Rwanda Gorilla Encounter & Serengeti Wildlife Safari

June 28 – July 13, 2014

Trip Highlights

• Two days of gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to come face-to-face with one of the rarest animals in the world for a truly unique and awesome experience with the gentle giants.

• A hike to the top of Mount Bisoke, a volcano in Volcanoes National Park, for incredible views of the surrounding majestic volcanoes shrouded with dense green rainforests.

• Four days in comfortable safari camps in Serengeti National Park to be amid the most massive wildlife migration in the world and experience the raw beauty of the African wild and the wildebeest crossing of the Mara River, a prime crocodile habitat.

• Visits to Masai villages in Serengeti National Park to learn about their cultural and survival skills on the harsh Serengeti landscape.

• Two days on safari in Ngorongoro Conservation Area including a visit to the awesomely beautiful Ngorongoro Crater to see a huge and diverse wildlife population including elephant, giraffe, buffalo, rhino, hippo, lion, leopard, cheetah and many other wildlife.

• Two days lodging in the Ngorongoro Farm House, designed in the style of an old colonial farm and located near the Ngorongoro Crater to enjoy the warm comfort and hospitality of Africa.

• Two days on safari in Lake Manyara and the nearby Tarangire National Parks for additional wildlife viewing to witness the primal rhythm of survival.

• A visit to Arusha, the safari capitol of East Africa, located near Mount Meru and the towering snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro

• Close-up views of the spectacular 19,341 foot tall snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa.

Trip Overview

This awesome adventure includes not one, but two once-in-a-lifetime experiences back to back in Rwanda and Tanzania in East Africa. The tour begins with a visit to the emerald green Virunga Mountains, an extraordinarily scenic chain of active and inactive volcanoes with extensive bamboo forests that provide habitat for the mountain gorilla and are the world’s premier gorilla tracking destination. The gorillas are found only in the mist shrouded Virunga Mountains of Rwanda and neighboring Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and today number less than 900. In Rwanda the gorillas are protected within the Volcanoes National Park, which encompasses five magnificent and picturesque volcanoes that rise up to heights of 14,787 feet. The Park was made famous by the film Gorillas in the Mist and was the site of Dian Fossey’s gorilla habituation project. Gorilla tracking is one of the world’s most exclusive and remarkable wildlife experiences imaginable as it offers the privilege of encountering, coming face-to-face with, one of the rarest animals in the world in its natural habitat, and by doing so helps to fund its survival. The time you spend with these endangered great apes, a species with 98% of our genetic material, watching gorillas families going about their daily life, will be awe inspiring and unforgettable.

On the vast plains of northern Tanzania, the legendary Serengeti National Park protects the natural habitat of the greatest population of hoofed mammals in the world. On this primitive landscape one of the world’s most impressive natural cycles, the great migration, has been played out for eons as two million wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and other hoofed animals driven by primal rhythms of survival annually migrate in search of grass and are relentlessly tracked by lion, leopard, cheetah, and other predators as they travel to greener pastures. We will wander amid these vast herds to experience and feel the power of the migration amid the raw beauty of the African wild. With luck, we will witness the dramatic and dangerous crossing of the crocodile infested Mara River by the wildebeest and zebra. In the pristine wilderness of this mystical Park, we can view the 19,340 foot tall snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro to the south and encounter red-cloaked Masai warriors and visit their villages. Amid the breathtaking beauty of the 2,000 foot deep Ngorongoro Crater, home to an unparalleled concentration of wildlife, we see the big five (lions, elephants, Cape buffaloes, leopards and rhinos) and observe the daily fight for survival as the highest density of lions and other predators in Africa stalk their prey. We will also visit the nearby Lake Manyara National Park to see tree climbing lions, elephants, hippos, giraffes and other wildlife, and in Tarangire National Park, characterized by the prehistoric looking giant baobab trees, we will have the opportunity for night time game viewing.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1. Saturday June 28. Depart for Africa

Day 2. Sunday June 29. Arrive Nairobi, Kenya Airport
Arrive early in the evening on your international flight to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, clear customs and be transferred to the Ole Sereni Hotel near the airport for an overnight stay. Our comfortable upscale hotel which overlooks the Nairobi National Park is decorated in the typical safari lodge fashion and has a restaurant, bar, gym, sauna, massage center and free Wi-Fi. The restaurant has a large deck where we can spot wildlife during dinner, and the bar has great views of the Nairobi skyline in the evening. (D)

Day 2. Monday June 30. Nairobi-Kigali-Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
We will be transferred to the airport where we board a Rwanda Air flight at 11:30 for a 90 minute flight to Kigali, Rwanda, where we meet our guide who will drive us west through the picturesque countryside to the Mountain View Lodge near Volcanoes National Park. Kigali, with a population of about a million people, is the capitol of Rwanda. It is an attractive city with lush hillsides, flowering trees, winding boulevards, and bustling streets. After lunch, we drive west for about 90 miles through the pastoral countryside to the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge located on the lower slopes of the 11,923 foot tall Mount Sabyinyo and about 15 minutes from the main entrance to the Volcanoes National Park. The lodge has 30 cottages on four acres of well-maintained grounds with awesome views of the volcanoes in the Park. The brick and tile constructed cottages have plastered walls with comfortable furnishings including a sitting area with chairs and sofa around a fireplace, comfortable beds, and a bathroom with a shower. The fire-place takes the chill out of the mountain air at this high altitude location. The central area of the lodge has a bar and restaurant and there is folk dancing in the evenings. We arrive late in the afternoon in time to check into our cottages and prepare for an enjoyable dinner in the wilds of Africa. (BLD)

Day 3. Tuesday July 1. Gorilla Tracking in Volcanoes National Park
The 62 square mile Volcanoes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, located along the border with the DRC to the west and Uganda to the north, encompasses five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains and contains the richest diversity of wildlife habitats of any park in Africa. Mounts Nyiragongo and Nyamauragira, located just across the border in the DRC erupt every few years and the lava lake in the crater of Mount Nyirangoro casts a glow that lights up the night sky. Due to their vertical relief, the Virunga Mountains have three major life zones including the montane, subalpine and alpine. The montane zone on the lower slopes of the volcanoes is characterized by rainforests with bamboo, woodlands, grasslands and swamps. These ancient, untouched, mysterious, primeval forests provide habitat for the endangered mountain gorilla. These montane forests are also home to other primates such as chimpanzees, golden monkeys, blue monkeys, and black and white colobus. Forest elephants and buffalo are also found in the Park, as is the very shy golden cat.

There are currently ten habituated gorilla families living in the Park. For many years these groups have undergone an extremely delicate process that has gradually made them accustomed to the presence of humans and has allowed a few privileged visitors to interact with them briefly in the wild. However, the gorillas are by no means tame. They are completely wild animals, which even now tolerate human presence for only an hour a day at most.

Tracking commences each morning at 7 AM from the park headquarters. There is a daily maximum of eight visitors to each gorilla group. Experienced guides, many of whom have been involved in the habituation process, will accompany us on our tracking. The gorillas may cover large distances overnight and they are never constantly in one area. The gorilla location trackers will use their knowledge of the gorillas’ habits and information from the previous day to locate each group’s whereabouts, and their job is to locate the gorilla groups before we head out on our trek so that our guide is able to take us directly to them. However, gorilla trekking can involve hiking long distances through thick vegetation, up steep slopes, and through wet and muddy terrain. Once we find our gorilla group, we will have an hour to sit and quietly observe these interesting gentle giants going about their daily life and photograph their activities. After our trilling gorilla encounter we will return to the comfort of our Lodge. (BLD)

Day 4. Wednesday July 2. Hike on Mount Bisoke
Today along with our naturalist guide we hike the steep southwestern side of the 12,175 foot tall Bisoke Volcano located on the Rwanda-DRC border. When it erupted in 1957 it formed two small cones on the north flank of the volcano, which today is characterized the beautiful pristine Lake Ngezi. With our guide we climb through a series of habitat types including bamboo, montane forest and bush-lands near the summit and see numerous species of wildlife and the crater lake. We enjoy a picnic lunch on top and have spectacular views of the volcanoes in the Park. The round trip hike can be completed in about 8 hours. After the hike we return to our lodge and the comfort of the fireplace in our cottage and get ready for a hardy evening meal and meet other adventure travelers from destinations around the world. (BLD)

Day 5. Thursday July 3. Gorilla Tracking
Today we repeat that once in a lifetime experience and have another awesome encounter with the gorillas. Late in the afternoon after lunch we will be escorted to Kigali to check into the Lemigo Hotel located in a serene environment in Kigli’s business district and conveniently located just 10 minutes from Kigali International Airport. The Lemigo Hotel has 97 rooms and suites on three levels, surrounded by lush vegetation and cooled by breezes from the hills. The hotel has space, luxury and serenity, and is simplicity styled and filled with touches of Rwanda’s cultural richness. Each room is designed for comfort and has fine linens on comfortable beds, a luxury bath room, and hi-tech amenities including a 25-inch LCD TV and Wi-Fi. The hotel has a great restaurant and a bar, pool, spa, and health club. (BLD)

Day 6. Friday July 4. Kigali – Serengeti National Park
Early in the morning we will be driven to the nearby airport for our 6 AM Coastal Air flight over the scenic landscape of northern Tanzania wildlife to Kogatende, an airstrip in the northern part of the Serengeti National Park. We will be met at the airstrip and transferred to Serengeti North Wilderness Camp for two nights. Serengeti North Wilderness Camp is a “seasonal” camp overlooking the Mara River. The style of camp is simple but with every comfort taken care of. Seasonal camps have the benefit of being able to move to some of the best game viewing areas of the park every three to six months.

Comprising just ten spacious tents, they provide comfortable beds and quality linen, with en suite eco-friendly flushing toilet and a bush-shower off an intimate dressing room area. Lighting is by 12-volt (solar powered) with bedside lamps provided. The tents each have a shady veranda, where you may relax and read quietly or perhaps watch birds and animals. A large, airy, central dining tent complements the comfortable lounge tent, which has a small reference library, maps, some games and a recharging facility for cameras and videos. The safari chef will prepare sumptuous meals for our enjoyment and special dietary requests are taken care of.

The Park covers 5,700 square miles of grassland plains and savanna as well as riverine forest and woodlands, and borders Masai Mara National Reserve Kenya. The Serengeti ecosystem also includes the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Maswa Game Reserve, Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park and several other parks. Because of its biodiversity and ecological significance, the Park has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The Northern Serengeti in the area of our camp is dominated by open woodlands, hills, and the Mara River with it large crocodile population. In addition to the migrating ungulates, the Park is well known for its healthy stock of other resident wildlife, particularly Lion, African Leopard, African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros and African Buffalo; the big five. Other common species in the Park include cheetah, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, topi, eland, waterbuck, hyena, baboon, impala, African wild dog, and giraffe. The Park also boasts about 500 bird species, including ostrich, secretary bird, Kori bustard, crowned crane, marabou stork, martial eagle, lovebirds, and many species of vultures.

During the morning and again in the afternoon, we venture out in comfortable 4×4 open air safari vehicles with our naturalist guide to view and photograph wildlife. After dinner we have night-time game drives with spotlights to observe the night predators including lion, spotted hyena and leopard on the hunt for food. (BLD)

Day 7. Saturday July 5. Serengeti North Wilderness Camp
We spend another day viewing the awesome abundance and diversity of wildlife along the Mara River and after dinner we have time to relax around the campfire in the evening and enjoy the primal sounds of wildlife. (BLD)

Day 8 & 9. Sunday & Monday July 6 & 7. Serengeti Wilderness Camp
Today we will work our way south in the Park, viewing wildlife along the way, to the Serengeti Wilderness Camp for a two night stay at another seasonal camp located in the heart of the Serengeti. Along the way be will stop at a Masai village for a cultural experience. The camp has just 10 tents and offers all the facilities and amenities provided by the Serengeti North Wilderness Camp. During the morning and again in the afternoon, we venture out in comfortable 4×4 open air safari vehicles with our naturalist guide to view and photograph wildlife. After dinner we have night-time game drives with spotlights to observe the night predators. (BLD)

Day 10. Tuesday July 8. Ngorongoro Conservation Area
After breakfast we drive south to the adjacent Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This 3,200 square-mile area, a World Heritage Site, is characterized by a highland plateau with volcanic mountains, as well as several craters including the famous Ngorongoro Crater. It has extensive savannah and forest and the largest permanent concentration of wildlife in Africa including an estimated 30,000 mammals.

Late in the afternoon after a day of wildlife viewing, we arrive at the Ngorongoro Farm House, a small and exclusive lodge facing the Oldeani Volcano, only three miles from the Ngorongoro Lolduare gate. This chalet provides an original experience reminiscent of the atmosphere of the old days. Ngorongoro Farm House is built in the style of an old colonial farm and rustically decorated with local materials and full of details of good taste, with the purpose of providing an imaginary journey to the life of days gone by.

The main building, covered with an elegant thatched roof, contains the lounge, restaurant and a big deck which offers spectacular views of the Oldeani Volcano. The large flower and vegetable gardens are perfect for a stroll and a great place to relax. We will enjoy excellent homemade cuisine prepared using the dairy products and fresh vegetables produced by the farm. All the rooms are equipped with large beds, private verandas, walkways and telephones. The rooms have en-suite bathrooms with showers and the beds have mosquito nets. There is a refreshing swimming pool and the facility has internet access. Meals are normally served in the main building and sometimes set up around the pool. Guests have an ample choice of food prepared with local produce and served in buffets. (BLD)

Day 11. Wednesday July 9. Ngorongoro Crater
Today after breakfast we drive to the nearby Ngorongoro Crater, one of the most spectacular places on earth and one of the Natural Wonders of the World. The Crater, at an elevation of 7,500 feet above sea level, is the largest unbroken caldera, collapsed volcano cone, in the world. This natural amphitheater is surrounded by very steep walls rising 2,000 feet from the crater floor, which is 12 miles in diameter and encompasses an area of 117 square miles. It is home to up to 30,000 animals, almost half of which are wildebeest and zebra. Buffalo, elephant, hippo, hyena, jackal, lion, ostrich, serval, warthog, bushbuck, eland, hartebeest, reedbuck, waterbuck and huge herds of both Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle can be observed on the crater floor. We spend the day enjoying game viewing and photographic opportunities are abundant. We have a picnic lunch in the Crater at a pleasant lakeside location where we can stretch our legs and soak up the magnificent scenery which surrounds us. At the end of the day we return to the comfortable Ngorongoro Farm House for another relaxing evening. (BLD)

Day 12. Thursday July 10. Lake Manyara National Park – Tarangire National Park
After breakfast we drive to Lake Manyara for game viewing and a picnic lunch. Lake Manyara National Park is famous for its tree-climbing lions, who spend most of the day spread out along the branches of acacia trees about 20 feet above the ground. Nestled at the base of the Great Rift Valley escarpment, the Park is noted for its incredible beauty. As visitors enter the gate, they pass into the lush forest, home to troops of baboons and both blue and vervet monkeys. Further along, the forest opens up into woodlands, grassland, swamps, and the huge Soda Lake which covers 77 square miles and provides habitat for over 400 species of birds including flamingo, pelican, stork, sacred ibis, cormorant and Egyptian Geese. The Park is particularly noted for its huge herds of buffalo and elephant, as well as giraffe, hippo, reedbuck, warthog, wildebeest, zebra and a great variety of smaller animals.

After lunch we continue on to the Tarangire National Park and to the Tarangire River Camp located along the Tarangire River near the main entrance to the Park. We arrive late in the afternoon and following dinner go for a night game run. The accommodation consists of spacious tents built on wooden platforms with a thatched roof, all of which are en-suite and tastefully furnished with all the comforts one needs while on safari. Each tent’s generously proportioned private veranda opens out onto stunning views of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro in the distant horizon and several of the tents also offer views of the river, which morphs to a dramatic sand bed in the dry season.

Traditional grass thatching adorns the roof of the main lodge structure, which is set off the ground on an elevated deck. The breezy lounge boasts ample seating in a relaxing open-air environment. The dining area, where culturally inspired meals are served, consists of simple safari style seating and the elevated position allows for excellent views of wildlife on the riverbank below. Both the dining and lounge areas are married into a proper bonfire area and game viewing deck that also overlook the same stunning views. A smaller, secondary game viewing deck rises above the ceiling and offers a high, intimate perch above it all. (BLD)

Tarangire National Park is named after the Tarangire River that threads its way through the length of the reserve. It is famous for its dense wildlife population which is most spectacular between June and September, the dry period. During this time, thousands of animals – elephant, buffalo, giraffe, eland, wildebeest, kudu, hartebeest and the rarely seen oryx – migrate from the dry Masai steppe to the Tarangire River looking for water. Lion, leopard and other predators follow the herds. Tarangire has the largest population of elephants of any park in northern Tanzania and is also home to 550 varieties of bird. Giant baobab trees dot the landscape of the 1,003 square-mile Park and give it a prehistoric look and a different feel than any other park in northern Tanzania. After an enjoyable dinner, we head out for a night-time game run. (BLD)

Day 13. Friday July 11. Tarangire National Park – Arusha
We spend the morning in the Park viewing wildlife and after lunch drive for about two hours through the scenic countryside to Arusha and check into our superior rooms at the four star Arusha Hotel, the place to stay since 1894. It is located near the famous Clock Tower Roundabout and has views of the majestic Mount Meru. The Arusha Hotel has beautifully landscaped gardens with rolling lawns, abundant trees, a large variety of exotic plants, and a stunning iridescent birdlife, and is an oasis from the bustling town. Our superior rooms have wonderful views either to Mount Meru or across five acres of gardens.

All rooms have en-suite bathrooms with a combined shower and bath plus a basin and toilet. All the rooms are fitted with tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryers, and amenities. 300-thread count cotton bedding is used on comfortable beds and a mosquito net surrounds the beds. All rooms have air-conditioning units, electronic safes, i-Pod docking stations, flat screen televisions with satellite television channels, and telephones with direct international dialing. The hotel has one main restaurant and the experienced chefs are connoisseurs of cuisine from across the world. African, Continental, Italian, French, and, of course, the finest Indian cuisine in Arusha is offered. After settling into our room and freshening up we will have our farewell dinner at the hotel. (BLD)

Day 14. Saturday July 12. Arusha – Nairobi – Home
We have the morning to relax or explore Arusha as our flight to Nairobi to catch our flight back home does not depart until late in the afternoon. We will have a day room at the hotel for our comfort until we depart. Arusha, a town of 340,000 and the safari capitol of Tanzania and a diplomatic center, is located in the cool, lush, green foothills of the rugged Mount Meru at an elevation of 4,300 feet and about 288 miles south of the equator.

The markets in the center of town are not to be missed. Bargaining is required, meaning prices will range from dirt-cheap to tourist-expensive, depending on the goods. You can find almost anything at these markets, from food to clothing to trinkets to take home to friends and family. The batik and screened cloths in bright colors are highly recommended. Masai women artisans make beautiful hand-beaded jewelry that they sell to tourists, frequently to pay for their children’s schooling. The Masai market is a one stop shopping area for handicrafts made by local Tanzanians. You can buy various handicrafts made of ebony, redwood, and various types of paintings made by local artisans.

After lunch we will be transferred to the airport for our flight to Nairobi. We have dinner at the airport in Nairobi before our international flight. (BLD)

Day 15. Sunday July 13. Arrive USA, Canada or Australia.


LAND COST: Costs below are based on double room occupancy.
• 2 Participants: $6,750
• 3-5 Participants: $5,250
• 6-8 Participants $4,750
Single Supplement: $1,300

COST INCLUDES: All lodging, land transportation, airport transfers, all meals, American tour director, local tour directors and guides.

COST DOES NOT INCLUDE: Personal expenses, drinks and alcoholic beverages, travel insurance, international air fare to East Africa, tips for guides, and the following permits and park fees:
• Gorilla Permits: 2 days @ $750/day per person = $1,500
• Tanzania Park Fees: $650/person
And the following estimated East Africa airfares:
• RwandAir flight on Day 2, Monday June 30, from Nairobi to Kigali: $204
• Coast Air flight on Day 6, Friday July 4, from Kigali to Serengeti National Park: $630
• RwandAir flight on Day 14, Saturday July 12, from Kilimanjaro Airport near Arusha to Nairobi: $211

This trip is rated moderate to strenuous in terms of difficulty. We lodge in hotels and comfortable safari tents and hike for two days for 4-6 hours for the gorilla tracking and hike one day for 8 hours to climb the 12,175 foot tall Mount Bisoke in the Volcanoes National Park.


If you would like additional information, e-mail us at, or call us locally at 303-449-0990 or toll free at 1-877-440-0990. Our office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) Monday through Friday.

You may also download our trip registration form, and mail it in to us.

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