Serengeti, Lake Victoria, Rwanda Special

From a private concession in the Central Serengeti, to an island in the center of Lake Victoria to visiting mountain gorillas in Rwanda with just a handful of other travelers, this itinerary gives you remote and personal access to some of the most famous game-viewing areas in Africa. This program also takes advantage of a brand new property, Namiri in the Serengeti and an incredibly convenient flight that takes you straight from the Serengeti to Lake Victoria and onward to Kigali, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in the safari experience and make the most of your time.

Day 1 ~ Arusha

Bedroom Terrace

Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, you will be met and transferred to Arusha Coffee Lodge where you will spend one night before embarking on your safari the next day.

The city of Arusha sits in a pleasant, lush valley, divided by the Naura River near the base of 15,000-ft Mt. Meru. This bustling city, the safari capital of Tanzania, is the economic center of an area with a rich agricultural economy, thanks to fertile volcanic soil.

Overnight at Arusha Coffee Lodge

This cozy, boutique lodge is built within a coffee plantation just outside Arusha. The lodge’s 30 luxurious suites in 18 cottages are built amongst coffee trees and reflect the colonial style of the original plantation homes, which serve as the reception and dining area. Each cottage is lavishly furnished, with a split area sitting area and a private deck. Guest areas include beautiful boutique stores, a welcoming swimming pool, a bar area, spa and picturesque gardens. Tasty delights can be enjoyed in the a la carte restaurant, the gardens, bar or on the bar terrace.

Includes: Bed & Breakfast

Bar and Bistro

Days 2 - 4 ~ Serengeti

This morning you will be driven to Arusha Airport in time for your flight to the Seronera airstrip in the Serengeti. During your three nights in the Serengeti you will stay at Namiri Plains, a brand new camp in a private concession in the Central-Eastern Serengeti.

Serengeti National Park (3,646,500 acres) is the jewel in the crown of Tanzania’s protected areas with over 3 million large mammals roaming its plains. The Serengeti has come to symbolize paradise to all, including the local Maasai, for whom it is Siringitu - "the place where the land moves on forever." Today, the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve across the border in Kenya, protect the greatest and most varied collection of terrestrial wildlife on earth, and one of the last great migratory systems still intact.

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Overnight at Namiri Plains Camp

Namiri Plains is set in an incredibly unique area of the Serengeti, in a private concession that was closed to public access for 20 years. During that time the area was operated by the Frankfort Zoological Society as a safe haven for cheetah. This is big cat central and offers East Africa’s best cheetah viewing opportunities and Namiri Plains Camp has unique exclusive access to the area.

Imagine an area where the sun seldom dawns without cheetah gaining on prey, rarely a day passes without spotting a leopard draped over the branch of a tree, and most nights are filled with the roar of lions. This is where we have set up a new camp called Namiri Plains. Closed to the world for over 20 years to create a safe haven for cheetah breeding and research, today the area has an exceptional population of big cats including the highest density of cheetah in East Africa.

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Namiri Plains has been designed to combine the traditional bush style with a fresh modern feel focusing on attention to detail and high levels of personalised service. This six-tented camp is ideal for safari enthusiasts wanting bush luxury, advanced guiding and a deeper wildlife experience. Namiri Plains is a small and exclusive camp set under fever trees with wonderful views of the sweeping plains that also host the Great Migration from November to June.

Activities include game drives led by expert guides, sunrise breakfast picnics on top of Soit Le Motonyi rock or sundowners atop a nearby kopje. The camp frequently hosts big cat researchers who join the dinner table to share their insight with guests.

Includes: All meals, local drinks, laundry, game activities.

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Days 5 - 7 ~ Lake Victoria

Today you fly from the Serengeti to Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria. From here you head by boat to Rubondo Island.

Lake Victoria is massive! At 6.5 million hectares the lake is three times the size of Wales and borders shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It is both Africa’s biggest lake and the source of its biggest river, the Nile. Its waters are rich in fish life with shimmering shoals of colorful cichlids and large Nile Perch which is sought after by fishermen.

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Overnight at Rubondo Island Camp

Rubondo Island might just be the most unique destination in Africa for those seeking exceptional adventure experiences in the wilderness.

This 25 000 hectare paradise in the south-western corner of the expansive Lake Victoria is the largest island national park on the continent and is all but untouched by man. Elephants roam wild, families of chimpanzees cascade through the boughs of pristine indigenous forest, and the waters teem with the iconic Nile Perch.

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If you’re a seasoned adventure traveller or safari goer who has seen it all, just wait until you lay eyes on Rubondo Island Camp with its unrivaled access to this one-of-a-kind destination. This small and exclusive camp offers forest walks, game-watching, birding excursions, canoe trips, trekking through wild chimpanzee territory, catch-and-release fishing and a host of other eco-sensitive activities.

Brand New Treehouse at Rubondo! Any guest traveling from July 2014 onward can take advantage of a sleep out in the brand new treehouse at Rubondo! The tree house is set high in the trees with a view of Lake Victoria. Guests spending the night in the tree house can enjoy an alfresco shower or bath in the wilderness canopy and then spend the night ins a luxurious double bed with just the sound of the rain forest to lull them to sleep! TH

Includes: All meals, local drinks, laundry, activities.

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Day 8 ~ Kigali

Today you will continue on to Rwanda where you will spend one night in Kigali before heading of to track gorillas!

Kigali is a clean and vibrant city at Rwanda's geographical center, that has made incredible progress over the last decade. It is a city that has not just survived, but thrived and grown into a modern metropolis- a heart of the emerging Rwandan economy and a pride of every Rwandan. Among the safest and friendliest of African capitals, Kigali is blessed with a moderate high altitude climate and is conveniently located within three hours’ drive of the main tourist sites. The Rwandan capital KigaliSerenaHotelprovides both a comfortable and welcoming introduction to this land of a thousand hills and an ideal springboard from which to explore the country. The insightful and moving National Genocide Memorial is not to be missed.

Overnight at the Kigali Serena

Ideally located on one of Kigali's most charming boulevards, the five-star Kigali Serena Hotel is built around a polished granite atrium, which showcases the very best of Rwandese cultural art. Relaxed yet elegant, the hotel centers on the Executive Lounge and Bar, which opens onto a wide sundeck overlooking the newly refurbished swimming pool. Also overlooking the pool, the popular Milima Restaurant offers a wide range of all-day buffet choices, while the relaxed Sokoni Café offers inside and outside poolside seating. The capital's natural business hub, the hotel also boasts its own extensive conference center, 500-seater auditorium and lavish ballroom.

Includes: Bed & Breakfast

Days 9 - 10 ~ Volcanoes National Park

Today you will travel by car a few hours west of Kigali to Volcanoes National Park, the home of Rwanda's mountain gorillas. Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge will be your base for two nights.

Set high on the jungle-covered slopes of the volcanic Virunga Mountains, Parc National des Volcans is best known as a sanctuary for the region’s rare mountain gorillas. Highly regulated treks through the reserve allow visitors to spend an hour at a time with these incredible primates in their natural habitat.

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Overnight at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is owned by a community trust called SACOLA, who uses the lodge’s income to finance socio-economic developments and conservation objectives in the area, including water projects, education, health and informal industries. It is an exciting combination of a top quality lodge and a power for driving the area’s projects, situated on the edge of the Parc National des Volcans in North Eastern Rwanda. The rainforests of the five Virunga Volcanoes are the last refuge of the Mountain Gorilla. The lush slopes of the volcanoes provide an appropriately dramatic natural setting for what is perhaps the most poignant and thrilling wildlife experience to be had anywhere. Roughly half of the world’s wild population of Mountain Gorillas is resident on the Rwandan slopes of the Virungas. Gorilla trekking, which can be strenuous, is not the only activity on offer. Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge provides the perfect base from which to explore this fascinating corner of Africa. Visits to the bustling nearby market town of Ruhengeri, beautiful lakes, the genocide memorials or the community and conservation projects are designed for you to take maximum advantage of this unique area, its wildlife and its culture.

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Here is where you will participate in what may be the most intense part of your trip: the Gorilla Trek. After an early breakfast take a short drive to Park Headquarters and meet with excellent local guides and trackers who will give a talk on the etiquette of gorilla trekking. We then hike into the forest where the gorillas were seen the night before and track from that point. The trekking can take from 1 to 6 hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery make the trekking worthwhile. Once the gorillas are located all fatigue is forgotten, as the experience is often described as being the most profound natural history experience in the world. It's amazing to think there are only about 650 of these beautiful creatures left. Picnic lunches are provided and it is important to take plenty of water. Cameras and plenty of fast speed film is recommended. It can rain at a few minutes notice; hence waterproof clothing is a good essential including zip lock bags for cameras. N.B. We cannot guarantee seeing gorillas.

Includes: All meals, drinks

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Days 11 - 12 ~ Kigali and Depart

You will return to Kigali for one more night at the Kigali Serena before heading to the airport in time for your international flight home.

Price

Starts at $9,900 per person (prices varies depending on the season). Excludes international flights. Gorilla permits are additional and are $750 per person per trek.

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Jamie Mehrotra