Discover the possibilities
Gorilla Trekking and the Great Migration in East Africa
A Signature Safari in East Africa
Begin with Gorilla Trekking experience in Uganda or Rwanda
The mountain gorilla is the largest primate species and critically endangered – fewer than 800 gorillas remain in the wild and none exist in captivity. Mountain gorillas can only be found in a small patch of Africa: in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, and in the Virunga Highlands that span both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A gorilla trek can require up to eight hours of walking in steep terrain, depending on the location of the gorilla troop. However, oftentimes one or two family groups are closer (a two to three-hour walk). The local wildlife rangers will inquire about trekkers’ fitness and look to organize guests in accordance. When the gorillas are found, guests are allowed to spend one hour following them closely and quietly observing them.
Uganda and Rwanda both approach gorilla conservation with advanced eco-tourism practices.
Fly directly into the heart of the Serengeti National Park
One of the best parts of this Signature Safari is being able to cross from Uganda or Rwanda into Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park without having to fly through a major airport. A chartered flight whisks you into the heart of the Serengeti and all customs processes are taken care of at a small and friendly airport.
From there, a resident guide from our chosen migration camp will pick us up and drive us straight into an afternoon game drive. The local guides have a great passion for following the dazzling migration drama, but also help ensure that the experience is not just about witnessing many thousands of wildebeest, but also about all the subtle natural phenomena that occur in sync with the migration.
Migration camps shadow the wildebeests’ cyclical journey.
In June to September, experience the Great Migration on the Mara River
The Tanzanian side of the Mara River can offer a less congested experience than in Kenya’s Masai Mara.
From late January to March, experience the Great Migration on the short grass plains in the Southern Serengeti
Vast plains of lush new grass triggered by the start of the summer rains provide perfect fodder for the wildebeest, who come en masse to the Southern Serengeti to graze, rest and give birth to their calves. The youngsters grow and gain strength before the group’s continued migration back north.
Of course, where there are wildebeest, there are predators. In the Southern Serengeti grasslands, resident lion, leopard, and cheetah take advantage of these months of plenty to engorge themselves before the massive herds move on.
It’s important to know that walking safaris are typically prohibited in the migration areas due to National Park regulations, but there are some walking opportunities in private concessions.
Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest give birth at the same time each year.
Create a safari adventure that is completely yours
Add another unique wildlife destination
Extend on one end of your safari with another camp in Tanzania or Kenya
Our guests typically spend three to four nights at a migration camp, ending their safari with this iconic phenomenon. Leading up to it, we recommend that guests explore other areas of the Serengeti. We favor secluded camps in the Serengeti’s Eastern and Western corridors. In the east, a particular area is one of the best for cheetah sightings. In the west, diverse habitat makes for equally diverse and enthralling game viewing.
For an off-the-beaten-path destination, ask us about a camp in the highlands above the Ngorongoro Crater, where local Maasai lead hikes and offer authentic visits to their nearby villages.
The Maasai people are increasingly integrated into the eco-tourism industry, rather than exploited by it.
Extend on one side of your safari with another unique wildlife destination focused on primates
Adding primate-focused destinations adds a bit more logistical complexity to this safari, but it can be so worth it!
Escape to an island paradise on the Indian Ocean for a classic beach vacation or scuba diving
Zanzibar and Pemba island are easily reached from the Serengeti by plane.
About the Great Migration
Do I really sleep in a tent out there?
Tented camps are our typical accommodations in East Africa. Though this may conjure up an image of sleeping in an REI Dome Tent while a pride of lions drifts by at night, safari camps provide an entirely different species of tent – some of the most comfortable, spacious, and romantic lodging you will ever sleep soundly in!
Tents are semi-permanent or migratory (moving every few months to be in proximity to the Migration), but both formats offer comfy beds, electric lighting and outlets, and plumbing for a hot shower after an open-air game drive. In addition to your personal tent, there are large, common-area tents that offer a bar and tables for meals, chairs, and sofas for lounging and chatting with other guests.
Solar-powered and having a light footprint, these are some of the most eco-friendly, luxury lodgings on the planet.
About Gorilla Trekking
Rwanda or Uganda?
Both Rwanda and neighboring Uganda are great destinations for seeing mountain gorillas in the wild. There are some differences in how safari eco-tourism has developed in each country.
Rwanda has focused its development around very high-end, luxury lodges and more limited access to gorilla trekking permits. Currently, a single-person permit for the 1-hour gorilla encounter is $1,500 per person. Along with the painstaking development is relatively easy in-and-out access via flights into Kigali International Airport. Along these lines, the trekking in Volcanoes National Park can be less strenuous than in the Ugandan rainforests. Rwanda has carefully managed its tourism industry with a strong commitment to ecological practices such as elimination of single-use plastic elimination and cultural sensitivity surrounding the country’s historical events.
Uganda has a very good likelihood of seeing the primates on a trek and for the still-affordable rates for trekking permits relative to Rwanda.
Uganda’s other advantage would be for travelers who wish to take advantage of the National Park system and see more of the country. Ugandan Wildlife Authority rangers who work in the parks are eager to introduce visitors to this local biodiversity, so the destination can develop beyond “in-and-out” trips just to see the gorillas.
Our Ugandan safari begins in Entebbe, where guests can choose to explore the Mabamba Swamps, a nearby span of wetland that is home to the remarkable Shoebill Stork and other captivating birdlife. Another fascinating Ugandan waterscape is the Victoria Nile River where a private boat awaits. During a morning tour of the riverbanks, you are likely to see many pods of hippo, elephant, waterbuck, crocodiles, and Uganda’s national bird, the Crowned Crane. In fact, hundreds of bird species are endemic to Uganda and it is often a bucket-list destination for birders.