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Escape to the Highlands of Kenya

This is a foundation sample itinerary. Most Footprints Tours trips include some of these attractions. Its advantages are that it offers a comprehensive survey of East African nature with a minimum of vehicle travel. The goal, although not always achieved, is to keep the daily vehicle travel to four hours. In addition, the focus on Kenya, the reduced driving, and the concentrated nature of the trip keeps the price down and offers the best value in a short time period (less than three weeks). This itinerary involves only slightly different emphasis to be enjoyed by cyclists or birdwatchers

Day 1 Arrive in Nairobi, probably at night, and go directly to a hotel. Unless more is really needed, I choose a local tourist hotel. It would have beds and ensuite .

Day 2 Drive west 2-3 hours into the Rift Valley to Lake Naivasha (freshwater). Walk in Hell’s Gate Park. It offers a chance to see animals from the vehicle, a bicycle or on foot. There are few parks where you can do this. Move from here to the hotel to relax.

Day 3 A hike up Mt. Longonot (2,900 m.) takes about three hours. Picnic at the top with an option to walk around the crater edge. While not high, as the first mountain it involves some work and it is likely to be hot.


Day 3: Take a boat excursion on Lake Naivasha. Then explore the shoreline and take the short crater lake walk. Overnight again in Naivasha.


Day 4 Head south to Masai Mara for an afternoon game drive. The Mara probably offers the greatest variety and concentration of African animals of any park in Africa. Overnight in a permanently tented camp with cots and possibly ensuites.


Day 5 Full day game drive and return to camp. There will be a chance to visit a Masai Village. They charge and will try to sell you things.


Day 6 Head back north to Lake Nakuru and overnight in comfortable, but not luxurious hotel.


Day 7 Morning game drive. This ‘soda’ lake is usually home to a million flamingoes and is called one of the “ornithological wonders of the world”. This large enclosed park is a black rhinoceros sanctuary. It also offers a high lookout point. In the afternoon we head west for the Kakamega Forest experience. We are now getting off the beaten tourist track. We will stop at a hotel along the main route just west of the city of Eldoret.


Day 8 Drive south for about an hour to walk the trails of the Kakamega Forest. This is an island of tropical rainforest in farm country. This forest is a unique holdout and the only example of it east of the Congo and the great Africa divide. In the afternoon we will head back to the same hotel.


Day 9 This day features a long, but on good road, spectacular drive through the rift valley to the freshwater Lake Baringo, crossing the equator several times.


Day 10 This is a Mecca for birdwatchers and has the Guiness record for most species seen in a 24-hour period. There will be a morning boat ride to see hippos, crocs and birds. It will be the smoothest part of this day’s journey. We will stay a second night here.


Day 11: In early morning we drive northeast to Maralal (we have seen the end of paved roads for a couple of days). This community is a meeting place for several of the colourful northern tribes and host to famous camel races. It is in an arid hot part of the country. Accommodation here is in pleasant cabins with ensuite. This is a good place to catch up on clothes washing. They dry in about 10 minutes in the sun and heat. These next few days would be the hottest we will experience. But I always see this place as the closest you will get to R&R time.


Day 12 Choice of camel ride or walk in the morning, mid afternoon in the bar and late afternoon excursion to town. Overnight here again.


Day 13 Heading southeast toward Mt.Kenya on a rough road. We could stop at the Samburu National Park. For those who have an interest, some of the animals here are different than those seen in Masai Mara. Again this is hot country. Continue on to Nanyuki on the northern flank of Mt. Kenya. Overnight in a modest pre-mountain hotel.


Day 14 The guides and porters will be securing supplies for Mt. Kenya. You will have morning free time to explore the town, peruse the markets and maybe check emails. In the early afternoon everybody will go to the Sirimon gate. Hikers will do an 8 km.-hike on the Sirimon Route to Old Moses Camp (3,300m.) There are relatively comfortable bunkhouses with flush toilets. The temp. will drop to 0 C overnight. I would encourage everybody to try parts of this hike. This is a world biosphere and the changing vegetation in this four-hour walk up a dirt road is unusual. Roads permitting, those unable to hike may be able to go up in a vehicle.


Day 15 For the mountain hikers head to Shipton’s camp 13 km and 4,200 m. This is a long mountain hike, but again the bunkhouses are reasonably comfortable. If you haven’t yet experienced the effects of altitude you will at this camp.




Day 15 Descend from Old Moses to Nanyuki. Excursion to the nearby historic Mau Mau caves or the luxurious Mt. Kenya Safari Club. Visit the Sweetwaters Game Reserve and Chimpanzee Sanctuary.



Day 16 Begin an early morning ascent to Pt. Lenana (4,985 m.) Descend and return to Old Moses in the same day for overnight.




Day 16 Take the circuit road around Mt. Kenya passing the wheat farms on the dry side and then stopping at the rich coffee, tea and rice farms on the damp east side of the mountain. Overnight in Embu on the east side of the mountain.


Day 17 Morning walk down to the Sirimon gate, rendezvous with the rest and drive back to Nairobi. The final overnight will be in a more upscale hotel, if possible one behind the museum and reptile park.


Day 18 Options this day could include the animal orphanage, the Giraffe Centre, Bomas of Kenya, shopping, meal at the ‘Carnivore’, National museum, reptile park. Activities on this day are optional, outside the itinerary and at your own expense. Depart Nairobi that night.

Foundation itinerary photo gallery




About Footprints

Whether you want to experience the glaciers and thin air, high on the great mountains, the huge herds and predators of the fabled Serengeti Plain, or the chaotic tangle of life in the rain forest, Footprints Tours offers opportunity to marvel at nature or test yourself in it.  Read More »

Hiking at Altitude

Forays up higher than the camp and back down improve the body's acclimatization to altitude. Depending on energy levels, several of these at the end of the day may suffice.. Read More »


Read comments and opinions from previous Footprints Tours adventurers.

"You were along for the trip. When someone is traveling that far and is doing specialized travel, like climbing, you like to know someone is looking after you.." Read More »