Apr 11th, 2005, 10:32 AM
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Ok I had an idea this morning and need to bounce it off some experts out there please.
We are thinking of a trip to Tanzania in Sept 2006. We were going to go just to some southern parks and to do a Gorilla trek. So the idea I had this morning was.

Southern Tanz for about 7 nights. Probably Ruaha & Selous ??Mikumi

Kenya for about 7 nights going to Meru & the Mara.

Uganda or Rawanda for Gorilla trek. Would really like to get 2 days of gorilla trekking in.

We will have a total of nearly 3 weeks in Africa. We were in Northern Tanz and the Mara in Feb.

Is this a little crazy? Would love to know some opinions on the schedule and on places to stay. If we are in the Tanz/kenya region we really want to include the gorillas but the rest of it we are trying to decide what is going to be best for us. Budget?? We would like to keep things resonable I know that is very subjective!

Well I just thought I would throw my thoughts out there and Thank you very much in advance.

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Apr 11th, 2005, 12:03 PM
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That's quite an ambitious plan! I should show this to my husband so he'll think my ideas are relatively tame in comparison

You'll have lots of flying in between which will add to the costs.

I looked into the gorilla trekking in Rwanda for our next trip (at this point we're leaning against it for costs reasons). I don't know if you've priced it out yet, but I'll just post the quotes I received as a guideline for Rwanda:

1 night at Mountain Gorilla Nest at Volcanoes National Park, 1 day trekking, 1 night at Milles Collines in Kigali, private transfers/full board throughout - $1050pp including gorilla permit

2 nights Mountain Gorilla Nest, 2 days trekking, 1 night Milles Collines, private transfers/full board throughout - $1538pp including permits

For airfare from Nairobi to Kigali, I was quoted approx. $370pp. I received the above quotes from Magic Safaris in Uganda. They had the best prices of the companies that I'd contacted.

I didn't look into trekking in Uganda as the distance from Entebbe/Kampala to Bwindi is so far. I think 8-10 hours drive versus from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda which is about 2-3 hours.

There are several posts related to gorilla trekking on the Lonely Planet Thorntree forum and it can be done rather inexpensively if you're willing to use public transport, stay in guest houses and pick up your own permits, etc. Your biggest expense will be the permit itself which I believe is now $375 per person per day in either country.
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Apr 11th, 2005, 12:22 PM
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If you find a way to do this (or some approximation of this), please let us know!!!

I would love to do a So. TZ/gorilla safari without going broke or being away from work for a solid month.

I think getting from point A to point B is what's so difficult about this--unless you're a kajillionaire. In which case, can I climb in your luggage?

Good luck!
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Apr 11th, 2005, 01:05 PM
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I Can dream can't I?! No I am not a kizillionaire Leely I did the "affordable safari" in Northern Tanz. We have already had some quotes for Southern Tanz from Foxes similar to the quotes you have seen on this site for them in the past. Staying in the "lower end" places. I have seen a package from Nairobi to Kigali with one day Gorilla trek at US$1500 including flights I am waiting to hear how much extra for another day of Gorilla trek. I have seen some packages from Nairobi to Meru from Nairobi for 2 nights at Elsa's for US $500 so I am just trying to see if there is any way. Cutting down time in Southern Tanz in exchange for this type of package to Meru would actually be less expensive.
Well we will see!
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Apr 11th, 2005, 01:17 PM
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Where did you see a 2 night package for Elsa's for $500? Does this include air from Nairobi? The flight alone is supposed to be $300.
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Apr 11th, 2005, 01:23 PM
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Wow, I was just going to ask the same question.

Also, does anyone know which carriers fly from Dar to Kigali? Although I probably won't be able to work that out for my next trip--it never hurts to ask. It kind of sounds like it's easier to get to Rwanda from Nairobi.
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Apr 11th, 2005, 01:50 PM
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jules39 -

Yes, you can dream, we all can - but Elsa's, even in low season this year is about $270/nt/person/sharing... and in high-season September is $350 and these prices don't include drinks. Figure the prices will all increase as November 1, for 2006. And yes, the airfare is $300 r/t.

Patty is so right as to Uganda or Rwanda which can easily run $1,500 for 3-4 days; permit prices have been increasing yearly, and then there's the airfare from NBO.

In Southern Tanzania, September is also high-season, with Selous Safari Camp, Sand River at Selous or Jongomero at Ruaha running top dollars. Of course, there are the Fox properties, but I don't know how much less these will be. As you say, budget is relative.

An alternative might be to go to the private ranches in Laikipia, Mathews Range and Northern Frontier in Kenya. Most are expensive, but there are some moderately priced accommodations. What I find interesting for visits here is that there is no set schedule. You set the schedule. If you want a game drive at 10 instead of 6:30am, so be it. You want camelback safari, you've got it. You want game walks or picnics, just ask. You want mountain biking... ride away. Many of these properties work closely with the local communities and there are lots of conservation projects up here.

Do a search for the Laikipia Forum to see what's happening here and whether it might be something of interest.

And, of course, as you mention, being September you should definitely include some time in the Mara.

You might want to consider 2-weeks in Africa and then fly over to the Seychelles. An alterntive to Mombassa or Zanzibar... definitely off the beaten path and a corner on paradise.
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Apr 11th, 2005, 05:35 PM
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You are not crazy, just ambitious. To summarize:

14 days are safari. You would need about 4-5 days for the gorillas. I agree you must do 2 visits, just in case you are not successful on one of the visits, which is rare. That is about 19 days, just under you 21 days or 3 weeks.

Any gorilla viewing is wonderful, but Id suggest Rwanda over Uganda.

Here are some prices from June/July 2004. These are not the most budget options, but not bad prices either!

Last July I went with Primate Safaris, owned by the very reliable Origins in Kenya. It was $830/day for a total of 5 days in Rwanda. Stayed at Gorilla Nest, but I was alone so I had to cover the guide and vehicle myself. I was picked up at the Uganda border, spent 4 nights in Gorilla Nest, did 4 gorilla visits, took a Never Again Memorial Tour in Kigali and had a last night in Novotel-Kigali with an airport transfer. I had to pay for the new higher priced gorilla permits even though I had originally purchased them in March of 2003.

The Uganda gorillas are harder for me to cost for you because I did some other activities too. Last June for 5 people: Pick up at the airport, 1 night Lake Victoria Windsor, 2 nights at Mweya Queen Elizabeth, 5 nights Gorilla Forest Camp (you could get more reasonable accommodations but the people I was going with would only stay there) 4 gorilla visits, and a private transfer that took 6 hours to the Rwanda border it was $3700/person and I had to pay an additional $650 single supplement. I was able to get the old $275 gorilla permit price for Uganda. I went with Mantana in Uganda.

Both trips were booked with Africa Adventure in Ft. Lauderdale.

Hope you opt for some gorillas, but the rest of your trip looks great too.
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Apr 13th, 2005, 05:41 PM
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Atravelynn - I understand that for cost and logistical reasons, Rwanda is the preferred destination for gorilla treks, but in terms of the likelihood of actually seeing the gorillas, or the ease of the trek, which would you recommend - Rwanda or Uganda? Thanks.
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Apr 13th, 2005, 06:29 PM
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Bwindi was great, but I'd recommend Rwanda for these reasons.

-In July, when I went, Bwindi was beastly hot and humid and it did interfere with enjoying the tracking. In contrast Volcano National Park was very pleasant and I hardly broke a sweat after 5 hours. But it was not cold. Maybe 60s.

-The gorillas in Rwanda are a bit more habituated and relaxed.

-Bwindi is called the Impenetrable Forest for a reason. In Rwanda clear views of the gorillas were more common.

-You can also see the golden monkeys in Rwanda for about $80. They were flying all over the place and no binoculars necessary.

-The ease or difficulty of the treks did not seem to differ between the countries,with one exception. If the Rwanda Sabinyo group is still led by the elderly silverback that does not like to climb, then this was an easy and short walk.

At the high end of accommodations, Uganda does have more luxury than Rwanda, if that is a consideration. But Gorilla Nest was very nice.

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Apr 14th, 2005, 04:56 AM
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I trekked in both Rwanda and Uganda this past February. They both have similarities and differences.

I can't say which was easier because in Rwanda the locations of two out of the three gorilla groups I saw entailed lots of tough trekking. But it all depends of how high up the groups are and if they are moving or stationary at the time. In other words, lots of variables play into it but you have more of a say in Rwanda on picking your group than in Bwindi.

Usually in the Virungas in Rwanda, there always seems to be a group or two who are closer down the mountain at any given time. I opted for some tough climbs because of the particular location of the gorilla groups I wanted to see. That made my third day of trekking there a piece of cake.

In Bwindi, you are usually pre-assigned a group before you get there which means you can get a group which is deeper in the forest or one closer in. Sometimes, you are allowed to switch groups if space is available.

Our trek in Bwindi wasn't too bad at all. And we did get to spend some quality time w/ the gorillas. The Bwindi Forest is dense but just absolutely beautiful. Just like you'd imagine a rainforest to be. And I did manage to get great photos there too.

That being said, both places and the experiences are pretty darn special.
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Apr 15th, 2005, 07:59 PM
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Hi Jules39,

You have had some good tips on the budget to see the gorillas. I found in pricing my East Africa trip the worst price/value was in doing an organized Rwanda tour, so I am doing that portion independently. I just added in my head the costs and the markup seemed significantly more than safaris in Kenya/Tanzania. (You may try to get a quote just renting a car/driver for a few days to see if that is reasonable.)

I have just secured my permits through ORTPN. Besides that cost, seeing the Gorilla's independtly involves few major costs or headaches, at least from reading in LP and the Bradt guide. I enjoy travelling independently and if you want until after Sept, I can tell you how it went

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Apr 18th, 2005, 05:59 AM
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Thanks everyone.
I am especially interested in the discussion on where to see the gorillas thank you. I did actually do a gorilla trek 15 years ago but that was in Zaire! Amazing experience and now that my husband is wanting to do it I am more than keen to go again but had been tossing up about the location.
Thanks again.
I am sure I will end up posting something about our final plans. But the trip will poss be Sept 06.

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Apr 18th, 2005, 11:47 AM
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Would you mind providing a brief outline of your trip? I've caught glimpses of it here and there from your other posts and it sounds interesting. Are you planning to do anything besides gorilla trekking in Rwanda and how do you plan to get around? Thanks.
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