This 35 Days Grand East African Safari is one that combines up to five top African travel destinations / countries in a single package. A traveler therefore has got an opportunity to visit all the 5 renowned east African safari destinations, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Zanzibar. This tour holiday begins in Nairobi city, Kenya – explore the magical Kenya to view some of the world’s wonders, ranging from the historical Lake Nakuru, famous for being home to a million flamingos, the Maasai Mara national reserve, a great spot for viewing wildebeest migration.
Tanzania on the other hand has numerous wonders which can be visited, including, Ngorongoro crater which is one of Africa’s 7 wonders and to the Tarangire plains, a best known hub for largest elephant population ever recorded in East Africa. A continuation of the safari takes you to the other 3 popular countries; Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo which are definitely one of those memorable experiences one can remember for a lifetime.
Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo are the only three countries in Africa with the highest number of mountain gorillas, 100% of the total world’s mountain gorilla population is found in the Virunga region that is shared among these countries, and DRC has the low land gorillas as well. The presence of lush, mountainous forests in this part of the world provide a safe haven to these gentle creatures. See detailed plan for this East African Tour below.
Day 1: Arrival in Kenya, Nairobi city
Arrive at Jommo Kenyatta international airport for your 35 Days Grand East African Safari and be picked up by an experienced safari guide who will be waiting to drive you to the hotel. The first night will be spent in Kenya’slargest capital, Nairobi. Nairobi offers great opportunities to visit its closest destinations, which include the Nairobi Giraffe Centre, Elephant Orphanage, Karen Blixen Museum and the Nairobi National park. Depending on your arrival time, these sites can be visited at additional costs.
Day 2: Lake Nakuru National Park
Early breakfast in Nairobi and transfer to Lake Nakuru national park thereafter. This park is situated = in central Kenya, approximately 88 Miles (155Km) from Nairobi by road. Enroute you will have brief stopovers at Thomson Falls and the Rift valley view point where you can take adorable pictures. Lake Nakuru is a rift valley lake and lies within the floor of the eastern Rift Valley, and is one of the famous destinations for tourists in Africa, neighbored by wooded and bushy Savannah.
Arrive at the park in mid-morning, ready to take on a game viewing experience. Admire the diversity of the ecosystem and varied species ranging from Lake Nakuru, which is famous for pink flamingos to scenic escarpments of the Rift Valley. Lake Nakuru is a significant breeding point for native birds, as well as a hub for migratory birds, and ideal for game drives, birding tours and scenic viewing.
Day 3: To Lake Naivasha, Boat safari
Have a warm breakfast on the shores of Lake Nakuru, leave and travel to Lake Naivasha, arriving just in time for lunch at the lodge. Lake Naivasha is one of Kenya’s and Africa’s most famous lakes, and a famed home to over 1500 hippos and 400 different bird species. This profusion of animals is what makes Lake Naivasha an epic destination for wildlife viewing.
The lake has got a very rich marine life, ranging from different fish species such as Tilapia and clay fish which attracts many of fish – eating birds, like African fish eagles, Great cormorant, Pelicans, King fishers, and others. Get on an afternoon boat cruise to encounter the lake’s most famous and abundant marine species, such as hippos, crocs and birds.
Day 4: Naivasha To Maasai Mara National Reserve
Check out from the lodge after a hearty breakfast, and head to Maasai Mara national reserve located along Kenya -Tanzania boarder. The transfer from Lake Naivasha to Maasai Mara takes you across the verdant picturesque landscapes of the Rift Valley. Maasai Mara game reserve is best known for its all year wildlife concentration and wildebeest migration – the 8th wonder of the world. The migration comes from the Serengeti plains in Tanzania between the months of July – October.
Clear at the park gate, proceed to your place of accommodation for early lunch. Relax and in the evening go for the game watching safari in the Maasai Mara ranges. Animals to watch include Lions, Antelopes, Buffaloes, and other big mammals. The Mara River on the other hand is a home of crocodiles and hippos.
Day 5 & 6: Full day game drives in Maasai Mara
Dedicate day 5&6 to absolute game viewing experience within the park, exploring the reserve’s magnificent species, and stunning scenery. Before sunrise you will be able to sight numerous predators after feeding on their prey the previous night. Return for late breakfast at the lodge as the sun rises above the Maasai reserve plains forming a whole serene environment, inter mixed with romantic savannah.
Day 7: Travel to Serengeti National park. Afternoon game viewing
After breakfast, check out from the lodge and depart from the Maasai Mara reserve, with en route lunch to Tanzania’s Serengeti National park. Cross from Kenya to Tanzania via Isebania border and continue to Serengeti National Park. Derived from the Maasai language, the word Serengeti means ‘endless plains’.
Day 8: Full day game drives in Serengeti National Park
Spend another day at Serengeti, engage in yet another full day game viewing and photography experience, and enjoy every single moment of your safari in Africa’s most popular national Park, and as well one of the most peculiar areas in the world to see Savannah dwellers. Serengeti national park encompasses some of the largest concentration of plains game in Africa, on a scale, whose numbers are unmatched anywhere else in the world.
Day 9: travel to Ngorongoro conservation area. Via Olduvai Gorge
A short morning safari in Serengeti to view some of the species you might have missed in previous game drives. Depart from Serengeti after lunch and head to Ngorongoro conservation area. Stop over at the ancient Olduvai Gorge to learn about its rich history and the role it has played as far as human evolution and research is concerned. Arrive at your place of accommodation on the crater rim for overnight stay and dinner.
Day 10: Ngorongoro area. Full day crater tour
Breakfast at 6:00 am, and then depart as early as possible for the magical crater tour with picnic lunches. Descend in the crater floor to start a full day of exploring Ngorongoro’s unique wildlife and scenery. Including over 20 black rhinos, the crater is also home to 20,000 mammals, which makes Ngorongoro a best place to see big 5 mammals in Tanzania. The crater floor has one of the largest population of carnivore species in the world, and most commonly seen are lions, cheetahs, hyenas and jackals, while leopards can be seen on a lucky day.
Day 11: Ngorongoro to Lake Manyara. Game viewing in the afternoon
After breakfast, transfer to the nearby Lake Manyara national park. This is famous for its tree climbing lions and thousands of bird species that inhabit the lake shores. It is located near Arusha and Tarangire national parks, and an extremely diverse lake despite its small size.
Other than, Ngorongoro and Tarangire, Manyara offers the suitable introduction to Tanzania’s wildlife. Over 400 bird species have been recorded, and one can observe at least 100 species within just a day. Remarkable ones include counts of pink-hued flamingos on their migration, and other huge water birds which include cormorants, pelicans, fish eagles and storks.
Day 12: Transfer to Tarangire National park. Afternoon game drives
Have breakfast, and depart for Tarangire National park. With enroute lunch, you later undertake an afternoon game drive upon arrival in the park as you head to the lodge. Tarangire National Park is located southwest of Arusha, only 75 miles’ drive, but most importantly it is a beautiful park, second to Ngorongoro conservation area known for its concentration of wildlife especially in dry season.
Tarangire National park is also famous for its highest population of African elephants in Tanzania and it is second to none elsewhere in East Africa, including its sparse vegetation, characterized with baobab and acacia trees.
Day 13: Travel to Kilimanjaro airport – to catch flight to Entebbe, Uganda.
After breakfast, with an exit game drive, leave Tarangire to Kilimanjaro International Airport. Drop off at the airport, JRO for your connecting flight to Uganda / Entebbe Airport. This is a 2.30 hours’ flight departing Kilimanjaro airport at 1435hrs and arrives in Entebbe at 1625 hrs. Your Ugandan safari guide will be waiting to drive you to Kampala. Overnight and dinner at a hotel in the heart of Kampala city.
Day 14: Transfer from Kampala to Murchison Falls national park. Via Ziwa Rhino sanctuary.
After breakfast in Kampala, start the drive to Murchison Falls National Park in northwest of Uganda, a trip of about 5 hours’ drive, traversing the undulating highlands of Nakasongola before branching off at Nakitoma trading center to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Ziwa Rhinos and Wildlife Ranch is the proud home of the only surviving rhinos in Uganda following their extinction in 1980s; and thus offers an unforgettable Rhino tracking experience.
Currently Ziwa Rhino sanctuary is home to more than 20 southern white rhinos, and has become increasingly popular with travelers looking for off-the-beaten-path for rhino trekking, bird watching, nature walks and relaxation. After this tour, proceed on the journey to Masindi town for lunch and to Uganda’s largest conservation area, for relaxation and a night stay.
Day 15: Game drive and boat cruise on the Nile
Rise up early in the morning and head out for sunrise game drive with a chance to spot early risers and nocturnal cats returning to their hideouts. This national park hosts 4 of the big 5 mammals and it is also home to one of the most beautiful and powerful water falls in the world. The rolling plains of the 3,893 sq. km park inhabit a wide range of animals, and you have a chance of viewing some of the Park’s permanent residents ranging from lions, Jackson’s hartebeests, giraffes, antelopes, buffaloes and elephants, among others.
Return to the lodge for lunch and in the afternoon, head out on a launch cruise to the base of Murchison Falls, at a place where River Nile forces its way through a narrow 7 meter gorge plunging 43 meters into the Nile on its way to Lake Albert. Wide diversity of birds can be spotted like the African fish eagle, Egyptian goose, Malachite kingfisher, Yellow billed stork, Egrets, among others and watch mammals as they relax and drink water along the shores of River Nile. Common sightings include hippos, buffaloes, Nile crocodiles and birds include,
The launch cruise will take you close to the falls’ base where you can then get off the boat and go hiking up the side of thunderous water falls till the top. You will drive back to the lodge after this experience for dinner and overnight.
Day 16: Travel to Kibale Forest National park.
In the morning, take an optional hot air ballooning safari or a game drive through Buligi track with chances of spotting a few elusive species that you might have missed the previous day. Continue to exit the park as you head to further south western region of Uganda. It is a long drive, taking about 8 hours. Break off shortly for lunch in Hoima town, and continue to Kibale forest for relaxation and dinner.
Day 17: Chimpanzee trekking and Bigodi wetland walk
Breakfast at 7:00am, and then drive to Kanyanchu station, for chimpanzee pre-trekking briefing by the park staff which begins at 8.00a.m. The Chimpanzee trekking encounter may last for about 2 to 5 hours but highly unpredictable depending on movements of chimps and nature of the terrain. One- on-one meeting with these chimps typically lasts for one hour. Other than the chimps, Kibale forest is home to other primates including the red-tailed and grey-cheeked Mangabeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, blue and red-Colobus and Vervet monkeys, beautiful birds, butterflies and small insects.
A tour to Bigodi wetland ecotourism site, given its astonishing flora and fauna, is worth it too. The swamp is hub to abundant populations of both rare and common birds, a vast range of bird species – up to 138 different species. These include Great Blue Turaco, and wetland animals such as Sitatunga antelope, etc.
Day 18: Transfer to Bwindi impenetrable national park
After breakfast, before you transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in south western part of Uganda, embark on a game drive in Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, to look out for the tree climbing lions. Ishasha sector is blessed with a few prides if climbing lions and other wild game that dwell in this woodland part of the park. Tree climbing lions prefer to lie on branches of fig trees in the mid-morning sun during sunny afternoons while waiting for their prey.
Day 19: Gorilla trekking & Batwa community visit
After breakfast at 7:30am, with your packed lunch, continue to a briefing point with your guides at the park headquarters and after begin your gorilla trek. Hike through the thick, verdant, lush forest to eventually come across mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, is an astounding and unforgettable experience.
This trip takes between 2 and 8 hours and is the highlight of any Africa exploration safari, allowing you to have only 1 hour of close contact with these gentle apes, while taking pictures and getting acquainted to them. Retreat to the starting point after trekking, take your picnic lunch and proceed to the lodge, and refresh. In the evening, prepare to visit the Batwa communities and draw closer to their traditions and culture, including the Twa dance which is an amazing performance to look at, and rich history of the Batwa people.
Day 20: Travel to Rwanda
An early breakfast and transfer to Rwanda via Lake Bunyonyi. An enroute excursion on Lake Bunyonyi will allow you explore up to 29 islands that make up this lake, or hike to the neighboring communities and view Kigezi region’s stunning scenery. Have lunch here and continue to Rwanda through Katuna boarder. After all the immigration procedures, proceed to Ruhengeri province, in north west of Rwanda on the foothills of Virunga range, forming splendid scenery as you drive to the lodge.
Day 21: Golden monkey trekking. Cultural tour at Ibyiwachu Cultural village
Gather at the ranger station for short briefing before your golden monkey adventure starts. Get into these thick forests to look out for these apes; the golden monkeys are rare primates and quite elusive that one has to walk within the forests to spot them.
In the evening, visit Iby’Iwachu Cultural Village; an experience that gives visitors an outstanding opportunity to meet local people in their natural environment, with a taste of unique culture and traditions. Situated on the edge of Volcanoes National park, this living museum highlights aspects of traditional Rwanda society. Be greeted with thunderous drumming, joyful dancing, and the kind of hospitality that has pervaded Rwandan society for generations.
Day 22: Transfer D.R. Congo
Leave Volcanoes national park in the morning after breakfast and move further westwards to Eastern Congo’s based Virunga national park and Nyiragongo Mountain. Cross via Goma boarder, and check in at the lodge in either Bukima or Mikeno sectors for your overnight stay.
Day 23: Hike to Nyiragongo Mountain
Complete check-out at the lodge and be transported to Kibati ranger post, the starting point for Nyiragongo mountain trek. Aiming for the volcano summit, the hike starts at around 10:00am with most climbing groups reaching the top by 5:00pm. However this entirely depends on hikers’ speed, the weather conditions and terrain.
Day 24: To Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Begin the descent to Kibati ranger base at around 6:00am from the mountain peak. Once at the bottom, continue on the drive from Virunga national park towards the south western province of Rwanda to your next destination, Nyungwe forest. Transfer through the scenic vistas of Lake Kivu, Rwanda’s largest lake; stop by and take amazing pictures or even have lunch at one of the resorts overlooking the beach. Proceed on the drive to the lush Nyungwe forest and arrive in the late afternoon for lunch, check in at the lodge and overnight stay.
Day 25: Chimp trekking. Afternoon canopy walk
Morning chimp exploration in Nyungwe forest, to search for these elusive residents that have thrived in this thick verdant forest for many generations. Trekking chimpanzees takes around 2 – 5 hours, depending on location of chimps as well as speed of trekkers, but usually 2 hours is enough to sight at least a troop of chimps.
The forest is also famous for its variety of other species, and a recognizable population of primates, such as baboons, Black and white Colobus monkeys, and many other primates. Retreat from this adventure and go for lunch; after which you will continue to an experience of walking on top of Nyungwe forest canopy; the Nyungwe forest Canopy walk avails visitors a once-in-lifetime opportunity to experience the rain forest with the canopy walk way challenge.
A canopy walk is embedded in a specialized guided tour sloping down from the Uwinka visitor’s center through Igishigishi trail. Nyungwe Canopy walk way is 160 meters long, and 70meters above the ground, comprising of 3 sections with the first one at 45 meters, the second at 90 meters and third at 25 meters. During the canopy walk, visitors are able to take in unequalled views of Nyungwe forest, dynamic monkeys, and one-on-one encounter with verdant bird species and on a clear day, distant Lake Kivu can be seen.
Day 27: To Burundi – Bujumbura city
After breakfast, check out from the lodge, and drive to Bujumbura city. Cross via the Rusizi border and arrive at your Bujumbura hotel in the evening to refresh, and have dinner.
Day 28: Karera waterfalls and source of Nile
After breakfast, embark on a trip to the Source of River Nile. Dubbed the furthest source of River Nile, it is located in Rutovu province close to the thunderous Karera waterfalls; visit both the Source of River Nile and the Karera falls which is located in Rutana.
This infamous source of the world’s longest river originates from a not-so-small forest with a river stream that several researchers, including the BBC, have endorsed to be the true Source of River Nile.
Day 29: Gishora drum sanctuary and Gitega museum
After breakfast, you will drive to Gishora drum sanctuary and meet one of the oldest and finest drumming groups that began at the beginning of 19th C. Later visit the Burundi National museum in Gitega and Mushasha catholic village, the ancient administrative offices during colonial time, before returning to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 30: Fly from Bujumbura to Zanzibar
Take a leisurely breakfast at the luxurious Hotel Du Lac Tanganyika, check out and later be dropped off at Bujumbura airport for your connecting flight to Zanzibar.
Day 31: Stone Town tour – Zanzibar
The morning of Stone Town is synonymous with Swahili breakfast at The Spice House. After breakfast, the guide introduces you to all the buildings of interest and famous viewpoints. Stone town and its buildings are filled with rich history and stories of the ancient times about Zanzibar, when Arabs, Sultans, Europeans and Zanzibari wrote the history of this magnificent island.
During the town, visit the Anglican Cathedral, Slave markets, Sultans’ Palace, Old Arabic Fort, and Tip Tip’s House, Forodhani Park and obviously the popular Zanzibar Doors while walking in the petite streets. You will be shown Henna Art and be brought to the fruit and vegetable market. Therefore, be ready for a walk through the long history of Zanzibar and its infamous rulers.
Day 32: Spice farm and Jozani Forest trip.
After arriving at the spice farm, you will first receive a short introduction in how to cook Swahili style with our many spices – Swahili cooking at its best!! Taste on the delicious fruits harvested from the farm and a visit through the farm exposes one to each and every spice found in Zanzibar.
You may not believe if you haven’t seen it for yourself; did you know that a Cinnamon tree has three different scents? After finishing this tour, fully packed with nature’s secrets, you will have time to buy spices, soaps and crèmes which are all hand made by the community members within the farm and also attend a free training about traditional weaving.
Day 33: Dolphin Trip. Sunset cruise
Head out with your dhow from Kendwa to the stunning Mnemba Atoll and with possibilities of spotting dolphins along the way, you will stop at Mnemba Kitchwani reef which is your first snorkeling stop. This scenic reef, with steep slopes offers some great underwater topography and an opportunity to spot amazing corals and lots of fish.
A snorkeling session takes approximately 45-60 minutes, and a snorkel guide – also in the water will point out all the little camouflage and the tricks most people’s eyes miss. In the evening, enjoy the world class sunset of Zanzibar’s West Coast on a traditional wooden dhow. This 2-hours launch trip begins from Stone Town and is a must do during your Zanzibar vacation. Depending on the direction of the wind, the crew will sail you like the traditional fisher boats while you enjoy the blue sunset over the ocean and the skyline of the beautiful Stone town.
Day 34: Safari Blue adventure
The Safari Blue adventure is a unique day tour filled with several activities and experiences so you can make the most of Zanzibar’s sea encounters. The favorite experience of all is the opportunity to relax and unwind on a sandbank in the middle of the Indian Ocean before snorkeling and enjoying the tasty seafood barbecue lunch on Kwale Island – so interesting!!
Day 35: Departure
A leisurely breakfast overlooking the smoky sea, and later head to the airport for your departure flight, marking the end of this 35 day long, rewarding vacation trip through East Africa.
End of 35 Days Grand East African Safari.
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