rwanda and tanzania highlights

12-Day Big 5 & Gorilla Safari and Cultural Tour

Experience an African “Big 5” safari and track endangered mountain gorillas! On our Rwanda and Tanzania Highlights safari, you will enjoy a big game safari in Tanzania’s top parks, including Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire, and world-famous Serengeti. After getting a full dose of lions, zebras, giraffes, elephants and more, continue your adventure in the land of a thousand hills – Rwanda – where you’ll trek in misty mountain forests for the largest primates on earth. And if this wasn’t enough, you’ll also hike to Dian Fossey’s gravesite, take scenic tours and enjoy fascinating cultural interactions with traditional tribes. As sustainability is one of our benchmarks, your visit will include support to local charities and conservation programs. You’ll have private vehicles and guides throughout, and enjoy great food and accommodations, too.

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Highlights

Perfect for:

  • Perfect for Gorilla Trekking
  • Perfect for Cultural Visits
  • Perfect for Big 5/Wildlife Sightings
  • Duration 12 days
  • Departures Anytime
  • Accommodations Deluxe lodges and tented camps, city hotel
  • Fitness Rating Medium/Difficult
  • Activities Game drives, nature walks & hikes, cultural visits, gorilla trek
  • Safari Type Primates
  • Style Deluxe
  • Land-Only Price* $10,000+
  • Flight Price Call for pricing

*All pricing per person based on double occupancy. Pricing varies based on travel dates, call for a customized quotation matching your travel needs. Changes to itinerary and pricing may apply. Price includes all accommodations, meals, some drinks, transfers, vehicles, park fees, guides and activities as indicated, and a $25 donation to a worthy African charity. Price excludes international flights, visas, tips, inoculations, travel insurance, and anything not specified above. We accept Visa, Master Card, Discover & AMEX. No refunds—see Terms and Conditions for details.

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arusha, Tanzania: On arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, you will be met and driven to the Rivertrees Country Inn. Dinner and overnight here. (D)

Rivertrees Country Inn is a charming country estate that was once an old coffee farm, and still retains the nostalgic air of a well-loved homestead. Elegantly rustic cottages are dotted along the river and in thickets of tall trees, while lush lawns and birdsong make for a peaceful and picturesque setting. 

Days 2 & 3 – Tarangire National Park: After breakfast, drive to Tarangire National Park, famous for its elephant herds and huge baobab trees. Enjoy a picnic lunch and an afternoon game drive before heading to Kuro Camp. The range of activities at Kuro Camp are unique for a camp inside a Tanzanian National Park. Optional walking safaris (included) and night game drives (at an additional cost) add another unique wildlife viewing perspective that is hard to find in other parts of Tanzania. Overnight at Kuro Camp (B, L, D, Dr)

Kuro Tarangire is set amid a grove of Acacia and Kigelia trees on the banks of the Tarangire River. The six, light and stylish safari tents are complete with comfortable beds, en-suite bucket shower, and flushing eco-toilet. 

Day 4 – Lake Manyara: After breakfast, depart camp and game drive through the park. Continue to Lake Manyara National Park for an afternoon game drive and picnic lunch. Lake Manyara is famous for tree-climbing lions, as well as the thousands of flamingos that make their annual pilgrimage to the shores of the shallow lake. Drive to Gibb’s Farm for dinner and overnight. (B, L, D)

Gibb’s Farm imparts a sense of well-being, tranquility, and history—deeply rooted in African culture and community—in a warm, rustic luxury environment. A peaceful sanctuary to rejuvenate the senses while on safari in Tanzania, the farm features cozy, well-appointed cottages, breath-taking scenery, and wildlife.  In addition, you can partake in unique cultural activities that allow you to fully experience the rhythms and beauty of the farm, community, and nature.

Day 5 – Ngorongoro Crater: After breakfast, drive to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and spend the day exploring the famous Ngorongoro Crater with a picnic lunch. This 100-square-mile caldera is home to more than 20,000 large mammals like lions, leopards, elephants, zebras, wildebeest and the rare black rhino. Dinner and overnight at Gibb’s Farm. (B, L, D)

Days 6 & 7 – Serengeti: After breakfast, drive to the Serengeti. This giant ecosystem is home to millions of animals including lions, cheetah, leopards, buffalo, elephants, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, and huge herds of wildebeest, often in migration. Enjoy a picnic lunch and an afternoon game drive in the Serengeti. On day 7, enjoy a full day of game drives in Serengeti National Park. Dinner and overnight at your seasonal tented camp, Serengeti Safari Camp. (B, L, D, Dr)

Serengeti Safari Camp was the first of it’s kind. It was designed with a purpose in mind; to be in the best possible location to view the wildebeest migration as it covers hundreds of miles of the Serengeti National Park each year. So it should come as no surprise that it really hasn’t changed much since it’s early pioneering days.

Day 8 – Kigali, Rwanda: Enjoy your final game drive in the Serengeti. After lunch, transfer to the airstrip for your flight to Kigali, Rwanda (flight priced separately). Upon arrival at Kigali Airport, you will be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at Mille Collines Hotel. (B, L)

Mille Collines Hotel is one of the most historic hotels in Rwanda. Immerse yourself in exceptional comfort after work or for leisure. Stay in one of the 112 tastefully furnished rooms and suites with a mix of traditional and contemporary handicrafts and art.

Day 9 – Volcanoes National Park: After breakfast, you will be met by a local representative and transferred to downtown Kigali for a city tour which includes the genocide memorial and craft centers. After lunch at a local restaurant (on your own account), drive north 2.5 hours through the Rwandan countryside to Ruhengeri at the foot of the Virunga Mountains. Arrive at Virunga Lodge for dinner and overnight. (B, L, D, Dr)

Virunga Lodge is perched high on a ridge with stunning views of the Virunga Volcanoes and the Musanze Valley to the west and Lake Bulera and Ruhondo to the east. Each of the ten luxurious bandas has a private terrace, an individual fire place, a luxury shower room with a double vanity, and charging station.

Optional upgrade: Stay at Bisate Lodge. This new lodge near Volcanoes National Park has been very popular even before it opened in mid-2017. Its construction injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy and created jobs for the local community. Lucky guests enjoy views of the Virunga Massif, as well as exclusivity (only six rooms!), incredible service, and delectable meals.

Day 10 – Gorilla Trek: After an early breakfast, take a short drive to park headquarters and meet with excellent local guides and trackers who will give a talk on the etiquette of gorilla trekking (permit included, based on availability). You then hike into the forest where the gorillas were seen the night before and track from that point. The trekking can take from one-to-six hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 7,500 feet. The terrain is rough and at times muddy. Although the hike is physically demanding, the beauty of the forest and surrounding scenery make the trekking worthwhile. Once the gorillas are located, all fatigue is forgotten, as the experience is often described as being the most profound natural history experience in the world. It can rain at a moment’s notice; hence waterproof clothing is essential including, zip lock bags for cameras and film. In the afternoon following lunch, enjoy a tour of Gorilla Guardians, an ex-poachers village. Dinner and overnight at Virunga Lodge. (B, L, D, Dr)

Note: One hour is permitted with the gorillas per trek. Gorilla sightings cannot be guaranteed. The minimum age is 15 years old. Tracking through the forest can be steep, wet and slippery. Gorilla permits are subject to availability.

Day 11 – Volcanoes National Park: After an early breakfast, return to the park headquarters where you will meet your guide for a trek to Dian Fossey’s grave (trek time: approx. 5-6 hours), which lies between Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes. Alternatively, opt for the second day of gorilla trekking (at an additional cost, based on permit availability). Following lunch at your lodge, enjoy a visit to twin lakes Burera and Ruhundo. Return to your hotel for dinner. Overnight at Virunga Lodge. (B, L, D, Dr)

Day 12 – Kigali/Depart: After breakfast, transfer to the Kigali airport for your onward flights. (B)

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