Project Description

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS & BIG CATS PHOTO SAFARI
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INTRODUCTION

Join me on an unforgettable safari for the perfect introduction to some of the biggest wildlife icons on the African continent, the Mountain Gorillas of the Virunga and the Big Cats of the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Our journey will take us from the lush green rain forests of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, where we will enjoy a most memorable great ape experience, to the vast open grass plains of Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. This unforgettable experience will not only add tremendous weight to your image portfolio, but will leave you with memories that will last you a lifetime.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mountain Gorillas
  • Lions, Leopards, Cheetah & Birds
  • Cultures
  • Hot Air Balloon
  • Breathtaking Scenery

NELIS WOLMARANS
Photographic Guide

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PRICE FROM

US$ TBA pps

DATES

TBA

DURATION

10 Days / 9 Nights

LOCATION

Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya

GROUP SIZE

Max 6

Please Note: The tour price may fluctuate depending on the price of the Mountain Gorilla trekking permits on the day that you confirm your safari. Gorilla permits are non refundable and non transferable.

ITINERARY

Arrival Day in the Rwandan capital, Kigali and overnight stay.

Following your arrival at Kigali’s International Airport, you will be met by your tour leader and host, Nelis Wolmarans. Hereafter you will enjoy a short transfer to your overnight accommodation. Dinner tonight will be the perfect opportunity for Nelis to run through the tour itinerary with you and also to answer any questions which you may have.

Genocide Memorial, road transfer to Volcanoes National Park and afternoon Cultural Photography.

Following an early morning breakfast, we will visit the Genocide Memorial, which commemorates the victims and families of the 1994 genocide, a dark era in this little country’s past. This visit will answer any questions which you may have on what took place and led up to this sad event, but mostly I hope that it will make you appreciate where this remarkable little country finds itself today.

Hereafter we will start our two-and-a-half-hour journey to our beautiful accommodation for the remainder of our stay in Rwanda. The smooth tarmac road winds its way through neatly cultivated farms, along the banks of meandering rivers and lush green valleys to Rwanda’s Northern Province. This is volcano country and home to the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas of the Virunga, a chain of eight volcanoes that make up the Virunga Massif. Following our arrival, settling into our accommodation and lunch, we will visit one of the nearby cultural villages for a two-hour exclusive photo excursion.

Volcanoes National Park – Mountain Gorilla trek 1

This morning marks the first of our two Mountain Gorilla trekking excursions. We will enjoy a 6am breakfast and depart at 6:30 am. It is roughly a ten-minute drive to the National Park headquarters, here we will be allocated a guide and a specific gorilla family, as well as receive a briefing on the day’s activity. It is a very special experience and one that I still have to find the right words to describe it. Sitting in such close proximity to these powerful great apes causes a rush of emotions, from nervous to overwhelming excitement and every other emotion in between.

Volcanoes National Park – Mountain Gorilla trek 2

Another exciting morning as we get ready for our second Mountain Gorilla trekking experience. We will follow the exact same procedures as the day before and make our way down to the park office for our briefing. Today, we will be allocated a different gorilla family to the one which we visited yesterday. This afternoon, following lunch, we will visit a small community village. The people here are very eager to share their cultures and the photo opportunities are endless, especially with the inquisitive local children.

Transfer back to Kigali for lunch and flight to Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Today will be mostly a travel day. Following a well deserved sleep-in and breakfast, we will depart for Kigali at around 09:30am. If time allows, we will visit one of the better curio markets for those who wish to take something home. Hereafter, we will have lunch before making our way to the airport. We will depart for Nairobi in the later afternoon and arrive in time to have dinner before settling in for the night.

Flight into the Maasai Mara via Wilson Airport.

And so begins the very exciting second half of our safari. Following another early morning breakfast, we will depart for the nearby Wilson Airport. From here a very scenic 40-minute flight will have us touch down at the Musiara Airstrip in the heart of one of Africa’s most game rich safari destinations, the world famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. Following check-in and lunch, we will depart on our first afternoon safari in this wildlife paradise. The vast open grass plains are home to a huge diversity of both mammal and avian life.

Full day exploring the Maasai Mara.

The sound of footsteps on the veranda of your tent brings with it a warm cup of coffee or beverage of your choice, as you are awoken to the sounds of Africa. As the camp is not fenced and the wildlife has right of way, especially Elephant, you will be escorted by one of the camp staff to the main lodge area. We will enjoy complete photographic freedom from the comfort of our private safari vehicle, making full use of our time here. We will take with us a delicious packed breakfast and should the need arise, the camp will bring lunch to us out in the field.

Hot Air Balloon flight over the Maasai Mara

This morning we will be awoken extra early for a very special activity. We will take a short drive to Little Governors’ Camp from where we will take to the skies in a hot air balloon. From the comfort and safety of our well padded basket, we will be treated to a bird’s eye view of the Maasai Mara. The general wind direction will take us along the Mara River and the lush green forest belt that lines its banks. The is the only way to see what these forests hide. I myself have experienced phenomenal sightings from a balloon flight, leopard female and cubs resting in the trees, large hippo pods in the Mara River, herds of elephant, journeys of giraffe and on several occasions, even the seldom seen Black Rhino. We will end this bucket list activity with a champagne breakfast spread out on the Mara plains, with beautiful views of the Oloololo Escarpment towering in the west. We will return to our lodge for a late lunch and will then once again climb back in our vehicle for further exploration in the afternoon. We will spend time around the Musiara Marsh area. This wetland lures a variety of species with its abundant water source and lush green vegetation.

Full day Maasai Mara National Reserve.

Our last full day in this photographer’s paradise. Today, we will again leave early with our packed breakfast. We will use today to explore some of the further reaches of the Maasai Mara, into areas we have not yet explored, in search of the fastest land mammal, Africa’s speed machine, the Cheetah. These cats are often found perched on the top of the large mounds of soil, using the elevation to their advantage when searching for potential prey species. Over the years, I have been privileged to watch these fleeted cats in action, speeding across the grass plains at mind-blowing speeds during a hunt. With a bit of luck and the skills of our local guide, we will hopefully witness this for ourselves. During today’s excursion, we will also visit one of the more authentic Maasai Villages, or Manyatta. This too will make for great photo opportunities of the Maasai in their colourful attire.

Departure Day

Sadly, the day has come to say goodbye to the wildlife Eden in East Africa. Following a final morning activity, we will board our flight back to Wilson Airport in Nairobi. Following our arrival and luggage collection, we will make our way to one of the beautiful restaurants for lunch. Hereafter we will head back to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, where it is time for us to say goodbye.

From the team at Nelis Wolmarans Photography, we wish you a safe and trouble free journey to your final destination and we thank you for your participation in this most memorable safari experience.

For more information or a detailed itinerary, please contact me.

INCLUDES

  • All accommodation during the itinerary
  • All meals from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 10
  • All road transfers as per the itinerary
  • Genocide memorial visit
  • Private Safari vehicle throughout the itinerary
  • All internal flights between Nairobi and the Maasai Mara NR
  • Local beverages in the Maasai Mara
  • Bottled still water throughout the safari
  • All activities as per the itinerary
  • Two Mountain Gorilla trekking permits per person valued at US$1500 per permit
  • Exclusive two-hour Cultural photography excursion
  • One porter per person per Mountain Gorilla trek
  • Hot Air Balloon safari
  • All Park & Conservation fees
  • Laundry in the Maasai Mara
  • Services of knowledgeable local guides
  • Services and photographic tutoring by photo tour leader, Nelis Wolmarans
  • Post processing workshops by Nelis Wolmarans

EXCLUDES

  • All international flights including Rwanda to Kenya
  • All Beverages in Rwanda except bottled still water on activities
  • All items of a personal nature, spa treatments, curio purchases and telephone calls
  • All gratuities
  • Laundry in Rwanda
  • All visas, travel and medical insurance
  • Any items not mentioned in the list of includes above

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