Encounter rare wildlife in the heart of East Africa

A close encounter with gentle giants on a gorilla safari in Uganda is an extraordinary experience that will always stay with you – and it's just one of the many wildlife sightings this unforgettable Lonely Planet Experience has to offer. Roam the verdant plains, rainforests, papyrus-fringed lakes and acacia woodlands of Kenya and Uganda’s game parks, from Queen Elizabeth National Park to the Masai Mara Reserve. Spot lions, rhinos, chimps, antelopes, hippos, leopards and more in their natural habitats. The staggeringly beautiful African landscape will provide memories that last a lifetime.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Nairobi, Kenya
Finish
Nairobi, Kenya
Destinations
Kenya, Uganda
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience, Overland, Wildlife
Code
YXOG
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 22

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • With permits included in the price of the trip, take a trek through Uganda's steamy forests to seek out rare mountain gorillas and spend an unforgettable hour in their presence.

  • Head out on an early evening game drive in Lake Nakuru National Park, which is particularly famous for its rhino population.

  • Spend a few days at your own pace in Jinja, which can be either a relaxing riverside retreat or an adrenaline-pumping adventure capital depending on what you feel like.

  • Build the adventure that’s perfect for you with a mixture of included activities and optional ones – like a chimpanzee trek in Kalinzu Forest.

  • Meet the Maasai people known for their vibrant red dress and elaborate jewellery and gain an insight into the culture and ancient ways of this proud East African community.

Is this trip right for you?

  • 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 strenuous and often humid. But 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 up to four hours – up and down hills. A top tip is to pack some gardening gloves to assist in any uphill climbs. See https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/gorilla-trekking for more information.

  • 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, 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. The drive days can be long, but it’s as much about the journey as the destination, and half the fun is the camaraderie. For more info on this style of travel, see our Africa overland page: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/africa/overland

  • This trip is predominantly a camping experience, giving you access to more remote destinations at close proximity, and the joy of experiencing the elements.

  • This is a participatory trip – a fancy way of saying you’re not just along for the ride, but you are part of a team! Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and help out with camp activities like food prep and washing up. It’s all about giving your new travel mates a hand, and everyone knows there’s nothing worse than trying to put up a tent on your own!

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

  • You may also want to check out Gorillas, Game Parks & Beaches if you have more time to explore in East Africa.

Itinerary

Jambo! Welcome to Kenya. Your Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid, begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, but if you arrive early, why not head out and soak up the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Nairobi. There are plenty of good bars and restaurants, and markets and shops for essentials as well as arts and crafts from the region. After the welcome meeting, perhaps join your new travel companions for an optional group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Nairobi - City Experience Urban Adventure - USD55
  • Nairobi - From Farm to Feast In Focus Urban Adventure - USD86
  • Nairobi - Giraffes & Elephants Urban Adventure - USD70
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Unfortunately, petty crime has become common in Nairobi and recently arrived visitors to the capital can often make for tempting targets. Your trip leader will verse you in a few worthwhile precautions at the welcome meeting. Some top tips are to get local advice on where to walk, keep valuables in a neck wallet or money belt or leave them secure in your hotel, and to not leave belongings unattended on chairs or the floor. Stay aware even when inside, as thieves and pickpockets have been known to operate indoors as well. There's no need to be paranoid but appearing vigilant is a great deterrent to would-be thieves.
Take in spectacular views of the Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha and Elementaita on the drive north-west to Lake Nakuru National Park, situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley. The drive will take approximately 3–4 hours and you’ll arrive in time for a short evening game drive along the shore of the lake. Lake Nakuru National Park is a small and compact area based around a lake that makes a great location for spotting wildlife. Along with the other members of the Big Five, Lake Nakuru harbours many rhinos and will be the best chance to get a great picture of these magnificent beasts.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Nakuru - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Your camp tonight is located inside the park and has flush toilets and showers. Accommodation upgrades and wi-fi are not available.
Rise early this morning for tea or coffee before going back into the park for a morning game drive. Return to camp for brunch before driving north-west to Eldoret, one of Kenya's fastest growing towns (approximately 5-6 hours.). Due to its high altitude, the town is an ideal training ground for middle- and long-distance athletes and is home to some of Kenya's most famous runners. Tonight, enjoy a traditional dinner at your campsite located just outside of Eldoret town.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Nakuru - Morning Overland Vehicle Game Drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
The camp has basic flush toilets and showers, with upgrades available. Please speak to an Intrepid booking agent for more information.
Today you will leave Kenya behind and cross the border into landlocked Uganda, travelling on to its capital city, Kampala (approximately 10 hours, though it could take longer depending on border crossings). With a population of over 30 million, Uganda is a country of great cultural diversity and is one of the five countries that make up the East African Community. As today is a long travel day, take a break from setting up camp with a stay at a hotel. Shake off the long journey with the option to eat in Kampala town and experience this dynamic city.
Accommodation
  • Hotel with shared facilities (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
If you wish to eat in town tonight you Leader can organise a free transfer to and from Kampala city.
Travel to Kalinzu Forest National Park (approximately 9 hours). Some of its inhabitants include chimpanzees, black and white colobuses, baboons, red-tailed monkeys, both blue and red duikers, bushbucks, waterbucks, giant forest hogs, buffalo and elephants. On arrival, settle into your camp and perhaps stretch your legs and explore your surrounds with the rest of the group.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Your camp tonight has basic facilities with no upgrades available.
Take the optional excursion of visiting the chimpanzees of Kalinzu Forest this morning or enjoy the sounds of the forest from the comfort of your tent. More closely related to humans than any other living creature, the chimpanzees are a delight to watch as they squabble and play in fruiting trees. Later, take the short drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Once camp is set up there's an option to take a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, well-known for pelicans, eagles and other wonderful birdlife, as well as a healthy population of hippos.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kalinzu Forest - Chimp trek - USD70
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park - Kazinga Channel boat cruise - USD30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today, drive out of the Queen Elizabeth National Park on your way to the southwest tip of Uganda (approximately 7-hour drive). On this short game drive, cross your fingers and look out for elephants, buffalo, Ugandan kobs and waterbucks. When you arrive at the corner of Uganda, where the border touches Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, you’ll be based in Kisoro, which provides access to seven different gorilla groups located in Mgahinga, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Nshongi.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Joined by a local guide and trackers, climb through the rugged mountain terrain of Bwindi National Park to encounter rare gorillas. No more than eight people per day can visit any one habituated family and visits are strictly controlled to minimise disturbance or the chances of 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 quite strenuous and often humid, but the sheer thrill in 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 up to four hours – up and down hills. You 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. Be mesmerised as you watch them eat, sleep, groom and play – the giant silverback surveying the scene as the smaller ones laze in the trees or play like children. Your visit with the gorillas will last one unforgettable hour.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bwindi National Park - Mountain Gorilla Permit & Trek
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
When you are waiting for, or have completed, your gorilla visit, your leader will provide you with options and ideas on how you can spend your free day in the area around Kisoro. You can head out on more rainforest hikes to see monkeys, take some nature walks, or if your legs are up for it, join a challenging hike up Mt Sabinyo – one of five volcanoes located in the Parc National des Volcans – or perhaps take a day excursion over the border to Rwanda to visit the genocide memorial, art museum and Nyamirambo women’s center. However, please ensure you have a Rwanda or East Africa visa.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kisoro - Virunga Hike - USD50
  • Kisoro - Trek With Golden Monkeys Permit & Guide (from price) - USD90
  • Kisoro - Sabinyo Trek / Mgahinga hiking - USD90
  • Kisoro - Lake & Famstead Bicycle Tour - USD50
  • Kisoro - Rwanda Day Excursion - From - USD45
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Optional activities require additional transport costs of approximately USD 100 that can be shared between 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.

The Rwanda day excursion price is dependent on the number of travellers. The van will be $260 for up to 7 customers and the accompanying local guide at $50 per vehicle. Entrance fees and tipping are additional costs.
Farewell the lands of the gorilla and turn back towards the capital, Kampala. You’ll break up the journey at the pit-stop town of Mbarara for the night (approximately 5–6 hours driving). We’ll be honest – there’s not a great deal to do here, however it’s a great opportunity to spend the afternoon and evening relaxing at the camp, or even to have a leisurely look around the town.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today you'll continue your journey inland, travelling towards Jinja (approximately 7 hrs). The Jinja region is one of the highlights of any visit to Uganda, a riverside retreat at the source of the Nile but also the adventure capital of Uganda. Tonight, camp at a scenic riverside site and enjoy a good night’s rest ready for tomorrow's adventures.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Tonight’s camp has showers, flush toilets, wi-fi and ATM access. Upgrades are possible (subject to availability) so speak to an Intrepid booking agent if you are interested.
Located at the source of the Nile as it leaves Lake Victoria, Jinja is a place for the adventurer, the adrenaline junkie and the eco-traveller. You’ll enjoy two days here at your own pace, with a bunch of optional activities to choose from (at extra cost) if you want. Maybe get active with some whitewater rafting or kayaking. Alternatively take a boat cruise to the source of the Nile or to enjoy the river and quench a thirst.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Jinja - River Nile whitewater rafting (full day) - USD140
  • Jinja - Nile Boat Cruise - USD40
  • Jinja - Source of River Nile tour - USD45
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
The Source of the Nile boat cruise requires a minimum of four travellers.
Farewell Uganda and begin the journey back to Kenya and Nairobi, stopping overnight at the town of Kericho (approximately 9 hours, including border crossings). Kericho sits at the edge of South-Western Mau National Reserve and is known for its vast tea estates. On arrival, visit a tea plantation and sample a delicious brew or two.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kericho - Tea plantation visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Tonight's camp is on the grounds of a hotel with upgrades available (subject to availability). Speak to an Intrepid booking agent if you are interested in upgrades.
This morning, drive to the famous Masai Mara National Park (approximately 7 hours). The Masai Mara is the quintessential African experience, with sparse open plains, dramatic skies and the world's most iconic animals living within its boundaries. Explore this diverse environment and view a multitude of wildlife on an evening 4WD game drive.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Masai Mara National Reserve - 4x4 Game Drive
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Venture into the Masai Mara National Reserve for a day-long 4WD game drive. You'll explore this diverse environment and most likely see a multitude of wildlife. An optional balloon ride over the Mara at sunrise is an unforgettable experience. If you have pre-booked this activity you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site for a safety briefing from your pilot. You’ll then glide through the dawn skies, sometimes at tree height, which provides amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and of the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, you'll be treated to a bush breakfast before returning to your campsite.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (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
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’re welcome to, but keep in mind that this is a popular activity and places are limited. If you participate in this activity you will miss the morning half of the included game drive. Please speak to an Intrepid booking agent if you are interested in booking a balloon ride.
Return to the bustling metropolis of Nairobi (approximately 5–6 hours). Stop en route in Loita Hills, home of the traditional Maasai people, and visit Tepesua Village. You’ll be welcomed by Maasai Warriors through 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 and backpacks to sell to visiting travellers and locals. On arrival in Nairobi you'll be dropped at your finishing point hotel, where your trip ends on arrival.
Included Activities
  • Loita Hills - Maasai Village Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
No accommodation is provided for tonight, but we are able to book you additional accommodation in Nairobi – please speak to an Intrepid booking agent.

Please don't book any international flights out of Nairobi until after 10 pm this evening.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

15 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 13 dinners

Transport

Overland vehicle, 4x4 Safari Vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (13 nights), Hotel (1 night), Hotel with shared facilities (1 night)

Included activities

  • Lake Nakuru - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
  • Lake Nakuru - Morning Overland Vehicle Game Drive
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
  • Bwindi National Park - Mountain Gorilla Permit & Trek
  • Kericho - Tea plantation visit
  • Masai Mara National Reserve - 4x4 Game Drive
  • Masai Mara National Reserve - Full Day 4x4 Game Drive
  • Loita Hills - Maasai Village Visit

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Gorillas & Game Parks trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1.This trip requires a higher non-refundable deposit (AUD 1000, USD 1000, EUR 800, NZD 1250, GBP 650, CAD 1000, ZAR 8000, CHF 900) in order to secure the included gorilla permit. 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 for all nights on this trip, subject to availability.
3. This trip finishes upon arrival in Nairobi on Day 16. Please do not book any flights until after 10 pm this evening.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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