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Help needed with Gorilla permits in Rwanda, Safari in Kenya and Tanzania

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Mar 20th, 2012, 03:34 PM
  #1
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Help needed with Gorilla permits in Rwanda, Safari in Kenya and Tanzania

Hi Forumites,
I realize that the topic is a mouthful, but I suspect not an uncommon combo. My husband and I are planning a trip (our first) to Africa. I have been lurking Fodors for years, but due to unforeseen circumstances, may be forced to quickly plan our trip for this year--May/June would be ideal and we cannot go later than August.
I have talked to a couple of tour operators for sample itineraries when I thought we would have more planning time, but they have not been especially responsive. I cannot take the YF vaccine due to health reasons, but my husband can. For this reason I have been advised to travel to Tanzania first, then Rwanda and lastly, Kenya.
Also, I was told that gorilla permits are still available if purchased before June. I think Uganda is on the list if that is not true, because I would really like to have 2 days to visit the gorillas if possible.
Our time on the ground in Africa would be 14-15 days with a budget of 11-14k/2pp. We would prefer a private driver for safari and our focus is seeing a variety of as many animals that is humanly possible.
Questions: IS this crazy/unrealistic?
Recommended last minute tour operators/itinerary?
Are there any gorilla permits left for this year? How do I find out?
Thank you for patiently reading through this, and thanks for any ideas or recommendations you may have.
pollydill is offline  
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Mar 20th, 2012, 07:40 PM
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I would contact operators, give them your dates (the widest range possible)' and find out if any of the, can secure gorilla permits for you. That will determine the timing and order of your safari.

If you search here, you will find recommended tour operators for Rwanda. Off the top of my head, there's Volcanoes (expensive but you needn't stay at their properties to book with them), Amohoro Tours, travelust...etc.

Another thing you could do is contact ORTPN and ask them directly. According to my Bradt Guide for Rwanda, you can make booking inquiries to them at [email protected]

Find out if you can get permits first, then plan the rest. Your budget is okay if you're careful. It's easy to go much higher.
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Mar 21st, 2012, 04:05 AM
  #3
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Thank you for your quick and very helpful response! I will keep you posted on my trip planning progress.

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Mar 21st, 2012, 08:28 AM
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Some other Rwandan tour companies that are reputable are: Thousand Hills ([email protected]), JK Safaris ([email protected]), and Primate Tours. With regards to the gorilla permits, the sooner, the better, but there are bound to be permits available for you and your husband. If you purchase them before June 1, they will be $500 each; after June 1, they will be $750 each.
As for safaris, I would recommend Tauck or Abercrombie and Kent in Tanzania, but they are on the higher end. Tanzania and Kenya will give you the most variety of animals on your safari.
Best of luck planning your trip!
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Mar 21st, 2012, 10:22 AM
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Some other Rwandan tour companies that are reputable are: Thousand Hills ([email protected]), JK Safaris ([email protected]), and Primate Tours. With regards to the gorilla permits, the sooner, the better, but there are bound to be permits available for you and your husband. If you purchase them before June 1, they will be $500 each; after June 1, they will be $750 each.
As for safaris, I would recommend Tauck or Abercrombie and Kent in Tanzania, but they are on the higher end. Tanzania and Kenya will give you the most variety of animals on your safari.
Best of luck planning your trip!
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Mar 21st, 2012, 05:58 PM
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Kenya and Tanzania:
I've used Eastern & Southern in Kenya and Africa Travel Resource and Easy Travel (more budget-minded; you would need to determine your itinerary fairly well b/c they will automatically suggest a basic/canned itinerary) in Tanzania. I've also done day trips with Wayo Africa, formerly Green Footprints, and Eben's company...oy, the name escapes me! I had good experiences with all, but I tend do a lot of homework first.

Visiting just one country in addition to Rwanda will likely be easier on your budget.

I somehow completely spaced the name of my Rwandan tour op: R&N Xplorer. Less expensive than some. Again, I was pretty definite about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go when I contacted them. And then I asked for lots of confirmations/re-confirmations. Everything went smoothly.
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Mar 21st, 2012, 06:14 PM
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Thanks for all the great ideas! I have contacted the Rwandan tourism (their mailbox is full!?) and a couple of tour operators so far....will keep you updated on the itinerary as I am sure I will need your suggestions. How fortunate I feel to have this forum to lean on for advice!
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Mar 21st, 2012, 08:29 PM
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There are great and very specific reccos re: Rwanda travels and itineraries, ,on the tripadvisor forum for rwanda. Goodgle search.

Also, do you plan Rwanda just for gorillas? Any other in-country places (disclaimer: based on research for my upcoming trip) Vlcanic lakes nearby the gorilla trek? Do you want to go to Kigali? Any of the genocide memorials? For more wildlife, you could head south a few hours from there to Nyungwe via Lake Kivu(wish i had the time to do this too)
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Mar 23rd, 2012, 01:35 PM
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Ive got a similar trip booked for late JUL and early AUG. We used Eyes On Africa---Vanessa is always great to work with --- your budget is about right for what we're doing and if there's a little flexibility re: what you do when, then there very well might be some gorilla permits left...

We're not doing Tanzania this time but it sounds like there's a reason to start there for you re: the YF vaccine...our itinerary is as follows:

Night one ARR Nairobi-- Fairview Hotel

Day two, Flight to Lewa ---for two nights at Lewa Safari Camp

Flight to Nairobi and onward to Kigali in Rwanda

In Rwanda for three night --one day of mountain gorilla trekking staying at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge and time in Kigali to see genocide memorial/museum, etc...

Flight back to Nairobi and then fly to Mara Serena for three nights...

Transfer to Governor's Camp for three nights and back through Nairobi for a night and onward home...

We shifted all of our nights in the Mara to the last part of our trip in hopes of catching some of the Mara River crossings we've seen so much footage and great action pictures...we'll keep our fingers crossed as to the animal's timing and ours and hope they intersect...unbeknownst to me, the last time we were there in January, we were looking at resident populations of wildlife not necessarily the migration....and our previous times in Tanzania (August) we were likely seeing the tail end of the migration...so we hope to hit it at a great time to see lots of action including the predators that follow the herds...
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Mar 24th, 2012, 09:06 AM
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Thanks Gator! I wish you luck on the migration timing.

I think we will miss the migration going in June, but still counting on seeing lots of animals of all types.

My husband toyed with the idea of going in November of this year as well--anyone have any thoughts of November vs. June for game viewing? I was concerned it might be more buggy in Rwanda with the rains.

I have gotten a couple of itineraries--will post to get some input on those. I suspect I am trying to squeeze in too much (first and perhaps only visit), that we won't be able to absorb the sights and sounds as we should. I am not sure what we should concentrate on: Tanzania (Serengeti, NG crater, Lake Manyara) OR Kenya (Masa Mara, Tsavo, Laikipia Plateau, etc).

Looks like there will be 4 days in Rwanda either way.

Thanks for your help.
overwhelmed Polly
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Mar 24th, 2012, 09:38 AM
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Either Kenya or Tanzania would be a terrific choice to pair with Rwanda. Kenya would be less expensive probably, and November would be cheaper than June/July/August.

I wouldn't over-worry about rain or bugs in PNV in Rwanda. You are likely to get a muddy slog almost any time of year. I went in June and had one sunny trek, one rainy trek. Both were great days that I would repeat in a heartbeat.
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Mar 25th, 2012, 12:12 AM
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Hey gator, I'll be at Mara Serena in early August too, and with the same reasoning--have to be in Uganda in July, so waited 'til after that for Kenya, as i hope to see migration in Masai Mara in August. Fingers crossed !!!
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Mar 25th, 2012, 12:15 AM
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@Gator--p.s. I also stay at Fairview in Nairobi before departing (I think approx Aug 10) and before Kenya, will be in Kigali. Do you know exact dates yet? Maybe a mini Fodors meet up?
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Apr 2nd, 2012, 06:55 AM
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Hi Pollydill,

Your trip is bound to be interesting ! you will definitely see lots of animals in these three countries: Big game in Tanzania & Kenya and Primates and birds in Rwanda.I am a tour operator in Rwanda and will be happy to plan your East Africa trip. My work email is [email protected], please feel free to get in touch.

Hope to talk to you soon.
Angie
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