Our 10-day Great Migration and Mountain Gorilla Safari takes you from the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania, home to the annual great migration of two million wildebeest, to the mist-wreathed kingdom of the mountain gorilla in just ten days. By combining two of the top wildlife encounters in Africa, in some of the most pristine wilderness destinations, this incredible tour is sure to create a lifetime’s worth of memories.
In Tanzania, we will spend our time in the northern Serengeti, enjoying the romance of a classic semi-mobile wilderness camp, which moves several times a year as it moves with the herds. From here, after days spent following the migration, we will fly to Uganda and transfer to our lodges in the shadow of the forest-clad slopes of the Virungas. Here it is not herds of wildebeest we seek but groups of mountain gorillas, as we hike through pristine rainforest for our encounter with these gentle giants.
On arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania we will meet you and transfer you to the nearby Arusha Coffee Lodge where you can relax after your journey and enjoy dinner.
The lodge is found within a coffee plantation, overlooking Mount Kilimanjaro, the peaks of which are often shrouded in cloud. Spend your time here enjoying the views, and be sure to order a coffee – it’s the house speciality!
After an early breakfast, we will transfer you to Arusha airport for a scheduled flight to an airstrip near the Serengeti. Depending on the time of year it will either be Grumeti, Moru or Kogatende, as the camp which will be your home for the next three nights moves with the herds.
Landing at the airstrip nearest to the camp, you will be met by your guide and vehicle and transferred to your camp.
During your time at Serengeti Safari Camp you enjoy game activities in shared vehicles.
The Serengeti Safari Camp will not move whilst you are in it, but this camp covers hundreds of miles every year, along a route which the herds have travelled for centuries. In June it is found in the western corridor, where great columns of wildebeest move north as one, and between July and October it is more likely to be occupying a quiet corner of the northern Serengeti, close to the rivers for dramatic river crossing experiences. Come November, it will be occupying a secluded spot in the Moru area, a savannah landscape peppered with rocky kopjes. Wherever we locate the camp, it is sure to be tucked away in a peaceful area of this magnificent park, with stunning views across the plains.
Set your own pace and enjoy as much, or as little, wildlife viewing as you like. Head out before dawn for long days traversing the savannah, armed with delicious picnics and thermos flasks of coffee, or linger in bed and enjoy a relaxed morning at camp before making shorter forays into the bush for game drives closer to camp.
Another great activity on safari is the art of enjoying a sundowner. Pack some drinks and head out to to a rocky kopje and enjoy the changing colours of the savannah – an excellent way to end the day.
Today you will continue to enjoy the wildlife action that is going on all around you. As well as being famous for its large herds of wildebeest and zebra, the Serengeti is a great place for spotting predators. Not surprisingly, with a ‘moveable feast’ all around them, lions thrive and it is not uncommon to see several prides on a single game drive alone. Cheetah are also regularly sighted, and if you are out and about early in the day, you may be lucky and spot a leopard, serval, or African wild cat.
This morning, after a relaxed breakfast and lunch, we depart for nearby Kogatende Airstrip, carrying picnic lunches, for the afternoon scheduled flight to Kigali International Airport in Rwanda. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Today we enjoy a city tour of Kigali, one of Africa’s cleanest cities. After lunch, we transfer by road for 5 hours to the lofty peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes. We will cross the border into Uganda and base ourselves at Mt Gahinga Lodge for the next three nights.
Today we enjoy an encounter with the critically endangered mountain gorillas. The mountain gorillas are part of a worldwide population of just 880 individuals, and the gorillas we track today belong to one of several habituated family groups. Experienced guides will accompany us on our tracking, many of whom have been involved in the habituation process themselves.
The time taken to track the gorillas varies from half an hour to 9 hours before we return to camp, depending on the location of the gorillas. Once the gorillas are located, our group will be allowed a maximum of 1 hour with them. This is one of the world’s truly memorable experiences – a look into one of these magnificent creature’s eyes brings home the very special kinship that exists between them and us.
Today we drive 90 minutes to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for a second encounter with the gorillas…this time a different family, and one geographically isolated from the family we experienced yesterday.
Today we will drive back south over the border into Rwanda, and make our way to Kigali for our evening flight out.
In the peaceful outskirts of Arusha, overlooked by the dramatic Mt Meru, lies one of Tanzania’s largest coffee plantations. Amongst the green bushes bursting with coffee cherries you will find Arusha Coffee Lodge, the perfect base from which to start your Tanzania safari.
The bean is, not surprisingly, ever present at Arusha Coffee Lodge. The plantation is filled with coffee bushes and in harvest season, one can see the pickers hard at work. In the evenings, enjoy sundowners or bush dining in the plantation greenery; in the mornings, enjoy the aroma of your freshly brewed coffee as you gaze out at the beautiful gardens. The coffee bean itself is even incorporated into the interior design of certain rooms.
Arusha Coffee Lodge has been designed around the original plantation houses that date back to the early part of the 20th century. The lodge interiors conjure up a colonial feel, decorated as they are with relics of a bygone era. A cozy bar and lounge in the main house has open log fires to banish the cool night air of the northern highlands and the friendly and welcoming staff create a genuine warmth that lasts long after the fire’s embers have been extinguished.
The Serengeti Safari Camp is semi-nomadic – it won’t move whilst you’re there – but its actually on a wide orbit shadowing the migration; so you, your Tanzanian driver-guide and private 4×4 vehicle are as close to a million wildebeest as possible.
While you can head off from dawn till dusk on your own adventures, the small wandering camp is sociable because its shared – with guests staying in classic bush style safari tents. Each tent is comfortably furnished – with everything an adventurer could wish for. The bathrooms are en-suite with traditional safari style bucket showers, new eco-flush toilets and hot and cold water available on demand. All you have to do is arrive in camp at the end of every dramatic day – dusty but happy – to hot showers, ice filled gin & tonics, a roaring campfire. The days end with dinner in the candlelit canvas mess tent for safari bonhomie under the stars.
The camp travels through the Serengeti National Park where the density of animals and predators is high. The camp will have been positioned before arrival in likely proximity to the predicted path of the annual migration, from the majesty of the wildebeest calving season on the southern plains, to the drama and excitement of the great river crossings 800km further north. The beauty of a mobile camp like this one is that you will get a front row seat to the action, whatever the time of year. Furthermore, each couple, or group of guests has total flexibility to plan daily activities according to their own interests with a private guide and vehicle as standard.
Located at the base of the Uganda side of the Virunga Volcanoes, Mount Gahinga Lodge is a luxury adventure lodge in the southern corner of Uganda. Its rustic ambience is inspired by traditional design, materials and building techniques.
Mt Gahinga Lodge is the ideal base from which to track gorillas or rare golden monkeys, climb a volcano, or walk through local villages. The lodge, with its beautiful living room, sun room and terrace has fantastic views of the volcanoes and the Kisoro valley below. The cottages reflect the aesthetic traditions of the Bufimbira people, with their distinct colours, and each one has an ensuite shower room, fireplace and private porch.
The lodge allows us to track two distinct populations of mountain gorillas over a period of 2 days in the Virungas and in Bwindi National Park. These two populations are geographically isolated, and whilst they are the same species, the differences in habitat, climate and vegetation allow for a fascinating glimpse into the contrasts between them.