Start in Nairobi and end in Kigali! With the Explorer tour Best of East Africa, you have a 19 days tour package taking you through Nairobi, Kenya and 9 other destinations in Africa. Best of East Africa includes accommodation in a hotel as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more. Including all the areas frequented by the migration on their annual route, you will have the best opportunity to witness one of the most spectacular wildlife sightings in the world.
In Kenya, we enjoy fantastic game viewing in the renowned Masai Mara National Reserve and Amboseli National Park. In Tanzania, we visit Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks, and experience the cultural heritage of the various tribal groups who live nearby. We explore the Ngorongoro Crater, and also the world famous Serengeti National Park where we have a chance to view vast herds of grazing animals and the magnificent predators that follow them.
The undoubted highlight of the journey is our time in the rainforest of Uganda where we follow remote trails in the mist shrouded forests of the ‘Bwindi Impenetrable Forest’, in search of the famous mountain gorillas. With a wonderful variety of wildlife, culture and adventure, this is a truly unforgettable experience.
Upon your arrival, you will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel for relaxation and overnight.
After breakfast, there will be an arrival briefing at 8.00am. Then we will explore Nairobi with a visit to the Karen Blixen Museum. The museum is the beautiful and historic farmhouse where Karen Blixen, author of “Out of Africa”, lived between 1917 and 1931 until she left Kenya after a series of personal tragedies.
Thereafter, we head to the Giraffe Centre and the Daphne Sheldrick Animal Orphanage for a visit. The institution is named after the wife of the late famous Naturalist, David William Sheldrick who was the founder warden of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya from its inception in 1948 to 1976. At 11:00, the baby animals are brought from the national park for a mud-bath at the orphanage, where for an hour you can get close to them. Lunch will follow before driving down to Amboseli National Park, arriving in the afternoon.
Today we will head into the Amboseli National Park for a full day of game viewing in one of Kenya’s most famous parks. Amboseli is known for its huge elephant bulls with their magnificent tusks, which make for the ultimate safari picture with the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro in the background.
This morning after a leisurely breakfast, we make our way to the border and then onwards to Arusha. En route, we pass the Marangu waterfalls – which is a moderately strenuous walk (we do recommend sturdy shoes and a degree of walking fitness). We continue to Arusha via Moshi town – the gateway to the Kilimanjaro National Park. Kindly be advised there will be a change of Guide and Vehicle at the border crossing into Tanzania.
After breakfast, we will depart for Tarangire National Park for a full day’s game drive. The breath-taking views of the Masai Steppe, and the mountains to the south, make a stop at Tarangire a truly memorable experience. Tarangire is as well known for its huge elephant population and baobab trees. It forms the centre of an annual migratory cycle that includes up to 3000 elephant, 25,000 wildebeest and 30,000 zebra.
After breakfast, you will be collected from the hotel and set off towards Lake Manyara National Park. The spectacular reserve is located at the north-western corner of Lake Manyara, a hallow soda lake, which lies at the foot of the Great Rift Valley’s western escarpment. We enjoy a scenic drive in the park known not only for its large flocks of flamingos, but also for the elusive tree climbing lions.
After breakfast, we set out to experience the cultural diversity of Mto-wa-Mbu, starting at the market and visiting a Chagga family producing banana beer and passing by many different farms. On the way, your guide will introduce you to the various fruits and vegetables growing in the area and explain the irrigation system that sustains local crops. After having a delicious, home-cooked meal in a local Mama’s home, we enjoy a visit to the Masai Boma for the cultural encounter of a life time.
The Masai people are semi-nomadic herders, who choose to live a traditional lifestyle and are known for their distinctive traditional attire. In the late afternoon we embark on a walking tour to Lake Papyrus (approx 5 km). Here clients can view this magnificent lake filled with abundant birdlife and hippos. If time allows we can do some light trekking up to the waterfall. From here you will view the lake on top of the Rift valley wall; then onto the banana plantation and rice field, ending off the tour with a local village visit.
This morning we have an early departure for a game drive in the world renowned Ngorongoro Crater. For many, this wildlife spectacle is the pinnacle of their safari experience. At nearly 2300m, the highlands around Ngorongoro Crater has brisk mornings and low cloud sometimes covers the area. Please bring some warm clothing as it can be cold here. The Crater is one of the last refuges for the endangered black rhino in northern Tanzania; the rhino population here is carefully protected and they are quite commonly seen.
With over 30,000 animals, the Ngorongoro Crater can be regarded as a “Garden of Eden”. The 100 sq km caldera also has the highest density of lions anywhere in Africa and forms a natural enclosure for all its inhabitants. The Ngorongoro Crater boasts all of the ‘Big 5’, including a small population of endangered black rhino. After a picnic lunch, we head towards the Serengeti through the stunning Southern Plains sector of the park. This is the area that the Serengeti is best known for – the endless, undulating grass savannah with rocky outcrops that serve as isolated wildlife refuges.
Today you will be spending a full day game driving around the Seronera area of the Serengeti. The Serengeti is divided into three main areas: Seronera is the most central and accessible region and this is where the Park HQ is based, as well as most of the larger lodges and communal campsites. This part of the Serengeti is characterized by open plains of grassland, packed with animals. The Seronera River is the lifeblood of the Serengeti and this area is renowned for great game viewing all year round. It is also particularly good for lion and cheetah sightings, as well as the most elusive of all big cats, the leopard. The Serengeti National Park is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage area for its wildlife and natural beauty.
We have another exciting day of exploring the Serengeti National Park ahead of us. Famed for its annual migration, the Serengeti offers amazing game viewing at any time of the year: herds of buffalo, groups of elephant and giraffe, zebra, eland, topi, kongoni, impala and gazelle, among other wildlife. With lunch boxes provided we continue with game drives throughout the day, scanning the endless plains, spotting many animals and truly realizing just why this national park is so famous. In the late afternoon we drive back to the lodge for overnight.
After breakfast we make our way to Lake Victoria. We pass through the villages of the Sukuma tribe, who grow ground nuts, sorghum and cassava as well as keeping livestock. Life carries on here simply as it has done for ages, but with a few poignant reminders of the 20th century. Some leisure time in the afternoon, or to possibly take a bird walk along the lake shore.
This morning you have the opportunity to take part in a boat excursion to one of the local fishing villages, before we bid Lake Victoria farewell and continue our journey northwards across the border into Kenya. Here we head to the Masai Mara, the traditional land of the Masai people, who are permitted to graze their cattle in this area. The Masai Mara covers an area that includes the riverine forests along the banks of the Mara and Talek Rivers, acacia forests and the open plains of the savannah. Kindly be advised there will be a change of Guide and Vehicle at the border crossing into Kenya.
Today we spend the whole day game viewing in the world famous Masai Mara National Park. Here the various habitats are home to a great variety of game including lion, leopard, cheetah, zebra, wildebeest (gnu), giraffe, buffalo, jackal, topi, gazelle, impala and elephant. Hippopotamus and crocodile are also plentiful in the rivers and the bird life is very abundant.
After breakfast we head off towards Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. We have the afternoon at leisure or to explore the city. Time allowing, we visit the Kazuri Beads Centre and workshop for those interested in shopping. Kazuri means “small and beautiful” in Swahili and it describes each striking ceramic bead which is shaped by hand by the women employed at the Kazuri workshop.
Nairobi is a cosmopolitan, lively and interesting city. Its central business district is nicely compact and it is therefore a great place to tune into modern urban African life. Later in the afternoon, we head to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your outbound flight to Kigali, Rwanda. NOTE – The flight from Nairobi to Kigali is not included in the tour cost. On arrival at Kigali airport, you will be met by our Rwandan guide and transferred to our hotel in Kigali. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Kigali, with population of more than 1 million (2012), is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is situated near the geographic centre of the nation. The city has been the economic, cultural, and transport hub of Rwanda since it became the capital at independence in 1962. The main residence and offices of the President of Rwanda are located in the city, as are the government ministries.
From the Mara we make our way back across the Great Rift Valley to Nairobi, where our tour ends on arrival in the city.
Today we will trek deep into the forest in search of these mountain gorillas in either Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga National Park. While trekking for mountain gorillas in Uganda we will be accompanied by specialist local guides and national park rangers in accordance with local permit regulations, and allowed no more than one hour with your allotted gorilla family.
To find your family group the guide will lead you to where the gorillas were sighted on the previous day and then literally track them through the forest. The terrain is very rough, often over steep slopes covered with matted vegetation. Be prepared for rain, mud and giant stinging nettles – long trousers, gloves and a waterproof jacket will help. It will be necessary to take your own water and snacks – eg: biscuits or sweets – with you in case you have to trek for a while before finding the gorillas. Be prepared to walk between 3-9 hours to find the gorilla family. You may be joining other travellers for these treks, not only those in your group.
After breakfast we drive back to Kigali Rwanda, and have lunch or a picnic lunch enroute. After completing border formalities, we transfer to our hotel in Kigali for overnight.
After breakfast we undertake a short morning tour of this interesting city, including a visit to the genocide memorial. Group arrangements conclude in Kigali with a departure transfer to the airport.