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Rwanda & Kenya: Gorillas & Wildlife Safari

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East African Extravaganza – from Mountain Gorillas to Maasai Mara

We’ll experience some of Africa’s most compelling animals in this unique wildlife photo safari of Rwanda and Kenya. The first part of our tour highlights magnificent primates of Rwanda, featuring Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Golden Monkeys. From Kigali we’ll head to Volcanos National Park, where experienced local trackers lead us through lush montane forests filled with calls of colorful birds and chattering animals. We’ll savor stunning views of volcanic peaks through gaps in the tree canopy, while trekking past twisting vines and giant lobelias.

A significant number of the world’s population of Mountain Gorillas roam through dense forests of the park, in groups of three to 20 animals. Trackers will guide us up rugged terrain, with some steep sections and occasional stream crossings, to where we can quietly watch a gorilla family feed, groom, play and rest. Though we spend only an hour together, it is truly an unforgettable experience to watch these magnificent gorillas interact with each other with such human-like qualities. At lower elevations, we’ll find Golden Monkeys scampering nimbly through bamboo stands, entertaining all who observe them at close range.

Nyungwe Forest is a biodiversity hotpot, and a high priority for habitat conservation in Africa. More than a dozen primates roam here, including relatively large numbers of Chimpanzees. The noisiest of african primates, the forest echoes with their screams, hoots and their drum beats on tree buttresses. We’ll likely hear Chimpanzees before seeing them. If we’re lucky, we may catch them mounting an organized hunt to satisfy their omnivorous appetites.

An internal flight from Kigali to Nairobi initiates the second part of our trip, where we’ll experience East Africa’s famed wildlife and wildebeest migration in two of Kenya’s most spectacular parks. We’ll spend a full day at Lake Nakuru National Park, home to hundreds of thousands of flamingos, and abundant mammals. Here we’ll target Leopards lounging on tree limbs, and seek great photo opportunities of Black and White Rhinos.

Our tour culminates in the world-renowned Maasai Mara National Reserve, encompassing nearly 600 square miles in southwest Kenya. This expansive savannah grasslands hosts exceptional populations of big and small cats, and serves as center stage for the ‘Great Migration’ of wildebeest and zebra. Our visit is timed to witness this spectacular phenomenon in action, when vast herds move steadily into the northern reaches of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. These determined grazers face tremendous obstacles in their quest for fresh grass, and many will fall to powerful predators and river crossings fraught with gigantic Nile Crocodiles.

Multiple game drives facilitate ample opportunity to observe and photograph prides of lions, majestic elephants and plenty of giraffe, gazelles, warthogs and more. We’ll focus on finding the elusive cats – cheetah, serval, and leopard. We’ll observe a mind-boggling assortment of birds including weavers, bee-eaters, rollers, sunbirds, hornbills, go-away-birds, guineafowl, bustards, secretary birds, raptors, and much more

This once-in-a-lifetime East African extravaganza provides the ultimate opportunity to experience and photograph some of the most amazing animals on earth. I hope you can join us!

Focus: Photography, Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Butterflies, Scenery

 

  • Tour Cost
  • Length of Tour: 13 days / 12 nights

     

    Cost: 2016 - approx US $7,750.00 per person from Nairobi, based upon double occupancy and minimum of 4 participants.

    Note: Cost does not include Gorilla Permit (currently $750 a person, subject to change)

     

    Single supplement: approx. $1085.00. Please note that if you do not request a single room, and we are unable to find you a roommate, you will be charged the single supplement.

     

    The Cost Includes: All ground transport, game drives and park entrance fees; professional driver guide; meals from breakfast on day 2 to dinner on day 13; 12 nights accommodation; Flying Doctors Temporary Medical Travel Insurance; mineral water on game drives.

    Note: There may be an additional surcharge should Park and or Conservation fees increase, which often happens with very little notice.

     

    Cost Excludes: 
Airfares to Kenya, and Kenya-Rwanda-Kenya flight (approx. $330); Visa fees; Gorilla Permit (currently $750); beverages.; any items of personal nature (laundry, telephone calls and so forth); any services not mentioned or indicated as optional; gratuities to drivers / guides / porters / waiters.

    Optional Hot Air Balloon ride in Maasai Mara $450 per person.

     

    Deposit $500.00, check, paypal or credit card, along with your completed Registration Form

     

    How to Book In order to hold your space, you must complete the Registration Form found on-line, and submit it to us on-line, or download a copy and mail it to us, along with a $500.00 deposit per participant.

     

    Final Payment Full payment, by check, is due 120 days prior to the departure date

  • Itinerary
  • Brief Itinerary:

    Day 1 :  Arrive in Nairobi

    Day 2 :  Morning flight from Nairobi to Kigali. Transfer to Volcanoes NP

    Day 3 :  Gorilla Trek in Volcanoes NP

    Day 4 :  Golden Monkey Trek in Volcanoes NP. Transfer to Kivu

    Day 5 :  Kivu to Nyungwe NP

    Day 6 :  Chimpanzee Trek in Nyungwe NP. Transfer to Kigali

    Day 7 :  Morning flight from Kigali to Nairobi. Transfer to Nakuru NP

    Day 8 :  Full day in Nakuru NP

    Day 9 :  Morning game drive in Nakuru. Transfer to Maasai Mara NP

    Day 10-12:  Three full days in Maasai Mara NP

    Day 13: Maasai Mara to Nairobi; Evening departure from Nairobi

     

    Itinerary:

    Day 1  Arrive in Nairobi on an evening flight. Transfer to hotel.

     

    Day 2 :  Fly Nairobi to Kigali / Volcanoes National Park

    We’ll depart on an early morning flight from Nairobi to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. We’ll arrive at Kigali International Airport in late morning, where we’ll be met by our driver guide. From there, we drive 2.5 hrs to Ruhengeri and the Volcanoes National Park. We’ll take a mid-afternoon nature walk to explore a section of the forest well known for its species of birds.

     

    Day 3: Volcanoes National Park – Golden Monkey Trekking

    Breakfast will be early, followed by a 6:30 AM departure to Volcanoes National Park Headquarters for park orientation and Golden Monkey tracking. We’ll set out on foot to find endangered Golden Monkeys inhabiting  the bamboo forest on lower slopes of the mountains. We return to our lodge for lunch. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the twin Lakes Bulera and Ruhondo, surrounded by breath-taking scenery, steep hills and amazing views of the Virunga Volcano peaks.

     

    Day 4: Volcanoes National Park – Gorilla Trek – Gisenyi (Lake Kivu)

    After an early breakfast, we head back to the Volcanoes National Park Headquarters for our Mountain Gorilla trek. At 7:00 AM we join other trekkers for a briefing by our trackers, then drive to the forest trailhead to begin our wonderful Gorilla tracking adventure. Our trek starts in the cultivated foothills of the Virunga mountains, offering stirring views in all directions. Accompanied by local guides, trekkers will ascend on foot through rugged terrain with steep sections and occasional stream crossings (Physical fitness is required to complete this trek). We’ll be immersed in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with the colorful bird calls, and chattering golden monkeys. The earth’s floor is littered with fresh spoor of the mountains’ elusive buffalo and elephant. We glimpse magnificent mountain peaks through gaps in the canopy, while weaving our way past overhanging vines, moss-covered hagenia trees and giant lobelias that thrive in the tropical climate. Our experienced trackers, who have spent their entire lives in or close to this forest, bring us close to one of the Gorilla families for quiet observation and incredible photographic opportunities. We’ll stay with these magnificent primates for one magical hour of their lives, as they feed, play, rest and raise their young. Watching Mountain Gorillas interact is truly one of the greatest wildlife experiences on earth!

     

    After the trek, we’ll return to the lodge for lunch and packing up. We’ll depart mid-afternoon and proceed to Lake Kivu (Gisenyi), arriving in the early evening for dinner and overnight at our lodge.

     

    Day 5: Gisenyi (on Lake Kivu) - Kibuye (on Lake Kivu) - Nyungwe Forest National Park

    After breakfast, we’ll depart for Kibuye arriving in time for lunch. After lunch, we proceed to Nyungwe Forest which is the largest and best preserved block of Afro-montane high altitude forest on the continent. The reserve features an extensive network of trails which we’ll explore on foot in search of Albertine Rift endemics such as Red-collared Babbler, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Kungwe Apalis, Ruwenzori Turaco, Dusky Crimsonwing and other avian specialties. We will drive towards Nyungwe Forest National Park for dinner and overnight at our lodge.

     

    Day 6: Explore Nyungwe Forest National Park - Chimpanzee Trek / Kigali

    This morning we’ll explore more of the Nyungwe Forest, a biodiversity hotspot and a high priority for habitat conservation in Africa. More than a dozen primates roam here, including relatively large numbers of Chimpanzees. We’ll track Chimpanzees in the Cyamudongo Forest, looking and listening for their unmistakable screams, hoots and drum beats. If we’re lucky, we may see a group of them organizing a carnivorous hunt. We’ll look for colobus and other monkeys, as well as birds such as Handsome Francolin, Mountain Sooty Boubou, Rwenzori Batis, Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher, Archer's Robin-chat, Rwenzori Hill Babbler, Red-faced Woodland, Grauer's Rush, Neumann's and Grauer's Warblers, Masked Mountain Apalis, Rwenzori Double-collared, Purple-throated, Blue-headed and Regal Sunbirds, Stripe-breasted Tit and Strange Weaver. A speciality is Red-collared Mountain Babbler, which has its only easily accessible site here. Recent possible sightings of Rockefeller's Sunbird indicate there is much still to be discovered here! After a rich morning of discovery, we’ll return to the lodge for lunch and packing. This afternoon we depart to Kigali,  arriving in the early evening. Dinner and overnight will be at our lodge.

     

    Day 7: Fly Kigali to Nairobi / Nakuru National Park

    After breakfast, we transfer to Kigali international Airport for our scheduled 8.20 AM flight to Nairobi. This marks the beginning of the second part of our trip, where we'll experience East Africa's famed wildlife and wildebeest migration in two of Kenya’s most spectacular parks. From Nairobi, we’ll head to Lake Nakuru National Park passing through the Great Rift Valley escarpment with a stop to admire and photograph this stunning landscape. Upon arrival at Nakuru National Park we embark on an afternoon game drive to preview the amazing wildlife of the park before dinner.

     

    Day 8: Lake Nakuru National Park

    Today we will enjoy a full day of game drives around Lake Nakuru National Park.  The rich concentration of wildlife provides plenty to experience, observe and photograph.  Changing water levels provide an assortment of wildlife that varies with conditions. Thousands of flamingos congregate in shallow edges of this unique saltwater body. Mammals are abundant, including buffalo, giraffe and several antelope species. We’ll make special effort to look for Leopards lounging on tree limbs. We’ll seek optimal positions to photograph Black and White Rhinos.

     

    Day 9: Lake Nakuru National Park / Maasai Mara National Reserve

    After a last morning game drive in the park, we’ll depart Nakuru and head to the southwest corner of Kenya for the world-renowned Maasai Mara National Reserve. We’ll arrive at the entrance gate by mid-afternoon, with time to experience an afternoon game drive before dinner.

     

    Day 10-12: Maasai Mara National Reserve

    Situated at the northern end of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, the Maasai Mara National Reserve encompasses nearly 600 square miles of land, home to an incredible diversity of wildlife. We’ll take multiple game drives throughout our three-day visit, to maximize encounters with big game, birds and reptiles. Many animals will be close to our vehicles, providing excellent photographic opportunities.

     

    These expansive savannah grasslands serve as center stage for the 'Great Migration' of wildebeest and zebra. Our visit is timed to witness this spectacular phenomenon in action, when vast herds move steadily into the northern reaches of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. We’ll keep an eye out for predator-prey interactions, when powerful big cats take down a hapless youngster, or a gigantic Nile Crocodile thrashes its victim at a river crossing.

     

    The Mara is among the best places in Africa to see the 'Big and Small Cats' with nearly all the members well represented here. We’ll observe prides of lions and focus on finding elusive cheetah, serval and leopard. Herds of elephants lumber through vegetated areas, and schools of Hippopotamus bask in shallow pools along the river banks. Other mammals include Silver-backed Jackal, the delightful Bat-eared Fox, Banded Mongoose, Spotted Hyena, lively warthogs, gazelles, and giraffe. Hundreds of bird species are present, including an assortment of weavers, bee-eaters, rollers, sunbirds, hornbills, go-away-birds, guineafowl, bustards, secretary birds, raptors, and many more.  The experiences and photographic opportunities of the Maasai Mara are nearly boundless - there’s always something to see and snap!

     

    Day 13: Maasai Mara National Reserve / Nairobi

    After breakfast, we pack luggage, and savor our last morning game drive in the Maasai Mara. We work our way out of the park and head back to Nairobi. We’ll arrive in late afternoon, and use day rooms to repack and freshen up before dinner, then transfer to Nairobi airport for overnight flight home.

     

     

  • Accommodations
  • All the accommodations on this tour have clean comfortable rooms with en suite showers/baths and toilets and an the whole are very good, with excellent service.

  • Additional Info
  • birds-of-east-africa-book-coverRecommended Field Guide: Birds of East Africa (Princeton Field Guides, 2002) by Terry Stevenson and John Fanshawe

     

     

     

     

     

    This trip is for non-smokers only. Smoking is not permitted at any time during our safari.

     

    Trip Insurance is required for all safaris

     

    You will need to get a Visa to enter Kenya and Rwanda. The current cost is $50 and $30 and this can be applied for / purchased upon arrival at the airport in Nairobi, Kenya and Kigali, Rwanda

     

    This is a safari and as such we will concentrate on all the wildlife, as one would expect, the birds and mammals giving everyone time to view, experience and photograph them.   Easy wildlife viewing from the confines of our open top safari vehicle in some outstanding parks; though we expect to see many bird species we will spend considerable time with the incredible mammals that make this part of the world unique and hope to come across about 50 species including the “Big 5” – elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard.

     

    We will certainly be hiking for the primates, more like bush-wacking, for our Gorilla trek. This can be strenuous as we are in the mountains at elevation and on uneven vegetated terrain! There will be little walking on the Kenya part of this tour as will will be within the parks; midday breaks, when in the parks; a mostly pleasant and dry climate, breathtaking scenery and many excellent photographic opportunities.

     

    We will be using the typical safari ‘combo’ vehicles such as a 4X4 Safari Mini Bus or Land Cruise. There is a pop-up roof that enables one to stand up to view and photograph wildlife. We will have a maximum of six participants per vehicle as this will guarantee everyone a window seat.