This overland adventure holiday is a combination of game viewing, quality leisure time, cultural exchange, enjoying what Africa throws at you and having a good time doing it! In order to view the Mountain Gorillas you may do so in one of the countries bordering Uganda, like Rwanda for example and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Day 1: Nairobi to Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya
Your Gorilla safari departs in Nairobi, Kenya. At the first stop, you climb up to a viewpoint overlooking the spectacular Great Rift Valley. Descending into the Rift Valley, you enter Masai land where these habitual pastoralists are often seen tending their cattle from the side of the road.
You pass through the town of Narok, before arriving at your campsite. the camp looks on to the Meguarra hills and the stream that meanders by on the bottom end forms a natural border to the Masai Mara National Reserve. Lunch and dinner included.
Day 2: Masai Mara, Kenya
We spend the day driving through nature as it was intended to be - huge plains, rolling hills and an abundance of game matched no where else on earth. We keep an eye open for the Big Five - Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion and Leopard.
If travelling between July and October, we may get to witness the impressive herds of over 1 million Wildebeest, Zebra and Thomson's Gazelle in their Annual Migration. Sitting around the camp fire, watching the sun set is the perfect way to finish a day's game viewing in this "Garden of Eden." Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 3: Masai Mara to Kisumu, Kenya
Leaving the Masai Mara early in the morning, you pass through the scenic tea plantations of Kericho before descending the Rift Valley Plateau, on your way to Kisumu. This harbour town in Kenya is situated on the banks of the largest lake in Africa, Lake Victoria. You replenish your supplies and overnight here. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 4: Kisumu to Kampala, Uganda
Today, you cross the border into Uganda where you overnight it the capital city, Kampala. Uganda is a small country of striking physical beauty. Its landscapes vary from the fertile green areas around the northern shores of Lake Victoria to the snow capped Ruwenzori Mountains in the west and the semidesert region in the north.
The political instability that has haunted Uganda in the past has actually had the positive effect of leaving the country free of the over commercialism so common in other parts of Africa. Uganda is a very appealing and interesting country to visit. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Days 5 - 8: Kampala to Lake Bunyoni, Uganda
After an early morning departure from Kampala you drive west into the depths of Uganda to your base at the tranquil Lake Bunyoni. It is the deepest Crater Lake in Africa and home to a large and varied number of beautiful birds. This lake is the base from which the optional Gorilla trek takes place.
Dependant on where trekking permits are available, you trek in the Magahinga or Bwindi National Parks in Uganda, the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo or the Ruhengeri National Park in Rwanda. The prices of trekking permits fluctuate and may change without prior notice - currently they are priced at US$500 depending on where we trek.
There is a local transport and handling fee per person (this covers the return transfer and the Wildlife Authority's booking fee). For trekking in the DRC or Rwanda, you will also have to purchase an additional visa to enter either country, as well as renewing your Ugandan visa upon re-entry.
The Mountain Gorilla ('Gorilla Berengei'), of which there are still only about 700 remaining, are one of our closest living relatives. A visit to these gentle giants in their natural environment is a unique and wonderful experience - one you'll never forget. The park rangers monitor the Gorillas on a daily basis and have a fairly good idea of where they are. However, they are free roaming animals, and their sighting cannot be guaranteed.
As the Gorillas share much of your human DNA, anyone with even the slightest cold or transferable illness will not be permitted to trek. Trekking is also only open to people over 16 years old. Due to the restrictions on the daily numbers of visitors to these incredible animals, you depart from our base in Bunyoni in small groups over 3-4 days, depending on the group size.
Winding your way through arguably some of the most picturesque scenery in Africa, you head to the town of Kisoro where you spend the night. (Should we be trekking in Rwanda your overnight will be in Ruhengeri). The following morning, after packing our picnic lunch, you are transferred to a ranger's station where the trek commences. Your rangers will lead you through the cultivated lands and then into the dense rain forest and on to a Gorilla family.
Trekking can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 8 hours and it can be quite strenuous, so a reasonable level of fitness is required. To ensure the Gorillas do not get too used to the presence of humans and because they share many of our genes (and therefore able to catch our diseases), the maximum time permitted to spend with them is 1 hour. You will have plenty of time to watch their activity and to take photographs.
The rangers will be able to provide you with a background of the Gorilla family you are visiting. Once your hour is up, you trek back out of the rain forest to your meeting point where you will be transferred back to the Lake Bunyoni campsite.
You needn't feel like you're exploiting the Gorillas. The ever-growing number of tourists trekking them each day play a vital role in their survival. For years they have been ruthlessly hunted for their hands and heads, which have been sold as ashtrays and lampshades.
In addition, large numbers have been killed whilst trying to stop poachers stealing the babies for sale to zoos, where they have never lived long. 100% of the Gorilla permit cost is used to by the parks authorities to finance patrols that are instrumental in protecting the Gorillas from poachers and their lethal snares and on promoting these wonderful animals.
For those of you awaiting your day of Gorilla trekking, the choice is yours, visit a local village or church, canoe, go on a bird watching walk, hike in the surrounding hills, visit the local markets of Kabale or just spend the days relaxing or swimming in this tranquil lake. Breakfast, lunch, dinner on all days.
Day 9: Lake Bunyoni to Kampala, Uganda
After marvelling at the experience of our Gorilla encounters and enjoying the peaceful Lake Bunyoni, you begin our drive back to Kampala. You cross the Equator for the second time and stop for the classic "one foot in each hemisphere" photo opportunity. You overnight in Kampala and have the opportunity to sample its night life. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 10: Kampala to Jinja, Uganda
Today you have the option of visiting the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary or transferring to Jinja for a selection of adventure activities. Try white water rafting at the source of the White Nile, quad biking or volunteering at a community project. Spend the afternoon relaxing on the banks of the river or ticking off the wide variety of water birds in this area. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 11: Jinja to Nakuru, Kenya
Today you head back to Kenya, stopping for lunch and supplies en route. You overnight in Nakuru, Kenya's 4th largest town and capital of the Rift Valley Province. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 12: Nakuru and Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
This morning you begin your exploration of the Lake Nakuru National Park - famous for the thousands of Lesser and Greater Flamingos that flock to this soda lake's edge. The numbers vary depending on the water level, and when it's low, the lake almost turns pink. A truly spectacular sight.
Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya was established as a sanctuary for Black and White Rhino, which are often seen. You spend the day searching for these pre-historic looking beasts as well as the elusive Leopard. You might encounter Buffalo, Giraffe, various antelope and the occasional Hippo along the way. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 13: Lake Nakuru National Park to Lake Naivasha, Kenya
Moving further east, you head to Lake Naivasha, home to a multitude of bird life, the most magnificent being the African Fish Eagle with his regal cry. At 1880 m, this is the highest of the Rift Valley lakes.
Time permitting, you spend the afternoon enjoying optional excursions like Elsamere (former home to Joy and George Adamson of Born Free fame), a boat ride to the Crescent Island Game Sanctuary or a bike ride around Hell's Gate National Park. The night is spent in a lovely campsite overlooking Lake Naivasha. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 14: Lake Naivasha to Nairobi, Kenya
After breakfast, you head back to Nairobi. On arrival, you head to the Hotel Boulevard, where passengers who'll be ending their trip here will be staying. The remaining passengers make their way to the campsite for the night. Breakfast.
Day 15: Nairobi to Arusha, Tanzania
This morning, the new passengers who'll be joining you on the next leg of your trek will be collected. You travel south crossing the border into Tanzania at Namanga. Tonight, you stay in a lovely campsite in Meserani on the outskirts of Arusha, before heading out on your Optional Excursions to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. Lunch, dinner.
Days 16 - 18: Arusha to Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania (Optional)
Arusha in Tanzania is a pleasant town situated at the base of Mount Meru and is the starting point for the optional excursions to Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti. You conduct these excursions in locally operated 4WD vehicles, which are adapted for safari use.
For those not opting to visit the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park, the next days are spent at leisure enjoying the Meserani Reptile Park, Masai Cultural Museum and the surrounding villages and craft markets. Alternatively the town of Arusha is close by.
Optional Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti Excursion
You travel via the Maasai town of Mtu Wa Mbu (Mosquito River) that lies adjacent to the Lake Manyara National Park and up the Rift Valley Escarpment to the higher lying village of Karatu. Karatu offers magnificent views over the surrounding hills and has many well established wheat farms that add to the picturesque panoramas.
You spend the evening at a pleasant campsite in Karatu. The following morning, you depart early for the Ngorongoro Conservation area and head into the wildlife rich Ngorongoro Crater. This World Heritage Site boasts some of the best game viewing in Africa - including the elusive Black Rhino.
After your safari in Ngorongoro Crater, you head down the crater rim and past the 'Cradle of Mankind' on your way to the Serengeti National Park. You cross the vast plains as you game drive through the southern and central areas in the park.
Tonight, you camp in the bushveld surrounded by the sounds of the African wilderness. In the morning, you head off for another game drive and explore the landscape in search of the resident African wildlife. With some luck, you may see some of the Big Five animals, Leopard, Lion, Rhino, Buffalo and Elephant.
After your morning drive, you head back across the plains and the lush Ngorongoro Crater rim to your truck at Arusha. Here, you spend the evening musing over our thrilling wildlife experience. Breakfast, lunch, dinner on all days.
Day 19: Arusha to Pangani, Tanzania
In the morning, you explore Arusha and its vibrant craft markets. After that, you head south towards Dar es Salaam. On the way you drive through the town of Moshi. Moshi is the base for Mount Kilimanjaro climbing expeditions. Weather permitting, you may even catch a glimpse of this magical mountain's snowy summit. This is a photo opportunity not to be missed.
You pass through vast sisal plantations surrounded by The Usambara and Pare Mountain ranges, before reaching your lovely campsite nestled between these mountains, midway between Arusha and Dar es Salaam. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 20: Pangani to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Today, you continue on to Dar es Salaam. Travelling through lush scenery and palm trees, you come closer to the warm Indian Ocean. On arrival in Dar es Salaam you make your way to a lovely seaside campsite and prepare for your departure to Zanzibar the next morning. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 21: Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar
A ferry from Dar es Salaam takes you to the 'Spice Island', where you have the option to spend the next 3 nights. Zanzibar is steeped in history and was one of the major starting points for most East African explorers in their quest for new lands. New passengers may join you to replace those that'll leave you at the end of your excursion to Zanzibar.
Accommodation and meals at own expense on Zanzibar
Passengers prefer to explore the island on their own, therefore the Trip Leader will arrange your accommodation and you can choose to dine in a wide selection of restaurants on Zanzibar.
For those not opting to visit the island of Zanzibar, the next 3 days are spent at leisure at the beach campsite in Dar es Salaam. Breakfast in Dar Es Salaam included. Accommodation and meals on Zanzibar on own account.
Days 22 & 23: Zanzibar
History aside, Zanzibar offers a wealth of experiences for the visitor. Today the quiet streets of the old Stone Town still retain their Arabic influence, from the Medina-like shops to the palaces of the Sultans, who founded their vast empires on the spoils of the slave and ivory trade.
The Spice Island is famous for its spices and an excursion around a spice plantation is always a fascinating experience. Other options include a trip to the beautiful beaches and giant tortoises of Prison Island, a full day scuba dive in Nungwe or a fishing trip in a traditional dhow.
Mopeds are available for hire if you'd like to explore the more remote areas of the island. Zanzibar is a seafood lover's paradise. Numerous restaurants offer a great variety of the freshest catch from the Indian Ocean - crayfish being a popular speciality.
Alternatively, mingle with the locals for dinner at the Forodhani Gardens seafront market, where delicious, inexpensive seafood is on offer. Accommodation and meals on Zanzibar at own expense.
Day 24: Zanzibar to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Leaving Zanzibar, you return to the Tanzania mainland in the late afternoon. You can enjoy another night in Dar es Salaam. Dinner included.
Day 25: Dar es Salaam to Iringa, Tanzania
This morning you leave Dar es Salaam and head south. You pass through the Mikumi National Park where it is possible to view a range of African wildlife from the roadside, totally impervious to the passing traffic. You travel towards Iringa where you spend the night in a beautiful rustic campsite famous for its Amarula Hot Chocolates and its steamy showers. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Days 26 - 30: Iringa to Lake Malawi, Malawi
Taking in the beauty of the Tukuyu tea and banana plantations, you head towards Malawi entering the 'Warm Heart of Africa' through the border post at Songwe.
Malawi is a landlocked country with 20% of its total area made up of beautiful Lake Malawi. You travel the length of the western side of the lake, stopping off at various bays and inlets over the next 5 days.
Spend the days learning the game of bao from the locals, scour the markets for a bargain or simply relax on the pristine white beaches. The temperate climate in Malawi allows for swimming in the clear blue fresh water all year round.
Explore the beautiful Lake Malawi shore where you'll happen upon the local fishermen sorting their catch. Traditional fishing techniques are still practiced and to appreciate their boating skills, try to paddle a dug out canoe yourself.
The various beachside campsites along Lake Malawi's shores offer many optional Excursions including a variety of water sports, horse back rides and a visit to the local village and school. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 31: Lake Malawi to Chipata, Zambia
From Lake Malawi, you cross into Zambia where you spend the night in a beautiful little campsite just 10 km after the Malawi/Zambia border. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 32: Chipata to Lusaka, Zambia
From Chipata, you head south to Lusaka to your campsite on the outskirts of Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. The campsite is home to some local wildlife including Africa's largest antelope, the Eland. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 33: Lusaka to Livingstone, Zambia
Early morning, you head south to Livingstone. Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders) is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and it's not difficult to see why. At 170m wide and around 100 m high, this is the world's largest sheet of falling water and a memorable sight on any African Safari.
The Victoria Falls can be viewed from the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, Zambia - a fantastic photo opportunity. Tonight we have the option of enjoying a sunset dinner cruise on the mighty Zambezi River. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 34: Livingstone to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
You leave Zambia and cross the Victoria Falls Bridge and the Zambezi River, entering into Zimbabwe at the town of Victoria Falls. Here in Africa's adventure capital, you set up camp in the town's centrally located campsite.
The Falls can be viewed from the Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe - a fantastic photo opportunity. The afternoon is spent relaxing at the campsite's swimming pool or exploring the many sights and delights of this town.
Optional Excursions at Victoria Falls
You can choose to go on optional excursions, including trips into Zambezi or Hwange National Park, Elephant-back safaris, horse back safaris, a visit to the Crocodile ranch, boat cruises and golf at The Elephant Hills Resort.
Adrenalin junkies can bungee jump from the Victoria Falls Bridge connecting Zimbabwe and Zambia or abseil down the Batoka Gorge - neither activity is for the faint hearted. All year round, flights in fixed wing, micro light and ultra light aircraft or helicopters provide an aerial perspective over this magnificent World Heritage Site.
The white water rafting on the Zambezi is world class. Beside the excitement of the Grade 5 rapids, there are the 'floats,' where there is time to admire the scenic cliffs and the occasional wildlife on the riverbanks. Breakfast included.
Day 35: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
After breakfast, you exchange addresses and part ways, having just experienced a trip of a lifetime. Breakfast included.
Optional Excursions (Selection):
- White water rafting, River Nile, Uganda
- Gorilla Trek, Uganda
- Maasai village visit, Kenya
- Serengeti/Ngorongoro Crater option (3 day), Tanzania
- Spice Tour or snorkelling (plus accommodation) on Zanzibar
- Fresh water diving or village walks, Malawi
- Zambezi River sunset cruise, Victoria Falls, Zambia
- Bungee jumping, Elephant-back safaris, white water rafting, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Please note that when you book this trip you are entitled to receive a free 3 day Masai Mara Safari the Thursday before your trip begins and either a free 2 day Chobe Mobile Safari or a free 3 day Hwange Community Experience. Local Payment is still applicable for these trips. This offer must be taken when booking your main trip. Please ask your consultant at Siyabona Africa for more details. Conditions apply.
Rates are subject to change.
Please contact one of our Siyabona Africa Consultants to enquire about the current rates and departure dates.
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