Visit a local Maasai community known for championing Maasai women’s health and education. Be welcomed by traditional Maasai warrior song and dance and learn about this remarkable and ancient culture.. Stay in the heart of Lake Nakuru National Park, and The Masai Mara Game Reserve. Search for the Big Five on morning and afternoon 4×4 game drives, and enjoy a quintessential sundowner to end the day.. With your gorilla permit included in the price of the trip, spend a day trekking (with an optional second) through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to get close to Uganda’s rare mountain gorillas for an unforgettable hour.. Wake up to spectacular views of the forest canopy during three nights at your carbon neutral feature stay, the Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Sit down to dinner with a local park ranger, learning about life in the wilderness and their special relationships with the mountain gorillas.
Wild dreams come true on a 13-day Premium journey through Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. See sombre reminders of Kigali’s devastating past, watch local life play out on the streets and witness a beautiful country that’s continuously striving to move forward. Enter the world of rare mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and spend a day tracking and observing these endearing creatures. Explore the vast plains of the Masai Mara from the comfort of four-wheel drive Landcruisers, with an expert local leader at the helm, meet Maasai warriors and learn about their way of life. This unforgettable journey is sure to stay etched on your mind forever.
Welcome to Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city and the starting point for your adventure. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel, where you will meet your tour leader and small group for a 6pm welcome meeting. Your accommodation for the next two nights is no ordinary hotel – the Hotel des Mille Collines is famous for sheltering and consequently saving more than 1000 people during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. If you arrive to Kigali early, perhaps take to the streets to explore this flourishing city in the midst of a great revival. Head to Nyamirambo, the Muslim quarter, to try some giant grilled tilapia, or stop by a local cafe and discover why Rwandan coffee is considered some of the world’s best. This evening, join your leader and small group for dinner at a lively East African restaurant popular with the locals. Enjoy live music, cocktails, incredible views and an authentic shared dining experience full of regional flavour.
This morning, head out of the city for a sobering visit to the Ntarama Church. Your leader will explain how this memorial marks the spot where 5000 people were tragically slaughtered during the Genocide. Reminders of lives lost remain in the church, including clothes and even bones. Continue to the Nyamata Genocide Memorial Centre, a former church where an incomprehensible 50,000 people were murdered. Your leader will discuss how the Tutsis sought refuge in churches, only for them to turn into death traps. Then, visit the Genocide Museum, a powerful yet confronting experience, and important in understanding the tragedy and the resilience of the Rwandan people. This afternoon, it’s time for a rolex – not the watch, but a delicious Ugandan snack made of eggs and vegetables rolled in a chapati. Stop by a local street vendor and watch how these tasty treats come together, before enjoying one with Rwandan chilli sauce, fries and beer. This afternoon, take a tour of the thriving city with your leader and stop by the local craft market, then the rest of the evening is free for you to enjoy.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
After breakfast, depart Kigali and head across the border to the Bwindi National Park in Uganda (approximately 4 hours). Arrive at the Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge, your feature stay accommodation for the next three nights. Sitting high on the Nteko Ridge, the lodge offers up magnificent views of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home to half of the world’s 800 mountain gorillas. Gaze out across the stoic Virunga Mountains and Albertine Rift Valley. An eco-friendly oasis, beautiful cottages are built with locally sourced materials, a terrace overlooking the forest canopy, and a fireplace for colder nights. The lodge is solar powered, carbon neutral and works closely with the local people. Here you’ll experience genuinely warm Ugandan hospitality – when they wish you welcome, they really mean it. There’s no better spot for soaking in your wild surroundings and searching for mountain gorillas. This evening, join your group and leader for a wholesome dinner at the lodge.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Rise early and take a short walk to the park headquarters where you’ll be briefed on the gorilla trek by the Uganda Wildlife Authorities. The trek can be strenuous, wet and uncomfortable at times but the incredible biodiversity of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the chance to see rare mountain gorillas makes it so worthwhile. We recommend investing in the help of local porters who can carry your pack and provide expert, local one-on-one assistance along the trek. Not only does it make for a more comfortable trek, it also provides valuable employment opportunities to locals. Gorilla trekking is highly controlled, with only 24 gorilla trekking permits available each day. Once you encounter a group of gorillas you will be able to stay with them for one hour – watch them swing from trees, groom each other and play, all under the watchful eye of a giant silverback. Coming face to face with a family of mountain gorillas is sure to be a life-affirming experience that will be etched on your mind forever. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the lush wilderness of the rainforest. At the end of the day the comforts of the hotel beckon, along with a chance to reflect on a memorable day. Freshen up with a hot shower and enjoy a hearty dinner by the crackling fireplace.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the terrace overlooking the forest, curated by an in-house chef to showcase the finest locally grown ingredients. The day is free for you to do as little or as much as your please – your leader will be able to help tailor a day that best suits your interests. For those seeking another encounter with the majestic mountain gorillas, there is the option for a second day of trekking. Please speak to your booking agent about purchasing an additional gorilla permit before your departure to ensure you don’t miss out. As part of its sustainable tourism initiative, the lodge offers a number of walking safaris guided by passionate local experts. Explore forest trails, meet nearby local communities and take in more unforgettable views. You may wish to simply relax at the lodge and enjoy a drink at the rainforest bar. Tonight’s dinner at the lodge will be a meal like no other. You’ll be joined by a local ranger from the Uganda Wildlife Authority who will provide a special insight into the crucial and challenging role rangers play in conserving the gorilla’s natural habitat. Learn about the intimate and life-saving relationships they form with gorillas and ask any questions you may have on gorilla conversation or the unique life of a ranger.
After breakfast, depart the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and begin the journey to Kigali (approximately 4 hours). Along the way, stop off at the equator and in Musanze to pick up some lunch. You should expect to arrive back in Kigali in the mid-afternoon. Then, catch a flight to Nairobi to begin the Kenyan leg of your journey. You will be collected from the airport on arrival and transferred to your hotel.
Enjoy a free day in Nairobi. You may like to arrange an Urban Adventure to explore the city, or your wonderful hotel offers plenty to keep you occupied – overlooking the Nairobi National park, you can enjoy spectacular views of zebras, giraffes, antelope and buffalo lounging near the waterhole. There’s also a fantastic restaurant, swimming pool and large deck for spotting wildlife. A meeting will take place at your hotel at 6pm to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your adventure. After the meeting, head out with your leader and fellow travellers to a colourful roadside restaurant offering traditional favourites with a modern touch. Sharing food is a big part of the culture here and a great way to get to know your new travel companions – enjoy sharing platters and tasty sides like samosas, fried plantains and tilapia.
Lake Naivasha / Lake Nakuru
Depart Nairobi for Elsamere after breakfast and head north, driving along the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley. Elsamere is the former home of the writer Joy Adamson, whose 1960 book 'Born Free' helped bring wildlife conservation into the mainstream. The house is a veritable museum dedicated to the works of Joy and George Adamson, with many photos of Elsa, the lioness that started it all. Enjoy a high tea lunch on the very grounds Joy cherished for so many years. You'll then embark on a boat trip on Lake Naivasha, the highest of all lakes in the Great Rift Valley and home to many a hippopotamus. Later, enjoy lunch with the lake as a serene backdrop. After lunch, continue to your Lake Nakuru lodge, arriving in the early evening. From your lodge you’ll enjoy remarkable views of Lake Nakuru and the surrounding national park, alive with the call of birds and rich in wildlife. What better way to take it all in than from your lodge’s infinity pool.
Lake Nakuru National Park
This morning you will visit Lake Nakuru National Park by four-wheel drive vehicle (4x4) – the park’s lake is its stunning centrepiece. Mornings can be cold here so it's important to bring warm clothes. You might see why this great soda lake has been described as the world's greatest ornithological spectacle; great seas of flamingos often turn the landscape a sweeping shade of pink. Flooding in recent years has unfortunately caused a decline in birdlife, however the park boasts substantial numbers of other species, including waterbuck, reedbuck and gazelle. Leopards are also to be found here, and the chances of sighting one are significant. Return to the lodge and take some time out for lunch, then head back out for another afternoon game drive. Keep your eyes peeled for one of Africa's most endangered creatures, the elusive black rhinoceros. While white rhino sightings are fairly common, spotting a black rhinoceros is a real treat.
Masai Mara National Reserve
Head southwest to the Masai Mara, one of the finest game reserves in Africa. Cross the striking Great Rift Valley and pass by the remote region of Loita Hills, home of the Maasai people. This is one of the few places they still practice their traditional way of life with little influence from the western world. Stop at Tepesua Village where you’ll be welcomed by Maasai Warriors by way of traditional song and dance. Meet your Maasai hosts, take a walk to the community village and enjoy a fascinating talk full of insights into this remarkable and ancient culture. The village offers support, safety and economic growth through the ‘Tepesua Widows Income Project’. Widowed women are engaged in sewing eco-friendly handicrafts to sell to visitors and locals. Learn about village life and be shown around a traditional Maasai home, and their cattle enclosures. Continue on your journey and arrive at the Ashnil Mara Camp, your feature stay accommodation for the next three nights. Positioned in the Masai Mara National Reserve near the Mara River, there’s few better settings for wildlife lovers. Spacious permanent tents feature large, comfortable beds, en suite bathrooms and private wooden decks offering unbeatable views of the plains and wildlife reserve. Blending seamlessly with its surroundings, the camp connects the wilderness with modern comforts, and staying here is really something special.
Masai Mara National Reserve
Explore more of the park by 4x4 today with further game drives in the morning and afternoon. Witness the wonderful procession of wildlife that inhabits the area. Wildebeest, zebra and gazelle are plentiful, and you might even spot predators keeping a casual eye on their movements. Elephants, giraffes and elands are also commonly sighted, along with plenty of bird life. The area is known for its rolling green plains and riverine woodlands, and amongst the many species of game, a black-maned lion, leopard or cheetah might appear, with some luck. As the sun starts to set, stop and take a moment to soak it all in with a drink in hand – there’s few better ways to wrap up a day of wildlife spotting in one of the world’s most magical places. As dusk falls, a variety of animals might be visible in the vicinity of your camp also.
Masai Mara National Reserve
The morning is yours to do as you wish. You may like to sit back with a cup of coffee on your private deck, keeping an eye out for animals in the reserve, or forgo a sleep-in in favour of an early morning game drive or walking safari. If you’d like to see the Masai Mara from a different perspective, a sunrise hot air balloon ride is a truly memorable experience. Balloon rides can be booked ahead of time or on the ground (subject to availability) and the suppliers are committed conservationists, with a portion of the profits from every flight going straight to worthy conservation projects within the park. You will be collected before dawn and glide through the sunrise, sometimes at tree height, making the most of the amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you'll ascend to get an overview of the enormity of the Masai Mara plains and the early-morning movements of the teeming herds. In the afternoon, regroup for another exciting 4x4 game drive in the park.