Gorillas & Masai Mara - Camping Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda
Programmes:
Wildlife
Trip Code:
WYU
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate

You are reasonably fit, enjoy the outdoors and are looking for some exercise. Some previous experience is preferable for activity based trips.

18 Days Flight Inclusive
16 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

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.

At a Glance

  • 13 nights full-service camping, and 2 nights in hotels
  • Travel by specialist overland vehicle, 4WD and on foot
  • Some long drives on rough roads and early starts
  • Countries visited: Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda

Trip Highlights

  • Enjoy a precious hour in the company of Uganda's Mountain gorillas
  • Game drives in the Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru N.P. and Queen Elizabeth N.P.
  • Visit Murchison Falls National Park
  • Track chimpanzees and other primates in Budongo Forest

Is This Trip for You?

This trip has been graded 2 (Leisurely/Moderate) with a safari rating of 4.
The grading of moderate applies specifically to the gorilla trek and the chimpanzee tracking. The rest of the itinerary is graded as leisurely in relation to the activity level only (however, this is not a leisurely trip is relation to the early starts and long drives).

Gorilla Trek: Owing to the nature of the terrain and the need to explore to find the gorillas, the trek doesn't always follow a path in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and instead the guides will cut a route through the undergrowth.  You should expect a minimum of three hours walking on irregular terrain, with the possibility of climbing up to 2607m, 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).


Transport is in a specialist overland vehicle with good visibility and 4WD vehicles in the Masai Mara. There will be several early mornings where we start before sunrise, especially to view the wildlife, and several long drives as this trip covers the highlights of three countries. Although the distances are not always very long, some of the roads are quite poor and bumpy especially after the rainy season. We include breaks for toilet facilities, shopping, photos and meals. There are a few days where the journey time (including stops) can be over 7 hours and the longest drive can take approximately 10 hours. The spectacular scenery and glimpses of village life when travelling make the journeys enjoyable, as well as the chances to get to know your fellow travel companions.

Come prepared with a sense of adventure and a sense of humour and you're sure to have the holiday of a lifetime.

Certain areas in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are not recommended for travel on the Foreign Commonwealth website. Please note that we do not visit any of these areas on our itinerary and keep continually abreast of changes to FCO advice.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
6
Max group size:
18

Itinerary

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Nairobi; overnight in hotel.

    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

  • Day 2

    To Masai Mara; late afternoon game drive.

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 3

    Full day in the Masai Mara.

    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

  • Day 4

    To Lake Nakuru N.P.; afternoon game drive.

    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

     

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 5

    Morning game drive in Nakuru N.P.; to Eldoret.

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 6

    To Jinja, Uganda.

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 7

    Free day for optional activities.

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 8

    To Murchison Falls

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 9

    Full day Murchison Falls

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 10

    Chimpanzee Tracking in Budongo

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 11

    To Queen Elizabeth National Park.

    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

  • Day 12

    Full day Queen Elizabeth National Park

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 13

    To Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 14

    Trek to see Mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 15

    Optional second Mountain gorilla trek. To Kigali

    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

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 16

    Morning visit to the Genocide Museum and end.

    Rwanda is a country widely remembered for the genocide of 1994 in which over a million people were killed. There is a moving museum in Kigali to commemorate this time in Rwanda's history which we visit this morning. Our trip comes to an end in the afternoon where we bid Rwanda and our group goodbye. Those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport for the flight to London.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

Camping

The camping is full-service which means that the tents are put up and taken down for you by our crew. We use standard mobile two man tents for these nights and provide mattresses and all other equipment that you'll need (except a sleeping bag and pillow). East African campsites vary in terms of facilities - you should not expect hot showers, flushing toilets or western standards of cleanliness. Upgrades are available at some locations to a room - these can only be booked and paid for locally.

On some nights we have more than one accommodation option. This can mean that where we stay differs to what has been listed for the day. The accommodation that we select around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is dependent on the gate we are using to access the park.

In Nairobi and Kigali, we stay in small hotels with en suite facilities.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Single supplement from 208.00 CHF

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

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.

Transportation

Transport is in one of Exodus' specialist overland vehicles. The vehicle seats 24 passengers but there is a maximum of 18 passengers on this itinerary. The seating is mostly forward facing and the windows are large and easy to open. People are expected to move around to permit everyone a chance to have a window seat. The vehicle carries all camping equipment and has a large drinking water tank for you to fill up a smaller bottle. There is a reference library on the truck and also a 6-plug 240 volt invertor that can recharge camera/cellphone/laptop batteries when it is being driven. For game viewing in the Masai Mara we use smaller 4WD vehicles.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Although this part of East Africa lies in the tropics, the temperature depends more on altitude than on season. Kenya has temperatures ranging from 18 - 28ºC in March and dropping to 15 - 21ºC in August. The long rains, during which we do not operate these tours, occur in April and May, and there are intermittent 'short rains' between November and early December, though these normally have no great effect on the safari.

In western Uganda, the rainy season is also in April and May, with intermittent rains during November and December, and daytime temperatures of between 15 - 25ºC. Parts of Uganda are very wet and rain can be expected at any time.

In Rwanda, the rainy season is also in April and May, with intermittent rains during November. December to February is quite dry, and June through October is the driest season. Temperatures do vary, in the southern parts of Rwanda the temperatures are between 18 - 30ºC, while in the northern part, temperatures are between 12 - 28ºC.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 18 days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Ethiopian Airlines or Qatar Airways (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 16 days starting in Nairobi and ending in Kigali

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Nairobi in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it. 

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight ‐ please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

The cost of a taxi is likely to be approx. US$17‐$30 should you decide to make your way independently.

Location start:
Nairobi
Location end:
Kigali

What to Take

Essential Equipment

This trip encounters a range of temperatures so come prepared. Most of the time light cotton clothing will be most comfortable, but you should bring a sweater and a warm windproof jacket as it can get cold at night, in the mornings and in the back of the truck. Avoid bright colours when on safari.
Walking boots: for the gorilla trek as conditions under foot can be tough.

Long socks: for the gorilla trek to protect against jungle ants.

Gloves: for the gorilla trek as there can be stinging and sharp vegetation on the trek. Gardening gloves would be fine.

Daypack or small bag
Water bottle
Head torch and spare batteries
Mosquito repellent
Sun hat, suncream and sunglasses
Sleeping bag and liner: a three-season bag is required as it can be cold at night when travelling in the higher regions of Kenya and Uganda. 
Travel pillow: We do not provide pillows in the 2-man tents so if you would like a travel pillow, please bring your own.
Rucksack or holdall: please do not bring a suitcase or hard-bottomed bag on these trips. We advise you to bring a soft holdall/rucksack and a day pack. Everyone has a large locker (30 inches deep, 19 inches long and 10 inches high) to store his or her belongings and personal items in.  We recommend you also take a combination padlock to lock the locker. Shoes and sleeping bags can be stored separately at the back of the vehicle.

Please note:  In a move praised by conservation groups and health organisations, Kenya has taken the lead in banning the use of plastic carrier bags and certain other plastic bags. Included in the ban are the following items that travellers might carry:
▪ Duty free carrier bags
▪ General shopping bags
▪ Bin liners (sometimes used to protect luggage during rain)
▪ Dry cleaning bags (commonly wrapped around clothing)
Travellers arriving into Kenya via airports, sea ports or land borders will be required to leave any bags deemed to be on the banned list at the point of entry. Travellers will not be fined so long as they surrender any prohibited bags.

Uganda has banned electronic cigarettes.

Water Included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill sites or get burnt, both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles in order to reduce the amount of plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout so all you need to do is bring a bottle to re-fill along the way. Please add this to your packing list!

Optional Equipment

If you are interested in animal photography then take a camera with a good optical zoom.
Binoculars
Wet wipes
Travel towel
Hand gel wash
Toilet roll

Gaiters

Laundry:
Laundry facilities are limited outside the major cities but it will be possible to do some hand washing at the campsites or using water from rivers or lakes. You should bring a small supply of washing powder with you for this purpose. We ask you to be careful when washing clothes in rivers and lakes as this water may well be the main supply for villages further along. Always use a washing bowl and discard used water away from the river or lake. Take environmentally friendly detergents and shampoos for hand and hair washing, and use as little as possible. This will help to keep valuable fresh water supplies, rivers, streams and the sea free from pollution.

Practical Information

Passport

Kenya

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Rwanda

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information offered below is to help you with that process. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Uganda

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

East Africa Visa (combined visa covering all three countries):

British passport holders may apply for East African Visa that will cover all three countries directly from Kenyan High commission; this process requires posting your passport and application form. Please contact the Kenyan High Commission to obtain more information about the combined visa from Kenya.  Alternatively, the East African Visa is currently available upon arrival at Nairobi airport and the cost is US$100 in cash, the process is straightforward and no additional documents are required. This is currently the best approach; however, we recommend that you check that the visa inserted into your passport has been filled in and stamped as this will make things easier at the border crossings.

British passport holders may also decide to obtain three separate visas for each of the countries:

Kenya

Most nationalities do now require a visa for Kenya, including Britons, most EU nationals, Australians, New Zealanders, Americans and Canadians.  At present single entry and transit visas are available online (see below) and soon all visas will have to be obtained online. Alternatively visas are available in advance or on arrival. The Kenyan government are planning for all visas to be obtained online and may stop delivering visas on arrival on short notice. For the latest information please contact your local Kenyan High Commission or Consulate.  
For information about the online application process please visit http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html.
The cost of the visa is US$50 for a single entry visa.
You will need to first register to the ecitizens website (including needing a photo 500px x 500px) before you can start applying.
For the application process itself you will need details of the accommodation used (which we will send you) and itinerary as well as a photo 5.5cm x 5.5cm and a scanned or photographed copy of your passport’s bio/photo page.

Uganda

Most nationalities require a visa for Uganda. The Government of Uganda has introduced the online visa application system with effect from 01 July 2016. Applications should be filled at the following link: https://visas.immigration.go.ug/.
The decision taken on the application will be sent electronically through the email provided by the applicant. If approved, an approval letter will be sent as an attachment to the email provided. Print it out and present it together with a valid passport / travel document at the port of entry.
The cost of a standard, single-entry visit visa had been reduced to $US 50. You’ll need to bring this amount with you in cash (US dollars only) on arrival. Check the Ugandan Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control website for the latest information on visa fees.
Information about documents required in the online visa application is found here:
https://visas.immigration.go.ug/#/help/visa

Rwanda

From 1 November 2014, British nationals entering Rwanda will be able to get a visa on arrival on payment of a fee. The fee is currently fixed at $50US for a 30 day tourist visa. You can also choose to get a visa in advance at any Rwandan diplomatic mission or online. For some other nationalities the visa must be applied for online in advance; please check with your local consulate.

For assistance with obtaining visas please call Travcour on 020 8543 1846 or visit their website: http://www.travcour.com/page/tour-packs/exodus.php

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

Kenya

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Malaria prophylaxis is essential and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Rwanda

Vaccination against Yellow Fever is necessary , and you must bring a valid certificate of vaccination. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Malaria prophylaxis is essential and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Uganda

Vaccination against Yellow Fever is necessary , and you must bring a valid certificate of vaccination. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever. Malaria prophylaxis is essential and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take. Bilharzia is known to occur in some of the lakes or rivers visited on this itinerary, we therefore advise all to take advice from your guide or leader locally before venturing for a swim. 

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

Bilharzia is known to occur in some of the lakes or rivers visited on this itinerary, we therefore advise all to take advice from your guide or leader locally before venturing for a swim.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Kenya's Timezone:
Africa/Nairobi EAT (GMT +03:00)
Rwanda's Timezone:
Africa/Kigali CAT (GMT +02:00)
Uganda's Timezone:
Africa/Kampala EAT (GMT +03:00)

Electricity

Kenya's Electricity:

240 Volts. Plug types G; establishments take the same plugs as the UK.

Rwanda's Electricity:

Rwanda normally uses two‐round‐pin plugs like the ones used in mainland Europe.

Uganda's Electricity:

240 Volts. Plug types G

Electricity: 230 volts AC, 50 Hz. There is a 6-plug 240 volt invertor on the truck that can recharge camera/cellphone/laptop batteries when it is being driven. We recommend that you bring your standard charger, with a UK plug (either 3 pin or 2 pin) for this purpose. There are often recharging facilities at campsites but you may be charged for this service and we recommend taking extra batteries and charging them at every opportunity due to the unreliable electricity supply in some areas.

Money

Kenya's Currency

The national currency of Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (September 2017) of approximately 136 to the GBP, 103 to the USD, 85 to the CAD, 123 to the EUR, 83 to the AUD and 75 to the NZD.

Rwanda's Currency

The national currency of Rwanda is the Rwanda Franc (RWF), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 1068 to the UK£ and 805 to the US$.

Exchange rates are correct at the time of publication.

We recommend that you take most of your money in US Dollars cash. Any US dollars cash should be clean, unmarked notes and should be dated no earlier than 2000. It is advisable to bring a mix of denominations including some small notes.

Uganda's Currency

The national currency of Uganda is the Ugandan Shilling (UGS), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (September 2017) of approximately 4753 to the GBP,  3596 to the USD, 2970 to the CAD, 4339 to the EUR, 2915 to the AUD and 2628 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

Visa, Access/MasterCard and American Express cards are sometimes accepted in hotels and for expensive souvenirs but you should NOT rely solely on your credit card, particularly for obtaining cash advances.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

There are a great variety of souvenirs on sale. We encourage buying items which benefit the local economy and avoiding expensive shopping malls where most of the money will go abroad or to large businesses.
Bargaining is the norm for much souvenir buying. Don't accept the first price offered unless the shop or stall clearly works on fixed prices, but also remember that you are probably much better off than most local people, so please do not generate ill-feeling by bargaining too hard. Similarly, you should not bargain for items which you have no intention of buying.
Goods can often be traded with the Masaai rather than money especially red clothing, cheap watches and sunglasses. Amongst the local handicrafts look out for Makonde woodcarvings, permitted leather goods, native jewellery, local textiles, batik and soapstone carvings.

Optional Excursions:

Nairobi
For the excursions in Nairobi, these can only be done if you arrive earlier than the group flight.  As the leader will not yet be with you in this case, you need to book these through our local partners on the ground on +254 733 523 813.
Karen Blixen Museum - US$14 per person
Giraffe Centre- US$12 per person
NNP Animal orphanage - US$25 per person (Entry only)
Safari walk - US$25 per person
Carnivore Restaurant- US$30-35 per person
Bomas - US$10 per person
National Museum - US$14 per person
Transfers to/from all of these excursions - price will vary depending on the type of vehicle and the number of clients and may include waiting charges

Masai Mara
Sunrise Balloon Safari in Masai Mara - can be booked locally at a price of US$495 per person or higher.  Includes champagne and a full English breakfast in the bush.

Jinja
Full Day rafting, Jinja - US$140 per person
Half Day Rafting, Jinja – US$125
Visit to the source of the White Nile - US$25 per person
We suggest that these excursions be paid for in cash.

Queen Elizabeth

Kazinga Channel boat trip - US$30


Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Second Gorilla tracking in Bwindi NP - from £779 or equivalent in booking currency (to be booked in advance)
Mgahinga Hike - US $80 per person (depending on location of accommodation)                             
Forest walk- US $70 per person (depending on location of accommodation)                                 
Batwa Experience - US $80 per person (depending on location of accommodation)                                 
Birding walk - US $70 per person (depending on location of accommodation)

 

Tipping

If you feel that your leader and crew have performed well over the course of your trip, you may want to show your appreciation of their services. The sum you choose to give is entirely personal, but as a guide we suggest that you budget:

Approximately US$40-$50 for your tour leader.

Approximately US$20-$25 for each of the other 3 crew members on this trip.

It is also courteous to tip any extra guides/ drivers you may have over the course of the trip, though certainly not compulsory. Shortly after arrival the leader will suggest to the group that they donate a sum of approx. 25 GBP (approx. US$ 30) per person towards a kitty. This money is then used for tipping local guides, hotel porters, drivers etc and will be distributed by the leader. Any money left at the end of the trip will be refunded to the group on equal basis.

Responsible Tourism

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

For most parts of the trip, we stay in campsites that are locally staffed and uses local produce wherever possible ensuring that we are directly benefitting the communities we visit. Camping is a great way to reduce environmental impact, but we are careful about managing waste and litter, ensuring that all waste is removed from the campsite and separated so that it can be easily recycled or composted.

As a wildlife trip, we always ensure that we have local guides to monitor that wildlife viewing is done in a responsible way, making sure that the group keeps a minimum distance, does not use camera flashes or any do not engage in any practices that will cause disturbance to the animals. Entrance fees and permits paid to the various national parks and sanctuaries contributes to the preservation of the natural areas and wildlife and it also ensures that a fair wage is paid to the guides and staff.

There is visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a place of remembrance of victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, where we get a deeper understanding of Rwanda’s recent history.

Whilst we must say hydrated, it is also vital that we do not cause too much waste from single use plastic bottles. On this trip, we have 10-20 litre jerrycans of water where clients can refill their bottles from, hence we strongly encourage clients to bring their own reusable water bottles for this reason.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. Swimming results in more tourists deaths than any other activity. All customers should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim, and are requested to treat the sea with extreme caution if they choose to enter the water. Details on how to keep yourself safe while swimming are shown here.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.