This 2-week itinerary includes many of Africa’s top wildlife experiences: see the highly endangered mountain gorilla, explore wildlife-packed Ngorongoro Crater, safari in a private Serengeti reserve and float above the Masai Mara Plains in a hot air balloon. Along the way you’ll stay in luxurious lodges known for their impeccable service and guides who’ll go out of their way to ensure you see the Big 5 and more. An unforgettable East Africa safari!
On arrival at Kigali Airport you’ll be met and assisted through customs and immigration, before being transferred to Kigali Serena. An easy 15-minute drive from the airport, this luxurious hotel has a lovely location in a leafy boulevard close to Kigali’s small city centre.
The top hotel in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali Serena has everything you need for a comfortable night’s stay: crisp linen, air conditioning, free WiFi , satellite TV, a well-stocked minibar and 24-hour room service for that late night snack.
If you crave some exercise after your long-haul flight there’s a lovely outdoor swimming pool and a well-equipped health club with a spa, steam room, Jacuzzi and gym. Before dinner have a drink on the terrace or in the lounge with its resident pianist, then pick from the hotel’s two restaurants: Milima or the more casual and colourful Sokoni.
After breakfast set off on a 2-hour drive to Sabyinyo Silverback, a welcoming lodge tucked in the foothills of the mighty Virunga Volcanoes, just outside the national park. On arrival a late lunch is served, after which there’s time to settle in and acclimatise (the lodge sits at an altitude of over 2,300 m!) or go on a guided afternoon bird walk in the surrounding rainforest.
The lush forested slopes of the five Virunga Volcanoes are one of the last refuges for mountain gorillas. The following day after an early breakfast, you're driven to the park headquarters to meet your guide and begin your trek to find these highly endangered creatures. The amount of time spent walking is dependent upon where the gorillas are that day and once sighted you crouch quietly, watching the antics of the great silverback male and adorable youngsters at play.
Gorilla trekking is without doubt one of the most poignant and thrilling wildlife experience to be had anywhere in the world. After a good hour with these incredible creatures, it’s time to return to the lodge for lunch. That afternoon enjoy the valley views from the lodge terrace, soak in a hot bathtub, then join the rest of the guests at the communal dining table where the wine flows freely and gorilla stories and photographs are swapped until well into the night.
An early breakfast sets you up for your trip to see the golden monkeys, another highlight of the Volcanoes National Park. This experience is very different from gorilla trekking as it’s generally a much easier walk and the monkeys are playful and inquisitive, leaping from branch to bamboo branch and interacting with visitors.
After seeing and photographing the monkeys you’re driven to Kigali through the spectacular scenery of “the land of a thousand hills”. In Kigali you’re dropped at the airport for your scheduled flight to Kilimanjaro Airport in Arusha where, Tanzanian customs and immigration formalities out of the way, you’re welcomed by our tour representative and shown to your awaiting transfer vehicle for the drive to your accommodation for the night.
Legendary Lodge has spacious garden cottages set in the tree-filled grounds of a working coffee farm. Enjoy a soothing massage or facial at the on-site spa or relax in your cottage with its fireplace, colonial-style furnishings and private verandah facing out onto magnificent views of Mount Meru. Dinner is served in The Old Farmhouse before a good night’s rest in your comfortable, king-size bed.
Your morning wake-up call is accompanied by a cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea, followed by a buffet of fresh fruit, pastries and a full English breakfast. Leaving Legendary Lodge behind you’re transferred to Arusha Airport for a short light flight to Lake Manyara Airstrip where you’ll be met and driven through the highlands to Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in its spectacular rim-side setting.
The following day descend 600m (over 2,000 feet) to the crater floor for a full day of game viewing. Ngorongoro Crater is a phenomenal wildlife destination: its forests are home to large bull elephants, the lakes are coloured pink with flamingos, large herds of wildebeest and zebra graze the savannah plains - the hunting grounds of prides of lion - leopard stalk the woodlands, and you even have a good chance of seeing the highly endangered black rhino.
Late in the afternoon, return to your accommodation perched high on the rim of crater. Staying at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is a wonderfully opulent experience with luxurious suites adorned with graceful antiques, brocade sofas, gilt mirrors, beaded chandeliers and a personal butler on hand to draw a rose petal-strewn bath in readiness for your return from safari.
After a final breakfast overlooking the crater, you’re transferred to Arusha Airport for your scheduled flight to Singita Grumeti Reserve (Sasakwa Airstrip). On arrival you’re met by your guide and driven to Singita Faru Faru, a contemporary safari lodge with eight open-style suites, a rim-flow swimming pool and small, sandy beach overlooking the waterhole and Grumeti River.
The next few days are spent exploring this exclusive Serengeti reserve: its grassy plains are dotted with large herds of buffalo, zebra and antelope; elephant gather at the river, black and white colobus monkeys play in the trees, and frequently seen predators include lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. Spend your mornings and afternoons on game drives in open Land Rovers, go on guided walks or even a horse riding safari (for experienced riders only).
Between about June and late-July, Grumeti’s resident animals are joined by the huge herds of the Great Migration. But whatever time of year you visit Singita Faru Faru you’ll be treated to excellent game viewing along with casually elegant accommodation in your clean-lined suite with its huge picture window, private deck and phenomenal views.
After breakfast, transfer back to Sasakwa Airstrip to catch your light aircraft flight to the Masai Mara. Here you’ll be staying at Ngerende in the Wild Lakeview, one of the most luxurious camps in the Masai Mara with just two extremely spacious suites set on the bank of the Mara River.
Kenya’s best known reserve, the Masai Mara has a permanent water supply sustaining a thriving population of plains game along with well-fed predators. Every game drive here is an event, as your highly trained and experienced ranger takes you into private conservancies where you can get up close to black-manned lions, elephant and cheetah with hardly another vehicle in sight!
On one of the mornings, trade your vehicle in for a hot air balloon and watch the sun rise and the colours bleed into the landscape as you float over the wide Masai Mara plains and (if you’re travelling during the dry season) the thousands-strong herds of the Great Migration. Then it’s back to your villa-sized suite where your butler and a perfectly chilled drink are always close at hand.
In the evening your private chef whips up a gourmet dinner, served under the stars with only the bark of a hyena or distant roar of a lion breaking the silence.
An early morning start and final game drive in the Masai Mara completes your list of Kenya wildlife sightings. Enjoy breakfast out on the deck overlooking the plains before your transfer to the airstrip and flight back to Nairobi. Arriving at Wilson Airport just before midday, you’re met by our representative and shown to your awaiting transfer vehicle for the drive to Hemingways Nairobi.
This airy and spacious plantation-style property has 45 rooms each with beautiful décor, lofty ceilings and private balconies. Spend a relaxing afternoon (or night if your flight is the next morning) enjoying the hotel’s many amenities: soothe away any game drive niggles with a Swedish massage at the spa, get your hair done at the salon, stroll around the grounds or take a dip in the heated swimming pool.
Hemingways high tea is a real treat with a wonderful selection of cakes, finger sandwiches, fruit tartlets and freshly baked scones with Cornish clotted cream. In the evening visit the hotel’s restaurant The Brasserie for a sizzling steak or take a trip into town to dine at the famous Carnivore Restaurant which specialises in all kinds of meat from lamb chops to crocodile.
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