From the Big Five to silverback Mountain Gorillas, wildlife is the draw on this 16-day safari in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, where game drives and a special mountain trek reward with once-in-a-lifetime encounters with animals, both endemic and endangered... highlighted by an opportunity to "meet" a gorilla family living in the wilds of Rwanda and a visit to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Museum, dedicated to saving the endangered mountain gorilla.
Gorillas in your midst... Spend the last three nights of your 16-day African safari to Kenya and Tanzania in Rwanda, home to some of the last remaining mountain gorillas on Earth. Learn insights and observations about gorilla behavior at private lectures and during a visit to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Museum before your once-in-a-lifetime gorilla trek begins. A private porter will carry your provisions as an expert guide leads you into the wilderness for your gorilla encounter. Once the gorillas are located, you will have the rare opportunity to watch them interact with each other – and you if they choose! Your adventure includes talks by conservationists working to save these endangered gorillas from extinction. All departures are small groups, limited to 24 guests. Special experiences include; game drives in the national parks of Tanzania and Kenya; private lecture on famous elephants of Amboseli and anti-poaching efforts; a hot air balloon ride at dawn followed by a champagne breakfast in the bush; and a guided gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park for a one-hour gorilla family visit and a private lecture on conservation programs underway in Rwanda.
Arrive Arusha, Tanzania
Tour begins: Gran Meliá Arusha. A transfer is included from Kilimanjaro International Airport to the Gran Meliá Arusha Hotel in Arusha, a safari gateway city at the foot of Mount Meru.
Birds of Lake Manyara National Park
The vast Serengeti beckons as you begin your safari in Tanzania. Take your first game drive through Lake Manyara National Park, where you might get your first glimpse of giraffes, baboons, hippos, and elephants along with hundreds of species of birds. Arrive in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, populated by an estimated 30,000 large mammals. Your lodge for the next two nights is on the Ngorongoro Crater rim overlooking the caldera below, an excellent spot for our welcome reception and dinner.
A Garden of Eden in Ngorongoro Crater
Thought by some to be Africa’s original "Garden of Eden," Ngorongoro Crater is one of the largest calderas in the world and contains a variety of ecosystems and an astounding concentration of birds and animals. Your four-wheel-drive vehicle, built exclusively for Tauck, provides an excellent mobile viewing platform when encountering massive herds of zebras, wildebeests, and gazelles. This area affords an opportunity to spot the Big Five – elephant, leopard, lion, buffalo, and rhinoceros. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the crater today.
Flying to Serengeti National Park
Today, you'll hop a morning flight from Lake Manyara to the heart of Serengeti National Park. As you do, you'll fly over Oldupai Gorge, where, over 50 years ago, archaeologists Louis and Mary Leakey discovered the fossilized remains of some of the earliest known human species, an estimated 1.8 million years old. Arrive at your Four Seasons safari lodge in the Serengeti for a three-night stay. Following an afternoon game drive in Serengeti National Park, join us this evening for a special barbecue dinner in your lodge's Boma Grill, enhanced by a Maasai traditional dance performance.
Endless Plains in Serengeti Nat’l Park
Look for wildlife in the heart of the vast savanna of the Serengeti today on both morning and afternoon game drives. Sightings might include lions, zebras, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, hippos, buffaloes, jackals, gazelles, and giraffes. When the sunset paints the sky in the evening, watch the show from the luxury of your lodge in Serengeti National Park, and enjoy dinner tonight at your choice of restaurants at the lodge.
Kenya’s Amboseli National Park
Spend another glorious day in the spectacular Serengeti as you head out into the grasslands aboard safari vehicles for game drives in the early morning as well as the afternoon. In between, you'll have free time to relax and enjoy the amenities of your Four Seasons safari lodge, where you'll dine at your choice of restaurants tonight.
On to Kenya’s Amboseli National Park
Leave the Serengeti behind as you fly to Arusha, Tanzania en route to Kenya. Dominating the skyline, majestic Mt. Kilimanjaro peaks over surrounding landscapes from more than 15,000 feet up. After landing in Arusha, enjoy an early lunch at the Cultural Heritage Center before continuing overland into Kenya to begin a two-night at your safari lodge in Amboseli National Park, where herds of free-ranging elephants and other wildlife like to roam. Enjoy a private lecture on the elephants of Amboseli and anti-poaching efforts in Kenya prior to dinner at your leisure at the lodge this evening.
Private game drives and more in Amboseli
Tauck's private safari game drives in Amboseli National Park offer ample opportunity to view the elephants, hippos and buffaloes that seek out the park's natural watering holes and the graceful antelopes that graze in the flat grasslands. An early morning visit to a Maasai village precedes a morning game drive, after which you'll return to the lodge for breakfast. Spend some down time at your lodge prior to lunch, then another game drive, and time to spend as you please at the lodge in the afternoon. Dinner is at your leisure at the lodge this evening.
Mount Kenya Safari Club & an animal orphanage
A morning flight brings you to the world-famous Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, straddling the Equator and your luxurious home for the next two nights. The former retreat of actor William Holden, the Safari Club, founded in 1959, was once the playground of such illustrious members such as Winston Churchill and Bing Crosby. Following lunch and an Equatorial demonstration, pay a private visit to the nearby William Holden Wildlife Education Center and animal orphanage; this sanctuary for animals that have been orphaned or injured and need special care also teaches local children to cherish and appreciate the unique wildlife of their homeland.
Rhinos & chimpanzees, village crafts & more
An exciting day begins at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to the largest resident black rhino population in East Africa and other members of the Big Five. It is also home to the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, founded by Jane Goodall, which gives lifelong homes to orphaned and abused chimpanzees, and which you'll visit this morning. While at Ol Pejeta, enjoy Tauck's special access to visit a compound where endangered black rhino are bred. After lunch at your hotel, take a look at local life on a private visit to a nearby village, where villagers spin colorful tales into their handmade wool rugs, sweaters and shawls right before your eyes. Return to your celebrity resort late afternoon. Tonight, attend our private barbecue dinner held under the stars on the lush manicured lawns of the Mount Kenya Safari Club.
The Masai Mara & an evening game drive
Pack your Tauck duffle bag and fly to the Masai Mara National Reserve in southern Kenya, where you'll be welcomed by Maasai warriors. Have lunch upon your arrival at the luxurious Fairmont Mara Safari Club, where an elegant tented camp is your home for the next two nights. Spend the afternoon relaxing, swimming, taking in the views and otherwise becoming acquainted with the Safari Club and your luxury tented camp accommodations, evoking the classic safaris of yesteryear. Embark on a late afternoon game drive across the plains of "the Mara" in search of animals that make their homes here; perhaps you’ll see lions, antelopes, elephants and zebras in their daily rituals. Return to camp for a briefing on tomorrow's hot air balloon flight, followed by dinner.
Ballooning over the plains of the Masai Mara
Today will be one that you’ll always remember, as you arise before dawn to board a hot air balloon* and float over the Masai Mara's awakening plains below as the sun rises. When you land, a special champagne breakfast will be awaiting you right there in the bush! Spectacular isn’t quite strong enough a word to describe such an experience, a Tauck Exclusive on your Kenya safari! Back on the ground, look for lions, impalas, cheetahs, giraffes, and the other animals you’ve come to love as you return overland to the camp for lunch and an afternoon at leisure – and later on an evening game drive in the bush. After returning to your tented camp, join us for dinner in the boma of the Fairmont Mara Safari Club.
Fly to Kigali, Rwanda
Fly this morning to Kigali airport in Rwanda, home to Volcanoes National Park and the forested habitat of endangered mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. A late afternoon arrival at your Serena Hotel is followed by dinner at leisure.
Kigali coffee & Dian Fossey's gorilla legacy
Embark this morning on a drive through the countryside to the city of Ruhengeri at the base of Volcanoes National Park, where eight ancient volcanoes watch over the wildlife that thrives here. Check into your grass-thatched traditional Rwandan lodge, nestled under the eucalyptus trees at the foothills of the Virunga Volcano range, and have lunch before visiting the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Museum. Learn insights and observations about gorilla behavior in preparation for tomorrow’s trek, as well as hear the fascinating story of Dian Fossey’s unforgettable quest to save the mountain gorilla.
Gorilla Trek in Volcanoes National Park
Rise early for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you’ll not soon forget. Drive to the headquarters of Volcanoes National Park where a briefing by your expert mountain guides answers any questions you may have about your trek into the wilderness and a dance performance as you eat your boxed breakfast whets your appetite for today’s gorilla adventure. Climb aboard a safari vehicle as you make your way to the trailhead where your gorilla trek begins. You will be assigned a porter who will help carry your provisions and cameras and lead you to the gorilla family you are here to meet. Once the gorillas are located, you will have the rare opportunity to watch them interact with each other, and you if they choose! When your hour-long visit is up, head back to the lodge for lunch and an afternoon at leisure. A local expert presents an informative lecture this afternoon about the endangered mountain gorillas you were privileged to see. Join us tonight for a farewell reception and dinner at the lodge.
Tour ends: Kigali. Depart your hotel after breakfast for your journey back to Kigali, stopping en route to visit the Genocide Memorial Museum. Pay tribute to the 800,000 Rwandans who lost their lives during the atrocities of 1994 and discover how Rwanda was able to come together, heal and move forward into the future with hope and resilience. Continue to the Kigali Serena Hotel where Tauck has reserved day rooms for you until your flight home this evening. Airport transfers are included from Kigali Serena Hotel to Kigali International Airport. Allow a minimum of three hours for flight check in at the airport.