A combination of two of our most popular trips sees you experience the varying faces of Africa, from gorilla viewing in the rain forests to the island paradise beaches of Zanzibar. The memory of the Gorilla Trek and observing these amazing creatures as they meander and feed in their ever-diminishing habitat will remain with you forever. The game parks of east Africa are renown for their unspoiled natural beauty and prolific game, while the island of Zanzibar will see you soak up its exotic traditions. You will be caught up in the way of life, which is hard to leave. We know, we came and stayed!
This trip begins in Nairobi, Kenya and travels south through Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, before ending in Dar Es Salaam.
This trip departs from Nairobi early on Sunday morning. Should you wish to explore Nairobi, an earlier arrival should be planned and accommodation can be booked through us.
Day 1: Nairobi to Masai Mara (L / D) Leaving the hustle and bustle of Nairobi we climb the escarpment to our first stop, a viewpoint overlooking a section of the spectacular Great Rift Valley. Descending into the Rift Valley, we enter Masai land where these habitual pastoralists are often seen tending their cattle from the side of the road. We pass through the town of Narok, and continue our drive possibly getting a glimpse of some wildlife along the way. We arrive at our campsite, Acacia Camp in the late afternoon. Acacia Camp looks on to the Meguarra hills and the stream that meanders by on the bottom end forms a natural border to the Masai Mara National Reserve.
Day 2: Masai Mara (B / L / D) We depart shortly after sunrise on our game drive into the Masai Mara Reserve. The Masai Mara is well known as one of East Africa’s best National Reserves and is home to a wide variety of wildlife species. Most famous for the Annual Migration, that consists of the impressive herds of over 1 million wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle that cross over from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania; the Masai Mara is most popular between July and October when these vast herds feast on the fresh grazing here. Following these herbivores are Africa’s predators that are often seen at a kill during this period. We game drive through a section of the park in search of the ‘Big 5’- elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion & leopard; along with the many other species of animals, reptiles and birds who make call this wilderness home.
After our game drive, we have the option to visit one of the nearby Masai Manyatta’s – this is a traditional hamlet where the Masai still live in their traditional way. This evening we sit around the camp fire, and watch the sun set over this “Garden of Eden”.
Day 3: Masai Mara to Kisumu (B / L / D) Leaving the Masai Mara early, we head out of Masai Land pass through the scenic tea plantations of Kericho before descending the Rift Valley Plateau, on our way to Kisumu - Kenya’s harbour town on the banks of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. We replenish our supplies and overnight here.
Day 4: Kisumu to Kampala (Uganda) (B / L / D) This morning, we cross the border into Uganda where we overnight it the capital city, Kampala. Uganda is a small country of striking physical beauty. Its landscapes vary from the fertile green areas around the northern shores of Lake Victoria to the snow capped Ruwenzori Mountains in the west and the semi-desert region in the north. The political instability that has haunted Uganda in the past has actually had the positive effect of leaving the country free of the over commercialism so common in other parts of Africa. The current administration under President Museveni has devoted considerable effort and funds to return Uganda to its former status as one of Africa's most prosperous and, from a tourist’s point of view, one of the most appealing and interesting countries to visit.
Days 5 - 8: Kampala to Lake Bunyoni (B / L / D) After an early morning departure from Kampala we drive west into the depths of Uganda to our base at the tranquil Lake Bunyoni.
Lake Bunyoni, the deepest Crater Lake in Africa and home to a large and varied number of beautiful birds, is the base from which the optional Gorilla trek takes place. Dependant on where trekking permits are available, we trek in the Magahinga or Bwindi National Parks in Uganda, the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or the Ruhengeri National Park in Rwanda. The prices of trekking permits fluctuate and may change without prior notice – currently they are priced at US$500. There is a local transport & handling fee of US$65 to US$70 per person (this covers the return public transfer and the Wildlife Authority’s booking fee). For trekking in the DRC or Rwanda (the trip leader will advise at the pre departure meeting as to where the permits have been secured, and will assist with the online visa application for Rwanda en-route if needed), we will also have to purchase an additional visa to enter either country, as well as renewing our Ugandan visa upon re-entry. We also advise budgeting a little extra for tips for the local guides and rangers. Please budget accordingly as payment for the permit must be made in US$ cash at the pre departure meeting.
Trekking Procedures: The mountain gorilla (Gorilla Gorilla Berengei), of which there are still only about 700 remaining, are one of our closest living relatives. A visit to these gentle giants in their natural environment is a unique and wonderful experience - one you’ll never forget. The park rangers monitor the gorillas on a daily basis and have a fairly good idea of where they are. However, they are free roaming animals, and their sighting cannot be guaranteed. As the gorillas share much of our DNA, anyone with even the slightest cold or transferable illness will not be permitted to trek. Trekking is also only open to people over 16 years old.
Due to the restrictions on the daily numbers of visitors to these incredible animals, we depart from our base in Bunyoni in small groups over 3-4 days, depending on the group size. We wind our way through arguably some of the most picturesque scenery in Africa en-route to the National Park. Dependant on where permits are available, we may spend a night in either Kisoro or in Rwanda. The following morning, after packing our picnic lunch, we are transferred to a ranger’s station where the trek commences. Your rangers will lead you through the cultivated lands and then into the dense rain forest and on to a gorilla family. Trekking can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 8 hours (not including transfer time) and it can be quite strenuous, so a reasonable level of fitness is required. To ensure the gorillas do not get too used to the presence of humans and because they share many of our genes (and therefore able to catch our diseases), the maximum time permitted to spend with them is 1 hour. You will have plenty of time to watch their activity and to take photographs. The rangers will be able to provide you with a background to the family you are visiting. Once your hour is up, you trek back out of the rain forest to your meeting point where you will be transferred back to the Lake Bunyoni campsite.
You needn’t feel like you’re exploiting these animals. The ever-growing number of tourists trekking them each day play a vital role in their survival. For years they have been ruthlessly hunted for their hands and heads, which have been sold as ashtrays and lampshades! In addition, large numbers have been killed whilst trying to stop poachers stealing the babies for sale to zoos, where they have never lived long. 100% of the gorilla permit cost is used to by the parks authorities to finance patrols that are instrumental in protecting the gorillas from poachers and their lethal snares and on promoting these wonderful animals.
Depending on where the trek takes place you may also pass through some of the local villages that have settled in this region due to the high number of refugees fleeing from the Rwandan Genocide, or from the continued unrest in the DRC. The villagers in this area are mostly subsistence farmers, and families that farm against the slopes of the volcanoes. It is impressive to see how they have ploughed, planted and harvest their crops in such an unlikely landscape.
Day 9: Lake Bunyoni to Kampala (B / L / D) After marvelling at the experience of our gorilla encounters and enjoying the peaceful Lake Bunyoni, we begin our drive back to Kampala. We cross the Equator for the second time and stop for the classic “one foot in each hemisphere” photo opportunity. We overnight in Kampala and have the opportunity to sample its night life!
Day 10: Kampala to Jinja (B / L / D) Today we have the option of visiting the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary or heading to Jinja for a selection of adventure activities including white water rafting at the source of the White Nile, quad biking or visiting a volunteer and community project. Spend the afternoon relaxing on the banks of the river, or ticking off the wide variety of water birds in this area.
Day 11: Jinja to Nakuru (Kenya) (B / L / D) Departing early, we head back to Kenya, stopping for lunch and supplies en route. We overnight outside Nakuru at a lovely campsite on a local farm. Nakuru is Kenya’s 4th largest town and capital of the Rift Valley Province and lies adjacent to the small but wildlife rich Lake Nakuru National Park.
Day 12: Lake Nakuru National Park to Lake Naivasha (B / L / D) This morning we begin our exploration of the Lake Nakuru National Park - famous for the thousands of lesser and greater flamingos that flock to this soda lake’s edge. The numbers vary depending on the water level, and when it’s low, the lake almost turns pink. A truly spectacular sight! The park was established as a sanctuary for black and white rhino, which are often seen. We spend the day searching for these pre-historic looking beasts as well as the elusive leopard, encountering buffalo, giraffe, various antelope and the occasional hippo along the way. After our game drive, we head to Lake Naivasha arriving in the late afternoon.
Day 13: Lake Naivasha (B / L / D) Lake Naivasha, is home to a multitude of bird life, the most magnificent being the African Fish Eagle with his regal cry. At 1880 m, this is the highest of the Rift Valley lakes. We spend the day enjoying optional excursions like Elsamere (former home to Joy & George Adamson of Born Free fame), a boat ride to the Crescent Island Game Sanctuary or a bike ride around Hell’s Gate National Park.
Day 14: Lake Naivasha to Nairobi (B) After breakfast, we head back to Nairobi. On arrival, we head to the Hotel Boulevard, where we deliver the passengers who’ll be ending their trip here, before heading to our campsite for the night.
Day 15: Nairobi to Arusha (Tanzania) (L / D) This morning we collect the passengers who will be joining us on the next leg of our trip. We depart Nairobi and travel south, crossing the border into Tanzania at Namanga. Tonight we stay in a lovely campsite in Meserani on the outskirts of Arusha, before heading out on our Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater excursion tomorrow.
Days 16-18: Arusha / Optional Ngorongoro Crater & Serengeti Excursion (B / L / D) Arusha is a pleasant town situated at the base of Mount Meru, and is the starting point for safaris into the Serengeti, Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This morning we have the opportunity to explore this thriving town while we stock up on provisions needed for our excursion. You may chose to wander the vibrant craft markets, stock up on supplies or perhaps catch up on the news back home at one of the small internet cafe available. Heading back to our base camp, Meserani Snake Park, those that are participating in the optional excursions to Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park can start to prepare for their departure this afternoon. The excursion is offered by a local Tanzanian operator who conducts the trip into the Parks in 4WD vehicles (In peak season, there may be a minivan or bus transfer to Karatu), which are adapted for safari use.
For those not opting to visit the Ngorongoro Crater or Serengeti National Park, the next days are spent at leisure enjoying the Meserani reptile park, Masai Cultural Museum and the surrounding villages and craft markets. Alternatively the town of Arusha is close by to explore. The driver and cook remain behind in Dar es Salaam during the excursion.
The Optional Ngorongoro/Serengeti excursion takes us via the Masai town of Mtu Wa Mbu (Mosquito River) that lies adjacent to the Lake Manyara National Park and up the Rift Valley Escarpment to the higher lying village of Karatu. Karatu offers magnificent views over the surrounding hills and has many well established wheat farms that add to the picturesque panoramas. We spend the evening at a pleasant campsite in Karatu. The following morning we depart early for the Ngorongoro Conservation area and head into the wildlife rich Ngorongoro Crater. This World Heritage Site boasts some of the best game viewing in Africa – including the elusive Black Rhino.
After our game drive in the Crater, we continue down the Crater rim and past the ‘Cradle of Mankind’ on our way to the Serengeti National Park. We cross the vast plains as we game drive through the southern and central areas in the park. Tonight we bush camp (no ablutions) in the wild surrounded by the sounds of the African wilderness. In the morning, we head off for another game drive and explore the landscape in search of the resident wildlife. With some luck, we may see some of Africa’s ‘Big 5’!
After our morning drive, we head back across the plains and the lush Crater rim to our truck at Arusha, where we spend the evening musing over our thrilling wildlife experience.
Day 19: Arusha to Pangani (B / L / D) We head to Arusha this morning to stock up on supplies before continuing on towards Dar es Salaam. On the way we drive through the town of Moshi situated at the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest mountain. Moshi is the base for Mount Kilimanjaro climbing expeditions, and weather permitting; we may even catch a glimpse of this magical mountain’s snowy summit - a photo opportunity not to be missed! We pass through vast sisal plantations surrounded by The Usambara and Pare Mountain ranges, before reaching our lovely campsite nestled between these mountains, midway between Arusha and Dar es Salaam.
Day 20: Pangani to Dar es Salaam (B / L / D) Today we continue on to Dar es Salaam. Travelling through lush scenery and palm trees, we near the warm Indian Ocean. Today’s drive time is extended due to the heavier amount of traffic heading in to the city, but the sights and sounds of Dar’s vibrant outer suburbs are sure to keep you entertained. Look out for the colourful shop-fronts with their sometimes humorous ‘catch phrases’. On arrival in Dar es Salaam we make our way to our lovely seaside campsite and prepare for our departure to Zanzibar the next morning.
Day 21: Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar (B) A ferry from Dar es Salaam takes us to the "Spice Island,” where we have the option to spend the next 3 nights. Zanzibar is steeped in history and was one of the major starting points for most East African explorers in their quest for new lands. New passengers may join us to replace those that’ll leave us at the end of our excursion to Zanzibar.
Note Accommodation and Meals are for your own account whilst on Zanzibar, as it is our experience that passengers prefer to explore the island on their own, and in accordance with their own budget. The Trip Leader joins you and can arrange your accommodation, while meals can be enjoyed from a wide selection of restaurants. There are also a wide variety of optional excursions on offer – please see the price guide on the end of this document for more details.
For those not opting to visit the island of Zanzibar, the next 3 days are spent at leisure at the beach campsite in Dar es Salaam. There are various optional excursions available from the camp including diving, snorkelling and fishing trips. The driver and cook remain behind in Dar es Salaam during the excursion.
Days 22 & 23: Zanzibar History aside, Zanzibar offers a wealth of experiences for the visitor. Today the quiet streets of the old Stone Town still retain their Arabic influence, from the Medina-like shops to the palaces of the Sultans, who founded their vast empires on the spoils of the slave and ivory trade. The island is famous for its spices and an excursion around a spice plantation is always a fascinating experience. Other options include a trip to the beautiful beaches and giant tortoises of Prison Island, a full day scuba dive in Nungwe or a fishing trip in a traditional dhow. Mopeds are available for hire if you’d like to explore the more remote areas of the island. Zanzibar is a seafood lover’s paradise. Numerous restaurants offer a great variety of the freshest catch from the ocean - crayfish being a popular speciality. Alternatively, mingle with the locals for dinner at the Forodhani Gardens seafront market, where delicious, inexpensive seafood is on offer.
DAY 24: Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam (D) Leaving Zanzibar in the afternoon, we return to the mainland arriving back to camp in the late afternoon, or early evening. On arrival, where we exchange addresses and part ways, having just experienced a trip of a lifetime!
Price: GB£ 845 plus Local Payment: US$ 645
Optional Excursions Below is a selection of Optional Excursions available on this trip. - these prices are approximate and are subject to change - where activities occur away from your base, there may be an additional transfer cost.
Kenya, Masai Mara - Masai Village Cultural Visit US$ 10 Kenya, Lake Naivasha - Crescent Island Sanctuary US$ 35 - US$ 85 Kenya, Lake Naivasha – Elsamere High Tea US$ 45 Uganda, Jinja - Softpower Community Project US$ 30 Uganda, Jinja - White Water Rafting on The Nile US$ 130 Uganda, Kampala - Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary US$ 65 - US$ 85 Uganda, DRC or Rwanda - Gorilla Trekking Permit Between US$600 to US$780 Tanzania, Arusha - 3 Day / 2 Night Serengeti/Ngorongoro Crater Excursion *US$ 450 Tanzania, Zanzibar - Accommodation p/p/p/n From U$$ 30 to US$50 Tanzania, Zanzibar - Stone Town - Spice Tour US$ 30
Special Offer - Bonus Trip When you book this trip, you are entitled to receive a Bonus 3 Day Masai Mara Safari the Thursday before your trip begins. The Local Payment is still applicable for the trip. The trip only runs with a minimum of 2 persons and the local payment is US$235 per person. Please ask about the bridging night as you do visit the mara while on the ND24 trip. This fantastic offer must be taken up at the same time you book this trip.
Please Note: This itinerary should be used as a guide only and may vary from day to day depending on road & weather conditions, political situations and group decisions.All prices & Local Payments are subject to change. Due to Tourism Laws in some of the countries we visit, there may be a truck and crew change during the trip.
Your arrival transfer and pre-trip accommodation in a dorm bed is included in your trip price. Should you choose not to make use of these, or in the event that we are not updated with your arrival details, no refund will be paid for services not used.
For booking purposes please notify our office as soon as possible should you choose not to trek the Mountain Gorillas.
Our unique relationship with our tour operators ensures only people who have participated in a trip after making an enquiry for it at The Africa Guide can leave a review.
The email we send you when you make an enquiry has full instructions for registering a booking and leaving a review - both are free services.
Feel free to read through the reviews for any trip you like the look of.
Trips with no reviews are usually new to the The Africa Guide but are normally operated by a tour operator who is established here. Most tour operators listing here will usually have gained reviews about other trips they have listed here.
Thanks for visiting, happy travels and don't forget to send us your reviews...
I'd give me trip an easy 10/10. I absolutely loved the trip, everyone that I travelled with and got know, and all the activities we did. It was such a great combination of activities.
Of course there was a handful of animal game drives which was a major reason to do the trip, but there was also a great mix of other activites like the white water rafting, bike ride, and Zanzibar.
On any trip like this, the group you end up travelling with is always important in making the trip great, and fortunately I had a great group on both legs of the trip. It's such a great experience to interactive with others from all over the world and go through the various experiences together. I still communicate with many of them.
Everyone always asks me what my favorite part of the trip is, and I simply cannot answer. There was such a great mix and I loved everything we did.