The guest area at Elephant Watch Camp provides a cheerful sanctuary from the wild Samburu National Reserve.

Kenya | Mara River, Elephant Encounters & Northern Wilderness | 9 Nights The Masai Mara, Samburu National Park & The Laikipia Plateau

This nine-night stay in three luxury Kenya safari lodges lets you really appreciate the landscapes, people and wildlife that make this country special. Be introduced to the elephant, the warriors and the leading conservationists who are preserving – and transforming – the Masai Mara and northern Kenya.

Three nights at Serian the Original

We discovered the true meaning of safari at our first luxury Kenya safari camp, Serian the Original. Tired, but still wired, our guide Joseph suggested we shake off the long journey with a short walking safari in the African bush. So after a quick shower and fresh clothes, off we went, exploring a bit of the conservancy on foot. I won’t say I remember many of the bird names Joseph rattled off, but it was refreshing all the same to stretch our legs. Excitingly, we spotted both lion spoor and leopard prints, which quickly drove home the message that we truly were deep in the wilderness! All we left behind were our own footprints, with the trail ending at a communal dinner table.The name ‘Serian’ comes from a Maasai word meaning serene or peaceful – the perfect description for this idyllic corner of the Masai Mara, and for our slumber. After being woken by a softly-spoken ‘jambo’ and the aroma of fresh Kenyan coffee, I spent a blissful hour soaking in bubbles overlooking the river, delighting in each new species that came into view. After a leisurely lunch with our fellow guests, our first game drive segued into a night drive. We were on the edge of our seats as a pride of lion stretched and set off to hunt, illuminated by red-filtered spots designed to save their night vision.The adrenaline was still in our systems when we rose with the sun the next morning – quite literally, as our hot-air balloon took off at dawn, gliding over the plains of the Masai Mara. The gentle roar of the burners lifted us up to where the vultures soared before we watched them spiral downwards. Our pilot was able to follow them, and we saw them land on the remains of an old giraffe that had died the previous week. We were met by a vehicle with our champagne breakfast, and we shared a toast to this fallen giant and the circle of life.On our final morning, we lingered over a superb breakfast in the thatched mess area, enjoying the expansive views of the Mara River and the Siria Escarpment. A short drive back to the airstrip and we were taking off again, this time for our flight to Samburu National Reserve.

We discovered the true meaning of safari at our first luxury Kenya safari camp, Serian the Original. Tired, but still wired, our guide Joseph suggested we shake off the long journey with a short walking safari in the African bush. So after a quick shower and fresh clothes, off we went, exploring a bit of the conservancy on foot. I won’t say I remember many of the bird names Joseph rattled off, but it was refreshing all the same to stretch our legs. Excitingly, we spotted both lion spoor and leopard prints, which quickly drove home the message that we truly were deep in the wilderness! All we left behind were our own footprints, with the trail ending at a communal dinner table.

The name ‘Serian’ comes from a Maasai word meaning serene or peaceful – the perfect description for this idyllic corner of the Masai Mara, and for our slumber. After being woken by a softly-spoken ‘jambo’ and the aroma of fresh Kenyan coffee, I spent a blissful hour soaking in bubbles overlooking the river, delighting in each new species that came into view. After a leisurely lunch with our fellow guests, our first game drive segued into a night drive. We were on the edge of our seats as a pride of lion stretched and set off to hunt, illuminated by red-filtered spots designed to save their night vision.

The adrenaline was still in our systems when we rose with the sun the next morning – quite literally, as our hot-air balloon took off at dawn, gliding over the plains of the Masai Mara. The gentle roar of the burners lifted us up to where the vultures soared before we watched them spiral downwards. Our pilot was able to follow them, and we saw them land on the remains of an old giraffe that had died the previous week. We were met by a vehicle with our champagne breakfast, and we shared a toast to this fallen giant and the circle of life.

On our final morning, we lingered over a superb breakfast in the thatched mess area, enjoying the expansive views of the Mara River and the Siria Escarpment. A short drive back to the airstrip and we were taking off again, this time for our flight to Samburu National Reserve.

Three nights at Elephant Watch Camp

Our second safari camp was in a very different region – hot, arid northern Kenya. We’d chosen Elephant Watch Camp for the elephant encounters the lodge specialises in, and we were excited to soon be on first name terms with a few of the local pachyderms. We didn’t even need to leave our eco-tent to see our first herds as they came through the doum palms to drink, so we spent the afternoon idling around camp. Sleep that night was in a bed made of tree trunks pushed over by elephant, pretty much lying where they’d come to rest.We enjoyed an early morning coffee with Saba Douglas-Hamilton, whose family owns the camp. Her family history is an incredible tale of romance, danger, and most of all, of elephant. It was an ideal start to our day before we drove to her father Ian’s Save the Elephant research camp. One of Africa’s leading elephant experts and conservationists, Ian has studied these gentle giants for decades. His research is focused on how elephant make choices, and we thought of that as we tried to make our own choices later from the amazing organic lunch buffet!Loving the rugged landscapes of the Samburu National Reserve, we spent much of our third day on a game drive with our guide. He told us traditional Samburu stories, many of which featured the animals and birds we saw. By now we were in the habit of greeting each elephant we encountered like old friends, and we received a few trumpets and head shakes in return. The highlight though was watching a pair of caracal hunting. Normally incredibly shy, this pair of lynx-like cats seemed to be enjoying the attention and we watched them catch several mice.Although our next camp, Segera Retreat, was not so very far away as the crow flies, to drive there through Kenya’s high country would take hours. As we waited for our light aircraft, Saba indulged us with more family stories, this time about her adventures as a BBC wildlife documentary presenter.

Our second safari camp was in a very different region – hot, arid northern Kenya. We’d chosen Elephant Watch Camp for the elephant encounters the lodge specialises in, and we were excited to soon be on first name terms with a few of the local pachyderms. We didn’t even need to leave our eco-tent to see our first herds as they came through the doum palms to drink, so we spent the afternoon idling around camp. Sleep that night was in a bed made of tree trunks pushed over by elephant, pretty much lying where they’d come to rest.

We enjoyed an early morning coffee with Saba Douglas-Hamilton, whose family owns the camp. Her family history is an incredible tale of romance, danger, and most of all, of elephant. It was an ideal start to our day before we drove to her father Ian’s Save the Elephant research camp. One of Africa’s leading elephant experts and conservationists, Ian has studied these gentle giants for decades. His research is focused on how elephant make choices, and we thought of that as we tried to make our own choices later from the amazing organic lunch buffet!

Loving the rugged landscapes of the Samburu National Reserve, we spent much of our third day on a game drive with our guide. He told us traditional Samburu stories, many of which featured the animals and birds we saw. By now we were in the habit of greeting each elephant we encountered like old friends, and we received a few trumpets and head shakes in return. The highlight though was watching a pair of caracal hunting. Normally incredibly shy, this pair of lynx-like cats seemed to be enjoying the attention and we watched them catch several mice.

Although our next camp, Segera Retreat, was not so very far away as the crow flies, to drive there through Kenya’s high country would take hours. As we waited for our light aircraft, Saba indulged us with more family stories, this time about her adventures as a BBC wildlife documentary presenter.

Three nights at Segera Retreat

We were immediately taken by the holistic approach to safari – as well as the attention to every detail of our wellness – at Segera Retreat. From our ‘farm-to-table’ welcome lunch to a guided walk through the retreat’s landscaped sculpture gardens, we were instantly at ease… yet and also challenged by some of the modern artworks. Afternoon tea in the Explorer Lounge included the immense privilege of viewing original letters by David Livingstone and Ernest Hemingway – giants of African history.Segera Retreat, however, is much more about sustainable futures than it is about the past, and we set aside a day to learn all about them. Our first stop was the Satubo beading workshop, a community initiative which has given women from three different tribes the opportunity to make a living from their beautiful and traditional beadwork. I was able to buy authentic Samburu necklaces for all my friends in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. At the Waterbank School we saw how education is transforming the prospects of local children and how futuristic architecture harvests valuable rainwater for kitchen gardens. Knowing how it was grown made dinner even more delicious!Our last full day of safari turned out to include some of the best of everything of Kenya. We spent time with Segera’s camels, and sampled honey from traditional Borana bee hives. Life is certainly sweeter on safari! Our guide saved a couple of surprises for later in the day, including pulling open hangar doors at the airstrip to reveal a very familiar yellow biplane, which you can charter. The very plane, he told us, that features in the film Out of Africa, now restored to full working order by Segera owner Jochen Zeitz. After sundowner daiquiris and dinner, we retired to our outdoor swing bed and watched as a million stars slowly wheeled above us.There was still time in the morning to look at more of the modern art in the converted stable block, and enjoy a massage, which ensured we were perfectly relaxed as we started our journey home.

We were immediately taken by the holistic approach to safari – as well as the attention to every detail of our wellness – at Segera Retreat. From our ‘farm-to-table’ welcome lunch to a guided walk through the retreat’s landscaped sculpture gardens, we were instantly at ease… yet and also challenged by some of the modern artworks. Afternoon tea in the Explorer Lounge included the immense privilege of viewing original letters by David Livingstone and Ernest Hemingway – giants of African history.

Segera Retreat, however, is much more about sustainable futures than it is about the past, and we set aside a day to learn all about them. Our first stop was the Satubo beading workshop, a community initiative which has given women from three different tribes the opportunity to make a living from their beautiful and traditional beadwork. I was able to buy authentic Samburu necklaces for all my friends in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. At the Waterbank School we saw how education is transforming the prospects of local children and how futuristic architecture harvests valuable rainwater for kitchen gardens. Knowing how it was grown made dinner even more delicious!

Our last full day of safari turned out to include some of the best of everything of Kenya. We spent time with Segera’s camels, and sampled honey from traditional Borana bee hives. Life is certainly sweeter on safari! Our guide saved a couple of surprises for later in the day, including pulling open hangar doors at the airstrip to reveal a very familiar yellow biplane, which you can charter. The very plane, he told us, that features in the film Out of Africa, now restored to full working order by Segera owner Jochen Zeitz. After sundowner daiquiris and dinner, we retired to our outdoor swing bed and watched as a million stars slowly wheeled above us.

There was still time in the morning to look at more of the modern art in the converted stable block, and enjoy a massage, which ensured we were perfectly relaxed as we started our journey home.

What sets it apart

By spending time in three different regions of Kenya, at three varied safari camps, we were really able to get a feel for this country – and we have a feeling that we’ll be back.On the rolling green plains of the Masai Mara, herds of game were easy to spot whereas we had to work a little harder in the drier north of Kenya … although the elephant encounters more than made up for it, plus meeting researchers and conservationists helped put everything in context. Samburu National Reserve straddles the divide between northern and southern wildlife, and we got to check off all of the Samburu Special Five, including the blue-legged Somali ostrich.Everyone we met in Kenya was incredibly generous with their time, whether explaining how elephant matriarchs navigate or the significance of different colours of beads in tribal necklaces. It’s no surprise the Kenyans are known for their hospitality!We also found out about Kenya’s colourful history, and we saw a positive vision for its future where humans and wildlife can share space without conflict. We plan on telling all our friends that eco-tourism has a vital role to play in creating jobs and putting a genuine value on conservation efforts, as was particularly evident at Segera Retreat.We both agreed that few other countries could offer this wonderful mix of modern art, traditional lifestyles, organic food and sunset cocktails, shaken and stirred with stunning safari action. Oh yes, and elephant. They say an elephant never forgets, but we will never forget them!

By spending time in three different regions of Kenya, at three varied safari camps, we were really able to get a feel for this country – and we have a feeling that we’ll be back.

On the rolling green plains of the Masai Mara, herds of game were easy to spot whereas we had to work a little harder in the drier north of Kenya … although the elephant encounters more than made up for it, plus meeting researchers and conservationists helped put everything in context. Samburu National Reserve straddles the divide between northern and southern wildlife, and we got to check off all of the Samburu Special Five, including the blue-legged Somali ostrich.

Everyone we met in Kenya was incredibly generous with their time, whether explaining how elephant matriarchs navigate or the significance of different colours of beads in tribal necklaces. It’s no surprise the Kenyans are known for their hospitality!

We also found out about Kenya’s colourful history, and we saw a positive vision for its future where humans and wildlife can share space without conflict. We plan on telling all our friends that eco-tourism has a vital role to play in creating jobs and putting a genuine value on conservation efforts, as was particularly evident at Segera Retreat.

We both agreed that few other countries could offer this wonderful mix of modern art, traditional lifestyles, organic food and sunset cocktails, shaken and stirred with stunning safari action. Oh yes, and elephant. They say an elephant never forgets, but we will never forget them!

Day 1–3

Serian The Original has impressive views of the Mara River, and of the Pusinkariak Conservancy beyond it. © Alex Walker's Serian

You’ll be met as you disembark from your international flight at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, and assisted through customs and immigration. Following a private transfer to Wilson Airport, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to the Masai Mara. You’ll then take a transfer to Serian the Original, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 4–6

The guest area at Elephant Watch Camp provides a cheerful sanctuary from the wild Samburu National Reserve. © Elephant Watch Camp

After a transfer from Serian the Original to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Wilson Airport in Nairobi, followed by a connecting scheduled light aircraft flight to Samburu National Reserve. A transfer will take you to Elephant Watch Camp, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 7–9

Wildlife, like giraffe and zebra, can often be seen from camp at Segera Retreat. © David Crookes

After a transfer from Elephant Watch Camp to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Laikipia. A transfer will take you to Segera Retreat, where you’ll spend three nights.

Day 10

Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya.

After a transfer from Segera Retreat to the airstrip, you’ll take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Wilson Airport in Nairobi. A private transfer will take you to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, where you’ll be assisted through check-in for your international flight.

  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, taking into account when you’d like to travel, how long you’d like to be away for, who you’d be travelling with, what safari lodge style you’d prefer, and more.
  • This luxury safari trip idea is simply to show you what’s possible. To see what this type of safari costs, and what’s generally included, click hereFor a general overview of African safari prices, you can click through to our blog.
  • We also offer a curated selection of Kenya safari packages, wrapped and priced for your convenience, click here to explore them.

Get an expertly planned safari trip proposal

Find your inspiration | Leave the dull parts to us

Enquire Now

Looking for inspiration?

Sign up for our occasional newsletter and we’ll feed your imagination with exciting safari ideas.

SAVE YOUR SAFARI INSPIRATION ♡

Create a personalised storyboard for your African safari.

When you see something you love, simply click on its ♡ icon and it will be added to your MY CANVAS page.

Access your shortlist at any time by clicking on MY CANVAS in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Got It!

Get an expertly planned safari trip proposal

Enquire Now

Want to get in touch?

Contact Us

Creating your canvas!

By clicking on the heart, you’ve just added your first safari item to your canvas, which is where you can curate your personal collection of luxury safari inspiration. View and save your canvas by clicking here, and you'll be able to access it at any time by tapping on the heart icon in the menu bar.

Got it