DAYS 50 – 64: UGANDA, RWANDA & KENYA
Kampala has had a turbulent past, but these days it is a friendly and safe city. You have a free day to spend in local cafes and nightspots where you can get to know the local people. There is also the opportunity to spend the day visiting a local Chimpanzee Sanctuary and rehabilitation centre on one of the islands on Lake Victoria.
The following day you will have a long drive as you head west through swamps, patches of forest and fertile green countryside. As you travel through Uganda, you’ll pass through a number of small towns and villages; Mpigi, where you will see roadside stalls manufacturing and selling traditional musical instruments; Kyazanga, where you can buy fresh rotisserie and roasted meat and vegetables, as well as roasted plantain bananas. You will also be able to make a photo stop where your route crosses the Equator.
The Virunga range of volcanic mountains and the rainforests on these mountain slopes are home to several families of Highland Mountain Gorillas. Getting up close to these amazing creatures is a truly a once in a lifetime experience and one of the highlights of the trip. You have the opportunity to trek to see the Gorillas in Rwanda (bookable as an Add on).
It is estimated that only around 700 of these gentle giants remain. This mountainous area on the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and Zaire (now renamed Democratic Republic of Congo) is their only natural habitat and they are periodically threatened by poachers and political instability in the area. Your permit allows you to spend about 50 to 60 minutes with one of the gorilla families. Trekking to find them in groups of 8 people can take anywhere from half an hour to 5 hours. The organisations and well-trained guides that continually monitor and protect the families are conscientious and responsible. There will also be an opportunity to visit the genocide memorial in Kigali, which is a moving and humbling experience.
You then return towards Kampala and camp near Jinja, Uganda’s adventure playground. Here, on the edge of Lake Victoria, the Nile begins its 6700km journey to the sea. You spend the next few days downstream from the source of the Nile. This is a spectacular area, and a superb place to go whitewater rafting or kayaking. You can also organise quad biking, horse riding or a visit to a local education project.
Returning to Kenya, you will travel through the heart of the Rift Valley, with views from atop a steep escarpment opening up some of the most dramatic scenery in the world. Hills covered in tea plantations and rural scenery lead you to Lake Nakuru National Park, home to a wide variety of wildlife including Black Rhino, Hippo, Lion, Leopard, Hyena and Giraffe. However, Nakuru is a soda lake and most famous for its pink inhabitants, a flock of almost a million Pink Flamingos which feed noisily along the shoreline.
A half-day drive brings you to Lake Naivasha. You will camp near the lakeshore where Hippos sometimes feed at night! Here you can walk to Elsamere, the house of Joy Adamson – of Elsa the Lion and Born Free fame, and enjoy a film of her life – and cream teas! You can also hire mountain bikes and cycle or walk through Hells Gate National Park – the only game reserve in Kenya in which you are permitted to do so. Or for a less active but equally enjoyable game viewing experience – visit the Crater Lake Game Sanctuary. Both offer excellent scenery & opportunities to spot hyrax, abundant bird & plant life along with several types of gazelle, impala and eland.
From Naivasha it is only a few hours drive to Narobi. Your 3-4 day layover in Nairobi will give you a chance to relax, drink an ice cold beer and catch up with world news & events with English language newspapers. From here you have the opportunity to visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, where Oasis helps support one of the elephants (Kamboyo). A great experience to see the nursery animals come out for their daily mud bath and comical play and to see the amazing work the centre does with rescued and injured elephants and rhino. Nearby is the Langata Giraffe Centre, where you can learn more about these gentle and majestic creatures – hopefully getting the chance to get up close to feed them.
There is also time for you to pick up mail and post home any carvings and souvenirs you don’t wish to lug home with you – before continuing on the last leg of the expedition to Cape Town.