Simba and Friends: a Family Safari in Kenya
To mark the release of Disney's new live-action version of the much-loved film, Original Travel are launching a Simba and Friends holiday of a lifetime. Visit the real-life locations and come face to face with the incredible animals who inspired the unforgettable cast of the film.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Meeting Pumba's family and their giraffe companions at Giraffe Manor, where the long-necked residents regularly pop their heads into to join guest breakfasts
- A wild breakfast in the bush or watching the sunset atop of the real life 'Pride Rock' in Laikipia, which is one of the key locations in the films
- Visiting Ndare Ngare Forest to search for the spot that could have been the inspiration for the place where Nala and Simba were reunited
- Stargazing, just like Simba, Timon and Pumba in the Samburu
- Visiting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to see the incredible work they do, rescuing orphaned baby elephants - some of the larger cast members of the film
- Finish off by relaxing on the beach, recounting moments from the last two weeks
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Day 1: Your Safari Adventure Begins
When you land in Nairobi today, you will be met and transferred to one of our hand-picked family friendly hotels.
Day 2: A Giraffe Came to Breakfast
The start of your luxury Simba and Friends safari is a breakfast that no one will forget in a hurry. While staying at Giraffe Manor, join these long-necked residents for breakfast as they regularly pop their heads through the windows of the manor, with the perfectly understandable expectation of a treat.
To learn more about these gorgeous animals, wander across the lawn to their rooms; in the Giraffe Centre. The whole family can enjoy a tour of the Giraffe Sanctuary, learning from the keepers about the role these gentle giants play in the 'Circle of Life.'
For the chance to see even more of the cast of the films, take a trip to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, not too far away. This wonderful trust allows visitors to spend an hour watching it's very special little inhabitants - baby elephants. Watch them enjoy a midday meal and maybe even a mud bath and learn about the Trust's ongoing rescue and conservation projects. This is a rare and beautiful chance to interact with the wider cast of the Pride Lands, for an even closer connection to the world of Simba and Nala. It also is a chance for the gang to see the danger that these animals face and therefore the importance of protecting them.
Once you are back at Giraffe Manor, why not stroll over to see the other residents; the warthogs. Pumba's family is bound to put a smile on even the most tired of little faces and spark their excitement for tomorrow's onward journey.
Day 3: Laikipia and Pride Rock
If you can awaken the brood early enough, enjoy a final breakfast with the giraffes before waving goodbye as your driver takes you to check in for your onward flight to Laikipia.
Once you have landed, you will be met and transferred to another wonderful family-friendly lodge for your first safari experience. The area is home to a few exceptional lodges and camps, with a different scenery to that of the Masai Mara as it's located on rocky ridges, overlooking Laikipia's plateau and the majestic Mount Kenya, Africa second-largest mountain.
During a short game drive, you might want to stop off and 'take your place' on the real-life Pride Rock for an evening watching the sunset, feeling just like Simba and Mufasa might. It's the perfect way to settle in and get a flavour of the area before supper and bed.
Days 4-6: Adventures in Laikipia & Stargazing
Laikipia has an exceptional beauty and once you combine that with the fabulous family-friendly activities on offer, everyone is bound to love the next three days of their Simba and Friends safari. The animal sights continue throughout your stay with game drives galore, but there's much more to do, as well.
Get ready for adventures aplenty - the whole family can try camel or riding, mountain biking and (for the older children) walking safaris. There is even the option to take to the skies in a chartered helicopter for the ultimate aerial safari.
Back on the ground in a 4x4 for a more traditional game drive, Laikipia just so happens to be the place for some of the best wildlife watching in the whole of Kenya. The dazzling array of animals range from elands, kudus and gazelles to reticulated giraffes, wild dogs and, of course, Pumba and his pals, the warthogs.
While you are here, head out to the ancient and beautiful Ngare Ndare forest (less than four hours' drive away and well worth the journey) with picnic in tow. Enjoy a day of jumping into waterfalls and finding the spot that could have been the inspiration for the spot that Nala and Simba reunited in the original film.
The film feels don't stop there. Come evening, spend some time stargazing just like best friends Simba, Timon and Pumba. If you listen carefully you might hear Mufasa's voice, or hear Rafiki rustling in the long grass.
Day 7: The Real-Life Pride Lands
This morning, your safari adventure continues as you fly south to the legendary Masai Mara National Reserve, the real-life Pride Lands, to meet the stars of the film.
As you travel to your camp - located in the Mara North Conservancy - keep a close eye out for animals along the way. This is a great chance on your Simba and Friends safari for more real-life encounters with a member of Simba's pride, and maybe even see Zazu along the way.
Our experts work with (and know very well) a selection of camps and lodges in the area, so we can find the perfect family-friendly fit for your gang. Charming accommodation, expert guides and amazing animal spotting can all be expected on this luxury safari.
Ensure a whole lot of excitement (not to mention the creation of a healthy appetite, never fear - snacks are provided) on your first pre-dinner game drive. Stop off for traditional sundowner cocktails (yummy mocktails for the kiddos) before a candlelit dinner to discuss the day's adventures.
Day 8: ‘Everything that the Light Touches’
The best time to see the stars of the safari is first thing in the morning. After an early start, bundle yourselves into one of the comfortable safari vehicles for your front row seat for the morning's roll call. As the huge golden sun rises over the savanna, it stains the plains blood red and the animals start to stir.
The vehicles are perfectly adapted for photographing the Big Five as well as anything else you see on the savannah, and you are bound to get some incredible photos. Even though you might be tempted, we wouldn't recommend asking for their autograph!
During the morning drive, be on the lookout for your favourite characters from the films, which, thanks to the new live action version they might be a little easier to recognise! The reserve is home to buffalo, elephants and giraffes. You might also spot Scar's pals, the hyenas: Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. There are countless species of small mammals and birds, you could catch sight of Zazu taking the morning report back to Mufasa.
Days 9-10: Safari Stars
Now that the whole gang are budding expert safari guides, spotting game will be much easier, so expect to see even more of the animals that inspired your favourite characters from the film.
If the children are over 12, a walking safari is something that cannot be missed; this is your chance to trace the footsteps of the Pride Land lions and get even closer to the world of the film, for a different perspective on this luxury Lion King safari. If the children are under 12 there is plenty to entertain them back at camp.
After one final evening game drive in the Maasai Mara, it is time for supper with your hosts, with plenty of storytelling and making even more memories.
Day 11: Off to the Coast
This morning it's time to bid farewell to your new friends in the Mara and return to the airstrip for a flight first to Nairobi and then on to the coast.
You will be met and taken by private transfer to a beachfront hotel or villa (we have a range of different options to choose from).
After the heat of the savannah enjoy the cooling sea breeze and reflect on your face-to-face encounters with the cast of such an iconic film.
Days 12-13: Meanwhile on the Beach
After the excitement of the early starts and animal spotting, this is everyone's chance to do everything, or nothing, or a little bit of both!
For those who don't understand the concept of R&R (i.e. children), activities range from sea kayaking and snorkelling to sailing and fishing.
Water sports and kite surfing as well as diving that's suitable for all ages are wonderful ways to keep the little ones entertained and engaged. Come the evening time they might just have enough energy for an early supper before falling into their beds, dreaming of the waves.
Day 14: Home Time
Your final morning might include a stroll along the beach and a long lazy lunch before your journey home following an unforgettable safari meeting Simba and his friends.
Then it's time to hop into your private transfer to the airport for a short flight to Nairobi, before your flight back home. Make sure you have the music from the film downloaded, for a homeward-bound soundtrack.
Charlotte C is our expert for this itinerary and, as a seasoned traveller, has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.