East Africa Safari: Gorillas and the Big Five


Set out on search of Africa’s most magnificent creatures on a 17-day adventure through Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda’s dense jungles, open plains and expansive lakes house elephants, hippos, lions and chimpanzees, to name just a few, while misty rainforests hide Uganda’s most famous residents – mountain gorillas. Hop across to Kenya and Tanzania and travel to some of Africa's most famous areas including the Masai Mara National Reserve, Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, where you'll take multiple game drives in search of the Big Five animals and more.

17 days, from

$9,315

per person

GROUP SIZE

16 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

3
Trip code: YGSFC
Style: Original
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Details

Countries Visited:  Kenya Tanzania, United Republic Of Uganda
Accommodation: Hotel (5 nights), Lodge (6 night), Permanent Tented Basic Lodge (3 nights), Camping with basic facilities (2 nights)
Transportation: Overland vehicle , 4x4 Safari Vehicle , Plane
Meals: 11 dinners, 15 breakfasts
Group size: Minimum 1, Max 16

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Itinerary

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Day 1: Kampala

Welcome to Uganda! Your gorillas adventure begins in the country’s capital, Kampala. A welcome meeting will take place at your hotel at 6pm tonight where you’ll meet up with your local leader and fellow travellers before finding out what to expect on your journey. If you get here early, why not head to the Uganda Museum to learn about the country’s cultural heritage, or perhaps head to a local craft market to browse the colourful stalls and chat to the vendors. Once the meeting’s wrapped up, you may like to get to know your group over dinner, or perhaps head to a street food market and sample the local favourites (grasshoppers are a popular snack here!).

Day 2: Kibale National Park

Leave the hustle and bustle of Kampala behind as you make the drive to Kibale National Park (approximately 6 hours). On arrival, head to the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, home to the largest concentration of chimpanzees in Uganda. Your first encounter with Uganda’s jungles and wildlife is sure to be one to remember. Follow your leader over wooden boardwalks as you learn about this diverse environment and look out for antelopes, otters, baboons, birds, and if you’re really lucky, chimpanzees. After your walk on the wild side, stop by a local village to gain an understanding of rural life in Uganda. Join a guide from the village as you learn about their traditions and customs, visit their church and homes, see how crops are grown and hear stories from a local mzee (village elder). The profits from all of today’s activities are shared among the local community.

Day 3: Kibale National Park

The day is yours to make the most of Kibale National Park and its surrounds. One of the absolute highlights of this region is chimp trekking – be sure to speak to your leader about this activity as it will need to be booked in advance. You can also arrange to take a hike around some seriously spectacular crater lakes and pay a visit to scenic tea plantations to learn about the production in the area. Your leader will be on hand to make arrangements and give tips on how to have a fantastic day here.

Day 4: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Say goodbye to Kibale and drive on to the Queen Elizabeth National Park (approximately 3 hours). Home to elephants, buffalo, Ugandan kobs and waterbucks. On arrival, enjoy some lunch then head out on a game drive in search of the varied wildlife within the park – a keen eye and a little patience is sure to reward you with some memorable sightings! Then get ready to see the park from a different perspective as you hop aboard a cruise down the Kazinga Channel, linking Lake Edward to Lake George. You’ll be joined by local guides who will fill you in on everything you could want to know about the landscape and the animals who live within it – be on the lookout for hippos basking on the shore, as well as crocodiles, herds of elephants and abundant birdlife.

Day 5: Kisoro

Head further south as you travel to Kisoro (approximately 6 hours) – the journey is like a game drive in itself, with the chance to spot zebras, antelopes, baboons and monkeys out the window. See another way of living when you head to the Ugandan countryside and visit the rural village of Mikozi. Browse the eye-catching stalls of the local market, enjoy a couple of drinks at the local bar and speak to a traditional Ugandan healer before continuing to your lodge in Kisoro.

Day 6: Kisoro (Gorilla Trek)

Join a local guide and trackers as you climb through the rugged, mountainous terrain of Bwindi National Park in search of mountain gorillas. A quick lock of eyes with these creatures is a truly primal moment and visits are strictly controlled to minimise disturbance. Make no mistake, tracking gorillas is no walk in the park – it's called Bwinidi Impenetrable National Park for a reason. It can be wet, muddy, strenuous and uncomfortable, but the indescribable elation at coming across a group of gorillas is worth the effort. Spend a mesmerising hour with the gorillas as they eat, sleep, groom and play as the male silverback watches over them, then return to the lodge for dinner and to reflect on this incredible experience.

Day 7: Lake Mburo

Travel from Kisoro to Lake Mburo National Park (approximately 6 hours). After a full-on day yesterday, your tranquil accommodation overlooking the park is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Tonight you’ll be staying in large safari-style tents, each with its own veranda so you can really soak up the view. If you’re keen to search for more wildlife, speak to your leader about the option to book a boat cruise on Lake Mburo.

Day 8: Nairobi

Rise bright and early – it may be the last day of your adventure, but there’s still plenty to see! Lake Mburo National Park is one of the best spots in the country for a walking safari, so it would be a crime not to set out on foot while you’re here. Join a local park ranger who knows the area better than anyone and search for zebras, giraffes, elands, impalas, topis and much more (there’s no lions or elephants to worry about here, so you’re safe without a vehicle!). After your walking safari, head back to your accommodation for breakfast and take a final chance to enjoy the view, then make the drive to Entebbe Airport (approximately 4 hours). Say goodbye to your local leader and board an unaccompanied flight to Nairobi, Kenya (approximately 1 hour). You’ll be picked up from the airport by an Intrepid representative and transfer to your hotel, where you’ll meet your new local leader and travellers joining you for the rest of your journey at a 6pm welcome meeting. Once you've met your new travel buds, join them for an optional group dinner or alternatively strike out on your own.

Day 9: Nairobi

This morning you'll take part in a unique experience: a 'From Farm to Feast' Urban Adventure. During this tour, which explores the relationship between farming and food, you'll help deliver a supply of chickens or pigs to a local community and find out how a local non-profit is helping to alleviate poverty and malnutrition in Kenya, one chick or piglet at a time. Be truly welcomed into a local's home for tea and coffee and learn about life in Kenya and the challenges these communities face. These are some amazingly inspirational women. All of your tour costs will go to supporting nutrition efforts in local communities. In the afternoon, your leader will take you on a brief walking tour of Nairobi and the evening is then free for you to enjoy as you wish.

Day 10: Masai Mara National Reserve

Transfer from Nairobi to the famous Masai Mara, a journey of approximately six or seven hours. This is one of the best game reserves in all of Africa and on the way you'll stop in Loita Hills, a remote region that's home to the traditional Maasai people. This is one of the key places where the Maasai people still practice their traditional way of life, with little influence from the western world. Make a stop at Tepesua Village, which is known for championing Maasai women’s health and education. You’ll be welcomed by Maasai Warriors by way of traditional song and dance. Meet your Maasai hosts and enjoy a fascinating talk, full of insights into this remarkable and ancient culture. Take a walk to the community village which was founded for widows who had lost their cows due to drought, and can never remarry. The village offers support, safety and economic growth through the ‘Tepesua Widows Income Project’. Here the women are engaged in making handicrafts and sewing eco-friendly handbags, washable sanitary pads, and backpacks to sell to visiting travellers and locals. Learn about village life and be shown around a traditional Maasai home, and their cattle enclosures. Continue to the outskirts of the Masai Mara, where your permanent tented camp can be found.

Day 11: Masai Mara National Reserve

Explore the Masai Mara in 4WD safari vehicles with game drives in both the morning and the afternoon. This is the quintessential African experience and with sparse open plains, dramatic skies and some of the world's most impressive animals, one you won't soon forget. Keep your eyes peeled for wildebeest, lions, leopards, antelope and giraffes, to name but a few.

Day 12: Lake Victoria

Prepare for a long travel day as you head towards the border separating Kenya and Tanzania, then on to the small town of Musoma on the shores of Lake Victoria. Not only is this the largest lake in Africa, it's also the largest tropical lake in the entire world and shares its shores with Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The next three days will be spent in the wilderness, so make the most of your afternoon and evening by stocking up at the local market, grabbing cash from the town's ATM and kicking back with a beach side cold drink as the sun goes down.

Day 13: Serengeti National Park

If you're up for it, wake early this morning for a guided bike excursion around Musoma. You'll scoot around town and visit the marketplace, which is a great opportunity to interact with the local community. Travel on from Lake Victoria to Serengeti National Park (approximately three hours) and enjoy a picnic lunch at the entrance to the famous expanse. Continue to your campsite on your first Serengeti game drive, keeping an eye out for the hoofed animals and predators that call this place home. Tonight you'll have a true African safari experience, camping in an unfenced site within the national park, right in the heart of the animal action. Your leader will give you a full safety briefing once you arrive.    

Day 14: Serengeti National Park

Wake to another glorious day in the Serengeti. Start the day with an early morning game drive to search for animals when they're at their most active, then return to the campsite for a relaxed brunch. Spend the hottest part of the day relaxing in camp – don't stress, the animals will be doing the same – then head off again in the afternoon for another drive through the park. Return to the campsite for dinner and another night under the Serengeti's stars.

Note: there's also an option of an early hot air balloon ride here. Please ask your leader at the start of your trip if you're interested. 

Day 15: Karatu

Enjoy a final game drive through the Serengeti as you exit the park this morning. After lunch, you'll drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation area en route to Karatu, a small town on its outskirts. Ngorongoro is a World Heritage site, the highlight of which is the Ngorongoro Crater, a gigantic volcanic caldera that you'll visit tomorrow in search of the Big Five.

Day 16: Ngorongoro Crater / Arusha

This morning you'll descend to the Ngorongoro's crater floor for a 4WD excursion. If all goes to plan, you'll see some or maybe even all of the Big Five animals that reside here and better yet, the vehicle has an open roof so you can really feel like a part of the action. The animals here are less wary of humans and vehicles and as a result it's easier to watch them from up close. Take in the spectacular views from the rim of the crater as you make your way to the bottom, where animals roam the lakes, rivers, woodlands and hills. Keep an eye out for wildebeest, lion, zebra, cheetah, buffalo, gazelle and the endangered black rhino, as well as the colourfully dressed Maasai people who often water their cattle at the lake here. In the afternoon, you'll drive to Arusha and maybe enjoy an optional group dinner to celebrate this trip and say farewell to your new friends.

Day 17: Arusha / Nairobi

Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast today. A departure transfer can be booked, at an additional expense, to either Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK). Alternatively, you can continue on with our crew to finish in Nairobi. Please see 'Special Information' below for more details.

Unscripted experiences, insider access and authentic local flavors


Our team of travel specialists and local contacts have curated some of the best, most exclusive and authentic experiences, restaurants and accommodations in Kenya to truly immerse yourself in a way that wouldn't be possible in larger groups or just on your own.

17 days, from $9,315

to book call 1-844-205-6226

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