Itinerary | Nairobi, Gorillas to Zanzibar/Dar
We leave Nairobi at 7am on the first day of the trip. We recommend you arrive in Nairobi the day before the trip departs. If you’re there with time to spare there’s lots to see and do around the city. In Nairobi town is the National Museum and markets. Also Karen Blixen’s house, Langata Giraffe Centre, Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage and Nairobi National Park for a first glimpse of African wildlife.
DAY 1: Nairobi to Masai Mara (L/D)
Leaving Nairobi we stop at the Rift Valley scenic lookout its 8,000 feet high and overlooks Mount Longonot and Lake Naivasha. We head south to Narok and on to Masai Mara National Reserve; camping on the edge of the park.
The sweeping plains evoke a picture of East Africa that most people hold in their minds and are rarely disappointed when confronted with the real thing. Great game viewing is assured all year round. The Mara offers us everything, amazing scenery and abundant wildlife; including the big five.
Included Activity: Masai Mara Nature Reserve and game drives
DAY 2: Masai Mara (B/L/D)
The sweeping plains evoke a picture of East Africa that most people hold in their minds and are rarely disappointed when confronted with the real thing. Great game viewing is assured all year round. The Mara offers us everything, amazing scenery and abundant wildlife including the big five.
DAY 3: Masai Mara to Eldoret (B/L/D)
We pass from the dramatic landscape of the Rift Valley to the highlands and spend our first night on the highland route to Eldoret.
DAY 4: Eldoret to Kampala, Uganda (B/L/D)
We enter Uganda; a well run green fertile country, and head on via Jinja on Lake Victoria to Kampala. Its landscapes vary from the fertile green areas around the northern shores of Lake Victoria to the snow-capped Ruwenzori Mountains. Kampala, the capital city is bustling and friendly.
DAYS 5-8: Kampala to Lake Bunyoni (B/L/D)
Stopping for photos as we cross the equator, we continue southwest to Kabale town; gateway to the Mountain Gorilla Reserves. Climbing through lush terraced hills to Kisoro, there are panoramic views of the Ugandan hills on every turn. From the road, we have outlooks over three countries – Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda; and the Virunga Mountains; the Mountains of the Moon, the home of the rare Mountain Gorillas.
Trekking to the mountain gorillas; The park rangers monitor the gorillas on a daily basis and know pretty much where they are each day. As the gorillas share much of our DNA, anyone with cold or flu cannot trek. Trekking is also only open to people over 16 years old. Due to the restrictions on the daily numbers of visitors, we depart from our base in Bunyoni in small groups over a few days. Whilst others are searching for the great apes you can; see the local markets, walk to the nearby mountain lakes, go to Magahinga National Park to hike up a volcano, or go on a guided nature trail.
Dependant on where permits are available, we may spend a night in either Kisoro or in Rwanda. The following morning, after packing our picnic lunch, we are transferred to a ranger’s station where the trek commences. Your rangers will lead you through the cultivated lands and villagers of subsistence farmers, into the dense rainforest and on to find a gorilla family.
Trekking can take from one to eight hours walking past the terraced farms into the forests and the hills with the guides sometimes cutting a path through the forest undergrowth. On finding a gorilla family visiting time is just one hour Watch them, while the ranger guides give you the background of the family you are visiting.
The prices of trekking permits fluctuate and may change. There is a local transport & handling fee which covers the return public transfer and the Wildlife Authority’s booking fee. We normally visit the gorillas in Uganda, but depending on conditions, we may see them in Rwanda.
Optional excursion Gorilla Trekking
Day 9: Lake Bunyoni to Kampala (B/L/D)
We return from the Mountain Gorillas to cross the Equator for the second time and stop for the classic – one foot in each hemisphere photo opportunity. We spend the night in Kampala, and have the opportunity to try its nightlife.
Day 10: Kampala to Jinja (B/L/D)
Crossing the Owen Falls dam we arrive at Jinja on the shores of Lake Victoria. Our campsite for the next few days above Bujagali Falls is a welcome break from travelling; we can have a lazy afternoon to put up our tents on the grassy terraces overlooking the Nile River. – You can spend an action-filled day white water rafting down the Nile. As well as grade 5 rapids this river has a lot of bird and wildlife to view while drifting between the rapids. The rafting is rounded off with a sunset BBQ and drinks, then back to camp to re-live it on video. There are no shortages of other activities in Jinja; quad biking, bungee jump, fish on Lake Victoria, take a guided village walk or give up a day of your holiday to volunteer for the local community education project.
Day 11: Jinja to Nakuru, Kenya (B/L/D)
Leaving Uganda, we head back into Kenya, stopping for lunch and stocking up with supplies on the way. We camp near Nakuru at a campsite on a local farm. Nakuru is Kenya’s fourth largest town and sits in the Rift Valley, beside Lake Nakuru National Park.
Day 12: Lake Nakuru National Park (B/L/D)
At Lake Nakuru, viewing game in a park; famous for its soda lake surrounded by thousands, sometimes millions of pink flamingos. The park is home to over 400 species of bird, and we should spot leopard or black and white rhino among the zebra, waterbuck, impala, giraffe and tree climbing lions. Leaving the park we return to our camp.
Included Activity: Lake Nakuru National Park
Day 13: Lake Nakuru to Lake Naivasha (B/L/D)
To Naivasha, we camp beside the lake. Close by is Hell’s Gate National Park where you can hire bikes to take you around the park and see the herds of zebra, buffalo and antelope. You can also wander in the predator free reserve amongst African game. There is spectacular scenery here; red cliffs, grassy plains and rock towers made of hardened lava and the remains of ancient volcanoes.
By the lake is Elsamere; home of Joy Adamson and Elsa the lion of ‘Born Free’ fame. Elsamere is now the centre of the Born Free Foundation and you can find out more about their work and take afternoon tea in the gardens. Lake Naivasha, camping under the fever trees on the shore of Lake Naivasha, with hippos grazing on the shore in the evening
Day 14: Lake Naivasha to Nairobi (B)
We climb out of the Rift Valley, hopefully with a mist free view of the valley below from the escarpment. We return to Nairobi, arriving around noon.
DAY 15: Nairobi to Arusha, Tanzania (L/D)
We head south from Nairobi, through the Masai plains and cross the border at Namanga into Tanzania; arriving in Arusha late in the day. The country we pass through is sparsely inhabited grassland savannah, inhabited by the Masai. Tonight, we stay in a lovely campsite in Meserani, 20 km to the west of Arusha. Visit the Reptile Rescue Park and Masai Cultural Museum by the campsite, and an art gallery selling the strongly coloured Tinga Tinga paintings.
DAY 16: Arusha to Karatu – Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater (B/L/D)
100 km to the west, we visit the Serengeti National Park & Ngorongoro Crater. We meet our Tanzanian guides with their locally operated 4WD vehicles adapted for safari use They allow excellent viewing through the opening roof hatches. The trip is camping, away for three days and two nights. One of these nights will be inside the park in the parks amidst the animals. If you choose not to visit the park you can wander the markets in Arusha town.
In our 4×4’s we cross the Rift Valley to Mtu wa Mbu (Mosquito River) and then up the Rift Valley Escarpment to the safari town of Karatu to spend the evening at a campsite.
Included Activity: Serengeti & Ngorongoro Excursion
Day 17: Ngorongoro Crater & Serengeti (B/L/D)
An early start to Ngorongoro Crater the largest unbroken caldera (collapsed volcano) in the world. Inside is open grassland and a lot of animals. After our game drive in the Crater, we head down the Crater rim and past the Cradle of Mankind, on our way to the Serengeti National Park. We cross the vast plains as we game drive through the southern and central areas in the park. Tonight we camp in the wild with no fences between us and the animals, who live as they have for millennia.
DAY 18: Serengeti National Park to Arusha (B/L/D)
In the morning, we head off for another game drive and explore the park. After our morning drive, we return via the Crater rim to our safari truck near Arusha. Then drinks at the bar, to talk about the big 5.
DAY 19: Arusha towards Dar es Salaam (B/L/D)
We head towards the coast past Moshi town the capital city of the Chugga people. Skirting the base of snowy Mount Kilimanjaro we camp on the way to Dar es Salaam.
DAY 20: To the Indian Ocean Coast and Dar es Salaam (B/L/D)
We arrive in Dar to our campsite n the beach of the Indian Ocean. If you decide not to go to Zanzibar, the campsite at the beach is an ideal place to have a few lazy days.
DAY 21: Dar es Salaam and ferry to Zanzibar (B)
From Dar es Salaam we take the ferry to Zanzibar and the old stone capital of the Omani Sultanate. Sandy beaches, spice tours, snorkelling, diving and trips to other nearby islands. Zanzibar is a fascinating place to visit and to take it all in. Over a thousand years trade between Africa and Arabia has resulted in the blending of Arabs and Africans into a beautiful Swahili coastal culture with; wooden sailing dhows crossing the ocean, coconut plantations and fishing villages with mosques on the beaches. Nungwe beach resort on the north of the island has the most beautiful beaches.
Included Activity: Zanzibar Excursion, Spice Tour & Dhow Excursion
DAYS 22-23: Zanzibar (No Meals)
You get your own meals while in Zanzibar, as people like to experience here on their own or in small groups and in accordance with their own budget. Our tour leader joins you and will arrange your activities, while meals can be taken from a wide selection of restaurants to suit any budget. There are also a wide variety of optional excursions.
Stone Town in Zanzibar Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old slave market, the spice growing areas, Jozani Forest with Red Colobus Monkeys and in the evening the seafood cafes on the wharf side.
DAY 24: Zanzibar by ferry to Dar es Salaam (No Meals)
Return by ferry to Dar es Salaam on the mainland for another on our beach campsite; late afternoon, or early evening.
Included Activity: Zanzibar ferry to Dar