Gorillas & East Africa Safari


Whether you’re watching a sombre silverback gorilla in his natural habitat, descending 600 metres to the floor of the volcanic Ngorongoro Crater or spend time with a Hadzabe community in Tanzania, this 18-day tour offers opportunities to create travel memories most people only dream of. Journey through Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania in search of some of the world’s most mythologised animals. Along the way, meet locals and gain an understanding of the diversity of cultures in East Africa – from the Maasai tribes people to villagers on the outskirts of Queen Elizabeth National Park and the hip working class residents of Kigali’s Nyamirambo neighbourhood.

18 days, from

$8,928

per person

GROUP SIZE

16 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: YGSGC
Style: Original
Theme: Wildlife

Details

Countries Visited:  Kenya Rwanda Tanzania, United Republic Of Uganda
Accommodation: Hotel (6 nights), Lodge (7 nights), Permanent Tented Basic Lodge (2 nights), Camping with basic facilities (2 nights)
Transportation: Overland vehicle , 4x4 Safari Vehicle , Plane
Included Meals:

  • 17 breakfasts
  • 9 lunches
  • 8 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 16

  • Seek out the rare mountain gorilla on a trek through Uganda's steamy forests and spend an unforgettable hour in their presence, with permits included in the price of the trip.

  • Explore the Serengeti National Park in depth during three game drives and a night spent camping in the middle of this spectacular wildlife arena.

  • Learn about Rwanda's devastating history with a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, and see what life looks like today with a tour of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods.

  • Meet members of the Ishasha community for a look at rural life in Uganda, visiting an organic farm and medicine garden and learn how human-wildlife conflict is being tackled with anti-crop raiding techniques

  • Get to know the diverse wildlife of Queen Elizabeth National Park on a series of 4x4 game drives and an optional boat cruise around the lake.

  • 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, plus lions, zebra and more.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Kigali

Welcome to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda since it gained independence in 1962. Most associate Rwanda with the horrific genocide that took place in 1994, but this is a country that has been striving to rebuild its economy for years and offers so much to the intrepid traveller. And though the past won't, and shouldn't, be forgotten, the future of Rwanda's tourism is looking bright thanks to its welcoming people, an abundance of lakes and the beautiful Virunga Mountains. Your adventure begins by meeting your fellow travellers and local leader at 6pm.

Day 2: Kigali

After breakfast this morning, visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, which was opened in 2004 to mark the 10th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi people. It serves as both a museum, detailing the history and consequences of Rwanda's genocide, and a place for people to grieve for lost friends and family. This afternoon, take some time out from the devastating history with a local lunch and an afternoon city tour, including a trip to the craft market. Explore the Nyamirambo neighbourhood, one of the liveliest parts of Kigali. Home to most of the city’s Muslim population, there are several beautiful mosques to discover here, and in a city that mostly shuts down after dark, the colourful streets of Nyamirambo are alive long into the night.

Day 3: Gisenyi (Lake Kivu)

Say goodbye to Kigali and drive on to Gisenyi, located on Lake Kivu's northern edge. Kivu is one of of Africa's Great Lakes – Rwanda's largest and Africa's sixth-largest – and is a natural border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. Take a boat cruise around the lake spotting birdlife and visiting some of the small islands. After your leader can help you choose how to spend the rest of the afternoon, maybe take a trip to Napoleon Island to go hiking and encounter birds and its large colony of fruit bats. Alternatively, spend the afternoon getting to know Gisenyi and the colonial-era mansions and bars that sit by the lake.

Day 4: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Your journey continues as you drive on to the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Named after the Queen of England in 1954 following her visit, the park is home to 618 bird species which is the 6th highest diversity in the world and the highest in Africa, in addition to 10 primate species including Chimpanzees and 95 mammals including big game.

On arrival, enjoy some lunch then head out on a 4x4 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!

Head back to our simple safari lodge located within the Park overlooking the Kazinga Channel

Day 5: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Wake up for another exciting day in Queen Elizabeth National Park with another 4x4 Game Drive. Be on the lookout for any sightings you may have missed yesterday, and if you’re really lucky you might be able to spot leopards or lions.
This afternoon you have opportunity to see the park from a different perspective with an optional 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. You’ll also have the option to arrange a trek through the forest to view chimpanzees – this will take place really early, arriving back in time for the morning game drive, so be sure to speak to your leader to get it booked in ahead of time.

Day 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park (Ishasha Sector)

This morning we make our way to Ishasha, the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here you meet some local residents to learn more about rural life in Uganda. Visit a local organic farm, medicine garden and homestead and learn how its owner is tackling human-wildlife conflict with his anti-crop raiding techniques. You’ll also meet a local Mukiga woman who will share her story while showing you how to sort, pound and grind millet to make porridge and other Bakiga meals.

This part of the park is famous for its tree climbing lions, so be on the look out as you make the game drive towards our ecolodge in the northern sector of the park frequented by herds of elephants, buffaloes and antelopes!

Day 7: Kisoro

Today, drive out of the Queen Elizabeth National Park on your way to the southwest tip of Uganda (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. When you arrive at the corner of Uganda, where the border touches Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, you’ll be based in Kisoro, which provides access to seven different gorilla groups located in Mgahinga, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Nshongi.

Day 8: 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 9: Nairobi

Welcome to Nairobi, Kenya’s buzzing capital city. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm where you’ll meet your local leader and the other travellers joining you on your journey. If you arrive early, perhaps head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum or the highly recommended Bomas of Kenya, where traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes are displayed in an outdoor village. Once you've met your new travel buds, join them for an optional group dinner or alternatively strike out on your own.

Day 10: Masai Mara National Reserve

Transfer from Nairobi to the famous Masai Mara, one of the best game reserves in all of Africa. 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

Travel on from Lake Victoria to Serengeti National Park 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, drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation area en route to Karatu, a small town on its outskirts and your base for the next two nights.

Day 16: Karatu

After breakfast this morning, you’ll make your way to Lake Eyasi, a huge seasonal soda lake. Lake Eyasi has been home to the Hadzabe people for more than 10,000 years and is one of the few places in Africa where traditional tribal life continues without modern influence. Today’s visit to the Hadzabe lands offers incredible insight into this ancient culture and a chance to learn about their way of life today. You’ll have the opportunity to meet members of the community and join in on daily activities like hunting, gathering and traditional dance. You’ll also learn about their unique ‘click’ language, which is thought to be one of the oldest languages still in use today. Return to your lodge in Karatu later in the day for a chance to put your feet up and relax.

Day 17: 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 18: 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.