Post-Trip, 4 Days
Head off the beaten path in Ruaha National Park, a vast and remote landscape largely unexplored by safari-goers. Further south than Tanzania’s more well known parks, Ruaha harbors an astounding diversity of wildlife, including a number of creatures more often found in southern Africa. The park is also the home of the Ruaha Carnivore Project, led by National Geographic grantee Amy Dickman and supported by the Society’s Big Cats Initiative. Spend an afternoon with a researcher from the project and discover the spectacular, varied landscapes of Ruaha during a four day safari.
Transfer to the airstrip in the Serengeti and fly south to Ruaha National Park, the largest national park in Tanzania. We’ll be picked up by safari vehicles for the drive to our luxury tents at the exclusive Kwihala Camp, located in a remote part of the park. This afternoon, set out into landscapes specked with baobabs and acacias and rich in plant life, and keep an eye out for elephants, lions, and other wildlife. After dinner, enjoy a short documentary on Ruaha’s big cats.
Kwihala Camp (L,D)
On a morning safari, look for elephant, kudu, sable, wild dog, and some of the park’s 571 species of birds. Later, back at the camp, we’ll be joined by a leading researcher from the Ruaha Carnivore Project, an organization supported by National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative and managed by three-time National Geographic grantee, Amy Dickman. Ruaha is home to 10% of all lions left in the world, and contains significant populations of wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards, and spotted hyenas. Hear about the organization’s efforts to protect these creatures through innovative conservation methods. Head out on a game drive this afternoon, tracking the lion prides that the Ruaha Carnivore Project studies and using identification cards to identify individual lions by their whisker spot patterns. Return to camp to debrief over dinner with the Ruaha Carnivore Project researcher.
Kwihala Camp (B,L,D)
After breakfast, set out on a morning walking safari with an expert tracker, soaking up the silence and the sounds of the bush. Learn to identify animal tracks and spot evidence of wildlife that have passed through in the trees and grasses. Venture to new parts of the park on an afternoon drive before returning to the camp for dinner.
Kwihala Camp (B,L,D)
Encounter the park’s incredible wildlife on a final morning safari drive. This afternoon, drive by safari vehicle to the airstrip and fly to Dar es Salaam. Transfer to Dar es Salaam International Airport (DAR) for your late evening flight home, arriving the next day.
Post-Trip, 6 Days
Add an optional pre- or post-trip extension to Rwanda for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to encounter endangered mountain gorillas in the wild. From our base at the spectacular Virunga Lodge, track gorillas and hike to the original site of National Geographic grantee Dian Fossey's Karisoke Research Center.
This is Day 10 of the main itinerary. The Rwanda Gorilla Tracking extension is also available pre-trip. Please call for details.
Depart Tanzania on a flight to Kigali. Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure.
Kigali Serena Hotel
Journey into the lush hills that surround Kigali on an excursion that traces Rwanda’s path from despair to hope. We visit a “reconciliation village” supported by the Millennium Villages project, a unique development approach conceived by Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the United Nations Development Project. Here, survivors and perpetrators live side by side in an effort to heal the wounds of the genocide and build a brighter future for Rwanda. Listen to the moving testimonies of both a perpetrator and a survivor, and discuss the challenges—and the promise—of former enemies living as one. Visit the village health center and the primary school, fruits of the Millennium Villages project. This afternoon, travel back to Kigali for dinner at the legendary Hotel des Mille Collines—featured in the movie Hotel Rwanda—where more than a thousand Rwandans found safe haven during the genocide.
Kigali Serena Hotel (B,L,D)
This morning, pay a visit to the Kigali Memorial Centre, where a poignant exhibition recalls Rwanda's mid-1990s genocide and testifies to the country's remarkable resilience. Then, travel north through the beautiful countryside to Parc National des Volcans. This afternoon, pay a visit to a local primary school.
Virunga Safari Lodge (B,L,D)
Spend the day tracking mountain gorillas in the forested hills of Parc National des Volcans. Follow local guides through thick undergrowth and dangling vines in search of gorilla families. Once we find them, sit among these gentle giants, observing their interactions; listening to their distinctive grumbles; and viewing one of the planet’s most endangered creatures from an awe-inspiring, up close perspective.
Virunga Safari Lodge (B,L,D)
Trek to the original site of the Karisoke Research Center, where the late Dian Fossey, a National Geographic grantee, carried out mountain gorilla research for 18 years. Or strike out into the lower reaches of the park on the lookout for golden monkeys, a distinct species of primate that can often be found in thick bamboo stands. Or if you prefer, you may enjoy an optional second day of gorilla tracking in Parc National des Volcans for an additional cost. In the afternoon, head back to Kigali.
Kigali Serena Hotel (B,L)
After breakfast, transfer to Kigali International Airport for your flight home, arriving the next day.
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,000 for departures from January to March, and $1,500 for July through December.
Airfare from the Serengeti to Ruaha and to Dar Es Salaam is estimated at $950 in 2015 and $1,000 in 2016.
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,600 in 2015 and $1,650 in 2016.
The flight between Tanzania and Kigali is not included in the extension cost.
On June 1st, 2012 the cost of gorilla tracking permits in Rwanda have increased by $250 per person. The above pricing reflects this increase.