Secret Gorillas, Chimps, Serengeti and Craters
One of our most biodiverse itineraries, this 14-day safari delivers some of East Africa’s biggest wildlife experiences. The tour opens with trekking for mountain gorillas in Uganda’s equatorial rainforests before flying you to Lake Victoria – via a comfortable night in Rwanda’s capital Kigali – and an exclusive camp on Rubondo Island, home to forest animals such as chimpanzees and the tiny suni antelope as well as more familiar species such as elephant and giraffe.
Then you exchange the forest landscape for a savannah one as you fly to the Serengeti and then to the Ngorongoro Crater. You are assured of excellent Big 5 game viewing and – if you are in Migration season – then you will have tens of thousands of wildebeest on the Serengeti grasslands too. The general wildlife viewing is excellent throughout the tour – look out for predators, smaller mammals, birds and reptiles – and the opportunities for wildlife photography are virtually unbounded.
Flying between destinations removes the need for long journeys by road. You will be met at the various airports and airstrips and assisted with your flights, arriving at camps ready to plan the days ahead with your hosts. Accommodation on safari is in the form of intimate tented camps with usually no more than 10 tents, making for personalised attention and superior service. Beginning at Entebbe in Uganda and ending in Arusha in Tanzania, this is a tour that is perfect for romantic travel, discerning travellers and those looking for East Africa’s ultimate bucket-list itinerary.
Day to day
Day 1: A night in Entebbe | 1 Night
The tour begins with your arrival at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda. You will be met and transferred to Karibu Guesthouse, a short drive away. Overlooking Lake Victoria and formerly a presidential residence, the guesthouse has everything you need to relax and unwind after your journey. There is a swimming pool, lounge and bar plus high-speed Wi-Fi and, with only seven suites at Karibu, you are assured of personalised attention. Food at the in-house restaurant has a distinctly Mediterranean flavour – you could start with creamy pumpkin and thyme soup and boeuf bourguignon with gnocchi a la Romana and perhaps finish off with their Nutella and mango panna cotta. Karibu means ‘welcome’ in Swahili and this is indeed a fitting welcome to Africa.
Days 2-3: Trek for gorillas | 2 Nights
BWINDI NATIONAL PARK, UGANDA
A flight from Entebbe to a local airstrip on the edge of Uganda’s rainforests takes you into gorilla country. Your destination is Chameleon Hill Lodge, its vibrantly colourful buildings looking out across Lake Mutanda with the rainforest-clad Virunga Volcanoes as a backdrop. There is time to settle in and enjoy the views before enjoying the comforts of your suite, complete with private bathroom. You have a gorilla trek the next day, your chance to come face to face with a habituated gorilla family in their natural environment, as well as look for other residents of Bwindi Forest – smaller primates, exotic birds and flocks of butterflies.
A post-trek massage in the spa is terrific way to soothe tired legs!
Day 4: A city stopover | 1 Night
Your Lake Victoria destination – Rubondo Island – is a remote one and it is best to break up the journey with an overnight stay in Kigali, the friendly, modern capital city of Rwanda. You transfer overland across the border and onto Kigali, checking in at the Kigali Serena Hotel. Offering a high standard of accommodation and service, the hotel is the ideal place for you to catch your breath and recharge batteries after the gorilla trek. Your room is air-conditioned and has 24-hour room service, a beverage station, complimentary Wi-Fi and a mini-bar. Hotel facilities include a large swimming pool surrounded by sun loungers and health centre with a spa, gym, sauna, and steam room.
Days 5-7: An island paradise | 3 Nights
It is a short transfer to Kigali’s Airport for your flight to Lake Victoria and its hidden gem: Rubondo Island. While much of the lakeshore has been turned over to agriculture, Rubondo is a haven for wildlife and is justifiably becoming one of the best places to visit for biodiversity. There is only one lodge on the island – Rubondo Island Camp – and you arrive in time for lunch and to plan your days ahead. Top of the list of activities is trekking for the island’s chimpanzees and forest elephants, and there are hippos and crocodiles in the shallow waters. This is also a destination to spot rare and unusual creatures – keep a lookout for the semi-aquatic sitatunga antelope and spotted-necked otter as well as the suni (one of Africa’s smallest antelopes) and the exquisitely-patterned bushbuck. Game drives are combined with forest walks, canoe and boat trips to provide a comprehensive experience
Days 8-10: Fly to the Serengeti | 3 Nights
A flight from Rubondo takes you over stunning Rift Valley scenery before landing at an airstrip in the Serengeti. The wildlife viewing begins as you sit back in the transfer vehicle to your accommodation, Kimondo Camp. Kimondo moves location to catch the annual Wildebeest Migration or – if out of Migration season – to place itself in an area of rich wildlife diversity. You arrive at camp in time for lunch and time to settle into your tented suite before heading out on your first afternoon drive. You then have two full days to explore Tanzania’s flagship reserve, on the lookout for big cats, elephants and buffalo as well as antelope and zebra. Kimondo only has eight tents, each with solar-powered lighting and an en-suite bathroom with a hot-water bucket shower for that authentic touch.
Days 11-13: A Big 5 finale | 3 Nights
NGORONGORO CRATER, TANZANIA
Breakfast on the Serengeti savannah starts the day, followed by a flight to the Ngorongoro region and three nights at The Highlands, an accommodation of bold, ground-breaking design that lies on the remote forested slopes of Olmoti Volcano. You arrive in time for lunch and an afternoon community visit where you enjoy fascinating insights into life for the Maasai people in big game country. And big game is on the agenda for the next two days: you have a full-day safari in the Ngorongoro Crater to look forward to, giving you an excellent chance of seeing lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo, as well as a nature hike in the Olmoti Crater. Now it is time to take in the smaller details – animal tracks, birds and medicinal plants – as well as enjoying panoramic views and a hot lunch on the crater floor.
Day 14: A lifetime of memories
A morning transfer from The Highlands takes you to Manyara airstrip to catch a flight to Arusha International Airport for your onward connection and the end of this tour.
- Emergency evacuation insurance for guests under 70 years of age
- Park fees
- Scheduled Coastal flight Kigali to Rubondo
- Scheduled Coastal flight Manyara to JRO
- Scheduled Coastal flight Rubondo to Ndutu
- Scheduled Coastal flight Serengeti South to Manyara
- Scheduled game drives and walking safaris