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Premium East Africa in Depth

Premium East Africa in Depth

From $ 27,070 AUD

Description

Wildlife dreams come true on a 21-day Premium journey through Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania. Enter the world of rare mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and spend a day tracking and observing these endearing creatures. See sombre reminders of Kigali’s devastating past, watch local life play out on the streets and witness a beautiful country that’s continuously striving to move forward. Explore the vast plains of the Masai Mara from the comfort of four-wheel drive Landcruisers, with an expert local leader at the helm, meet Maasai warriors and learn about their way of life. Enjoy a front row seat as the spectacular landscapes and wildlife of Tarangire National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park unfold in front of you on an exciting series of four-wheel drive game drives. This unforgettable journey is sure to stay etched on your mind forever.

Trip Name
Premium East Africa in Depth
Last Updated
2024-03-02
Days
21
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • With your gorilla permit included in the price of the trip, spend a day through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to get close to Uganda's rare mountain gorillas for an unforgettable hour. There’s also a chance to do a second trek that can be booked on request at an additional cost. Please refer to the itinerary for more details.
  • Get close to nature with three fantastic Feature Stays – a camp located deep within the Masai Mara Game Reserve, a fence-free camp in the heart of the Serengeti, and a lodge overlooking the forest canopy of the jagged Virunga Mountains.
  • Join an intimate fireside chat with a field veterinarian from The Gorilla Doctors and discover how they are saving the species one gorilla patient at a time.
  • Visit a local Maasai community known for championing Maasai women’s health and education. During this Exclusive Experience, you’ll be welcomed by traditional Maasai warrior song and dance and learn about this remarkable and ancient culture.
  • Explore the diverse Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park on an exciting series of morning and afternoon 4x4 game drives.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It's important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, political unrest or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. Your group leader or local representative will keep you up to date with any such changes once your trip is underway. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance fees only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your group leader or local representative know you are interested at the Welcome Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and group leader or local representative are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. ROAD CONDITIONS AND INFRASTRUCTURE IN AFRICA: Roads in Africa are often in very poor condition, which makes it hard on our vehicles. Our vehicles are serviced regularly and are generally in good condition, but breakdowns can and do happen. Sometimes the going on this trip is quite tough, the distances covered fairly large and some of the roads and tracks are not exactly smooth or free from dust, but the rewards are exceptional. The travelling times indicated in our Essential Trip Information is just a rough guide and is dependent on various factors that may be outside our control, such as road conditions, weather and time spent at borders. DRIVE TIMES: The travel times listed in the day to day itinerary are a guide only. Please be aware that delays may occur and please be patient - it's all part of the experience afterall! Additionally, the travel times do not include time spent on game drives as these can vary with each departure.

Day 1 - Kigali
Welcome to Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city and the starting point for your adventure. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel, where you will meet your tour leader and small group for a 6 pm welcome meeting. Your accommodation for the next two nights is no ordinary hotel – the Hotel des Mille Collines is famous for sheltering and consequently saving more than 1000 people during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. If you arrive to Kigali early, perhaps take to the streets to explore this flourishing city in the midst of a great revival. Head to Nyamirambo, the Muslim quarter, to try some giant grilled tilapia, or stop by a local cafe and discover why Rwandan coffee is considered some of the world’s best. This evening, join your leader and small group for dinner at a lively East African restaurant popular with the locals. Enjoy live music, cocktails, incredible views and an authentic shared dining experience full of regional flavour.
Day 2 - Kigali
This morning, head out of the city for a sobering visit to the Ntarama Church. Your leader will explain how this memorial marks the spot where 5000 people were tragically slaughtered during the Genocide. Reminders of lives lost remain in the church, including clothes and even bones. Continue to the Nyamata Genocide Memorial Centre, a former church where an incomprehensible 50,000 people were murdered. Your leader will discuss how the Tutsis sought refuge in churches, only for them to turn into death traps. Then, visit the Genocide Museum, a powerful yet confronting experience and important in understanding the tragedy and the resilience of the Rwandan people. This afternoon, re-energize with some local Ugandan treats before taking a tour of the thriving city and its vibrant market with your leader. The evening is free for you to enjoy.
Day 3 - Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
After breakfast, depart Kigali and head across the border to the Bwindi National Park in Uganda (approximately 4 hours). Arrive at the Gorilla Heights Lodge, your feature stay accommodation for the next three nights. Sitting high on the Nteko Ridge, the lodge offers up magnificent views of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home to half of the world’s 800 mountain gorillas. Gaze out across the jagged Virunga Mountains that straddle Uganda's borders with Congo and Rwanda. An eco-friendly oasis, each elegant cottage has a private balcony overlooking the forest canopy. The lodge is solar-powered and works closely with the local people. Here, you’ll experience genuinely warm Ugandan hospitality – when they wish you welcome, they really mean it. There’s no better spot for soaking in your wild surroundings and searching for mountain gorillas. This evening will be a truly special experience as you're joined by a field veterinarian from the Gorilla Doctors for a fireside chat. This organization is dedicated to saving the mountain and eastern lowland (Grauer’s) gorilla species using veterinary medicine and science. They provide medical interventions to protect these magnificent animals from human-induced or life-threatening trauma or disease. You'll learn more about their fascinating work during this unique and exclusive experience.
Day 4 - Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Rise early and take a short walk to the park headquarters where you’ll be briefed on today's gorilla trek by the Uganda Wildlife Authorities. The trek can be strenuous, wet and uncomfortable at times but the incredible biodiversity of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the chance to see rare mountain gorillas makes it so worthwhile. We recommend investing in the help of local porters who can carry your pack and provide expert, local one-on-one assistance along the trek. Not only does it make for a more comfortable trek, it also provides valuable employment opportunities to locals. Gorilla trekking is highly controlled, with only 24 gorilla trekking permits available each day. Once you encounter a group of gorillas you will be able to stay with them for one hour – watch them swing from trees, groom each other and play, all under the watchful eye of a giant silverback. Coming face to face with a family of mountain gorillas is sure to be a life-affirming experience that will be etched on your mind forever. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the lush wilderness of the rainforest. At the end of the day the comforts of the hotel beckon, along with a chance to reflect on a memorable day.
Day 5 - Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the terrace overlooking the forest. The day is free for you to do as little or as much as you please – your leader will be able to help tailor a day that best suits your interests. For those seeking another encounter with the majestic mountain gorillas, there is the option for a second day of trekking. You may wish to simply relax at the lodge, take in the views from the outdoor pool, or enjoy a luxurious treatment at the spa. This evening, join your group and leader for dinner at the terraced restaurant overlooking the mountains.
Day 6 - Nairobi
After breakfast, we'll depart the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and begin the journey to cross back over the border into Kigali (approximately 4 hours). After arriving at the capital, you'll transfer to the airport for an unescorted flight to Nairobi, Kenya. You will be collected from the airport for a short transfer to your hotel, where you will have the evening free.
Day 7 - Nairobi
Enjoy a free day in Nairobi. Perhaps spend the afternoon browsing the artistic and cultural displays at Nairobi Gallery, or lounging by the pool at your home for the night – a swish central hotel complete with bold pan-African art, a sauna and steam room, and super friendly staff. Meet the new members of your group at 6pm, then head out with your leader and fellow travellers to a colourful local restaurant offering traditional favourites with a modern touch. Sharing food is a big part of the culture here and a great way to get to know your new travel companions – enjoy sharing platters and tasty sides like samosas, fried plantains and tilapia.
Day 8 - Lake Naivasha / Lake Nakuru
After Breakfast, we pack our bags and head off to Great Rift Valley of East Africa where our first stop will be at the Eden Project. Eden Reforestation Projects is a nonprofit NGO that works in developing countries to rebuild natural landscapes destroyed by deforestation. Eden works directly with communities experiencing extreme poverty resulting from the deforestation and destruction of the land that sustains them – Intrepid is a proud sponsor of this project and we help raise funds for this organization. Spend an hour at this site and learn how they work alongside the community to produce, plant, and protect tens of millions of trees every month, creating jobs to support them in restoring their local environment and economy long-term. Then depart for Elsamere, the former home of the writer Joy Adamson, whose 1960 book 'Born Free' helped bring wildlife conservation into the mainstream. The house is a veritable museum dedicated to the works of Joy and George Adamson, with many photos of Elsa, the lioness that started it all. Embark on a boat trip on Lake Naivasha, the highest of all lakes in the Great Rift Valley and home to many a hippopotamus. Later, enjoy a high tea lunch on the very grounds Joy cherished for so many years, with the lake as a serene backdrop. After lunch, continue to your Lake Nakuru lodge, arriving in the early evening. From your lodge you’ll enjoy remarkable views of Lake Nakuru and the surrounding national park, alive with the call of birds and rich in wildlife. What better way to take it all in than from your lodge’s infinity pool.
Day 9 - Lake Nakuru National Park
This morning you will visit Lake Nakuru National Park by four-wheel drive vehicle (4x4) – the park’s lake is its stunning centrepiece. Mornings can be cold here so it's important to bring warm clothes. You might see why this great soda lake has been described as the world's greatest ornithological spectacle; great seas of flamingos often turn the landscape a sweeping shade of pink. Flooding in recent years has unfortunately caused a decline in birdlife, however the park boasts substantial numbers of other species, including waterbuck, reedbuck and gazelle. Leopards are also to be found here, and the chances of sighting one are significant. Return to the lodge and take some time out for lunch, then head back out for another afternoon game drive. Keep your eyes peeled for one of Africa's most endangered creatures, the elusive black rhinoceros. While white rhino sightings are fairly common, spotting a black rhinoceros is a real treat.
Day 10 - Masai Mara National Reserve
Head southwest to the Masai Mara, one of the finest game reserves in Africa. Cross the Great Rift Valley and pass by the remote region of Loita Hills, home of the Maasai people. This is one of the few places where they still practice their traditional way of life with little influence from the western world. Stop at Tepesua Village where you’ll be welcomed by Maasai Warriors through traditional song and dance. Meet your Maasai hosts, take a walk to the community village and enjoy a fascinating talk full of insights into this ancient culture. The village offers support, safety and economic growth through the ‘Tepesua Widows Income Project’, where widowed women sew eco-friendly handicrafts to sell to visitors and locals. Learn about village life and be shown around a traditional Maasai home and cattle enclosure. Move on to Zebra River Camp, your Feature Stay accommodation for the next three nights. Here, you can watch blazing sunsets and share stories over the bonfire – or cocktails in the plush lounge area – before retiring to your luxury digs. Tented rooms feature ensuite bathrooms, large, comfortable beds and private verandas offering fabulous views of the surrounding wilderness.
Day 11 - Masai Mara National Reserve
Explore more of the park by 4x4 today with further game drives from morning to the afternoon. We depart for an early morning game drive with our packed lunch at hand since we will drive to the furthest part of the park. Witness the wonderful procession of wildlife that inhabits the area. Wildebeest, zebra and gazelle are plentiful, and you might even spot predators keeping a casual eye on their movements. Elephants, giraffes and elands are also commonly sighted, along with plenty of bird life. The area is known for its rolling green plains and riverine woodlands, and amongst the many species of game, a black-maned lion, leopard or cheetah might appear, with some luck. As the sun starts to set, stop and take a moment to soak it all in with a drink in hand – there’s few better ways to wrap up a day of wildlife spotting in one of the world’s most magical places. As dusk falls, a variety of animals might be visible in the vicinity of your camp also. We return to camp late in the evening and freshen up before settling in for dinner.
Day 12 - Masai Mara National Reserve
The morning is yours to do as you wish. You may like to sit back with a cup of coffee on your private deck, keeping an eye out for animals in the reserve, or forgo a sleep-in in favour of an early morning game drive or walking safari. If you’d like to see the Masai Mara from a different perspective, a sunrise hot air balloon ride is a truly memorable experience. Balloon rides can be booked ahead of time or on the ground (subject to availability) and the suppliers are committed conservationists, with a portion of the profits from every flight going straight to worthy conservation projects within the park. You will be collected before dawn and glide through the sunrise, sometimes at tree height, making the most of the amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you'll ascend to get an overview of the enormity of the Masai Mara plains and the early-morning movements of the teeming herds. In the afternoon, regroup for another exciting 4x4 game drive in the park.
Day 13 - Nairobi
Say goodbye to the Masai Mara and make the drive back to Nairobi, arriving in the late afternoon. On arrival, settle into your wonderful hotel and spend an evening relaxing.
Day 14 - Arusha
Start the day with an early breakfast, then make the drive to Arusha to begin the Tanzanian leg of your journey. On arrival, settle into your hotel – nestled on the woodland slopes of Mount Meru in the heart of a traditional coffee farm, the hotel offers fantastic views of Lake Duluti. A meeting will take place here at 6pm to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your adventure. After your meeting, join your leader and fellow travellers for a welcome dinner.
Day 15 - Tarangire National Park
After breakfast, drive on to Tarangire National Park, dotted with soaring baobab trees and varied wildlife. The area experiences its own small-scale migration, as animals travel from Tarangire to Lake Manyara in search of water and grass. Your accommodation here is a permanent tented camp in the heart of the park with wonderful views of the Tarangire River. During the migration periods, you may be lucky enough to witness zebras, wildebeest and elephants passing by the veranda of your tent – a true African bush experience. In the afternoon, set out into the park for a four-wheel drive (4x4) game drive in search of wonderful wildlife.
Day 16 - Ngorongoro Highlands
Rise early for a thrilling 4x4 game drive. Tarangire National Park is populated with elephants, herds of cape buffalo, gazelles, Burchell’s zebras, giraffes and warthogs. Their predators also roam the park – look out for lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, jackals and even African wild dogs. If you look to the skies you’ll see the park’s abundant array of birdlife. Return to your camp for breakfast, then continue your journey to the Ngorongoro Highlands. Along the way, stop at a local farmers’ market for a look at local life. Watch traders and buyers haggle over the prices of a colourful array of fruits and vegetables – your leader will pick up some seasonal fruits for you to try yourself. Arrive at your lodge, located in the verdant Marera Valley. Here you’ll enjoy cosy cottages with a veranda and fireplace, a beautiful swimming pool and organic gardens. This afternoon, you may like to relax poolside, or perhaps head out for an optional bike ride, village walk or coffee tour. Speak to your leader for tips on how to get the most out of this wonderful area.
Day 17 - Serengeti National Park
Today, you will make your way to the wide-open plains of the Serengeti. Travel through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, skirting the mighty volcanic Ngorongoro Crater. Arrive at the 'Endless Plains' of the Serengeti; they span some 14,700 square kilometres, but their main claim to fame is 3 million or so animals. The wildlife most likely to be seen in the Serengeti are the wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, lion, cheetah, warthog, hyena, hippo and ostrich. This afternoon, head out on a 4x4 game drive in the southern regions of the Serengeti for your first look at the park’s unbelievable wildlife. In the evening, retire to your Feature Stay accommodation – a permanent tented camp located in the breathtaking wilderness of the Serengeti. With no fences, this magnificent eco-friendly camp allows you to really connect with your wild surroundings without sacrificing modern comforts. Each tent is equipped with en-suite bathrooms and large windows, providing an opportunity to spot wildlife from the comfort of your bed. The charming lounge area and dining tent are perfect for socialising with fellow travellers while taking in the mesmerising natural beauty of the surroundings. Tonight, you will enjoy dinner to a soundtrack of the wild Serengeti.
Day 18 - Serengeti National Park
The interactions between the many species of the Serengeti plains often provide some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the world. You may like to spend the morning game viewing on a hot air balloon safari over the great plains. Hot-air ballooning in East Africa can be an unforgettable experience, and we strongly recommend booking this extra activity prior to departure if you're interested. Enjoy a full day of 4x4 game drives in the magnificent Serengeti. Watch the landscape change within the park from the vast treeless central plains to the thick scrub and forest in the north. Linking these areas is the savannah, punctuated by acacia trees and magnificent rock outcrops. Start at sunrise with a morning game drive, then return to the camp in the middle of the day to escape the midday sun. Take some time to relax and enjoy a meal, then when it’s cooled down and the animals are more active, set out again for an afternoon game drive. Pull up in the park and enjoy a refreshing 'sundowner', an iconic part of traditional safari life. Dating back to the great safaris of the 1920s, there’s no better way to finish up an exciting day of wildlife viewing than gathering for drinks and nibbles while watching the sun go down. Return to camp in the evening for dinner.
Day 19 - Ngorongoro Highlands
This morning you will depart the Serengeti National Park and travel back to the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area; one of Africa's most beautiful nature reserves and the world's largest intact caldera. Within this crater lies every type of ecosystem, including riverine forests, open plains, freshwater and alkaline lakes. The scenery is awe-inspiring as you descend almost 600 metres down to the crater floor. Within its 300 square kilometres lies a remarkable concentration of wildlife, so on your game drive you may see some, or all, of the 'big five' creatures that rule here, including the highly endangered black rhinoceros. On the crater floor, grassland blends into swamps, lakes, rivers, woodlands and hills. The Maasai are permitted to water their cattle at the permanent lake and can be seen leading their animals in and out of the crater. Enjoy a bush picnic lunch on the crater floor before continuing with your game drive. After your game drive, return to the Ngorongoro Highlands.
Day 20 - Ngorongoro Highlands
Enjoy a morning at leisure. Today you'll learn all about coffee, with a hands on tour covering the coffee process from seed, to bean, to cup. In the afternoon, spend some time relaxing by the pool, or speak to your leader about the other activities available.
Day 21 - Arusha
This morning, depart the lodge and make the drive back to Arusha. You should expect to arrive back in Arusha by lunchtime, at which point your adventure comes to an end. Please do not book any international flights departing before 6pm this evening to allow for any unexpected delays. If you would like to extend your stay in Arusha, additional accommodation can be booked in advance (subject to availability).

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
02-06-202422-06-2024AUD $ 27,070-
16-06-202406-07-2024AUD $ 28,150-
30-06-202420-07-2024AUD $ 28,150-
21-07-202410-08-2024AUD $ 31,355-
04-08-202424-08-2024AUD $ 31,355-
18-08-202407-09-2024AUD $ 31,355-
01-09-202421-09-2024AUD $ 31,355-
15-09-202405-10-2024AUD $ 30,190-
13-10-202402-11-2024AUD $ 29,030-
02-02-202522-02-2025AUD $ 27,920-
01-06-202521-06-2025AUD $ 27,595-
29-06-202519-07-2025AUD $ 27,595-
13-07-202502-08-2025AUD $ 29,589-
20-07-202509-08-2025AUD $ 29,589-
03-08-202523-08-2025AUD $ 29,589-
17-08-202506-09-2025AUD $ 29,589-
31-08-202520-09-2025AUD $ 29,589-
07-09-202527-09-2025AUD $ 29,589-
14-09-202504-10-2025AUD $ 29,589-
12-10-202501-11-2025AUD $ 29,589-
28-12-202517-01-2026AUD $ 29,589-

Accommodation

Hotel (10 nights),Lodge (6 nights),Permanent Tented Camp (5 nights)

Transport

4WD vehicles,Plane,Boat,Private Vehicle

Map