DAYS 63 – 94: KENYA, UGANDA & RWANDA
Crossing the border from Ethiopia into Kenya you will have a full day’s drive and will camp for the night in the town of Moyale, either at the police station or in a local campsite. Over the next two days you will be travelling through the very rarely-visited region of northern Kenya on the infamous Marsabit-Moyale road. Both days will be fairly long hard driving, and the road can be incredibly bumpy and challenging, but scenery makes up for this as you travel through the black lunar landscapes near Marsabit and pass mountain greenery, spectacular craters, watercourses, bush country and termite mounds.
Please note that due to security issues in this particular area, you will be accompanied by two armed police escorts.
On the second day of your journey through northern Kenya, you will reach the Samburu region near to the small town of Archer’s Post, where you will visit a Samburu village. Here you will be shown around the village and their homes, play with the children and learn all about the way of life here for the Samburu people! You will camp in the village in the heart of the community tonight, where there are no toilet or washing facilities.
An early start will see you heading into the Samburu National Reserve, where you will enjoy a full day of game drives in the truck (breaking for a long lunch during the heat of the day). Samburu is a stunning National Reserve and is a great opportunity to spot big game such as cheetah, leopards, lions, and buffalo. The Reserve is also home to other animals rarely seen in the National Parks further south, such as Grevy’s zebras, Somali ostriches and gerenuk (‘giraffe-necked antelopes’). Please note that during very wet conditions we may need to use locally chartered 4×4 jeeps rather than our truck to get a good game drive in – in this instance we may make this option available at extra cost.
Exiting the Samburu National Park the next morning via a final game drive, you will head for the small village of Naro Moru at the base of Mount Kenya. Here you have a free day in Naro Moru to take optional walks around the lower slopes of Mount Kenya, explore the nearby Mau Mau caves, or take an optional game drive in the nearby Sweetwaters National Reserve.
From Naro Moru you will drive through the hills of central Kenya, through the area’s beautiful scenery and tea plantations, to arrive at Nakuru. If you make good time on the drive you may have the opportunity to take a walk around the working dairy farm where your campsite is, and to visit a local women’s knitting collective.
A full-day game drive in Nakuru National Park is included. Lake Nakuru National Park was established in 1968 to protect the huge flocks of lesser and greater flamingos that live here. At times there are over one million of these spectacular birds roaming around the acrid waters of the soda lake that is the centrepiece of the park. Even if you are not a keen birdwatcher the sight is inspiring and it is not hard to understand why the lake has become such a favourite for African wildlife documentaries. Nakuru is also where much of the film “Out of Africa” was shot. The park is located on the floor of the Rift Valley and is a mixture of bushland, forest and rocky escarpment. Each area is an important habitat for many different species of wildlife.
Besides the prolific birdlife, the park is also well established as one of East Africa’s premier parks for big game. Next to the lake, hippo, waterbuck, warthogs, Bohor’s reedbuck and zebra can regularly be found. Further up in the forests there’s a large population of black and white colobus monkeys; and the ultimate forest predator, the leopard. The bushland on the valley floor is home to a large variety of antelope and gazelle including eland, impala, Chandler’s reedbuck and the tiny dikdik; and the inevitable pride of lions. You can also see Rothschild giraffe here, but Nakuru’s biggest draw is probably it’s rhinos. In the late 1980s the Kenyan Wildlife Services used the park as a rhino sanctuary, and it now has a stable black and white rhino population.
From Nakuru it is a short drive to your next stop, Lake Naivasha, a beautiful calm lake in the Great Rift Valley. Here you will have the chance to take an optional boat trip on the lake to spot hippos and African fish eagles, and also to visit the Elsamere Born Free Foundation at the old home of Joy Adamson.
From Naivasha you will head to Kenya’s bustling capital, Nairobi, where you will have one night (but you will be returning here later in the tour).
After an early breakfast you will make your way to Gilgil where you will visit the Saidia Children’s Home – a Dragoman-supported home for orphaned children from the area. From Gilgil you will return to Nakuru, and the next morning you will have the opportunity to do another game drive in the park before heading to Kericho in the afternoon where there is an optional tour around a nearby tea plantation.
From Nakuru you will cross the border into Uganda, and head for Jinja, the adventure capital of East Africa! You will have a free day here to get involved in the many optional adventure activities available here, such as white water rafting, bungee jumping and boat trips on the White Nile!
Continuing north, you stop off at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary close to the town of Nakitoma. Here you will have the chance to track rhinos on foot with a local ranger. The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary was created to reintroduce rhinoceros to Uganda, which have been extinct since 1982. The 70 square kilometre sanctuary in pristine bush country is currently home to the only wild rhinos in Uganda. From rhinos to chimpanzees! Leaving Ziwa behind you head for Kaniyo Pabidi in the Budongo Forest in the southern part of the Murchison Falls National Park. Here you will head out for our included chimpanzee tracking walk in the afternoon or following morning (depending on group size).
You will continue your exploration of Murchison Falls National Park with a ranger-guided game drive through the northern area of the National Park. You will also have an included launch cruise on the Nile to spot wildlife from the water and see the spectacularly powerful Murchison Falls. The Falls are where the Nile, the world’s longest river, explodes violently through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment to plunge into a frothing pool 43m below.
A full day’s drive will take you to Kampala, Uganda’s capital, a friendly city with a unique buzz about it and some great bars and clubs. From Kampala you will continue travelling south through Uganda to reach Lake Bunyonyi, home to some of the most picturesque scenery in the whole of the country, where you will hopefully get the opportunity to explore the lake by boat and admire the surrounding landscape. Enroute we will cross the equator and stop for the mandatory photos!
Leaving Uganda behind for now, you will cross into Rwanda, and travel first to the capital city of Kigali, where you will have an included visit to the incredibly moving Genocide Memorial. After this you will drive the short distance to Ruhengeri (also known as Musanze), the gateway to the Volcanoes National Park, where we will spend the next 2 nights.
On the next day, you will go on what is undoubtedly the highlight of the trip – trekking to see the Mountain Gorillas in their natural forest habitat. This region is one of the last remaining sanctuaries for the mountain gorilla. No more than 8 people per day can visit any one habituated family, and visits are strictly controlled to minimise the possibility of disturbance or transmission of disease to the animals. When visiting the gorillas you will be assigned a trekking group and time on your permit. The group may be split up into different trekking groups during the day.
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; however, 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 at least 4 hours – up and down hill. 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! Once you find them, you will stay with the gorillas for one unforgettable hour!
After a free morning to explore the town of Ruhengeri you will head out of Rwanda, crossing back into Uganda stopping off in Kabale town before continuing to Queen Elizabeth National Park, beautifully set between the Great Rift Valley lakes of Edward and George. On your way to the campsite you will have a game drive, and then after lunch we will take a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, well-known for pelicans, eagles and other wonderful birdlife as well as its healthy population of hippos. During your time in the park you also hope to see elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, Ugandan kobs and waterbucks.
You will take another short game drive on your way out of the park and you will then head back to the east through Kampala back to Jinja for one night, before continuing back into Kenya and an overnight stop in Eldoret where where you have the option to visit a local cheese factory and creamery before heading to the campsite at Naiberi River just outside of town.
From Eldoret you will return to Nairobi for another night before embarking on your 3-day / 2-night trip into the Maasai Mara. The Maasai Mara National Reserve is a vast savanna in southern Kenya, and one of the greatest places in the world to spot East African wildlife in its natural habitat! The area has a phenomenal abundance of wildlife and huge populations of lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, zebra, antelopes, gazelles, wildebeest, hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, and many more. As well as being teeming with wildlife, the sheer beauty of the region is equally breathtaking – the rolling hills, scrub, savanna, and trees create a stunning backdrop and atmosphere. You will again be travelling in 6-person 4×4 jeeps while your overland truck remains in Nairobi.
On arrival you will have the chance for a short evening game drive in the Maasai Mara National Park before heading to your campsite. On the next day, you will go out for the full day game driving in the National Park before returning to your campsite for a second night. There is also the opportunity for a sunset balloon flight over the savannah – demand for this activity is very high so you it must be booked when you book your trip.
From the Maasai Mara you will return to Nairobi for another night before crossing the border into Tanzania the next day.