East Africa Safari: Gorillas and the Big Five

Trip Code: YGSFC

Why we love it

With gorilla permits included in the price of the trip, seek out the rare mountain gorilla on a trek through Uganda's steamy forests and spend an unforgettable hour in their presence., Visit a street market and haggle alongside locals for pigs and chickens before delivering these sustainable food sources to villages on the outskirts of Nairobi. Sit down in a local’s home afterwards for tea and coffee and learn about life in Kenya., Meet Maasai warriors and experience Kenya's tribal life at an afternoon village visit in Loita Hills and venture into the incredible Masai Mara National Reserve for a full-day game drive in 4WDs., Explore the Serengeti National Park in depth, with two early morning and two late afternoon game drives through this spectacular wildlife arena., Take a mind-blowing safari across the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater in an open-roof 4WD for a chance to see the endangered black rhinoceros.

Is this trip right for me?

The sheer thrill in coming across a habituated group of gorillas, dominated by a great male silverback, in unbeatable. But please keep in mind that tracking gorillas in the dense forest can sometimes be wet, muddy and uncomfortable. The terrain is by no means easy either, so it can be pretty strenuous and often humid. You need to be prepared and fit enough to walk up to 4 hours up and down hill. A top tip is to pack some gardening gloves to assist in any up-hill climbs.

A maximum of 8 people are permitted to visit a family of gorillas at one time, so its likely the group will be split across different but equally amazing treks. 

This trip includes some long driving days, but it’s as much about the journey as the destination, and half the fun is the camaraderie! 

Camping in the Serengeti National Park with no barriers between you and the animals is amazing, but it's important to heed the safety advice of your leader. You'll be briefed on arrival.

As the early bird catches the worm, the early camper sights the animals. There will be many early starts either to make use of the better safari time or to beat the morning traffic on long travel days.

Important information

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. This trip requires a higher non-refundable deposit (AUD1000, USD1000, EUR800, NZD1250, GBP650, CAD1000, ZAR8000, CHF900) in order to secure the included gorilla permit. Please note that we need to confirm availability of a gorilla permit if you are booking within 45 days of departure. The additional deposit paid at time of booking will be credited to the final balance of your booking.
3. This trip includes 2 nights camping within the Serengeti National Park. Tents, sleeping mats and sleeping bags will be provided. Please bring a pillow (or travel pillow) for these 2 nights.
4. An optional sunrise balloon ride in the Serengeti National Park is possible on this itinerary. Please see Day 14 for full details of this activity. As the balloon only holds 16 people, places are limited, and we recommend that you book in advance. Please inquire when booking your trip to book this optional activity.

What to bring/pack

We recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances.

Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.

ESSENTIALS:
- Walking/trekking shoes for your trek to see the mountain gorillas
- Pillow or travel pillow (sleeping bags and mattresses are provided for the 2 nights camping)
- Lightweight clothing. You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing, some warm items for the evenings, and long shirts and pants for protection against mosquitoes in the malaria areas. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry. Some people like to take jeans for evenings out but they can be tough to dry and should not be used for trekking. Avoid nylon and other synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Ex-military or military style clothing and equipment is not recommended.
- Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
- Insect repellent.

RECOMMENDED:
- Waterproof/windproof jacket is a good idea for wet days, and early morning or evening game activities when it can be cool.
- A waterproof toiletry bag (that can hang on a nail on the back of a door) will be useful to keep your clothes dry inside basic camp shower structures. Plastic bags are banned in some African countries.
- A good quality, high-beam headlamp or torch for around the campsite at night. Some campsites have limited lighting and are powered by generators that switch off at a certain time. Although the trucks do carry lamps for meal times it’s a good idea to bring a headlamp to navigate the campsites and in particular going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, anti-diarrhoeal, antibacterial gel, wet wipes, bandaids/plasters etc.
- Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

OPTIONAL:
- Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather.
- Thermarest. While we provide a basic camping mattress for each client, some travellers find they like the extra comfort of a double layer.
- Ear plugs to guard against a snoring room-mate
- A good book, a journal or smart phone with music (and a power bank)
- Binoculars
- A small bottle of biodegradable laundry soap for hand washing your clothes

LUGGAGE LIMIT:
The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg.
The size of luggage that can be brought on our overland trips is limited by the individual locker space on the trucks. The average locker size measures 26 inches long, 18 inches wide and 10 inches high. Your main luggage will be stored in these lockers with day bags stored at your feet or on the overhead shelf. For this reason, we highly recommend you pack light with luggage no larger than the locker dimensions. Traditional, framed suitcases will not fit in the truck lockers. Backpacks or duffel bags are an ideal choice. You will need to bring your own lock for your locker. We recommend a 20-30mm sized padlock. Please contact your booking consultant if you think you will have issues with this luggage limitation.
The internal flight is international so the luggage limit for this flight will take on that of the airline which can change due to availability. The luggage limit we have listed for the truck is in line with the airline.

VALUABLES:
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe to store the bulk of your money & passport. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

BATTERIES/POWER:
We recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera and/or a power bank.

CONSERVATIVE DRESS FOR WOMEN:
In many parts of Africa women travelers should dress modestly as there is a wide range of cultural differences. Wear skirts or shorts that reach just above the knee and tops that cover shoulders at a minimum. If visiting coastal areas wear a cover-up when you step off the beaches., PLASTIC BAG BANS ACROSS AFRICA
While Namibia holds people liable to a fine of N$500 or imprisonment for entering Game Parks with a plastic bag, Botswana has announced a countrywide ban on plastic bags to come into effect on 1 November 2018. The ban will make the importing, trading and commercial use of plastic bags a criminal offence. Exceptions will be made for plastics that are essential for health and hygiene. With these announcements, Botswana and Namibia join other African countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tunisia, Morocco, Rwanda, Uganda, Somalia and Eritrea that have banned plastic bags. South Africa imposed a levy on plastic bags in 2004 but they have not yet been banned.
Many countries are strictly enforcing this and have been searching luggage at border points. Camping stores are good for obtaining waterproof reusable bags, for dirty laundry etc, prior to departure.

Physical rating

3

You'll need to be fit enough to trek to the location of your family of mountain gorillas. This may involve up to 5 hours of walking up and down hills, in hot and humid conditions and through tropical (and at times thick) foliage. There may be mud underfoot which will make the trekking slippery. You'll be expected to carry your own personal needs for this trek including water and a rain jacket as well as your camera equipment.

For the remainder of the safari, you do not need any real fitness besides the ability to get in and out of the safari vehicles. The step up into the overland truck, while not overly high, can become tiring, as can the constant setting and packing up of camp. You need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down at least 8-10 times a day. Please also note that the roads, particularly in Kenya, are in quite poor condition and you may experience a fair amount of bouncing around.

Joining your group

Humura Resorts, Plot 3,Kitante Close, Kampala, UGANDA, Phone: +256 393218191

Joining instructions

Finishing your trip

Masailand Safari & Lodge, ., Arusha, TANZANIA, UNITED REPUBLIC OF, Phone: +255 624 732020

Masailand Safari & Lodge is approximately 50 kilometers (one hour drive) from Kilimanjaro International Airport. Taxis are readily available and will cost you around USD$50. Some airlines offer shuttle services - please contact your airline to find out. Alternatively, the smaller Arusha Airport is a 30-minute drive/taxi from the lodge. However, there can be heavy traffic in the town centre that may delay your journey.

Private airport transfers are available for pre-booking. Be sure to advise which airport you are departing out of and your flight details at time of booking. If you have pre-arranged a transfer, your leader will advise of your pick-up time.

There is also an option to finish in Nairobi no extra cost. This is because the your crew and the overland vehicle will continue back to Nairobi. If you wish to take this option please advise your sales consultant prior to travel.

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 15

Lunches included: 11

Dinners included: 11

Hotels and your group leader will endeavour to cater for specific dietary requirements where possible, and vegetarianism and gluten intolerance will be catered for in most instances, however your diet may be limited more than you are used to. Please notify your sales consultant at the time of booking of any dietary requirements plus your group leader in your group meeting at the start of the trip.

In Kenya & Tanzania the cook will prepare meals for the group for most of included meals. While not required, any assistance you provide, such as chopping vegetables or washing dishes, will be appreciated. If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking, and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. A typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, cereal, something hot such as eggs or pancakes, as well as tea and coffee. Lunch is almost always a sandwich with healthy salad and assorted fillings, sometimes with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, rice dish or pasta dish and there is usually the chance to try some African food such as ugali and stew.

Your overland truck has a tank of treated water that is safe to drink. Your crew will use this to cook and provide cordial at meal times. Please do not hesitate to use this water to minimise the consumption of plastic water bottles. Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are not part of included meals.

Climate & seasonal information

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below:

For transfers and accommodation issues, Intrepid's Kenya Office can be reached on their 24 hour number +254 733 523 813

Intrepid's local Operator: +254 788 585 065

Intrepid's local Operator: +254733523813

Accommodations

Accommodation within the Serengeti is in two-person canvas dome tents with sleeping bags and camping mattresses supplied. The campsite does have facilities but they are very basic and are not to the same standard you would find in western countries. There is rarely toilet paper provided and shower pressure is often reduced to a trickle of cold water.

If you require a Sleep Apnea Machine to sleep please ensure that it is battery operated. Lodges and Permanent Tented Camps are often powered by generators which are turned off during the night.

Transportation

Our trucks are purpose-built, self contained safari vehicles. Our fleet of vehicles varies depending on your group size, trip route and style. Your vehicle type may differ from those listed above. It is also important to note that our overland vehicles are not air-conditioned, but all vehicles have windows that can be opened to allow for fresh air. Each seat will have access to a power socket to charge your devices. This outlet will use a UK/Kenyan 3 pronged outlet.

There are many early starts with long hours spent driving on rough roads on all African itineraries. While most people love the chance to watch the changing landscape and daily village life, feedback shows that long periods of inactivity does not appeal to all clients. We provide the approximate distance covered each day and how many hours this normally takes to drive so that you can choose the safari experience that is right for you.

African conditions are extremely tough on vehicles. While we fastidiously maintain our vehicles at our workshops, you should not expect Africa to be your traditional touring experience. While it's certainly our aim to avoid them, it's important that you set off on your trip knowing that the occasional breakdown can happen and are best treated as part of the African adventure. Due to wet weather there may be times when we have to take an alternative route which will mean longer travel times.


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