President’s Pick Uganda & Kenya The views from my bed

  • Visit the indigenous pygmy tribe of the Batwa, keepers of the forest, the original dwellers of Uganda’s Bwindi Forest that they share with a fantastic array of flora and fauna
  • Experience what for many is a rare and life-changing event – the chance to come face to face with a family of rare and highly endangered mountain gorillas
  • Go game viewing at an uncrowded and exclusive camp nestled within to Sera Conservancy, adjacent to the Samburu National Park
  • Travel to the fable Masai Mara Reserve to a luxury, private tented camp for a classic safari experience and outstanding game viewing
  • Big Five fosters an orphan in your name at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, the elephant and rhino orphanage administered by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and this allows you to savor a visit to the orphanage when it is open only to fellow foster donors to meet the orphans
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Enrichment Series

COUNTRIES VISITED

Rwanda & Uganda

Kenya

STARTING AT..

Price starts at $1,3000 Land per person, per day, double occupancy.

TOUR LENGTH

12

Tour Highlights/Full Description

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  • Visit the indigenous pygmy tribe of the Batwa, keepers of the forest, the original dwellers of Uganda’s Bwindi Forest that they share with a fantastic array of flora and fauna
  • Experience what for many is a rare and life-changing event – the chance to come face to face with a family of rare and highly endangered mountain gorillas
  • Go game viewing at an uncrowded and exclusive camp nestled within to Sera Conservancy, adjacent to the Samburu National Park
  • Travel to the fable Masai Mara Reserve to a luxury, private tented camp for a classic safari experience and outstanding game viewing
  • Big Five fosters an orphan in your name at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, the elephant and rhino orphanage administered by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and this allows you to savor a visit to the orphanage when it is open only to fellow foster donors to meet the orphans

Day 1: Entebbe, Uganda
Today on arrival at the Entebbe International Airport, clear customs and proceed to the exit where you are met by your guide and given a private transfer to your hotel. The reputable Protea Hotel chain of hotels has opened a new hotel in the capital city. It is situated on the shores of the beautiful Lake Victoria and is within five minutes’ drive of the international airport. The hotel has expansive gardens and a private beach with white sands and palm trees. The interior and finishing of the hotel has been done to a high standard with both modern and African influences. Protea Hotel

Day 2: Entebbe / Bwindi National Park
This morning at 6:00 AM, you will be transferred from your hotel to the Entebbe International Airport for your scheduled flight to Kisoro. You are met at the Kisoro Airstrip by the lodge driver-guide, who transfers almost two hours to your safari lodge.

This afternoon you visit the indigenous Batwa tribe. Bwindi Forest is home to a fantastic diversity of flora and fauna, including some exotic plants and rare and endangered animals. The forest is also home to the Batwa pygmies. These people were the original dwellers of the ancient forest and have been known as the ‘keepers of the forest’. The Batwa lived in harmony with the forest and survived by hunting small game using bows and arrows and gathering plants for both food and medicinal purposes.

In 1992, the lives of the Batwa changed forever when the forest became a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site to try to protect the endangered mountain gorillas that reside within its boundaries. The Batwa were evicted from the park and became what is now known as “conservation refugees” in a world that was very unfamiliar to them. Their skills and means of subsistence were not useful in this modern environment and they began to suffer.

In 2001, when the Batwa tribe was on the edge of extinction American medical missionaries, Dr Scott and Carol Kellermann, came to their rescue. They purchased land and established programs to improve the conditions and lives of the Batwa. This included the building of a school, hospital and housing. The Kellermanns also developed water and sanitation projects and found ways that the Batwa could generate income and sustain themselves. These projects are now managed and operated by the Batwa Development Program (BDP). BDP works closely with the Batwa community to try to ensure that their indigenous rights are respected, and they also benefit from the forest being a national park.

The Batwa Cultural Experience was created by the displaced Batwa pygmies with the help of BDP to educate their children and to share their amazing heritage and traditions with the world. A day spent with the Batwa gives you the opportunity to experience the forest through the eyes of your Batwa guide. Learn how they lived and hunted in the traditional manner as the Batwa teaches you techniques to shoot with a bow and arrow. Visit a traditional Batwa homestead to learn from the women how to prepare, cook and serve a meal – Batwa-style. You have the chance to sample these dishes. Engage with a medicine man and learn about the medicinal properties that the forest flora. Listen to the ancient legends and myths and traditional songs.

Your lodge is located in the southern area of Bwindi National Park. The superbly appointed cottages are a wonderful place to relax and unwind. Each room has its own en suite bathroom, with hot and cold water as well as solar lights. The camp is composed of a main lodge which includes restaurant, bar, lounge, craft shop and campfire overlooking the tropical rain forest. The lodge is owner managed where the focus is on quality service, good food and comfort. Gorilla Safari Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 3: Bwindi National Park
Today is Gorilla trekking day! After breakfast, take a short drive to Park Headquarters and meet with excellent local guides and trackers who will give a talk on the etiquette of gorilla trekking. Begin your hike into We then hike into the forest where the gorillas were seen the night before and track from that point. The trekking can take from 1 to 6 hours and climb to altitudes not in excess of 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery make the trekking worthwhile. Once the gorillas are located all fatigue is forgotten, as the experience is often described as being the most profound natural history experience in the world. Picnic lunches are provided, and it is important to take plenty of water. Cameras and plenty of fast speed film are recommended. It can rain at a few minutes’ notice; hence waterproof clothing is a good essential.

Note: Under no circumstances are gorillas to be touched by humans. This is to protect them from communicable diseases, to which they are very susceptible. Any traveler with an obvious cold or other communicable illness will not be allowed to participate in the treks. Children under 15 cannot participate. The lodge has activities for them. Gorilla Safari Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 4:Bwindi National Park
After breakfast, you are transferred to the park offices to begin a second day of trekking in hopes of spending just a little more time in the company of these majestic and gentle creatures. There are few experiences in nature that can equate to an encounter with a family of mountain gorillas. This is truly a life-enhancing event You will have an opportunity to visit yet another family and experience a different thrill.

Note: Under no circumstances are gorillas to be touched by humans. This is to protect them from communicable diseases, to which they are very susceptible. Any traveler with an obvious cold or other communicable illness will not be allowed to participate in the treks. Children under 15 cannot participate. The lodge has activities for them. Gorilla Safari Lodge (B,L,D)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: USE OF PLASTIC BAGS BANNED IN KENYA. The Kenyan government has banned plastic bags. The possible penalties for having a plastic bag range from a maximum four years in jail to fines ranging from US$19,000 to US$38,000. Make sure that you properly dispose of any plastic bags – including zip lock, grocery bags, any single-use plastic bags in your possession before you arrive in Nairobi.

Day 5: Bwindi / Entebbe / Nairobi
It’s time to leave the lush rainforests of Bwindi and drive back to Kisoro airstrip where you connect your scheduled flight back to Entebbe. Arriving back in the city late morning, you are met and transferred to Faze III for a leisurely lunch. Note: You may have a packed lunch depending on the departure time of your flight. Then return to the airport for your afternoon flight to Nairobi.

Upon arrival at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, you clear customs and proceed to the exit where you are met by the Big Five representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the evening is at leisure. Ol Sereni Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 6: Nairobi / Sera Conservancy, Samburu National Park
This morning return to Nairobi airport in time to connect with your flight to Samburu National Park. Upon arrival at the airstrip, you are met and taken to the distinctive Saruni Rhino Camp within the conservancy. Not many travelers visit Sera Conservancy. The landscapes feel like wild northern frontier as you go off the beaten track to look for 11 critically endangered black rhino is an incredible adventure.

Saruni Rhino sits within a huge 350,000-hectare/865,000-acre rhino sanctuary conservancy called Sera. As soon as the Sera rangers and Saruni guides locate the black rhino, you leave the car at safe tracking distance and walk towards them. An experienced and knowledgeable guiding team knows how to insure the animals are relaxed around you so oyu can walk safely around them. Other experiences on the doorstep of Saruni Rhino include going out to observe the sandgrouse, an amazing 45-minute watering frenzy that happens every morning with thousands of birds – just incredible! The ‘Fifty Wells’ or ‘Singing Wells’ is where local Samburu get water for their goats, camels, donkeys and cows. You watch and are watched as they have so few visitors. You are surrounded by thousands of animals and herdsman – an exhilarating experience, seeing such authentic culture. Listen as Samburu warriors sing traditional songs while hauling water for their animals to drink. The sights and sounds alone are mesmerizing. Elephants come several times each day to the waterhole in front of the cottages (‘bandas’). Imagine lying in bed watching them play and drink! Simple and pure!

Note: There is NO WIFI at Saruni Rhino. This is all about the experiences – time stands still here!  Saruni Rhino Camp (B,L,D)

Day 7: Sera Conservancy
Spend your day soaking in the rhythms of the East African bush. On walking safaris, you discover the bush… among the most spectacular in Northern Kenya. See, feel, touch and smell its trees, bushes and rocks and watch for birds. Track animals with your guide, where the tracks and animal droppings tell stories that are unique to this area. During game drives, you are accompanied by a professional guide and a tracker, a team that will help you to read the book of nature. Enjoy special moments, especially for bush dinners, or for a riverside picnic lunch that allows you to spend time around the elephants. Saruni Rhino Camp (B,L,D)

Day 8: Sera Conservancy / Masai Mara Game Reserve
This morning you depart by flight and head south to the fable Masai Mara Reserve. On arrival you are met and transferred to your luxury camp Ol Seki Mara, a private tented camp bordering the Masai Mara. This enclave of luxury in the wildest terrain of Kenya. The camp has ten exclusive tents and has access to the entire 200 km/124 mi Naboisho Conservancy exclusively for you. The conservancy borders the Mara, with no fences to inhibit the migration of animals which means you should see the big five and all the other endemic animals on your check list, sometimes within five minutes of the camp. Only vehicles from the properties are allowed in the conservancy, so you see wildlife, not minibuses. The view from the camp is spectacular, the Mara is mostly flat plains, but the camp is elevated on a rocky escarpment, so you can see for miles. Begin enjoying the camp’s activities this afternoon, ranging from walking and night safaris, to tradition game drives. Ol Seki Mara (B,L,D)

Days 9, 10 & 11: Naboisho Conservancy
For the next three days you have the chance to savor the natural world in ways too few people will ever be able to enjoy. You watch the day unfold around you and see lions, zebras, giraffes, a variety of antelopes parade pass by. On these full days of game viewing, you try to become invisible to them, just more of the scenery. Of course, you’re not very good at it… too long in town and city. With your naturalist guide, you continue on into the night with game drives scheduled from 8.30pm to 10.00pm, on request. You may spot white-tailed mongoose, bush babies, spring hare and Feraux owl. Or you can opt to relax around the campfire. Ol Seki Mara (B,L,D)

Day 12: Naboisho Conservancy / Nairobi / Depart
This morning you fly back to Nairobi, where you are welcomed and transferred to your hotel where Big Five has reserved a dayroom at the Ole Sereni Hotel for your convenience.

Later this afternoon, enjoy a special visit to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, overlooking Nairobi National Park. The elephant and rhino orphanage is run by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The late David Sheldrick stands out, even today, as one of Africa’s most famous and proficient Pioneer National Park Wardens of all time. With just one vehicle, and a handful of laborers, he was given the task of transforming a huge chunk of inhospitable arid land, previously uncharted and known only as the Taru Desert, into what today is Kenya’s largest and most famous National Park – Tsavo. His wife Daphne Sheldrick was the first person in the entire world to successfully hand rear newborn fully milk dependent African Elephant orphans, a task that spanned 28 years of trial and error to achieve. By the year 2008, the Trust had successfully saved and hand-reared over 82 infant African Elephant calves, two from the day of birth. A tiny newborn elephant is orphaned often when its mother and family gunned down to serve the ivory trade, and any survivors flee in terror. With its life support gone, its fate now suffering and death in hopeless and lonely isolation that the animal cannot understand. For elephants, family is as important to as our family is to us. Its very existence is dependent upon its mother’s milk for the first two years of life. It has a life span equivalent to that of man. In a perfect world that elephant life would be filled with fun and joy through the companionship of friends and a close-knit and loving family, whose love is pure and unconditional all the days of its life.

Big Five believes and champions the trust’s mission. We foster an orphan in your name, and this allows you to savor a visit to the orphanage when it is open only to fellow foster donors. As the expert handlers introduce the lively elephant and rhino orphans and feeding time begins, you will have a close encounter with these delightful little creatures, some may approach you to be stroked.

This evening after dinner, you are transferred to the Nairobi airport in time to connect your onward flight to your next destination. With that we must say Kwaheri” (Swahili goodbye) as you depart Nairobi later this morning. Ole Sereni Hotel – Day Room (B,D)

Land only, double Occupancy: US$1,3000 per person, per day. Not including gorilla permits, currently $1200 per person.

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