The Great East African Safari - Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania

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Day 1: Arrive in Entebbe, Uganda

You are met upon arrival in Entebbe and transferred to your hotel. We stay in Entebbe, a pleasant and convenient place to start our journey. We meet this evening for dinner and orientation. Overnight in Entebbe.

 

Day 2: To Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

We journey by speed boat on Lake Victoria to Ngamba Island, a sanctuary for chimpanzees. We learn about one of our closest relatives, the chimpanzees and also about the work that is done on the island. We can see the chimpanzees at close range, watch their behavior and their playfulness. We will also observe one of their daily feedings. It is a real treat to see the chimps in this comfortable and intimate setting on Ngamba Island. We return to Entebbe to relax in the late afternoon or one can visit the small local zoo to see the rare shoebill. Overnight in Entebbe.

 

Day 3: To Queen Elizabeth National Park

This wonderful park is especially scenic, with two lakes connected by a channel (the Kazinga Channel). In the area there are volcanic craters, grassy plains and tropical forests, giving the area one of the highest biodiversity ratings in the world. We will have a leisurely drive through the Park giving us lots of time to explore before arriving at our lodge. Overnight Mabira.

 

Day 4: Morning river safari, to Ishasha

This morning we explore the Kazinga Channel by boat, traversing the banks, which are full of birds, buffalo and hippos, while always keeping a lookout for crocodiles, elephants, leopard, the rare aquatic sitatunga antelope and other park inhabitants.

The wide bio-diversity of habitats means that Queen Elizabeth National Park contains an astonishing number of species — almost 100 types of mammal and 606 different birds. The Kazinga Channel alone is said to contain the world's largest concentration of hippos.

We continue on to Ishasha in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Overnight in Ishasha.

 

Day 5: Ishasha — game drives

Ishasha's claim to fame is its tree-climbing lions. We enjoy two game drives today: a drive to the delta in search of the massive but rare shoebill, and a second drive to a region where we will hopefully find the tree-climbing lions. After the day's game viewing, relax at our luxury tents located at a beautiful spot on the banks of the river. Overnight in Ishasha.

 

Day 6: Ishasha morning safari, to Bwindi

We enjoy a morning game drive in search of herds of buffalo, gazelle, elephants and of course the tree-climbing lions. We continue on to Bwindi, while enjoying the beautiful landscape enroute. In the evening, relax at our lodge, with views of the mountains of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and home to the mountain gorillas . Overnight in Bwindi.

 

Day 7: Gorilla Trekking

Today is easily one of the highlights of the entire journey as we trek up the side of the mountain to spend time with one of the resident gorilla families who make Bwindi forest their home. The reward is great, but there are certainly some challenges along the way.

We start in the morning with a briefing at the Park Headquarters about what the trek will involve and the etiquette of observing and photographing gorillas. Tracking wild animals can be a challenging physical activity. Eight people are permitted per group and a total of 24 people per day in Bwindi as there are 3 gorilla groups. Depending on which gorilla group you will visit, your trek may take anywhere from 1-7 hours. Local gorilla trackers follow the location of each of the gorilla groups. Once we find the family group we will have 1 hour to observe and enjoy them. 

Our trek starts by climbing along the switchbacks going up the side of the mountain. The climb may be upwards along relatively good paths or we may forge a new path. Every trek is different but be prepared for steep and dense areas, good paths or no paths. To assist with your trek, ElderTreks provides you with a local trekking guide or porter who will give you a hand along the way. This will surely make your trek more enjoyable and easier, while also supporting the local community. The local economic spin-off is important as it encourages the entire local community to support the efforts to protect the gorillas and their habitat. This education and support is important for both locals and visitors alike. Payments/tips for the porters are included.

Today's visit with one of the Bwindi resident gorilla families will likely be one of the wildlife highlights in your life. Few things can compare with the playful fighting of the young gorillas, a mother gorilla caring for her baby, or the adrenaline rush of seeing the massive silverback giving the term ‘alpha male' a whole new meaning.

After your gorilla encounter, return to your guesthouse and spend the rest of the day reliving your experience. Overnight in Bwindi.

 

Day 8: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

This morning we have a leisurely start. Today we can do a forest walk or relax at the lodge. In the afternoon we will do a rural community walk, which will include a walk through a rural village where we will learn about local herbs and medicines from the medicine man and also meet some of the Pygmies who live in the region. The Pygmies are the smallest people on earth. Overnight in Bwindi.

 

Day 9: To Rwanda

Our drive takes us along more scenic mountainous landscape. Our destination is Volacanoes National Park in Rwanda, home to one of the best places in the world to see mountain gorillas. Overnight in Volcanoes National Park.

 

Day 10: Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park

Today we have our second oppourtunity to visit with mountain gorillas which is truly an unforgetable experience. Lying in the Northwest of Rwanda, the park is primarily known for it's mountain gorillas, made famous by Dian Fossey, the American primatologist who worked to study and save the mountain gorillas until she was murdered in 1985, most likely by poachers. It is a tribute to her dedication that mountain gorillas still live here. It is most fitting that her grave is in the park.

We will visit with one of the 8 gorillas groups that live on the mountain. Seeing them in their natural environment is one of the greatest wildlife experiences one can ever imagine. Overnight in Volcanoes National Park.

 

Day 11: Golden Monkeys, Dian Fossey’s Grave

Today we set out on a trek in Volcanoes National Park to see the Golden Monkey. We will also keep an eye out for some of the 180 birds species that live within the park as well as other wildlife. We will also hike to Dian Fossey's grave. Dian (yes, this is the correct spelling) is the iconic researcher and warrior who help create a greater understanding of these magnificant apes. If it were not for her work, we may not have the privelege today to visit with mountain gorillas. She sacrified with everything, including her life. After two visits with mountain gorillas, a visit to her grave is a fitting and likely emotional tribute to this great woman.

 

Day 12: To Kigali

Today we leave Rwanda's most famous park and drive to it's capital Kigali. We will learn about Rwanda's people, it's history and culture, including the very sad recent history of the genocide that took place in Rwanda. Overnight in Kigali.

 

Day 13: Fly to Nairobi, Kenya, Giraffe Center, Karen Blixen Museum, to Lake Naivasha

An early morning flight takes us to Nairobi for a late breakfast before visiting the Rothschild Giraffe Sanctuary. In 1979 it was believed there were only 120 animals left when the Center was founded and efforts to save the sub-species began. In another suburb of Nairobi we will make a fascinating stop at the house where Karen Blixen lived from 1914 to 1931. Denys Finch-Hatton's books are still on the shelves. A drive of a couple of hours will bring us to Lake Naivasha, a shallow freshwater lake surrounded by grasslands - perfect habitat for the 400 species of bird who live here. Hippos may also be found around the lake. Overnight Lake Naivasha.

 

Day 14: Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru National Park is a shallow alkaline lake on the bed of the Great Rift Valley; and home to thousands of greater and lesser flamingos and various water birds. The rich acacia savannah shelters numerous bird species, elands, leopards, lions, buffaloes and other plain game. The park also has a well-guarded rhino sanctuary for both the black and the rare white rhino. Overnight at Lake Naivasha.

 

Day 15: Game Walk Lake Naivasha, To Massai Mara

An early start for one of the highlights of the trip as we head out on foot with our local trackers for a game walk. This is a very special way to experience the sights and sounds of the savannah. Take your binoculars as the bird watching is excellent. Then we leave the lake behind, travelling towards Kenya's fertile highlands, head down the Rift Escarpment and continue to Maasai Mara National Reserve. The reserve is arguably the most popular game sanctuary in the country.

The reserve is home to the “big five” and a profusion of all types of wildlife. Over 400 bird species have been recorded in the park. The annual migration is a spectacle worth seeing as millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle move from the Serengeti plains in late June and reside in the Mara until October. Explore this famous national park with game drives enroute to our wilderness lodge. Overnight in Maasai Mara National Park.

 

Day 16: Full day of game drives in Maasai Mara National Park

What better way to explore this very special region but with a full day of game drives. Relax by the pool when the sun is the hottest between game drives or sit by the river in hopes to see hippos floating around. Take in the beautiful surroundings in the Maasai Mara on the direct path of the wildebeest migration path. This African Mecca is full of wonder and you will get to experience it first hand with wildlife all around you.

The Maasai Mara located in the Rift Valley Province in the south western part of Kenya, was established back in 1967. About 10 centuries ago the Cushitic people settled in this region and the Maasai, a warrior tribe, are descendents of these people. The Maasai can still be found in these regions living off of the cattle they herd. They migrate around in search of water and vegetation. The open savannah of flat grasslands and woodlands made up of acacia trees are great places for elephants, giraffes and so much more. Overnight in Maasai Mara National Park.

 

Day 17: Lake Victoria

After breakfast, we take along packed lunches for our journey overland to Speke Bay on the south-eastern shore of Lake Victoria, Tanzania.

The area of Speke Gulf is named after the famous explorer John Hanning Speke, the explorer who discovered that Lake Victoria is the source of the Nile. This is a full day of driving but there will be time to relax in the late afternoon or wander around the 100 hectares of savannah that surround this traditional Sukuma tribe lodge. Have a peaceful night stay after a long rough journey and relax before our exploration in the Serengeti the next day. Overnight at Speke Bay.

 

Day 18: Serengeti national park

After a relaxed breakfast watch for big game as we travel to the Serengeti National Park. A brief rest after lunch and then we are off on an afternoon game drive. The Serengeti could easily be the most famous national park in the world. The primeval paradise roughly the size of Northern Ireland or Connecticut has been the subject of countless wildlife films, each seeking to capture the unique spirit of these exhilarating eco-systems that was, until recently, the domain of the favored few.The unfurling plains provide the stage for the most dramatic wildlife spectacle on the planet when the massed herds of a million wildebeest congregate on the short grass plains for the great migration north to the Maasai Mara. The gently undulating hills of Lobo stretch up to the Kenyan border, an idyllic landscape, dotted with kopjes and shady arbors, in which we track the resident wildlife. Overnight in Serengeti National Park.

 

Day 19: Game Drive to South Serengeti

Today we travel farther south on the Serengeti plains. We will have our packed lunches with us so we can stop whenever and wherever we wish. The trip is not a long distance but will take us most of the day as we will be watching and stopping for game viewing the whole way, taking back roads and stopping at watering holes, rock out-croppings and anywhere our guides spot the abundant wildlife. Overnight South Serengeti.

 

Day 20: To Ngorongoro Crater via Olduvai Gorge

After breakfast, we game drive out of the Serengeti National Park heading towards Ngorongoro Crater. Enroute we will stop at the viewpoint overlooking the Olduvai Gorge. A river canyon cuts 300 feet into the volcanic Serengeti Plains and was once home to our earliest ancestors. The Gorge was made famous by the discoveries of fossil fragments of Homo sapiens by the Leakey family in 1959 and we will visit the small, but excellent museum. While we have our picnic lunch, we can listen to a talk from museum staff about the discoveries made in the valley below us. We continue driving to Ngorongoro with the road offering spectacular views - sometimes over the Serengeti Plains and other times into the Crater itself. Overnight on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.

 

Day 21: Ngorongoro Game Drive, village visit

Greet the day with a morning game drive in the crater before heading south along the Rift Valley Ridge.

One of the most identifiable sights in Africa, the Ngorongoro Crater is approximately 12 miles wide and has numerous species of animal found in East Africa. The views from the crater rim are spectacular, but once you get down to the crater floor, you will know why it has been compared to Noahís Ark. We will drive into the crater to get up close and personal with the many wildlife here. There are lions, elephants, buffaloes, wildebeests, Thomsonís gazelles, zebras, reedbucks, rhinos, monkeys, baboons, hippos, hyenas, jackals and thousands of flamingos in the soda lake, Lake Magadi.

We travel through the northern highlands and under the peak of Ol Deani. Ol Deani is an extinct volcano with gentle slopes and is a major feature of the landscape. Here the vegetation starts to become lush and green as we near the Karatu region. This region, with it's cool climate and vast fields covering the slopes of the volcano were great conditions for European settlers and farmers. The main export was coffee which is still grown today.

Tanzania has over 120 different tribes and we will visit a village for a chance to meet with many of them. The cultural experience in Mto wa Mbu includes having lunch - we may even have the opportunity to help in the preparation. Food is grown locally and includes 30 varieties of banana - they even make banana beer! We can see local craftsmen from different tribes, visit their farms to see their innovative irrigation methods and, most important, have the opportunity to meet and trade stories with the villagers. Overnight in the shadow of the Rift Valley Ridge.

 

Day 22: Maasai village, To Tarangire National Park

After a leisurely breakfast, we will stop at a traditional Maasai village where we will have the opportunity to speak with the elders and see their homes and livestock. Then we head to our stay in one of the most famous of Tanzania's Game Parks - Tarangire National Park. Immortalized in Hollywood movies. Open savannah, looming primeval baobab trees and groves of acacia compete with roaming herds of populous elephant and an impressive array of predators to provide the very definition of the African bush. Overnight just outside of Tarangire National Park.

 

Day 23: Tarangire National park – Game drives

Leaving camp early in the morning, we can make the most of prime game viewing opportunities before heading back to the lodge for lunch.

A game drive in late afternoon before relaxing on Kikoti Rock with some of the best sunsets in Africa as a backdrop will give you a taste of life as an African explorer. An evening game drive in a convertible vehicle will open up the world of Africa's nocturnal game before our farewell dinner. Overnight just outside of Tarangire National Park.

 

Day 24: To Arusha/Kilimanjaro airport, departure

After breakfast, transfer to Arusha/Kilimanjaro airport. On a clear day, you will be sent off with magnificent views of Africa's highest mountain. Please do not make flight departures before 6PM.

 
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