We just spent a month ‘experiencing’ Africa and couldn’t have been happier. Lion Dog Safaris listened to what we wanted and made it happen! It began with trekking to the gorillas in Rwanda, an eight day safari in Tanzania, a visit to Stone Town, resting on the beach in Zanzibar and finally reliving history in Egypt, finishing with a Nile River Cruise. This trip had a busy agenda with a lot of flights. We were competently delivered to the airports and promptly picked up, encountering along the way very excellent guides, drivers and good food and accommodations. The itinerary was well thought out so that we could experience all that an area had to offer. There are no words to describe sitting a few metres away from a gorilla family, hunting with the Hadzabe tribe, seeing hundreds of animals on an open plain, taking in the beauty of tomb wall or standing in awe at colossal monuments. These are memories we will forever cherish. Grant and Wendy W.
Day 1: Your tour commences upon touch down at the airport in the capital city of Kigali in the country of Rwanda. Once through customs, your party will be met by a Lion Dog African Safari representative holding up a sign displaying your last name, then transfer to your hotel in Kigali. Rest up and overnight at the Classic Hotel .
Day 2: Today you will take in the independent Kigali City Tour, or you may decide to drive directly in your private vehicle, to relax at the lodge adjacent to the gorilla trek. If you chose to partake in the city tour, you have the option to take in the museum of Natural History, the old quarter of Kigali handicrafts cooperative, the Genocide Memorial (recommended), the Hero’s cemetery, the Parliament building, and/or the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. Then your party will transfer to the town of Musanze. Overnight at the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge.
Day 3 :Early wake up, breakfast, registration and briefing at entrance to Parc des Volcans for Mountain Gorilla Trek. The park consists of 125 square km of mountain forest and home to six Virunga Volcanoes and the world famous mountain gorillas. The lushly forested slopes of the mountains form an appropriately dramatic natural setting for what is arguably the most poignant and memorable wildlife experience in the world: gorilla trekking.
The exhilarating climb to the gorilla’s natural habitat of shady bamboo forest offers fantastic views in all directions, before the trackers are immersed in the mysterious intimacy of the rainforest, alive with the calls of colourful birds and the chattering of rare golden monkey. Nothing can prepare one for the impact of encountering a fully-grown silverback gorilla, up to three times the size of an average man, yet remarkably peaceable and tolerant of human visitors. After your Gorilla encounter you will be transferred back to Kigali. Overnight again at Classic Hotel .
GORILLA INFO AND GUIDLINES
The chance of encountering the gorillas in Rwanda is extremely high as their locations are continuously monitored and the gorillas are not shy. You might encounter the gorillas within an easy hour of starting the trek or several hours later into the trek through hilly humid rain forest. The conditions change day to day. You should prepare for the trek by hiking through hilly terrain for some time prior to arriving. It is suggested that trekkers hire a personal porter for $10 to carry your personal items but more to also assist you up and down the hilly terrain. Sedan chairs with porters are also available for rent if walking is a challenge.
To minimize possible transmission of human diseases, visitors are asked to maintain a distance of 7m (about 22 feet) from the gorillas. If you are sick with a cold, flu or other contagious illness, please do not visit the gorillas.
-Viewing time is limited to one hour.
-Maximum 8 visitors per group.
-Spitting in the park is strictly prohibited.
-Should you need to cough, cover your mouth and turn away from the gorillas.
-When with the gorillas, keep your voice low.
-Try not to make rapid movements that may frighten the gorillas.
-If a gorilla should charge or vocalize at you, do not be alarmed, stand still, look away from the gorilla and follow your guide’s directions.
-Do not litter.
-The security of our visitors is our highest priorities. There is no need for concern about personal security.
-The climate in Musanze is changeable and you can generally expect both sun and rainfall during the day.
-Musanze, at 1,700m above sea level, is generally quite cold, particularly in the evening, so warm clothing is advised.
-Recommended clothing is long trousers and shirts, garden gloves, when in the forest to avoid nettle stings.
-Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots are essential. You may find raingear useful.
-Bring a water bottle and a small snack although eating, drinking and smoking near the gorillas is forbidden.
-Photography is permitted, although you may not use flash.
-Porters are available to help you carry your daypack for a small charge.
-Mountain gorillas live at high altitude and this may cause difficulties for some visitors. You should pace yourself, walk slowly and drink plenty of water. No one should feel deterred from making this trip.There are seven gorilla families available for tourists with 8 tourists allowed per group:
Susa—the largest group with 41 gorillas. This family is the hardest to trek as it tends to range high into the mountains but RDB Tourism & Conservation trackers will know well in advance where the group is located. The group is also well- known for having rare 5 year old twins named Byishimo and Impano.
Sabyinyo—Sabyinyo is an easily accessible group led by the powerful silverback Guhonda. There are fewer members within this family than in the other groups however they are equally impressive as a family.
Amahoro—led by the calm and easy going Ubumwe, Amahoro is made up of 17 members and means “peaceful”. To reach Amahoro one must endure a fairly steep climb however the climb is well worth it once in contact with this tranquil group.
Group 13—when first habituated this group had only 13 members hence its name. Now the group has approximately 25 members, a very positive sign for conservation and the efforts put forward by RDB Tourism & Conservation to protect the gorillas’ habitat.
Kwitonda—this 18-member group is led by Kwitonda which means “humble one” and has two silverbacks and one black back. Having migrated from DRC, this group tends to range farmaking it a moderately difficult trek.
Umubano—a family of 11, Umubano were originally Amahoro members but broke off after the dominant silverback was challenged by Charles, now the leader of Umubano. When a young silverback challenges the dominant silverback he must steal some females from the existing group in order to form his own family; thus Umubano was formed.
Hirwa—this group emerged recently and was formed from different existing families, namely from Group 13 and Sabyinyo. Eventually more gorillas joined.
TANZANIA / NORTHERN PARK CIRCUIT
Day 4:Today you will transfer to the Kigali airport embarking for the SERONARA airstrip located in the central Serengeti in the country of Tanzania.. Upon arrival you will be welcomed by a Lion Dog African Safari representative and commence your private game safari of the Northern Park Circuit, the best combination of game parks in the world. You are provided a professional English speaking guide driving a specially outfitted 4WD drive vehicle with a pop up roof to allow you to stand up andview the scenery and wildlife in every direction. You will be spoiled by the scenery of tribal villages, the Rift Valley Escarpment, alkaline lakes, extinct and active volcanoes, the endless plains of the Serengeti , kopjes, riverines; and close up encounters with lots and lots of African wildlife.
A sighting of the “big five “is almost assured. Prepare to be amazed, and always have your camera ready. At the end of each day, you will be treated to fascinating assortment of camps providing great meals and hospitality.
Your first day of safari is of the central region of the Serengeti sometimes referred to as” Cat Central” and home to the big territorial cats. The largest pride of resident lions and cheetahs are found in central part of the Serengetiyear round, lazing around the many clusters of Kopjes (rock outcrops).Overnight at the Serengeti Kati Kati Tented Camp.
Day 5 & 6: Safari the The Serengeti, the mother of all game parks. Experience one of the oldest eco systems on the planet, where little has changed in thousands of years. The Serengeti offers arguably the most scintillating game-viewing in Africa: great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle. The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates Tanzania’s greatest park wildlife. You will eventually enter the southern area of the Serengeti then overnight both nights at the KenzanCamp.
Day 7:Today you will safari the southern region of the Serengeti eventually exiting then entering into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and safari the Ndutu region.. Encounters with the local Maasai Tribe are common in this region, known for their bright dress, bead work and athletic style dancing. Overnight at Ndutu Safari Lodge.
Day 8:Another safari of the Ndutu region is on tap today. Dispersed across these plains, wildebeest and zebra are everywhere – feeding on the fresh, nutritious grasses In late November and December, the herds of the wildebeest migration arrive on the short-grass plains of the Serengeti around the Ndutu area and include the north of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In January or February, there is a short window where the wildebeest give birth to over 8000 newborns each day with plenty of predator activity ensuing. Overnight at the Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge located on the rim of the crater offering you some spectacular views.
Day 9: This morning you will exit the Serengeti anddescend over 600 meters into the Ngorongoro Crater, the eighth wonder of the World. This scenic show stopper- a vast caldera offering mind blowing views from the crater rim to the grassy floor 600 meters below, is the center piece of the Ngorongoro Conservation area, an extension of the Serengeti national park where Maasai pastoralists still herd their cattle amidst herds of big game and are known for their tall stature, signature red clothing and energetic style of dancing. The crater also forms a natural sanctuary within a sanctuary, providing refuge to the world’s densest lion and hyena populations, some seriously impressive tuskers and the endangered black rhino. You will exit the crater mid-afternoon. Afterwards you have the option to partake in a guided Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge Walks of the surrounding areas. Overnight again at the Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge
Day 10: Today you will drive off of the beaten path to Lake Eyasi. Though not really a game destination, Lake Eyasi, just south of the Serengeti, is a wild, scenically stunning area where you can get a real insight into the way of life of some of Tanzania's fascinating tribes. You will overnight at the KisimaNgeda Tented Camp
Day 11: Early rise to visit the Hadzabe Tribe and the DatoogaTribe. The Hadzabe and Datooga are two fascinating primitive yet distinctive tribes. Theygrow no food, raise no livestock,and live without rules or calendars. They are living a hunter-gatherer existence that is little changed from 10,000 years ago.
MAKOA FARMS / HORSE RIDING AND CULTURAL EXPERIENCE
After your visit with the Hadzabe and Datooga tribes you will transfer to Makoa Farm arriving late in the afternoon for your high end horse riding safari experience . The 358-acre coffee and horse farm is nestled into the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro, with much of the farmland devoted to conservation, bordered by two rivers, each filled with towering trees. The house and rooms are situated to take in spectacular views of the impressive Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. This rich and diverse area is home to the Chaga People whose small villages and coffee farms dot the hillsides. On the plains to the south, Masai graze their cattle. In the afternoon you will be introduced to the horses and start on a ride so you can become familiar with horses, tack and riding style. For the non-riders this is time to settle in their rooms or to stretch their legs on a relaxed walk. Overnight at Makoa Farm.
In addition to twenty five horses it is home to a variety of farm and pet animals such as donkeys, pigs, cattle, small four-legged creatures like rabbits and guinea pigs and different kinds of poultry and fowl. The occasional orphaned or injured wild animal spends time as an in-patient in the veterinary clinic. Susi and Schroeder, the pet pigs, Gin and Tonic, the tame bush pigs, and many others add to giving Makoa a delightful old country feel. Horses on Makoa include thoroughbred endurance horses from Germany and thoroughbred safari horses from all over Africa.
Day 12:After breakfast you will all be transferred to a meeting point, the horses and guides will be waiting for you. On the plains between Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meruyou will start your ride to the northwest. The non-riders, including Katherine will ride their own game drive vehicle and travel close to the riders occasionally crossing paths , and overnighting at the same camps.
The landscape changes completely as you head through a mixture of open grassland and thorn bush savannah. This is a long ride interrupted by a short break and some snacks on the way. You may encounter the first antelopes, zebra maybe some ostriches and jackals.
Late lunch will be prepared next to a water hole, the elevated wooden platform offers great wildlife viewing during your meal. The sightings will keep your camera busy and the warm afternoon light will provide the best background. If you are interested in Maasai culture then you will do an excursion to visit them after lunch. Alternatively you may decide for another sunset-ride or take a little walk to our near camp for a sun downer drink.
For the next two nights you will stay in our private mobile bush-camp. The mobile tents are classic canvas dome tents and equipped with comfortable beds, mattresses, blankets and linen. There are toilet and hot bucket shower tents. Emphasis is on privacy, game viewing and scenery in remote areas.
Depending on requirements this might be arranged as a mobile trail where the site for the fly camp will be mostly determined by the game situation.
In the mobile bush-camp the food is always prepared fresh and most of the ingredients are produced on our farm. This includes most vegetables, meat, milk and milk products. Expect to find freshly home baked bread on your table every morning, as well as homemade confectionary in the afternoon.
Day 13: Wake up early with a cup of steaming tea or coffee served in your tent. This will be an exciting day for game viewing; the route will be mostly dictated by the game situation. You mountyour horses and head out into the savannah. You are in the heart of the West-Kilimanjaro wilderness and we may find seasonally large herds of Elands, sometimes up to 100, and up to 200 Elephants. Kori bustards and secretary birds are often seen here stalking their prey. Slowly and carefully we approach the wildlife we find along the way - lesser kudus, antelopes, gazelles and a lot of other animals. If you feel up to it, you can canter with zebras and wildebeests. This is a safari the way it was meant to be!Late afternoon you ride on another route back to camp, while enjoying the sunset
Day 14: Start early for a long morning ride for spotting game along the western boundary of the reserve. In addition to the ever-present antelopes, zebras and gazelles, you'll keep an eye out for giraffes, ostriches, warthogs and maybe a cheetah. What we really hope for though, is the chance for a peaceful meeting with a herd of magnificent African elephants and we will explore the area of "Tembobridge" to seek out herds in between the euphorbia forest. Don't forget your binoculars and camera!
Later you continue your way southeast passing the plains between Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro. See herd animals watching the horses with interest, have a canter with zebra and eland, then we stop en route for a picnic lunch.
Later afternoon we meet the vehicle and transport horses and guests back to Makoa Farm to overnight . Enjoy the view of Mt.Kilimanjaro while sitting on the veranda with a sunset drink.
Day 15: Today you will transfer to Kilimanjaro International airport to connect with your onward flight.
Listed below are hotels/lodges/resorts that the safari tour operator can accomodate for you.