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Start with game viewing in one of the best game parks in the world - Masai Mara National Reserve. The open plains of Masai Mara host abundant wildlife, including the Big Five of Africa. Masai Mara Game Reserve is best known for the Great Migration, beautiful landscapes and healthy big cat populations.
Leaving Kenya, we travel into Uganda to go trekking for African Mountain Gorillas in the rainforests of Central Africa. Encountering these phenomenal primates is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not easily forgotten! By visiting the endangered gorillas on the Masai Mara & Uganda Gorillas Overland Camping Safari you contribute towards the continued survival of the gorillas in the wild.
We also explore scenic Lake Bunyonyi, the deepest crater lake in Africa, home to numerous birds and plants.
This Masai Mara & Uganda Gorillas Overland Camping Safari departs from Kenya's capital in the morning.
Travelling up the escarpment from Nairobi we stop at a viewpoint to look out over part of the sweeping Great Rift Valley. We then descend to the floor of the Rift Valley in Kenya entering Maasai country. The striking-looking Maasai people are often seen along the roadside in their brightly-coloured robes herding cattle.
Driving south through the town of Narok, we look out for wildlife en-route to our first overnight campsite. In the late afternoon we arrive at our safari camp overlooking the Meguarra Hills and a meandering stream that borders on the famous Masai Mara National Reserve.
The Mara Game Reserve is unfenced, so its wild animals are free to roam around in the surrounding wilderness areas, even entering our safari camp! The local ‘Askari’ keeps a look out for any unwelcome predators at camp, ensuring your safety.
Departing just after sunrise we embark on our first exhilarating game drive in Masai Mara Game Reserve. Kenya's Masai Mara is considered one of the best game viewing destinations in the world and arguably East Africa's top safari destination.
Masai Mara is home to a wide variety of wildlife species including an array of predators and plains game. The reserve is known for its sizeable big cat populations, hosting plenty of lions, leopards and cheetahs. The Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) are commonly seen on game drives in this 1510 km² wilderness area.
The Masai Mara Reserve is best known for the Annual Wildebeest Migration, also called the Great Migration. This wildlife spectacle sees massive herds of over a million wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle stampede across the open plains between the Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania and Masai Mara in southwestern Kenya. These huge herds of herbivores are usually seen on the move between July and October when they search for fresh grazing. The masses of grazers attract an abundance of Africa’s predators that are frequently spotted making dramatic kills during the Great Migration.
On our game drive through Masai Mara National Reserve we may see all of Africa's Big Five, along with many other species of animals and birds.
After game viewing in the classical African safari setting of Masai Mara, we have the chance to stop in at one of the nearby Maasai Manyattas – traditional settlements where the Masai Tribes still live in their customary way. In the evening we relax around the campfire, watching the sun set over this iconic African landscape. The Masai Mara Reserve covers incredible wide-open scenery and fertile riverine woodlands, following the looping meanders of the Mara and Talek rivers. Wherever you go in the Masai Mara you will see an abundance of wildlife!
Hot-air balloon trips are an entirely outstanding way of viewing the savannah plains and the wildlife of Masai Mara and can be arranged upon booking.
In the early morning we leave the Masai Mara Game Reserve, having experienced incredible wildlife viewing.
From Mara we pass through the rolling tea plantations of Kericho, west of the Rift Valley. Leaving the green hillsides of the highlands we dip down to the Rift Valley Plateau. Then we travel to one of Kenya's fastest growing towns - Eldoret, located south of the Cherangani Hills in western Kenya.
Crossing the western border of Kenya we travel into the striking African country of Uganda.
We stay in the capital city, Kampala, for our first night in Uganda. Uganda is a small country, covering diverse terrains. Habitats vary from fertile areas of greenery in the northern area around the shores of Lake Victoria to the snow-capped Ruwenzori Mountain peaks in the west and the captivating semi-desert region in the north of Uganda.
The political instability in Uganda over the past has inadvertently sheltered the country from the negative impacts of rampant commercialization. The current administration has devoted considerable efforts and funds to restoring Uganda to its former position as one of Africa's most prosperous and alluring travel destinations. Uganda appeals to travellers because of its beauty, gorilla trekking and the fact that it is less affected by western development than other African countries, making it a unique country to visit.
On day five we depart from Kampala early in the morning heading southwest into the heart of beautiful Uganda. Our next overnight base is located at the picturesque Lake Bunyoni, meaning “place of many little birds”. Around 200 bird species have been recorded at this tranquil lake dotted with islands.
From Lake Bunyoni we have the option of participating in Mountain Gorilla Trekking Expeditions in the rainforests of central Africa. We trek in Magahinga, or Bwindi National Parks (Uganda), Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of Congo), or Ruhengeri National Park (Rwanda); depending on the availability of gorilla trekking permits.
The prices of the gorilla trekking permits change, sometimes without prior notice. The price is currently at about US$600 depending on which national park is visited. A local transport and handling fee is charged, at about US$120 per person (this includes the return transfer and booking fee with the Wildlife Authority).
When gorilla trekking takes place in the DRC or Rwanda, we will also need to pay for the additional visa for either country, as well as renewing our Ugandan visa when we re-enter the country. Your safari guide will brief you about the park to be visited, at a pre-departure meeting, and assist with online visa applications for Rwanda en-route, if required. It is customary to tip the local guides and rangers who take you gorilla trekking.
With only about 700 African mountain gorillas remaining, gorilla trekking is an extraordinary opportunity to encounter these gentle primates in the wild. On these unforgettable treks we get to watch the mountain gorillas (Gorilla Gorilla Berengei) in their natural habitat – a rare and unique wildlife experience! Although the gorillas are monitored on a daily basis, giving the rangers a good idea of where to find these primates, sightings of the mountain gorillas cannot be guaranteed, as they are still free roaming wild animals.
These mountain gorillas share much of our DNA, therefore anyone with even the mildest cold or any transferable disease will not be permitted on the gorilla treks. There is an age restriction of a minimum of 16 years for trekking. The number of daily visitors allowed on the gorilla trekking trips is limited, thus we depart from our Lake Bunyoni base in small groups over the next 3 to 4 days, depending on the size of our entire group.
From Bunyoni we wind our way through some of the most splendid scenery in Africa, travelling to Kisoro town or our base in Rwanda, where we might overnight. The next morning, we pack a picnic lunch and transfer to a ranger’s station, serving as the starting point for our adventure. The rangers will lead you into the dense rainforest in search of a family of gorillas. Gorilla trekking can take anything from 45 minutes to 8 hours depending on how easy the gorillas are to locate. Trekking can be fairly strenuous; therefore it is necessary for participants to be reasonably fit.
We get to spend a maximum of one hour with the mountain gorillas, to ensure that the animals do not get too accustomed to humans and to protect them from any of our diseases. The visit allows for ample time to observe the gorillas from close range and take photographs of them. Your ranger will be able to give you the background on the particular gorilla family that you encounter. When your visit comes to an end you trek back through the rainforest to the meeting point, from where you are transferred to our Lake Bunyoni base.
The rise in gorilla trekking plays a vital role in the conservation of these endangered mountain gorillas, with tourism helping to ensure the survival of this threatened species. The entire cost of the gorilla trekking permits is used by the national park authorities to protect the gorillas. The gorilla permit fee is used to fund patrolling, key to protecting the gorillas from poachers and deadly snares, as well as to promote awareness about the status of these unique animals.
Lake Bunyoni, a nature lover’s delight, is the deepest Crater Lake in Africa. There are a number of activities for you to enjoy at Lake Bunyoni, while you wait for your turn to go gorilla trekking. These activities include: hiking in the hills of this beautiful area, canoeing on the lake or going on a bird watching walk in this birding paradise.
Or you can experience the local culture by visiting a nearby village or church or exploring the local markets of Kabale. You could also choose to take it easy, simply relaxing on the tranquil shores of Lake Bunyoni or taking a dip in its clean waters.
After the unforgettable gorilla trekking experience and soaking up the serenity of Lake Bunyoni we return to Kampala.
Along the way we cross the Equator again, pausing to capture the classic "one foot in each hemisphere" photo. Our Overland Camping Safari ends upon arrival in Uganda's largest city, Kampala. Tonight you have the option of enjoying the local nightlife after the safari.
If you prefer fixed accommodation to camping there is an accommodation upgrade available for this tour. Please see the Full Pricing information above for details.
The Ugandan Gorilla Trip begins in Nairobi, Kenya and travels to the scenic south-west of Uganda before ending in Kampala. This affordable Masai Mara & Uganda Gorillas Overland Camping Safari departs from Nairobi early on Sunday morning. Should you wish to explore Kampala, an earlier arrival is recommended. We offer a free night of pre-tour accommodation in shared dorms or you can upgrade your accommodation through African Budget Safaris.
This itinerary should be used as a guide only and may vary from day to day depending on road & weather conditions, political situations and group decisions. All prices & Local Payments are subject to change. Due to Tourism Laws in some of the countries we visit, there may be a truck and crew change during the trip.
For up-to-date and confirmed pricing info for optional items, please drop us an enquiry.
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