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Kenya Safari: Twin Migrations, Wildebeests, and Whales

Listed as a National Geographic Traveler "Tour of a Lifetime," our two-week Kenya safari arrives in the Masai Mara at the peak of the migration season, then off to the coast to snorkel and view whales, and gives an insider's look at local conservation efforts.


  • Combines visits to areas of the densest wildlife concentrations in East Africa with snorkeling and whale watching along Kenya’s coast.
  • Meet community conservation leaders and learn about their work to improve ocean health and support local livelihoods.
  • Our departure is timed to match the twin migration of wildebeest in the Mara and humpback whales along the coast and includes opportunities to see Africa's "Big Five" (lions, elephants, cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros)
  • We'll visit the idyllic eco-tourism haven of Watamu along the coast for opportunities to snorkel, see migrating humpback whales, and learn about ocean conservation efforts.
  • This is a small group safari (10 passengers max in 2 vehicles); all efforts will be made to allow space for social distancing on safari. These safaris can be arranged as private excursion for families.

COVID-19 update (Aug 2020): Our 2021 Kenya departure is currently running as scheduled. Procedures will be in place to assure COVID safety based on the situation at the time of the expedition. For information about flying safely during COVID-19, see our guide, and click here for general information about COVID-19 and Oceanic Society expeditions.

Our reinvention of the "classic" safari takes you on an unforgettable journey to Kenya to see animal migrations on land and at sea. This unique trip was named one of National Geographic Traveler's "50 Tours of a Lifetime" in 2014.

Our program provides a quality nature experience, beginning with visits to Kenya's most prominent National Parks during the height of the migration season, and ending up snorkeling and whale watching along Kenya's beautiful coast.

Our educational, conservation-focused itinerary also includes visits with community conservation leaders and artists—including members of the Ocean Sole program and leaders of EcoWorld Watamu—giving travelers an insider's look at unique ways to connect waste management, art, and health care to modern conservation efforts in Kenya.

This program is designed to create a life-changing experience allowing the traveler to come away with not just pretty pictures, but also first-hand exposure to how local community needs and ingenuity play a role in modern day conservation of predators and marine resources in Kenya.

Wildlife Highlights

When it comes to wildlife, this trip has it all! Our safari is timed to coincide with the great wildebeest migration, an annual ritual of nature in which more than 1.5 million wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in Kenya in search of greener pastures. We will also have opportunities to see all of the "Big Five"—African lions, African leopards, African elephants, cape buffalo, and rhinoceros—as well as cheetahs, hippos, and many rare or endangered species such as Rothschild's giraffes, African wild dogs, Grevy's zebras, and many more. We can also see many unique birds like Secretarybirds, Bee Eaters, Flamingos, Ostriches, and others.

Once we reach the coast, our focus is to see migrating humpback whales, and we also snorkel at colorful coral reefs that feature lionfish, sea turtles, and many other tropical marine species.

Trip Dates & Cost

2021: July 23 - August 3. $8,250 per person + $950 in park fees.*

* Single supplement fee $2,300. Trip prices do not include international airfare. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.


Steve Trott is a marine zoologist and the projects development manager at Watamu Marine Association in Kenya, an organization that promotes sustainable tourism, community based waste management, and marine conservation. Steve’s current focus is on finding innovative solutions to the growing marine debris problem while providing financial benefit to coastal communities in Africa.


Day 1: Arrival - Nairobi
Upon arrival in Nairobi you will be met at the airport and transferred to our comfortable hotel, the Fairview Hotel.

Day 2: Nairobi
A full day in Nairobi we make stops at the Giraffe Centre and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to learn about their conservation and wildlife rehabilitation programs and meet the endangered animals they care for. After that we will visit the artists who create flip-flop animals for Ocean Sole an “trash to cash” business based in Karen a suburb of Nairobi.

Day 3: Nairobi - Laikipia Plateau (by road)
Leaving Nairobi, we continue on to the Laikipia Plateau. Laikipia has the largest concentrations of game in all of East Africa that are not inside a park boundary. During game drives we encounter abundant wildlife, often without another vehicle in sight. A wild yet romantic haven, Laikipia shelters not only the Big Five but also a variety of rare and endangered species, including African wild dogs, Grevy's zebras and rhino. Overnight at El Karama Eco Lodge.

Day 4: Laikipia
Morning and afternoon game drives in the Laikipia Plateau. Overnight at El Karama Eco Lodge.

Day 5: Laikipia
In the morning we leave for a full day visit to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, known for it’s decades long work to conserve Rhinos. While there we will also visit the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Opened in 1993 when Sweetwaters, the Kenya Wildlife Services, and the Jane Goodall Institute established a facility to receive and provide sanctuary and housing to chimps orphaned at a young age by the bush-meat trade. Overnight atEl Karama Eco Lodge.

Day 6: Laikipia - Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara National Reserve is a large game reserve in southwestern Kenya. It is named after the Maasai people (the traditional inhabitants of the area and their description of the area when looked at from afar: "Mara," which is Maa (Maasai language) for "spotted," an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna, and cloud shadows that mark the area. It is famous for its exceptional population of big cats, game, and the migration of zebra, Thomson's gazelle, and wildebeest from the Serengeti every year from July to October, a migration so immense that it is called the Great Migration. The Mara has been called the Kingdom of Lions and these regal and powerful hunters dominate these grasslands. Cheetahs are also a common sight in the Mara, as are hyena and smaller predators such as jackals. Overnight at Ilkeliani Camp.

Day 7: Maasai Mara National Reserve
Morning and afternoon game drives will take us through some of the most spectacular savanna ecosystems East Africa has to offer, with one of the densest concentrations of animal life on the planet. Overnight at Ilkeliani Camp.

Day 8: Maasai Mara National Reserve
Full day game drive. Overnight at Ilkeliani Camp.

Day 9: Maasai Mara - Malindi - Watamu
Today we make our way to the coastal village of Watamu, fronted by wide white beaches. This tranquil village is home to several well established resorts, and many private guesthouses scattered through the forest along the deserted shore. At Watamu a Marine National Park has been established, offering an ideal day trip for snorkelers. Oceanic Society partners with the Watamu Marine Association and while we are here we will learn about their marine mammal projects and meet artists who work with their community recycling programs. Accommodation: Hemingways Watamu.

Day 10: Watamu
Morning excursion for dolphin viewing, afternoon snorkeling excursion. Accommodation: Hemingways Watamu.

Day 11: Watamu
In Watamu we will visit and interact with local artists who are receiving international attention for their use of beach collected marine debris in art and consumer products. This is helping to bring attention to the problem of marine pollution and help support a community conservation recycling effort (run through the Watamu Marine Association) that benefits local womens' groups, and marine turtle and marine mammal conservation efforts. All of these efforts are also promoted and enhanced by ecotourism groups that come to the region and support their programs. We will also enjoy a dugout canoe tour and dinner at Mangrove Crab Shack. Accommodation: Hemingways Watamu.

Day 12: Watamu
Giriama Cultural Village Tour on Kirepwe Island. Accommodation: Hemingways Watamu.

Day 13: Watamu - Malindi - Nairobi (fly home)
Final dinner at Tamambo, departure.


Throughout our trip we stay in comfortable hotels, eco lodges, tented camps, and conservancies that have been carefully selected for their security, quality, access to nature, and commitment to local conservation efforts. These include Fairview Hotel, El Karama Eco Lodge, Mara Engai, and Hemingways Watamu. Year to year these choices may vary depending on availability and new options that develop. The lodges in the above sample itinerary are the ones we utilize most frequently. On booking we will confirm if there is any variation expected for a specific year.

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