Track gorillas, search for the Big Five and meet local legends

Whether you’re watching a sombre silverback gorilla in his natural habitat, descending 600 metres to the floor of the volcanic Ngorongoro Crater or haggling over chickens and pigs with locals at a market in Nairobi, this 18-day tour offers opportunities to create travel memories most people only dream of. Journey through Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania in search of some of the world’s most mythologised animals. Along the way, meet locals and gain an understanding of the diversity of cultures in East Africa – from the Maasai tribespeople to villagers on the outskirts of Nairobi and the hip working class residents of Kigali’s Nyamirambo neighbourhood.


Start
Kigali, Rwanda
Finish
Arusha, Tanzania
Destinations
Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda
Style
Original
Theme
Wildlife
Code
YGSGC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Seek out the rare mountain gorilla on a trek through Uganda's steamy forests and spend an unforgettable hour in their presence, with permits included in the price of the trip.

  • Visit Mikozi Village and become acquainted with the Ugandan countryside. Visit the local markets, speak with a traditional healer and enjoy a drink or two at the local bar.

  • Visit a street market and haggle alongside locals for pigs and chickens before delivering them to villages on the outskirts of Nairobi.

  • Explore the Serengeti National Park in depth during three game drives and a night spent camping in the middle of this spectacular wildlife arena.

  • Take a mind-blowing safari across the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater in an open roof 4WD for a chance to see the endangered black rhinoceros, plus lions, zebra and more.

Is this trip right for you?

  • The sheer thrill in coming across a habituated group of gorillas, dominated by a great male silverback, in unbeatable. But please keep in mind that 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. You need to be prepared and fit enough to walk up to 4 hours up and down hill. A top tip is to pack some gardening gloves to assist in any up-hill climbs.

  • Camping in the Serengeti National Park with no barriers between you and the animals is amazing, but it's important to heed the safety advice of your leader. You'll be briefed on arrival.

  • This is an overland trip. That means you’ll be travelling with a group in a purpose-built vehicle, visiting remote communities, setting up your own tent (unless you’re on an Original or Comfort style trip), occasionally roughing it in the bush with no facilities, and getting the best possible views of the ‘Big Five’. While the trucks don’t have air conditioning, they do have sliding windows which let in the breeze and make it even easier to take spectacular snaps of the local wildlife. For more info on this style of travel, see our Africa overland page: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/africa/overland

  • As the early bird catches the worm, the early camper sights the animals. There will be many early starts either to make use of the better safari time or to beat the morning traffic on long travel days.

Itinerary

Welcome to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda since it gained independence in 1962. Most associate Rwanda with the the horrific genocide that took place in 1994, but this is a country that has been striving to rebuild its economy for years and offers so much to the Intrepid traveller. And though the past won't, and shouldn't, be forgotten, the future of Rwanda's tourism is looking bright thanks to its welcoming people, an abundance of lakes and the beautiful Virunga Mountains. Your adventure begins by meeting your fellow travellers at 6 pm.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until tonight's important welcome meeting at 6pm. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for this, consider arriving a day early so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have these to give to your leader.
After breakfast you'll proceed to Ntarama Church, approximately 30 km outside of Kigali. Today presents some confronting reminders of the country's past, and this church is now a chilling memorial to the 5000 people slaughtered inside during the 1994 genocide. Inside, shelves of skulls and piles of bone can be seen as well as the clothes of victims hanging from the walls and rafters. Afterwards, the group will travel to the Nyamata Genocide Memorial Centre, a former church where some 50,000 people were murdered. This site pays particular attention to the atrocities suffered by women during the genocide. We take some time out from the devastating history with a local lunch and an afternoon city tour, including a trip to the craft market. This evening your leader will take you to their favourite restaurant for an optional dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kigali - City Tour
  • Kigali - Nyamata Memorial Site
  • Kigali - Ntarama Church
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
This morning we visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, which was opened in 2004 to mark the 10th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi people. It serves as both a museum, detailing the history and consequences of Rwanda's genocide, and a place for people to grieve for lost friends and family. The group will then head to Gisenyi (approx 3.5 hours), a town on the shore of the beautiful Lake Kivu. Enjoy a free afternoon at your waterfront hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kigali - Genocide Memorial Centre
Optional Activities
  • Kigali - Genocide Memorial Audio Guide - USD15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Enjoy a free day in Gisenyi on Lake Kivu's northern edge. Kivu is one of of Africa's Great Lakes – Rwanda's largest and Africa's sixth-largest – and is a natural border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. Your leader can help you plan how to spend the day: perhaps take a boat cruise around the lake spotting birdlife and visiting some of the small islands, or maybe take a trip to Napoleon Island to go hiking and encounter birds and its large colony of fruit bats. Alternatively, spend the day getting to know Gisenyi and the colonial-era mansions and bars that sit by the lake.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Gisenyi - Morning Town Visit
Optional Activities
  • Gisenyi - Napoleon Island Boat Trip & Hike - USD120
  • Gisenyi – Boat Cruise and Island Visit - per hour price for entire group - USD50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
You may wish to skip the Gisenyi town visit with your driver in favor of another activity or to simply relax on the shore of the lake. The choice is yours.
Enjoy breakfast by Lake Kivu then transfer across the border to Kisoro (approx 2 hours plus the border crossing), a Ugandan town on the shore of Lake Mutanda. Kisoro, located near the Virguna Mountains, is the jumping-off point for several national parks and, of course, those in search of the country's mountain gorillas. In the afternoon you'll head to Mikozi Village to become acquainted with the Ugandan countryside. Visit the local markets, speak with a traditional Ugandan healer and enjoy a drink or two at the local bar before returning to Kisoro.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kisoro - Village Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Join a local guide and trackers as you climb through the rugged, mountainous terrain of Bwindi National Park in search of mountain gorillas. A quick lock of eyes with these creatures is a truly primal moment and visits are strictly controlled to minimise disturbance. Make no mistake, tracking gorillas is no walk in the park – it's called Bwinidi Impenetrable National Park for a reason. It can be wet, muddy, strenuous and uncomfortable, but the indescribable elation at coming across a group of gorillas is worth the effort. Spend a mesmerising hour with the gorillas as they eat, sleep, groom and play as the male silverback watches over them, then return to the lodge for dinner and to reflect on this incredible experience.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bwindi National Park - Mountain Gorilla Permit & Trek
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Don’t forget to carry your rain gear, packed lunch, plenty of water, gloves, hat, and water proof bag for protection of your camera in case of rain
Transfer this morning back to Rwanda and the town of Ruhengeri (approximately 1 hour plus the border crossing), still buzzing from your gorilla encounter. Settle into your hotel on arrival then have a free day to take the optional cycling tour to Rwanda's twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo. This area is characterised by steep green hills and magnificent views of the mountains surrounding the lakes. Here you can pedal through the stunning countryside, stopping in small towns and villages to spend some time interacting with the local community.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ruhengeri - Twin Lakes Bicycle Tour - USD25
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is free for you to choose from several optional activities after breakfast at the lodge. Perhaps you'd like to pursue your passion for primates and join a park ranger tracking golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park. These monkeys are much quicker than gorillas and you'll see them swinging from branch to branch and scampering up trees. Alternatively, take a hike focused on the work of Dian Fossey, the groundbreaking gorilla researcher. It's an incredible experience, both physically and emotionally, and you'll trek through the jungle to her grave and the house in which she was mysteriously murdered in 1985. She's buried next to her favourite gorilla – Digit – as well as number of other mountain gorillas killed by pochers. In the evening, choose whether to attend an optional dinner with the rest of your group.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Volcanoes National Park - Full Day Mt. Bisoke Hike - USD75
  • Volcanoes National Park - Golden Monkeys Trek Permit & guide (from price) - USD115
  • Volcanoes National Park - Dian Fossey's Memorial - USD90
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Optional activities require additional transport costs of approximately USD$100 that can be shared between up to 5-8 travellers.

The Golden Monkeys Trek is offered as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a place. If you would rather wait and try to get a better price by booking this locally on the ground, you are welcome to, but keep in mind that this is a popular activity and places are limited.
Transfer to Kigali (approx 1 hour) for your flight to Nairobi, the world's only major city containing a game reserve. There will be a meeting at 6 pm to meet you new Leader and welcome any new travellers joining you on the next stage of your adventure. Once you've met your new travel buds, perhaps join them for an optional group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Departure Transfer
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today.

There will be a welcome meeting tonight to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and meet travellers joining you. It’s important that you attend the meeting as your new leader will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

For more information on Urban Adventures in Nairobi, visit urbanadventures.com/destination/nairobi-tours.

Petty theft is common in Nairobi. As a general rule, the safest place for your valuables is on your person in a neck wallet or money belt. Your hotel room or reception may also have a safe in which to store things. If you do decide to go exploring, make sure you get local advice on where it is and isn't safe to walk – particularly for later in the day. Be careful not to leave bags unattended on chairs or the floor when you're in a bar or restaura
This morning you'll take part in a unique experience: a 'From Farm to Feast' Urban Adventure. During this tour, which explores the relationship between farming and food, you'll deliver a supply of chickens and pigs to a local community and find out how a local non-profit is helping to alleviate poverty and malnutrition in Kenya, one chick and piglet at a time. Haggle alongside locals for pigs and chickens at the street market, then sit down in a local's home for tea and coffee to learn about life in Kenya and the challenges these communities face. All of your tour costs will go to supporting nutrition efforts in local communities. In the afternoon, your leader will take you on a brief walking tour of Nairobi and the evening is then free for you to enjoy as you wish.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Nairobi - Farm to Feast Community Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Transfer from Nairobi to the famous Masai Mara, a journey of approximately six or seven hours. This is one of the best game reserves in all of Africa and on the way you'll stop in Loita Hills, a remote region that's home to the traditional Maasai people. This is one of the key places where the Maasai people still practice their traditional way of life, with little influence from the western world. Make a stop at Tepesua Village, which is known for championing Maasai women’s health and education. You’ll be welcomed by Maasai Warriors by way of traditional song and dance. Meet your Maasai hosts and enjoy a fascinating talk, full of insights into this remarkable and ancient culture. Take a walk to the community village which was founded for widows who had lost their cows due to drought, and can never remarry. The village offers support, safety and economic growth through the ‘Tepesua Widows Income Project’. Here the women are engaged in making handicrafts and sewing eco-friendly handbags, washable sanitary pads, and backpacks to sell to visiting travellers and locals. Learn about village life and be shown around a traditional Maasai home, and their cattle enclosures. Continue to the outskirts of the Masai Mara, where your permanent tented camp can be found.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Loita Hills - Maasai Village Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Explore the Masai Mara in 4WD safari vehicles with game drives in both the morning and the afternoon. This is the quintessential African experience and with sparse open plains, dramatic skies and some of the world's most impressive animals, one you won't soon forget. Keep your eyes peeled for wildebeest, lions, leopards, antelope and giraffes, to name but a few.
Accommodation
  • Permanent tented camp (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Masai Mara National Reserve - Full Day 4x4 Game Drive
Optional Activities
  • Masai Mara National Reserve - Balloon ride (from price) - USD500
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
An optional balloon ride over the Mara at sunrise is well worth considering. If you have pre-booked this activity (see the 'Important Notes' section) you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site for a safety briefing from your pilot. Then you will glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, which provides amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, you'll be treated to a bush breakfast, then be returned to your campsite to meet up with your group.
Prepare for a long travel day as you head towards the border separating Kenya and Tanzania, then on to the small town of Musoma on the shores of Lake Victoria. Not only is this the largest lake in Africa, it's also the largest tropical lake in the entire world and shares its shores with Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The next three days will be spent in the wilderness, so make the most of your afternoon and evening by stocking up at the local market, grabbing cash from the town's ATM and kicking back with a beach side cold drink as the sun goes down.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
If you're up for it, wake early this morning for a guided bike excursion around Musoma. You'll scoot around town and visit the marketplace, which is a great opportunity to interact with the local community. Travel on from Lake Victoria to Serengeti National Park (approximately three hours) and enjoy a picnic lunch at the entrance to the famous expanse. Continue to your campsite on your first Serengeti game drive, keeping an eye out for the hoofed animals and predators that call this place home. Tonight you'll have a true African safari experience, camping in an unfenced site within the national park, right in the heart of the animal action. Your leader will give you a full safety briefing once you arrive.    
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
Optional Activities
  • Musoma - Guided Bike Excursion - USD20
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Wake to another glorious day in the Serengeti. Start the day with an early morning game drive to search for animals when they're at their most active, then return to the campsite for a relaxed brunch. Spend the hottest part of the day relaxing in camp – don't stress, the animals will be doing the same – then head off again in the afternoon for another drive through the park. Return to the campsite for dinner and another night under the Serengeti's stars.

Note: there's also an option of an early hot air balloon ride here. Please ask your leader at the start of your trip if you're interested. 

Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
Optional Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - Balloon Ride (from price) - USD599
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
The balloon ride is offered as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a place. If you would rather wait and try to get a better price by booking this locally on the ground, you are welcome to, but keep in mind that this is a popular activity and places are limited.
Enjoy a final game drive through the Serengeti as you exit the park this morning. After lunch, you'll drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation area en route to Karatu, a small town on its outskirts. Ngorongoro is a World Heritage site, the highlight of which is the Ngorongoro Crater, a gigantic volcanic caldera that you'll visit tomorrow in search of the Big Five.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Serengeti National Park - Overland Vehicle Game drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
This morning you'll descend to the Ngorongoro's crater floor for a 4WD excursion. If all goes to plan, you'll see some or maybe even all of the Big Five animals that reside here and better yet, the vehicle has an open roof so you can really feel like a part of the action. The animals here are less wary of humans and vehicles and as a result it's easier to watch them from up close. Take in the spectacular views from the rim of the crater as you make your way to the bottom, where animals roam the lakes, rivers, woodlands and hills. Keep an eye out for wildebeest, lion, zebra, cheetah, buffalo, gazelle and the endangered black rhino, as well as the colourfully dressed Maasai people who often water their cattle at the lake here. In the afternoon, you'll drive to Arusha and maybe enjoy an optional group dinner to celebrate this trip and say farewell to your new friends.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ngorongoro Crater - 4x4 Game Drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast today. A departure transfer can be booked, at an additional expense, to either Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK). Alternatively, you can continue on with our crew to finish in Nairobi. Please see 'Special Information' below for more details.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
There is also an option of continuing back to Nairobi with your crew. This ia a long travel day and any flights out of Nairobi should not be booked to depart prior to 9pm. We highly recommend you book a post nights accommodation and depart the following day. Post nights accommodation can be booked through your sales agent.

The drop of point in Nairobi is the Kenya Comfort Hotel Suites:

Kenya Comfort Hotel Suites
junction of Milimani/Ralph Bunche, Milimani, Nairobi,
Nairobi
KENYA
Phone: 254 737 111 111

Meals

17 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 9 dinners

Transport

Overland vehicle, 4x4 Safari Vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (4 nights), Lodge (1 night), Permanent Tented Basic Lodge (2 nights), Camping with basic facilities (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Kigali - City Tour
  • Kigali - Nyamata Memorial Site
  • Kigali - Ntarama Church
  • Kigali - Genocide Memorial Centre
  • Gisenyi - Morning Town Visit
  • Kisoro - Village Visit
  • Bwindi National Park - Mountain Gorilla Permit & Trek
  • Complimentary Airport Departure Transfer
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Nairobi - Farm to Feast Community Visit
  • Loita Hills - Maasai Village Visit
  • Masai Mara National Reserve - Full Day 4x4 Game Drive
  • Serengeti National Park - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
  • Serengeti National Park - Overland Vehicle Game drive
  • Ngorongoro Crater - 4x4 Game Drive

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1.This trip requires a higher non-refundable deposit (AUD1000, USD1000, EUR800, NZD1250, GBP650, CAD1000, ZAR8000, CHF900) in order to secure the included gorilla permit. We also require full passport details at time of booking. Please note that we need to confirm availability of a gorilla permit if you are booking within 45 days of departure. The additional deposit paid at time of booking will be credited to the final balance of your booking.
2. A single supplement is available on all nights of this trip, subject to availability.
3. This trip includes 2 nights camping within the Serengeti National Park. Tents, sleeping mats and sleeping bags will be provided. Please bring a pillow (or travel pillow) for these 2 nights.
4. An optional sunrise balloon ride in the Serengeti National Park is possible on this itinerary. Please see Day 7 for full details of this activity. As the balloon only holds 16 people, places are limited and we recommend that you book in advance. Please inquire when booking your trip to book this optional activity.

Essential trip information

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