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.
Into 4WD vehicles for drive to Masai Mara; late afternoon game drive.
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 return to Naivasha.
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, sometime home to thousands of flamingos. We will see a variety of animals, maybe even the elusive leopard and 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 drive to our scenic campsite, close to the town of Eldoret, a distance of about 130km. Eldoret, although a large city, the fourth largest in Kenya, is generally a peaceful farming community 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.
Today we will visit a local pre-school for a chance to meet both the children and the teachers and to learn more about their lives. Later on there is also a chance to become involved in the School Refurbishment Program by doing a few hours of volunteering at one of the schools, assisting in the painting and rebuilding. We return to Jinja tonight and camp again beside the Nile.
After breakfast, we drive to Lake Mburo National Park, arriving in time for lunch. In the afternoon we have a guided game walk through the park. Although it is quite a small park, it is home to a surprisingly diverse group of plants and animals. The park has about 313 different bird species including the rare Shoebill stork, which is not found anywhere else in Uganda! We camp overnight in the park.
To Lake Bunyonyi.
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. We have a day to relax here, enjoy the impressive landscape and excellent bird life.
Drive to Ruhengeri in Rwanda
Today we head to Ruhengeri and Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda as this is the best place to see the gorillas. Our plan is for each member of the group to visit the gorillas once. It may not be possible for the group to all visit the gorillas on the same day as there are only 30 permits available per day.
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 Virunga 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 to 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.
Late morning flight to London via Nairobi.