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In The Footsteps of Joy Adamson


Almost every North American that I know, grew up watching Born Free, that Academy Award winning Walt Disney film, about conservationists Joy and George Adamson, and their pioneering work reintroducing lions to the semi-desert wilderness, in the wide open spaces of Kenya’s northern borderlands, in what is now Samburu and Isiolo districts.


Joy Adamson was a gifted painter, photographer, conservationist and bestselling author. A fiercely independent pioneer woman who married three times for love, her paintings are still on display at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi. Her house, Elsamere, stands on the shores of Lake Naivasha in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley.


For 17 years I made Kenya and later Tanzania, my home. In Kenya I visited all and every part of the country; its villages, game parks, rift valley lakes and northern deserts. Like Joy, and her husband George, I spent much time studying its many tribes, its history and prehistory.


Wherever I went, Joy had been there before me and served as an inspiration for my own travel and research. As Director of the Department of Ethnography at the National Museums of Kenya, I made sure that her collection of paintings were well taken care of and available for public viewing. I therefore invite you to join me for a “thinking person's Safari in Kenya" in the footsteps of conservationists Joy and George Adamson.


We will begin in Nairobi and then fly south to the Northern Serengeti (the Maasai Mara) on the border of Tanzania, take in the big five - lion, elephant, giraffe, zebra, buffalo - and then visit Lake Naivasha/Elementeita area where Joy and her husband lived, watch the hippos on the lake and walk among wild animals (safely) on Crescent Island.


We will then drive through the Kikuyu highlands near Mount Kenya, made famous by Danish writer Karen Blixen (author of Out of Africa) and then spend time in Laikipia, at Ol Pejeta Conservation Ranch, world famous for its rhinos. There you will have an opportunity of taking a forest walk nearby as well as game runs in this unique game park, rhino reserve and cattle ranch.


Next, we will fly to Mount Nyiru, above Lake Turkana, in the territory of the Samburu tribe, at a remote mountain tent camp. This rare opportunity will give you a feeling of what Kenya was like in the early days, when Joy and George lived and worked in the “Northern Frontier,” a place that was closed to settlers and farmers (until 1964) and which is still populated by proud, independent nomads.


Finally, we will fly back to Nairobi and then to an Indian Ocean beach hotel where we will relax for two nights before returning to Nairobi for our flight home.


Throughout the trip I will periodically give short talks on the history, archaeology and ethnography of this ethnically diverse country.


  • Day 1: Arrival in Nairobi- transfer to Fairview Hotel. Overnight.

  • Day 2: After Breakfast depart for Wilson airport for flight to Mara. Overnight at Mara Serena.

  • Day 3: Full day in Mara a.m and p.m game drives. Overnight at Mara Serena.

  • Day 4: Return morning flight to Nairobi – Wilson Airport. Driver will be waiting to drive you to the Serena Hotel on the shores of Rift Valley Lake Elementeita.

  • Day 5: Drive from  Soysambu to Lake Naivasha, boat ride and game walk at Crescent Island. Overnight return to Elementeita Serena.

  • Day 6: Depart after breakfast for drive through Kikuyuland to Sweetwaters camp in Ol Pejeta, near Nanyuki. Overnight at Sweetwaters.

  • Day 7: Full day game drive in Ol Pejeta conservancy (you can also visit the chimpanzee sanctuary there). Overnight at Sweetwaters camp.

  • Day 8: Depart after Breakfast with a charter flight from Nanyuki to Desert Rose. Overnight at Desert Rose.

  • Day 9: Full day in Desert Rose. Overnight Desert Rose.

  • Day 10: Take the flight back to Nairobi and fly to Malindi. Overnight in Malindi.

  • Day 11: Sitting by  pool or the beach on the Indian Ocean. Overnight in Malindi.

  • Day 12: Morning at the beach in Malindi, then afternoon flight to Nairobi for your flight home.





You will be flying into Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta Airport from Europe, just outside of Nairobi. There you will be met by a driver who will take you straight to the Fairview Hotel.


The Fairview was started by an expatriate family who came to Kenya before WWII. I got to know them when I lived and worked in Kenya.


The architecture of the hotel is an adaptation of rural country England, adjusted to the tropics. It has a fine swimming pool, health club, gardens, indoor and outdoor restaurants and a gracious staff. I first stayed there in the 1980s and I go back whenever I am in Kenya.


Depending on when you arrive, you will have the afternoon and evening to unwind and then get a good night’s sleep. We are not strangers there.



Flight to the Maasai Mara

At the Fairview, we will rise early, have breakfast and drive over to Wilson Airport  Wilson is the airport used for internal flights in Kenya. It follows international standards, but it still has a 20th century feel about it. It is modest and quiet and once in flight you will be able to see the savannah and hills of the Rift valley as you peer out your window. 


I never tire of the beauty of the Rift Valley landscape from the air. The commentary for this experience was best written up by Beryl Markham in her remarkable book, West with the Night. The routes that she pioneered include the ones that we will take as we go to and from our destinations.




We will fly into a local airstrip where we will meet our driver and jeep. We have arrived in the “Mara”. We will take a leisurely drive towards our lodge. The Mara consists of plains, riverine forests and hills. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife such as elephant, giraffe, lion, buffalo, cheetah, zebra and about seventy species of antelopes.


We will then have lunch after we settle into our camp. We can also take an afternoon game drive before the sun sets. Dinner at camp.




The Serengeti is home to the largest number of wild animals in any one place in the world. The pastoral Maasai tribe who live around the park call it “Serengit,” which means endless plain. It is what the earth looked like when our very own biological ancestors left this rift valley country a mere fifty thousand years ago, to populate the rest of the world. 


The Serengeti has changed little since then, and for that reason many visitors have nicknamed it “Pleistocene Park,” as it gives the visitor a taste of what the world was like when human beings were a mere dot on the landscape, centuries before the rise of agriculture in the ancient civilizations of the Nile valley. No film or book can substitute for the visceral experience of a wildlife safari in this last of the earth’s pristine wilderness environments.


We will take an early morning game drive in the Maasai Mara – an ideal time to see game as temperatures are cooler, and lion, cheetah and leopard often roam the vast grasslands in search of prey. We will return to the lodge for breakfast. The rest of the morning at leisure or, optional activities, such as visit to a Maasai village to see their nomadic life. After lunch at the lodge, there is a chance to relax before an evening game drive. Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight stay.


The number of anthropological studies of the Masai tribe are legion. They are numerous, long, detailed, technical and usually read like an engineering text book. The best description of their life and culture surprisingly is to be found in a beautiful coffee table book by Fisher and Beckwith, called Masai.


We will have dinner and sleep at our camp.




Before breakfast, we will do an extensive morning game drive after a hot cup(s) of coffee or tea. Return to the camp for breakfast and your check-out formalities. You will then fly to Nairobi and from there we will drive to Soysambu on the shores of the science fiction like rift vallery's Lake Elementeita, and go for an optional bird walk.


The next day we  will drive to Lake Naivasha where you will go hippo watching and get to visit Crescent Island by boat. Crescent Island is a scenic and breath taking wildlife sanctuary situated along Lake Naivasha one of the most stunning fresh water lakes in the Kenya’s Great Rift Valley region. The Island is a peninsula surrounded by the waters of  Lake Naivasha and can only and only be accessed by boat transfer along the lake. Crescent Island can be explored anytime of the day.


We will have a picnic lunch in this wonderful and peaceful place as you watch beautiful creatures such as Gazelles, Impalas, Wildebeests, Dik- Dik, Jackals, Giraffes, Zebras, Hippos and Waterbucks among others, bird species especially the water birds like Pelicans, Cormorants and stunning view of flora and fauna. We will have dinner and sleep at Soysambu.




After breakfast, we will depart for the rhino sanctuary of Ol Pejeta. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 360 km2 (140sq mi) not-for-profit wildlife conservancy in Central Kenya's Laikipia County. It is situated on the equator west of Nanyuki, between the foothills of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy works to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for great apes, and generate income through wildlife and complementary enterprises for re-investment in conservation and community development.


The Conservancy boasts the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa; in 2013, it reached a population milestone of 100 black rhinos. It also houses the two remaining northern white rhinos in the world, who were moved there from Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.


The Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary is also found here which provides a haven for orphaned, abandoned, and rescued chimpanzees. It is the only place in Kenya where chimpanzees can be seen.


The Conservancy is also host to the "Big five game animals" among a large selection of other African animals, which makes it a popular safari destination.




We will continue to explore Ol Pejeta with a focus on the rhino.


Rhinoceroses are some of the largest remaining megafauna all weigh at least one ton in adulthood. They have a herbivouros diet, small brains (400–600 g) for mammals of their size, one or two horns, and a thick (1.5–5cm), protective skin formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure. They generally eat leafy material, although their ability to ferment food in their stomach allows them to subsist on more fibrous plant matter when necessary. The two African species of rhinoceros lack teeth at the front of their mouths; they rely instead on their lips to pluck food.




Fly to Desert Rose on Mount Nyiru. Mount Nyiru is a forested mountain that emerges from Kenya's northern frontier just south of Lake Turkana. It is the home of the Samburu tribe.


Nestled on the Southern slopes of sacred Mount Nyiru, Desert Rose commands views over the vast rugged skylines near a spring-fed forest in Kenya's fragile semi-arid Northern wilderness. The Desert Rose staff is made up of Samburu men and women who traditionally live in the area.


They have ensured every aspect of the lodge is totally environmentally friendly, from your hot bath water of which there is plenty to the disposal of waste. The five houses accommodating up to twelve people are individually designed around various natural features. Each suite has its own private flush toilet and open-air en-suite bathroom. The main lounge and pool area have been hand-crafted to blend with the indigenous gardens, landscaped to enhance the dramatic views and all the power is solar. This is eco-tourism at its best.




The Samburu are a Nilotic people of north-central. They are semi nomadic pastoralists who herd mainly cattle but also keep sheep, goats and camels. The name they use for themselves is Lokop or Loikop, a term which may have a variety of meanings which Samburu themselves do not agree on. Many assert that it refers to them as "owners of the land" ("lo" refers to ownership, "nkop" is land) though others present a very different interpretation of the term.


Samburu speak the Samburu dialect of the Nilotic Maa language. The Maa language is also spoken by other 22 sub tribes of the Maa community otherwise known as the Masai. They will be our hosts in this unique camp that is literally in the “back of beyond.”




Fly to Nairobi for a connecting flight to Malindi on the Indian Ocean Coast. We will stay at Temple Point Resort located in Watamu Marine National Park or an equivalent resort.





Stay at the hotel or drive in to visit Malindi. Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama stopped at Malindi on his way to India in 1498 and erected a pillar that remains overlooking the harbor, however precariously, to this day.


Malindi is famed for coral reefs that lie just 1,000 feet off its shore, best seen at Malindi National Marine Park or nearby Watamu. Game fishing, surfing and simply relaxing on the beach are popular local pastimes. The narrow streets and market of Malindi's old town are worth a visit.



We will fly to Nairobi for the trip home.



  • Pick up from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on arrival.

  • 1 night accommodation as Bed & Breakfast at the Fairview Hotel.

  • Transfer to Wilson airport for flight to the Mara.

  • Accommodation on full board (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner) basis at the lodges and camps, and on Halfboard (Breakfast & Dinner) at Malindi Hotel.

  • Game-viewing drives in Maasai Mara and Sweetwaters Camp.

  • Excursion to Naivasha to visit Crescent Island and take the boat ride.

  • Return flights to and from the Mara.

  • Return flights to and from Malindi.

  • Two exclusive 4 wheel drive vehicles with driver tour guide for game drives in Elementaita and Sweetwaters.

  • Park fees for Mara and Sweetwaters, and community fees for Desert Rose.

  • Boat ride fees and Crescent Island fees.

  • Charter flight from Nanyuki to Desert Rose and flight back to Nairobi.

  • Samburu dancers at Desert Rose.

  • Transportation in 12 seat CESSNA 208.

  • BAGGAGE allowance 15 kilo each.

White Structure


  • Airfare to/from Kenya

  • Alcoholic drinks

  • Laundry (except at Desert Rose)

  • Any optional excursion activities not mentioned above

  • Gratuities


Why the eVisa?

  • Most governments the world over are moving towards digitization of their operations. Online application now makes it possible for visitors to get their visa in advance hence removing the anxiety of whether one will be able will get it or not at the point of entry

  • The visa application procedure has now been modified and simplified in a user-friendly mode that takes three simple steps. The E-Visa portal now has a dedicated website: Visa approval is done in real-time.


 Yellow Fever Certificate

  • You will need to visit your doctor to obtain a Yellow Fever vaccination and certificate.



Plastic Bags Are Banned

  • The ban on plastic bags in Kenya took effect on Monday 28 August 2017. Please do not bring or carry any plastic bags during your visit to Kenya. Opt for bags made of biodegradable materials that include canvas, polypropylene and cloth.

"I look forward to being your guide for this trip of a lifetime. Together, we will have a wonderful, unforgettable adventure in Africa!"

Geoffrey Clarfield

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