East Africa is a land endowed with countless beauties that would need months to explore if not years to explore fully. Taking a Safari to this part of Africa was one of the most rewarding experiences my husband and I have ever experience in all the vacations we have taken so far. We not only managed to travel across two east African countries but also met some of the warmest and friendliest people on the planet. We hope to travel to more countries and places the next time we visit. Below is a knocked down itinerary of all our activities for the five days we spent in that magical place:
Day 1: Arrival in Nairobi, Kenya.
We arrived in Kenya’s capital city; Nairobi from Amsterdam after a long 8-hour flight. We decided to rest and shelter at the Iconic Giraffe Manor, located 15 miles away from the hustle and bustle of the City.
This 12-acre private property features a unique stone mansion that is the hotel and breathtaking gardens complete with a resident herd of adorable Rothschild’s giraffes. What struck us most about the Manor is its 1930’s décor, antique furniture and wood paneling that gives it a rustic feel.
After taking a nice rest and gourmet lunch, we proceeded to the nearby Karen Blixen museum, Sheldrick’s elephant orphanage and Giraffe center until evening.
The rest of the time was spent enjoying a cocktail on the terrace while watchingthe sunset behind Ngong hills.
Day 2: A Night at the Maasai Mara.
We take a 40-minute flight from Wilson airport to the Maasai Mara. On arrival, we are driven to the Mara Serena lodge where we check in and proceed immediately on a wildlife Safari.
The Mara is home to many animals such as cheetah, gazelles, hyenas, baboons and in particular the big five. We are also extremely lucky to witness the yearly wildebeest migration; I especially loved it when they took the dangerous crossing through the fast flowing Mara River.
Later we proceed to a Maasai village where we take part in cultural dances and are taught on how to make ornamental beads. Overnight at Mara lodge.
DAY 3: Arrival to Kigali, Rwanda.
After a sumptuous breakfast and a one-hour sunrise hot air balloon safari over the Mara, we proceed to check out and head to the airstrip for our return journey to Nairobi. At the airport, we take a 90-minute flight to Kigali the Rwandan capital city. Here we are met by our driver/ guide who takes us around the city, which is remarkably well-organized and clean. We chance on visiting the Rwanda genocide memorial to learn more on
Rwanda’s dark past (the experience was really moving.) Later we have our lunch at the Hôtel des Milles Collines famously depicted in the movie, “Hotel Rwanda.”
In the afternoon we journey to the Volcanoes national park located in the North West about two and a half hours drive away. On the way, we cannot help but marvel at the hilly countryside and fertile terraced fields. On arrival, we are taken to Bisate lodge, an amazing place located at the slopes of a denuded volcanic cone where we check in for the night.
Hotels in Kigali
Day 4: Gorilla Watching at Volcanoes National Park.
After enjoying a hearty buffet breakfast our driver takes us to the park’s
headquarters where we can get a permit to visit the apes. (It cost us $1500.)
After we are done with the authorities we embark on a trek inside the bamboo forest accompanied by porters and a guide. It takes us about two hours of trekking to come across a family of gorillas feasting on a meal of soft bamboo shoots. We are instructed that we have only one hour to interact with the primates from a distance of about 20 to 30 feet. We spend the entire time taking pictures of these extremely intelligent and curious cousins of human beings.
We return to Bisate lodge to enjoy a late lunch. Later we take a guided tour of thenearby village where we interact with friendly natives and learn much about their culture. We wrap up the memorable day at the balcony of our villa gazing at the 14757 foot- Kirisimba Mount and sipping on some fine cocktail.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end; it was the end of our short
vacation and we had to go back home. After returning to Kigali, we took a return flight back to Nairobi from where we connected to a night flight to Europe and back to the United States.
Day 5: Return to Nairobi and then Home.
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