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A private Journey through Istanbul and Kenya (Covid Test Included)

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Itinerary Highlights

All Local Flights in Kenya Included!

3 Nights in Istanbul, Turkey (COVID test Included in Istanbul)

3 Nights on Safari in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya

3 Nights on Safari in the Mara Bushtops Conservancy, Kenya

2 Nights on Safari in the Mara Triangle, Kenya

1 Night in Nairobi, Kenya

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Sample Itinerary

Day 1

  • Arrive in Istanbul


    Today you arrive into the glorious city of Istanbul! After passing through passport control, customs, and any required health screening, you will need to exit the terminal building using GATE 9. As non-ticket holders are not currently allowed in the arrival hall, and signs with your name are not permitted, your airport assistant will meet you just outside GATE 9 for transfer to your hotel. He will be holding an “Exeter International” sign.

    Istanbul, formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, played for centuries a major part in world politics, first as the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, then as the capital of the Ottoman Empire, the most powerful Islamic empire in the world. Nowadays, Istanbul's Asian side is filled with Western-style sprawling suburbs, while its European side is a wonderland of mosques, magnificent palaces, and crowded bazaars.

    Having arrived at your hotel you will check in, get settled and enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure.

    Meals Included: None
    View
    • Pera Palace

Day 2

  • Exploring IStanbul


    This morning you will meet your guide in the hotel lobby. Your guide and driver will take you to American Hospital (https://www.amerikanhastanesi.org/contact-us), located in the distinguished district of Nişantasi, for a COVID-19 test.

    After the test you will set out on an overview tour that covers the highlights, including the most historic section of Istanbul, called Sultanahmet. First, you will visit the Hippodrome, which was once the central focus of Constantinople. Built by the Romans, only fragments are left of what was once a grand stadium that held 100,000 spectators for public meeting and important events, including chariot races. Here in the Hippodrome, you will also see the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine.

    Later you will pay a visit to the famous Hagia Sophia. Built in the 6th century, this church influenced architecture for centuries. Its original design was created as a mirror of the heavens. Take your time exploring the vast galleries and beautiful mosaics. Given its age, the church is in remarkable condition and the interiors are full of important frescoes and mosaics depicting holy subjects which may be covered at this time. You’ll be one of the first to see the Hagia Sophia after being returned to mosque status, rather than a museum.

    You may also visit the Blue Mosque, one of the most important temples of worship in the world. It is named for the blue Iznik tile work that decorates its interior and its dome can be seen from all over the Sultanahmet district. It was built by Mehmet Aga, the imperial architect and was very controversial due to its six minarets, which many at that time believed was sacrilegious as it rivaled the architecture of Mecca itself! At the moment, restoration does limit the view of the beautiful domes and features, but no trip to Istanbul is complete without seeing this amazing mosque!

    Not far away, you will also visit the dramatic and beautiful Byzantine Underground Cistern, built in the 6th century as a secure water reservoir for the city. It is one of Istanbul’s most unusual tourist attractions! It was laid out in 532 under the rule of Justinian and one of our favorite places in Istanbul.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    View
    • Pera Palace

Day 3

  • Exploring Istanbul


    This morning you will meet your guide and driver in the lobby of your hotel. You will then start your day by visiting the famous Covered Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, offering an almost endless selection of Turkish carpets, gold, jewelry and artworks offered in some 4,000 shops!

    Afterward, visit the 17th century Spice Market also called the Egyptian Bazaar, because in the 17th Century it was built with money paid as duty on Egyptian import goods. From medieval times, spices were an important and expensive part of Oriental cooking and they gradually became the bazaar’s main focus, taking advantage of Istanbul’s strategic position on the main trade route between the East and Europe.

    Your guide will also take you into the extraordinary Imperial residence of 25 Ottoman Sultans, Topkapi Palace. You will see the Herem, the library, the treasure, with its royal jewelry and gem collection, and the imperial living quarters, all surrounded by serene gardens and fountains. Also in the Treasury is the 86-carat Spoonmaker’s diamond and a Case-containing bones said to be from the hand of St. John the Baptist.

    While visiting Topkapi, you will be able to step back into time as you explore 500 years of Ottoman history. The Topkapi palace complex will be regarded as a multi-ethnic construction with influences from Central Asia, Asia Minor, Persia and Mesopotamia.

    Within the historically short period of two centuries, the Ottomans rose from a small, feudal principality to become a major -the major- world power, yet at the same time they possessed a court tradition and culture of their own that was over a thousand years old. Undoubtedly Topkapi involved a synthesis of Byzantine elements but yet it can never be completely separated from its Ottoman roots.

    Continue on to the Galata district where the Genoese, Venetians and the Jewish Society of Old Constantinople used to live. Next, your guide will take you to Eminou to board your private boat. The best way to take in some of the most interesting sights in Turkey is to take this private boat cruise up the Bosphorus. You will depart from Eminonu and sail up the Bosphorus toward the Black Sea, allowing you to see all the interesting structures along this historic waterway.

    This is one of the most unforgettable excursions between two continents, Europe & Asia. The cruise takes you along the latest palaces of Ottomans, The Dolmabahce Palace and Beylerbeyi, as well as 19th and 20th century, beautiful wooden kiosks, mansions and modern villas, which form the elegant section of the city. Enjoy the scenery and at the conclusion, disembark at your hotel.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    View
    • Pera Palace

Day 4

  • Depart Istanbul


    Today you have at leisure to relax and explore independently. This afternoon you will check out of your hotel and meet your guide and driver in the hotel lobby.

    Together you will then travel to the nearby airport where you will meet your overnight flight to Nairobi (please note the cost of this flight is not included in your program cost). The Turkish Airlines flight departs at 8:00PM and arrives in Nairobi, Kenya at 02:40AM.

    Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 5

  • Arrive in Nairobi, Onward to Lewa


    Arriving into Nairobi you will be met by your local assistant who will drive you the 2-minutes to the Four Points Sheraton Hotel. Here you will be able to catch a few hours sleep before setting off on your safari adventure.

    Following a relaxed breakfast, you will meet your local driver in the hotel lobby and depart for the nearby Wilson Airport. Here you will meet the light aircraft that will transport you high over the African plains and into the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (please note the cost of this flight is included and usually departs around 09:15AM and arrives at 10:15AM).

    Arriving at Lewa Airstrip you will be met by your local guide and together you will set off through the conservancy. Arriving a short while later at the wonderful Sirikoi Camp you will check in and be given an orientation tour of this lovely property. The Manager of the lodge will explain a few precautions to take during your stay to ensure your safety and wellbeing, as it is worth keeping in keep in mind despite your luxurious surroundings you are in the middle of wild Africa! You will then enjoy lunch before enjoying a bit of time at leisure to relax and unpack. In the late afternoon you will enjoy a casual high tea in the main communal area of the lodge before setting off on your first safari drive.

    During your stay at Sirikoi Camp you will have the opportunity to join two safari drives each day. One in the early morning and then another that leaves in the late afternoon and returns shortly after dark. Please note you are in no way obligated to join both of these daily drives and if you would prefer to sleep in one morning and simply join the afternoon drive (or vice versa) you are of course welcome to do so. As the lodge is located in the middle of the game reserve, and right next to a beautiful waterhole, you will enjoy fantastic game sightings from anywhere around the property, including the communal areas or even right from your luxury tent.

    Returning from the evening game drive you will enjoy a splendid African inspired meal prepared by the lodges talented team of Chef’s. After dinner you are welcome to either relax around the communal firepit sipping your choice of beverage or retire to your tent in preparation for the next day’s early start.

    Meals Included: Full board (Including Local Beers, Wines, Spirits & Soft Drinks)
    View
    • Sirikoi Camp

Day 6

  • On Safari in the Lewa Conservancy


    This morning you will wake up just as the sun is rising above the horizon and make your way to the main area of the Camp. Here you will enjoy a selection of coffee, tea, fruit and light pastries before hopping on board your safari vehicle and continuing your exploration of this spectacular region.

    Note that on both your morning and evening game drives your guide will find a nice area to stop for a half hour where you will enjoy some light refreshments and a chance to stretch your legs. Arriving back at the lodge mid-morning you will then enjoy a lavish brunch during which you can swap stories about that mornings game drive and decide on the plan for the remainder of the day.

    Please chat with your guide if you have any specific interests that you would like to explore while on Safari. These could include interests such as birding or perhaps ask about the possibility of scheduling a nature walk during which you can get up close and personal with the fauna and flora that surrounds your lodge.

    Meals Included: Full board (Including Local Beers, Wines, Spirits & Soft Drinks)
    View
    • Sirikoi Camp

Day 7

  • On Safari in the Lewa Conservancy


    Today will be your last full day at Lewa to check off any animal sightings that have so far remained elusive. In addition to the other many animals you will undoubtedly see, the goal on Safari is always to find the “Big Five”. Throughout much of the early 20th century when hunting was still the main reason international visitors made their way to Africa these five animals were considered the most dangerous animals to hunt and were therefore prized as trophies above all others. Fortunately, times have changed and now most guests who go on Safari want to admire and photograph these incredible animals rather than cause them any harm. The “Big Five” are the Elephant, the Rhinoceros, the Leopard, the Lion and the Cape Buffalo and all can be found on the Lewa Conservancy.

    Traditionally leopards can often be the most difficult animal to find on Safari as their patterns allow them to blend into the bushveld at a moment’s notice. Often if you do find a leopard they will be up a tree where they have either pulled their kill to keep it away from the prying jaws of the hyenas or simple resting safe in the knowledge they are out of reach of any larger predators.

    Meals Included: Full board (Including Local Beers, Wines, Spirits & Soft Drinks)
    View
    • Sirikoi Camp

Day 8

  • Lewa to Bushtops Conservancy


    This morning you will have an opportunity to enjoy a last safari drive at Lewa before sitting down to a generous breakfast. You will then meet your guide, bid farewell to Sirikoi and make your way back to the nearby Airstrip. Here you will meet your light aircraft flight to Mara-Keekorok (the cost of this flight is included and departs at 10:05AM and arrives at 11:30AM).

    The Masai Mara National Reserve is a land of breathtaking vistas, abundant wildlife and endless plains. The quintessential Masai Mara safari delivers many attractions, as the reserve is home to an excellent year-round concentration of game, including during certain times of year the more than two million wildebeest, zebras and other antelopes that make up the famous Great Migration. Although it is always difficult to know exactly where and when the Great Migration will be in a particular area, your dates should coincide with the Migration passing through the Mara region.

    The only downside of the Masai Mara National Reserve is just how busy it can get. For that reason, you will be staying at the wonderful Mara Bushtops, a wonderful tented camp that is ideally located on its own private conservancy. This camp’s location allows you to both visit the main reserve while also enjoying the much more private, wildlife viewing of the private conservancy.

    Having landed at Mara-Keekorok airstrip you will be met by your local guide. Together you will then set off via safari drive and make your way to Mara Bushtops where you will spend the next three nights.

    Meals Included: Full board (Including Local Beers, Wines, Spirits & Soft Drinks)
    View
    • Mara Bushtops

Day 9

  • On Safari in Bushtops Conservancy


    This region is a photographer’s and naturalist’s paradise, with abundant elephant, buffalo, giraffe, lion and cheetah alongside the migratory wildebeest and zebra. Leopards are frequently encountered; endangered black rhino hide in the dense thickets and large rafts of hippo and enormous crocodiles are found in the nearby rivers. The Reserve is also home to over 450 bird species. Depending on where the migration is currently located your guide may recommend heading out for a full day safari with a packed lunch.

    Meals Included: Full board (Including Local Beers, Wines, Spirits & Soft Drinks)
    View
    • Mara Bushtops

Day 10

  • On Safari in Bushtops Conservancy


    While exploring this region from your safari vehicle is always a highlight at Mara Bushtops, directly in front of the restaurant and spa lies a salt lick. Animals love it, arriving primarily at noon but also throughout the day and night to absorb the minerals needed for healthy bones and growth. This creates a constantly shifting nature show, as gazelle jostle with warthogs, zebra and impala, topi and buffalo. It is not unusual to have a herd of elephant join them – and the lodge have hosted more than 40 giraffes at a time. Naturally, the predators take an interest, with leopard and lion frequent visitors.

    Meals Included: Full board (Including Local Beers, Wines, Spirits & Soft Drinks)
    View
    • Mara Bushtops

Day 11

  • Bushtops Conservancy to Mara Triangle


    Today you will say goodbye to Mara Bushtops and together with your guide set off on safari drive that will also serve as a transfer to your next lodge. Approximately an hour from Mara Bushtops you will reach the Talek Gate of the Masai Mara National Reserve. Here you will meet your new guide, switch vehicles, and continue another two hours to Angama Mara, one of the region’s most luxurious lodges.

    Arriving at Angama Mara you will be met by the lodge manager and shown to your luxury tented suite. Boasting awe inspiring views from every vantage point Angama Mara exudes relaxation and tranquility. This afternoon you can choose either to enjoy a safari activity, or simply relax on the lodge deck with a glass of wine in hand and watch as the sun sinks below the dramatic landscape below.

    Meals Included: Full board (Including Local Beers, Wines, Spirits & Soft Drinks)
    View
    • Angama Mara

Day 12

  • On Safari in the Mara Triangle


    Without wanting to turn the traditional game drive completely on its head, the Angama Mara guiding team struck on the idea of crafting game drives around the guest. Guests are asked where they have been; what they have seen; what their great passions are; what they would like to do and when they would like to do it; and for how long they would like to be on a game drive at any one time – and game drives are structured accordingly.

    As the Mara Triangle consistently delivers incredible wildlife viewing twelve months of the year, guests can afford to take things a little slower, and enjoy a much more flexible day on safari. As your visit will coincide with the Great Migration chat with your guide about the possibility of venturing further afield and spending a full day surrounded by this magnificent spectacle.

    Meals Included: Full board (Including Local Beers, Wines, Spirits & Soft Drinks)
    View
    • Angama Mara

Day 13

  • Mara Triangle to Nairobi


    This morning you may enjoy a last safari drive and a leisurely breakfast before driving the short distance to the local Airstrip. Here you will meet your light aircraft flight to Wilson Airport (please note the cost of this flight is included and usually departs around 11:15AM and arrives at 1:00PM).

    Arriving into Nairobi you will be met by your local driver who will transfer you from Wilson Airport to the Sheraton hotel at JKIA Airport. Here you will have the remainder of your day at leisure in preparation for your flight early tomorrow morning.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    View
    • Four Points by Sheraton

Day 14

  • Depart Africa


    Early this morning you will meet your driver in your hotel lobby and depart for the 2-minute drive to the main Airport terminal building. Here you will check in for your return flight home (please note the cost of this flight is not included). The Turkish Airlines flight departs at 4:10AM and arrives in Istanbul at 10:45AM.

    Meals Included: None

Download The Full Itinerary

Estimated pricing for a private journey through Istanbul & Kenya: 

Classic Program

Includes more basic accommodation than that mentioned in the Program above: $9,125 per person sharing.

Luxury Program

Includes similar accommodation to that mentioned in the Program above:

$11,800 per person sharing.

Premium Program

Includes more luxurious accommodation than that mentioned in the Program above: $13,245 per person sharing. 

Please note the costs of the regional flights required for this itinerary are included, however the cost of the international flights to and from Africa and between Istanbul and Kenya are not. Please let us know if you would like assistance in booking your international airfare.  

Please note due to the bespoke nature of our itineraries combined with profound seasonal variations in accommodation costs and availability the above pricing estimates should be used only as a guide. An exact cost can be provided once exact dates and logistics have been discussed.

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Please tell us your questions about A private Journey through Istanbul and Kenya (Covid Test Included) and we'll be in touch to get the ball rolling!

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Why go through a company such as the Exeter Safari Company?

An African safari is, for many people, a once in a lifetime trip and for that reason you will want to be sure the arrangements are flawless. A safari incorporates many different elements including airport arrival and departure services, transfers, light aircraft flights, the routing to remote lodges and the most knowledgeable local guides. Coordinating all these different services, often throughout multiple countries, languages and currencies can be daunting.

By going through an experienced safari company which has a wealth of local knowledge, local connections and years of experience in the region you can be sure you will be receiving the highest possible level of service before, during and after your travels. At the Exeter Safari Company we work with only the best guides, highest quality lodges at every price point, and the most reliable transportation providers in Africa. Our extensive experience and connections throughout the continent will ensure your trip goes off without a hitch.

In addition, you will enjoy the peace of mind knowing that you have access to 24/7 support both before your departure and during your time in Africa.

What should I wear on safari?

When deciding what clothing to pack for a safari trip your main priority is going to be comfort, coverage, durability and ease of packing. Keep in mind safaris often include light aircraft flights on to which normal hard sided suitcases are not allowed. You will therefore want to pack your clothing and other items into a soft sided duffel style travel bag (no larger than 24 inches long and 15 inches wide) that can be easily stored along with other travelers’ bags in the small luggage compartments on board. Note there is also a strict 15KG (33lbs) weight limit for your luggage.

Regardless of the time of year you are traveling, or the expected temperatures, you will want to be prepared for some cooler occasions. In order to find animals while they are at their most active, safari drives generally take place in the early morning and late afternoon/early evening. You will therefore often be out and about during the cooler parts of the day and this combined with sitting in the back of an open sided safari vehicle means it can get chilly - even in the middle of Summer. Accordingly, you will want to bring one or two light jackets, preferably that can be layered, so when it does start warming up you are able to shed layers and maintain a comfortable temperature.

It is also important where possible to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants to help with both sun and insect protection (fleece is great as insects can’t bite through it). Mosquitoes, Tsetse flies and other small flying insects can be bothersome during certain parts of your safari and preparing for them ahead of time will make your trip that much more pleasant. You will want to avoid bringing dark blue and black clothing as this color is known to attract certain flying insects such as Tsetse flies. You may also want leave behind your favorite white clothing as they can quickly become dirty from the dust in the air and climbing in and out of the safari vehicle. Last you will want to keep in mind you are trying to remain inconspicuous while on safari and so bright colors and loud prints should be avoided. Instead opt for more neutral tones in greens and browns that will help you blend into your surroundings.

When it comes to footwear you will again want to choose an option that covers as much of your bare skin as possible, think hiking boots or closed shoes with long socks rather than flip-flops or sandals. You will also be climbing in and out of vehicles and walking on uneven terrain that could have sharp rocks or thorns and so you will want footwear that is relatively durable. Your safari may include bush walks and so you will want to wear sturdy hiking boots on these occasions. Around the lodge area you will be able to wear more casual and lightweight footwear including flip flops or sandals, assuming you have bug-spray to stop any pesky mosquitoes that may be in the area. While in your rooms you will normally have mosquito nets over the bed area however you may still want to bring some full-length pajamas to ensure you have less skin exposed to any mosquitoes that did manage to sneak in.

When is the best time to travel to Africa?

The short answer is anytime! While there are better and worse times to be on safari throughout the various regions of Africa because the continent is so large and so diverse whenever you are looking to travel there will be a destination that is right for you.

Traditionally, the best time to go on safari is during the dry season that broadly runs from June through October, however this season does vary significantly depending where in Africa you are considering. During the dry season the vegetation is much less dense and because the grass is shorter it is much easier to track and locate wildlife. Additionally, when there is less rainfall there are fewer available water sources for wildlife to gather around. This results in the animals tending to congregate around the same lakes, pans and rivers which again makes for great game viewing (and leads to some interesting herbivore/predator encounters!).

Often during the wet season, also called the green season, when water sources are abundant, the wildlife tends to spread out over an enormous area. Many camps and lodges close during this time of year, often December through February as the dirt tracks that surround the lodges become impassable.

Another aspect to consider, especially if visiting East Africa, is the great migration. Please visit our page that explores this topic at length as it will give you a good idea as to where the migration is located at any particular time of year.

What About Yellow Fever?

Yellow Fever is a disease found in many parts of sub-tropical Africa transmitted into humans through Mosquito bites. As it can be quite a serious illness it is essential you receive a yellow fever vaccination before embarking on a trip to an effected country.

The main safari destinations where Yellow Fever vaccinations are required are Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda and Rwanda. Other countries such as South Africa and Botswana require you to arrive with a yellow fever vaccination even if you have only transited through or visited a country where yellow fever exists within the past 6 months (keep in mind many of the countries on this list are in South America).

Check with your Exeter Safari Company expert for the specific requirements regarding the destinations included in your program. It is important to note the Yellow Fever vaccine requires 10 days before it becomes effective and so don’t leave it to the last minute!

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