Sustainable Accommodation Spotlight: Kenyan Coast
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This brilliant itinerary is unique, you will experience some amazing cultural aspects - learning about five independent tribes, as well as visiting some breath-taking wildlife destinations, topped off with some unique treehouse accommodations, all accumulating in a holiday you will never forget.
- 1 night in Kigali, staying at Heaven Retreat
- 3 nights in Mgahinga National Park, staying at Mount Gahinga Lodge
- 2 nights in the Masai Mara, staying at Serian Camp
- 4 nights in Northern Kenya, staying at Sarara Treehouses
Start in Rwanda where you’ll learn some of their recent history by visiting the Genocide Museum and seeing how this beautiful country has overcome this divide and thrived since.
You then cross the border to the lush forests of Uganda, set yourself up at the luxurious Mount Gahinga Lodge whilst you explore the incredible volcanic landscape. Undergo the once-in-a-lifetime experience of trekking with mountain gorillas as well as meeting the remaining indigenous Batwa people. One of the oldest tribes left in the Central African region!
Next you connect right through to the diverse savannah plains of the Masai Mara. You’ll stay in an authentic luxury tented property, in its own private concession bordering Mara North Conservancy, you’ll meet and learn about the Masai tribe – one of the most well-known out of East Africa. Undertake your Big 5 safari, taking in all the action on the world class stage surrounded by amazing wildlife.
Your luxury tour comes to an end in Kenya’s remote northern regions, enjoy a private charter flight to the majestic Matthew’s Range and the Namunyak Conservancy. The range of activities here allow you to get stuck in with ongoing conservation, sleep out under the stars, enjoy a horse ride alongside the wildlife or just relax and enjoy the view. This is the ultimate end where you learn about your final tribe, the magnificent Samburu people.
On arrival in Kigali International Airport (KGL), you’ll be met by your private driver/guide who will be with you throughout your stay in Rwanda and Uganda. You are transferred through to your first night’s accommodation, this is the lovely Heaven Retreat located in central Kigali. It’s around a 20-minute drive, and depending on the time you arrive you can chat to your driver about what you would like to do the rest of that day.
Heaven Retreat is a lovely eco boutique hotel is entirely solar-powered and fitted with custom-built teak furniture ensuring you’ll enjoy your first night in comfort and style right in the city. This lovely hotel is decked out with vibrant Rwandan designs, combined with the delicious on-site restaurant offering a fusion of Italian and Rwandan cuisine for your first night. This is the ideal location to relax after your long flight, take a dip in the pool or enjoy your private patio.
Today is your first introduction to the Tribes of Rwanda, this morning you are driven around Kigali for a city tour which includes a visit to the Genocide Memorial centre at Gisozi, which is well worth a visit and an important reminder of Rwanda’s recent history, the people of Rwanda embrace peace and reconciliation, they are committed to fight the ideology of genocide.
You then drive to Mgahinga National Park, in the south-western part of Uganda; close to the borders with Rwanda and Congo. You cross a beautiful part of the country often referred to as ‘the Switzerland of Africa’. You will see a great country-side, bamboo forest and have great views over the Virunga Mountains.
Nestled at the base of the Virunga Volcanoes, Mount Gahinga Lodge is a stunning luxury adventure lodge hidden in the southern corner of Uganda. Its rustic charm is inspired by traditional design and building techniques. This is the perfect base to go gorilla tracking, track the rare golden monkey, climb a volcano, walk through local villages and most of all to share the culture of the Batwa pygmies, the oldest inhabitants of the Central African rain forest.
Today you undertake your first incredible wildlife experience, head out trekking up the mountain to see the majestic Mountain Gorillas. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to meet these gentle giants as you hack your way through the undergrowth. Switch to the longer Gorilla Habituation experience for more time with these amazing animals.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park sits high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227m and 4,127m. As its name suggests, it was created to protect the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit its dense forests, and it is also an important habitat for the endangered golden monkey.
Mgahinga’s most striking features are its three conical, extinct volcanoes, part of the spectacular Virunga Range that lies along the border region of Uganda, Congo and Rwanda. Mgahinga forms part of the much larger Virunga Conservation Area which includes adjacent parks in these countries. The volcanoes’ slopes contain various ecosystems and are biologically diverse, and their peaks provide a striking backdrop to this gorgeous scenery.
Today you will focus on your next tribal experience, meet the Batwa people – Volcanoes Safaris created the Batwa Village to ensure there is a place for these people to thrive and nurture their culture from the brink of extinction.
As well as being important for wildlife, the park also has a huge cultural significance, in particular for the indigenous Batwa pygmies. This tribe of hunter-gatherers was the forest’s “first people”, and their ancient knowledge of its secrets remains unrivalled.
There is also many other optional activities you can get involved with this day, such as Golden Monkey trekking. This rare primate species is also listed as endangered – and Volcanoes National Park currently has two habituated golden monkeys’ troops that are available for visiting by tourists in the park, both of which make about 80 members. Golden monkeys in Uganda live in the bamboo vegetation towards the base of the volcanoes and habituation has helped them to overcome their initial shyness to accept their daily visit by researchers and tourists.
Your next location is over the border in Kenya, your final country on this incredible itinerary. Connect through Entebbe direct to the Masai Mara, and your authentic tented camp situated on the border of the Mara North Conservancy.
You will stay mainly at the lovely Serian ‘Original’ Camp, in semi-permanent under canvas accommodation. However one night will be at the unique under the stars room – ‘The Nest’ a beautiful treehouse tucked away in the treetops, a romantic night away or an adventure for the whole family it’s a fantastic option that starts the treehouse portion of your trip!
The whole Serian collection is the product of one amazing photographer, Alex Walker – loving the bush and learning how to capture it is one of the key elements of these camps. Having your own private vehicle and guide allows complete flexibility in your days and lets you get to know them on a personal level! The best introduction to the famous Masai culture is talking to the staff from the area – enjoy listening as they enlighten you with incredible stories and the importance of every animal calling the Mara home.
Enjoy the private nature of being on safari in Serian’s private reserve for some waking and then game drives in the Mara North Conservancy, this is the largest of the conservancies in the area and contains an impressive range of landscapes. The area is dominated by broad undulating grasslands, which host a rich and varied population of grazers year-round, including impalas, zebras, topis and warthogs. These herds are accompanied by high densities of predators, including lions, cheetahs, hyenas and jackals.
Revenues generated by tourism in these conservancy areas are paid directly to local Masai tribes people in order to compensate them for keeping their domestic herds away and leaving the place for wildlife. If it were not for these reserves the Serengeti migration would come under enormous pressure. Your visit therefore has a particularly direct and important impact on local conservation.
Set in a prime secluded position in this conservancy, this gorgeous small camp has great views over the Mara River and the nearby Oloololo Escarpment. The mess area is a modest stone and thatch affair containing very comfortable lounge and dining areas, fronted by a veranda from where hippos can usually be seen in the river below.
During your days on safari you will have the choice between all the safari activities available to you. You can also book hot air balloon flights and cultural visits, which are additional extras at Serian, to add extra touches to further personalise your Masai Mara safari experience.
This morning you will leave the lush savannah plains of the Masai Mara behind as you catch your private charter flight north to the Namunyak Wildlife Reserve. Keep your camera handy as you soar low over incredible mountains and vast landscapes in a light aircraft.
Your destination is your next treehouse; Sarara Tree Houses is a quirky and beautiful accommodation, tucked into the slopes of the Matthews Range. It’s completely community owned by the magnificent Samburu people – your final tribe to learn about on your epic journey.
This accommodation is wild and remote, a true area to visit when you want to switch off and enjoy an authentic Africa. With just eight tented suites set up in the trees it’s a world away, perfect to relax and take a breath of fresh air. Elephant, buffalo, leopard, bushbuck and a wide array of other life roam beneath you on the forest floor, offering incredible wildlife experiences from the comfort of your beautifully appointed tree tent. This off the grid, solar-powered masterpiece is entirely eco-friendly, with every precaution and expense taken to preserve the natural habitat surrounding it.
You have three full days to enjoy the wealth of activities on offer to you from your lodge.
The wildlife experience continues, the landscape is vastly different from the Masai Mara and activities have a strong conservation and community focus.
Waking up early to watch the rising sun hit the Warges; the highest peak in the Matthews Range, is the ideal way to start any day.
Wildlife drives, camel treks and bush walks are among the numerous activities provided at the lodge. Expect to see a range of extraordinary fauna, including buffalo, elephant, leopard and bushbuck, and keep a sharp eye out for the strikingly beautiful and distinct De Brazza Monkeys. A trip to the ten-metre-deep Singing Well, home to a traditional Samburu water gathering ritual, is also highly recommended. In the evenings, the lodge’s roaring campfire provides a fine backdrop for sharing stories and savouring a cold drink after a long day of exploring the region.
Not only a wildlife experience, this is one of the best places to get to know the Samburu people and have an immersive cultural experience. Visit the singing wells, the Reteti elephant orphanage or perhaps learn some beading from the local ladies all whilst hearing their stories.
It is time to say farewell this morning as you check out of Sarara and transfer to Samburu Airstrip to catch your scheduled flight to Wilson airport in Nairobi.
On arrival you are met by a private driver who will transfer you through to JKIA in time for your return international flight back home, bringing this luxury and exclusive holiday to and end.
Although your incredible luxury East Africa holiday has come to an end, we hope you’ll be leaving with many special memories and stories to tell. After 12 days of amazing wildlife, spectacular natural wonders, and some of the country’s most luxurious safari lodgings, we’re sure you’ll be hooked on the African continent. Where will you explore next?