Visit Kenya and Tanzania and See The Big 5

Where Predators Rule

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Have you always wanted to visit Kenya and Tanzania? This trip is your traditional African safari and a great starter trip if you’ve never been to Africa. Not only will you see the big 5 (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo), but you will see so many other animals as well. Continue reading to get ideas about where to stay and where to go in these two countries.


I highly recommend this itinerary if you are going to visit Kenya and Tanzania. We saw so many animals in such a relatively short amount of time. If I were to recommend one place to visit it would be Ol Pejeta. It was the only place where we saw rhinos!


This was my first trip to Africa. The decision to go to Africa stemmed from a conversation with an Australian in New York City of all places. My dad, myself, and my husband struck up a conversation with a Australian visiting NYC. “Have you ever been to Africa?” he asked. My response to him was an obvious “no” because whose been to Africa?. He said “You really need to go!”. And so less than a month after we returned we were planning our trip to Africa.

I once again consulted my travel planner. I had no idea where to start. Africa is a continent! She gave several options and we settled on a traditional african safari to visit Kenya and Tanzania. If we were going to see Africa for the first time this was the place to start.

Shots and Medicine Needed to Visit Kenya and Tanzania

So I will answer the question I got the most about my visit to Kenya and Tanzania: What kind of shots did you need to get? I will say that I probably went a little overboard on shots.

A yellow fever shot is mandatory in some African countries. In order to go over the boarder from Kenya to Tanzania we had to show proof of this shot (called a yellow card). There are only a few places to get this shot. We went to Passport Health to get some of our shots. It took over 2 weeks to get an appointment so make sure you do not procrastinate! They tried to sell us on just about every shot imaginable. We ended up getting a yellow fever shot and I got a cholera vaccine via a glass of salty vaccine water. Looking back I should have turned this down especially for the price of $300.

We also needed typhoid vaccine (a series of pills) which my primary doctor called in to my pharmacy. I updated my tetanus and got a flu shot as well. A week before the trip, we started taking our Malaria pills (we opted for Malarone) and ended them a week after the trip. As far as side effects go, I had none from the vaccines. The Malarone gave me nightmares while we were traveling. Not fun but beats getting Malaria. It ended up costing my husband and myself around $1,100 for everything.

Visa Requirements to Visit Kenya and Tanzania

You will need to get a Visa to visit Kenya and Tanzania. My husband went to the embassies in Washington, D.C. with our passports and our applications. Obtaining Visas needs to be done well ahead of time (allow about 1 month as each embassy takes 1-2 weeks and they hold onto your passport while processing). I think Passport Health also offers this service.

We are Leaving!

We left from Dulles aiport on Ethiopian Airlines on September 13, 2018. It was a 13 hour non-stop flight to Addis Abba airport in Ethiopia and then a 3 hour flight to Nairobi, Kenya. Ethiopian Airlines was great as they served food non-stop and drinks were included.

Visit Kenya and Tanzania; beer on the plane ride

We stayed at the Nairobi Serena hotel. The hotel was nice but not very well organized. They ended up putting my dad on a different floor than us and didn’t explain that your keycard would only get you to YOUR floor. After he made several attempts to try and get to our floor, the elevator lights shut off with him in it and it wouldn’t work! Needless to say this was not a good start to our vacation.

Ol Pejeta Conservatory

Our guide picked us up on September 14 for our two night stay at Sweet Waters Serena Camp at Ol Pejeta Conservatory. This was my favorite camp.

Visit Kenya and Tanzania: Tent at Ol Pejeta

Our tent was right next to a watering hole. September is the dry season and animals frequented the watering hole daily.

For being on the equator it was surprisingly cool with fleece jackets worn in the morning and evenings. We saw some amazing animals at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Ol Pejeta is the only place we saw rhinos – black, northern white and southern white rhinos.

On Saturday, September 15th we rode by horseback to see the last two remaining northern white rhinos. You are supposed to be experienced riders to go on this excursion (I was the only one who knew how to ride) but as long as you sign the paperwork you’re good to go!

Visit Kenya and Tanzania: Horse ride to see the last two northern white rhinos

There is a huge fence surrounding the rhinos as they are extremely protected by the rangers. We also saw the grave of the last male rhino, Sudan. It is very sad as these animals will go extinct soon.

After the horseback ride, we went to the Ol Pejeta Chimpanzee Sanctuary which is part of the Jane Goodall Institute. The sanctuary provides a permanent home for chimps that are either orphaned or abused.

Visit Kenya and Tanzania: Chimpanzees at Ol Pejeta

Lake Nakuru

On Sunday, September 16th we drove to Lake Nakuru and stayed at Flamingo Hill Tent Camp. We saw vervet monkeys which are known for their blue balls. The brighter the balls the higher up on the social hierarchy they are.

Masai Mara

Our next stop was at & Beyond Kitchwa Tembo Tent Camp in Masai Mara National Reserve. We stood on the borderline between Kenya and Tanzania. Lions were aplenty at Masai Mara! The great migration was traveling through the Masai Mara during our visit. Wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles migrate from Tanzania to Kenya following the rain and green grass.

Visit Kenya and Tanzania and experience the great migration

We also saw plenty of elephants which got remarkable close to our Land Cruiser.

We saw all three types of giraffes – the Rothschild’s, Masai, and the Reticulated giraffe in Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, and Ol Pejeta Conservancy respectively.

Our guide took us to a known pool in the river which attracted many hippos and we saw more elephants!

Visit Kenya and Tanzania and see elephants

We saw both western wildebeest (pictured here) and eastern wildebeest. They are curious looking creatures with poor eyesight and the main staple of many predators.

On Tuesday, September 18th we visited a traditional Maasai village where my husband participated in the Maasai jumping dance. Their main food is cow’s blood, milk, beef, and occasionally berries.

It was amazing to see how humble they live.

Here are some of the other animals we saw at Masai Mara.

We also saw plenty of birds along our journey.


On Wednesday, September 19th we flew from Kenya to the Serengeti in Tanzania where we stayed at & Beyond Klein’s Camp.The view from our cottage was amazing as was the food. For lunch one day were served wheel barrow salad where we chose what we wanted from the freshly picked food in a wheel barrow.

We went on a walking safari and found things that you cannot see from a vehicle.

There were few guests while we were there allowing for a quieter atmosphere. This was the only lodge we stayed at which did not have some sort of fencing. This meant we were escorted after dark back to our cottages. We saw a Dik Dik next to the dining area one day along with various birds. Fresh elephant dung was spotted next to our walkway indicating the wildlife did indeed get up close and personal on a regular basis!

Visit Kenya and Tanzania and see a dik dik

We practiced spear throwing in case we needed to defend ourselves. My husband was the only one that could throw it correctly so we decided we would have to rely on him to protect us from lions.

We went on two night drives while at Klein’s Camp. Since this camp is on a private reserve, night drives are allowed. You cannot do this in the national parks. One night our guides set up a bonfire where we could watch the sun set and have cocktails and appetizers.

Sunset bonfire during our Visit Kenya and Tanzania

The landscaping was beautiful with Acacia trees seen throughout the Serengeti. We came across a mom and two cubs in the morning and found them again in the evening eating a freshly killed warthog.

Ngorongoro Crater

On Saturday, September 22nd we flew from the Serengeti to Ngorongoro Oldeani Mountain Lodge at Ngorongoro Crater. We saw many more animals here including hippos, Kori Bustard (Africa’s largest flying bird), western wildebeest, and zebras to name a few.

The Ngorongoro crater is the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. The southern and eastern boundaries are defined by the rim of the East African Rift wall, which prevents animal migration in these directions.

Visit Kenya and Tanzania and see Lake Ngorongoro Crater

Lake Manyara

Our final stop on Monday, September 24th was at Lake Manyara where we stayed at the Serena Safari Lodge for one night.

Visit Kenya and Tanzania and see Lake Manyara

We finally spotted a leopard hidden in some bushes! This was the last of Africa’s big 5 game animals (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo) that we had left to spot.

Visit Kenya and Tanzania  and see a leopard

We had also hoped to find a Nile Monitor. We stopped by a small creek and our guide, Elijah, spotted one!

Visit Kenya and Tanzania and see monitor lizard

An iconic tree in Africa is the Baobab tree, also known as the Tree of Life because of its many useful properties: source of water, soap, rubber, cloth, and fruit to name a few.

Visit Kenya and Tanzania and see baobab tree

Below are some other animals we saw at Lake Manyara.

Our Trip is Over

Our safari was over. The trip was truly a trip of a lifetime with over 2,700 pictures taken and some unforgettable memories. We drove from Lake Manyara to Mount Kilimanjaro National Airport and boarded our plane for our 24 hour journey to get home. We left Africa with some amazing memories and a yearning to make more. Find out more about our upcoming trip to Namibia and Botwana.

Final farewell in Kenya and Tanzania

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