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8 Day Gorilla Trekking and Safari Tour in Kenya and Uganda

Masai Mara, Kenya ; Entebbe - Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Exciting Safari in Kenya and Uganda

Still one of the world’s best kept natural secrets, Uganda receives far less visitors than its neighboring countries. Characterized by dramatic scenery throughout, it is Home to deep lakes, stunning waterfalls, towering mountains and incredible wildlife. Uganda also has the highest concentration of primates on earth, including the mountain gorilla – now one of the rarest animals on the planet. There are just under 800 mountain gorillas in the world and over 460 of them reside in Uganda – mainly found in the epic Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

Key information

  • Starting point: Masai Mara, Kenya
  • Ending point: Entebbe, Uganda
  • Children policy: Parents travelling with children would now be requested to provide an unabridged birth certificate (including the details of the child’s father as well as the mother) of all travelling children.
  • National park fees, concession fees, and gorilla trek permit are included.

Highlights

  • 3 game drives and 2 gorilla treks
  • See gorillas, big cats, and the Big Five
  • Visit Masai Mara Game Reserve and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks
  • Local flights transfers while on the safari
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Airport transfers

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


7 activity days
Airport transfer included: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
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Accommodation

Facilities

  • Hot tub / Jacuzzi
  • Spa
  • Bar
  • Café
  • Concierge desk
  • Dining area
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • Lobby
  • Lounge
  • Luggage room / storage
  • Meditation garden
  • Multilingual staff
  • Picnic area
  • Restaurant
  • Special menu request
  • Terrace
  • Yoga deck
  • Bicycle rental
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Ironing / ironing board
  • Laundry
  • Library
  • Medical assistance
  • Newspapers
  • Pet care / grooming
  • Tour assistance
  • Wedding
  • Wireless internet
  • Outdoor shower

Your first three nights will be in Sanctuary Olonana, your fourth night will be in Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort and Spa, and your last three nights will be in Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp.

Sanctuary Olonana

Sanctuary Olonana is an award-winning tented safari camp on a private stretch of the Mara River in the heart of Kenya’s most famous game reserve, the Masai Mara.

This small and exclusive camp, the first of Sanctuary’s luxury safari properties, was built along sustainable lines which, along with our innovative wetlands and tree-planting projects, have earned Sanctuary Olonana a Gold Award from Ecotourism Kenya. Game drives, cultural visits, bush dinners, sundowners, scenic flights and balloon rides, Olonana makes for a wonderful African safari.

Built on the banks of the Mara River, the fourteen canvas tents at Sanctuary Olonana are extremely comfortable and spacious. The en-suite tents all have two double beds with floor to ceiling mosquito netting – making them perfect for families travelling with small children. Each of the private verandas overlook the river and offer the perfect spot where guests can relax and watch the resident hippos wallow in the water. There are also two honeymoon suites, each featuring outdoor showers.

Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

Located within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is the perfect base from which to track the park’s most famous resident - the mountain gorilla. The main area features a comfortable lounge and bar area as well as the main dining area while the mini spa offers a wide selection of treatments.

Located within the National Park, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp offers guests an unrivalled location, including the best bird and wildlife viewing in the Bwindi area. In fact Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp often receives regular visits from the gorillas themselves. For the lucky guests in camp at those times, they may have the chance for a gorilla encounter without even leaving Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp.

Program

We have taken the stress out of holiday planning and you will be guided every step of the way along this adventurous Safari in Africa.

Day 1: Sanctuary Olonana

On arrival at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) you will be met by a sanctuary representative who will transfer you to Wilson Airport (WIL) for your connection to the Masai Mara. Your Sanctuary Olonana guide will meet you at the airstrip and drive you to the camp with some great game viewing en route.

On arrival, relax and freshen up in your tent before lunch is served. The tents are very spacious and have floor to ceiling mosquito netting, en-suite bathrooms with hot showers, flush lavatories, solar lighting and large, river view verandahs. The main dining room and veranda commands a dramatic stretch of the Mara River providing the perfect setting for afternoon tea and after dinner star gazing.

As your afternoon game drive comes to an end, drive to a specially chosen vantage point overlooking the Mara plains. Enjoy drinks as you take in the beauty of the rapid sunset coloring the acacia dotted plains before returing to the camp for a delicious dinner. Lunch and dinner included.

Day 2: Sanctuary Olonana

This morning after breakfast at the camp venture out led by the expert guides to explore the Mara. The Mara is a fabulous place for seeing big cats and all of the big five, a variety of plains game and over 300 bird species. The plains offer a rich variety of food for the dominant predators: lion; leopard; hyena and cheetah.

Elephants browse amongst the large herds of wildebeest and topi, eland and buffalo, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle. In the Mara River, hippos submerge to snort and grumble while crocodiles sunbathe, mouths agape, on the riverbanks. From around July to October, there’s the greatest show on Earth – the wildebeest migration.

Mid-afternoon high tea will be served before your next activity. During your stay there are a variety of activities that can be booked on request such as a balloon safari. All meals included.

Day 3: Sanctuary Olonana

Today you might like to walk with a naturalist and learn about plants, trees, insects, and even how to approach animals on foot, as your guide shows you how to spot animal signs which are everywhere but not that easily noticed. Or choose from one of the options above.

On your last evening drive out into the bush where a private and secluded clearing has been prepared for an elegant dinner in the middle of the wilderness. The table setting is as sophisticated and elegant as found in the finest restaurants.

Candles flicker in the darkness, throwing golden lights on the table cloth as smiling waiters serve a delicious dinner. After dinner retire to the warmth of the campfire where brandies and liqueurs are served as guests relax and absorb the peace and beauty of an African night. All meals included.

Day 4: Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort and Spa

After breakfast, your guide will transfer you to the airstrip for your flight to Nairobi’s Wilson Airport (WIL). On arrival you will be met by a Sanctuary Retreats representative who will drive you the short distance to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) where you will be able to enjoy lunch.

Depart late afternoon for your flight to Entebbe, Uganda. On arrival in Entebbe you will be met by a sanctuary representative who will transfer you to your Entebbe / Kampala hotel. Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 5: Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

This morning after breakfast, you will be picked up and transferred to Entebbe International Airport (EBB) for your scheduled flight to Kihihi Airstrip (KHX) where a sanctuary representative will meet and transfer you to the camp. The transfer time is approximately one hour and 30 minutes.

Gorilla Forest Camp is located within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the perfect base for a tracking experience as it offers luxury in the heart of the rainforest. Lunch is served at camp. In the afternoon you can just relax and take in the fresh air or take a forest walk, which is a nice way to warm up before the Gorilla tracking.

Birders come thousands of miles to see the more than 350 species that live within the area. There are also rare forest elephant, giant forest hog and eleven kinds of primates, such as red tailed and blue monkey, black and white colobus, baboons and chimpanzee. All meals included.

Day 6: Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

Have an early breakfast this morning before a briefing from your guide. Tracking commences every morning from the park headquarters at 8:30 a.m. The gorillas you track belong to one of the ‘habituated’ family groups in Northern Bwindi. For several years each group has undergone an extremely delicate process that has gradually made them used to the presence of humans.

Experienced guides will accompany the tracking, many of who have been involved in the habituation process themselves. Once the gorillas are located, the group will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them. Return to camp for dinner. All meals included.

Day 7: Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp

Today relax at camp or visit a local village and meet the villagers to learn about their day to day lives. On this walk you can visit a honey production site, a traditional medicine man, a traditional blacksmith, a local school when in term and even attend a Batwa dance performance. The walk is organised with the local community as part of the community support.

You could take also take a bird walk. Bwindi boast over 300 bird species, including 24 that are endemic to these highlands straddling Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo – the “Albertine Rift Endemics”. There are also over 200 species of butterflies found in the park.

A local expert will guide you on this fascinating walk. Lunch and dinner at the lodge. After dinner simply relax and sip a drink as you listen to folk tunes played on the traditional Bakiga guitar. All meals included.

Day 8; Departure

This morning you will enjoy breakfast at the camp, before your transfer to Kihihi Airstrip (KHX) for your shared scheduled flight back to Entebbe International Airport (EBB). Breakfast included.

Gorilla trekking

The gorillas are completely wild but have become used to seeing a few humans after years of habituation. Many of the expert guides have been involved in this process since the beginning and are able to explain the complicated etiquette involved in meeting a giant silverback.

This is an opportunity afforded only to a select few, as just eight visitors are allowed to view each group every day. Tracking through dense forest with steep slopes means that participants do need to be physically fit to enjoy the track. Once the gorillas are located, spend a maximum of one hour with them before returning back to camp. Please note only children aged 15 and above can track gorilla.

Batwa tribe experience

Learn about and interact with the local Batwa People. This full day activity involves a three hour walk followed by about an hour spent with the Batwa. The walk back to camp is two hours. The visit includes a music performance, visitation by the goddess, hunting and gathering demonstration and an opportunity to see how they live.

The Twa tribe who are also known as the Batwa are the oldest inhabitants of the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. They speak the same language as the Hutu and Tutsi groups of Rwanda. Like most of the tribes in Africa, they have moved from place to place and are now found in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and eastern portions of the DRC.

Statistics show that by the year 2000 their numbers were approximately 80,000 people, making them a significant minority group in these countries. The first records of the Batwa were made by the Egyptians over 4,000 years ago. They described them as short statured people living near the “Mountains of the Moon” extolling their abilities as dancers and story tellers.

Birding walks

Bwindi boasts over 350 bird species, including 24 that are endemic to these highlands straddling Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo – the so-called the “Albertine Rift Endemics”. For keen birders, you can arrange for a local expert to guide you on a fascinating two to three-hour walk through the park.

Forest walk

Bwindi is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a spectacular place to visit. In addition to the gorillas, Bwindi is also home to rare forest elephants, giant forest hogs and eleven kinds of primates, such as red tailed and blue monkeys, black and white colobus, baboons and chimpanzees. You can also find forest duiker antelopes, bush buck antelopes and over 200 species of butterflies.

You can have a guided forest walk on the Munyaga waterfall trail. This trail starts from the Park office and ends at the magnificent Munyaga waterfall. The walk to and from the waterfall takes about three hours and is a good way to practice or cool down a day before or after the gorilla tracking.

Game drives

At Sanctuary Olonana, game viewing starts from the camp. A pod of hippos lives permanently in the river just below camp and many other species come to drink there. Sanctuary’s experienced guides take you to all the hidden spots and our customised open safari vehicles offer all-round views, allowing for excellent photography opportunities. The Mara’s rich eco-system includes acacia-studded savannah, riparian forest and woodland which attract more than 300 bird species and a stunning variety of animal life all year round.

Nature walk

Walk with a naturalist and learn about plants, trees and insects and their use in the daily lives of the Maasai tribe. Visit the award-winning wetlands which cleanses wastewater naturally before returning it to the environment. There is an opportunity to plant a tree, leaving a positive mark in Africa.

The naturalist shares his intimate knowledge of the surrounding environment and how many of the trees and plants are used for medicinal purposes. Watch the hippos, learn to identify the birds from their song, stop and learn about insects and even the fascinating system ants have to build and maintain their ant-hills. Your guide will also point out animal signs which are everywhere, but not that easily noticed.

Location

This safari will take you to Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.

Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara National Reserve lies in south western Kenya and is effectively the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named after the Maasai people and their description of the area when looked at from afar.

The Mara’s rich ecosystem of open savannah, woodlands and tree-lined rivers attracts a spectacular array of wildlife. Game viewing is excellent all year round in the Mara. It is famed for its Big Cats, as well as the remainder of the Big Five. The famous wildebeest migration is one of the natural wonders of the animal kingdom and is traditionally present in the Mara from around July through September.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage site situated in the southwest corner of Uganda. The park is 331 square kilometers and impresses with a truly theatrical landscape and bio-diversity - this is a region of volcanoes, jagged valleys, waterfalls, lakes and dramatic mountain ranges.

Birders come thousands of miles to see the more than 350 species that live within the area. There are also rare forest elephant, giant forest hog and eleven kinds of primates, including red tailed and blue monkey, black and white colobus, baboons and chimpanzee. You can also find forest duiker antelopes and bush buck antelopes, as well as over 200 species of butterflies.

Food

Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks are included in the price.

Bush Breakfasts, picnics, and dinners

You may have decided with your guide to take a picnic breakfast or lunch with you but equally lovely in the evening is to enjoy a bush dinner. A private and secluded clearing is prepared for an elegant dinner in the middle of the African bush. As the sun swiftly sinks, the setting is illuminated by a magnificent log fire.

The table setting is as sophisticated and elegant as found in the finest restaurants with wild flower arrangements that grace starched white table linen. Candles flicker in the darkness, throwing golden lights on the table cloth as smiling waiters serve a delicious dinner. After dinner retire to the warmth of the campfire where brandies and liqueurs are served as you absorb the peace and beauty of an African night.

Sanctuary Olonana prides itself in the personalized service they are able to offer their guests. Please let them know if you have any special requests and or dietary requirements.

Dining in silver service

Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp prides itself in the personalized service they are able to offer their guests. Please let them know if you have any special requests and or dietary requirements.

The bar and dining cottage overlooks the rainforest and a raised natural platform is built for open air-dining. A full English and continental breakfast is served before your morning activity. Trekking gorilla’s today? The camp will pack you a scrumptious lunch including fresh fruit, sweet and savory delights to take with you.

Once back at the camp celebratory drinks and snacks will be served under the stars by the roaring campfire as you discuss your amazing adventure. All meals are à la carte and served in the bar and dining area overlooking the rainforest. Chef Jackson serves a silver service dinner with four to five courses each evening. One of the mains might even include his favourite dish - Matooke rolled chicken with creamed spinach and ground nut sauce.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Soda
  • Alcoholic beverages

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Pescatarian
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

Queen Elizabeth National Park Drives

While staying at Gorilla Forest Camp guests are able to venture out on game drives to Ishasha, located in the south of the well known Queen Elizabeth National Park popular for its tree climbing lions, savanna elephants, buffaloes, topi, hippos, various bird species, warthogs and the occational leopard.

The Ishasha Sector is famous for its population of tree-climbing lions. The Lions are normally seen lazily lying within the branches of the huge fig trees staring down at the numerous Uganda Kobs grazing in the open Ishasha plains. This is usually a full day outing where guests are able to stop for lunch at the hippo pool. Departure is 6:30 in the morning.

Community walk

Bwindi is surrounded on the Buhoma side by the Bakiga community and the Batwa people community. The walk takes about two hours and begins with a stroll through a small tea farming project. Here you can stop to meet the tea pickers and perhaps even learn how to pluck tea leaves along the way.

Then visit a local beer brewery and see how they mash bananas to make a fermented brew which is mixed and distilled to make banana beer - a popular local drink in the area. From here walk a short distance to the local hospital which Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp supports through various projects. Learn about how it started and the work they do for the community. Continue your walk to a nearby village and visit a traditional medicine man.

The knowledge of using herbs for healing has been passed on from generation to generation and he will show you some of the herbs that grow in the forest and talk about how they are used. Later, relax and enjoy a performance by the Batwa community before returning to the camp.

Cultural visit to a Masai village

Get an insight into the vibrant and still traditional way of life of the Maasai. Learn about the medicinal plants that grow here, the importance of cattle and the stages of life through which all Maasai pass, from young boy or girl to respected elder. Accompanied by an experienced Maasai guide you are invited to visit the village which is built along traditional lines; complete with cattle enclosure, outer palisade and mud and cow dung huts.

Visit to a school

More and more popular are the visits organised by the guides to a variety of local schools during school term. These visits are free but it is recommended to have a donation to the school of anything upward of 15 USD per person.

Hot air balloon safari

Your balloon is inflated against the first rays of sunrise and once aloft floats gently over the plains and the plethora of game. The balloon lands around one hour after taking off with breakfast being prepared nearby. The smells of bacon, sausages and eggs drift on the breeze as you begin breakfast with platefuls of exotic Kenyan fruits and homemade pastries and, of course, glasses of bubbly to toast your flight. (Additional cost).

Sundowners

As the afternoon game drive comes to an end, drive to a specially chosen vantage point overlooking the Mara plains. Drinks are served as you take in the beauty of the rapid sunset coloring the acacia dotted plains and transforming the world in a matter of minutes. Enjoy the warmth of the fire and discuss the day’s adventures as waiters serve canapés and a selection of drinks, with the spectacular setting sun in the horizon.

Spa treatments

Available at additional expense

What's included

  • Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks
  • Meet and greet through every step of your safari
  • Laundry
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Two daily shared game viewing activities
  • Game drives and bush meals
  • National park and concession fees
  • One day Gorilla trek including permit
  • Transfer to / from international and domestic airport
  • All transfers during safari
  • Internal connecting flights while on this safari

What's not included

  • Premium alcoholic drinks
  • Additional activities
  • Gratuities to driver / guides and staff
  • All items of a personal nature
  • Telephone calls
  • Curio shops purchases
  • Private vehicle and guide
  • Spa treatments

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Airport: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Airport transfer included: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 14% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid on arrival.
Rated: 5/10 1 review

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