Trip code: WYU
The Masai Mara, a vast grassland teeming with animals, has an astonishing amount and mixture of game, including lions, cheetahs and at certain times of the year, the wildebeest migration. Lake Nakuru National Park has an incredible variety of birds as well as a healthy population of White and Black rhinos. The highlight of the trip is undoubtedly the Mountain gorillas in the foothills of the Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda. This close-up encounter is arguably the most sensational wildlife experience of them all.
On this trip we have 5 nights full-service camping in a variety of campsites (some quite basic), 6 nights in permanent tented camps with shared facilities and 4 nights in hotels with en suite facilities.
The camping is full-service which means that the tents are put up and taken down for you by our crew. We use small mobile two man tents for these nights and provide mattresses and all other equipment that you’ll need (except a sleeping bag and pillow). East African campsites vary in terms of facilities – you should not expect hot showers, flushing toilets or western standards of cleanliness. Two of the sites that we use are located within National Park boundaries and are very basic – these are marked on the itinerary. Upgrades are available at some locations to a room – these can only be booked and paid for locally.
The tented camps that we use are typically at well-equipped resorts with walk in tents, beds and usually shared bathroom facilities. Most of these resorts have additional facilities such as a swimming pool, bar and sometimes WiFi.
In Nairobi, Kigali and Ruhengeri, Rwanda, we stay in small hotels/guesthouses with en suite facilities.
The single supplement guarantees single accommodation throughout the trip (including a single tent) and it is from £250. This supplement is subject to availability and should be requested at the time of booking.
This is a full-service camping safari – tents will be put up and taken down for you and all meals and washing up will be done unless of course you want to help. Our four-person crew includes a tour leader, a driver, a chef (who shops and prepares all meals) and an assistant. They work hard to ensure that all you need to do is enjoy your holiday!
Certain areas in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are not recommended for travel on the Foreign Commonwealth website. Please note that we do not visit any of these areas on our itinerary and keep continually abreast of changes to FCO advice.
Transport is in a specialist overland vehicle with good visibility and 4WD vehicles in the Masai Mara. There will be several early morning starts especially to view the wildlife, and several long drives as this trip covers the highlights of three countries. Although the distances are not always very long, some of the roads are quite poor and bumpy especially after the rainy season. We include breaks for toilet facilities, shopping, photos and meals. The spectacular scenery and glimpses of village life when travelling make the journeys enjoyable, as well as the chances to get to know your fellow travel companions. Come prepared with a sense of adventure and a sense of humour and you’re sure to have the holiday of a lifetime.
Although this part of East Africa lies in the tropics, the temperature depends more on altitude than on season. Kenya has temperatures ranging from 18 – 28degC in March and dropping to 15 – 21degC in August. The long rains, during which we do not operate these tours, occur in April and May, and there are intermittent ‘short rains’ between November and early December, though these normally have no great effect on the safari.
In western Uganda, the rainy season is also in April and May, with intermittent rains during November and December, and daytime temperatures of between 15 – 25degC. Parts of Uganda are very wet and rain can be expected at any time.
|DEPOSIT||£150||SINGLE PERSON SUPPLEMENT||£250 +|
|GROUP SIZE MIN||6 people||GROUP SIZE MAX||18 people|
AVAILABLE TOUR DATES:
|11 /08/2016||05 /11/2016||11 /02/2017|
|01 /10/2016||03 /01/2017||15 /07/2017|
The group flight usually arrives into Nairobi this afternoon and will be met and transferred to the start hotel. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon. This evening’s welcome briefing is the perfect opportunity to meet your guide and get to know your fellow travellers. Accommodation: Hillpark Hotel or similar.
After loading our things onto the overland vehicle we depart Nairobi and travel down the escarpment of the Rift Valley towards our first destination, Lake Naivasha. With the busy capital in the distance it isn’t long before we have our first glimpse of classic African views with acacia trees scattering the vast landscape. Lake Naivasha is one of the few freshwater lakes of the Rift Valley – full of waterbirds, hippos and floating papyrus. This afternoon we visit Elsamere, the former home of George and Joy Adamson and now a conservation centre where you can enjoy afternoon tea on the lawn and watch the Colobus monkeys whilst learning about the story of Born Free. It’s possible to reach Elsamere by boat, at a small extra cost, if you would like to. Accommodation: Fish Eagle Camp or similar.
Today we travel into the Masai Mara, one of the most famous ecosystems in the world. This vast grassland is teeming with life; plains game including wildebeest, gazelle, topi, zebra and buffalo abound in the rolling savannah, and never far away lay the predators; cheetah, lion and hyena. Between mid-August to late October one of the greatest spectacles on Earth takes place in the Mara – the annual migration of thousands of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra trampling their way across the long grass. Nothing is guaranteed on safari, but with the help of our brilliant guides you should see and learn a huge amount about the Masai Mara’s resident wildlife as we game drive through the park this afternoon. Stay in a permanent tented camp just outside the reserve for the next two nights. Accommodation: Mara Springs Camp or similar.
A full day game drive in the Masai Mara to increase our chances of encountering many of the wildlife species found in the reserve. We find a quiet spot inside the park to enjoy lunch by our vehicle, looking out across the plains. There are also several optional excursions that you can enjoy today in addition to the game drive. Get up early for a sunrise Hot Air Balloon Safari (including champagne and breakfast) or visit a traditional Masaai village to meet the locals. Accommodation: Mara Springs Camp or similar.
Leave the Masai Mara this morning to drive to Kembu Farm, near Njoro. Located in the Rift Valley, the 400 hectare working farm is a popular overland stop where we are warmly hosted by the Nightingale family. In the afternoon there is an opportunity to do a farm walk to learn about the local area. Accommodation: Kembu Camp or similar.
A 45 minute drive brings us to Lake Nakuru National Park, one of the finest small parks within Kenya. Protected by an electric fence, the park is widely known for its impressive population of Black and White rhino which are relatively easy to spot on game drives in the open savannah. Fever trees line the park and are a well-known spot for leopards to laze in, whilst one of the most impressive sights is the vast flamingo population, whose numbers have been known to reach over 1.2 million. Owing to flooding the alkaline content of the lake has changed in recent years and as a result the flamingos no longer tend to be found in such large numbers, but this can change depending on the rainfall. Tonight we have a true wilderness experience staying in a wild campsite within the park boundaries. Please note there are only basic (long drop) toilet facilities and no showers here. Accommodation: Lake Nakuru Public Campsite or similar.
Game drive through the park this morning to observe more of Nakuru’s wildlife highlights, including Rothschild’s giraffe, lion and zebra. After leaving the park we stop for re-fuelling and supplies in Nakuru town and then drive towards Eldoret, one of Kenya’s larger cities. Tonight’s camp is at Naiberi River which has excellent facilities including a bar and open swimming pool. If there is availability, it’s possible to upgrade to chalet accommodation tonight paying a small supplement locally. Accommodation: Naiberi River Camp or similar.
Today there is a long drive of about 250km to Jinja, including a border crossing into Uganda. The border crossing can be slow but we leave plenty of time for this and you’ll no doubt find the experience interesting! Located on the shores of Lake Victoria, Jinja is the adventure capital of Uganda and the source of the River Nile. The area is most famous for grade IV and V white-water rafting excursions but there are plenty of other adrenaline fuelled activities here. We stay at a tented camp in a well-equipped resort that has a stunning location high up on the banks of the Nile. Accommodation: Adrift Camp or similar.
Today is free to choose from a range of optional activities. White-water rafting in Jinja is considered to be amongst the best in the world, with a half or full day route that varies from quiet pools and forested islands to thunderous rapids and drops. There are several grade V rapids to navigate including ‘Big Brother’, ‘Overtime’ and ‘Silverback’. If rafting doesn’t appeal, you can join a village walk, learn about a vibrant community project known as Soft Power which supports education, or visit the source of the White Nile. Accommodation: Adrift Camp or similar.
Leaving Jinja early this morning we drive past sugar plantations and Mabira Forest before reaching the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. Our lunchtime stop will be at the Equator line, where you can take that all important photo straddling the Northern and Southern Hemispheres! Continue west, away from Lake Victoria before arriving at Lake Mburo National Park. This is one of the smallest parks in Uganda at only 260 square kms, but boasts an impressive 313 different bird species and 68 mammals; zebra, impala, buffalo, topi and eland are found in abundance, and the rare Roan antelope may also be seen. With luck, we may also spot leopard, hyena and jackal. Depending on our time of arrival, a walking safari will be scheduled for either this afternoon or the following morning. Walking safaris offer an entirely different perspective of the bush and an exciting close-range wildlife encounter. Lake Mburo National Park is a great place for this given the absence of some of the larger African game such as lions and elephants. Walking safaris are always accompanied by an armed ranger who will go into detail about tracks, droppings, animal behaviour and flora. Tonight’s campsite is located inside the park near the lake and has basic facilities (flushing WC and cold showers). Accommodation: Lake Mburo Public Campsite or similar.
Expect a change of scenery today as we travel to the south-west of Uganda into hilly terrain on our way to Lake Bunyoni. There are very few towns as most people live in small family compounds known as rugos. The lake is often referred to as the ‘place of many little birds’ – dotted with 29 forested islands, it is surrounded by terraced hillsides and provides a stunning location. We stay at a tented camp in a very well equipped resort but there is also the option to upgrade to a room or cabana depending on availability. Accommodation: Bunyonyi Overland Resort or similar.
Lake Bunyoni is a beautiful spot to relax. We have a full day here to enjoy the impressive landscape and excellent bird life. Your leader will assist with ideas of things to do locally. Accommodation: Bunyonyi Overland Resort or similar.
Cross into Rwanda and drive to Ruhengeri and Parc National des Volcans, the home of wild Mountain gorillas. Parc National des Volcans borders the Virunga National Park in the DRC and is covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was the original base of Dian Fossey, a zoologist who studied Mountain gorillas in the wild to document their behaviour over a period of 18 years and was a passionate conservationist. Accommodation: Best View Hotel or similar.
You will probably remember today for the rest of your life as we spend a full hour in the company of a family of Mountain gorillas! Owing to the nature of the terrain and the need to explore to find the gorillas, our trek doesn’t follow a path in Parc National des Volcans and instead our guides will cut a route through the undergrowth. After a safety briefing, we are assigned to a gorilla family group and begin our trek. You should expect a minimum of three hours walking on rough terrain in order to find the gorillas; steep ascents and descents over muddy slopes are the norm. Strong footwear is essential and we recommend hiring a local porter to help you carry your bag/camera equipment and provide a steady, supportive hand (porters will be arranged and paid for locally on the day). Seeing wild Mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is an experience you will never forget. An adult male can weigh up to 195kg, a female up to 100kg, and a male can reach 1.7m in height. They are almost exclusively vegetarian and quite destructive eaters, which makes them unpopular with the farmers lower down the mountain slopes as they have been known to wreck a whole field of crops just to eat one plant. For this reason, and also because of poaching, the gorillas are very carefully protected. Gorillas are gentle creatures and are not known to attack unless very severely provoked. The family groups that we trek to see are habituated to human presence but to prevent over familiarisation our time with them is limited to one hour. The minimum distance that we must keep is 8 metres – we are not permitted any closer because gorillas are very susceptible to human disease. Please note that anyone with a cold or any similar ailment may not be permitted to join the trek. Accommodation: Best View Hotel or similar.
Rwanda’s small and attractive capital, Kigali, is our final destination. Rwanda is a country widely remembered for the genocide of 1994 in which over a million people were killed. There is a moving museum in Kigali to commemorate this time in Rwanda’s history which we visit today. The afternoon is free to explore the city at your own pace before an optional farewell dinner with the group this evening. It’s possible to join a second gorilla trek today and miss the day in Kigali: please ask your sales consultant for more details and to book as gorilla trekking permits need to be paid for as far in advance as possible. Accommodation: Beausejour Hotel or similar.
Our trip comes to an end today after breakfast where we bid Rwanda and our group goodbye.
We offer a wide range of adventure, activity and wildlife holidays to Uganda. Many people refer to Uganda as the ‘Real Africa’ and it is easy to see why. A cruel legacy of internecine warfare had left the country with bleak tourism prospects; however firm government has made Uganda a jewel in East Africa’s tourism crown. Stunning scenery, among the friendliest people anywhere, as well as primates and fantastic activities makes Uganda a must-see country. It is also a gateway to Rwanda – home of the magnificent yet endangered mountain gorillas.