Gorillas and Masai Mara - 11 September

Thought I'd start a topic for this trip as I got my confirmation today. Travelling with my husband and really looking forward to it. Would be good to hear from anyone else booked on.

Cheers
Sue

 

vbaxter

Hello Sue,

I have just booked this trip too, with my mum. We are very excited, think I may stay and be the next Diane Fosse!!!

Have you travelled with exodus before?

Vicky

Hi Sue & Vicky,

I'm going on this trip with my husband, Russ. We went to the Mara last year and can't wait to go back!! It was the best place we've ever visited and I could go on and on and on about how wonderful Africa is.

 Cheers,

 Paula

 

 

klaatu

Hello, everyone. I'm on this safari also. Just got my confirmation packet in the mail this week. I'm very excited since this is a trip I've been planning to make for years and now I'm finally getting to go. I look forward to meeting you all in Kigali. 

Best regards,

Michael  

Bats

Hi, I'm also on this trip with my husband Robert, really excited but also a little nervous as we've never done anything like this...Has anyone else? Paula - I saw that you did last year, was that with exodus? Any tips?

Already thinking about what to pack!

Regards,

Lisa

klaatu

The closest I've come to a trip like this was a week I spent in Costa Rica last year. But this is a much larger trip for me. I've been getting ready for it for a long time. My biggest expense is my camera equipment. Clothes, who cares? :-)

 Best regards,

Michael  

Don't be nervous, you'll have a wonderful time!!

 I've been to Kenya twice, but haven't been on an Exodus trip before. I went with Kuoni last year and stayed in lodges so the camping's going to be a new experience ! Biggest tip is, decide on how many films/memory cards you want to take, then times it by about 5........you'll see so much wildflife you won't stop clicking. Also, don't do the usual girl thing (like I usually do) and take 5 different outfits for each day. Just take the bear minimum. You'll find you end up living in your favourite pair of comfy shorts anyway! Hat essential,  insect repellent and sun lotion essential.

If I think of anything else I'll let you know.

I can't wait.......I've got all excited again just thinking about it!!

Cheers,

Paula

 

klaatu

I just bought my plane tickets and I'm all excited all over again. Just when my excitement dies down a bit, I hit a milestone like this and get all hyped up again. :-)

 I've also made all the reservations for hotels. Plans are coming to together. I still need to get the visas, though, but I've got time for that. 

Regards, Michael  

sfabre

Great to hear from everyone. I haven't logged on for a while so it was lovely to see all of the replies.

We haven't done a trip like this before but have travelled a lot and I agree with Paula - take only the bare minimum of clothes, good walking boots/shoes and LOADS of camera memory. I was glad to read we can recharge batteries in the bus, but will still buy a few more camera batteries before the trip.

Wet wipes and plenty of those small packs of tissues are also essentials!

Really looking forward to meeting you all in September,

Cheers
Sue

klaatu

I'm just curious: how many others are bringing DSLR cameras on the trip? 

 Regards, Michael  

sfabre

I'll be bringing my Pentax K10 with a few different lenses and a monopod. I'm sure we'll get some fantastic photos!

Cheers
Sue

klaatu

Oh, good... then I won't be the only camera nerd bothering the others in the car. :-)

Regards, Michael  

klaatu

I have what some people might consider a sensitive question about the amount of money to bring. If I offend anyone I apologize. 

I've been trying to determine what amount of money I should bring. I've read that US dollars are accepted in most places we're going to be, and I'm guessing that, at least, in Kigali and Nairobi and possibly Kampala we can use credit cards for some things and ATMs. But I really don't have any idea of what a basic amount of cash might be appropriate to bring.

Can anyone who's been on a trip like this before make any suggestions?  

Regards, Michael  

sfabre

Hi Michael

I think that's a really good question - I'm glad someone asked as I've been wondering about this too. I would think credit/debit cards could be used in Kigali, Nairobi & Kampala, and there's a town called Jinja we're staying in around day 8 which has ATMs (according to the Lonely Planet) but I think we'll need cash for most of the rest of the trip. Any excursions (white water rafting, etc.) can be paid by card, so that's one good thing. I'm trying to figure out how much money we'll need too - I definitely want to make sure we have enough for a few cold beers at the end of a long day of wildlife spotting!

Cheers, Sue 

Heysy

Hello Everybody

Rachel and I have signed up for this trip but starting in Nairobi, we've noticed that Michael mentioned Kigali first! Is anyone going our way?

Regards, Graham

 

Hello

Great to hear from others doing the trip.  I am on the reverse itinerary, i.e. travelling from Kigali to Nairobi.  I was interested to see all the comments.  I had been told by Exodus that there would be no opportunity for recharging camera batteries but somebody mentioned that it's possible to do that on the bus.  I will be taking my trusty DSLR.  Have travelled with Exodus before, a few years ago from Vic Falls to Cape Town, and it was fantastic.  Looking forward to the trip already.

Andrea

 

 

sfabre

Hi Andrea,

On the trip notes that I got when I booked the holiday (also reverse itinerary) it says that there is a 240 volt inverter on the track that can be used to charge camera & mobile phone batteries, as long as you have your charger. Apparently it takes normal UK plugs. I think we'll all need this as I'm sure we'll be taking loads of photos!!

Cheers, Sue

klaatu

I don't want to turn this into a camera nerd gear-fest thread but I read the same thing about batteries in my trip notes. I am bringing multiple batteries, though, so I won't have to worry about recharging them every day. 

Regards, Michael  

klaatu

Hi, Graham. Did you find anyone else going your way? 

 Regards, Michael  

Heysy

Hi Michael

I think we're on our own :)) Maybe we should start another thread! This is our first trip with Exodus and, having made five trips with their competitor, think this Departure Lounge is a very good idea!

Regards, Graham

Heysy

Hi Michael

I think we're on our own :)) Maybe we should start another thread! This is our first trip with Exodus and, having made five trips with their competitor, think this Departure Lounge is a very good idea!

Regards, Graham

Heysy

Whoops Ha Ha!!!

ian333

Hi everyone,

Carol & I went on this trip last october - it was amazing. You will all have a fantastic time.

We both had D-SLR's and took 3 batteries each with us. This was fine. You can charge them on the truck, but there are only two sockets so sometimes there is a queue! We took tripods, but hardly used them. Beanbag type things are useful in the Mara, especially if you have larger lenses.

If you have any other questions, please ask (we will be away until the 28th June, so will reply after that). 

Carol & Ian

 

Hi everyone,

Have also booked this trip, never been on this kind of holiday but getting really excited! Not idea what I should be taking (apart from camera!) so I welcome any tips.

Thanks, Linds

klaatu

Hi, Linda. If you haven't gotten it yet, the trip notes you will get in the mail will have tips on what and what not to bring. 

I look forward to meeting you in Kigali.

Regards, Michael  

Hello Linds

Good to be in touch with another fellow traveller on the trip.  Will you be on the Kenya Airways London to Nairobi flight on 11th?  I am on that flight but I am not so sure about the 5-6 hour wait in Nairobi airport for the transfer to Kigali!  Will have to take a good book, I think.

Andrea

sfabre

Really good to hear from more people on the trip.

Andrea - We're flying from London on the 11th but didn't realise we had such a long wait in Nairobi. I hope they have a bar at the airport ;-)

Linds - I think one of the most important things to take is the right luggage. From what I've read in the trip notes and in other forums here, a hold-all style bag that folds up quite small is your best bet. Apparently everyone gets their own locker on the truck, so you can unpack your stuff into it, and if you have a folded bag, can put that at the bottom out of the way. Hard cases or bags with frames aren't going to be that useful.

Look forward to meeting you all on the flight or in Kigali,

Cheers, Sue

hey Andrea, quite impressed with being able to contact people before going. Didn't know about the long wait at airport - will definately be needing a good book! I will be on the flight from London, where will you be coming from? I am coming down from Edinburgh.

Linds

ian333

Sue is right about the soft bottomed holdall's and the lockers.

Another tip is to use small soft bags to put things in. Some people use the pack-it cubes, we used sleeping bag stuff-sacks. They keep your under seat lockers much more organised. Sometimes you will need to take clothing and washing gear out of the truck and also for the Mara you will not be with the truck.

Smaller soft organiser bags help seperate items and keep the clean from the not-so-clean.

Also take your own toilet roll. We found that communual rolls near the exits of the truck worked well when stopping for natural breaks - just grab a few sheets on the way out! (for the ladies - consider a She-Wee - there is not always much privacy).

 

klaatu

Hi, everyone. I've been doing a bit of pre-packing, to make sure I can get everything in my bag and I've discovered that my sleeping pad is about 4 inches/10 cm too long so I can't fit it inside the bag. I'm a bit concerned about this. I think I can get everything else in the bag but how are other folks handling this item? Do you think I can safely strap it to the outside of my bag with bungie cords? Any suggestions will be appreciated. 

Regards, Michael.  

Hi Linds

I will be travelling from Kent, just the other side of London from Heathrow, so not too bad for getting to the airport.

 Regards

 Andrea

P.S. I used to live in Dundee for 10 years so know about the hassle of arranging to get to London from Scotland for flights etc.

Hi Michael

I am impressed by your organisation.  I need to start getting organised too - I'm not one for leaving things to the last minute.  Getting my rabies jab tomorrow.  I am not sure what you mean by sleeping pad.  Mattresses are provided so no need to bring anything to sleep on.  If it's your sleeping bag which doesn't fit into your pack, I suggest strapping it to your pack and getting a huge lightweight bag to put it all in for your flights.  I usually travel with a backpack and put it in one of these big bags (padlocked) for flights.  It won't be a problem on the truck, I don't think.  My experience is that sleeping gear is kept in another part of the truck to the lockers.

I hope this helps.

Regards

Andrea

klaatu

Hi, Andrea. Thanks for the info about the mattresses being provided. I had read in the trip notes that a sleeping pad was suggested. This is just a pad that lies on the ground that you sleep on. Nothing fancy. If I don't have to bring it that will mean I won't have to use another bag, which is a relief. I will be able to get my sleeping bag in the bag, no problem, since I've got compression sack that will get the bag down to about the size of an American football. 

I was both a Boy Scout and in US Army, so I have a tendency to plan things like this in advance. Helps if things do a happen to go awry.  

Regards, Michael  

ian333

They do provide matresses to sleep on when you are in the tent. They are fine to use, so you dont need to take your own.

Ian 

 

sfabre

Hi everyone,

What are you all planning to do regarding visas? I know we need them for Kenya and Uganda, and we can organise them before the trip or at the airport. What are your thoughts? I always think it's best to have them before you travel, but if everyone else is waiting to get them when we arrive, it will be easier for us to do that too.

Also, what shots do we need before the trip? Someone's mentioned Rabies - anything else? What about malaria tablets? We've always taken Malarone in the past as there are so few side effects, so hoping we can take them again for this trip.

Great to read all the posts on the forum!

Cheers, Sue

klaatu

Hi, Sue. I'm getting my visas before hand since that is what was suggested that I do. As to shots I got a whole raft of them; all the shots that are recommended in the trip notes as well as a flu shot. I won't list them all here, unless someone thinks that might be helpful, but if you want to know email me. My doctor prescribed me Mefloquine for malaria. 

Regards, Michael  

klaatu

Thanks, Ian. Knowing that helps me plan my packing. 

Regards, Michael  

Hi Sue

I'm still debating what to do about the visas, i.e. whether to get in advance.  I am a British passport holder and have just written to the Kenyan High Commission in London about this and will let you know the response I receive - failed to get a response by phone and their website wasn't too clear.

I phoned the Ugandan High Commission in London and they recommended getting the visa for there in advance so I have the forms but haven't yet applied.  I think that you can get the visa on the border but it probably takes longer to do the border crossing.  I will probably apply in advance, and soon!

I hope this helps.

Andrea

klaatu

In the trip notes I got in the mail, under the "practical information" section Exodus suggests visas for Uganda and Kenya be obtained in advance and they suggest UK residents use a company called Travcour <http://www.travcour.com>. Since I'm in the US I'm going through a company called G3 Visas. I've spoken to a rep on the phone already and she told me that tourist visas for Uganda are for 90 days, so getting one at any time from now forward the visa will be good for the duration of the trip. 

As to vaccinations, if anyone else is interested, I got Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Flu, Hep A & B, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and Mefloquine tablets for malaria. 

Regards, Michael  

sfabre

Thanks for the replies.

I'll definitely get visas in advance - have just downloaded forms from both the Kenyan and Ugandan embassies. Me & my hubby are going away for a weekend at the end of this month so I don't want to send off our passports before then, but the forms say around 5 days for processing so I'll have plenty of time to sort it out when we're back. 

I've also dug out our vaccine records and it looks like we need another Hep A, Hep B, yellow fever and polio - they all seem to be running out this year! Better make an appointment at our GP's travel clinic ASAP to get started with them all.

Andrea - surprised at how expensive the rabies shots are, but I reckon it's better to be safe than sorry. Will speak to GP about recommendations.

Cheers, Sue

klaatu

After all the deep talk of visa and vaccinations I thought I might throw out what the question what are people reading or watching to get ready for this trip? I'm a bit a romantic about my first safari and I've been watching the movies Gorillas In The Mist and Mountains of the Moon lately, as well as overloading on the excellent Big Cat Diary on Animal Planet. I've also been watching Expedition Africa on Discovery but I'm getting annoyed with the people in it. I've also got Hemingway's The Green Hills Of Africa loaded up on my Sony eReader. So what are y'all consuming, entertainment wise? 

Regards, Michael  

sfabre

I've been getting in the mood by reading Gorillas in the Mist, which made me cry, and have just started Born Free. I've also read Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux, in which his travels from Cairo to Cape Town - a brilliant read.

There was a programme on UK television recently about an actor (Stephen Tompkinson) that travelled around a few African countries in a hot air balloon, including visiting the gorillas in Rwanda. He got really close to them which got me very excited!

Cheers, Sue

klaatu

Over the past couple of years I've also been re-reading the Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I know they're complete fantasy, but I loved them as a kid. I still love them. :-)

Regards, Michael  

I've just finished reading Gorillas in the Mist too and I was fascinated by the stories of all the gorilla families and am now really looking forward to the prospect of seeing them myself.  I hope to see the film too.  Also hoping to read Born Free.  Not sure that I will have time to read much else before the trip - will see.

Andrea

Hi again everyone,

Graham, me & my husband Russ are on the Nairobi to Kigali route so you're not on your own! We're on the Heathrow flight on the 11th. To answer a few questions that have been posted.....regarding visas, we're going to certainly get the Kenya one before we go. We've done it before. You can download the forms off their website and they get them to you really quickly and there's usually a bit of a queue to get them at Nairobi airport. Not sure what we're going to do about the Ugandan one but I guess we need to make our minds up pretty quickly! Vaccinations - you definitely need yellow fever cos they won't let you into Kenya if you arrive from another yellow fever country such as Uganda (think I'm right about that). I haven't bothered with the rabies one before. If you get bitten you still have to have injections anyway apparently. I've had malarone before for malaria protection. My final invoice arrived today and I'm getting soooooooooo excited!!!

 Cheers,

Paula

 

ian333

Dont worry too much about the Visa's we got the Kenyan one before we went. We did the reverse route and the Ugandan Visa was not a problem. Just make sure you have the correct US$ available.

Jabs - we didnt have the Rabies jab as we left it too late. It wasnt a problem. Yellow Fever is a must. We got ours from a Nomad travel clinic as it was cheaper than our nearest surgery that did them.

One thing - take a head torch. They are very useful. Sometimes the available showers at the campsites dont have lights and you can hang them up for light.

Someone recommended to us Hotel Rwanda and the last king of scotland as DVD's / books. I can recommend An Ordinary Man (the story behind Hotel Rwanda) if you want to understand the Genocide. The Genocide Museum in Kigali is one of the most touching places you will ever go to.

P.S. we got within about 2-3m of the Gorilla's - so yes you get as close as you see on the TV, if you are lucky. You will need long sleeve shirts & trousers and a lightweight waterproof for the trek.

klaatu

Oh, will the questions never end. :-)

I've got another question for Ian, if you don't mind answering. Are we going to have the opportunity to wash clothes, such as socks or t-shirts or whatnot, while on the safari? If I don't have to take, say, a pair of socks for every day that will make packing easier.

Regards, Michael  

ian333

Michael,

You do get some opportunities to wash clothes, mainly when you are staying in lodges rather than the tents. I think the best opp was staying at the Lake in Uganda. You will need to use the sink in your bathroom. We used all-purpose travel wash, available from outdoor shops. The big problem is drying time, if the sun is out, you are OK and things dry in a day. You are not allowed to hang things in the truck to dry. We did the reverse itinery and got absolutely drenched on the way back from the Gorilla's and needed the time to dry things out (took about a week for the footwear to dry). so the Uganda stop was useful. Did you see the Ugandan Gorilla programme on C5 last night? 

 

klaatu

Thanks for the tips, Ian. Sounds like I can go ahead and pack slightly less and it shouldn't be too much problem. 

I'm in the US, so was not able to see the program in the UK. However I might be able to catch it on Animal Planet over here. What is the name of the program? On a related note I did record a show last week, from 2007, with Sigourney Weaver who went back to see the mountain gorillas she worked with while filming Gorillas In The Mist. It's called Gorillas Revisited with Sigourney Weaver. 

Regards, Michael  

gareth84

I'm booked on the trip (Nairobi to Kigali) and will be travelling with my brother (24 yrs).  Can't wait! Not particularly organised, as I have a holiday to the Faroe Islands and Morocco to think about before September, but will get round to sorting my visas once I'm back.  I'm pretty sure I'll at least get the Kenya visa before I go, as I don't fancy hanging around at the airport waiting to get one.  Has anyone had experience of filling the forms out? I've had a quick look and wasn't sure whether we require a single, multiple or transit type?

I'm planning on bringing my DSLR too, but only have 2 batteries.  Wondering whether it's worth getting one or two more, but they cost about £40 each!

klaatu

I just dropped my passport off at FEDEX to send it to the company that's going to be my visas for me. That's kind of scary. 

Regards, Michael  

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