Embark on an overland tour of Africa and see gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda

The stunning beauty of East Africa’s steamy rainforests and sprawling savanna is a breathtaking backdrop for an adventure into the habitat of the magnificent gorillas and majestic rhinos. Trekking through some of Uganda’s most dense areas of jungle is a challenging, but incredibly rewarding experience and coming face-to-face with a mountain gorilla is a moment that will remain imprinted on the memory for years to come. Matched with cruising along the Kazinga Channel, and game drives through some of East Africa’s most iconic national parks, this trip provides a lottery win on the wildlife front. Along the way, encounter local people whose friendly smiles and sense of community is a warm welcome to East Africa.

Start
Nairobi, Kenya
Finish
Nairobi, Kenya
Countries
Kenya,
Rwanda,
Uganda
Themes
Overland, Wildlife
Code
YDOU
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 6 Max 22
Carbon offset
1 060kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Search for gorillas near the border of Rwanda
  • Learn a dark history at the Genocide Museum
  • Taste traditional African cuisine
  • Spot wildlife in Nakuru National Park
  • Trek through the dense Ugandan rainforest
  • Find rhinos in the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2015 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Border Information: If joining the trip in Nairobi, you will most likely enter Kenya at Nairobi Jomo enyatta International Airport. There will be a group meeting at the Kivi Milimani Hotel at 6:00pm. Please do not be alarmed if there is no welcome note, as this will often be a travelling day for the crew who will be joining you.

Address - Kivi Milimani Hotel, Milimani Road, Nairobi

Your trip leader will meet you at the Kivi Milimani Hotel reception, and then we will all head to our well equipped campsite situated in the suburb of Karen for a more detailed talk about your trip. Tonight we have the option of going out for a group meal.

Activity Approximate Cost
Visit to the David Sheldrick Animal Orphanage KES 500
Explore the museum at the site of the former home of Karen Blixen, the author of 'Out of Africa' KES 1200
Visit the Langata Giraffe Centre in Nairobi KES 1000
Learn all about the different tribal groups of Kenya at the Bomas of Kenya cultural centre in Nairobi USD 40
Discover some of Kenya's ancient hominids at the National Museum in Nairobi KES 1200

About Nairobi:
Nairobi is a lively city with a cosmopolitan atmosphere. The Kenyan capital takes it's name from the Maasai meaning 'Place of Cool Waters'. Today it is a busy, bustling place that comes alive through it's many markets, shops, bars and restaurants, not to mention it's vibrant nightlife. If you have time to
explore the city, the National Museum of Kenya and Karen Blixen Museum are both worth a visit, or you can get up close to the Giraffe's and help to feed them at the Langata Giraffe Centre.
After an early breakfast we will make our way to Gilgil, where we will visit the Saidia Children's Home - a Dragoman-supported home for orphaned children from the area.

From there, we will make our way to Nakuru, our base for tomorrow's excursion into Nakuru National Park. If we make good time on the drive we may have the opportunity to take a walk around the working dairy farm where our campsite is, and to visit a local women's knitting collective. Tonight we will stay at a beautiful and well equipped campsite located on a dairy farm on the outskirts of Nakuru town. Drive time - 4-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is
essential on any overland trip!).

Activity Approximate Cost
Visit to the Dragoman-supported orphanage at the Saidia Children's Home in Gilgil Included in Kitty
Walk to explore a colonial dairy farm and visit a local women's knitting collective USD 5

About Gilgil:
Gilgil is home to the Saida Childrens Home both of which are projects we support. Saida Childrens home http://www.saidia-gilgil.org.uk/ works to improve the lives of AIDS orphans and other disadvantaged children in Gilgil and the surrounding area. Mji wa Neema is Swahili for 'house of hope'. an is a small UK based charity raising funds to support orphaned children in and around Naivasha and Gilgil in Kenya, and specifically to fund Saidia Children's Home and projects started by
Jill Simpson MBE, Teresa Wahito and Jane Kinuthia. Jill sadly passed away in October 2009 after a lifetime of good work, but Jane and Teresa continue to work tirelessly on behalf of AIDS orphans and other deprived children in the area. Their efforts are now centred on Saidia Children's Home in Gilgil, and other projects which improve the lives of AIDS orphans and other disadvantaged children in Gilgil and the surrounding area. We will make direct dontaions to help fund the project.

About Nakuru National Park:
Lake Nakuru National Park was established in 1968 to protect the huge flocks of lesser and greater flamingos that live here. At times there are over one million of these spectacular birds roaming around the acrid waters of the soda lake that is the centrepiece of the park. Even if you are not a keen birdwatcher the sight is inspiring and it is not hard to understand why the lake has become such a favourite for African wildlife documentaries. Nakuru is also where much of the film "Out of Africa" was shot. The park is located on the floor of the Rift Valley and is a mixture of bushland, forest and rocky escarpment. Each area is an important habitat for many different species of wildlife. Besides the prolific birdlife, the park is also well established as one of East Africa's premier parks for big game. Beside the lake, hippo, waterbuck, warthogs, Bohor's reedbuck and zebra can regularly be found. Further up in the forests there's a large population of black and white colobus monkeys; and the ultimate forest predator, the leopard. The bushland on the valley floor is home to a large variety of antelope and gazelle including eland, impala, Chandler's reedbuck and the tiny dikdik; and the inevitable pride of lions.You can also see Rothschild giraffe here, but Nakuru's biggest draw is probably it's rhinos. In the late 1980s the Kenyan Wildlife Services used the park as a rhino sanctuary, and it now has a stable black and white rhino population.
This morning we head into Nakuru National Park for an included half-day game drive in local safari trucks. Nakuru is a beautiful park with a large lake and many forested areas - it is teeming with wildlife and there is an excellent chance to see both black and white rhinos. We will most likely have lunch in the area before driving on to Kericho this afternoon, where there is an optional tour around a nearby tea plantation. Tonight we stay at a well equipped campsite. Drive time - 3 hours

Activity Approximate Cost
Take a safari in 4x4 vans in the beautiful Lake Nakuru National Park Included in Kitty
Head out on a guided walk of a tea plantation in Kericho in Western Kenya KES 200
Border Information: Exit Kenya at Busia, enter Uganda at Busia. Today we have a full day's drive across the border into Uganda as we travel to Jinja, the adventure capital of East Africa! Drive time - 10 hours. On the next day, we will have a free day to get involved in the many optional adventure activities available here, such as white water rafting, bungee jumping and boat trips on the White Nile!
In Jinja we will stay at a well equipped campsite.

Activity Approximate Cost
Head out for a full day of white water rafting on the White Nile near Jinja USD 125
Go bungee jumping above the Nile at our campsite in Jinja USD 115
Explode up the rapids of the Nile in a 12-seater jet boat USD 75
Go on a boat trip to discover the source of the Nile where the river outflows from Lake Victoria USD 15
Head out on an adventure activity day of rafting, jet boating and bungee jumping USD 240
Head out for a full day of quad biking at the Bujagali Falls near Jinja USD 160
Head out horse riding along the banks of the White Nile USD 75

About Jinja:
Jinja is one of the highlights of any visit to Uganda. This is a place for the adventurer, the adrenaline junkie and the eco-concious traveller. The area is beautiful and is located at the source of the Nile as it leaves Lake Victoria. The most popular activity here is the white-water rafting trip down the Nile. Our
base in Jiinja is perched spectacularly on a cliff-top thirty metres above the swirling currents of the young Nile. The camp is home to international rafting guides and several troops of monkeys.
Today we continue our journey and head north to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary close to the town of Nakitoma. Here we will have the chance to track rhinos on foot with a local ranger! Tonight we will stay in a well equipped campsite within the Rhino Sanctuary. Drive time - 6-7 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost
Rhino tracking at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary USD 40

About Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary:
The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary was created to reintroduce rhinoceros to Uganda, which have been extinct since 1982. The 70 square kilometer sanctuary in pristine bush country is currently home to the only wild rhinos in Uganda. The Sanctuaries long-term goal is to build a sustainable rhino population and
relocate rhinos back to their original habitat in Uganda's protected areas. In addition to the rhino-breeding program, Rhino Fund Uganda also runs community upliftment and education programs in the surrounding villages. During our stay one of the trained rangers will introduce you to the sanctuary
and provide you with information about the rhinos. Depending on where our rhinos happen to be when you arrive, you will drive to the closest location and then approach the rhinos on foot. You will then have an opportunity to observe the rhinos in their habitat at a very close, and very safe, distance. The animals are magnificent and the opportunity to see them up close is truly one not to be missed! The tracking excursion lasts on average between 1-2 hours.
Today we continue to Kaniyo Pabidi in the Budongo Forest in the southern part of the Murchison Falls National Park. Here we will head out for our included chimpanzee tracking walk in the afternoon!

Please note that for conservation reasons the maximum group size to track the chimpanzees is 12 people, so if we have a large group we will split in half, one half going to this afternoon and the other half going tomorrow morning. Tonight we stay in basic dorm rooms in a small lodge in the Budongo Forest. Drive time - 3 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost
Bird watching tour in Ziwa searching for shoebills USD 35
Trek on foot in the Budongo Forest in search of habituated chimpanzees Included in Kitty

About Kaniyo Pabidi:
Kaniyo Pabidi is and eco tourism site part of the Budongo Forest Reserve. The Jane Goodall Institute Uganda took over the management and infrastructure at both sites in 2006 which had been priviously operated by the National Forestry Authority. An eco tourist project was set up in 1993 and opened to the public in 1994 for chimpanzee viewing at both sites. The terrain is flat allowing for good on-foot travelling conditions for the average tourist; the campsite is located on the edge of the chimpanzees’ home range, significantly diminishing the risk of long trekking excursion before contact is made with the group; the habitat consists of primary forest with medium understory vegetation-density allowing for good visibility of the canopy (and thus of the chimpanzees) and the presence of savanna and grassland areas neighbouring the primary forest present an interesting opportunity for viewing of different ecosystems. Finally there is an extensive (115km in total) and wellmaintained trail system that further facilitates visitor accessibility. As of June 2006, the Jane Goodall Institute took over anagement of these two sites on behalf of NFA. This is due through a management agreement between NFA and JGI. The objective of this agreement is for JGI to ensure appropriate development of these sites for ecotourism, while ensuring that the chimpanzee communities are not put at risk due to these activities. At the same time, all profits made from the venture will be returned back into the protection of
Budongo Forest Reserve. Improved law enforcement activities, monitoring, conservation education and community collaborative projects will all be funded from the profits made from these sites. At Kaniyo Pabidi visitors can enjoy chimpanzee tracking, birding and wonderful accommodation in a beautiful natural setting while Busingiro offers birding and a bush camp. The Royal Mile is a popular birding site, also managed by the Jane Goodall Institute-Uganda, which is accessible with a guide from Busingiro.
If we had to split the group for chimpanzee tracking, the other half of the group will head out for the walk this morning. When we are ready to continue,we will drive to the central region of Murchison National Park to reach our campsite. Drive time - 3 hours (to the campsite). On the next day, we will head out early in the truck for a morning of game driving around the northern area of the National Park - we will take a local vehicle barge to get over the Nile and pick up a ranger to show us around in
search of wildlife! We will return to our campsite for lunch, and then embark on an included launch cruise on the Nile to spot wildlife from the water and to see the spectacularly powerful Murchison Falls.
In Murchison Falls we will stay in a well equipped campsite at Paraa on the southern banks of the River Nile in the heart of the park. Please note that the roads leading into and around Murchison Falls are very poor and can be hazardous in wet conditions. If there has been heavy rain recently, it may not be possible to go into the National Park beyond Kaniyo Pabidi - this is firstly for safety reasons on the drive in, and secondly due to the risk of extreme bogging that will cause us to miss the gorilla treks in Rwanda. We will always endaevour to reach the National Park as per the itinerary; but when this is occasionally not possible, please respect the tour leader's decision in this matter. On these occasions we will be able to utilise this time with spending longer in Lake Bunyonyi and Ruhengeri.

Activity Approximate Cost
Launch cruise on the River Nile to the mighty Murchison Falls Included in Kitty
Head out game driving in our overland truck in Murchison Falls National Park Included in Kitty

About Murchison Falls National Park:
Muchison Falls National Park is Uganda's largest national bisected by the mighty river Nile. It is named for the dramatic Murchison Falls, as it is where the world's longest river explodes violently through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment to plunge into a frothing pool 43m below. Wildlife populations have largely recovered from the poaching of the 1980s; in the lush grassland to the north of the Nile, elephant, buffalo, giraffe and a variety of antelope are regularly encountered on game drives, while lion are seen with increasing frequency. In the southeast, Rabongo Forest is home to chimps and other rainforest creatures. The Nile itself hosts one of Africa's densest hippo and crocodile populations, and an incredible variety of waterbirds.
Today we have a full day's drive back south to Kampala, where we will have a nightstop in a well equipped campsite in the southern suburbs of the city. Drive time - 8-9 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost
Overnight stay on the outskirts of Uganda's bustling capital city Included in Kitty

About Kampala:
Kampala is the capital of Uganda. This city was practically destroyed in the civil wars and political disturbance in the 1980's, but it is now rebuilt and reorganised. It is a friendly city, with something of a buzz about it now as it's peoples confidence has been restored. Security has improved dramatically in the last few years, which has led to a real resurgence in the city's nightlife, and clubs and bars are beginning to become popular again.
Over the next 2 days we will continue travelling south through Uganda to reach Lake Bunyonyi, home to some of the most picturesque scenery in the whole of the country, where we will hopefully get the opportunity to explore the lake by boat and admire the surrounding landscape. En route we will split the drive with a nightstop in either Mbarara or Kabale, which both have decent campsites that we can use. We will also cross the Equator and stop for the mandatory photos en route! In Lake Bunyonyi we stay in a well equipped campsite. *Please note that due to security concerns on the road to Lake Bunyonyi, we will often not be able to bring our truck here and will instead stay at a wellequipped
campsite in Kabale. The decision to go or not will be entirely at the discretion of your tour leader and the Dragoman head office, and will be based on the latest safety advice from local operators - if we cannot bring the truck, it may still be possible to visit the lake as a day trip from Kabale in smaller
local vehicles.* Drive time - 12-14 hours (split over the 2 days - the exact breakdown depends on where we have the intermediary nightstop).
Border Information: Exit Uganda at Katuna, enter Rwanda at Gatuna. Leaving Uganda behind, we cross the border into the stunning country of Rwanda. We will first travel to the capital city of Kigali, where we will have an included visit to the incredibly moving Genocide Memorial. After this we will drive the short distance to Ruhengeri (also known as Musanze), the gateway to the Volcanoes National Park, where we will spend the next 2 nights. Drive time - 10 hours (allowing for 5 hours driving, 2 hours at the border and 3 hours at the Kigali Genocide Museum). On the next day, we will go on what is undoubtedly the highlight of the trip - trekking to see the Mountain Gorillas in their natural forest habitat. This region is one of the last remaining sanctuaries for the mountain gorilla. No more than 8 people per day can visit any one habituated family, and visits are strictly controlled to minimise the possibility of disturbance or transmission of disease to the animals. Tracking gorillas in the dense forest can sometimes be wet, muddy and uncomfortable. The terrain is by no means easy either, so it can be pretty strenuous and often humid; however, the sheer thrill of coming across a habituated group of gorillas, dominated by a great male silverback, more than outweighs any difficulty. You need to be prepared and fit enough to walk at least 4 hours - up and down hill. We can usually get very close to the mountain gorillas, who are placid and gentle, and watching their movements is like seeing a mirror image of yourself! Once you find them, you will stay with the gorillas for one unforgettable hour! When visiting the gorillas you will be assigned a trekking group and time on your permit. The group may be split up into different trekking groups during the day. Whilst in Ruhengeri we stay in dorms at a local church mission, or camp in their grounds. Please note that the gorilla permits are paid for in full by the trip kitty - however, Dragoman has to purchase the permits in advance on the customers' behalf, so a higher deposit is charged on the trip price to protect us from losing this money in the event of cancellation - please see the notes at the end for further detail. Please also note that there is some flexibility in the itinerary depending on the circumstances of the trip and the weather, as such we sometimes may have extra time in Ruhengeri, in which case we will have time for some of the other
activities here (listed below).

Activity Approximate Cost
Learn all about the tragic 1994 Rwanda genocide at the extremely moving Genocide Memorial in Kigali Included in Kitty
Trek in the forests of Rwanda's Volcanos National Park in search of the mighty mountain gorillas - an unforgettable experience! Included in Kitty
Trek to search for the Golden Monkeys near Ruhengeri (if time allows) USD 100
Visit the weaving collective at the Red Rocks Community Project (if time allows) USD 10
Head out for a full day trekking around Visoke and other high volcanos in Volcanos National Park (if time allows) USD 75
Trek out to Dian Fossey's Memorial in the forests around Ruhengeri (if time allows) USD 75

About Ruhengeri & Volcanoes National Park:
The town of Ruhengeri is the jumping-off point for the famed Volcanoes National Park. The region is incredibly beautiful with stunning verdant mountains cascading down the shores of Lake Kivu. The park itself protects an area which is part of a chain of eight volcanoes running along the western branch of the Great Rift Valley. These spectacular mountains and the nearby Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda are the last refuge of the mountain gorilla, the world's most endangered primate. A trek out into the park in search of the gorillas is the experience of a lifetime. The pungent aromas of wet mountain vegetation will fill your senses as you trek through the forest following the local trackers, the sides of the mountains often shrouded in mist. The muddy and wet terrain is by no means easy, so it can be pretty strenuous and it's often very humid too - but the sheer thrill of coming face to face with a group of gorillas, dominated by a great male silverback, more than makes up for the difficulties of the trek. The animals are surprisingly placid and gentle and having the privilege of being able to watch their movements at close range is the ultimate wildlife experience. Currently there are four habituated groups. The largest is the Susa Group (35 members including 3 silverbacks) which lives on Karasimba Volcano, and was the original group studied by Dian Fossey. This is usually a pretty strenuous trek of between 1 to 4 hours. The Trebize Group (13 members) and the Sabinyo Group are
smaller and the trek is much easier. Lastly the Amahoro Group (also 13 members) live on the slopes of Mount Visoke. This trek is the intermediate one in terms of endurance.
Border Information: Exit Rwanda at Cyanika, enter Uganda at Cyanika. Today we have a free morning in Ruhengeri, then head out of Rwanda, crossing back into Uganda to camp in the town of Kabale.
Tonight we will stay in a well equipped campsite. Drive time - 4-5 hours.
This morning we travel to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, beautifully set between the Great Rift Valley lakes of Edward and George, undertaking a game drive on our way to the campsite. After lunch we will take a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, well-known for pelicans, eagles and other wonderful birdlife as well as its healthy population of hippos. During our time in the park we also hope to see elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, Ugandan kobs and waterbucks. Tonight we will camp at a basic campsite with drop toilets, inside the National Park. Your leader will explain the basic safety aspects of camping in an unfenced area amongst the wildlife upon arrival. Drive time - 5-6 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost
Head on a game drive around Queen Elizabeth National Park in our overland truck, in search of wildlife Included in Kitty
Take a boat trip through the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park Included in Kitty

About Queen Elizabeth National Park:
This lies across the Equator in the southwest of Uganda and is bordered by two lakes. The animals that make their home here include hippos, tree-climbing lions, elephants, buffalo, Uganda kob, waterbuck, bushbuck and topi. Over the past 40 years or so, Uganda's wildlife took a terrible hammering from poaching and war. However, with the restoration of peace, the government and wildlife authorities have done a great deal to eradicate poaching and the wildlife is once again on the increase. Elephant numbers have increased substantially, with an influx from the Congo where they are still being persecuted. Queen Elizabeth National Park contains the most astonishing number of different fauna including 100 different types of mammal and over 600 species of birds. We take a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, well-known for pelicans, eagles and other wonderful birdlife as well as its healthy population of hippos. During our time in the park we hope to see elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, Uganda kobs and waterbucks.
Over the next 2 days we will travel back to the east through Kampala to Jinja. We will take a short game drive through Queen Elizabeth National Park on our way out in the morning. We will most likely split the drive with a nightstop in Mbarara, but if the road conditions improve on a different road then we may go via Fort Portal instead. Both of these places have decent campsites to stay in. Either way, we will reach Jinja by the second evening and enjoy a night relaxing at the same campsite as earlier in the trip. Drive time - 11-12 hours split over 2 days.
Border Information: Exit Uganda at Malaba, enter Kenya at Malaba. Today we travel back into Kenya and visit the town of Eldoret, where we have the option to visit a local cheese factory and creamery before heading to our campsite at Naiberi River just outside of town. In Eldoret we will stay in an excellent campsite with the possibility of an Indian buffet meal. Drive time - 7-9 hours.

About Eldoret:
Originally known as "64" because it was the 64th mile post on the wagon route from Londiani, Eldoret has developed into a vibrant town. There are nightclubs that line the streets and attractions such as the Keiro Valley, Kruger Farm and high altitude training camps.
Today we will make our way back to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where we will stay again in our well equipped campsite situated in the suburb of Karen. Drive time - 6-7- hours.
Border Information: if you are leaving the trip in Nairobi, you will most likely exit Kenya at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Today is this is the final day of this section - if you are leaving here (or continuing northbound with us to Ethiopia) you will have a free day in Nairobi. If you are continuing your trip with us southbound towards Tanzania then there will a new group meeting at 10:00am for the next section of your journey, before heading away from Nairobi - your leader will give you detailed instructions about this.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
n/a
Transport
Overland vehicle
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (17 nights), Hostel (2 nights), Hotel (1 night)

Dates

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Important notes

1. This trip requires an additional non-refundable deposit ( AUD1120, USD1000, EUR810, NZD1200, GBP600, CAD1080, ZAR13700, CHF850 ) in order to secure a gorilla permit. We also require a scanned copy of your passport at time of booking. Please see trip notes (Important notes) for more details.
2. Please note that this trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.

Trip notes

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Reviews

Our Gorillas & Chimps In Depth trips score an average of 4.83 out of 5 based on 6 reviews in the last year.

Gorillas & Chimps In Depth , June 2016

Gorillas & Chimps In Depth , June 2016