From the pinnacle of fascinating big-game watching to the depths of pristine wilderness, the gorillas & Masai Mara safari expedition will ignite your passion for adventure. The safari holiday promises some of the most adventurous experiences in Africa with lifetime memories and authentic animal and cultural encounters.
The safari adventure expedition is set in the East Africa big game haven, Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, Uganda’s Kibale Forest and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Hardly any other safari destination in Africa can beat the Masai Mara in a great multitude of animals, massive cats, and angulates. Kibale Forest is the world’s top destination for watching wild chimpanzees, and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest hosts more mountain gorillas than any other forest reserve.
You will combine three of wild Africa’s most adventurous experiences, and then some, visiting three parks in two countries on a single safari journey. In the Masai Mara, you’ll visit the incredible nomadic Maasai warriors, who share the wilderness with wild animals in private conservancies. You’ll watch the greatest animal spectacle of wildebeest, and other angulates circling the Mara triangle flanked by preditors pecking off the weak.
In Kibale, about 200 km (130 mi) southwest of Uganda’s capital, you’ll walk with cheeky chimpanzee bands on a full-day chimp habituation experience. This mystifying adventure experience will forever change your appreciation for the conservation of great apes and their habitats.
In the rugged misty mountain jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable, you’ll spend four intimate hours silently observing the life of a patriarchal gorilla family, an epic adventure for summer holidays.
No matter how many National Geography documentaries you may have watched, nothing can prepare you for the untamed game-viewing safari adventure in the Masai Mara. Anything can happen anytime on the plains while you slowly drive the beaten tracks the golden morning sunlight.
It’s a lion hunting down one of the wildebeests. A chill runs down your spine, your entire body, including arm hair and back of your neck bristles as if called to attention. You’re washed with a vibrant mix of awe and sympathy. In most of the hunts you’ll witness, the prey is caught unawares, and other times, the struggle to survive is fierce and even inspiring. But watching death take hold in the wild is anything but a pretty sight.
Known as a quintessential paradise for the world’s finest wildlife, Masai Mara National Reserve is a model of wilderness safari dreams. The reserve is located on Kenya’s southwestern border contingent with Tanzania’s legendary Serengeti.
The reserve is an oasis of safari big-game, including the more than two million wildebeest, buffalo, zebra, and predators that make up the famous Annual Great Migration. The Mara offers exceptional big cat sightings (lion, leopard, cheetah), a game drive to the Mara Triangle is your best reason to book the Gorillas & Masai Mara safari holiday trip.
Interestingly, the guardians of the Mara, the Maasai tribe, coexist in the private reserves outside the park with the wild inhabitants. One of the best cultural experiences on this journey will be strolling down the Maasai villages on a bushwalking experience with the nomadic pastoralists. You’ll be stunned at the Maasai’s manyattas—beehive huts made of mud and cow dung.
The striking appearance of the Maasai warriors, with their red robes and ochre-dyed and braided hair, is one of the formidable images of Kenya that will stick with you. Witnessing the dramatic Ipid, you can help, but dance with the moran (warriors) as they take turns to leap the highest. The Maasai visit will be organised from your camp, through the Maara wilderness, to traditional Maasai villages and homes.
Masai Mara National Reserve is about 271 km (168 miles) or a 6-hour drive, southwest of Nairobi City, your entry point into Kenya. You will also have a chance to choose a 45-minute local flight from Nairobi to Mara on the Gorillas & Masai Mara epic safari.
Spend two or three nights in Mara wilderness, then fly west to Uganda’s rainforest jungles with a 2.5-hour regional small flight. It’s the quickest and best way to spare energy for the most adventurous experiences in the wild.
The best tropical forest to see chimpanzees in the wild is Kibale National Park, located in the remote southwest of Uganda. It is one of Africa’s oldest and most charming rainforests, where chimps are most ground-based and confident in the company of humans.
Located about 330 km west of Kampala City, Kibale Forest National Park is the most accessible primate destination. It’s home to more than 1,400 chimpanzees and the continent’s most incredible variety and density of primates. Apart from the chance to spend much more time with the chimps than on a conventional trek, the day affords better opportunities to glimpse other primate species, like the vervet, red-tailed, L’Hoest’s, blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, endangered red colobus, and the black-and-white colobus monkey.
Most safari adventurers book one of the twice-daily, ranger-guided chimpanzee tracking excursions. Once the tracker locates the chimps, you will be limited to spending only an hour with the primates to avoid provoking stress or transmitting human-borne diseases.
Kibale offers intrepid travellers a chance to spend an entire day in the company with researchers studying a chimpanzee family undergoing human habituation. The experience gives adventurers a profound experience, bewildering animal sightings, and learning opportunities. The habituation experience is energy drenching, requiring an active presence to keep up with chimps moving briskly over rugged terrain, dense vegetation, and muddy slopes. On the day of the experience, you head out at dawn with the research team to find a chimps troop before they leave their nests and spend almost the whole day among the troop.
You will drive about 6 hours to get to Kibale and check-in for the night. Have an early breakfast the following day, take a lunch pack and be at the trekking office by 7:30 am. Your chimpanzee trekking excursion begins at 8:00 am and can take about 30 min to an hour or two to find a human-habituated chimp troop. The terrain is relatively flat and easy to navigate, making it simpler for an average hiker to keep up with the crafty chimps through tangled growth.
Budget travellers can stay at Turaco Treetops or Isunga Lodge for about $100 to $180 per person per night. Primate Lodge or Papaya Lodge offer excellent accommodation for a midrange budget of about $150 to $400 pp/n sharing. Kyaninga & Nadali lodges provide a luxury retreat at the high end of the budget at about $405 to $575 per night. We highly recommend Primate Lodge because of its location, inside the park.
Early morning, drive away from the boisterous chimp energy into the beautifully terraced rugged highlands of the deeper southwestern Uganda; onto elevated ridges above across the obediently arranged Virunga mountains chain. Here you’ll meet your Gorillas & Masai Mara adventure protagonist and spend priceless time with them.
It’s about a 7-hour drive from Kibale to Bwindi. Still, you can break the long drive with a short flight from Kasese Airport to Kisoro/Kihihi Airport, an hour and a half outside Bwindi. You’ll check into one of our forest resorts, take a shower, have a warm meal, sleep under lavish white linen and be at the trekking point early the following morning.
Innumerable intrepid travellers say that sitting in silence a few meters from a 200 kg silverback mountain gorillas of top 10 adventure travel things to do before you die. Honestly, gorilla trekking in central Africa’s untamed forest jungles to find the largest living primates is an experience worth your savings.
Gorilla Trekking excursions begin early, so you’ll be at the briefing point by 7:00 am briefing. After briefing you about the trekking rules, the park warden will dispatch randomly selected groups of eight tourists, two rangers and an expert guide into the jungle. Tourists can pick local porters to help them through the arduous hike or carry their heavy backpacks. This allows anyone with average fitness to trek through the steep, muddy slopes and reach the gorillas. Gorillas could be anywhere from 1.9 – 50 sq km (0.75 – 16 sq mi); it could take between 30 min to 4 hours to track them. The jungle is humid, dark and dense; rangers cut through the impenetrable vines and bushes with machetes, following GPS coordinates to locate a gorilla family.
When you find the dark-furred beast, they’re usually taking their mid-morning break from foraging. You’ll spend one prized hour sitting silently 10 meters (32 ft) away. You’ll watch their social characters and intimate connection with nature that closely rivals our own. They groom each other, have light moments, macho moments, fornicate, fart, and the young ones get homeschooled in everything instinctual. One hour will pass you by like a calm desert wind, and in what seems like 10 minutes, your guide will be leading you out of the evolutionary Eden.
Chat away that evening at the lodge. The southern lodges offer dreamy views over the Virunga Mountains and beyond the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest canopy. Spending zen-like hours watching these emerald landscapes with a glass of wine and a good book is just what the doctor ordered. Let the fresh breeze from the misty jungle breathe over your tender face and wash away your troubled history. Two or more nights in southern Bwindi (Nkuringo & Rushaga Sectors) is worth considering before you dive back into the fast-moving civilisation.
Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge & Clouds Mountain Lodge offer high-end luxury services for accommodation for about $300 – $1200 pp/n. Chameleon Hill & Lake Mutanda Resort for $210 – $400 pp/n. You can get cheaper lodging in the Rushaga area, but these four lodges have the best reviews from our travellers.
Northern Bwindi is quite popular with bucket-list travellers that just want to tick off the activity and cut the adventure short. For an intrepid traveller like you, the next adventure will have to start from the southern Bwindi to complete this once-in-a-lifetime experience off-the-beaten-track.
For your final adventurous experience, you’ll walk across the gorilla jungle, taking one of the oldest human trails crossing Bwindi from the south to the northern sector.
Put your best foot forward deep into the Bwindi jungle with an expert walking guide to learn about its wildlife and incredible ecosystems. Keep your binoculars peeled on the canopy! Bird watching fanatics will delight in the exceptional array of Albertone endemic species that call the jungle their home.
As the first the sun’s rays strike the milky forest cloud, wildlife and birds start to stir, and the harmonic bustle of the day begins. Make the most of this walking adventure and rise early to appreciate the vibrant zones of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Embark on a fascinating walk that seduces you deep into the ancient rainforest—Marvel at dynamic, colourful creatures against the dense emerald vegetation. Crouch low to inspect the forest floor, scuttered with over 220 butterfly species and other dazzling bugs. Listen to the chatter of the trees, rustles of leaves, and the gentle illumination of light cutting through the forest canopy like sheets of glass.
The musty forest air is vibrant with bird-song like Haydn’s symphony. Over 346 bird species, 90% of the region’s endemics, are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Little interference in this reserve ensures an untamed natural habitat. We recommend binoculars for this part of the Gorillas & Masai Mara safari expedition.
The walk takes about 4-6 hours, reaching Buhoma in time for your flight to Entebbe.
Gorilla Permit — $700 pp or Gorilla Habituation Permit — $1,500 pp/d
Chimpanzee Permit — $200 pp/d or Habituation Permit — $250 pp/d
Transfers, Fuel & Guide — $100 – $300 per day
Accommodation & Meals — $100 – $1100 pp/n
Mara Park Entrance & Conservancy Fees — $80 – $120 pd
Local flight fares — $300 – $500 pp/f
Walking safari — $150 pp
Logistical Support Fees — 5–30% of total costs
And other costs, including an EAC visa ($100), tips, extra meals & drinks, etc.
The best time for the gorillas & Masai Mara safari journey is between June to August and December to February, when the weather around East Africa is calmer and accommodating. There are no surprise downpours; wildlife viewing is rewarding, and walking adventures are much pleasing.
Around June and November is the best timing for this trip. It coincides nicely with the dramatic Mara River crossings and primate encounters in Uganda’s rainforest jungles. The other months are much avoided because of the rains; otherwise, they too can afford a memorable experience.
The dry months are peak travel months and can be expensive with room availability challenges. You have to confirm your booking at least six months in advance to get the best accommodation. Only make last-minute bookings if you intend to travel during the off-peak seasons; you’re most likely to get a trekking permit during the low season.
NKuringo Safaris Ltd, a local tour operator since 2007, would like to take you on this trip of a lifetime. Planning and logistics of such an adventure require meticulous screening of accommodation property and expert logistical support. With an excellent track record for managing all-inclusive private safari adventures in East Africa, Nkuringo promises to closely work with you to craft a journey filled with creature comforts and unique experiences that suit your style of travel.
Nkuringo will book your accommodations, local flights and transfers, park fees and permits and manage your entire journey. Please email us at email@example.com to request a quote or seek knowledgeable guidance.