help with itinerary please


May 2nd, 2016, 02:23 PM
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help with itinerary please

I would appreciate some advice please. My husband and I did a 2 week safari in Tanzania 7 years ago and it was magnificent.
This time I will be travelling with a friend who has never been. We are both women in our early 60s.
Coming from Canada we will stop in Amsterdam for a few nights to break up the trip. We plan to arrive in Kigili Rwanda mid Feb, before the heavy rains. We will have to overnight in Nairobi on the way.
We have a quote from Insight Safaris that will pick us up in Kigili, take us to the park to overnight for a gorilla hike the next morning. It then takes us to Uganda for another gorilla hike (day in between) and then two days seeing Queen Elizabeth Park and on the way to Entebbe seeing the Chimps in Kyambura Gorge. This is a total of 6 nights.
We will probably stay another one or two nights in Uganda, (Entebbe or Kampala?)

Then we fly back to Nairobi and I have a quote from Gamewatchers Safari that sounds great. It is the SIMBA Safari. We have one night at Nairobi tented camp and see the Nairobi National Park. We then fly to the Porini Mara Camp for two nights and have lots of game drives.
Then two nights at Porini Lion Camp for two nights and we will leave late in the day to fly back to Nairobi for our late nite flight back to Amstersdam.

So here are the questions:
Do I need to do Queen Elizabeth Park in Uganda as well as the one in Kenya? It does not cost much more to add the two days in, and doing it first before Kenya. But we don't want to spend money that we don't need to of course either. Would our time in Uganada/Rwanda be better spent doing something else?
Spend a couple of days in Kampala?

Do you think that the six days in Kenya in those three camps is okay? I am not really a bird lover, so don't care about flamingos etc., seen lots of those already. I really just want to see lions, leopards, giraffe, hippos elephants etc..

And what about Nairobi? Should we stay an extra day or two? If so, what would you recommend. I have looked at the tourist sights but other than the Giraffe centre I can't see anything that I would like to see. Is there a great market that is worth while?

The Carnivore restaurant is not appealing as I am a vegetarian. Thank you in advance for any help on this.
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May 2nd, 2016, 07:50 PM
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Is there a reason to see gorillas in both Rwanda and Uganda? I would save the time and money and do two treks in one place or the other. I've only been to Rwanda so I can't compare.

In Kenya, I would stay in one place, Porini Lion. Because 1) the landscape in the two places is similar 2) I don't like to move around a lot and 3) Porini Lion is in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy and I have stayed at 3 different camps (7+ nights each) in that area and it's excellent. I have been to Porini Mara and would still choose Porini Lion.

Extra time in Nairobi? If I have extra time I'd rather spend it on safari. My flights back to the US are usually late at night. The flights out of the Mara are in the morning so there's a whole day in Nairobi. I have visited the elephant orphanage and the giraffe center but once is enough. I do get a day room at a hotel near the airport. I take a long shower, dry my hair and have lunch at the restaurant overlooking Nairobi National Park. I've only seen ostrich there but it's still fun to look while relaxing with a cocktail.

Have a great trip!
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May 3rd, 2016, 01:18 AM
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I have been to Queen Elizabeth- in terms of big game it's not going to be a patch on the Mara, but I loved the chimp tracking in Kyumbura gorge (which is part of QENP), and there's also a lovely boat trip on the Kazinga channel, so I would say it's worth it for those things. If you cut it out I would definitely try and include chimps somewhere.

I count 5 nights not 6 in the Kenyan camps (one NNP, 2 Porini Mara and 2 Porini Lion). At this point I think your itinerary starts to look a bit rushed- changing location every night or two for all that time is a bit hectic. I would try and either extend it to two 3 night stops, or make it one 4 night stop. Or if you can stretch to 7, maybe do 3 nights in another park and 4 in the Mara. Offbeat could do a combination of Meru and Mara, or Kicheche could do Ol Pejeta and the Mara.

I haven't been to the Porini camps, but I've been in the Olare Motorogi conservancy where Porini Lion is based (I stayed at Kicheche Bush Camp), and it's my favourite of the 3 conservancies I've been to, so if you were to just switch to 1 camp for 4 nights I would agree with Porini Lion. It's close to the main reserve too, so you can go in for the day on one day.

I don't know about Nairobi- personally I would try and maximise the safari days.
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May 3rd, 2016, 07:26 AM
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Thanks to you both. Staying in one camp. That was my thought as well, from the reviews Lion Camp for the entire time seemed like a good idea. I say 6 days because we have the option of spending the last day at camp and flying out at night and will just connect to our flight back to Amsterdam. (for an extra fee of course)

I will keep in the QE park for the chimps and the river. That is the part that was going to be different from the MARA. I think doing it first is better too, it might be anticlimactic to do it after Kenya.

looked at your pictures sundowner and they are wonderful. I was planning on doing Ethiopia instead of Kenya to go to the OMO valley, but with the current drought and famine situation once again I don't think it is a good idea.

The main reason for this trip is the gorillas, and I have done a lot of research on that part and most say to do two, you come all this way to see them. The two climbs are very different and you see two different families. So that is why the two climbs. And just in case something happens (illness, weather or whatever) and I can't go that day for some reason. I will have a back up plan.

So I will look into just staying at the one camp if we only do 6 days and go out from there. Thank again. I am still open to any other advice.
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May 3rd, 2016, 06:44 PM
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I've stayed in both Porini camps and concur that you should drop Mara and stay in Lion the whole time there, for the same reasons already given.

I'm currently researching gorillas and chimps in Uganda. I opted for Uganda over Rwanda because I want to do the habituation experiences instead of just the one hour with both. Much more expensive, but a longer experience. From what I read, the guidance is to do two treks for gorillas, not necessarily in different places, but just in case the first one isn't as good as you hope, the odds are better that at least one of the two treks will be good. Not necessarily that you do them in two different places.

In planning my Uganda trip, I'm skipping QENP in lieu of more time with the gorillas and chimps. There just doesn't seem to be any wildlife there that I haven't already seen in two trips to the Mara, and the quality of the sightings will be hard to improve on. You can do the chimps at Kibale instead, which from what I've read is a better experience anyway (and has a full-day habituation program for not much more than the one hour cost).

I would spend at least one, if not two, nights in Nairobi. I was just there in Feb and the game, for me, was outstanding in NNP. I saw 12 rhinos in a day, both black and white, which will be very hard (if not impossible) to find in the Mara as well as the best leopard sighting I've ever had. Other reports I'm reading from NNP lately have equally good sightings. So I'd not drop that or short change it. I'd also encourage you to foster a baby elephant (or two!) at the Sheldrick's Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage which is right near the NNP, and go for the foster parent visit late in the day. You'll get to "meet" your foster elephant and see the great work they do there. I have fosterd 5 elephants there and I went to both the morning feeding and the late day foster parent visit, and it was the highlight of my safari. I spent the rest of my time in NNP, leaving for the airport around 8:30 p.m. for a midnight flight home. A day room might be a good idea, to have a nice dinner and clean up there before you head to the airport. I stayed at the Emakoko right in the park, which was excellent. Gamewatchers should be able to hook you up with that.
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May 3rd, 2016, 07:22 PM
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"The main reason for this trip is the gorillas, and I have done a lot of research on that part and most say to do two, you come all this way to see them. The two climbs are very different and you see two different families."

Right, 2 trips is wise. But the 2 trips do not have to be in different countries. Unless you wanted to compare the the gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda or unless you were doing other activities in both Uganda and Rwanda, I would not spend time/$ traveling between the countries. I'd do the 2 gorilla hikes in one country.

QE: Looks like that would be your only chance for chimps in this itinerary. That is a nice activity. QE's Kazinga Channel is unique in all of Africa. Even though you mention you are not a big bird fan, the abundance of birds, your close proximity to the birds, and the variety of birds makes it a worthwhile trip even for non-birders. Plus the hippo action is tremendous and you may see eles or other species.

Just read you are keeping QE. "I will keep in the QE park for the chimps and the river. That is the part that was going to be different from the MARA. I think doing it first is better too, it might be anticlimactic to do it after Kenya." Good plan.

Have fun.
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May 4th, 2016, 08:54 AM
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Amy I looked at that too, the four hours with the gorillas. Is that with Kabiza? It is still a consideration for sure.

I got a quote from Gamewatchers to just stay four nights at Porini Lion Camp with late checkout, 4PM flight back, and I will also consider adding the one night at NNP, that sounds like a good idea. I will also look at the elephant foster visit.

Atravelynn, you were a great help to me when I planned my first safari a few years ago.

I am going to pitch all this to my friend next week, I am the research hound and will present two or three offers for her to choose from.

Thank you so much for your help on this and I will let you know what was decided.
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May 4th, 2016, 09:36 AM
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Live42day, any operator can arrange the habituation, it's run by the parks, not by any one operator. I have six different operators quoting it to me, it's not Kabiza's exclusively. You just tell your operator you want to do it, and instead of the one-hour they book the four-hour gorillas, or all day for the chimps. The catch is you need to do it at the Rushaga area of Bwindi, so lodgings at Rushaga or Nkuringo are best. Any place else is a 2 hour drive each way to get to it. So make sure your lodgings are in those areas.
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May 4th, 2016, 03:10 PM
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when are you going? I would appreciate any info that you find out on this thank you
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May 4th, 2016, 04:45 PM
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I'm looking at Feb 2017. If you're interested in the gorilla habituation, just ask for it from your safari planner. All of them that Ive talked to know about it and can book it, but a few tried to put me in lodgings farther away from it. There is all-day chimp habituation at Kibale, which is dawn to dusk rather than just 1 hour and it's only $50 more and you follow a family of chimps around rather than just stay with a family for one hour.

Anything else you want to know, just shout. That's where I am at this point. I'm also flying as much as I can rather than driving to save time on the ground.
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May 5th, 2016, 07:55 AM
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This is my suggestion: (Quite long though)

1. For Rwandan safari Kindly use the Rwandan company for the Rwanda tour/Gorilla tracking
2. For Uganda, Stride Safaris would be glad to arrange this safari for you . From our experience we advise you skip Queen Elizabeth national park if you want to see Giraffes. The best park with the highest concentration of chimpanzees with 100% guarantee of seeing them is Kibale forest national park and not Kyambura in Queen Elizabeth.
Therefore my best advice is for our company to take over your safari from
the Rwandan company at Rwanda-Uganda / Border.
3. If you really want to see more game/wildlife in Uganda then you should visit Murchison falls national park where giraffes and elephants are a 100% certainty including several lions

4. In Kenya our company has experience planning trips to Masai Mara and Amboseli national parks which if you like i can tailor and include in your Uganda itinerary.

Kindly read through the proposed itinerary below.


Our driver will meet and pick you up from the border of Rwanda/Uganda, you will then drive to Bwindi arriving in the evening for dinner and overnight at Broadbill lodge.


The highlight of your safari: a meeting with the gentle giants of Bwindi!
Hikers love the gorilla trekking in the beautiful
ecosystem of the park. It is difficult to foresee how many hours you will hike, since it might vary between two to eight hours. Expect to walk a long distance in steep and muddy conditions, sometimes with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. But it will definitely be worthwhile as you
observe them closely while they eat, play and rest. A unique and
unforgettable experience! For conservation purposes, time spent with the
gorillas is limited to one hour. The ranger guide always briefs you on how
to behave with these giant apes. Dinner and overnight at Broad bill Lodge

After we depart for Lake Bunyonyi, the deepest lake in Uganda.
This area is often called the 'the little Switzerland of Uganda'' and boasts one of the most beautiful parts of the country. We arrive late afternoon to relax after the hectic trek of the gorillas. It is safe to swim in Lake Bunyonyi, other activities include canoeing, village walksetc. Dinner and overnight Bunyonyi overland camp


After early morning breakfast we depart the beautiful lake and head to Kibale forest national park. Enroute we stop at the equator and lunch.We arrive this evening for dinner and overnight at Chimpanzee Guesthouse

DAY 04: Kibale Forest & Bigodi Swamp

On this day the forest opens its doors for a sensational chimp tracking. Kibale Forest is reputed for having the greatest variety and highest concentration of primates in East Africa. Enjoy a guided nature walk in the tropical rainforest in search of the
wild chimpanzee, red-tailed monkey, black-and-white colobus monkey andmany others.
After a hearty lunch we transfer to the Bigodi Swamp for another, totally different nature walk. The Bigodi Swamp Walk is an initiative of the local communityand is known for its rich diversity of birds and primates. Dinner and overnight at
Chimpanzee guesthouse.


After breakfast, we depart Kibale for Murchison falls national park.Passing through remote villages and rural towns have lunch enroute. After entering the park, we will visit the magnificent falls where you will enjoy and marvel at the mighty Nile, being forced into a seven meter crevice to thunder 45 meters below in a series of cascades that can be viewed at different points up to
the baker's summit.
Dinner and overnight at Murchison River Lodge

Early morning embark on a half-day game drive on the northern bank of the Nile,escorted by a game ranger. Wildlife in this park includes the Rothschild Giraffe,elephant, Jackson hartebeast, lions, oribis, waterbucksand a variety of savannah and woodland birds.
In the afternoon we will go on a Nile cruise for game viewing at close quarters; this is a paradise for hippos and crocodiles.
Dinner and overnight at Murchison River Lodge
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May 7th, 2016, 03:36 PM
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Thanks live42day and planning is half the fun.
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May 12th, 2016, 11:16 PM
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Live42day..Darn, I'm jealous!

A few random thoughts...

InNairobi, if you need a part-day hotel, there's Eka. Modern, filled with folks either going or coming from safari, lots of fun. Often used by Gamewatchers (as a "free" add on) for their clients.Close to airport but beware often horrendous traffic and allow enough time, no matter what part of Nairobi you stay in.

Teen grandson and I stayed at Porini Lion and loved it. Four nights/five days would be sufficient for me. I'd say put there, as they will do at last one day into the main reserve by the river, if you stay for four nights.

Uganda! i love that country!! WHICH gorilla area are you seeing in Uganda? Buhoma? Nkuringo?

QE!! Not for the elephants (although a statue of one is at Mweya Lodge) as you will see way more in Kenya, but because QE has Kazinga Channel--that ALONE makes it worth the schlep from the Bwindi area. It is an amazing boat ride!!! (Btw, schlep is a euphemism. The road from Buhoma to QE is...unless something changed recently...rutted and bad. Makes the tracks in the Mara look like tarred over freeways.)

The Kazinga Channel boats (whether the large or small one) depart from just below Mweya Lodge, which now, in addition to its lodge rooms, has tents. I loved Mweya's location and terrace and bar and staff--didnt stay,but wish i had instead of where I did. QE is vast, and a lot of accommodation that's supposedly "in" the park, was a long drive to the channel.

Sounds like you are wondering, IF you have an extra night in Uganda before the flight, where to stay--K'la or Entebbe. I vote for the latter. y is a bit more country like and relaxing there. Unless you want more "luxe"--there is the Serena iHotel n kampala--an small oasis in the city. But Entebbe is much closer to airport (remember--traffic!!) and has loads of fine little places to spend the night, get a meal, maybe walk by the lake. I stayed at the lovely Airport Guest house but a look at Tripadvisor will show you a bunch of fairly new B and Bs that sound delightful. Entebbe airport was a nice surprise--great omnipresent wifi, and not as crowded in waiting areas as Nairobi's airport.(Disclaimer--was last there two yrs ago--perhaps it has changed.)

Sounds like you have no time in Kigali? (btw, the way people there pronounce it, it sounded more like Cheegaree. ) Gosh, is there any way you can add a night there, at least to see the genocide memorial and museum? Plus, it's very interesting to compare this African capital with others like Kampala and Nairobi, for a bunch of reasons(e.g. lack of litter). Still, you'll get a sense of that just on the road from the airport. After all, the first billboard you'll see may say "Sweep corruption under the rug!"
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May 15th, 2016, 02:39 PM
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Hey thanks Calinurse. Regarding Kigali, my friend is coming this week to discuss the options. She is nervous about Rwanda because of some recent (not sure how recent) unrest there. I myself am not worried and would love to spend a night or two there. I am hoping to convince her. Not sure I will go to the genocide museum. I have been to others in Poland, Sarajevo, Germany etc and I feel I am very knowledgeable about what happened there (Rwanda) and don't know if I really want to go to the museum. Still debating that.

Regarding which gorillas in Uganda, we are not really sure. We are debating doing the four hour encounter with one family or else two separate one hour visits, hikes with one in Uganda and the other in Rwanda. Have some requests out to some companies for advice and quotes. What would you suggest as far as which family in Uganda? Which company did you use?

I had also wanted to do some fundraising and bring some clothes etc to an orphanage at the first stop, which probably would be Rwanda. I see however that the government has closed most of the orphanages in the country in the past year or two. Just wondering if you have any info on where we could help in either country in our small way.
Thanks for all your help and advice so far
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May 16th, 2016, 11:05 AM
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E-mail Jackie of Katona Tours for advise
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May 16th, 2016, 12:44 PM
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Hi -- I've been to Uganda twice, and love the country. Last trip we did safari in Kenya (4 wonderful nights in Porini Lion Camp, you can't go wrong there, also Amboselli and Rhino camp -- Porini is just great), flew to Kigali, trekked gorillas in Rwanda, did the golden monkey trek too (I wouldn't miss that). Then we drove to Uganda and trekked gorillas there too (Rushaga)
We did it this way so that we could fly into Kigali from Kenya and home from Entebbe without having to retrace our steps. It was great. We also did chimpanzee trek (habituation full day) in Kibale, which I highly recommend. Yes, I love primates. QEII is nice because it breaks up a long drive from gorillas to Kampala, but so does Kibale, which offers so many different primates. Birds are great in Uganda too. It's a special place.
I have done 4 gorilla treks; 2 from Bwindi several years ago, 1 from Rushaga, and one in Rwanda more recently. My experience was atypical; the hardest treks with least rewarding views was in Rwanda (sleeping gorillas in dense vegetation after an arduous trek) and wonderful views of gorillas on a sunny hillside after a nice hike in Rushaga. This is why the advice to do two gorilla treks is really good advice -- they're so unpredictable!
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May 16th, 2016, 08:46 PM
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Oh thank you for your feed back Dave and numbat. I am 100 percent sure that we will do the Porini Lion Camp , just deciding now on the Uganda/Rwanda bit. I will let you know what we decide. I appreciate the help.
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May 17th, 2016, 03:12 PM
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Jambo, Livefortoday! I hadn't heard of any "recent unrest" in Rwanda. Kagame is increasingly controversial, not unusual in Africa. (Not to take lightly the very, very serious concerns and problems in many of the countries there.) Your friend may be even more nervous about Kenya, based on unrest fears. So, I'm with you...go if you can. The memorial/museum there is quite small, and quite moving. There is a park outside it. When i was there, a survivor was being interviewed by a journalist.

On the other hand...have you considered perhaps eliminating Rwanda from your itin, and doing the two gorilla tracking days in Uganda alone (in different areas of Bwindi, perhaps). It would simplify the itinerary and traveling and expense. (You eno doubt noticed by now HOW expensive it is!) The tracking in each country is different (see below--i havent done it yet!) --different types of terrain (bamboo forest vs more classical "jungle") for starters. so you may want the dual experience.

I went to two parts of Bwindi Forest area. First, Buhoma. Stayed two nights at the fantastic Buhoma Lodge with wonderful staff and amazing views of the mountains. The Lodge is right IN the park, and about a three minute walk to the start of the gorilla tracking. The rooms are great, feel open to the outside, almost more tent-like than proper cabins. The food when i was there (2012)was incredible, with a wonderful young local chef. There's a cozy bar there where locals, volunteers, and visitors alike congregate. I also loved the village. If you go, try to visit the Community Hospital there. There are other walks/activities in the area.
Next, two nights at Nkuringo. This is closer to the Rwanda end of Bwindi. Stayed at --I thnkit is called Nkuringo Gorilla Camp there are tents, a few motel type rooms, and a couple cottages. Again, great people, and amazing views toward the Congo border.
But I was too late in booking to track gorillas!!!! Lesson learned...I'll have to go back! This is however, why I know that Uganda has soooo much more in addition to the gorilla treks, to recommend it. I love it and hope I can return some day.

Re: your question about donations: Uganda, and Kenya, have numerous orphanages. Bwindi Hospital would be thrilled to get any sort of help. Research Kellerman Foundation to read about their work in Bwindi. (I have a "soft spot"for them, as they set up the first nursing school ever in the area.)

I booked the 2012 Uganda and Rwanda part of my trip with Edris at African Pearl Safaris, the Kenya portion with another company. The trip in 2014 to Kenya I booked with Gamewatchers. There are many reputable companies mentioned here, and on Tripadvisor. The latter has forums -- more active than here--for the countries, so check there if not already done.

As i said previousy...I'm jealous!!!
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May 18th, 2016, 06:14 AM
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In planning the same journey, I've taken a bit of a detour and decided on Rwanda for the gorillas and golden monkeys. The itineraries are coming in more affordable and logistically it works out better schedule-wise. It's not as long a drive or flight to get to the gorillas, just 2 hours on well-paved roads from Kigali, and the accommodations are much more affordable. I give up being able to do the 4 hour habituation experience, but I decided to go back to the Mara in Kenya instead!
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May 18th, 2016, 11:17 AM
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I'll be following your trip-planning,Amy, as I am determined to return to Uganda some day. I know we both like Porini Lion Camp!
Yes--the prices of lodging in Uganda are HIGH!! That was a big surprise to me.
And those prices pale in comparison to the ones for the tented camps like Kicheche and Porini in Kenay. Oh well...ya play,ya pay!
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