Bucket List Safaris | 11 days | From $9,199

Rwanda and Tanzania

ITINERARY

TRIP SUMMARY

When we think bucket list East Africa 4 things come to mind – gorilla trekking, the wildebeest migration, Ngorongoro Crater, and seeing Mount Kilimanjaro. In Rwanda trek for highly endangered mountain gorillas – there are only 800 left in the world. Continue by air to Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains to witness the world’s largest animal migration. If you are lucky catch the wildebeest crossing the Mara River or calving on the open grass plains. Next visit one of the 7 wonders of the world – Ngorongoro Crater including a lavish crater floor picnic amongst the animals! Your safari ends at the foot of snow topped Mount Kilimanjaro.

DAY
1

KIGALI, RWANDA

Your private guide will meet upon arrival at the airport and transfer you by road to the Kigali Serena – the only quality place to stay in the capital…. Read more

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Accommodations: Kigali Serena, bed and breakfast

Kigali Serena, Kigali, Rwanda – Not the type of place we typically recommend but realistically it is the only quality option in town. Catering mainly to business people the rooms have all the comforts a world traveler would expect. They also have a lovely pool area with lush tropical gardens. Breakfast on the verandah overlooking the pool is a nice way to start the day.

Kigali Serena Hotel
Kigali Serena Pool Area
Kigali Serena Bedroom
Kigali Serena Hotel Bathroom
DAYS
2-3-4

PARC NATIONAL DES VOLCANS, RWANDA

Drive with your private guide 2 hours to Virunga Lodge. High in the clouds with jaw dropping 360 degree views you will be welcomed with open arms to this rustic mountaintop hideaway. Days 3 and 4 will be spent trekking for mountain gorillas.

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Accommodations: Virunga Lodge, standard room, 3 nights, all inclusive (if you prefer a 25 helicopter transfer to / from Virunga Lodge this can be arranged at extra cost)

Virunga Lodge, Parc National Des Volcans, Rwanda – The staff at Virunga Lodge easily makes this our favorite lodge in the area. They are some of the friendliest and most accommodating people we have ever met in Africa. Did I mention the truly jaw dropping 360 mountaintop views? While at the lodge don’t miss the local Intore dancers. We normally don’t go for the touristy dance thing however this is a whole different ball game. If you prefer the slightly more luxurious Sabinyo Lodge we are happy to book it – be forewarned however there are 283 stairs from the car park to the main lodge at just over 8,000 feet… a stretcher is available for those who can’t handle it – seriously!

Ultimate Africa Exclusive: Enjoy a free massage and boot cleaning.

Virunga Lodge
Virunga Lodge Gorilla Trekking
Virunga Lodge Bedroom
Virunga Lodge Bathroom
DAY
5

KIGALI, RWANDA

A private road transfer returns you to the capital. A visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial is one of the most moving emotional experiences you can have in Africa! The day ends back at the Serena Hotel.

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Accommodations: Kigali Serena, 1 night, bed and breakfast

Kigali Serena, Kigali, Rwanda – Not the type of place we typically recommend but realistically it is the only quality option in town. Catering mainly to business people the rooms have all the comforts a world traveler would expect. They also have a lovely pool area with lush tropical gardens. Breakfast on the verandah overlooking the pool is a nice way to start the day.

Kigali Serena Hotel
Kigali Serena Pool Area
Kigali Serena Bedroom
Kigali Serena Hotel Bathroom
DAYS
6-7-8

SERENGETI, TANZANIA

Continue by light air transfer (included in land cost) to the Serengeti and Olakira Camp. Nights under canvas and days surrounded by wildebeest and wildlife! We chose Olakira for 2 reasons – it is in our opinion the very best value yet high quality experience in the Serengeti and importantly the camp moves with the migration throughout the year. Open 4×4 vehicles put you right in the action. Depending upon the time of year visit Olduvai Gorge or catch the migration crossing the Mara River. Optional hot air ballooning.

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Accommodations: Olakira Camp, 3 nights, all inclusive

Olakira Camp, Serengeti, Tanzania – No safari to Tanzania would be complete without a few nights spent in a comfortable tented camp right amongst the migration. It is so cool to fall asleep to the sounds of lion roaring and wake to thousands of wildebeest and zebra within arm’s reach. Each of the 9 tents offer comfortable beds, a flushing toilet and bush shower which is filled with hot water upon request.
When it comes to the wildebeest migration location is EVERYTHING. When the migration is in the northern Serengeti late July through early October Olakira is located a 5 minute drive from the Mara River. Only Singita Mara River Camp is closer. When the migration is in the south, January through March’ish, Olakira moves to Ndutu – the same area chosen by legendary wildlife photographer Hugo Van Lawick (one time husband to Jane Goodall) as his base from which to live and work.

Ultimate Africa Exclusive: Enjoy a complimentary private bush breakfast on the Serengeti Plains one morning!

Olakira Camp Serengeti Wildebeest Migration
Olakira Camp Tented Room
Olakira Bathroom
Olakira Camp Main Dining Tent
DAYS
9-10

NGORONGORO HIGHLANDS, TANZANIA

Continue by light air transfer (included in land cost) to the Ngorongoro Highlands and Gibbs Farm – a must visit location in Tanzania. The afternoon of day 9 will be spent with your private guide looking for tree climbing lions in Lake Manyara National Park. Early the next morning your guide will drive you to Ngorongoro Crater for a full day wildlife viewing. A picnic breakfast on the crater floor is a bucket list experience.

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Accommodations: Gibbs Farm, 2 nights, all inclusive

Gibbs Farm, Ngorongoro Highlands, Tanzania – This utterly charming property, built on a lush hillside within a 40 acre organic farm, is the ideal base to explore nearby Lake Manyara, the town of Karatu, and Ngorongoro Crater. The 17 rustic, yet wonderfully comfortable rooms, each with its own fireplace, are surrounded by incredible flowering gardens with views of the misty Ngorongoro Highlands. The farm fresh meals are wholesome and hearty – so good I wish I were married to the chef (please don’t tell my wife). When not out on safari you can watch coffee being roasted, take a hike to the elephant caves, or learn to bake bread. Voted #2 hotel in Africa and #16 in world according to Conde Nast in 2016. Please note this great value property is not set within a wildlife area.

Ultimate Africa Exclusives: As an Ultimate Africa guest enjoy a private fireside dinner in the gardens your first evening. UA guests also receive a complimentary bag of Gibb’s Farm organic coffee beans.

Gibbs Farm Main Area View
Gibbs Farm Bedroom
Gibbs Farm Bathroom
Gibbs Farm Lunch
DAY
11

EN ROUTE

Light air transfer (included in land cost) to the Kilimanjaro Airport. You will be met on arrival and transferred by road the short distance to Kia Lodge where you will have the use of a day room. As the sun is setting head up to the pool deck for a view of the world’s tallest free standing mountain – Kilimanjaro. Later this evening you will be transferred by road to the airport and assisted with the check in to your onward flight.

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Kia Lodge, Kilimanjaro Airport, Tanzania: Kia lodge, 3 minutes by road from the Kilimanjaro Airport, is set in 30 acres of lush, tropical and savannah gardens, providing a haven for over 100 bird species. The lodge has 40 basic, en-suite rooms. They are nothing to write home about… in fact the word spartan comes to mind. The swimming pool is located on top of a hill, with panoramic views of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, and the Maasai steppe. Please note that we are not suggesting Kia Lodge as a quality destination. It is simply a very convenient location where clients can clean up and rest before their long international flight home.

Cost
January through February, 2017: $11,199 + $3,000 for 2 gorilla permits
March, 2017: $9,399 + $3,000 for 2 gorilla permits
April through May, 2017: We do not suggest travel during these months
June, 2017: $10,499 + $3,000 for 2 gorilla permits
July through August, 2017: $11,399 + $3,000 for 2 gorilla permits
September, 2017: $11,099 + $3,000 for 2 gorilla permits
October, 2017: $9,949 + $3,000 for 2 gorilla permits
November 1 through November 15, 2017: $9,299 + $3,000 for 2 gorilla permits
Prices are per person and do not include international flights

 

Specials and exclusive offers
Depending upon the time of year you intend to travel we may be able to secure free nights or discounted rates at certain properties on this trip. Please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

Save 2.5%
Clients paying by check can save 2.5% off their land costs

What you get
– Virunga Mountains, Serengeti Plains, Ngorongoro Crater and Mount Kilimanjaro
– 10 wildlife viewing / safari activities
– Africa’s Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo) – really close
– Wildebeest migration
– Mountain Gorillas
– Tree climbing lions
– Day and night wildlife viewing drives in open and closed 4×4 vehicles (no minibuses) with unlimited mileage and guaranteed window seat
– Walking safaris with professional guides at Virunga Lodge
– Optional Serengeti hot air balloon excursion with Champagne breakfast (at extra cost)
– A private full day wildlife viewing drive in Ngorongoro Crater
– Bird watching including flamingoes in Ngorongoro Crater
– 2 guided gorilla treks with permits
– Intore dance performance at Virunga Lodge (if available)
– Village visit at Virunga Lodge with possible Bridge2Rwanda introduction (ask us about this)
– Complimentary massage and boot cleaning at Virunga Lodge
– Private half day Kigali city tour including local market, pottery project, handicraft shops and Rwanda Genocide Memorial
– All park and entrance fees
– Expert English speaking guides
– 2 nights Kigali Serena on a bed and breakfast basis in a Deluxe room
– 3 nights Volcanoes Virunga Lodge on an all inclusive basis
– 3 nights Olakira Camp on an all inclusive basis
– 2 nights Gibb’s Farm on an all inclusive basis
– Kia Lodge dayroom
– VIP airport meet and assist in Kigali
– Private airport transfers in Kigali
– 3 light air transfers (Kigali to Olakira, Olakira to Lake Manyara, Lake Manyara to Kilimanjaro)
– 10 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 8 dinners
– Private bush breakfast at Olakira Camp
– Lavish Ngorongoro Crater picnic
– Private fireside dinner at Gibb’s Farm
– Complimentary bag of Gibb’s Farm organic coffee
– All drinks at Volcanoes Virunga Lodge, Olakira Camp, and at Gibb’s Farm (waters, teas / coffees, sodas, beers, wines, spirits)
– Laundry at Volcanoes Virunga Lodge and at Olakira Camp
– Confirmation package with a wealth of predeparture information
– Major bragging rights at the office (and pretty much everywhere else)

 

What isn’t included?
– International flights from your home city to Kigali / from Kilimanjaro back home
– Trip insurance
– Tips / gratuities
– Some meals and drinks (i.e. when staying on a bed and breakfast basis lunch and dinner and most drinks are not included and when on safari some premium spirits / champagne are not included)
– Spa treatments (unless stated)
– Telephone calls

When to travel
This trip is best January through mid March and June through October each year.

More information

Watch out!
The Western and Northern parts of the Serengeti are home to tsetse fly. Similar to a horse fly we jokingly refer to them as “flying teeth” – they pack a mean bite. Despite warm to hot days we suggest long pants, sleeved shirts, and closed shoes in these areas.

 

Why not the Masai Mara
Making up only 3% of the Serengeti ecosystem Kenya’s Masai Mara has close to 7,000 beds. It can be more crowded than a shopping mall during the holidays! The private reserves surrounding the Mara are multiuse areas often with more cattle and goats than wild animals.

 

Why not stay at Ngorongoro Crater?
Crater Lodge offers jaw dropping views and incredible rooms however it is not cheap. The Sopa and Serena lodges offer basic rooms and pretty good food at a much lower cost, however overbook often leaves guests without rooms. Rhino Lodge is filled with super budget European travelers. Tented camps such as Sanctuary and Lemala offer fairly priced tented rooms however at 8,000 feet they can be cold and dark – especially when it rains (which it does frequently) and there is little to do in the way of other activities.  Therefore we often recommend properties such as The Manor, Plantation Lodge, Kitela, Farmhouse and Gibbs Farm which offer fireplaces in the rooms, beautiful gardens, great food, lots of activities, and in some cases swimming pools to relax beside. We try to get our clients into the crater each day as early as possible. Not only to avoid possible queues at the park gate but the early morning is the best time in the crater. Cats are more active and you are likely to see a leopard crossing the road or lions and hyena fighting over a kill. The light is also sublime for photography. By bringing a packed breakfast we can and avoid the lunchtime crowds. After 10AM it starts to get hot and dusty so we often leave the crater around 11AM getting back to Gibbs Farm in time for a 1PM lunch (and lunch at Gibbs Farm is unforgettable)… then the afternoon is free to go for a hike or to enjoy any of the other activities on offer. By staying on the crater rim you will get into the crater perhaps 30 minutes earlier.

 

Go Luxury
Stay at Crater Lodge in place in Gibbs Farm. Crater Lodge is an opulent, Hobbit like, retreat perched on the edge of Ngorongoro Crater. It has won a number of big time awards and is consistently voted Tanzania’s leading safari lodge.

 

Go Luxury
Depending upon the time of year opt to stay at Mwiba Lodge, Sasakwa Lodge, Sabora Plains Camp, Faru Faru, Singita Mara River Camp, or Sayari in the Serengeti in place of Olakira Camp.

 

Linger Longer
Add 3 nights on the spice island of Zanzibar staying at Kilindi Lodge. Originally designed for Abba’s Benny Andersson the resort is a combo of childhood fantasy meets Scandinavian minimalism. It is a truly special place. Includes a private Stone Town walking tour learning about the island’s slave trading past and a private candlelit beach dinner.

 

Linger Longer
Add 3 nights at Greystoke Mahale in the Mahale Mountains trekking for chimpanzees! As the London Evening Standard notes “you can’t blame the chimps for hanging out in a place like this”. Bucket list all the way.

 

Getting to Africa
From North America there are direct flights to Africa from Washington DC, New York and Atlanta. Alternatively you may fly via Europe, or even Dubai, to Africa. If you let us know the name of your preferred departure city we can provide you with airfare options. Air tickets may only be booked 330 days in advance. Please note air fares are subject to change over time. Most light aircraft transfers between lodges and camps are included in the land cost and are noted on the itinerary.

 

Is this a group trip?
This is not a group trip. This trip can depart on any dates for 1 or more people (the trip costs have been based on 2 guests traveling together). With additional guests costs may change.

 

How much luggage can I bring?
As small aircraft are often used to transfer travelers between lodges and camps body weight and luggage weight are important safety considerations. Baggage is strictly limited to 15 kilograms (33 pounds) packed in one or two soft sided bags plus a small backpack per person. This includes camera equipment. Suitcases will not be permitted. If you wish to exceed the luggage limit please inquire about the extra cost of doing so.

 

Your guides
At Gibbs Farm / Ngorongoro Crater and in Rwanda you will have your own private safari vehicle and private professional, local English speaking, guides. At Olakira activities, such as wildlife viewing drives, are shared with other guests (no more than 6 guests per vehicle) and led by professionally licensed, local English speaking guides who are based at the camp. They know their area intimately. Your safety and comfort are their highest concerns. They are also trained and prepared to respond to medical emergencies. If you prefer to have a private guide and vehicle at any location this can be arranged at extra cost.

 

Do I need shots?
Yes – a yellow fever inoculation certificate is required. You will need to provide a doctor’s letter if you do not receive a yellow fever inoculation. In addition most travelers take anti-malaria tablets for the safari portion of their trip and get a Hepatitis A shot. We recommend that you visit with a local travel health specialist in your hometown to discuss any special concerns you might have.

 

Do I need an entry visa?
American passport holders visiting Rwanda and Tanzania do require entry visas. Upon arrival in Kigali, Rwanda an entry visa may be purchased for US $30 cash per person. Upon arrival in Tanzania an entry visa may be purchased for US $100 cash per person.

 

How far in advance to book
Most of the properties we recommend are small and dearly sought after. To ensure availability of accommodations and limited gorilla trekking permits we suggest planning and booking your travel arrangements at least 9-12 months in advance. If planning closer to your travel dates we may need to look at alternate properties to make things work.

 

How to make it happen
At Ultimate Africa Safaris we do it all – from hotel and lodge bookings, to air tickets and travel insurance. We handle dinner reservations and celebrations as well – we love celebrations! The first step is to check availability at the various properties. We will then prepare a personal proposal for you. To learn more call our Seattle office toll free 1 800 461 0682. From outside the USA / Canada call on 425 793 8877. We are in between 9AM and 5PM weekdays. Alternatively email us at info@ultimateafrica.com

 

No money, no funny
To confirm an itinerary we require a 25% of land cost non-refundable deposit per person. Your land payments may be made by credit card (MasterCard, Visa or American Express) or by debit card (MasterCard or Visa). Alternatively payments may be made by personal, business or certified check made out to Ultimate Africa and posted to our office. Clients paying by check can save 2.5% off their land payments which will be credited to your invoice upon receipt of the check payment (please do not deduct this from your deposit amount). Future discounts will be applied to land payments made by check. Deposits must be accompanied by completed reservation forms. Upon receipt of your deposit full trip details will be posted to your address. This includes a confirmation letter, invoice, country specific information, travel checklist (what you need to bring), and final air / land itinerary. Your final trip payment will be due 75 days prior to your departure.

 

Make sure you are covered
All clients are required to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance plan before trip departure. This should cover you for events such as tour operator bankruptcy / financial default, trip cancellation, delay or interruption, lost or delayed baggage, emergency accident, sickness and evacuation, 24 hour medical assistance, traveler’s assistance, and emergency cash transfer. For coverage we suggest Travel Guard insurance. The total premium will be based on your total land / air cost and your ages. If you provide our office with your credit card details we will purchase / complete the insurance formalities on your behalf.

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