Mountain Gorillas to the Mara

Mountain Gorillas to the Mara
Duration 18 Days
From £0
Duration 18 Days

Picture this: trekking through the lush highlands of Uganda and stopping to hang out with the majestic mountain gorillas at home in their natural habitat. Sound too good to be true? Feel as though you’ve entered the pages of a National Geographic magazine as you marvel at these intriguing creatures, and then head down to the wild expanse that is the Maasai Mara and meet the Maasai locals themselves. Talk about an authentic African experience.

Please note: Due to the endangered status of Mountain Gorillas a trekking permit is required for this trip at an additional cost to the trip price. This permit must be paid in full at the time of booking in order for us to secure it for your trip. It also covers the cost of Chimpanzee trekking.

Please get in touch with us for up to date pricing during your time of travel or if you require more information regarding Gorilla permits.

Tour Itinerary

Nairobi to Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya

We begin our adventure in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, which has seen rapid growth in recent years but still has a comparatively small city centre and interesting city market. Try to arrive at least the day before the tour departs so you can kick any jetlag and check out the numerous shops, cafes and restaurants in your own time. Rise and shine early as we descend into the 'Great Rift Valley', an enormous cleft in the Earth's surface stretching from the Red Sea to Madagascar, where we stop at a lookout point to take in the magnificent views.

Our overnight stop is near Lake Nakuru National Park, situated on the Great Rift Valley floor, which provides a delightful introduction to East Africa's diverse wildlife. This afternoon, we search for the prolific Big Five during an afternoon game drive, making use of local guides and smaller safari vehicles for a more intimate experience.

Included today:
-Great Rift Valley
-Lake Nakuru National Park game drive

Meals:
-Lunch
-Dinner

Lake Nakuru National Park to Eldoret

From Nakuru we continue northwest and climb in altitude towards the town of Eldoret en route to the Ugandan frontier. Enjoy some time learning about the significance of the Equator, as we cross today from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern. Have your camera at the ready too, as we’ll encounter some unique photo opportunities before heading on to Eldoret. Today we’ll set up camp outside of town in an idyllic site complete with waterfalls, streams and wooden bridges. Top off your enjoyable day with a relaxing sundowner around the warmth of open log fire. #Perfection.

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Eldoret to Kampala, Uganda

Once described by Winston Churchill as the ‘Pearl of Africa’, Uganda is a country with beautiful natural scenery and a rich mosaic of tribes and cultures. Our first night we camp in the capital, Kampala, which is an attractive, hilly city bustling with roadside traders, markets and busy matatu (minibus taxi) stands.

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Kampala to Queen Elizabeth National Park

From Kampala, we travel west towards Queen Elizabeth National Park, once more over the equator and through fertile, green-terraced hillsides, lush banana plantations and tangled forests. Keep your eyes peeled for the herds of Ankole cattle with their incredible long, curved horns roaming the roads and paddocks – quite a sight for the photo album. Settling into our camp near the Queen Elizabeth National Park, you will have the opportunity to relax and unwind, take a walk in the surrounding areas and mingle with the local community.

Included today:
-Queen Elizabeth National Park chimpanzee trekking on either day 4 or day 5

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Queen Elizabeth National Park

This morning we enter the Queen Elizabeth National Park and take in the magnificent views of the mountains that separate Uganda from central Africa. Queen Elizabeth National Park has over 500 species of bird and 100 species of mammals, making it one of the most bio-diverse national parks in the world. Nearby, we visit the Kyambura Gorge for an exciting trek to see the chimpanzees, perched high above the treetop canopy (keep a lookout for the wildlife en route!).

Included today:
-Queen Elizabeth National Park chimpanzee trekking on either day 4 or day 5

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Queen Elizabeth National Park to Lake Bunyonyi Park

Leaving the park, we make our way to the stunning Lake Bunyonyi, the second-deepest lake in Africa, with 29 islands that can be visited by local boats. Over the next three days the group will be split into two, with one group first trekking to witness the amazing mountain gorillas, while the others have a free day relaxing on the lake. Then the next day, the groups will swap.

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Optional activities:
-Island boat trips
-Village walk
-Traditional dance
-Bird watching
-Canoe hire

Lake Bunyonyi

On the day of our trek, we gather in the early morning to meet our local guide and tracker. This region of Africa is home to the world's remaining 700 mountain gorillas, many of which inhabit the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (occasionally we may need to travel into neighbouring Rwanda to see the gorillas). Once we have located the gorilla 'family', we’ll usually squat or sit down and simply observe them for around an hour – the time set by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (the national body charged with controlling and maintaining the gorillas in Uganda). Your permit allows you one trek and gorilla viewing (time limited to one hour). However, because the authorities maintain strict limits on the number of visitors allowed to view the gorillas each day, we may spend several days in the area while all passengers in our group complete the trek and viewing.

Please note: Depending on the availability of the chimpanzee and gorilla permits, the tour itinerary may vary in day to day running order, which is based on the brochure itinerary. From time to time we may have to trek on different days. If at any time our gorilla trek should be in another neighbouring country, i.e Rwanda (instead of Uganda) this may entail extra visa fees although we shall endeavour to advise you before departure of any significant changes to the tour itinerary. Please take the above itinerary as a guideline only.

Included today:
-Gorilla trekking on either day 7 or day 8

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Optional activities:
-Island boat trips
-Village walk
-Traditional dance
-Bird watching
-Canoe hire

Lake Bunyonyi

On the days that you don’t trek to the mountain gorillas, spend your time unwinding amidst the idyllic scenery and taking advantage of the host of activities on offer. Hire canoes to and explore some of the islands on foot, visit the local tribes and villages, or alternatively, kick your feet up around camp and catch up on your journal entries.

Included today:
-Gorilla trekking on either day 7 or day 8

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Optional activities:
-Island boat trips
-Village walk
-Traditional dance
-Bird watching
-Canoe hire

Lake Bunyonyi to Kampala

Leaving Lake Bunyonyi we make our way back across the Equator (stopping for a photo opportunity if we didn’t stop en route to Queen Elizabeth National Park) through lush pasture lands and the northern reaches of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. Tonight we overnight in Kampala, a hotspot for great food and entertainment, so if time allows, take the night out and enjoy the hospitality of the local Ugandans.

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Kampala to Jinja

Leaving the capital we drive a short distance to Jinja and our camp on the grassy banks of the River Nile. It was in 1862 that the British explorer John Hanning Speke recognised Lake Victoria as the ‘source of the Nile’, settling a long running dispute about Africa’s (and the world’s) longest river. From this modest monument, the Nile begins its 6,610km journey through Uganda, Sudan and eventually Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoy the night at our camp overlooking a dramatic set of rapids known as Bujagali Falls.

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Optional activities:
-Bungee jumping
-Quad biking
-White water rafting
-Community school project
-Nile cruise
-Nile stand up paddleboarding
-Kayaking
-Fishing trip
-Mountain biking

Jinja

Jinja is something of an adrenaline playground, and it is here that we usually have the option to try rafting – an exciting day out for those looking for a thrill of whitewater rapids. Other activities at Jinja include mountain biking, quad biking and village walks. Get your pulse racing by trying them all – if you dare.

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Optional activities:
-Bungee jumping
-Quad biking
-White water rafting
-Community school project
-Nile cruise
-Nile sup
-Kayaking
-Fishing trips
-Mountain biking

Jinja

There’s nothing like giving back to the local communities that you visit, so take the opportunity today to get involved with a local school project. 'Softpower' is a locally-run volunteer programme aimed at building and improving schools in the Jinja area, to which your contribution of a few hours of painting or plastering is always most welcome. Good vibes, guaranteed.

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Optional activities:
-Bungee jumping
-Quad biking
-White water rafting
-Community school project
-Nile cruise
-Nile stand up paddleboarding
-Kayaking
-Fishing trips
-Mountain biking

Jinja to Eldoret, Kenya

After our excitement-filled break in Jinja, we retrace our steps across the border with Kenya and on towards Eldoret, where we will camp for the evening. All good safaris aren’t complete without a night spent swapping stories with your fellow passengers around the campfire, so now’s your chance to tick that box.

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Eldoret to Nairobi

This morning we cross the Equator and make our way south to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and to our base just outside the city.

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch

Nairobi

Get out there and explore Nairobi today, solo explorer style. Meander the city however you see fit, or just ask your Trip Leader for the lowdown on all things Nairobi. With endless shopping, markets, bars, restaurants and a unique café culture, you'll have loads to choose from. Your Trip Leader will also be more than willing to help you arrange optional local excursions in and around the city, including a visit to the National Museum of Kenya, a safari at Nairobi National Park, or a wander around Karen Blixen Museum in the nearby town of Karen.

Meals:
-Breakfast

Optional activities:
-Giraffe Centre
-Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
-Karen Blixen Museum

Nairobi to Maasai Mara National Reserve

Travelling in small specialised safari vehicles, we depart early and make our way across the Great Rift Valley to the Maasai Mara National Reserve, enjoying views of the vast vista en route. Here, we spend two nights camping on the edge of the reserve with time to explore the park and catch sight of the animals on morning and afternoon game drives.

The 'Mara' is crossed every year between July and October by great herds of wildebeest, zebra and other grazing animals in their migration from the adjoining Serengeti plains to the south (in Tanzania). How long they stay is dependant of rainfall and subsequent grass growth in the rainy season, but the Mara is excellent for game viewing at any time of year so keep a lookout for Africa's Big Five and an array of other wildlife.

Included today:
-Maasai Mara National Reserve excursion

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Maasai Mara National Reserve

Start the day with an eye-opening morning game drive where we'll be on the constant lookout for the kinds of creatures you’d usually only see in guide books. In between our morning and afternoon game drives, we have plenty of time to relax and soak up the top-notch panoramic views that this outstanding area of natural beauty brings to the table. Note to self: pack camera.

Included today:
-Maasai Mara National Reserve excursion

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch
-Dinner

Maasai Mara National Reserve to Nairobi

Leaving the incredible natural wonderland of the Maasai Mara behind us, we make tracks back to the chaotic Kenyan city of Nairobi. This sadly marks the end of our grand adventure, but if you want to spend some more of your own time here in Nairobi your Trip Leader can help you arrange optional excursions locally. In a city this spectacular, we wouldn’t blame you.

Meals:
-Breakfast
-Lunch

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