Fantastic wildlife viewing in Kenya and Uganda.
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 while Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to hippos, elephants, buffalo, leopards and the elusive tree-climbing lions as well as a huge variety of birds. Murchison Falls National Park is one of the most impressive parks in Africa, renowned for its scenic beauty, spectacular falls and abundant wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, Ugandan kobs (antelope), leopards, and over 450 different species of birds. The highlight of the trip is undoubtedly an hour with Mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. This close-up encounter is arguably the most sensational wildlife experience of them all.
Virtually all meals are included and will be prepared for you by our chef and crew.They are adept at catering for large groups of hungry travellers! Breakfasts will usually include cereal, toast and hot food such as porridge or eggs. Lunches tend to feature a range of sandwich options as well as a selection of fruit. Dinners usually feature soup, main (a mix of local and international cuisine) and dessert (typically fruit salad). All cooking equipment is loaded onto the overland vehicle and so our crew are ready to prepare food wherever we stop - don’t worry about going hungry on this trip! You will have time to stock up on snacks and drinks along the journey. For meals not included, it would be a good idea to allow a further US$100 to cover these.
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: Kenya Comfort Suites or similar *Standard Hotel*
After loading our things onto the overland vehicle we depart Nairobi and travel approximately 7 hours 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. Accommodation: Mara Springs Camp or similar *Full-service Camping*
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 is also an optional Hot Air Balloon Safari in time for sunrise (including champagne and breakfast). Accommodation: Mara Springs Camp or similar *Full-service Camping*
We depart the Masai Mara in the morning after breakfast and drive to Lake Nakuru National Park, one of the finest small parks within Kenya, where we have an afternoon game drive. 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. 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. Accommodation: KWS Campsite or similar *Full-service Camping* * *
This morning we once again go in search of wildlife on a game drive in Lake Nakuru National Park. After lunch inside the park, we have a journey of around 3 hrs as we drive to Eldoret, one of Kenya's larger cities, where we spend the night. Accommodation: Green Wood Campsite or similar *Full-service Camping*
Today there is a long drive of about 250km to Jinja, which should take about 8 hours, 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. Accommodation: Adrift Camp or similar *Full-service Camping*
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 *Full-service Camping*
We leave Jinja and drive to Murchison Falls National Park, a journey which should take us 6 hrs. Murchison Falls N.P. is the largest of Uganda’s national parks and covers an area of 5081 sq kms, with rolling grasslands and wooded savannah. Tomorrow we visit the top of the falls, where the river narrows from 50 metres to crash through a 7 metre gorge, falling 45 metres to the rocks below. A truly impressive sight! Accommodation: Red Chilli Murchison or similar *Full-service Camping*
This morning we have an early morning game drive in search of wildlife in Murchison Falls N.P. We transfer by ferry to the north side of the Nile where we embark our game drive. Murchison Falls N.P. is home to elephants, giraffe, buffalo and Uganda kobs, as well as the predators: lions and leopards. After lunch we travel by boat up the Nile, passing hippos and crocodiles, searching for elephants and waterbuck that come to the river to drink. The cruise lasts about 3 hrs, and will travel upstream to the bottom of the falls, stopping near the ‘Devil’s Cauldron’, the place where the water bursts through the narrow gorge and creates an outstanding rainbow. Accommodation: Red Chilli Murchison or similar *Full-service Camping*
We depart early this morning for Budongo Forest, which is home to the largest numbers of chimpanzees in Uganda; we will go on a trek in search of chimpanzees and other wildlife. The walking is fairly easy due to the well-maintained trails and reasonably flat terrain. Whilst trekking in the depths of the lush green forest, you will be surrounded by bird song and hope to see both Velvet and Colobus monkeys, wild pigs and of course the chimpanzee. Once a chimpanzee family is found, we will have an hour with these fascinating creatures, to watch them interact and play with each other. Accommodation: Red Chilli Kampala or similar *Full-service Camping*
Today we have a long drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). We gently descend into The Great Rift Valley and QENP. The park resides in a fertile, equatorial area and has beautiful scenery. It is Uganda’s most popular and accessible savannah reserve, with a total area of 1978 square kilometres. It is primarily associated with grassy savannah plains, but this impressive park also includes within its boundaries leafy rainforests, dense papyrus swamps and natural volcanic crater lakes. As a result it has one of the highest biodiversity ratings of any game reserve in the world, including a total of 95 recorded mammal species and more than 610 species of birds. Accommodation: Parkview Lodge or similar **Full-service Camping**
This morning we will explore QENP on a game drive in search of wildlife including elephants, lions, buffalo, leopard, hyena, jackal, topi, kob, bush buck and various others. In the afternoon there is an optional boat trip of about two hours along the Kazinga Channel to view some of the largest concentration of hippo in the world (reported to be about 30,000) and other game with excellent birding. The game drive will continue in the afternoon for those who do not join the boat trip. Accommodation: Irungu Forest Safari Campsite or similar* Full-service Camping*
We have a final early morning game drive in QENP and depart after breakfast, heading for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the Mountain gorillas. The journey is 300kms and takes 5-6 hours including stops along the way. Accommodation: Lake Bunyonyi Campsite or similar* Full-service Camping*
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 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 irregular 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: Lake Bunyonyi Campsite or similar *Full-service Camping*
This morning there is the option of getting a second gorilla permit, though due to the limited number of permits, this should be obtained at time of booking. For those who choose not to go on a second gorilla trek, there are other walks which you can do nearby or you can relax, reminiscing about the previous day’s encounters. In the afternoon, we cross the border into Rwanda and head to Kigali (those on the second gorilla trek will typically be transferred separately). Please note that on some departures, due to availability of permits, we may have to swap these two days over with the free day (and optional second gorilla trek) on day 14 and the included gorilla trek on day 15 or we may have to split the group to trek with gorillas across both days. Accommodation: Beausejour Hotel or similar *Comfortable Hotel*
Our trip comes to an end today after breakfast where we bid Rwanda and our group goodbye.Those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport for the flight to London.
* 15 breakfasts, 14 lunches and 14 dinners * All accommodation (see below) * All transport and listed activities * Tour leader throughout * Flights from London (if booking incl. flights) * 1 chimp permit and 1 gorilla permit
This trip packs in a huge variety of wildlife experiences over a great distance in three scenic and friendly East African countries.
We took the trip over the Christmas period and it was a good one, the crew (Jacob, Stoney, Silvia and Dolly) were all excellent and could not be faulted. The organisation was good, the driving excellent, (how Stoney gets that truck along some of those roads is unbelievable) and the food was good and plentiful. There were 11 of us on the trip and we all got on very well which is a good thing if you are stuck on a truck for 2 weeks. Do not worry about charging batteries as the truck has a plug by each seat which can be used anytime whilst the truck is moving. The White Water Rafting Option in Jinja was excellent and the safety precautions couldn't be faulted, you are almost guaranteed to be thrown out at least once but we all felt perfectly safe when we were. The campsites were in some cases very basic with no water in the toilets and cold or no showers but they were adequate and in others there were options for upgrades to rooms if required. On day 8 the trip notes stated a visit to the top of the falls, what they did not say is that it involved a boat trip and then a trek along an uneven trek and a climb up several steps of uneven height, which was a bit testing for some people, although I see that this might have changed now but you might want to check. The big but is that on our trip both the Chimps and Gorillas were unco-operative and people thinking of doing the trip need to be aware that there is no guarantee of seeing either. On our trip some of us trekked 5 miles along tracks and off track just to see 1 Chimp and for the Gorillas we left camp at 4.45am and drove for 3.5 hours to the start point and then split into 2 groups, the moderately hard trek group took 7 hours of hard trekking up and down steep slippery and overgrown hills there and back to see the Gorillas who were up in the trees and not all that easy to see, the easier trek group took 10 hours and 4 of our group needed stretchering out with exhaustion which cost them between $200-$300 dollars each. We then all had another 3.5 hour drive back to camp getting back between 20.30 & 22.30 hours, much to the relief of Jacob our guide. Although this is what happened on our trip, we were told that that was not the norm but.....
Well where do we begin. This was simply an incredible holiday and our very first safari. The crew of four; Boniface aka Stony the driver; Ken head chef; Raymond aka Dolly head chef in training and Patrick our tour leader were all terrific, great fun and very hard working guys. They know their stuff and helped make our holiday. The trip covers a tremendous amount of miles around 1300 miles in total. Yes there are a few early starts the earliest being around 4.30am to hit the road around 5am but when getting up a little earlier than normal to go and visit the mountain gorillas the early morning start pails into insignifance. The whole itinary is brilliant. We were exceptionally lucky to have seen the big five (elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, buffalo) and so what more could you ask for especially as this was our very first safari trip. The various stop overs were very good with some terrific campsites with options to upgrade to rooms or hotels along the way. The time spent trekking to see the mountain gorillas can vary we trekked for around two hours which went very quickly but do be prepared for a hilly walk and make sure you have the right footwear and waterproofs as you can come across some small brooks and it could be muddy if the rain comes, we were very lucky as the rain came once we returned back to the start. For sure this experience is likely to remain with you for ever. It does mention in the trip notes that helping out whilst not complusary, we believe it can go a really long way to get to know the crew and other members of the group you’re travelling with which adds to the fun around the campfires. The food was fantastic and plentiful each day and the variety was excellent. We thought the trip was really well planned and when things didn’t go quite to plan such as the overland truck breaking down at no stage did we feel concerned and our safety was the crews main concern. Everything was done to resolve the issue in a timely manner. We would highly recommend this trip to anyone with a love for animals you get to see so much it’s hard to put into words. Truly incredible and prividged to see these amazing animals in their own habitat.
Thoroughly enjoyed this trip. Saw loads of wildlife which was why I went. Everyone on the trip was fun as well and all went well on the whole. The gorilla and chimp walks were good and it is an amazing experience to be close to these animals. The people we came across were very friendly and welcoming. Some of the hotels were amazing, some less so but expected in Africa.
I believe there is nothing better than seeing animals in their natural habitat and this trip gave me the privilege of seeing a family of 10 gorillas in their home. It was a hard trek through the mountain forest (don’t underestimate the difficulty, my trek was 6 hours!) but spending time watching them was awe inspiring and will stay with me forever. The tour is full on with each day adding yet another highlight as we travelled through Ugandan and Kenyan game parks via Lake Victoria. The tour started with gorillas and ended with the migration in the Masai Mara which I saw from a sunrise balloon trip. The tour leader, driver, cook and assistant were fantastic; I have never travelled with such a fun, kind, efficient and professional team.
This was our third camping trip with Exodus and this is almost becoming our preferred trip type - being cheaper doesn't hurt either. We were amazed at the shear number of animals we saw in Kenya and Uganda long before we got to the Gorilla area. We saw the big five, and mostly with babies!, great scenery, wonderful lakes and rivers. Game drives were varied not only in the nature of the country visited but also sometimes in the 'bus' sometimes in 4X4s and sometimes by boat. There were some longish drives but with lots to look at, stops for snacks and toilets, and time to charge cameras etc for the next stop. We felt very well looked after the whole time, and guided through formalities of border crossings etc. We were a smallish group of nine which meant we had lots of space, and we got on well.
The stunning scenery and the awesome wildlife were just two factors making this one of the best trips I have ever experienced. The four man crew were what made it extra special. The Masai Mara went well beyond expectations, with clear access to all of "the big five." Plus many many more species of birds and animals were on display throughout all of the national parks visited. The accommodation was clean and pleasant, the truck spacious and comfortable even over rough roads and on long journeys, while the meals were always made from fresh ingredients, very tasty and excellent quality.
Having been on many trips of discovery with Exodus, I had never been on one that offered so much. The itinerary was exactly right. The starting point is Rwanda were we met our leader for the tour Jacob, as usual a friendly face after a long flight out from the UK. After a nights rest, the next day we visited the Museum to the genocide which took place in the mid nineties, the museum has graphic pictures of this terrible time in Rwanda`s history. A reminder of how the west turned it`s back on the suffering of a whole group of people. Onto our first highlight, the mountain Gorillas. After a long trek up into the foothills of the Parc National des Volcans we met our first Gorillas after about an hour of walking through mud and clothes clawing undergrowth and overhead vine. This first encounter was unbelievable, such gentle creatures given the size of the alpha males. We spent an hour with them and they just carried on eating/ playing and sleeping as if we were not there. On into Uganda, no problems with crossing the border and onto Lake Bunyonyi. With the lake there are opportunities to take boat rides on the lake or hire canoes for a leisurely paddle. On through Uganda with it`s abundance of wildlife, mammals and bird life.We had our first encounters with the real wildlife in all their natural environment. Adrenalin seekers will love Jinja as the site we stay Adrift, were you can do white water rafting on the Nile or perhaps bungee jumping.Or you can just take a stroll around the local are to veiw the many and varied bird life. On into Kenya, this is when they asked to see our Yellow fever certificate, other than that it again was straight forward. Due to adverse weather we had miss the village camp, however not to worry, onto the Masai Mara. Arriving at lunch time we enjoyed yet another great lunch prepared as always by Wilson and Ester. We then had a half day taster into the game park. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to encounter. All you ever see on TV was there in front of you in all it`s splendour, to many to list. The next and last full day of the tour(excluding travel days) you again go into the park for a full day`s game drive. Amazing experience, so well organised and lead by the team, from the leader through the driver and cooks who took so much care of us. Thank you .
This trip is an absolute must for any animal lover.The diversity of fauna that we saw in 2 weeks was absolutely incredible.The gorillas were absolutely adorable and it was fascinating seeing them so relaxed in a really beautiful setting.The rafting on the White Nile was absolutely increible and I would recommend this to anyone who is not scared of the water and is a confident swimmer as the likelihood of coming out is very high.I came out twice !!The Masai Mara was absolutely stunning and within a few hours had seen leopard,lions and cheetahs.The setting itself is also very dramatic.Our guide was absolutely brilliant.He had a great sense of humour and constantly had us in hysterics during the trip with his banter.The food was excellent and I am sure I have put on weight.
The highlight was the Gorillas, but the whole trip was an experience never to be forgotten. We saw the big 5 in the Masai Mara and other animals in their natural habitat that you only ever see on the television. I can also now identify exotic birds I never knew existed! And we had a hippo join us at the campsite for dinner! The trip was made more memorable through the wonderful Exodus team of Jacob - our guide, Boniface - our amazing driver, Godfrey - our wonderful chef & Esther -his assistant, who was learning the ropes & always smiling.
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
Exodus is an award-winning company built on adventures. It started life on 4 February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments. They continue to discover countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles - exploring this amazing planet we all live on.
At Exodus, they know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, they always remember that they are only guests. So they ensure they travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise their impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved. This is a philosophy they take around the world, helping you reach some incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across 90 countries – choose from walking, cycling, culture, wildlife and even polar adventures in guided groups or self-guided, tailor-made for you or a ready-made itinerary in Peru or India, Costa Rica or Italy – the choices are endless. They also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as possible, making it simple for you to experience a very different holiday.
All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure with their combined experiences spanning 171 different countries and in their former lives, some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus – all guaranteed to give you the very best adventure possible. Extensive planning, research, fact-finding and training are just some of the ways this expertise comes through in your adventure.
Exodus recognises their obligation to operate their tours in a responsible and sustainable fashion to address the environmental, economic and social impact tourism can have. They are committed to the well-being of the communities that host you and the natural environment that you are there to experience. Key points in their philosophy include small groups which have less impact on local communities and environments, putting money directly into the communities visited by using locally owned and run accommodation and eating locally produced food, ensuring local staff and operators receive a fair rate for their services, encouraging their own staff to take an active interest in responsible and sustainable tourism and train them accordingly, endeavour to ensure that their practices help in the environmental conservation of the areas visited and provide their clients with advice and guidelines on how to respect the social, cultural and religious beliefs of local communities.
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