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June 2014, Jeff Skinner
28 Day-Plains and Primates Safari to Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania

14 Day Group Tanzania Tented Safari and Rwanda Gorilla trekking - Tanzania 14 Day Group Primate and Plains Safari to Uganda and Rwanda - East Africa Combo **** SELECT ****

Overall Trip Experience Rating: 

Countries Visited: 


Uganda was absolutely unbelievably wonderful, exciting, awesome. We had a short drive (45 minutes), a short trek (no more than 45 minutes) and an hour surrounded by the H Group of 18 members walking around us. We saw all 18! The silverback was one of the first to come out of the bush and he sat down across from us. Then one by one all the others paraded in front of us. And, as I am sure you are aware, the SEVEN METER rule had yet to be taught to these magnificent creatures. So we were all MUCH CLOSER. After about 20 minutes the black-back presented himself. He didn't look so overwhelmingly happy, but then how would we know. He checked us out one-by-one and then proceeded toward us. But when he got within about ten feet he did a 90-degree turn and sat down, grabbed a branch and pretty much "joined our group". Across from him there were two young ones putting on a playful wrestle show. At some point I was standing at the edge of our group when a mother with a baby started toward me. I just stood still (well, with my little video camera in hand) as she passed by me brushing my pants! Except for maybe seeing a live birth I don't know how this visit could have been any better!!!

We were gone a total of four hours. Upon return to the meeting point we were informed that the group that had left on foot from the meeting place had yet to reach their gorilla group. I would love to know just how we were so fortunate - a large group close by. I'm guessing we chose the right adventure company, who chose the right guide, who made the right deal. I'm also guessing it didn't hurt to reserve our space early. Seems to me more than luck - SO A BIG THANK YOU!!!

Guide Experience Rating: Excellent

Edward (Uganda-Rwanda) was perfect for our first ten days. He knew his animals and where to find them. He knew the roads and, when needed, how to back up and took us to a nifty place for lunch. He was such a learned individual - much more than a fellow who could drive and recite animal facts. He and I chatted about one subject, then another: politics, history, Bible - with Edward avoiding potholes and spotting all the animals. We have made a new friend.

George (Tanzania) had a challenge! We told him up front that we had already seen this and that animal and lots of them too - and now we wanted to see animals in "action" or some new ones. Well, George already had plans. He already knew where the hard to find animals were. He knew where we would see some action. So in Tarangire he got us going early. He had heard the lions and thought he knew where they were. He was right. We found ourselves alone - as in no other vehicles! - looking down a three female lion and three cubs. We spotted some zebra, the lioness spotted them and the hunt began. The zebras disappeared but the lions didn't! The three females surrounded our vehicle and the cubs came marching playfully up the dirt road. After the lions had gone back down George took us to see oryx, eland, kudu, two different tortoises, a reedbok, hundreds of elephant, maybe a thousand buffalo and a leopard along with at least ten unique birds and some lizards too - all in one day!!

We had another great guide at Sayari Camp named Oredi. He was obviously a "head" guide - in that other guides followed his instructions. He was fun and immediately picked up on who we were and what we might want to see. He was just plain fun! He took us to see the only rhino named Julie - and some wildebeest went galloping by disturbing Julie's sleep and she (he?) jumped up and posed for us the next twenty minutes. She was the only rhino we saw - but also the only rhino anyone we met had seen!

Oredi spotted a possible wildebeest crossing and told us to "HOLD ON". He drove like a wild man, ignoring ruts and holes! He got us to just the right viewing spot. Wow what a sight. The next day he spotted some zebras, and then more and more and more zebras. He "ordered" the other two vehicles away from the river's edge - explaining to us that the zebras would not cross as long as the "unknown" vehicles remained. So we all "hid" up the field. Then the crossing began. We, of course, were cheering for the zebras. When the excitement died down we left them behind to go view the migration. Oredi said that the blackened field accounted for about 30% of the migrating wildebeest - perhaps 750,000. Being an actuary I did some calculations. At one wildebeest per ten square meters, and covering a about ten kilometers by two kilometers would come out to 200,000 - but there were more than one per square and more than two kilometers deep! So just maybe there were 3/4 of a million! There were lots. Oredi also made sure we saw the leopards, and lion,, giraffe - no not just big tall giraffe - but a mother with her newborn - wobbly legs, afterbirth and blood still running down the mother's leg!

Accommodation Experience Rating: 


Paraa (Murchison Falls) - hey, the only place to be. Good food, swimming pool and great adventures just outside the door. I eventually got used to the idea that no one was going to have simple iced tea! We enjoyed our "private" cruise on the river. Private is the only way to do it. With Edward encouraging the boat crew and acting as an additional spotter we saw hundreds of hippo and dozens of crocs along with lizards and some small mammals and dozens of birds. By being on the private boat we got there ahead of the big boat and got in much closer. I know private cost us more - but well worth it! We also enjoyed the chimps.

Kyaninga Lodge (Kibale) - well, we loved it. I wish it were closer to home. But it is about as difficult place to get to as anywhere in the world. But worth the trip!

Mweya Lodge (Queen Elizabeth National Park) - perfect location - a bit formal… The food was good, the mongoose plentiful and the private channel boat just a short drive away. This was another wonderful excursion.

Ishasha Wilderness Camp (Ishasha) - Interesting "green" concept… We enjoyed our stay, the food was okay, but it was the elephant outside our door that was best part. But then the camp was close to all those lion in the trees and Edward found them both days - two the first day and eight the next. Edward also took us to the river so Henri and I were able to crossover to some land that had once been in the Congo.

Mahogany Springs Lodge (Bwindi). The staff treated us so very special!!! The food was great. Our room was very spacious and very comfortable with a great deck and view - although the view of the rolling mountains put a bit of fear into my heart as I contemplated the gorilla trekking scheduled for the next day! Send all your travelers to this beautiful place.

Hotel des Mille Collines (Kigali). The hotel was very nice and they cleaned our dirty boots - three pair for only $6!! (plus tip). The food was good. The rooms were comfortable. Having just watched Hotel Rwanda on TV, I enjoyed the historical aspect.

Sayari Camp (Serengeti). Well it was the place to be since the rains had come early and so had the wildebeest. The "camp" itself was beyond luxury. Great staff - met a very fun guy name Ayouba (gave him an extra tip on the side). He seem to have no specific function except to make us happy - perhaps just with his smile - but he was also attentive to our needs. Nice pool - with some of the best lizards and birds. Food was simple but delicious. The room - huge and private. And, of course, it is the home of Julie (the rhino).

Ngorongoro Farm House (Ngorongoro). Well, farm house, sort of, if you use your imagination. This place was truly special. Specious - the grounds, the dining area, the "room", The food was good. And all the while I kept thinking how much money I was saving!!! And we had already stayed on the rim of a crater!!! This place was a GOOD DEAL!

Tarangire Safari Lodge (Tarangire). The best part - it is inside the park. And it is beautifully laid out on the rim of a large valley. Animals can be seen below and heard all the night through... Location, location, location. Oh, and the animals also parade past your room.

Siwandu (Selous). A beautiful place. Nicely spaced out. The animals parade through the property with a giraffe visiting Henri and I at the pool - as long as we stayed perfectly still, she kept getting closer and closer - all the while examining us.. .some fun surprises - a morning walking safari ending with a delightful breakfast on the beach, and dinner on our room deck the last evening. The staff was well-trained and very attentive…

AAC Experience Rating:
AAC Trip Planning and Organisation: 
Air transfers. All on time (except for a brief delay departing Siwandu). All fun, with views. Good choice - especially after seeing folks who had traveled by road!

Well, that's it for now. Thanks so much.