What an incredible trip. The scenery, the wildlife viewing and the people all combine to make a fabulous itinerary. We were incredibly lucky with the wildlife from the very start, with the Big 5 achieved between the Masai Mara and Lake Nakuru, along with five cheetah, lions, baby giraffe, elephants, zebra and so much more.
We were incredibly lucky with the boat trip in Queen Elizabeth NP, getting to spend time watching two herds of elephants, both with babies, come down to the water’s edge to drink.
The whitewater rafting in Jinja was intense but absolutely brilliant and the safety was top notch. There are options on the rafting for how intense you want the experience – our group did the highest class available and spent a fair bit of time in the water, but it was such a fun activity.
The chimp trekking in Budongo was on relatively easy paths, with only the last 5-10mins being properly ‘off-track’. The chimps stayed up in the trees, however we still had a great viewing, with a young chimp playing around and giving some fabulous poses and facial experiences. Beware of the chimps throwing things down at you – they are surprisingly accurate with their aim!
The gorilla trekking is everything you imagine and more. It is impossible to predict how far or how hard your walk will be, so go prepared for a tough hike. Our group had around an hour of reasonable hiking on established tracks, followed by around 30-40 mins of full scrambling up and down a steep ravine as the gorillas moved away in search of a different food source. Once the gorillas had re-settled, we were able to spend the hour with the whole family, from the massive silverback to the playful adolescents and the relaxing females. The trackers are awesome and the gorillas showed no signs of being even remotely bothered by our presence, coming up towards us and playing / posing for photos near by.
As other reviewers have previously mentioned, there are lots of early mornings, but you soon adjust and, as this is when the wildlife is most active, it is definitely worth it. The campsites were generally of a very good standard. We had a slight issue with very late and loud music at the Jinja camp (take earplugs), and one campsite did not have working showers when we were there, but as this was one night only it really did not have a big impact. Most of the facilities were good and some were excellent (lovely hot showers), but really this trip is not about the accommodation – with good food (thanks Ken!) and great company, you really do not need luxury and the experience of waking up to the sounds of baboons and hyena made everything worthwhile. The Exodus tents and mattresses are good quality and well cared for, and there were plenty of opportunities for upgrades if you wanted a break from camping.