famous wildebeest migration. Despite excellent marketing which may lead you to believe otherwise, the migration is not present in the Maasai Mara all year round. The animals usually rumble into the Mara in the most spectacular of fashion each year at the end of July. The frantic and dangerous Mara River crossing signals their arrival and those lucky enough to survive this treacherous obstacle are rewarded with fresh vegetation until the rains signal their return back south into the Serengeti. During these 3 or so months the plains are bursting with approximately 1,300,000 wildebeest, 500,000 Thompson’s gazelle, 200,000 zebra, 97,000 topi and 18,000 eland.
Best Time To Visit
The Maasai Mara is a year-round safari destination thanks to its equatorial climate and abundance of non-migratory resident wildlife. However, seasons can be divided into the dry season and wet season. Both seasons, and indeed the months within each season, offers you a different experience. There is no time of year that offers you the best of everything so we provide you with a balanced account throughout the year so you are able to make an informed decision on the best time to visit based on your preferences.
The temperatures in the Maasai Mara are relatively stable and unchanged throughout the year due to its location close to the equator. The coolest months of June to August see highs of 25 degrees Celsius and lows of 11 degrees Celsius. Even the hottest months of January and February only brings a 3 degrees Celsius increase for average highs and lows therefore providing comfortable safari conditions year round.
The dry season runs from June to October and is characterised by low rainfall and clear skies. These are the months with the best weather. The driest months are July and August with precipitation averaging less than 30 mm per month.
The wet season is considered to be November to May. Rainfall usually significantly increases at the beginning of November and through December. This period is known as the short rains. It will rarely rain all day and most safari activities will continue without interruption. There is a slight respite in rainfall in January and February before the onset of the long rains from March to May. The wettest month being April. Although rain is rarely persistent all day it is frequent and heavy making roads impassable and being disruptive to safari activities.
Wildlife viewing in the Maasai Mara is excellent year round due to the sheer abundance and variety of non-migratory resident wildlife. However, it is undoubtedly the best as the dry season progresses. The vegetation thins out and the grass is low, therefore making animals easier to spot. The lack of rainfall causes temporary water sources to dry out meaning wildlife have to congregate around permanent water sources. This makes their whereabouts much more predictable and hence game activities much more reliable. The other major advantage for a Maasai Mara safari in the dry season is the presence of the wildebeest migration. The herds usually rumble into the Mara via the treacherous Mara River in late July and can be observed on the plains until late October or even early November.
The wet season isn’t without its highlights however. As with many reserves baby animals are born during the wetter months and migratory birds flock in large numbers during the rains. Resident game remains abundant too.
Unfortunately, but maybe as expected, the premium wildlife viewing months are peak season and this brings higher prices and increased tourist traffic. The reputation of the Mara and the ease of accessibility, combined with its relatively small land mass, ensure it can get overrun with tourists during the peak months. This can certainly detract from the bush vibe and authenticity of your safari experience. If budget allows this can be offset by staying in one of the private conservancies around the main reserve.
The bush is at its most beautiful in the wet season as the bush is verdant, the flowers are in bloom and the animals are relaxed and content. This is certainly the best time of year to appreciate the natural beauty of the land.
- Special Status: Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Location: Indian Ocean – 22 kilometres off the coast of Tanzania
- Land mass: 2461 km²
- Marine species: 1000+ fish species
- Mammal species: 54
- Bird species: Approximately 240
- Cultural day trips
- Spa & relaxation
- Beach and water-based activities (windsurfing & kitesurfing)
- White pristine beaches
- A visit to historic Stone Town
- Visit the endangered red colobus monkeys at Jozani Forest
- Swimming with whale sharks
- Underwater safari
Zanzibar Island, more accurately known by its official name of Unguja, is the largest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago. The archipelago consists of more than 50 islands and islets. The island is 2461 km² and is little more than 85 kilometres at its longest point and 30 kilometres at its widest. Despite its relatively small size it is packed with interesting culture and history, world-class coral reefs, inland forests, and miles upon miles of beaches.
Located only 25 kilometres from the coast of Tanzania and with an excellent aviation infrastructure, Zanzibar is easily accessed and combined with the famous safari areas on the mainland. The one important thing to consider with Zanzibar is the sea is tidal in many parts. For some this is not a problem and the allure of a reef walk outweighs any potential negatives. However, for those that like access to swimming in the sea at any given moment it can cause frustration. This can be avoided by staying in the north of the island as the beaches of Nungwi and Kendwa are non-tidal, as is the case at Pongwe beach as it is nestled in a cove.
Relaxation and recuperation are what many people come to Zanzibar for but for those wanting to gain experiences there are endless activities to keep you busy for weeks. Visiting Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital of Zanzibar, is a must. Guests often combine 1 or 2 nights here prior to heading off to their chosen beach destination. Snorkelling and diving are excellent ways to extend your safari and swimming with whale sharks is one of the most exhilarating marine wildlife experiences on the planet. The endemic red colobus monkeys at Jozani Forest are a must and there’s often a great opportunity to get up close with them. Continuing on the wildlife theme is a visit to Prison Island, not actually a prison but a former leper colony, to observe Aldabra giant tortoises.
Best Time To Visit
The main factor our guests consider during the planning phase of any trip to Zanzibar is overwhelmingly the climate. The island’s weather patterns perfectly complement those of the safari destinations on the Tanzanian mainland making for an easy combination itinerary.
March to May are considered to be the months of the long rains with April followed by May being the overwhelmingly wettest months of the year. Rainfall at this time of year can be torrential and persistent. The temperatures exceed 30 degrees Celsius with high humidity.
June sees a dramatic drop in rainfall and signals the start of the dry season which runs through to October. Temperatures and humidity drop during June, July and August before rising again in September and October. It is an extremely good time to visit Zanzibar.
The rains return in November and December but are less reliable and heavy than earlier in the year. January and February see a respite in precipitation before the cycle begins in earnest again in March.
Zanzibar boasts year round exceptional conditions for diving and snorkelling with water temperatures ranging from 26 to 29 degrees Celsius and visibility reliably ranging between 12 and 40 metres.
Wildlife enthusiasts must take note of the whale shark migration season. Between October and March Zanzibar’s waters are populated by the world’s largest fish.
As with mainland Tanzania, accommodation prices correlate closely with the weather patterns. The dry season months being the hardest on your wallet, the long rainy season prices being the least expensive, and the other months offering a compromise.