Gorillas & Masai Mara - Accommodated

18 days
from
£4,899
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Trip code: 
WYUP8
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Wildlife
Min age:
16
Group size:
6–18

Fantastic Kenyan wildlife and the endangered Mountain gorillas

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.

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

Key information

  • 9 nights hotels/lodges and 6 nights permanent tented camps
  • Travel by specialist overland vehicle, 4WD and on foot
  • Some drives on rough roads

What's included

  • 15 breakfasts, 14 lunches and 14 dinners
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • 1 chimp permit and 1 gorilla permit

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

  • Day 2

    Arrive Nairobi.

    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 3

    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
    Comfortable Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    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 are also optional excursions that you can enjoy today in addition to the game drive. Get up early for a sunrise Hot Air Balloon Safari (including champagne and breakfast) or visit a traditional Masaai village to meet the locals.

    Accommodation: Mara Springs Camp or similar
    Comfortable Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    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: Jarika County Lodge or similar
    Standard Hotel

     

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    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: Sirikwa Hotel or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    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. We stay at a tented camp in a well-equipped resort that has a stunning location high up on the banks of the Nile.

    Accommodation: Adrift Camp or similar
    Comfortable Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    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
    Comfortable Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    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. 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 Chili Campsite or similar
    Comfortable Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    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 just 10 metres from the ‘Devil’s Cauldron’, the place where the water bursts through the narrow gorge and creates an outstanding rainbow. 


    Accommodation: Red Chili Campsite or similar
    Comfortable Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    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, forest elephants 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: Paara Safari Lodge or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    To Queen Elizabeth National Park.

    Today we drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). The drive goes south along the eastern length of the Rwenzori Mountains, where, weather permitting, we can see the glaciated peaks. 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
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    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 we have a 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.

    Accommodation: Parkview Lodge or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 14

    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: Silverback Lodge or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 15

    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: Silverback Lodge or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 16

    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.

    Accommodation: Beausejour Hotel or similar
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 17

    Morning visit to the Genocide Museum and depart

    Our trip comes to an end today after breakfast 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
  • Day 18

    Arrive London

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

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.

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.

Vaccinations

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.

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.

Eating and 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. 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.

Weather

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.

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, the rest of the itinerary is graded as leisurely in relation to the activity level.

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 morning starts 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. 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.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels, Lodges & Tented Camps

On these departures we spend 9 nights in hotels/lodges and 6 nights in permanent tented camps.

All the hotels/lodge accommodation is en suite and relatively comfortable, though not luxurious. We have selected, whenever possible, properties in or near the national parks we visit to enrich the wilderness experience of this trip.

The tented camps that we use are typically at well-equipped resorts with walk in tents, beds and usually shared bathroom facilities. Most of these resorts have additional facilities such as a swimming pool, bar and sometimes WiFi.

Single supplement is available.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Be the first to post your review! If you have recently returned from an Exodus adventure and want to help other travellers with your feedback then simply use the link below to post your holiday review.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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