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.
- 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.
Day 1: Nairobi
Jambo! Welcome to Kenya. Your Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid, begins with a welcome meeting this evening. Afterwards, perhaps join your new travel companions for an optional group dinnerThere are plenty of good bars and restaurants, and markets and shops for essentials as well as arts and crafts from the region.
Day 2: Lake Nakuru National Park
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. You’ll arrive in time for a short evening game drive along the shore of the lake. 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. (B, L, D)
Day 3: Eldoret
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. Tonight, enjoy a traditional dinner at your campsite located just outside of Eldoret town. (B, L, D)
Day 4: Kampala
Today you will leave Kenya behind and cross the border into landlocked Uganda, travelling on to its capital city, Kampala. 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. (B, L)
Day 5: Kalinzu Forest
Travel to Kalinzu Forest National Park. 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. (B, D)
Day 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park
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. 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. (B, L, D)
Day 7: Kisoro
Today, drive out of the Queen Elizabeth National Park on your way to the southwest tip of Uganda. 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. (B, L, D)
Day 8: Gorilla Trek
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. (B, L, D)
Day 9: Gorilla Trek
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. (B, L, D)
Day 10: Mbarara
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. 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. (B, L, D)
Day 11: Jinja
Today you’ll continue your journey inland, travelling towards Jinja. 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. (B, L, D)
Day 12: Jinja
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 time here at your own pace, with numerous optional activities to choose from (at extra cost) if you want. (B, L, D)
Day 13: Kericho
Farewell Uganda and begin the journey back to Kenya and Nairobi, stopping overnight at the town of Kericho. 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. (B, D)
Day 14: Masai Mara National Reserve
This morning, drive to the famous Masai Mara National Park. 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. (B, L, D)
Day 15: Masai Mara National Reserve
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. (B, L, D)
Day 16: Nairobi
Return to the bustling metropolis of Nairobi. 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. (B, L)
- Meals: 15 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 13 dinners
- Transport: Overland vehicle, 4×4 Safari Vehicle
- Accommodation: Camping (with facilities) (13 nights), Hotel (1 night), Hotel with shared facilities (1 night)