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Departure Dates: until December 13, 2014
Overview: Kenya: Nairobi, extend your stay to explore the sites. The Great Rift Valley. Lake Nakuru National Park and lake, famous for its flamingos. Lake Naivasha, the highest Rift Valley lake. The Masai Mara, Kenya's finest wildlife reserve. Masai Mara tribal lands. , Uganda: Kampala, the lively capital. Lake Bunyoni, spectacular scenery. Jinja, Nile rafting. The Equator Crossing., Gorilla Trekking (an optional excursion). Bwindi or Mgahinga Gorilla park in Uganda or Ruhengeri (Rwanda) or Parc National des Virunga (DRC), Tanzania: Arusha, the safari gateway. The Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater (an optional excursion). Views of Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjaro. Pangani, a historical coastal town. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city. , Zanzibar: (optional) Beautiful northern beaches & historic Stone Town (UNESCO-listed)..
Day 1 - Nairobi
Saturday. Welcome to Nairobi! We’ll be there to collect you at Nairobi Airport and transfer you to the Kenya Comfort Hotel. Tonight you will stay in shared dorms. There will be a pre departure meeting at 17.00
Day 2 - Masai Mara N.P.
Nairobi - Masai Mara. Heading west from Nairobi on day 2, we reach possibly Kenya’s most famous natural attraction - the Masai Mara National Reserve. The Kenyan section of the wildly beautiful Serengeti Plains teems with wildlife. The highlight of the Mara is no doubt the annual wildebeest migration, when literally millions of these beasts plus zebra and Thomson’s gazelle stray north from the Serengeti in neighbouring Tanzania in search of lush grass on the savannah plains. Elephant, lion, cheetah, giraffe and a multitude of hooved herbivores also inhabit the reserve. A game drive through the Mara on day 3 gives us the chance to spot the Big Five. During our stay we can also opt to visit a local Masai tribe.
Day 4 - Eldoret & Kampala
Masai Mara - Eldoret - Kampala (Uganda). Leaving the Masai Mara early on day 4, we head out of Masai Land and pass through the scenic tea plantations of Kericho before descending the Rift Valley Plateau, on our way to Eldoret - our stop for the night of day 4. The following morning, we cross the border into Uganda where we overnight it the capital city, Kampala
Day 6 - Lake Bunyoni & Gorilla Trekking
Kampala - Lake Bunyoni. From Kampala we drive to Lake Bunyoni, the deepest Crater Lake in Africa and home to a large and varied number of beautiful birds, which is the base from which the optional Gorilla trek takes place. Dependant on where trekking permits are available, we trek in the Magahinga or Bwindi National Parks in Uganda, the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or the Ruhengeri National Park in Rwanda.
We depart from our base in Bunyoni in small groups over 3-4 days, depending on the group size. We wind our way through arguably some of the most picturesque scenery in Africa en-route to the National Park. Dependant on where permits are available, we may spend a night in either Kisoro or in Rwanda. The following morning, after packing our picnic lunch, we are transferred to a ranger’s station where the trek commences. Your rangers will lead you through the cultivated lands and then into the dense rain forest and on to a gorilla family. Trekking can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 8 hours and it can be quite strenuous. To ensure the gorillas do not get too used to the presence of humans and because they share many of our genes (and therefore able to catch our diseases), the maximum time permitted to spend with them is 1 hour. You will have plenty of time to watch their activity and to take photographs. The rangers will be able to provide you with a background to the family you are visiting. Once your hour is up, you trek back out of the rain forest to your meeting point where you will be transferred back to the Lake Bunyoni campsite.
Day 10 - Kampala & Jinja
Lake Bunyoni - Kampala - Jinja. After marvelling at the experience of our gorilla encounters and enjoying the peaceful Lake Bunyoni, we begin our drive back to Kampala. We cross the Equator for the second time and stop for the classic "one foot in each hemisphere" photo opportunity. We overnight in Kampala and have the opportunity to sample its night life!
On day 11 we have the option of visiting the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary or heading to Jinja for a selection of adventure activities including white water rafting at the source of the White Nile, quad biking or visiting a volunteer and community project.
Day 12 - Lake Nakuru
Jinja - Nakuru - Naivasha (Kenya). Departing early, we head back to Kenya and spend the night outside Nakuru at a lovely campsite on a local farm. Nakuru is Kenya’s 4th largest town and capital of the Rift Valley Province and lies adjacent to the small but wildlife rich Lake Nakuru National Park.
Lake Nakuru National Park is home to a veritable array of wildlife. The park supports a population of black rhino, lion, leopard, zebra, antelope and giraffe not to mention millions of pink flamingos. The lake itself is a shallow soda lake. The following morning we begin our exploration of the national park and after our game drive, we travel on to Lake Naivasha arriving in the late afternoon.
Day 14 - Lake Naivasha & Nairobi
Naivasha - Nairobi. Lake Naivasha, is home to a multitude of bird life, the most magnificent being the African Fish Eagle with his regal cry. At 1880 m, this is the highest of the Rift Valley lakes. We spend the day enjoying optional excursions like Elsamere (former home to Joy & George Adamson of Born Free fame), a boat ride to the Crescent Island Game Sanctuary or a bike ride around Hell’s Gate National Park. The next morning we head back to Nairobi.
Day 16 - Optional Serengeti & Ngorongoro
Nairobi - Arusha (Tanzania). Leaving Nairobi, we cross the border into Tanzania. Arusha is the starting point for the optional 3 day excursion to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. For those not opting to visit the Ngorongoro Crater or Serengeti National Park, the next 3 days are spent at leisure enjoying the Meserani reptile park, Masai Cultural Museum and the surrounding villages and craft markets. Alternatively the town of Arusha is close by to explore.
The Optional Ngorongoro/Serengeti excursion takes us via the Masai town of Mtu Wa Mbu (Mosquito River) that lies adjacent to the Lake Manyara National Park and up the Rift Valley Escarpment to the higher lying village of Karatu. Karatu offers magnificent views over the surrounding hills and has many well established wheat farms that add to the picturesque panoramas. We spend the evening at a pleasant campsite in Karatu. The following morning we depart early for the Ngorongoro Conservation area and head into the wildlife rich Ngorongoro Crater. This World Heritage Site boasts some of the best game viewing in Africa "" including the elusive Black Rhino.
Day 20 - Pangani & Dar es Salaam
Arusha - Pangani - Dar es Salaam. We return to Arusha before continuing on towards Dar es Salaam. On the way we drive through the town of Moshi situated at the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro "" Africa’s highest mountain. We may even catch a glimpse of this magical mountain’s snowy summit - a photo opportunity not to be missed! We spend the night in Pangani midway between Arusha and Dar es Salaam before reaching our lovely seaside campsite in Dar es Salaam the following day.
Day 22 - Zanzibar
Dar es Salaam - Zanzibar (optional). A ferry from Dar Es Salaam takes us to "Spice Island’, where we have the option to spend the next three nights.* Zanzibar is steeped in history and offers a wealth of experiences. Wander the streets of Stone Town, take an excursion around a spice plantation or simply laze on one of the pristine white sandy beaches, the choice is yours! Accommodation is not provided on Zanzibar, allowing you the freedom to choose where you spend your time on the island. Your trip leader can arrange accommodation for you locally should you wish.
* For those opting not to visit Zanzibar, the 3 days can be spent at leisure at the beach campsite or exploring Dar Es Salaam.
Day 25 - Dar es Salaam
Zanzibar - Dar es Salaam. Leaving Zanzibar in the afternoon we take the ferry back to Dar es Salaam. On arrival, where we exchange addresses and part ways, having just experienced a trip of a lifetime!