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Gorilla Safari and Beaches - Adventure Trip

3 ½ weeks: Nairobi to Zanzibar (OVC-GSB)

From Nairobi we head north ascending the Great Rift Valley past the amazing Rift Valley Lakes. The main highlight of this tour is to trek in search of the Mountain Gorillas, one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet. Two days are allocated for the Gorilla trek on the slopes of the famous Virunga Mountain Range. We spend a night camped on the shores of Lake Bunyoni, hiring dug out canoes to take a sunset cruise on the lake.

A visit to Uganda would not be complete without experiencing the mighty River Nile, Africa’s largest river. Camped on the banks at Bugugali Falls we enjoy a day rafting the source of the Nile. This is optional but well within everyone’s capability and is a thrill seeking day out. We can take guided village walks along the river, giving introductions to hut building, farming, and making banana wine.

Crossing back into the Southern Hemisphere we journey to Lake Nakuru National Park; with its rhino, giraffe, buffalo, lion and leopard we experience the wildlife for which East Africa is famed.
We continue to Tanzania and to the town of Arusha our base for our safari in 4x4 Landrovers to visit the world famous Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. Both are the natural habitats of the famous east african wildlife. The game safari is 3 days and it is usual to see lion, elephant, rhino, giraffe, and cheetah possibly leopard but not forgetting tens of thousands of Wildebeest and other migratory animals.

Moving south towards Dar Es Salaam we pass Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. From Dar we make the boat journey to the exotic Island of Zanzibar. Zanzibar is unique and unlike anywhere else in Africa, with its narrow streets in Stone Town and long deserted beaches in the north you will never want to leave.

Itineraries

Days 1 - 2

Our journey starts in Nairobi the capital of Kenya. After our pre departure meeting and lunch on day 1 we head north ascending the Great Rift Valley enjoying the spectacular views as we pass the amazing Rift Valley Lakes of Lake Naivasha, Lake Elementeita and Lake Nakuru. Our first night will be spent at a working African farm estate that has developed a campsite called Kembu. Nestled on the Mau escarpment the camp has an open plan bar a log fire, magnificent views of the Aberdare Mountains. The next morning we are given fresh milk and bread from the farmhouse and start our next days travel at 7 am. We continue north along the main highway (which is the main link between the port of Mombasa and Kampala). By mid morning we cross the equator into the Northern Hemisphere and continue to Busia on the Ugandan border we spend our second night camped in the bush

Day 3

Continuing west we make a brief stop in Jinja too change money and then continue to Kampala the capital of Uganda and arrange our permits too visit the Gorilla’s. Our schedule and itinerary is dictated to us by the dates of our Gorilla trek. It maybe necessary to continue direct to western Uganda to Kisoro or we may have time to take a detour to Lake Victoria and base ourselves at Entebbe for a visit to a chimpanzee sanctuary actually out on Lake Victoria

Day 4

From Entebbe and Kampala we journey west past the towns of Masaka and Mbarara, and also pass Lake Mburo. Along the road side we will pass large herds of the famous Long Horned Ugandan cattle some with horns 2 metres in width. The countryside is green and lush. This evening we will arrive at Kabale and take a short detour to camp on the shores of Lake Bunyoni (one of Africa’s deepest Lakes). At Lake Bunyoni Overland Camp the atmosphere is peaceful and tranquil with lawned areas sweeping down to the lakeside, on which you can pitch your tent. In the morning the Lake is dead calm and you can hire a dug out canoe to take a morning cruise. The edges of the lake have prolific bird wildlife

Days 5-6

Without doubt for some the main highlight of this tour is to trek in search of the Mountain Gorillas, however it is entirely optional. Trekking in the dense rain forest to view these creatures in their natural environment has to be one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet. Day 8 of our tour is allocated for the Gorilla trek. Our prefered National Park for Gorilla trekking is that of Parc National de Volcanos in Rwanda. However Djomba is the most popular with our clients. The permits are cheaper and the Gorilla groups much larger, a better visit is had at Djomba in the DRC.The day of the trek starts early as we are transported to the park gates in small pick-ups, once the de-brief is over we find ourselves accompanied by 2 guides, 2 trackers, 2 slashers (to clear the vegetation) and several armed security guards. Each party is made up of 8 trekkers and the park rules are that you can only spend 1 hour in close contact with the Gorillas, however it usually takes several hours to pick up the trail of the previous nights nest before we find ourselves sat within a few feet of these creatures. We return late to Bunyoni Overland camp

Day 7

From Kisoro we return to Kabale and onwards back to Kampala. We will spend a night in Kampala at the Red Chilli Hideaway backpackers and that evening the group may decide to dine out in one of the cities fine restaurants and perhaps sample some of the nightlife

Days 8 -9

Next we head to a camp at Bugugali Falls on the banks of the River Nile Africa’s largest river. A visit to Uganda would not be complete without experiencing this mighty river and the best way to do this is by rafting its source. This is optional but well within everyone’s capability and is a thrill seeking day out. However for those not rafting there are opportunities to do guided village walks along the river, giving introductions to hut building, Matoko! making and Banana Wine brewing

Days 10-11

Arriving back in Kenya we journey towards Lake Baringo a fresh water lake nestled in thorn scrub country, it is an oasis for bird wildlife as well as Crocodile and Hippo. We will camp here in the acacia shaded garden of Roberts Camp for the night and at sunrise it is an option to take a boat journey onto the Lake for more bird spotting, in fact some of the local fish eagles swoop down to the boat in anticipation of food. We also visit Lake Bagoria another Rift Valley lake this time a soda-lake with hot springs and geysers. On the shoreline we view thousands of Flamingos feeding on the algae rich lake, before spending a few hours at a nearby hotel relaxing by the pool

Days 12-14

We cross back into Southern Hemisphere and visit the Menangi Crater the second largest volcano Caldera in Africa, the view point from the crater gives us a 270 degree view of the Rift Valley. Lake Nakuru National Park is where on this two-week tour that we experience the wildlife for which East Africa is famed. The park is home to a veritable colony of wildlife and supports a large population of Rhino, as well as Giraffe, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard and not forgetting Flamingo’s. Our final night will be at Lake Naivasha close to Elsamere (the home of Joy Adamson) and Hells Gate National Park. For those keen enough an early morning mountain bike ride can be organised in to Hells Gate National Park, remember the animals have “right of way”. Finally we arrive back in Nairobi at noon on the 14th day and if your flight schedule allows we will dine at the Carnivores restaurant

Days 15-19

We depart Nairobi after lunch and straightaway Africa unfolds in front of us as soon as we leave the campground. It’s the classic scene of savannah grasslands with thorn acacia trees and masaai herdsman grazing their cattle. On route to the Tanzanian border we pass several small Maasai villages and we may even be lucky and see some wildlife, but only Giraffe, Zebra and Gazelle. At the border town of Namanga formalities are straightforward but beware of the elderly Maasai women wishing to adorn you with Maasai jewellery of beads and trinkets. Our first night will be camped in an area known to Overlanders as “Giraffe Lands” we are completely free in the African bush. Passing Maasai herdsman may visit our camp. The days in Africa start early and for us it is no different. We will strike camp after a cooked breakfast and drive towards the town of Arusha, once more through classic open Savannah landscape. Our mornings destination is Arusha just a couple of hours from our previous nights free camp. Arusha is the gate way to the world famous Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. In the town of Arusha there is time to change money and meander the curio market for some Makondi carvings. This night we set up camp just outside of Arusha at Mesarani where we stay at the camp known as the Snake Park. We have a guided educational tour of the various dangerous snakes of Africa, perhaps observing feeding time. The camp has hot showers western toilets and a bar! The next day our mode of transport changes as we pack our equipment into our specialist safari 4WD vehicles. They will collect us at 7am for the start of our 3-day safari to the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The Serengeti will be our first safari playground. The Savannah plains of the Serengeti are home to the famous wildebeest and zebra migration and more than 3 million large mammals living in total freedom. As well as the ubiquitous wildebeest, zebra and herds of gazelle, there will be the predators-lion, cheetah and hyena. The game viewing is the worlds best and you will find in no time at all you have shot a couple of roles of film.Our first night will be camped actually in the park at one of the designated campgrounds with the sounds of hyena and Lion present at night. The best time for game viewing is early morning and our experienced guides will want to be on the road early to get the best chances of seeing perhaps, leopard, lion or cheetah, hopefully on a kill. Covering the park in the morning and enjoying a picnic at lunchtime, we move onto the Ngorongoro crater later that afternoon. We again camp inside the park this time high on the crater rim, which allows us to enjoy great views down into the Crater in the evening and morning. This day is dedicated to the mighty Ngorongoro Crater. The crater itself measures some 20 kilometres in diameter, and its walls are 600 metres high, it’s a vast and steep unbroken volcanic crater ring. The crater floor is packed with wildlife and is the safe haven to nearly every species of African animal, this natural amphitheatre with a permanent water and pasture source offers a chance to view an incredible concentration of East African mammals, in particular the endangered Black Rhino. We spend the majority of the day in the conservation area before returning to Arusha before sunset

Day 20

Leaving the Arusha and Meru region we journey southeasterly past Kilimanjaro to the town en route to Dar Es Saalam. The journey from Arusha to Dar Es Saalam is on good tar sealed roads and much more leisurely

Days 21 - 24

We arrive at Dar Es Saalam (meaning “haven of peace” in Swahili) on the Indian Ocean and we set up base camp just outside the city on the coast at Makadi Beach and enjoy a beach barbecue, before the opportunity to enjoy an optional excursion to Zanzibar. Those that don’t wish to go to Zanzibar are free to remain at the beach camp and explore Dar es Salaam. However the exotic Arabian ‘Spice Island’ of Zanzibar should not be missed as it evokes many exotic images in the minds of travellers. The ferry journey takes 1 to 2 hours depending on the service you opt for and the seas. We disembark in the old stone town and transfer to a cheap pension within the old city. The old stone town still retains its Arabic influence - from the Medina-like shops, bazaars and mosques to the palaces of the Sultans of Zanzibar who founded their vast empires on the spoils of the slave and ivory trades. Outside of the town we arrange a spice tour and venture into the countryside where you’ll see vast plantations and enjoy sampling the spices and tropical fruits. Zanzibar’s island’s most enduring feature is its superb beaches. The waters are crystal clear; there is a whole family of giant land tortoises and a range of aquatic activities including windsurfing, snorkelling, SCUBA diving and sailing. In the evening you can enjoy the seafood, join the locals for a deliciously cheap dinner at the waterside market and enjoy a beer at sunset at the Africa House Hotel

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