After meeting the group flights, we head northwest out of Nairobi, eventually dropping down the escarpment of the Rift Valley to Lake Naivasha. In the afternoon we visit Elsamere, the former home of Joy Adamson, now a conservation centre where you can enjoy afternoon teas on the lawn and watch the Colobus monkeys.
Day 3 - 4
In the morning we drive into the Masai Mara using 4WD vehicles for two incredible days in one of the most famous ecosystems in the world. In and around the reserve, plains game including wildebeest, gazelle, topi, zebra and buffalo abound, and never far away are the predators; cheetah, lion and hyena. Nothing is guaranteed on safari but we hope to see the three-foot-tall Secretary bird stalking snakes and rodents through the grass, impala jousting furiously or vultures homing in on carcasses. On both nights we stay in a permanent camp in the Masai Mara.
After a morning game drive, we drive to Kembu Farm, near Njoro where there is an opportunity to do a farm walk this afternoon.
In the morning we drive to Lake Nakuru National Park (45 mins), a small park that is home to an amazing variety of animals. We game drive around the dazzling soda lake, sometimes home to thousands of flamingos. We will see plenty of animals, maybe even the elusive leopard and we have an excellent chance of spotting rhino, of which there is a healthy population here. There is a stunning view from the top of the hills above the lake, and here we may see the Rock hyrax; this tiny creature is the elephant's nearest relative! We camp in the park.
This morning we enjoy another game drive in the park. Following a quick shop in Nakuru town, we then drive towards Eldoret, the fourth largest city in Kenya and we will spend the evening in a campsite just outside the town.
Today there is a long drive of about 250km across the border into Uganda. The border crossing can be slow but we leave plenty of time, and it can be an interesting experience. Once over the border we drive to Jinja, were the Victoria Nile meets Lake Victoria and we camp beside the Nile.
A free day to enjoy several optional activities. The rafting here is amongst the best in the world with several grade five rapids providing an exhilarating experience. We also see some typical village life along the river. Alternatively there is the opportunity for an excellent village walk, a vibrant community project known as Soft Power which supports education, a visit to Bujagali Falls or the Source of the White Nile, quad biking or even bungy jumping!
Leaving Jinja early, we head through sugar plantations and Mabira Forest before reaching the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda's capital city. As we battle our way through a frenzied traffic system, we can look forward to a refreshing stop at the equator. We continue west, away from Lake Victoria before turning off to Lake Mburo National Park. This is one of the smallest parks in Uganda at only 260km2, but boasts an impressive 313 different bird species, and is famous for its richness in biodiversity. It has about 68 different species of mammals. The common ones are zebra, impala, buffalo, topi and eland, plus the rare roan antelope. We may also be lucky enough to spot leopard, hyena and jackals. Depending on time we will take a guided walk in the park either this afternoon or the following morning. The campsite tonight will be very basic.
Day 11 - 12
The scenery changes as we head south into hilly country. There are very few towns as most people live in rugos - family compounds. We follow the main road southwest to a scenic camp at Lake Bunyoni. Here we have a day to relax, enjoying the impressive landscape and excellent bird life.
Today we head to Ruhengeri and Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda as this is the best place to see the gorillas.
Owing to the very nature of the terrain and the need to explore in order to find the gorillas, there are no paths to follow in Parc National des Volcans and our guides will occasionally need to cut a way through the undergrowth. At times there are some steep ascents and descents over muddy slopes, so strong footwear is essential. You must expect a minimum of three hours walking to find the gorillas. Despite the challenging terrain, the jungle scenery makes the walking very interesting, and to be close to the 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. The gorillas are almost exclusively vegetarian and are 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. We can venture to within three metres of the gorilla families with reasonable safety as, in spite of their reputation, they are gentle creatures and are not known to attack unless very severely provoked. Also, we do not venture any closer because the gorillas are very susceptible to human disease - please note that anyone with a cold or any similar ailment may not be allowed near the gorillas.
We drive to Rwanda's small and attractive capital, Kigali. Rwanda is a country widely remembered for the genocide of 1994 in which over a million people were killed. There is a moving and disturbing museum that commemorates this time in their history. However, Rwanda is trying to look forward as well as back and Exodus clients can help bring money into the area by spending time in the market here and sampling the local restaurants.
Evening flight via Nairobi.