Gorillas and Masai Mara

Just booked this trip and pleased to hear from anyone else on this adventure!

Piture shows us in Peru, we did the Cycling Vietnam trip last year with Exodus - great trip - but have never been to Africa.....yet!

Boyd and Susan,

Ayr, Scotland


Well hello there Boyd and Susan!

I've just had to change my dates from September to December and believe I'm on the same trip as you. I fly from heathrow on 27 December.

I've never travelled with Exodus before and am travelling solo so am very pleased to see your post. 

And I just can't wait to start the adventure!

Joanne (Sussex) 


Hi, Joanne!  Nice to meet you.  I have been reading some other posts and came across your photography questions.  I have been thinking along similar lines re cards and batteries etc.  When I booked the trip I went out and bought a Sigma 150-500 lens for my Nikon SLR but now realise it is far too heavy so am planning on selling that and the Nikon and going back to a Canon - prob the new 600d with a 70-300.  What do you think?

And I too am buying a card and a battery a month - I also have a Canon G12 - what a lovely bit of kit that is - for the up close and panoramas etc.

You been to Africa before?





Hello again!

The 600d sounds good, I've got the 500d and just purchased the 70-300 IS whick I love to bits. I couldn't afford a much higher spec and need not have worried as both are absolutely great.  I'm not an expert but I'm having a great time trying out new techniques on my dogs out on the south downs - not quite the same as on safari but it'll have to do for now! It's not too heavy either. That with the standard lens it came with and a small compact will do me for the trip I think.

This is my second trip to Africa, but I went to Kenya about 20 years ago and so I expect it's probably a lot more organised now. Having grown up with Born Free and David Attenborough on the TV this trip is now much overdue!

I don't know much about the G12 but worked for Canon in the 90's for quite a long time and I really really trust them when it comes to imaging equipment. Nowadays other makes are probably pretty good too but having seen the effort they make in terms of quality I'm a customer for life now!

Happy shopping! 


PS you probably already know this but you can get batteries for the 500d on amazon for quite a good price if you're into that sort of thing, so you probably can for the 600d too.





Sorry to interject; I'm not on your trip (I'm going to Ethiopia in December) but noticed your comments about the 600D. It's a great camera and the articulated LCD screen is absolutely invaluable for those awkward but essential shots down low, up high, round corners and over cliffs/out of windows. I can confirm that third-party batteries are available at brilliant prices from eBay. Also, the battery grip (BG-E8) can be bought for around £32. That, also, is third-party but works a dream and is considerably cheaper than the official Canon equivalent which can cost in excess of £150. 

I use the camera mainly with a Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 lens and Canon's 75-300mm non-IS zoom, plus a Lensbaby Muse and it's fantastic; I highly recommend the camera. ISO performance is rather good and Live View is vastly improved from the 500D; it's more precise and less clunky. 


Happy shooting and enjoy the trip!




Thanks, Steve - interjection and advice welcome!  I'll look into those lenses - preferably through the viewfinder of a 600d!  The 70-300 certainly seems to win votes.





Hello all,

Thanks for your advice Steve, I bought the 500d when it first came out and so if I had the choice again I'd go for the 600d too or whatever was the latest/best one at the time. It's good to know Steve recommends the 70-300 too as it's the first individual lens that I've bought.

I'm also thinking of buying a joby gorilla mini tripod as I've got one for my iphone and it's really handy. Am not sure if they'll be an opportunity to use it on the trip on the side of the truck but it'll be fun if there is! 



This is developing into a Camera-blog-post!  But what the heck! 

Having sold my Nikon and Sigma lens I now have a fist full of dollars to spend on the right gear!  But what is it?  Deffo the 600D - that's the easy bit, but am thinking I might maximise spending on a standard zoom and hire a 100-400 or similar for the trip.....Am I daft?

But which Standard zoom?  Don't like the look or feel of the 18-50 kit lens....so short-list currently - Canon 17-85, 18-135, or Sigma 17-70 or 18-125

Any views?


Hi, Joanne - you had any thoughts about the Balloon trip?  Doesnt seem to get a mention in the booking form and I understand it costs near on £300.....

BTW, Got the 600d and a 17-85 zoom.  Nice.  Also went for one of the battery grips for £32 which included 2 batteries.  Seems well made and the batteries are as good as a couple of others I got for £11.

On the look-out for a 70-300 USM but might just wait and rent a 100-400 L-series lens nearer the time.




I know its still 5 months away, but is it just Joanne, Susan and me?  There must be more people booked, but where are you all?

Enjoying getting the preparations going - read somewhere that we unpack our bags into lockers on the bus and fold up our bags too.  I like the look of the holdalls on the Nomad shop site - the Explore ones, at £25 but they have been out of stock a while.  Found one on eBay for £9 and got it - certainly fits the bill and seems like excellent value for money.....Nomad are getting them back in stock in 3 weeks, they say.

Have also been trying to work out where we will be on New year's eve - last year we were home alone, hence the reason for us coming on this trip.....I have a little stock of Arran Distillery Founders' reserve single malt which is coming on the trip to bring in 2012.

BTW, Joanne - I got a Canon 70-300 - nice piece of kit!

Hello Susan, Boyd and Joanne. I'm also on the Heathrow flight on the 27th and am also travelling solo, so great to see your post in particular Joanne.

I've only got a little 'point & shoot' camera so can't join in your photography discussion.  I  was interested to see that you bought a holdall Boyd - I was thinking of just taking my rucksack and was hoping that would do.

Did you work out where we'll be for New Year's Eve? - it makes the trip even more special to be away for a celebration date - can't wait!


Hi there, Alison!  Good to meet you!  Yes - NY eve is I think on Kembu Farm camp - wellworth checking out the website as it looks a fun place to be that time of year, and as it is 7000 feet or so up, NO MALARIA!! 

Re baggage, I read in one of the other blogs - an old gorilla trip one, I think, that we have storage under the seats on the 4X4 into which we unpack out stuff apart from sleeping bags and boots so the thought was that a fold-up bag might be easier. I'm sure a rucksack would be fine too.

I have also been in touch with the Soft Power school project in Jinja.  They are listed in "stuffyourrucksack" where it lists things we can take for the school project.  All the usual sort of stuff, but also a digital camera ( I have a spare I can take) and a laptop.......so if you hear of anyone ditching one.......!

Cheers, Boyd


Wow, you're right. Kembu Farm looks amazing.  I didn't realize we were going places like that.  Looks like fun.

Hi all,

 Was just scanning through to see if there were any posts about my December trip to Lapland and saw this.  I went on this trip back in 2009 and so would be happy to answer any questions you may have before you head off.  Someone did the same for me before I went and so I thought it would be good to return the favour!  Any question, no matter how stupid you make think they are, I would be happy to answer.

It's a brilliant trip, of which I enjoyed every minute.  You'll have a great time.

 Best wishes


Hi Andrew,

 I do have a question right now, and I'm sure I'll think of lots more before we leave!  Did you get your Kenya visa on arrival at Nairobi airport and, if so, were there any problems?




Hi, Alison!

Have awaited a reply from Andrew on this subject.....I too wonder about getting Visas there and think I am going to get ours here before we go.

If you click on "before you go" - top right hand corner - Then "preparing for my trip" then Visa requirements, there is a link there to travcour.  There you can enter the trip code and print out the forms needed to apply here.  I see UK passport holders don't need a Rwanda visa.

We used this service before we went to Vietnam last year and it worked fine!



Thanks Boyd - I'll check it out.  I'm assuming we only need a single entry visa to Kenya as on our way home we'll just be in transit through Nairobi airport.


 Apologies for the long delay in my reply - I haven't been able to get on-line for a little while.

I sorted all my visas in advance through Travcour, which, I think was the best way to go.  It is possible to sort visas out there, but to avoid the hassle, I would recommend sorting in advance.

I'm happy to try and answer any other questions you have and can promise I will reply much quicker this time...


Look at the posts on the october dates, they have loads of info on that month.



 my boyfriend and I are on this trip too. to say i cannot wait for 28th december is an understatement!!!!! 

about the visas, we have irish passports, so not sure if this is the same for UK passports. i rang the kenyan embassy here in dublin and they said you can either get the visa for kenya on arrival and pay US$50 (and they only take US$, no other currency) or you can get it in advance at the kenyan embassy before you leave - i think we'll get ours here to avoid the queue in nairobi and the hassle.

for uganda, i don't think we need visas if you have the kenyan visa...???

with irish passports, we also need a visa for rwanda, which I don't think you need with a british passport... trying to figure that one out at the moment, so if anyone has any experience of that please let me know!

 only 81 days to go!!!!!!

Hi Joyce,

 Great to hear from you.

Regarding visas - because I was a bit uncertain about what kind of visa we needed, I ended up phoning Exodus.  They strongly recommended getting the visas on arrival so that's what I've decided to do.  They said it's straightforward and avoids any possible difficulties with posting off your passport.

81 days - crikey!!


Hi, Joyce and boyfriend!

As far as I can make out with an Irish passport you don't need a Ugandan visa but you do need a Rwandan one!  Who makes this stuff up??!!  Must 'fess up that we have just sent off to Travcour for what we need - K and U, I think, on the basis that they do this stuff for a living!  Hopefully it's worth the extra - it certainly worked OK for us last year in V-N.

....81 days to go?..better get the pills and jags organised too!




oh that's interesting - so you can get the rwandan visa at the border? i think i might get the kenyan one before i go, just to make our arrival a bit quicker, as our flight is at 6am, and we arrive into nairobi at 9pm. the kenyan embassy is just down the road from where i work, but i'd have to send my passport to the rwandan embassy in london i think - i'm not sure i want to send my passport anywhere!

 next step - vaccinations!

love planning for holidays :)


..so you leave ireland in the morning and arrive in the evening of the 28th? - I think the flights from London leave the day before and get there on the morning of the 28th.

You been to Africa before? It's our first time but had a great trip to Vietnam with Exodus last year. If this one is to the same standard, we are in for a fun time!


Hi all

 I returned form this trip 2 weeks ago today and firtsly let me say it was awesome! take plenty of memory for your camera & spare batteries etc & essentiallya good head torch!

re. visa's - it is extremely easy to get them at the borders, don't waste money going through travcour as they charge you a fee for getting the visa's for you. We all had to gt off the truck and go to the window at the border whether we had a visa or not and it took approx 1 minute longer for those who didn't  have visa's already.

I personally sent off for mine direct to the kenyan & ugandan embassies before we went (pujrely because I didn't want to be having to put money to oneside once i was there & also because i wanted the nice full page sticker!) Both times my pasport was back in around a week but if you don't want to arrange in advance there really is no need - 90% of the people on our trip got them at the borders. The price is no different whether you do it from here or there - only difference is here you will need to get passport photos done & pay postage costs

 if anyone has any more questions about the trip feel free to contact me

Susan :-)

Susan :-)


@SusanandBoyd - no, we leave dublin on the morning of 26th december, arrive in nairobi that night, then have a free day before the trip starts. i think the trip starts as soon as you guys get in on the morning of 28th. never been to africa before but have wanted to do the gorilla trek since i was about 19, can't wait!


Looks like this trip is nearly fully booked!  Actually just posting this to get our trip back to the top of the Blog!!

Passports and Visas back from Travcour, Deet sprays and ponchos bought!  Almost ready to roll!

So, apart from Susan and me, Joanne, Jane, Alison, Joyce and boyfriend and "HappyCamper", who else is going??????



Hey, fellow Safari people!!  It seems that there are now 5 spaces left on our trip on the 27th Dec.  Who is still in, and who has backed out? .....and who has yet to reveal themselves?!

Having a practice pack this weekend - I think we are almost "there"......

Hi Susan and Boyd, I'm still going and can't wait - this last month has flown by and I can't believe the trip is now so close.  I was going to get in touch soon anyway.  I was wondering if anyone who is on the group flight from Heathrow would mind meeting up with me there.  I'm just a bit nervous about arriving at Nairobi on my own...




Hi, Alison!

We are on the group flights from LHR and happy to meet up - I think we go from terminal 4.

We will be flying down from Glasgow that afternoon getting in, hopefully at 2pm or so, a quick tube journey to T4, and check in.   I don't want to put my mobile number on this blog - are you one of the Alison Gaskins on Facebook?  If so, which one, and I'll send a message with my mobile number.

Before our Vietnam trip last year, a bunch of us met up in Starbucks in T3, so we should be able to arrange something similar.  Won't be able to afford a coffee, though - just got our Yellow Fever jags and Malarone - almost £300!  Could have had a week in Majorca for that!!



Hi Boyd, That's great, thanks. I'll be flying down to LHR from Manchester at lunchtime.  I'm afraid I'm not on Facebook or anything like that.  If all else fails, I can just find you at the departure gate - I can see your photo on this blog.

I'm going for my yellow fever jab today so I'm sure I'll have a similar bill to look forward to!

Thanks, Alison.


You'll easily be able to spot us at check-in, Alison - we will be dragging 2 big red "EXPLORE" kitbags!

That's great, thanks.  I'll be watching out for you 4 weeks today!!!!!


We just got our final joining istructions and our internal flights have been changed.  We wont be getting down to Heathrow till 3.30pm so it will be a little more fraught getting from T5 to T4 and dropping off the luggage!  Hoping to check-in on the Nairobi flight on-line though, to save some time.

I emailed Kenya Airways with a query about our  booking number and they replied and included a list of the 6 people in our group......- it included Alison, but did not mention Joanne or Jane.  There have been some late cancellations and bookings so I wonder who is all going now........!  How exciting!

We have had a priliminary packing session and I think we are almost there - just over 2 weeks to go.....!!



Hi Boyd,  I haven't had my final instructions through yet.  If they don't arrive today, I'll chase them up.  Hoping my flights haven't changed!

I've kind of been 'mentally packing' - probably about time I had a go for real!

I'll be watching out for you 2 weeks tomorrow - see you then!



I emailed them last week as I would have expected to have received the final instructions by then.  They said they had sent them on the 6th.....they resent them straight away, but I think there has been an email glitch.....

Thanks Boyd.  I've emailed them now.

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