Gorillas & Maasai Mara Traveling Overland

Icy FPO

Experience the iconic wildlife and vast horizons of the Kenyan savannah plus the striking presences of gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, all in one fantastic adventure.

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SPECIAL OFFER

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9.1*

ECO SCORE

18

PASSENGERS

15

DAYS

3/5

ACTIVITY LEVEL

East Africa: Drink It In

Welcome Aboard the

 

The Maasai Mara is a vast grassland teeming with animals including lions, cheetahs and wildebeest. Lake Nakuru National Park has an incredible variety of birds plus White and Black rhinos, while Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to hippos, elephants, buffalo, leopards and the elusive tree-climbing lions. Murchison Falls is 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.
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    • Experience classic safari game drives among the elephants, zebras and giraffes of the Masai Mara.
    • In Uganda, track chimpanzees and other primates in Budongo Forest plus spend a precious hour in the company of Mountain gorillas.
    • Travel overland with this enthusiastic operator staying in 3 and 4-star accommodations and seeing East Africa's famed highlights.

Travel Curator’s Insights:

SPECIAL OFFER:

Rates:
From $8,379 per person
Up to 21 days before departure transfer to another trip free-of-charge. (Exclusions apply.) Policies and protocols provided before you book.

Oct 16-30, 2022
Ask us about later dates

Oct 2022
Hover here for specific dates

Departures:

Trip Sustainability Awards 

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Local Community

Trains local porters and provides scholarships for female guides

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Waste

Ban the Bottle campaign - 99% elimination of single-use plastics

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Conservation

Upholds a strict, industry-leading animal welfare policy

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Itinerary 

Day 1: Start Nairobi; Overnight in Hotel

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 travelers. (Meals are not included this day.)

Accommodation: Kenya Comfort Suites or similar (standard hotel)


Day 2: To Maasai Mara; Late Afternoon Game Drive

After loading our things onto the overland vehicle we depart Nairobi and travel approximately 7 hours into the Maasai 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 Maasai Mara's resident wildlife as we game drive through the park this afternoon.

Accommodation: Mountain Rock or similar (tented camp)


Day 3: Full day in the Maasai Mara.

A full day game drive in the Maasai 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 is also an optional Hot Air Balloon Safari in time for sunrise (including champagne and breakfast).

Accommodation: Mountain Rock or similar (tented camp)


Day 4: To Lake Nakuru National Park; Afternoon Game Drive

We depart the Maasai 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: Alps Hotel Nakuru or similar (standard hotel)


Day 5: Morning Game Drive in Nakuru National Park; 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: Greenwood Resort or similar (standard hotel)

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Day 6: 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 fueled activities here.

Accommodation: Nile Village Hotel & Spa or similar (standard hotel or tented camp)


Day 7: 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: Nile Village Hotel & Spa or similar (standard hotel or tented camp)


Day 8: 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. Tomorrow 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: Sambiya River Lodge or similar (standard hotel or tented camp)


Day 9: Full Day Murchison Falls

This morning we have an early morning game drive in search of wildlife in Murchison Falls National Park. 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 near the ‘Devil’s Cauldron’, the place where the water bursts through the narrow gorge and creates an outstanding rainbow.

Accommodation: Sambiya River Lodge or similar (standard hotel or tented camp)


Day 10: 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 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: Sambiya River Lodge or similar (standard hotel or tented camp)

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Day 11: To Queen Elizabeth National Park

Today we a long 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)


Day 12: 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 there is an optional 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. The game drive will continue in the afternoon for those who do not join the boat trip.

Accommodation: Parkview Lodge or similar (standard hotel)


Day 13: 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: Mulehe Gorilla Lodge or similar (standard hotel)


Day 14: 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: Mulehe Gorilla Lodge or similar (standard hotel)


Day 15: Early morning departure to Kigali airport

We depart early in the morning and transfer to Kigali airport. Our trip comes to an end in the afternoon when we bid our group goodbye. (This day includes Breakfast.)


Activity Level: Moderate. This trip has been graded Leisurely/Moderate with a safari rating of 4. The grading of moderate applies specifically to the gorilla trek and the Chimpanzee tracking. The rest of the itinerary is graded as leisurely in relation to the activity level only (however, this is not a leisurely trip in relation to the early starts and long drives).


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).


Overland Transportation: Transport is in a specialist overland vehicle with good visibility and 4WD vehicles in the Maasai 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. 


There are a few days where the journey time (including stops) can be over 7 hours and the longest drive can take approximately 9 hours. The spectacular scenery and glimpses of village life when traveling 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 humor and you're sure to have the holiday of a lifetime.

ACHIEVEMENTS 

Life On Board

Deck Plan

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Rates

 

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DOUBLE OCCUPANCY

Two people traveling in a room together. Rate is per person.

From in USD:

$8,379pp

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SOLO SUPPLEMENT

As a solo traveler, a cost supplement will be added to your trip.

From in USD:

$806pp

For some travelers, luxury is about having rich experiences rather than comfort. If you're looking to see classic animals plus gorillas on your one trip to East Africa, and if you don't mind simple hotels and a lot of overland travel, this trip's for you.

Joy Martinello, Founder

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What’s Included & Cancellation Policy:

WHAT'S INCLUDED
8 nights hotels/lodges and 6 nights permanent tented camps, Travel by specialist overland vehicle, 4WD and on foot; Some long drives on rough roads and early starts; Countries visited: Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda; 4 breakfasts, 13 lunches and 13 dinners; All accommodation (see below); All transport and listed activities; Tour leader throughout; 1 chimp permit and 1 gorilla permit.

NOT INCLUDED
Travel insurance (recommended); Single accommodation (available on request); Visas or vaccinations; Flights; Arrival & departure transfers: Alcohol: Items of a personal nature like Laundry.