32 KENYA, TANZANIA, RWANDa AND UGANDA SAFARI HOLIDAY
Experience the great diversity of East Africa on thismonth are long Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania Tour through four incredible countries and partake in a momentous journey through exotic culture and nature.
In Uganda’s national parks, we find diverse ecosystems that house extensive ranges of biodiversity in the wetlands and we’ll have occasion to snap pictures of countless species of bird and butterflies, elephant and buffalo, as well as to cruise the waters inhabited by the largest hippo population in Africa.
In the thick, lush forests of the Parc National des Volcans on the slopes of the Virunga Mountain Range in Rwanda, we track a family of mountain gorillas and find about the issues this endangered species faces with poachers before heading to the Genocide Museum in Kigali to learn about the this tragic period of time in the country’s history.
Kenya and Tanzania are each highly recommended destinations when it comes to touring East Africa and together they make for the ultimate safari. Through more than half a dozen game parks and nature reserves, we find the best of East African nature; we see the world’s second-highest peak – Kilimanjaro – ‘The Big Five,’ the Serengeti Plains, volcanoes, waterfalls, mountain forests and the UNESCO-protected Ngorongoro Crater.
Ending our tour with exploration of the island paradise of Zanzibar only adds that bit of extra spice to our adventure. Regions visited: East Africa Countries visited: Uganda; Rwanda; Kenya and Tanzania.
Most meals are included (local restaurants and hotels). All accommodation, transport, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as ‘visited’ in the detailed itinerary, including 2 gorilla permits. Gratuities for driver-guides, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving/late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.
International airfare to/from the tour. Tour Leader gratuities, one lunch, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international (if applicable) and domestic air taxes, visa fees, and any excursions referenced as ‘optional’. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on shopping, visas, and locally payable departure taxes.
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN ENTEBBE, UGANDA
Today we arrive at Entebbe International Airport (the airport serving the capital) and transfer to our lodge nearby.
DAY 2: ENTEBBE – MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK
This morning we travel by road northwards and stop at the Ziwani Rhino Sanctuary, track the rhinos, and have lunch. We then proceed to Murchison Falls. The falls mark the spot where the River Nile, on its journey from its source at Lake Victoria to join Lake Albert, is suddenly channeled into a gorge only six meters wide and cascades 43 meters below.
The earth literally trembles at Murchison Falls — one of the world’s most powerful natural flows of water. Named them after Sir Roderick Murchison, president of the Royal Geographical Society, the falls also lend their name to the surrounding Murchison Falls National Park.
DAY 3: MURCHISON FALLS PARK
We begin the day with an early morning game drive on the Buligi, Albert or Queens tracks north of the river Nile. Here we have the chance to observe those animals closely associated with the African savannah like lion — leopard, giraffe, antelope, elephant, and warthog.
After lunch we have a cruise on the Nile River. The cruise takes to the bottom of the thundering falls where you will see huge crocodiles, hippo, buffalo, elephant and a variety of water birds like herons, cormorants, ducks, bee-eaters, kingfishers, skimmers, fish eagle and the rare shoebill. We return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.
DAY 4: MURCHISON FALLS – KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK
Early this morning, as we exit the park, we will stop at the top of Murchison Falls for a view before we continue by road to Kibale Forest National Park, famous for its families of habituated chimpanzees. The park it is home to an astonishing number of 12 species of primates, the highest density in the world!
DAY 5: KIBALE – QUEEN ELIZABETH II NATIONAL PARK
This morning we trek to see chimpanzees. Kibale National Forest has one of the highest diversity and concentration of primates in Africa, and is one of the best places not only in Uganda, but in the world, to see chimpanzees. Kibale Park is connected to Queen Elizabeth National Park in the South, hence allowing wildlife to freely move. This park has a total population of approximately 1,450.
Then we’ll have a walk through the Bigodi Swamps. The Kibale Association manages the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary for Rural and Environmental Organization, formed in 1992 with the aim of achieving social and economic development for local communities.
While on our guided walk around the swamps, we can distinguish many from the approximately 137 bird species found here, including the Snowy Headed Robin Chat, Black and White Casqued Horn-bill, Emerald Cuckoo and a variety of weavers, warblers, greenbuls and sunbirds. There is also an abundance of butterflies, and rich in vegetation, such as wild palms, polita figs and the dominant papyrus.
We depart Kibale by road for the Mweya Peninsula in Queen Elizabeth II National Park, dominated on its northern border by the snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains — the famous ‘Mountains of the Moon.’ The varied ecosystems of this park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for Humanity, support a wide variety of species including elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard.
Overnight at Queen Elizabeth II National Park: MWEYA SAFARI LODGE
Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
DAY 6: QUEEN ELIZABETH II NATIONAL PARK
This morning we embark on a game drive in open savannah covered by acacia trees on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley. We will search for the typical tree climbing Lions (among other things), a population which is found only in this part of the country. It is impressive to see the animals while they are resting on top of the fig trees.
This afternoon we cruise up the Kazinga Channel, a narrow band of water connecting lakes Edward and George. This is one of the most memorable experiences of a visit to Uganda, offering an opportunity to cruise amid members of Africa’s largest hippo population.
In addition to these giant semi-aquatic mammals, the launch affords unique opportunities to view other mammals and birds as they come to the water’s edge to drink and bathe. Birding is excellent, and we expect to see species ranging in size from the tiny, brilliant Malachite Kingfisher to the giant Goliath Heron.
DAY 7: QUEEN ELIZABETH II NATIONAL PARK – BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST
We have a morning road trip through the Ishasha Plains and the East African Rift Valley to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with picnic lunches (+/-6 hours). We pass through high, forested hills and through deep-farmed valleys.
The drive is reminiscent to what one would experience driving through central Europe — indeed this region of Uganda is often referred to as “Little Switzerland.”
DAY 8: BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST NATIONAL PARK: GORILLA TREKKING
Bwindi, a World Heritage Park, is home to just over half of the worlds remaining mountain gorilla population of 1,000 individuals. Today’s trek can take from one to six hours, sometimes more, at elevations in excess of 2270 m (7,500 ft) and over rough terrain.
Although the hike can be physically demanding, the anticipation of the exciting experience ahead is invigorating, and the beauty of the forest and its inhabitants is fascinating. For more info, go to www.uwa.or.ug. Your gorilla permits are included in the tour price.
The area around Bwindi is an excellent place for watching primates and birds and you may catch a glimpse of the noisy but evasive Chimpanzees or the beautiful Hornbills and Turacos. The forest is home to 120 species of mammals, 346 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies, and 163 species of trees, making it one of the richest ecosystems in Africa.
DAY 9: BWINDI, UGANDA – PARC NATIONAL DES VOLCANS, RWANDA
Today we travel by road +/- 6 hours via Kisoro to Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda, a journey that takes us through the beautiful terraced hillsides that characterize much of Rwanda’s landscape.
“In the heart of Central Africa, so high up that you shiver more than you sweat,” wrote the eminent primatologist Dian Fossey, “are great, old volcanoes towering up almost 15,000 feet, and nearly covered with rich, green rain-forest – the Virungas”.
Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, the Parc des Volcans protects the steep slopes of this magnificent mountain range–home of the rare mountain gorilla — and a rich mosaic of montane ecosystems, which embrace evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp and heath.
DAY 10: EXPLORE VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK: GORILLA TREKKING
Early this morning we drive to the park headquarters where we are briefed by the guides of the Parc des Volcans before we start our gorilla trek.
This 13,000-hectare national park protects the Rwanda sector of the Virunga Mountains, a range of six extinct and three active volcanoes which straddle the border with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bamboo forest is interspersed with alpine moorland, grassland and marsh.
Tracking the gorillas through the light mountain forest on the slopes of the Virungas is a magical experience. If you are lucky you will get to the gorillas, spend an hour with them, and be back at the base in time for a late lunch. Some gorilla families however are more elusive, and tracking can take a full day… especially when wet and muddy.
The Mountain Gorillas in the Parc National des Volcans are part of a worldwide population of just 740 individuals. The gorillas we are allowed to track belong to one of five habituated family groups.
For up to five years each, these groups have undergone an extremely delicate process that has gradually brought them to tolerate the presence of humans for a brief period every day and allowed a few privileged visitors to interact with them in the wild.
The gorillas are by no means tame, and are completely wild animals. However, experienced guides will accompany us on our tracking, many of who have been involved in the habituation process themselves. The guides will use their knowledge of the gorillas’ habits and information from the previous day to locate the group’s whereabouts.
Because of this, the time taken to track the gorillas varies enormously, from as little as 1 hour to as much as 8 hours before one returns to base. Once the gorillas are located, our group will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them.
Please remember that the mountain gorillas are a wild animal and are not enclosed in any form and free to move as they please. For these reason actual sightings of the gorilla groups cannot be guaranteed. For more information on gorilla tracking in Rwanda, go to www.ortpn.gov.rw.
DAY 11: PARC NATIONAL DES VOLCANS: TWIN LAKES & OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES
This morning you have some options.* You may choose to take a trek up to the grave of Dian Fossey and the remains of the Old Karisoke Research Station (additional cost; rate included in your pre-trip notes). For those who loved the book and/or the movie ”Gorillas In The Mist” the Dian Fossey trek could be a good option.
Over the course of the morning you follow in her footsteps as you trek to Dian Fossey’s grave and the many graves belonging to the poached gorillas, including that of Digit.
Please note that this involves a 30 minute (each way) drive to the trail head and a 60-90 minute moderately-steep hike (one-way). Please also note that if you choose this option, you will return too late to participate in the Twin Lakes excursion described below.
For a more leisurely experience (that allows you to go to the Twin Lakes as described below), trekking to the Golden Monkeys is highly recommended (additional cost – possibly also available tomorrow morning before departure). A short walk to the edge of the forest to see the endangered Golden Monkeys is a rare treat; watching these unique primates play and perform in the forest is mesmerizing.
This afternoon we offer an excursion to two scenic lakes usually referred to as the Twin Lakes; Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo, fed by rivers and a lake in Uganda.
The twin lakes area is very scenic, with steep and intensively farmed hills surrounding the pristine dark blue waters. They offer magnificent views over the whole of the Virunga Volcanoes (weather permitting).
* It is strongly advised that these options are pre-booked and confirmed at time of purchase of the main tour to ensure availability.
We regret that sometimes, due to the number of vehicles we ultimately have at our disposal, it may not be possible to accomplish all options listed. This situation will become clearer once we know the number of participants on your tour (approximately 60 days prior to departure).
DAY 12: PARC NATIONAL DES VOLCANS – KIGALI
Today we drive back to Kigali.
In Kigali we will have a brief look at Kigali and the Genocide Museum, opened in 2004 to mark the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. While the genocide occurred as a result of a complex series of factors, it can only be seen as an absolute tragedy to Rwanda and its people. Time spent at the Genocide Museum is moving and important in understanding the sheer courage and resilience of this beautiful, tiny nation.
DAY 13: KIGALI, RWANDA – NAIROBI, KENYA
Today we fly from Kigali to Nairobi.*
Part of Maasai land when the British arrived, Kenya’s modern capital grew with the development of the railway. Derived from a Maasai word meaning “Cold Water,” Nairobi is a pleasant mix of colonial British with modern and traditional African influences.
* NOTE: This flight is included if you purchase your international air through Adventures Abroad. Land only passengers can purchase this for an extra $350 USD.
Overnight in Nairobi: NAIROBI SERENA HOTEL
Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner
DAY 14: NAIROBI – OL PEJETA CONSERVANCY
Today we travel from Nairobi, through the “White Highlands,” so called because of the large number of Europeans who settled here, northwards to the lower slopes of Mt Kenya, rising to 5199 m (16,728 feet), Africa’s second highest peak. Our drive will take us into the Central Highlands, the heartland of the Kikuyu people.
This is a very fertile region, well-watered, intensively cultivated, and thickly forested. The land was coveted by the Europeans who began arriving in ever-increasing numbers once the railway through the area was completed. The settlers established coffee and tea plantations on the eastern slopes of Mt Kenya and cultivated wheat on the western slopes.
Our destination is Sweet-waters, a luxury tented camp clustered around a water hole and set in the pristine calm of the private Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a non-profit organization supporting endangered species, tourism and community outreach. Ol Pejeta is East Africa’s largest Black Rhino sanctuary, the only place in Kenya to see chimpanzees, and holds some of the highest predator densities in Kenya.
This afternoon we’ll enjoy our first game drive within the conservancy.
Overnight at Sweetwaters Camp: NAIROBI SERENA HOTEL
Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
DAY 15: OL PEJETA CONSERVANCY
Ol Pejeta is a mosaic of grass plains, wooded grassland, and acacia woodland and evergreen thicket extending for over 350 square kilometers. The conservancy boasts an astounding variety of animals, including the “Big Five.”
We will have morning and afternoon game drives today, as well as a chance to visit the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary — the only place in Kenya where this highly endangered and remarkably intelligent species can be seen.
The facility was initially established to receive and provide lifelong refuge to orphaned and abused chimpanzees from West and Central Africa. Here the chimpanzees are carefully nursed back to health so they can enjoy the rest of their days in the safety of a vast natural enclosure.
DAY 16: OL PEJETA – GREAT RIFT VALLEY – LAKE NAKURU NATIONAL PARK
This morning we travel to Lake Nakuru, a shallow soda lake in the Rift Valley. The Rift Valley was created millions of years ago under the strain of enormous volcanic eruptions which resulted in a giant split in the earth’s surface from Syria to Mozambique.
Lava flowed into the valley, forming escarpments on either side of the gigantic trough which can be up to 80 km (50 miles) wide, big enough to be visible from space. At the lake, depending on the water levels, we may have the opportunity to see flamingos,* in addition to the over 340 species of birds that have been recorded in the Rift Valley!
Lake Nakuru is very shallow and can fluctuate up to five metres (12 feet) each day. When the water is low, you can see a white band of crystallized soda along the shoreline. This is also one of the best places in Kenya to view the rare White Rhino as we explore the park on our afternoon game drive.
This, and other Rift Valley lakes, have been known in the past for huge numbers of flamingos; however, this can be very “hit and miss” owing to seasonal variations in rainfall and water level, and the increasing frequency of drought. The best we can do is hope for the best!
DAY 17: LAKE NAKURU – MAASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE
Early this morning we depart from Lake Nakuru National Park and continue our journey through the Rift Valley, passing by Lake Naivasha and nearby Mount Longonot, a relatively young volcanic reminder of the Rift’s violent past. We arrive at our lodge (via bad road) in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in time for lunch.
The Maasai Mara is a natural extension of the Serengeti eco-system and has an amazing concentration of wildlife. The largest population of lions in Kenya is found here, along with large herds of plains game. The Maasai Mara may also be the best place in Kenya to view cheetah. Later this afternoon we enjoy another game drive.
Time-permitting, we may be able to visit a Maasai village to witness the local way of life and meet its residents. If time does not permit, we will attempt this visit the village on our way back to Nairobi.
DAY 18: MAASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE
The Maasai Mara National Reserve consists of rolling grassland and is located at the northern end of the Serengeti Plain. Considered the best of Kenya’s parks, it is on the pathway of the yearly wildebeest migration, which comes north from Tanzania about the end of June and returns to Tanzania around the end of September.
“The Mara” sustains all of the “Big Five” — lion, elephant, leopard, rhinoceros and buffalo — as well as an astonishing wealth of herding animals and other wildlife. You can see the stately Maasai men and youth along the road tending their cattle and goats. We have a full day in the reserve, with morning and afternoon game drives.
In the Mara you will also have an optional opportunity to ascend over the northern Serengeti at daybreak in a hot air balloon (optional expense).
From over 300 m (984 feet) above, you will be able to view the vast land and the myriad animals that inhabit the Maasai Mara. Today or tomorrow are the best days to participate in this activity – details sent upon booking.
Overnight in the Maasai Mara National Reserve: MAASAI MARA SOPA LODGE
Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
DAY 19: MAASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE
We enjoy another full day with game viewing in Maasai Mara. Depending on the season and current game locations and viewing conditions, we may divide our day into morning and afternoon drives, or take our lunches with us in order to venture further into the reserve if conditions warrant.
DAY 20: MAASAI MARA – NAIROBI
After breakfast we depart for Nairobi. En route, just outside the capital, we visit the Karen Blixen Museum. Baroness Karen Blixen-Finecke emigrated from Denmark to Kenya in 1918 and, in 1937, wrote under the pseudonym, Isaac Dineson, “Out of Africa.”
The novel tells the tale of the Baroness’s experiences on a Kenyan farm. Her home is now a museum, restored to the style in which she maintained it.
DAY 21: NAIROBI – AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK
Today we travel south from Nairobi to the Amboseli National Park.
Just across the border from Tanzania, this park is situated on the African plain at the foot of snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, the continent’s tallest mountain at 5894 m (19,300 feet). Here the cone-shaped mountain seems to hover majestically over the shimmering African plains.
The Amboseli National Park is also famous for its large herds of elephants. Here they cover themselves in red dust, giving them an even more imposing appearance. On this afternoon’s game drive we hope to view animals grazing on the open plain with Mt Kilimanjaro providing the classic backdrop (weather-permitting).
DAY 22: AMBOSELI, KENYA – LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, TANZANIA
This morning we cross the border into Tanzania at Namanga and travel to Lake Manyara National Park via the town of Arusha, the starting point for the northern safari routes of Tanzania.
Manyara is the smallest of the northern parks in Tanzania (330 sq km, of which two thirds is the actual lake) hosting a wide variety of vegetation, ranging from savannah to ground water forest to riparian habitats.
The park is host to thousands of pelicans, ibis and flamingo that can be heard from afar. Other common visitors to this beautiful lake are hippos and the majestic African fish eagle, which can be seen swooping down from its perch to snatch a fish from the still waters of the lake.
After lunch at our lodge we will have an afternoon game drive in the park, located at the base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment and comprising of forest, woodland, grasslands, and swamps. Wildlife interest at Lake Manyara is not confined to bird life only; animals such as buffalo, elephant, giraffe, impala, hippo and a great variety of smaller animals also inhabit the park.
DAY 23: LAKE MANYARA – SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
This morning we enter the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a beautiful rolling landscape with periodic views over the Ngorongoro Crater. Before descending onto the Serengeti Plain, we’ll stop at a viewpoint overlooking the crater.
The name “Serengeti” derives from a Maasai word meaning “Land-without-end.” This is a land of superlatives, both in the vast landscape that surrounds you and the incredible biodiversity it supports. It is here that you have a chance to witness one of the most compelling natural dramas on earth — the annual migration, a sight
Unparalleled anywhere in the natural world. Our afternoon game drive provides an excellent introduction to this fantastic landscape and the biodiversity it supports.
DAY 24: SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
Today we have a full day of game viewing on the Serengeti. We will visit the “kopjes,” a series of low, incongruous hills dotting the open landscape that often provide a vantage point for hungry predators contemplating the endless stream of hoofed animals parading past them.
Depending on the season and the timing of the rains, up to 1.5 million wildebeest and a half a million zebra embark on a single-minded and perilous quest for water and grazing land. Following this spectacle, of course, are the meat-eating opportunists, hoping to capitalize on the physical toll this journey exacts on the desperate grazers.
Even outside of “migration” time, large herds are still seen as they bear their young and feed, gaining strength for their annual return to the parks northern reaches. Resident species that do not migrate make for rewarding animal viewing in any season.
It may be possible to take an optional hot-air balloon safari over the plains at daybreak; today is the best day to participate in this activity – details will be sent sent upon booking.
DAY 25: SERENGETI – OLDUVAI GORGE – NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
Traveling back to Ngorongoro today we make a stop at Olduvai Gorge, site of the Leakey excavations in the 1960s and 70s that established this region as the prehistoric habitat of some of the earliest species of hominids with some finds dating back 1.8 million years.
Experts in the life sciences have argued that the Olduvai contribution to the story of human origins remains unsurpassed by any other prehistoric site in the world. A small museum on site outlines the unique geological and human history of the area.
Called the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ and stretching across some 8300 sq km, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area boasts a blend of landscapes, wildlife, people and archaeology that is unsurpassed in Africa.
The volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and mountain forests are home to an abundance of animals and to the Maasai. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles and its magical setting and abundant wildlife never fail to enthral visitors.
Balance of the day at leisure to enjoy our lodge overlooking the crater.
DAY 26: NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
Today we enjoy a half-day tour in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.* after an early breakfast we descend into the crater far below for a game drive in this incredible setting, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We explore the Ngorongoro Crater, 20 km (13 miles) wide and 700 m (2,300 feet) high where we may see the “Big Five” as well as many herbivores like wildebeest, gazelle, zebra and hippopotamus, as well as thousands of flamingos on Lake Magadi.
* In order to reduce congestion and stress on wildlife, the Tanzanian government limits
Visitors to half-day visits of the crater. Depending on what time “window” we are assigned, our excursion may take place first thing in the morning, or later in the afternoon (both of which are equally advantageous for game viewing, given the relatively mild climate at this altitude).
DAY 27: NGORONGORO – GIBB’S FARM – ARUSHA
This morning we descend the Ngorongoro Highlands, retracing our steps back to Arusha via a lunch stop at Gibb’s Farm. Founded during German colonial times and still privately owned, Gibb’s Farm is now a small hotel perched on the outer slopes of the Ngorongoro Highlands, surrounded by coffee plantations with long views over lush and beautiful agricultural country.
We pass again through the town of Mto Wa Mbu (‘Mosquito Creek’), famous for its lively cosmopolitan atmosphere and red bananas, which taste the same as regular bananas but their skins are a startling bright red. We arrive back in Arusha later this afternoon.
DAY 28: ARUSHA – ZANZIBAR: TOWN TOUR
This morning we fly to Zanzibar and transfer to our hotel in Stone Town. Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets.
Zanzibar Island is 96 km (60 miles) long and 32 km (20 miles) wide, occupying a total area of approximately 1040 km sq (650 sq miles). It is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town — said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa.
Zanzibar’s local people are an incredible mixture of ethnic backgrounds, indicative of her colourful history. Islam is the dominant religion, and practiced by most Zanzibaris, although there are also followers of Christianity and Hinduism.
Population is estimated at 800,000, with the largest concentration being Zanzibar City, which has approximately 100,000 inhabitants. Zanzibar is speak Swahili (known locally as Kiswahili), a language spoken extensively in East Africa. Many believe that the purest form is spoken in Zanzibar as it is the birthplace of the language.
This afternoon we have a walking tour of Stone Town, the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, little changed in the last 200 years. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings.
This one-upmanship is particularly reflected in the brass-studded, carved, wooden doors — there are more than 500 different examples of this handiwork. Our tour takes us to the House of Wonders, the Palace Museum (People’s Palace), the old slave market, the Arab Fort, and the Hamamni Persian Baths. Stone Town has some excellent gifts shops with plenty of souvenirs and handicrafts to choose from.
NOTE: The exact order of our Zanzibar sightseeing may vary depending on variables such as weather and other logistical considerations.
DAY 29: JOZANI FOREST & STONE TOWN
This morning we visit the Jozani Natural Forest Reserve located in the central east region of Zanzibar Island, home to the rare red colobus monkey, endemic to Zanzibar.
These monkeys are full of character and roam freely. They can also be seen at very close quarters just outside the reserve’s perimeter and are incredibly photogenic. Jozani is home to other species including Syke’s monkeys, small buck and bushpigs.
This afternoon is free to enjoy Stone Town. Most of the houses that can be seen today were built in the 19th Century when Zanzibar was one of the most important trading centres in the Indian Ocean region. The coraline rock of Zanzibar was a good building material, but it is also easily eroded.
This is evident by the large number of houses that are in a bad state of repair. Several buildings have already been renovated and the Stone Town Conservation Authority has been established to coordinate the restoration of the town to its original magnificence.
DAY 30: SPICE TOUR – EAST COAST
The history of Zanzibar would be incomplete without a ‘spice tour.’ Cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and many other spices were as important to the Sultans of Oman as the infamous slave trade. They can be seen in the plantations just outside Zanzibar town, and our morning tour includes opportunities to dazzle the senses with fresh spices.
A detailed description is given about a variety of spices and their uses in cooking and cosmetics. It is fascinating the sheer number of spices produced and their incredible value for many ailments and culinary applications. We then travel to our resort-style hotel located on a beach outside of Stone Town.
DAY 31: ZANZIBAR: EAST COAST RESORT
A day at leisure to enjoy the beach and to rest up after our journey…
Overnight on Zanzibar: SULTAN SANDS ISLAND RESORT
Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner
DAY 32: DEPARTURE FROM ZANZIBAR
We usually have some free time this morning before our afternoon departure from Zanzibar. SAFARI NJEMA!
SEASONALITY AND WEATHER
UGANDA & RWANDA: Temperatures average about 25C (79°F) during the day and 15C (60°F) at night. The hottest months are from December to February when the daytime range is 26-28C (81 to 84°F). The rainy seasons in the south are from April to May and late October through November, the wettest month being April. Humidity is generally low outside of the wet seasons.
Jan-Mar: Post-short rains with many migratory birds from Europe, though high grass can make game spotting a challenge. Airfares are lower. Sept/Oct is often hot and dusty though game viewing is excellent due to short grass and animals congregating around water sources.
If you’re a fan of African wildlife photography/television programming, you’re likely familiar with and keen on witnessing the annual ‘Great Migration’ of wildebeest and zebra in the Serengeti and/or Maasai Mara. Unfortunately, there is no neat and tidy answer re when is the best time to possibly witness the spectacle as it doesn’t have a simple start or end, just a dynamic cycle of wild movement through the year.
Nor is it the same each year either as the migration is largely driven by the unpredictable rains, which means that wildebeest migration doesn’t operate on a set schedule. It also doesn’t follow a set route. Nor do the animals all go the same way.
That said, in the broadest of terms, the best time to see the Great Migration—meaning large herds of hooved animals—is probably during the dry season, between July and early October. This is not to say you won’t see them outside of this time as our travelers often do, but, like nature itself, it is all about luck and timing.
They may not all be dramatically on the move, but rather just standing around eating and cavorting, but you’ll likely encounter the herds at some point on their/your journey.
If you have your heart set of witnessing hundreds of wildebeest crossing a river en masse, getting chomped by crocodiles like you see on National Geographic, bear in mind that those photographers probably waited days or weeks to capture that exact moment—so good luck and happy ‘hunting’!
TRANSPORT AND TRAVEL CONDITIONS
We travel by touring mini-bus, with seating for approx. six. Main roads are generally good but travel is much slower than on European or American roads. Secondary roads are of variable quality and often slow and bumpy, especially around the gorilla parks.
Aside from our Gorilla treks, the trip is quite leisurely and not tremendously physical. We’ll have some full days of travel, some early starts, and will be moving around a lot on an ambitious program.
Mountain gorillas are a major attraction of this tour and the following is compiled to maximize your enjoyment and understanding of these animals. Gorillas are very special animals – rare, gentle, like us yet so different. Tracking gorillas is a unique experience – the trek will take you into a strange land to meet these unusual creatures on their own terms.
Gorilla tracking is an intense experience that can take all day. A trek can take from one to six hours, sometimes more, at elevations in excess of 2270m (7,500 ft) and over rough terrain. Local guides will have a very good idea where the gorillas are and how far away they may be on the morning of our excursion.
If they have the luxury of doing so, and if there are multiple gorilla family groups to choose from, the guides may choose to divide the group into groups that are less/more capable physically and assign participants dependent on estimated distance. But, of course, this cannot be guaranteed.
Although the hike can be physically demanding, the anticipation of the exciting experience ahead is invigorating, and the beauty of the forest and its inhabitants is fascinating.
We must also stress that, while you have a very good chance of seeing gorillas, the parks that we visit clearly state that success is NOT guaranteed! They are wild creatures with no fixed routine, and finding them requires the skill and experience of your trackers and guides, as well as luck!
For more information, go to www.uwa.or.ug and www.ortpn.gov.rw
Am I suitable for this tour? Please refer to our self-assessment form.
UGANDA/RWANDA have only re-emerged as tourist destinations in the last few years and their lodges and camps are not as luxurious as in some African countries.
KENYA/TANZANIA hotels and lodges used are 4-5 star properties with hot water, electricity, mosquito netting, dining areas, bar, swimming pools. Remote lodges are not air-conditioned though many are at higher elevations where heat is not a factor.
Hotel porter service is available throughout (see ‘Inclusions’). Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins. Many lodges are quite spread out and you will need to be able to walk up to 10 minutes from public areas to your room.
STAFF AND SUPPORT
Groups of six or fewer participants (one vehicle), will be led / guided by one of our local driver-guides. Only multi-vehicle groups will be assigned an Adventures Abroad Tour Leader.
GROUP SIZE: Maximum 20 plus Tour Leader.
32 KENYA, TANZANIA, RWANDa AND UGANDA SAFARI HOLIDAY