It would be good to say hi to the August 30th to 15th September 2013 group.
I am Annie from London, now counting down the weeks before the adventure starts.
It’s looking like a full truck load of us, give or take a couple. No spare lockers then!
.... and the balloon over the Masai Mara - how could I have left that out!!!!!
We all got amazing photos of the gorillas - they were so close to us - it was impossible to keep the 7 metre distance and no touching rule as the gorillas didn't seem to be aware of it!! One of our group got slapped on the back by a gorilla and another got his trouser leg pulled!! The rangers with us were brilliant and were able to communicate with the gorillas when they got too close - they don't mean to, but could easily cause injury as they are so powerful.
OH! my goodness, truly amazing
Hi Annieinspace .... we are booked on this trip departing 20 December (hoping it will appear as 'guaranteed' soon so the planning can really begin!). Really excited about the gorilla trek but a little concerned about the level of fitness required to complete the trip, exactly how challenging is it?! I've heard different stories so would be interested to hear first hand. Also, what type of footwear is best? Thanks in advance & wishing a good trip to those leaving in August!
Sorry - I am butting in on your thread, we are leaving on Friday for this trip so any tips are useful.
How chilly did it go over night (we were in Namibia at the same time last year and it went below freezing one night!).
Any other helpful info regarding weather etc
Final decisions need to be made regarding packing etc - not easy! (i'm not as organised as those on the trip after ours - just started it).
Have made a note of the trips you did - they sound good - thanks for the tips.
Hi guys, oh thank you so much Anne for sharing, sounds like we're in for a real treat!
Firstly, Gill, my advice is start your exercise now, you can never be too fit, but you can easily be not fit enough, my husband and I started bush walking together approx. 3 months ago, we walk at a quick pace, it's very up and down, sometimes even have to climb over fallen trees, and I've been walking the bush track for about a year in total, I think it's best to be prepared for hard terrain just in case, and there is probably no guarantee we you will be on the very same track as Anne as the Gorillas move around a lot, footwear, I would suggest good waterproof hiking boots, they have good tread on them, your feet wont get wet and they give good ankle support for rough terrain, lightweight waterproof pullover pants, with long pants underneath (thorns) & waterproof jacket (you can get some really good ones that are really lightweight too), the temp (I just googled it) but it would appear that it will be very warm say 21-27*C during the day, so we are taking long pants with zip off legs, short sleeved shirts and t-shirts, and some long sleeve shirts (all very lightweight), for a bit of warmth it's still best to take layers rather than bulk, so we have 1 or 2 thermal tops, a lightweight polarfleece jacket and our wind/waterproof lightweight jacket. We've been the Egypt camping and the weather seemed very similar, also Antarctica, and both places it was still layering that worked best, takes up less room, is lighter and actually warms & cools you better. I also wouldn't wait until the trip shows guaranteed, just get your fitness underway, do your planning as though it's guaranteed and it will take care of itself. If you don't have a sleeping bag that would be warm enough, you can always wear some clothes and a beanie (woollen hat) to bed, did that in Patagonia at one stage and it worked a treat.
Also, congrats to our team for making it to 3 pages of thread.
First of all, level of fitness required: there are three grades of hike that are on offer - short, moderate and long, although it all depends on where the gorillas are on the day. We chose moderate. Anyone of average fitness should be able to do it - there are porters available to help pull you up the mountain and the guides will go slowly if necessary as you will probably feel the effects of high altitude even if you are quite fit. Everyone is given a walking pole too. Walking boots with good grip are best - I didn't have boots with ankle support and was fine.
There were very few flamingos at Lake Nakuru as it was flooded when we were there. However we saw lots of flamingos and many other birds on the optional walking with giraffes trip which you can do from the campsite at Lake Naivasha. Also lots of birds on the sunset boat trip on the Nile. I wouldn't worry about photo opportunities on this trip - it's full of them!!!!
I took around £600 spending money which was about right - have a Visa debit or credit card with you just in case. As for clothes, T-shirts, long trousers, shorts (I also took some footless tights to wear with shorts when it was a bit chilly), some long sleeve tops, a fleece, a light waterproof jacket for the gorilla hike. Those zip off trousers are good. I wouldn't bother with waterproof trousers or anything underneath your trousers for the gorilla walk as you get very hot a sweaty on the hike up the mountain (as well as cold and damp when you stop!!). We all managed without and one girl who wasn't with Exodus but joined our group did it in shorts and leggings - although I wouldn't recommend that!!! Don't worry about the stinging nettles - they do sting you through your clothes but it really isn't anything to worry about. I fell over into a whole load of stinging nettles and survived!!! Whatever you do, don't forget some gloves as you will have to grab branches etc on your way up.
The temperature varied drastically on the trip from quite cold at altitude to hot in the Masai Mara so be prepared for everything. I didn't find nights too cold in the tent with a sleeping bag and a liner. Obviously it could be very different for those going in December though.
I hope that helps. Please feel free to ask if you have any more questions.
Your a star, thanks for that,
Thankyou so much for your information - it has been really useful. Just about at the end of my packing ready for the slog down to Heathrow tomorrow (we also live near the Peak District). Your tips have been very helpful in making those last minute decisions!
Have a good time to those on the trip after us.
We wiill have left for our trip by the time you return. I'm guessing, by the dates,we have the same guide, Peter?
Have a great holiday, I'm sure it's going to be amazing.
bw Annie Nash
Both our groups did the mid range trek so I don't know what the short walk was like. On the day you could ask your tour leader to find out if any of the gorillas are, say, only an hour away and try and get put in that group if you are concerned that a longer walk might be too much for you. Don't worry about it though because the guides are very good and they and the porters really do help you get up the mountain. Sorry I can't be more help.
No, that's really helpful. Once again, thank you for all your help .
Heading in two weeks, getting excited now after reading your posts, thank you so much for taking the time to post your tips!
Just got our tickets and everything in the post and found out about this page. Took me a while to read through the lot of it but found it very helpful.
We have booked this trip as our honeymoon and to celebrate my 30th birthday (which is the Gorilla Day, I think). We are so excited and cant wait to go! We will probably be boarding the plane at this time in two weeks!
We are also flying from Heathrow, so would like to meet up with everyone as well. Has a location and time been set in stone yet?
Starting to think we need to go out and get a bunch more stuff in readiness for the trip.
See you all soon
Heather and Lozz
Hi Heather and Lozz
Good to hear from you, oh how romantic honeymooners and what a great 30th One I am sure you will never forget. Is it a late honeymoon or are you about to get married?
I think Julie and I are planning on meeting up about 4pm around Kenya Airways bag drop, said we should only wait until 5.15 then plan B would be to go to Pret A Manger (air side) I looked it up on T4 map. I think it will be easy to find once through security. Two weeks today we should be in the air..butterflies kicking in just a little or maybe it's just the excitement.
I have had a year to get organised now the, to do list, seems quiet long.
I think I will keep my Exodus label for my hold luggage, might help it on it's way to Kigali. I am sure we will find each other without much of a problem, might do my own exodus label for ID on my hand luggage for the group to find me.
from Sandra 2nd Sept trip (via Annie Nash)
Thanks for getting back and I read all you details which have been very helpful. I believe you did the reverse journey as we are, did you change money at Kagali airport and if so do you mind me asking how much? Another couple of questions, sleeping - did you sleep in PJ's or thermals? I am not sure what to do when we were in Peru we used thermals at the higher and colder altitudes. Secondly, footwear - I am proposing going in open sandals - very comfortable) and taking my crocs and a pair of trainers. do you think this would be right? It is a good idea to pinch someone else's brains. I've had another thought - the lockers, some people maintain locks can be difficult, how big a lock did you take. Very many thanks in anticipation. Sandra
We did do the reverse trip and immediately on arrival at Kigali the tour leader advised us to change $50 at the bureau at the airport. That was the only time I changed money in Rwanda - although I think I paid the gorilla guides' tips in dollars or maybe a combination of dollars and Rwandan currency.
I only took ordinary long sleeved PJs with me - I didn't find thermals necessary. I have also been to Peru and it was much colder up in the Andes and I did wear thermals then. As far as footwear is concerned, if you have walking boots they would be more suitable than trainers. You probably could do it in trainers but it was very muddy and slippery and I'm not sure trainers would be sturdy enough. I took walking boots, trainers and sandals which worked well for me.
I took a medium sized padlock with me and some people had smaller sized combination padlocks - but not the really small suitcase size padlocks as they would be too small. I hope that helps. Do feel free to ask if you have any more questions.
I guess it would be classified as a late honeymoon, we got married at the end of June in New Hampshire where I from. Due to taking three weeks off for that, we couldn't really afford another three weeks off directly after. Not to mention, we had a big party in the UK at the end of July for Lozz's family and our friends who could not make it to the day. So it worked out best to go end of August, and it just so happened to coincide with my birthday so we thought perfect!!!!
We are travelling to Heathrow from South Wales on the day, and i think we are aiming to get there around that time as well. As long as everything goes well with getting down, we will meet you by the baggage drop. Otherwise, Pret A Manager it is.
We are in the same boat, we booked this back in Jan/Feb on one of the snow days we had. And it is only now that we are seriously looking at what we need to get. Luckily, we had the injections done and all the extras well in advance so it wouldnt interfere with the wedding. I am however slightly concerned that our GP privately prescribed Doxycycline for anti-malaria and not the Malarone. We never had the need to have the tablets before so did not know any better. Hopefully we dont suffer too many side effects.
Feeling so excited, cant wait! And looking forward to meeting you all.
I don't want to sound bossy but we had the option of several different types of malaria meds and we chose the malarone because it has no side effects, all the others.....well it just is not worth the risk, you spend so much money going on the tour only to get sick from the very medication that's suppose to prevent you from getting sick, you have plenty of time left before you depart that I would suggest you get your doctor to give you a new script for Malarone, you should google "Doxycycline side effects" and then decide if the risk is worth it because the list is very long, of course it's your decision but make sure you know all the side effects and how to deal with them if they occur so you are better prepared, gosh, that did sound bossy, sorry, it's just such an exciting trip that I don't want anybody to be unwell and miss out. Look forward to meeting you all, we depart tomorrow!! whoop whoop.
Congrats on your recent wedding too!!
Hi Michele Ross
Enjoy your time in Dubai and have a great week in Tanzania.
See you on the 31st
Hi Michele, Have a fab time and see you in two weeks. Hi to all the new people, look forward to meeting you all in a couple of weeks or less now!
Ann, sorry another question for you, did you do the white water day, if so was it safe and did anyone fall into the water? (not sounding to worried am I !!!)
Hi Julie, I didn't do the white water rafting because I'm not good under water. They are grade 5 rapids and going under water was inevitable!! Only 2 of our group did it and they really enjoyed it but it sounds like you can be underwater for quite a while (or it seems like quite a while!) before coming up (or getting pulled up)!! By the way, check your travel insurance because most standard insurance policies only cover you for grade 2 rapids. Having said all that, they really did have a fabulous time so if you want to do it don't be put off by what I've just said!
Thank you so much for that info, that was what I wanted to know, if we do go into the water, I also hate being under the water and will panic so I think best not.
No, you are not bossy at all. I am a little concerned, and wondering why the doctor didnt give us the option. We went for all of the optional extra injections (also had to do it privately) just to be certain that we would not have any problems. And then they do not offer us Malarone. I will be calling tomorrow to try and sort it because we paid for that private script thinking we were getting what we needed. Clearly not the case.
You will need to let us know what it is like in Tanzania because we are going there after the tour. Have a great time!
Really like this blog, it is a great way to share information and get to know each other a little better.
Hi Liz Oh no what bad timing with a broken toe, have you been given any advice re walking or is it a case of just wait and see?
See you somewhere at Heathrow, cant wait.
Hi Lozz and Heather
Do you have an Asda shop near you They now sell Malarone at £2.50 per tablet (good price I think) no private prescription needed and no other charges, just a few minutes required to answer a list of medical safety questions. Malarone seems to be the favourite with most travellers, one a day, starting one to two days before and continue for seven days after the holiday with very few, if any, side affect.
So Jelous of the Tanzania add on.
Hi everyone, so sorry to hear about the toe Liz, there isn't anything they can do for toes is there, you will have lots of support though and see the gorrillas. Look forward to meeting you.
See you all soon,
I'm on the departure for 15th September. I have been reading your answers and lots of top tips, just wondered if you could confirm what sort and size bag you took only I've read the notes on the locker size and i know for a fact that the neither of the bags i have - backpack on wheels or holdall on wheels will fit in the locker? what is supposed to go in the locker and what happens if your bag wont fit? I'm thinking by the time the sleeping bag and medical/toiletries and shoes are in there won't be much space for clothes if I try and take something smaller!!
Other question did you get your VISA's in advance or at the airport?
I was in the same predicament as you so I got a 70L holdall which when empty squashes down flat. I also took a small backpack as hand luggage and managed to get everything I needed into those two bags. You're right in thinking that anything on wheels won't fit into the lockers and, like you, I was under the impression that everything had to somehow fit in the lockers, but when we got there as we were only 11 on the trip we were allowed to leave our bags on the floor at the back of the truck and only used the lockers for valuables and stuff we needed regularly. I don't know if that is the case when the trip has 18 people on it though so don't take my word for it that you'll be able to do that. I must admit I would have struggled if I'd had to unpack all my stuff into the lockers - and so would others on the trip as someone did come with a suitcase on wheels!!!
During the trip we met a group travelling with a different company but in exactly the same type of truck as ours and they used one of the compartments below the truck for their big bags - I think this is a very good idea that perhaps Exodus could also adopt - just an idea!!
As for visas, as a UK passport holder I didn't need a visa for Rwanda and it was easy to get them at the Uganda and Kenya borders as we passed through. I was on the reverse itinerary so stayed in transit on arrival at Nairobi so no visa required there, but if you are starting in Nairobi then I know you can get your Kenya visa at the airport on arrival (I have done this before when visiting Kenya). You might want to check with Exodus just to make sure though because I don't want to give any wrong information here. I hope that helps - it's an amazing trip and I'm envious that you still have yours to come!!!
Thanks Anne, I will get the holdall out and see how flexible it is but may just go with it.. there were 9 people booked on the trip as at 30 July so hopefully like you we can leave bags on the floor at the back and just use lockers for day to day! I'm sure there will be someone with a case on wheels on ours I think there has been at least one person on each trip I've done so far!! ;o)
I shouldn't need a VISA for Rwanda either in that case, will get the Kenyan one on arrival at the airport - I did that last time too and then get the Ugandan one at the border - will email exodus to confirm.
Starting to pull out certain things out to form a packing pile - always get excited when it's time to do that!!
We just had a call from our travel agent to let us know that the flight from Nairobi to Kigali has been cancelled and we have been put on the 930 flight to Kigali instead. Has anyone else been notified about this change? (I think we are all on the same flights).
Annie- went to ASDA today to get the Malarone tablets, needless to say... tomorrow we have an appointment to answer those questions and pick them up. We are not taking any chances for side effects.
Liz- Hope your toe gets better over the next few weeks! We will all be there to help each other, so just let us know if we can help in anyway.
SO excited now, really cant wait.
I think you will regret getting involved with us as we are all so excited and have so many questions! Just one quick one- the trip notes said to bring snacks for the trip. I am looking but as Lozz cant eat nuts we are finding it difficult to find good energy bars. Any advice on this front?
Many Thanks, Heather
Don't worry about the questions - I don't mind!!
I didn't bother taking any snacks with me. On the days where we had long drives I just bought a packet of biscuits and some Pringles when we stopped - but not because I was hungry because I never was on this trip as you get plenty of food!! Sometimes I took a banana at breakfast to eat later in the day. I think it depends on whether you are a snacker or not. i'm not but if you are, you can just get stuff like biscuits, crisps, chocolate, sweets or whatever you want once you're there.
Annie- dont worry about bring nuts. He is not so bad that he cant be around them at all. I often sit and chow down on them when he is in the room. But- if you want a good excuse not to bring them- we can blame it on him lol.
Liz- might get some of those Nakd bars but as Anneinspace said there is lots of opportunities to get stuff there so I think we might get get a little just in case and buy the rest there. Thanks for the suggestions!
Hi everyone, drum roll, we are into single figures before we go, that's if you don't count Friday when we will all be making our way to Heathrow. See you soon,
Our group……. so far
Annie Bob Heather Julie Liz Lozz Michele Ross
Final call for our missing ten.
With just eight days to go it would be good if our ‘missing’ ten came forward. before the big departure day. If not, look forward to meeting you at the airport or Kigali.
However was the one that mentioned the Nairobi flight change, thanks for that because we are a victim of that change too, we were in Dubai and sent an email to our agent immediately (we knew before him!), and he secured seats for us, so are we on the same flight then I wonder, flight from Nairobi on Kenya air on 31st departing about 3:30pm? If so we may bump into you. We are currently in Arusha and join our first exodus tour tomorrow.
Really good to hear from you, I think this is going to be an amazing holiday and our group seem just perfect. Might meet up at the baggage drop off, I hope to be there at 4pm latest (I am not taking any risk of missing this flight) but guess we will have to wait until 5pm before they accept our bags. Then we are meeting at Pret A Manger around 6pm (will give us some time to shop if we want to)
Just the packing now to sort out!
See you on Friday
Just spoken to Exodus, seems they had forgotten to inform us of the change of flight, Nairobi to Kigail but will send new details out to all of us now! New flight is 1 1/2 hours later.
Thanks Heather for the alert.
Hi Coby, good to hear from you, this time next week, will be getting ready to put bags through. Yes, the week will either go really slowly or very quickly with trying to get everything done.
See you soon,Julie
Hello Coby and welcome to the group! I lived in Holland for 4 years (in De Wilgen, Friesland and Amsterdam) and Lozz for six months.
Glad we have all been informed of the change of flight. I think if we stick together at the airport Nairobi side we will be sure to make the transfer. it gives us (and the baggage men) a bit of extra time to change over.
I cant believe it is only a week until we leave. Can not wait!
See you soon
My revised flight time did arrive late yesterday but only after another ‘phone call to Exodus.
I guess Kenya airways have merged two flights into one.
We have moved from the KQ470 to KQ448 at 9.30. One and a half hours later. I am booking in online so probably needed to know the changed of flight details.
We are a group of 18 ages from 29 to 72. Eight male and ten females so a good mix I think.
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