Days 1 & 2: Samburu National Reserve

From Nairobi, safaris head north to the Samburu National Reserve for a couple of nights at one of the lodges on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River, where most of the game is concentrated. Animals include giraffes, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, buffalos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas, and more than 365 types of birds. Look out for species here not seen farther south, such as Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, and gerenuk, an unusual antelope that can reach up the trees on its hind legs.

Day 3: Aberdares National Park

Heading south, the option is to spend a night in one of the two unusual lodges in the Aberdares National Park: Treetops, where Princess Elizabeth stayed in 1952 on the night her father died and she became queen, or the Ark built in the shape of Noah’s Ark. At night, stay up to watch the game activities over the floodlit waterholes. This park is unusual in that it lies above 21,000m (68,880 ft.) and so has a more alpine feel, with mountains, streams, valleys, and moorland.

Day 4: Lake Nakuru National Park

After another morning game drive, your safari will head to Nakuru. Situated just a stone’s throw from the town, the attractive Lake Nakuru National Park surrounds the lake of the same name, which is a haven for the pink lesser flamingo as well as hippo. Other species include various antelope, giraffe, zebra, lion, rhino, and leopard (which can actually be spotted during daylight hours in the arms of the giant yellow acacia trees near the entrance). Enjoy the great views from the park’s rocky escarpments and ridges. Accommodation can be found at several lodges and campsites.

Days 5 & 6: Masai Mara Game Reserve

You will spend at least 2 nights in the Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya’s most famous park with an extraordinary density of animals, including the Big Five. In July and August, it’s also the scene of the Migration, when hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, plus smaller numbers of zebra and antelope, arrive in search of fresh grazing from Tanzania’s Serengeti National park to the south. The predators follow the herds, so this is the best time to witness plenty of animal action, especially if you get the opportunity to see the wildebeest cross the Mara River, where they have to dodge crocodiles, too. There are dozens of places to stay, from hotel-style lodges to tented camps.

Day 7: Nairobi

After an early morning game drive, you’ll head back to Nairobi, a 6-hour drive away.