Monday, October 8, 2012

Essential East African Safari

Two weeks in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya - Gorilla and Chimpanzee trekking in the Albertine Rift, hot air ballooning over Serengeti, and following the great migration to the Mara - staying in luxury lodges and traveling by safari vehicle and private plane


Day 1: Arrive Entebbe Airport, Uganda. Relax by the lake, wander around town or visit the Botanical Gardens. Dinner under the light of lanterns at the romantic Jahaza Grill, located in the middle of a forest overlooking the tranquil lakeshore and surrounded by primates and birds. Overnight at the Laico Lake Victoria Hotel

Day 2: Transfer (4 ½ hrs) by road to Kibale Forest National Park, the most accessible of Uganda's major rain forests and home to a remarkable thirteen primate species, including habituated chimpanzees, our closest relative in the wild. Transfer (½ hr) by road to Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary and see how local communities are working together to maintain this stunning wildlife reserve. Overnight at the Primate Lodge

Day 3: Morning chimpanzee trekking. Kibale’s 1450 chimpanzee represent Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate. Other primates include l’Hoest’s monkey, red colobus monkey, black and white colobus, blue monkey, grey cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkey, olive baboon, bush baby and potto. Night walk to look for nocturnal primates. Overnight at the Primate Lodge 

Day 4: Transfer (2 ½ hrs) by road to Queen Elizabeth National Park, surrounded by stunning views of the Rwenzoris (Mountains of the Moon), the Albertine Rift escarpments (eastern in Uganda, western in Congo), as well as Lake Edward and the Kazinga Channel. Afternoon game drive to spot lion, leopard and other predators, as well as elephant, warthog, kob and hartebeest. Overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge

Day 5: Late morning boat trip along the shores of the Kazinga Channel, connecting Lake George to Lake Edward, to spot buffalo, hippo and rare bird species. Transfer (2 hrs) by road to Ishasha, famous for its tree-climbing lions, for an afternoon game drive to spot lion, elephant, hippos and a vast array of antelope, some only found in this remote corner of the Albertine Rift. Transfer (2 ½ hrs) by road to Bwindi Forest . Overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp 

Day 6: Early morning gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, on the steep, rain-soaked slopes of the Bufumbira Mountains. Come face to face with those who Dian Fossey regarded as, “the greatest of the Great Apes” in their lush mountain forest habitat. Bwindi comprises 331 square kilometers of jungle forests and contains both montane and lowland forest, and is accessible only on foot.  The park provides habitat for some 120 species of mammals, 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, 163 species of trees, 100 species of ferns, 27 species of frogs, chameleons, geckos and many endangered species. Afternoon walk to the Pygmy community for a rich cultural exchange with Africa’s original inhabitants. Overnight at Gorilla Forest Camp

Day 7: Transfer (2 hrs) by light aircraft to Kijjansi Airport. Transfer (30 min) by road to Kampala. Enjoy a night in East Africa’s most entertaining capital, and the seat of the Bugandan Kingdom, with a tour of all the best sights. Overnight at Kampala Serena Hotel

Day 8: Transfer (1 hr) by commercial flight to Mwanza, Tanzania, at the southern end of Lake Victoria, and then (3½ hrs) by road to Serengeti National Park, the best known wildlife sanctuary in the world. Serengeti contains the greatest and most varied collection of wildlife on earth, including buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, cheetah, African hunting dog, baboon, caracal, civet, bat-eared fox, genet, giraffe, hippo, honey badger, hyrax, mongoose, ostrich, serval, both Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelle, vervet monkeys, eland, hartebeest, impala, kudu, reedbuck. Roan, topi, waterbuck, dik dik, duiker and oribi. Overnight at Kirawira Camp

Day 9: Early morning hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti world-famous for its role in the annual Great Migration, when over a million wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve. The balloon safari is not merely a game viewing experience, but an opportunity for an adventure and unique perspective over outstanding quintessentially African landscapes, starting with an ‘Out of Africa’ breakfast prepared and served in the bush, and ending with a traditional champagne toast. Evening game drive with sundowners. Overnight at Kirawira Camp

Day 10: Game drive and transfer (3 hrs), across the Serengeti and Sale plaines through a veritable graveyard of volcanoes. Lunch at Oldupai Gorge, where hominids have walked for 3.6 million years. Discover your distant human origins in the deepest levels of the gorge, and on the “living floor” where hominids camped and ate, eighteen thousand centuries ago. Transfer (1 hr) to Ngorongoro Crater stopping at Nainokanoka village along the way, to meet the ultimate conquerors of this primordial human domain: the Masai. Overnight at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Day 11:  Descend into Ngorongoro Crater, one of the great natural features of the planet, and one of the jewels in the crown of African wildlife destinations. Almost every major species of African plains wildlife can be found in this 164 square-kilometer caldera. Our game drive will explore the short-grass plains of the crater floor to spot lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo, and many, many more. Overnight at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Day 12:  Transfer (2 hrs) by light aircraft to the Masai Mara Game Reserve, which is effectively the northern continuation of Serengeti. As in the Serengeti, the wildebeest are the dominant inhabitants of the Masai Mara, and their numbers are estimated in the millions. Around July of each year these ungainly animals migrate north from the Serengeti plains in search of fresh pasture, and return to the south around October. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving some 1,300,000 wildebeest, 500,000 Thomson's gazelles, 97,000 Topi, 18,000 eland, and 200,000 zebras. These migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by hungry predators, most notably lions and hyena. Overnight at Little Governors Camp

Day 13:  Morning game drive in the Masai Mara Game Reserve, All members of the "Big Five" (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and black rhino) are found in the Masai Mara. Hippo and Nile crocodiles are found in large groups in the Mara and Talek rivers. Leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, and bat-eared foxes can also be found in the reserve. The plains between the Mara River and the Esoit Siria Escarpment are probably the best area for game viewing, in particular regarding lion and cheetah. Overnight at Little Governors Camp

Day 14:  Transfer to Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenya and head for home, with the timeless memories of your safari of a lifetime.


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