- Good guiding makes all the difference.
- A camping safari is a 24-hour experience.
- Tracking gorillas shouldn’t be intimidating
For their first safari back in 2011, we focused Mike & Sheila’s itinerary on a mobile camping safari in Botswana. It was a great fit. For this year’s trip we turned to East Africa, splitting their time between northern Tanzania, with camping and walking in the Serengeti, and tracking gorillas in Rwanda.
Camping in Tanzania
As active and passionate travelers, their priorities were to ‘get out of the vehicle’ and have immersive wilderness experiences with excellent guiding. In Tanzania, Mike & Sheila visited the Wayo Green Camps and found the camping experience to be “top notch” with great food and a wonderful support team. Wayo is known for their extensive guide training program, unique walking safaris and authentic, low-impact camps in remote areas.
Landscapes and sunsets in the Serengeti are always memorable, but the highlight of the Serengeti camping experience was the “spine-tingling” nights when the bush is loud and busy with the sounds of elephant, lion and buffalo. By dining outdoors and sleeping in a simple canvas tent, the rhythm of the bush and the transitions from daybreak to dusk to dead of night are all around you.
All photos courtesy of Mike & Sheila
While the walking safaris were relatively quiet in terms of viewing wildlife, Mike & Sheila enjoyed the opportunity to be on-foot in the vast Serengeti plains. On their game drives, they were reminded of their first safari when an uneventful drive could suddenly fill with drama as you turn a corner to find a zebra kill surrounded with vultures or a pride of lions with half a dozen cubs.
Tracking Gorillas in Rwanda
In Rwanda, Mike & Sheila were so glad they took our recommendation of booking two days of tracking gorillas. Not only does it give you the opportunity to experience two different families and witness a variety of interactions, but the first trek is clouded by so much uncertainty and adrenaline about what you’re about to experience. On the second trek, you know the routine and the cast of guides, trackers, rangers and porters. When you’re more familiar with the environment and the gorillas’ behavior, time slows down a bit, and you can better appreciate the details and subtleties of being within a few meters of these great apes.
Sheila was concerned about the altitude, and both Mike & Sheila had heard how strenuous tracking gorillas can be. With help from their outstanding Rwandan guide, their first trek was assigned to a gorilla family that was easily accessible. In fact, they were so low in the forest the gorillas were literally on the wall that separates the farmland from the protective jungle. They were able to venture further into the forest on their second trek where they found the hike wasn’t too challenging especially with assistance from the local porters.
While the wilderness and the wildlife are breathtaking, Mike & Sheila were most impressed with their guides. Not only were the guides endlessly knowledgeable and helpful, but they shared remarkable life stories and insights that won’t be soon forgotten.
ITINERARY IN BRIEF
Jan 9: Arrive JRO, transfer to KIA Lodge. Morning drive to Manyara Green Camp (2nts)
Jan 10: Game viewing activities in Manyara National Park, Overnight at Manyara Green Camp
Jan 11: Morning game drive, Transfer to Ngorongoro, Overnight at Lemala Ngorongoro Camp (1 nt)
Jan 12: Morning visit to Olduvai Gorge, Game drive to Serengeti Green Camp (3 nts)
Jan 13-14: Two full days of wildlife viewing in the Serengeti, Overnight at Serengeti Green Camp
Jan 15-16: Drive to Serengeti Wilderness Zone, Serengeti Walking Camp (2 nts)
Jan 17: Transfer to airstrip, Shared charter flight to Kigali, Transfer to Flame Tree Village (1 nt)
Jan 18: Morning tour of Kigali & Genocide Memorial, Transfer to Gorilla Mountain View Lodge (2 nts)
Jan 19: Morning gorilla trek, Optional afternoon activities, Overnight at Gorilla Mountain View Lodge
Jan 20: Morning gorilla trek, Transfer back to Kigali for dinner and late night international departure