Gorillas & Masai Mara - Reverse

17 days
from
£3,579
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Trip code: 
WYURA
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Wildlife Holidays
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 variety and abundance 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. The highlight of the trip is undoubtedly the gorillas in the foothills of the Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda. This close-up encounter is arguably one of the most sensational wildlife experience in the world.

Highlights

  • Enjoy one precious hour in the company of Rwanda's Mountain gorillas
  • View fantastic wildlife in the famous Masai Mara
  • Enjoy game drives in Lake Nakuru National Park

Key information

  • 4 nights full-service camping in a variety of campsites (some quite basic), 6 nights in permanent tented camps with shared facilities and 4 nights in hotels with en suite facilities
  • Travel by specialist overland vehicle, 4WD and on foot
  • Some drives on rough roads

What's included

  • 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches and 12 dinners
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Gorilla permit

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations

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

    Depart London.

    Depart London.

  • Day 2

    Start Kigali.

    The group flight usually arrives into Kigali 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: Beausejour Hotel or similar

    Standard Hotel

  • Day 3

    Morning Kigali; afternoon to Ruhengeri.

    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. This afternoon we transfer to Ruhengeri and Parc National des Volcans, the home of wild Mountain gorillas. Parc National des Volcans borders the Virunga National Park in the DRC and is covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was the original base of Dian Fossey, a zoologist who studied Mountain gorillas in the wild to document their behaviour over a period of 18 years and was a passionate conservationist.

    Accommodation: Best View Hotel or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Visit to see the gorillas in Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda.

    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 in Parc National des Volcans 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 rough 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: Best View Hotel or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    To Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda.

    Today we cross into the south-west of Uganda with its hilly terrain on our way to Lake Bunyoni. There are very few towns as most people live in small family compounds known as rugos. The lake is often referred to as the 'place of many little birds' - dotted with 29 forested islands, it is surrounded by terraced hillsides and provides a stunning location. We stay at a tented camp in a very well equipped resort but there is also the option to upgrade to a room or cabana depending on availability.

    Accommodation: Bunyonyi Overland Resort or similar
    Comfortable Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Day at leisure. Excellent birdlife and good scenery.

    Lake Bunyoni is a beautiful spot to relax. We have a full day here to enjoy the impressive landscape and excellent bird life. Your leader will assist with ideas of things to do locally.

    Accommodation: Bunyonyi Overland Resort or similar
    Comfortable Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    To Lake Mburo N.P.; guided afternoon nature/bird walk; camp in park.

    Lake Mburo National Park is one of the smallest parks in Uganda at only 260 square kms, but boasts an impressive 313 different bird species and 68 mammals; zebra, impala, buffalo, topi and eland are found in abundance, and the rare Roan antelope may also be seen. With luck, we may also spot leopard, hyena and jackal.
    Depending on our time of arrival, a walking safari will be scheduled for either this afternoon or the following morning. Walking safaris offer an entirely different perspective of the bush and an exciting close-range wildlife encounter. Lake Mburo National Park is a great place for this given the absence of some of the larger African game such as lions and elephants. Walking safaris are always accompanied by an armed ranger who will go into detail about tracks, droppings, animal behaviour and flora. Tonight's campsite is located inside the park near the lake and has basic facilities (flushing WC and cold showers).

    Accommodation: Lake Mburo Public Campsite or similar
    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    To Jinja.

    Travelling east, we pass Lake Victoria and Uganda's capital, Kampala, before making a lunchtime stop at the Equator line where you can take that all important photo straddling the Northern and Southern Hemispheres! Sugar plantations and Mabira Forest line much of our route to Jinja. 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 9

    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 10

    To Naiberi River camp near Eldoret, Kenya.

    Today there is a long drive of about 250km, including a border crossing into Kenya. The border crossing can be slow but we leave plenty of time for this and you'll no doubt find the experience interesting! We stop for re-fuelling and supplies in Nakuru town and then drive towards Eldoret, one of Kenya's larger cities. Tonight's camp is at set within a traditional African village.  If there is availability, it's possible to upgrade to one of the lovely rooms inside the quaint house, or to a specially designed cottage, paying a small supplement locally.

    Accommodation: Green Wood Campsite or similar
    Full-service Camping

     

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    To Lake Nakuru N.P.; full day game drive.

    Today we travel to Lake Nakuru National Park, one of the finest small parks within Kenya, where we have a full day 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, whose numbers have been known to reach over 1.2 million. 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.  Tonight we camp just outside the park in a campsite with good showers and flush toilets.

    Accommodation: Nderit Campsite or similar
    Full-service Camping

     

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    To Lake Navaisha.

    Today we continue our journey to Lake Naivasha. Lake Naivasha is one of the few freshwater lakes of the Rift Valley - full of waterbirds, hippos and floating papyrus. This afternoon we visit Elsamere, the former home of George and Joy Adamson and now a conservation centre where you can enjoy afternoon tea on the lawn and watch the Colobus monkeys whilst learning about the story of Born Free. It’s possible to reach Elsamere by boat, at an extra cost, if you would like to.

    Accommodation: Fish Eagle Camp or similar
    Full-service Camping

     

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    To Masai Mara; late afternoon game drive.

    Today we travel 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. Stay in a permanent tented camp just outside the reserve for the next two nights.

    Accommodation: Mara Springs Camp or similar
    Comfortable Camping

     

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 14

    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 several 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 15

    Drive to Nairobi.

    We will depart after breakfast for Nairobi.We travel up through the escarpement of the Rift Valley looking back on classic African views with acacia trees scattering the vast landscape. There will be some free time on arrival in Nairobi to explore the city at your own pace before an optional farewell dinner with the group this evening.

    Accommodation: Heron Court Hotel or similar
    Standard Hotel

     

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 16

    End Nairobi.

    Our trip comes to an end today and we bid Kenya and our group goodbye.  
    For those on the group flights, these will usually depart in the evening. For clients who have booked land only, the trip ends after breakfast in Nairobi.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 17

    Arrive London.

    Arrive London.

Essential Info

Visas

Kenya

Most nationalities do now require a visa for Kenya, including Britons, most EC nationals, Australians, New Zealanders, Americans and Canadians.From September 2015 it will no longer be possible to obtain a visa on arrival. Instead you must arrange for an eVisa. For information about the application process please visit Kenya Visa applications (you can apply via the button at the foot of the page). Please ensure that you have at least one blank page free of immigration stamps in your passport to enter Kenya.

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.

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
If after visiting Uganda, you will also travel to Rwanda and Kenya, you may apply for East African Visa that will cover all three countries. Please contact the Ugandan High Commission to obtain more information about the combined visa from Uganda.

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 USD 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.

Lake Nakuru

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 follow a path in Parc National des Volcans and instead the guides will cut a route through the undergrowth. You should expect a minimum of three hours walking on rough terrain, with the possibility of climbing up to 3000m, 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.
This is a full-service camping safari - tents will be put up and taken down for you and all meals and washing up will be done unless of course you want to help. Our four-person crew includes a tour leader, a driver, a chef (who shops and prepares all meals) and an assistant. They work hard to ensure that all you need to do is enjoy your holiday!
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.

Accommodation

Hotels & Camping

On this trip we have 4 nights full-service camping in a variety of campsites (some quite basic), 6 nights in permanent tented camps with shared facilities and 4 nights in hotels with en suite facilities.

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. One of the sites that we use is located within National Park boundaries and is very basic – this is marked on the itinerary. Upgrades are available at some locations to a room - these can only be booked and paid for locally.

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.

In Nairobi, Kigali and Ruhengeri, Rwanda, we stay in small hotels/guesthouses with en suite facilities.

The single supplement guarantees single accommodation throughout the trip (including a single tent). This supplement is subject to availability and should be requested at the time of booking.

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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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