African Safari Diaries: Adventures in Rwanda and Kenya
In this week’s African Safari Diaries we are thrilled to share Janette, Andrew and Irene’s amazing trip to Rwanda and Kenya in July 2016, as scribed by the lovely Janette. It is a real pleasure to read and we hope you enjoy it, especially seeing all their fantastic photos.
We knew we wanted to tailor-make our own itinerary and this proved to be a straightforward process with the help and advice of Somak staff. Andrew also requested to have the same guide in Kenya who had been his driver on a previous holiday – Samuel.
We appreciated that our time in Rwanda would be a once in a lifetime experience so we chose to spend four nights and five days in this breathtaking country. We had a guide who looked after us brilliantly throughout.
On arrival we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum. The few hours we spent there were immensely thought provoking, but we feel this tour is a must for anyone visiting Rwanda and we recommend you do it first in order to gain an understanding of the history and a compassion for the people.
Our journey then took us through the beautiful scenic landscape climbing towards the base of the volcanoes to Gorilla Mountain View Lodge in Ruhengeri. Our accommodation was in individual lodges which, although basic, were traditional and very comfortable. The staff across the complex were friendly and helpful. In the evenings whilst at dinner a log fire would be lit in your lodge and a hot water bottle placed in your bed. The food was excellent and there was a wide variety and a different menu each day. I enjoyed watching the local band and dancers each evening before dinner.
We chose to do a golden monkey trek on day one and we woke early to the stunning view of the sun rising between the mountains. The trek starts through local farmland and once inside the Parc National des Volcans the Kabatwa group of monkeys could be found at a fairly low level. The encounter is great fun as you get up close and personal with these highly active primates. After lunch we took an excursion to the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village. Here we learnt about traditions demonstrated by locals, many of whom were ex poachers.
Over the next two days we did two different gorilla treks. We would definitely recommend to do two treks because on each day we experienced completely different terrain and encountered very different gorilla families – Umubano and Sabyinyo. The treks are difficult and strenuous and you must be prepared with the correct attire. Although the climb can be very hard work in the climate the effort is absolutely worth it for when you reach your gorilla family the experience is truly amazing. You spend about an hour with the gorillas, actually within touching distance and they are just awesome. We saw mothers carrying their babies, toddlers playing in trees, adolescents fighting, adult “rumpy pumpy”! We also met the oldest silverback who was aged 45. He was just a joy to watch and I feel privileged to have been so close to him. After each trek you receive a certificate and when you return to the lodge you remove your boots and the wonderful staff take them away and clean them for you.
On our final day we drove to the Twin Lakes – Burera and Ruhondo. The scenery is stunning and we enjoyed a delightful lunch at Virunga Lodge overlooking the spectacular view across to Uganda.
On the second leg of our trip we arrived in Nairobi. We visited the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and we had lunch at the Carnivore Restaurant before travelling to Lake Naivasha. We had a boat trip on the lake where we wondered at the abundance of birdlife. We also caught our first sightings of hippo and buffalo and we saw lemurs too. We stayed at Sopa Lodge. Once again it was very comfortable with great food and good service.
On the second day we took a packed lunch and headed off to Lake Bogoria to see the flamingos. The sight of them for as far as the eye can see is truly wonderful and their behaviour is mesmerising. We drove the perimeter of the lake and stopped off at the hot springs along the way.
On day three we travelled to the Masai Mara. Here we stayed at Ashnil Mara Camp in tented lodges with hippos literally right outside. Over the next four days we saw the most amazing wildlife many with young. In fact we saw everything we had hoped to see and far far more (apart from rhino). There is simply too much to mention as each game drive was such a success but the highlights have to be witnessing a cheetah make a kill and watching two river crossings with the migrating wildebeest.
One day we watched them cross away from us and the next day we watched them cross towards us and it was the most fascinating sight. Some of my favourite moments were lion cubs playing on a bank, the hippo pool, a leopard lazing in a tree, a line of giraffes on the horizon at sunset, an impala suckling, water hogs covered in mud, the list just goes on and on…..
Our guide Samuel was brilliant throughout. His knowledge was endless and I trusted him completely to give us the best possible safari experience. Our holiday was unforgettable and we have a lifetime of wonderful memories.
Thank you to Somak Holidays for making that possible, and especially to Joyce who looked after us during our transfers in and out of Nairobi at the Somak lounge and very best regards to Samuel, our Somak driver guide.
We would love to work with you to plan the trip of a lifetime. For more information on how our safari experts can help you, call Somak Holidays today on 020 8423 3000, or visit our website here:
If you have been on a safari with us and are interested in being featured on our blog, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
All Photos are courtesy of Andrew Wilson.