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GORILLAS & PLAINS

Price from
US$1,565
(per person)
Duration
14
Days
Tour Type
Overland

HIGHLIGHTS

Masai Mara Reserve, Masai Tribe, Equator, Mountain Gorilla
COUNTRIES : Kenya, Uganda

This two week adventure takes you through the magnificent lakes and wildlife parks of Kenya, across Uganda and the Equator, and up into the jungle for some trekking to visit the mountain gorillas and chimpanzees.

Starting in Nairobi we first head out to the famous Masai Mara game reserve where we’ll have several included game drives to view the wildlife in one of Africa's most iconic game reserves. We then head north, stopping for more game viewing at Lake Nakuru, before crossing the border into Uganda where our next stop is Jinja, famous as the point where the River Nile flows out of Lake Victoria. There are optional Nile cruises and great white water rafting available here.

Next we head west towards the mountains, stopping at the beautiful Lake Bunyoni which we use as our base for our gorilla trek deep into the Bwindi Impenetrable forest. This experience is a once in a life time opportunity to get up close and personal with man's closest relative. We follow this adventure with a visit to the Murchison National Park, home of the spectacular Murchison Falls. We'll enjoy another included game drive here, through one of Uganda's best National Parks. Then we take another jungle trek, this time through the Budongo Central Forest Reserve in search of the local chimpanzees.

An optional rhino trekking experience is then available as we head back towards Kenya thorugh the Great Rift Valley and Eldoret, before we arrive back in Nairobi to finish the tour.

Note: the itinerary below is written with the optional Activity Package included - please check the Options tab for full details.

We leave the capital of Nairobi and travel to the Masai Mara, world renowned for its endless plains of wild animals and spectacular beauty. This afternoon we will enjoy a cultural experience as we visit and interact with Kenya's native Masaai people.
Note: The visit to the Masai Mara is operated in safari type vehicles and not our main truck. For this reason, you are asked to pack a small overnight bag to travel with. You will need your towel, sleeping bag, clothes, toiletries and camping essentials.

Route: Nairobi to Masai Mara ±240km
Activity package: Kenyan Parks Highlights Excursion

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Permanent Tents: Masai Mara Camp
  • MEALS:
    Lunch, Dinner
  • EXTRAS:
    Gorilla Permit, Extra day in Nairobi - pre-tour, Options available while on tour, Arrival airport transfer in Nairobi, Activity Package - Gorillas & Plains

The rolling grasslands of the Masai Mara offer ideal game viewing and photographic opportunities. Some of the other animals that could be found here include elephant, black rhino, buffalo, leopard, cheetah, wildebeest, zebra and gazelle. Hippo and crocodile abound in the muddy brown waters of the rivers, which traverse this reserve. Today we will spend the entire day game driving through the Mara in search of all the animals.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Permanent Tents: Masai Mara Camp
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We rise early and enjoy our final game drive through the Mara before heading to Lake Nakuru National Park, where we will enjoy an afternoon game drive through the park. Lake Nakuru is home to large flocks of Flamingos and pelicans as well as black & white rhino, leopard, lion and numerous buck. Originally created as a bird sanctuary, Lake Nakuru was upgraded to National Park status in 1968.

Route: Masai Mara to Lake Nakuru ±220km

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Lake Nakuru Lodge OR Kivu Lodge
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Jinja is Uganda's second largest city and more famous as the point where the Nile (officially the Victoria Nile) flows out of Lake Victoria and begins the 6,695km journey to Egypt and the Mediterranean.

Optional activities: Nile Cruises, Nile River Rafting Half Day

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Eden Rock Resort
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • EXTRAS:
    Options available while on tour

After meeting your guides in Kampala you are off to to the Murchison Falls NP. The Murchison Falls, also referred to as the Kabaraga Falls, is a waterfall found on the course of the great Nile and are located within the Murchison National Park. The park is recognized as one of the best National Parks in Uganda. After settling into our accommodation, your guide will brief you on the activities for the following day.

Optional activities: Murchison Falls Boat Cruise Incl. Park Fees

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Kabalega Resort Hotel
  • MEALS:
    Lunch, Dinner
  • EXTRAS:
    Options available while on tour

Budongo Forest is the biggest Mahogany forest found in the whole of East Africa and is home to the largest number of chimpanzees throughout Uganda. It is believed that there are between 600 & 700 chimpanzees in Budongo and this morning we will meet up with our chimp guide who will take us on our trek through the forest in search of the chimps. We will also enjoy a game drive through the park in search of the great diversity of wild animals.
Note: As the Chimp trekking is limited to 12 guests per trek, should there be more than 12 guests on a tour the trekking will be split between the morning and the afternoon. Therefore you may find that you will first do the game drive activity followed by the Chimp trekking or vice versa. Please allow for flexibility.

Activity package: Chimpanzee Trekking
Included highlights: Game Drive at Murchison National Park

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Kabalega Resort Hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • EXTRAS:
    Options available while on tour, Activity Package - Gorillas & Plains
This morning is set aside to participate in any activities, should we not have been able to participate in them in the previous days. It then onto Kampala where you will have the afternoon free to take in the atmosphere of this bustling city.

Optional activities: Dinner out - Kampala

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Sky Hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast
  • EXTRAS:
    Options available while on tour

Lake Bunyonyi is a small but attractive lake with steep sides and abundant birdlife. Ringed by mountains, the lake is best known for its dense Otter population and stunning scenery. We make use of this beautiful spot to relax the night before the final drive to the gorillas.

Optional activities: Canoe Rental - Lake Bunyoni

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • EXTRAS:
    Gorilla Permit, Options available while on tour

The mountain gorilla is extremely endangered and while exact numbers vary it is widely assumed that there are only around 650 left. Visiting the gorillas is a great way to support their future on earth as the money spent on permits is used for their protection. An extremely important part of the future conservation of the remaining gorillas rests in the community development work – as local communities change their attitudes towards wildlife and start to protect rather than poach, the future of the mountain gorilla is assured. As permits granting permission to visit the gorillas are extremely limited we require flexibility in both the tour itinerary and where we actually visit them. The home of the mountain gorillas is completely at odds with man-made borders and so their range encompasses Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Whenever possible we choose to make use of the National Park in Uganda, but this depends on the availability of permits. Should we not obtain permits to visit the mountain gorillas in Uganda then we will inform all passengers beforehand that the tour will travel to Rwanda or DRC. On your free day in Bunyoni you will have the opportunity to participate in certain optional activities. You can also go hiking or explore the area on a mountain bike.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • EXTRAS:
    Gorilla Permit

Although there are 2 days allocated to Gorilla Trekking you will only spend one day on the trek. The other days are there to provide a large enough window in which to obtain permits and to allow the entire group to trek if there are more than 6 of you on the tour. Today we will enjoy a visit to the Nyombi Village, a Pygmy village which is reached by motor boat from Bunyonyi Resort. We will have the opportunity to learn about the culture of the Pygmies and how they live.

Activity Package: Pygmy Village Visit

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • EXTRAS:
    Gorilla Permit, Activity Package - Gorillas & Plains

Today we say farewell to the Gorillas and make the long journey back to Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

Optional activity: Dinner out - Kampala

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Sky Hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch
  • EXTRAS:
    Options available while on tour

We depart Kampala early to arrive at Jinja just before lunch. This afternoon you will have time to relax and enjoy the various activities available here including swimming, quad biking, kayaking and rafting.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Eden Rock Resort
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Returning to Kenya we visit Eldoret, the countries 5th largest city. The Great Rift Valley is still the dominant geographical feature of this region and the altitude at Eldoret is 2100 metres above sea level.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Naiberi River Camp
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Returning to our final destination Nairobi, the largest city in the East Africa region, there is an optional dinner, where we can swap stories and exchange contact details.
Note - Your tour will come to an end once you arrive into Nairobi. We recommend that you book at least 1 more night post-tour rather than flying out this evening incase of any delays. We can help you in organising extra nights if required.

Optional activities: Dinner out - Nairobi

  • OVERNIGHT:
    N/A
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch
  • EXTRAS:
    Extra day in Nairobi - post-tour, Options available while on tour, Departure airport transfer in Nairobi
Included:
  • 13 night's accommodation in hotels/lodges/guesthouses
  • All transport using our 25-seat expedition vehicle
  • All 'included highlights' as mentioned in the itinerary
  • 2 truck crew (driver/guide plus assistant/cook)
  • Local guides for sightseeing tours and activities as per the itinerary
  • Meals: 12 breakfasts, 13 lunches and 11 dinners

Excluded:
  • International Flights (available on request)
  • Visa fees if required
  • Activity Package and optional activities (see itinerary)
  • Travel Insurance (compulsory, available on request)
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)
  • Tips for guides & drivers
  • Entrance fees and activities not mentioned above
  • Any other items not mentioned above
  • Gorilla permits (currently between $630-$730)
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we use most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
sentrim-boulevard-nairobi.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
Sentrim Boulevard Hotel
Nairobi, Kenya

Offering an outdoor pool and a restaurant, Sentrim Boulevard Hotel is located in Nairobi. Free WiFi access is available in public areas. The Kenyatta International Conference Centre is 1.9 miles away.


Offering an outdoor pool and a restaurant, Sentrim Boulevard Hotel is located in Nairobi. Free WiFi access is available in public areas. The Kenyatta International Conference Centre is 1.9 miles away.

Each room here will provide you with a flat-screen TV, a fan and a balcony offering views of the pool and garden. There is also a refrigerator. The private bathroom has a bath or shower, with free toiletries. Extras include a desk and a safety deposit box.

At Sentrim Boulevard Hotel you will find a tennis court. Other facilities offered at the property include a tour desk and luggage storage.

The hotel is 2.5 miles from Railway Museum and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is 11.8 miles away.

naiberi-river-camp-eldoret.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
Naiberi River Camp
Eldoret, Kenya

Naiberi River Campsite & Resort is a hidden Gem. Very close to the bustling town of Eldoret, Naiberi offers a unique escape from the hustle and bustle of life.


Naiberi River Campsite & Resort is a hidden Gem. Very close to the bustling town of Eldoret, Naiberi offers a unique escape from the hustle and bustle of life.

There is a multitude of accommodation options to choose from, to suite your every need, from camping to luxury rooms in a serene environment.

The highlight of the resort is the cave bar. Everyone who has ever visited has been drawn into the uniqueness of this bar & restaurant. With a large variety of beverages and a well stocked bar, you are sure to enjoy this bar for the most part of your stay.

Facilities include hot showers, bathrooms, swimming pool, bar and restaurant, forest walks, conferencing facilities and large grounds for relaxation.

The wildlife in the vicinity is pristine, with over 250 species of birds found here along with the shy and elusive Colobus monkey.

Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination you're visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.

All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.

Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.

Single room supplement (KEOVGP)
Price from
US$209
per person



Single room supplement (KEOVGP)
Min numbers: 1 person

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares are not available on this tour, so if you are single traveller then you will need to add this option to your booking.


This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares are not available on this tour, so if you are single traveller then you will need to add this option to your booking.

Note: The price shown is a low season price. Slightly higher prices may apply during high and peak seasons - the exact price for your dates will be shown on the online booking form and is always available on request.

Extra day in Nairobi - pre-tour
Price from
US$114
per person



Extra day in Nairobi - pre-tour
Min numbers: 1 person

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.


This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Airport transfers are not included, but are available as an additional option. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Extra day in Nairobi - post-tour
Price from
US$114
per person



Extra day in Nairobi - post-tour
Min numbers: 1 person

This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.


This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Airport transfers are not included, but are available as an additional option. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Gorilla Permit
Price from
US$684
per person



Gorilla Permit
Min numbers: 1 person

This permit covers the cost of a one day gorilla trek and is payable in advance and is non-refundable.


This permit covers the cost of the one day gorilla trek featured on this tour. Prices for these permits does vary with substantial discounts offered by the local authorities from time to time. We will pass on any current discounts available when you book. You will be invoiced for the cost of this permit with your deposit, and upon confirmation of your booking and receipt of payment, the Gorilla permit is bought and paid for. Once the gorilla permit has been purchased it is non refundable, and it can also not be transferred to a different date if you change your travel date.

 Options available while on tour
Price from
On
Request

per person



Options available while on tour
Min numbers: 1

These options are available from local activity providers while you are on the tour.


These options are availabile while you are on the tour from local activity providers who your booking will be with. Prices are given as a guide and are subject to change.

Country Area Activity Price Range
Kenya Masai Mara Masai Village Tour  $35 to $45
Kenya Masai Mara  Tips for Guide - per day $12 to $18
Uganda Jinja  Nile Cruise  $40 to $60
Uganda Rhino Trekking  Rhino trekking $45 to $55
Uganda On Trek  Tour Tips for Guide - per day $20 to $35
Uganda Lake Bunyoni  Canoe rental R2300 to R2600
Uganda Jinja  Nile River Rafting (half day)  $110 to $150
Kenya Nairobi  Dinner at local restaurant $35 to $50
 Arrival airport transfer in Nairobi
Price from
US$54
per person



Arrival airport transfer in Nairobi
Min numbers: 1 Adult

This option adds an arrival airport transfer in Nairobi to your Overland tour with us (arriving at Nairobi airport).


This option adds an arrival airport transfer in Nairobi to your Overland tour with us. You will need to also book at least one night of pre-tour hotel accommodation with us in order to book this transfer.
Note: We subcontract our airport transfers, so your transfer representative will not have any information about your tour with us, or be able to assist you beyond the transfer itself.
Departure airport transfer in Nairobi
Price from
US$54
per person



Departure airport transfer in Nairobi
Min numbers: 1 Adult

This option adds a departure airport transfer in Nairobi to your Overland tour with us (going to Nairobi airport).



This option adds a departure airport transfer in Nairobi to your Overland tour with us. You will need to also book at least one night of post-tour hotel accommodation with us in order to book this transfer.
Note: We subcontract our airport transfers, so your transfer representative will not have any information about your tour with us, or be able to assist you beyond the transfer itself.
Activity Package - Gorillas & Plains
Price from
US$814
per person



Activity Package - Gorillas & Plains
Min numbers: 1 Person

This is an optional payment that covers what we consider to be 'essential activities' on our tours. Ideally we would include all of these, but not everyone can afford this. Please contact us for 2017 prices.


This is an optional payment that covers what we consider to be 'essential activities' on our tours. Ideally we would include all of these, but not everyone can afford this. If required, the Activity Package should be pre-purchased prior to your arrival to guarantee availability and to help your guides plan ahead to help the smooth running of the tour.
Note - Prices may be recalculated at the time of payment based on current local exchange rates.
Note - Prices shown are for 2016; please check the website reservation form or contact us for 2017 prices.

Activity Country
Kenyan Parks Highlights Excursion  Kenya
Chimpanzee Trekking  Uganda
Pygmy Village Visit  Uganda
gorillas-plains-map.jpg
Gorillas & Plains tour notes

The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.

This tour is run in conjunction with our local partners in South Africa. You will travel in one of their specially designed overland trucks throughout this tour, giving you a great vantage point from which to enjoy the scenery and incredible wildlife. Our professional and knowledgeable local guides will help to make your experience unforgettable and fun. The maximum number of people on this tour is 18 (the trucks have 25 seats)

The vehicles we use are amongst some of the finest on the road. However, do not forget the nature of an adventure tour. This is not a bus trip. Nor do we provide up-market tours. These are still tours aimed at the adventurous traveller. Though the vehicles are comfortable with large windows and great visibility, there are no onboard toilets or air-conditioning.

Each expedition vehicle is fitted with the following:

  • Freezers to keep food fresh in the African heat.
  • Individual seats with seat belts and ample leg-room
  • Overhead luggage racks.
  • Lockers for your backpacks (~35 cm square, 80cm deep)
  • A safe for your valuables.
  • A well-stocked first aid kit is on hand for emergencies.
  • Reading material (fiction & field guides), games and recreational gear to keep you well entertained.
  • I-pod/MP3 points
  • Charging facilities for cameras, batteries etc
  • PA System
  • Kitchen and stove
  • Water tank
  • Cooler boxes
  • Table for food preparation
  • Hand-dishwashing facilities

Partaking in an adventure tour in Africa involves covering hundreds if not thousands of kilometres in a truck, and our tours are as much about this journey as they are about the destinations we visit. Use your time in the truck to talk to your fellow travellers, play card games, have a drink, walk around, take note of the world passing by your window and make the most of this unique opportunity to step out of your comfort zone.

Some roads you travel on will be smooth and easy while others could take up to an hour to cover 1 kilometre. There is just no telling what could happen with road, weather, traffic and other conditions that may exist that will either increase or decrease the amount of time you spend on the road so take your watch off, put your iPad away, turn off your phone and just relax. An average driving day could take anything from 5 to 14 hours in the truck, it all depends on the day.

The tour itinerary shows an indication of the distance to be covered on a particular day. Please don’t assume that your travel time will be equal to that which you can travel in your car on the autobahn… no, it will be much, much slower! We will stop for shopping, bathroom breaks, photo stops, activities and a whole lot more. If you are looking to only experience specific destinations and are not interested in the journey, perhaps overland adventures are not for you.

Some game safaris are carried out using 4x4 jeeps/safari vehicles - see your tour itinerary for details. These may be open-roofed or enclosed. You must not leave the vehicle or lean out through windows without express permission from the guide.

Due to the nature of the overland trip, the majority of your meals will be cooked by our cook and eaten beside the vehicle. Meals will not normally be eaten within the accommodation. The reason we run our trips in this way is that we feel it fits in better with this type of trip and it also helps to keep our prices competitive with other companies offering similar tours.

Breakfast: As breakfast is served very early in the morning (if there is driving or activities to be done) it is a simple but filling breakfast: Tea and coffee, breads and spreads, cereals, yoghurts, fruits and on occasion, when there is time for a later breakfast, guides will serve a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, porridge, bacon or beans.

Lunch: Lunch is generally served at a picnic spot next to the road en route to a destination. As the guides only have approximately 45 minutes to get everyone off the truck, prepare lunch and then get everyone back on the truck again, lunches consist of sandwiches and salads (rice salad, pasta salad, tuna salad and green salad) which are quick and easy to prepare but which are quite filling. They do have meal plans which they should stick to, to ensure that there is variety on a day to day basis.

Dinner: This is when the guides get time to prepare a delicious meal and they focus on a substantial protein, vegetable and carbohydrate dinner. We serve traditional cuisine consisting of braais (BBQ), potjie (stew), bobotie (mince), spaghetti and fish and chicken dishes. All meals (on both accommodated and camping tours) that are included in the itinerary are prepared at the full service adventure truck. This is a unique adventure in itself where you get to dine under the stars with your new found friends and experience the real sights and sounds of Africa!

We are committed to being a small group operator, as we feel this gives everyone in the group the best chance to get to know their fellow travellers and to hear and make the most of their guide. So, the expedition vehicles we use on our South & East Africa overland adventure tours have a maximum of 25 seats and on this tour will carry a maximum of 18 travellers.

In South & East Africa we provide fully trained, local English-speaking tour leaders, drivers and crew for all our tours. This tour will feature 2 crew – a driver, and assistant/cook who will help with washing up, clearing away, cleaning of the truck etc. You may assist with this if you wish, and a limited amount of help is expected and appreciated (eg. Washing your own plates & cutlery) but you are not obliged to do any more than that unless you wish to. During the tour we may also use a variety of local specialist guides for activities and tours included in the itinerary.

The accommodation on this tour is designed to bridge the gap between a basic camping tour and an expensive lodge holiday. So, we use good quality hotels, lodges and camps rated at the local 2 to 4-star level, the majority of it en-suite. In some places more basic properties or permanent safari tents may be used. We aim always to use accommodation that is in keeping with the local area so there is a good variety. Local star ratings may vary slightly from international standards. Accommodation is based on twin or double en-suite rooms, chalets, bungalows or safari tents. All couples will be given a private double room. Friends booking together will also share a room. Single travellers will need to pay the additional single room supplement. At some of the places we stay basic camping is also available but your tour is based on proper accommodation throughout.

Note - Accommodation providers are subject to change without notice. The properties listed are our preferred options, but sometimes due to availability or other issues with the property, we may substitute another property of similar standards.

On all our Overland tours we strive to strike a balance between including plenty of meals, tours and activities and being accessible and affordable.

The main tour price covers all your accommodation, transport, most meals and a range of tours and activities. We then offer an additional 'Activity Package' which includes a range of activities and tours which we consider to be strongly recommended to make the most of the destinations you will be visiting. Our itineraries are written with this optional activity package included, with notes on each day of the itinerary where this applies. While you may still be able to book these activities while you are on the tour, they are then subject to availability. So, if you would like to do any of these activities, to avoid disappointment you should book the activity package in advance. You can do this any time before arrival.
Note: While our principle is to offer these activity packages at 'cost price', you may find that sometimes there is a difference between the price of our Activity Package and the sum of activity prices available locally. This can happen for several reasons; we set an annual rate while many of our suppliers have seasonal pricing; suppliers may charge in various different currencies, and we need to fix long term term exchange rates; and finally sometimes we may need to estimate prices where suppliers have not yet released them when our rates are published.

In addition, there are further Locally Available Options on this tour. These have been chosen to give you more of a taste of what is available in the region and sometimes to offer an adrenaline rush during a relatively sedate tour. All these local options are offered and operated by professional local activity providers and Encounters Travel is not responsible for your booking or time while taking any of these options. Prices for these options are given on our website, but please bear in mind that are given as a guide only and may very seasonally and can change from time to time. Availability is subject to seasonal daylight hours and our time-keeping that day. 

This tour also requires a separate advance payment (with your deposit) for a Gorilla Permit needed for your gorilla trek in Uganda. Prices for these permits are discounted by the local authorities from time to time and we will pass on any current discounts available when you book.

Please check the Options section for more information and prices.

LUGGAGE ALLOWANCES: Most international airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 23kg per person of luggage to go in the hold of the plane. Domestic flights often have smaller allowances around 15kg. As airline rules vary we recommend that you take no more than 20kg of luggage if your tour just includes international flights, and no more than 15kg if there are any domestic flights included in your itinerary. Please ask us for details if you are unsure about luggage allowances on your tour. Any excess baggage fees will be your responsibility to cover. Most airlines allow between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage so we suggest that you take no more than 5kg unless you have confirmed that your airline(s) will allow more than this.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please keep in mind that this is an adventure tour in an adventure vehicle and luggage should not include any solid Samsonite style suitcases. On our accommodated tours most of our trucks have lockers for the luggage (locker sizes: 37,5 cm high, 32 cm wide, 80 cm deep). Only a soft bag will fit in these lockers. A suitcase is far more difficult to store and make secure in our vehicle and this is part of the reason we ask for a backpack or tote bag to be used as your luggage. The other reason is that you need to walk from the truck to the accommodation and often over sand or uneven terrain.

WHAT TO BRING? Your luggage is limited to ONE backpack and ONE daypack weighing no more than 20kg. As a general rule, if you cannot lift your own luggage - you’ve got too much stuff! Most people make the mistake of bringing too many clothes. Suitcases are not suitable on tour – especially huge Samsonite-style cases! Bags with wheels are of no use when you are moving you bag from the truck to your tent/chalet through sand.

YOU SHOULD PACK THE FOLLOWING: Kit for all weather conditions including: • 2/3 shorts/skirts • 1 jacket/anorak • Tracksuit/pullover • 2 pairs of long pants/jeans • 2 pairs of walking shoes/boots/trainers • 1 pair of sandals • 3 or 4 T-shirts/short sleeve shirts or sundresses • 2/3 Long Sleeve Shirts • Smart casual change of clothes • Swimwear • Underwear & socks • Sun Hat – preferably that covers the back of your neck. • Raincoat • Kikoi/sarong

Your clothing should be easy to wash and dry and should preferably not need ironing. Avoid synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Many people underestimate how cold Africa can be – remember that jersey/jacket! There are also nights that are warm but you must still wear clothes that cover arms and legs from mosquitoes. Take a set of casual but smart clothes for the occasional evening out in a restaurant or club. If you wear glasses (or contacts) it is also advisable to bring a spare pair.

Additional Items: • Towel & facecloth • Baby wipes/ Wet Wipes • Personal toiletries • Sleeping bag • Torch & enough spare batteries • Camera & spare batteries and memory cards • Water bottle. (A 2-litre Coke bottle works well...) • Penknife • Insect and Mosquito repellent • Suntan lotion, sun block & after sun lotion • Sunglasses • Watch • Biodegradable laundry detergent • Passport (plus a copy of your passport & visas) • Extra passport photos • Vaccination certificate • Money • Small sewing kit • Plastic bags • Clothes line and pegs • Small scrubbing brush • a small padlock for your luggage locker in the truck • Small basic First Aid kit (painkillers, band aids, after-sun lotion, eye drops, anti-diarrhoea tablets etc.)

DAY PACKS: Please check the itinerary for your specific tour if you will need a little daypack. For example on our Cape Town to Vic Falls tour you will need a smaller bag, big enough to bring basic equipment (toiletries and clothes) for 2 nights. The daypack is for your Okavango Delta Excursion, where you cannot bring your entire luggage.

In general tipping in restaurants is expected and is around 10% for good service, more if you have received exceptional service, and, feel free not to tip at all if you received poor service. Tipping taxi drivers etc is really at your own discretion and not always expected. If in doubt please ask your guides. It is expected to tip porters and car guards etc. Ask your guides how much is appropriate in local currency. The recommended amount for Serengeti and Masai Mara guides is around USD5-7 per client per day. Our guides do work hard but they are also paid at (and often above) industry levels for this work. Our Crew can be tipped if you feel that they have done a good job and/or gone above and beyond the call of duty. The best way to arrange tips is to elect one person in the group to collect the money. We recommend USD1-2 (or about R10-R20) per day per person, per guide as a fair tip. So if you have 2-crew on a tour, we would recommend that 2 envelopes are used and each crew member’s name written on one. Place what you feel is fair into each envelope and the elected person can give these to the crew at the end of the tour. If you do not feel that the crew deserve a tip, please, do not tip them. You must remember that tipping is only for exceptional service and is not at all compulsory or expected.

Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities. Encounters Travel will not be held responsible if travellers are denied entry because they are not in possession of the relevant visas. We therefore recommend you re-check requirements with the relevant embassy/consulate around 4 weeks before travel.

You should also be in possession of a valid onward or return flight ticket, or proof of other means of transport enabling you to leave the country that your tour passes through or finishes in. In addition you should carry proof of sufficient funds to cover you during your time in the country (eg. credit card).

Should your tour be re-entering a country, please ensure that you have a multiple entry visa that allows this. Some countries have a visa on arrival service which can be more convenient and cheaper. However, for peace of mind and to speed up the border crossing process, Encounters Travel advises that you to get your visas prior to your trip if possible.

You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:

South Africa: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Namibia: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Botswana: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted or travelled through an infected area.
Zimbabwe: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Zambia: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Malawi: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Tanzania: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Kenya: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Poliomyelitis, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Uganda: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Sudan: Additional vaccinations: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area. A certificate may also be required for those departing Sudan.
Morocco: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria not normally present. Yellow Fever certificate not required.

The above information can change at short notice. For up to date health information & vaccination requirements we recommend that you contact your medical practitioner or a travel clinic.

Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting.

Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view a World Health Organisation map of areas where the virus is present in monkeys and therefore a potential risk to humans. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary.

Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...

You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK  to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.

Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.

If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.

IMPORTANT:  We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour.  If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.

If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You can pay your deposit or full balance online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer. We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.

We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
If you book a flight departing from the UK from us with your tour, or if you live in the UK and your tour includes domestic flights, then your entire package is ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 10467.
Additional financial protection is also provided through International Passenger Protection for passengers not booking flights.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.

It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.

  • Don’t prejudge: Things in different countries will almost certainly be different. That doesn’t make them worse or inferior, just different.
  • Communicate: Don’t expect locals to speak your language. Take the trouble to learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Don’t worry about sounding silly. Most locals are patient and accommodating and appreciate you making the effort to communicate in their language.
  • Conserve energy: Be careful not to waste valuable resources. Use local resources sparingly. Switch off lights, air-conditioning and fans when you leave the hotel room and don’t waste water. Remove superfluous packaging. Many countries have far less efficient waste disposal systems than ours. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home.
  • Don’t litter: No matter how untidy or dirty the country you’re travelling in may look to you, avoid littering, as there is no need to add to the environment's stress. Many of the countries we visit have a tough challenge dealing with rubbish and waste. Please consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can (e.g. water bottles).
  • Choose environmentally friendly products: By using environmentally friendly (bio degradable) sun creams, shampoos and detergents you can help reduce pollution.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: As you are a guest in these countries, you should also comply with the local customs. If you are friendly and well mannered, the locals will reciprocate and it will only enhance your experience. It’s important to follow dress and behaviour guidelines especially when visiting religious or sacred sites (your tour leader will advise you how best to do this).
  • If a client commits an illegal act the client may be excluded from the tour and Encounters Travel shall cease to have responsibility to/for them. No refund will be given for any unused services.

All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).

You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.facebook.com/encounterstravel
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')

International Flights: We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people living in different places and with varying travel plans, except on some Escorted Tours, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to book your flights for you. Our ATOL (UK flight sales license - No. 10467) protects all holidays booked together with a flight from the UK.
Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.
The vast majority of our tours are designed such that you can arrive and depart at any time on the first and last days of set tour itinerary. However, on our Overland tours, you should not arrange your onward international flights or other travel for the day the tour is due to end (unless the final day does not involve any travelling and finishes after breakfast). Similarly, many of our Overland tours depart their first port of call on the first morning, and you will therefore need to plan for any flights to arrive at least one day beforehand.

Airport Transfers: Arrival and departure airport transfers are available as extra options on all our African Overland tours, as long as you have accommodation booked with us on that day. Airport transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour on Tailor-made and Family tours. If you add extra accommodation before and/or after the tour that you do not book with us, then you will also need to arrange your own airport transfers.

Departure Taxes: Various countries may require that you pay an Airport Departure Tax when departing on an international flight. Please note that all departure taxes must be paid in hard cash currency and US Dollars are normally the best currency to use for this. Departure taxes can vary from US$10 - US$60 depending on the departure point. 

Masai Mara National Reserve
The Masai Mara National Reserve covers some 1 530 square km and is bounded by the Serengeti Park to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west and Masai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. The terrain of the reserve is primarily open savannah grassland with seasonal riverlets. Wildebeest, zebra and Thomson's gazelle migrate into and occupy the Mara reserve from the Serengeti plains to the south and Loita plains in the pastoral ranches to the north-east, from July to October or later. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving some 1.5 million wildebeests, 360 000 Thomson's gazelles and 191 000 zebras. These numerous migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by a block of hungry predators, most notably lions and hyena.
All members of the ‘Big 5’ are found in the Masai Mara, although the population of black rhinoceros is severely threatened, with a population of only 37 recorded in 2000. Hippopotami are found in large groups in the Masai Mara and Talek rivers. Cheetah is also found, although their numbers are threatened. Additionally, over 450 species of birdlife have been identified in the park, including vultures, marabou storks, secretary birds, hornbills, crowned cranes, ostriches, long-crested eagles and African pygmy-falcons.
The park was named after the people who have made their homes in the area for centuries, the Masai. The Masai Mara tribe is arguably the most famous of all African tribes and have been in the region of the Masai Mara Reserve for centuries, using the plains to feed their livestock, hunt and make their homes. While visiting the reserve you’ll have the opportunity to meet the Masai, visit their villages and learn about their customs.

Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is named after the alkaline lake that it encircles. Nakuru means ‘dry or dusty place’ in the Masai language. Although it was initially established as a bird sanctuary, it is now home to a surprisingly large number of animal species, including the Big Four – lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo but sadly there are no elephants in the park. Lake Nakuru is famous for the vast flocks of flamingos that line its shores, attracted by the abundance of algae. It is also a sanctuary for black and white rhino and has recently been extended to protect these endangered animals.

Lake Bunyoni
Lake Bunyonyi ("Place of many little birds") lies on the border of Rwanda. It is 25 km long and 7 km wide, covering an area of 61 square km. The depth of the lake is rumoured to vary between 44 m and 900 m, which if true would make the lake the second deepest in Africa. It is one of the few lakes in the region that is free of bilharzia and safe for swimming (please check locally for up to date information). Its 29 islands are concentrated in the central part. These islands have few settlements, mostly tourist facilities, schools and missions.

Jinja
Jinja was formerly a fishing village that benefited from being on long-distance trade routes. The city was founded in 1901 by the British, as an administrative centre for the Provincial Government Headquarters for Busoga region. This was around the time that Lake Victoria’s importance in transport rose due to the Uganda Railway linking Kisumu, a Kenyan town on the lake, with Mombasa on the Indian Ocean, 1 400 km away. Cotton-packing, nearby sugar estates and railway access all enabled Jinja to grow in size. In 1906 a street pattern was laid out and Indian traders moved in from around 1910.
Jinja once had a large East Indian community until they were expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1971 and 1972. Much of Jinja’s architecture is Indian-influenced, although the detailed shop-fronts and buildings were poorly maintained after the Indians left. Local industrial concerns also collapsed. Many of the East Indians who are now returning to Uganda are choosing to set up businesses again.

Eldoret
Eldoret, strangely, is a Kenyan town founded by Afrikaners in 1910. The town was originally known as 64 or “Sisibo” by the locals, because it was established at the 64th mile post on the wagon route from Londiani. In 1908, the Eldoret area had been settled by Afrikaans-speaking South Africans who "trekked" there from Nakuru after a journey from South Africa by sea and by rail from Mombasa. Other European and Asian settlers and traders began arriving shortly afterwards. When the governor decided to establish an administrative centre the town was officially named Eldoret in 1912. Becoming an administrative centre caused an enormous increase in trade within the prospective city. A bank and several shops were built.
Eldoret is the hometown of numerous legendary Kenyan runners, the most renowned of whom is Kipchoge Keino. The high altitude is an ideal training ground for many middle and long distance athletes. The runners from Eldoret have contributed significantly to the economy of Eldoret town from their winnings in races all over the world.

Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city in Kenya. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Masai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is surrounded by several expanding villa suburbs.
Founded in 1899 as a simple rail depot on the railway linking Mombasa to Uganda, the town quickly grew to become the capital of British East Africa in 1907 and eventually the capital of a free Kenyan republic in 1963. During Kenya's colonial period, the city became a centre for the colony's coffee, tea and sisal industry. Nairobi is the most populated city in East Africa, with a current estimated population of about 3 million.
Nairobi is now one of the most prominent cities in Africa politically and financially. Home to many companies and organizations, including the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN Office in Africa, Nairobi is a hub for business and culture. The Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) is one of the largest in Africa, ranked fourth in terms of trading volume and capable of making 10 million trades a day. The Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC) defines Nairobi as a prominent social centre.

It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.

General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.

You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.

Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Know Before you Go' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.

'Know Before you Go' campaign

Gorillas & Plains dates & prices

We recommend booking at least 6 months in advance to guarantee availability on your preferred dates. You should plan to add at least one extra day before and after the main tour dates. Private charters are also available.

Start Date End Date Price (P/P) Offer Price Note
05 Oct, 2016 18 Oct, 2016 US$1565 - - Book now
16 Nov, 2016 29 Nov, 2016 US$1565 - - Book now
07 Jan, 2017 20 Jan, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
18 Jan, 2017 31 Jan, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
08 Feb, 2017 21 Feb, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
18 Feb, 2017 03 Mar, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
11 Mar, 2017 24 Mar, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
22 Mar, 2017 04 Apr, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
12 Apr, 2017 25 Apr, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
22 Apr, 2017 05 May, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
13 May, 2017 26 May, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
24 May, 2017 06 Jun, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
14 Jun, 2017 27 Jun, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
24 Jun, 2017 07 Jul, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
15 Jul, 2017 28 Jul, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
26 Jul, 2017 08 Aug, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
16 Aug, 2017 29 Aug, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
26 Aug, 2017 08 Sep, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
16 Sep, 2017 29 Sep, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
27 Sep, 2017 10 Oct, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
18 Oct, 2017 31 Oct, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
28 Oct, 2017 10 Nov, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
18 Nov, 2017 01 Dec, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
29 Nov, 2017 12 Dec, 2017 US$1750 - - Book now
20 Dec, 2017 02 Jan, 2018 US$1750 - - Book now
30 Dec, 2017 12 Jan, 2018 US$1750 - - Book now
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GORILLAS & PLAINS Reviews
Service

Posted Jul 06, 2016
Anthony has been a pleasure to work with and when he is not available, other members of the team respond in a timely manner. I have booked a total of 6 trips since December 2013 and plan to book more to fill my bucket list.
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