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Wild and wide

Kenya

Kenya has everything from sunny beaches to cool tea plantations. If you don’t have much time – after a short stay in the capital Nairobi – it’s best to head straight for the country’s trump card: the wild, wide savannah. From lions to pink flamingos, from colonial heritage to prehistoric genius, you’ll find it all here.

Four days of city and savannah
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Day 1

Nairobi: From cosy to classy

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Morning

Baby elephants!

Start the day with a visit to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust a few kilometres outside Nairobi, a place dedicated to the preservation of the African wilderness. The main project, the most successful in all of Africa, focuses on raising elephants that have lost their parents to poachers.

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Every morning between 11 and noon you can visit the baby elephants – a unique opportunity to see these amazing animals up close.

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Afternoon

The real Out of Africa

The Karen Blixen Museum in Nairobi is a must for anyone who wants to feel, just for a moment, how Meryl Streep and Robert Redford would have felt in the movie Out of Africa. The museum, once home of the Danish writer Karen Blixen, is in the middle of a beautiful estate where the famous story takes place, at the foot of the Ngong Hills just ten kilometres outside Nairobi. Eight hundred metres away, you can have lunch in the historic MacMillan Manor House, which was saved from demolition by being moved from the centre of Nairobi stone by stone in 2008. 

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Evening

Eating at Pango

The elegant brasserie Pango at the Fairview Hotel is among the best Nairobi has to offer. The reviews are full of praise and not just for the décor of wooden mosaics and the open garden: the food – the menu includes duck smoked on sugarcane and rainbow trout with star anise and spinach – naturally takes centre stage. Don’t forget to pay the underground wine bar a visit. And the restaurant often features a live show on stage in the evenings. 

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Day 2

Flamingos and fossils

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Morning

Dive into the Rift Valley

Just west of Nairobi the ground falls away and you find yourself on the edge of a huge trench that runs across the African continent – the Great Rift Valley. Once you reach the floor of the valley you’ll find a landscape of postcard clichés: a sparsely vegetated savannah dotted by tree-sized cacti and fanciful trees, with an extinct volcano lurking on the horizon. This was also the site of many major archaeological findings related to humanity’s ancestors. Today, visitors come here to look man’s oldest enemies – the Big Five – in the eye. 

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Afternoon

A pink rim

Lake Nakuru, located about halfway through the Rift Valley, is populated by millions of flamingos who collectively consume some 250 thousand tonnes of algae a year. Seen from a high hill, the actual size of the colony becomes clear: the whole lake is surrounded by pink. Go to see the flamingo show closer up and you’ll be treated to lions and herds of zebras on the way.

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Day 3

Archaeology and lazy luxury

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Morning

Prehistoric excursion

At first glance, Hyrax Hill, a 50-metre mound near Lake Nakuru, does not seem so special. But appearances can be deceptive – on and around the hill are traces of 5,000 years of human civilisation. Since the 1930s, a wealth of information has been collected about the origins of humanity. A museum shows some of the finds, and excavations including the remains of settlements, tombs and a stone fort can be visited outside.

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Afternoon

Poolside safari

Take a spectacular Air Kenya flight over the Rift Valley to Masai Mara (40 minutes, US$ 240) and go straight to the pool at the exclusive Mara Bushtops Camp. Giraffes and gazelles can be seen from the edge of the pool – a world apart from a bumpy ride in a jeep. 

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Visitors to the camp, located in the Mara Siana wilderness preserve, stay on the top of a hill overlooking a beautiful valley.

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Day 4

Aerial spectacle

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Morning

The greatest show on Earth

A ride in a hot air balloon is always a special experience, but above the Masai Mara Reserve it is a spectacle without equal. If you time your visit to match the annual wildlife migration, you can see massive herds of wildebeest crossing the Mara River and crocodiles being treated to a swimming buffet. 

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This unforgettable spectacle is called ‘the greatest show on Earth’ for good reason – you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of a National Geographic documentary.

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Afternoon

Back to your roots

What you saw far below the hot air balloon in the morning, you can now observe up close during a walking safari accompanied by a guide from the Masai, a nomadic people who know the savannah like no other.

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This is the very essence of going back to your roots – it’s how the first humans roved the savannah, open and exposed to the wilderness, with knowledge of the environment as their most important weapon. Thankfully, in addition to a spear and cudgel, we can nowadays bring a rifle.