Gorillas and Masai Mara - 11 September

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Thought I'd start a topic for this trip as I got my confirmation today. Travelling with my husband and really looking forward to it. Would be good to hear from anyone else booked on.

Cheers
Sue

 

Hi Gareth

 I had the same dilemma over the Kenya visas but did actually manage to speak to a real person at the Kenya High Commission in London last week - after some problems contacting them.  I am on the Kigali to Nairobi route and will just get a single entry visa - they said I did not need a transit visa for changing planes at Nairobi airport if I do not leave the airport.  I think that the trip notes say that on your route you might wish to get a multiple entry visa if you would like to spend the day in Nairobi on the way back, otherwise I guess it's the single entry visa.  I haven't yet decided what to do about camera batteries.  I have 2 as well and might buy one more and see if I can get an adaptor for charging them on the truck (see previous comments on this from others).

Andrea

Bats

Hi everyone,

Its great to see all the messages on here. You all sound very organised! I was just trying to work out how many of us are on the reverse itinery?     How many pairs of shorts/trousers/long sleeve & short sleeve tops are people taking? Do we think it'll be cold at night? And so need fleeces etc?     Ian, thanks for your very useful info so far, can I just ask are the matresses comfortable-ish? This is all new to me - Sorry!   We are really excited now!!    Saw the thread about books/movies etc, we watched Out of Africa last week, and I've got the Ordinary Man to read. Definitely recommend DVD's Hotel Rwanda and Last King of Scotland.     Have any of you booked Hot air balloon? Can't decide whether its worth the extra expense.

Regards, Lisa

Bats

PS - Have to say I feel very camera inadequate!! I don't have a DSLR!    Ha Ha!!

sfabre

Hi Lisa,

Me & my hubby Dorian are on the reverse itinerary & also getting very excited!

For packing, I'm going to try to travel light - I've been taking those travel-type trousers on holiday recently that you can unzip into shorts and they're fantastic - I'll take a couple of pairs of those and some jeans in case it gets a bit cool. Definitely a thin-ish fleece for early mornings, and then just my walking boots. I think we should all share packing lists closer to the time.

We've booked onto the hot air balloon - we did a balloon ride here in Berkshire a few years ago and it was fantastic - I'm sure the one across the Mara will be a million times better. It's expensive, but I'd hate to regret not doing it once I'm back home again.

Loved the Hotel Rwanda film - haven't seen Last King of Scotland yet so must get it before the trip!

 Cheers, Sue

klaatu

I didn't book the balloon ride when I paid. I actually forgot. But if there is a spot available on the day I will surely go. 

I've been wanting to see The Last King of Scotland so now is as good a time as any. Thanks for the recommendation. 

Like you, Lisa, I'm also trying to keep the packing to a minimum but I'm concerned that my bag may still be stuffed to almost-bursting. If anyone wants to share any packing tips on what to bring in the way of clothes I'll share also. :-) Incidentally I've found that "packing cubes" are really handy to control and keep things together. 

Regards, Michael  

Hi Lisa

I am on the reverse itinerary too and I think it's fully booked so there will be 16 of us.  I think Sue has given some good advice on what to take but I might take a thick fleece as I think it can get cold at night.  Don't forget the waterproofs too.  I agree with Michael about putting everything in bags and I use those vacuum bags you can get from larger Boots stores which keeps everything dry and keeps it as compact as possible.

I have booked to go on the hot air balloon trip as I didn't want to miss out having travelled all that way.  Never been on a hot air balloon before so should be exciting.

I got my Uganda visa yesterday.  Sent it off by special delivery to the High Commission in London last Friday so I was very impressed with the speedy service.  Kenya one next.

Kind regards

 Andrea

Bats

Hi,  Thanks for the advice about what to take. I've got a few of the essentials already such as thick fleece, zip off trousers etc. Been shopping today for some bits and pieces, very exciting! Andrea that's great about the visa for Uganda, i'll sort that out next week I think. I was wondering about getting the Kenya one on arrival seeing as we have such a long time in the airport. Does anyone know if we have to book any other trips prior to going such as White water rafting??

Regards, Lisa..

liedel45

Hi

You guys look all very organized and very happy to read all the advice.I am going the 25 September on this trip,since this date was full-so when you guys come back ,you will hopefully still check out this pages to give me some advice.Been to Kenia before and it amazing-i am not taking that many clothes , since you always need less than more.Just one thing i have noticed you guys will ,might want to pack in ,is some toilet paper/tissues.Always handy to have and if you take your shoes off at night do fold shocks over them,inside out.Well i hope you guys have a fantastic trip .

Bats

Can i just confirm, are those of us on the reverse itinery getting the multiple entry visa for Kenya??

 Thanks, Lisa

klaatu

Hi, Lisa. 

I'm not getting a multiple entry visa for Kenya since I'm flying directly into Kigali. I made my own travel arrangements. 

Regards, Michael  

Bats

Sorry, also meant to ask, those who have already applied for visa's did you send of your confirmation letter and trip notes with your visa application form?

 

Thank you!

gemmanickols

hi everyone

i am gemma, i will be on the trip from kigali to nairobi.  i live in bristol and will be flying out with the group flight from heathrow to nairobi, connecting to kigali on sep 11th.  i am coming with my friend julie (we were at school together, although a few years ago now!).  we have both been on group trips similar to this, although neither of us have been to east africa before and i have never travelled with exodus.  i am having a couple of jabs which need renewing on monday.  judging from the exchanges so far, i feel like i am lagging behind with preparation!!  i already have most things but certainly have not tried to pack it all in my bag - i hope i don't have a bad surprise.  i do not have a DSLR but a bridging camera, hopefully it will be enough.  i am very excited about the trip although i have not had much time to think about it. 

looking forward to meeting you all soon, not really that long now.

gemma

Wow, you all sound very organised! I've been a bit slow getting myself onto this but it's been great reading all of your posts. I've just got a digital camera not an SLR but should be fine. Who did everyone get their insurance from? Is there 1 place that we can get all 3 visas from or do they all have to be done seperately? I've had all of my jabs but was thinking of risking rabies as it's so expensive. Has everyone else had it? Sorry for all the questions. I'll be joining you on the reverse itinery and just about organised;-) Flying down from glasgow on the 11th. Looking forward to meeting you all.

Louise

klaatu

Is anyone getting to Kigali a little early? Or is everyone arriving on the group flight from London? I don't generally have too much trouble with jet lag if I can get a good nights sleep after the travel. So I'm arriving the evening of the 10th, and I'll have a day to myself in Kigali. I'll be staying at the Hotel Chez Lando, which is the meeting point. If anyone else is arriving a little early we should have a drink. 

Regards, Michael  

gemmanickols

with regards to the rabies jabs, if you have a series of three vaccinations (these are spread over a minimum of three weeks - the accelerated course) then it means that you have more time to seek medical attention after a bite.  the main difference between having the vaccinations or not is that if you have had prior rabies immunisation, if you are biten you only require a booster rabies jab, however if you have not been previously immunised you would not only require a vaccine but potentially immunoglobin (this is a blood derived product).  therefore having the vaccinations does not prevent the need for medical treatment in the event of a bite, but potentially prevents the need for a blood derived product and the inherent risks of that.  this may all seem a little complicated, this is my understanding of the situation, but if anyone is concerned i am sure you could consult your gp travel clinic. 

those of you that have organised your own visas, did you sent your passport and form directly to the embassy in london?  if so, did they send it back promptly?  do you have to arrange this by telephone first?

thanks, gemma

Bats

Hi everyone,

Thanks Andrea for the info about the Visa's, i'll also apply for a single entry visa.

Louise, I also use Direct Travel insurance, like Andrea, they are reasonably priced and are supposed to be one of the best. With regards to the rabies vaccination, I wasn't going to have it, but after reading Gemma's post I might enquire at the travel clinic next week when I go for my Yellow fever jab.

We are on the group flight from Heathrow, after travelling down from Leeds. Sorry Michael, sounds like we might all be arriving later!

Does anyone know where you can get environmentally friendly shampoo's travel wash etc, which Exodus recommend we take?

Regards,

Lisa

Hi Lisa

I managed to get an all in one eco friendly shampoo, shower gel, travel wash solution from Millets if that's easier than ordering on line.  I think I might get some separate eco shampoo though as I'm not sure this product is great for washing hair.

Andrea

ian333

One thing to remember to take is antibacerial hand cleaner. Hygene is a big thing on the Exodus trips, and they do take a lot of care. But taking your own is a good idea. They are cheap to buy (poundland is a good example). Also some tablets in case you do get bugs would be adviseable (immodium type things).

klaatu

I've been trying to determine a course of action for packing wet wipes and hand sanitizer myself. I was in Target the other day and saw a big, 250-count container of sanitizing wet wipes, but the container was really too big. Is there any particular brand I could look for, or type, or size? 

Regards, Michael 

sfabre

Really enjoyed the article - can't wait to get up close with the gorillas!

Cheers, Sue

Just to let you know that it took 10 days from sending to receipt to get my Kenya visa by applying to the Kenya High Commission in London - quite straightforward so now I hope to zoom through all borders!

Andrea

klaatu

I should have my passport back late this week. Getting very excited. Just 6 weeks to go! 

Regards, Michael  

klaatu

The Fedex man just dropped my passport off with my shiny new visas for Kenya and Uganda. Wow, those are some nice visa stamps. :-)

Regards, Michael  

sfabre

I'm still waiting for ours to get back from the Ugandan Embassy - it's been just over a week now so hopefully they'll arrive soon then we can get them off to the Kenyan Embassy.

It's only just over 5 weeks to go now!

By the way, our doctor recommended we get a DEET insect repellent to take over there so something else to add to the shopping lists...

Cheers, Sue

gemmanickols

sounds like you are progressing quickly with plans.  i have just sent my passport off to the ugandan embassy, still have the kenyan visa to get... hopefully will get my passport back in time!

i have made enquiries about currency, it is only possible to obtain the kenyan schilling according to the post office.  i was going to get a little bit and some us dollars.

gemma

sfabre

I think US$ will be our best bet - travellers cheques can be a huge hassle to change and you just don't know about ATMs and banks. I know the optional activities can be paid for by credit/debit card (white water rafting, etc.) so hopefully we won't need too much cash, but better to have too much than run out.

Been 10 days since I sent off for our Uganda visas now - hopefully won't take too much longer as I want to get the Kenyan ones sorted now too. I know it's daft but I really hate not having my passport around :-)

Cheers, Sue

Hi

 I am going to spread my bets and take $400-$500 cash (including small denomination notes), $400 travellers cheques, a debit card and a credit card (both visa).  I don't think that there will be much to spend it on apart from trips at Jinja.

Sue, don't worry, you will get your passport back soon.  There have been a couple of postal strikes in London which may have delayed it slightly.  I am the same though, I don't like not having my passport.

Cheers Andrea

Bats

Hi

It's quite hard to know how much to take isn't it? I think i'll take ours in US $'s cash and some Kenyan Schillings too. (At least might be able to get something to eat and drink in the airport then whilst waiting for connecting flight). I'll also be taking my Visa (I thought i'd read that Mastercard is not as widely acceptable, but don't know where I read that!) I don't think we'll need that much cash, but you don't want to little either!! I'm thinking around $500 each should be more enough??!! What do others think?

I got my Ugandan visa back in just over a week, sent Kenya one today, but yes there is a strike in London which will be causing some delays.

Anyway - 5 weeks today we'll be on our way!!!

sfabre

I think $500 is a good amount so I'm sticking with that - thanks for all of the advice.

Got our passports back this morning so off to the post office to send off for the Kenyan visa then all sorted.

Not long now!!

Cheers, Sue

Hi Lisa,

I'd really recommend the balloon ride. We did this in the Masai Mara last year and it was so amazing we're doing it again this time. It really is an incredible experience!

Cheers,

Paula

 

Chris_Hutchison

Hi,

Myself and my wife are booked up to go on the forward itinary. Have been booked for ages as this is essentially our honeymoon - we have been waiting since May so really starting to get excited.

I am travelling from London with a connecting flight from Glasgow. 

I have applied for none of the visas as the material said we could collect it on arrival. I have travelled a bit in South East Asia and I have always got the visas like that. Everyone else who already has one is giving me the fear now.

I will be bringing a DSLR camera and I am currently trying to sort out a long lens.

Look forward to meeting you guys in September.

Chris

jloader

Hi guys, my wife and I are travelling on this tour but going a week earlier on the  5th September. Chris, we are also waiting to obtain visas when we enter Kenya and Uganda. Exodus have advised us that this won't be a problem but to ensure you have the exact fees in USD, Kenya visa being 25 USD and Uganda 55 USD. British passport holders do not need a visa for Rwanda. The only downside I think we could experience is the queue for the visas but all part of the experience!

 John

I think that the advantage of having visas in advance is to save time at the borders and so have more time to view the wildlife, which I can never get enough of!  It's quite easy and quick to apply for them before going but a bit more expensive than getting them on the borders - worth it for the peace of mind, though.

Chris_Hutchison

Surely as we are all on the same bus then you need to wait until everyone gets through the border anyway?

sfabre

Hi Chris

I guess you're right about everyone having to wait, but I'm glad I'm getting mine organised before we go - just for peace of mind. Hopefully it won't take too long for those that haven't got them in advance to that get them there, so we can get going and get wildlife spotting ASAP!

So a rollcall for the reverse itinerary: me & Dorian, Vicky & her mum, Paula and Russ, Michael, Lisa & Robert, Andrea, Linds, Gemma & Julie, Louise

Have I missed anyone? Great to meet you all on here - not long now!

Cheers, Sue

klaatu

I'm definitely here for the rollcall. 

Getting the visas in advance is also about peace of mind for me. Plus I'm a planner, which kind of drives my brother crazy. If I can get something done in advance I generally will, especially if it is something like getting visas for a trip like this. That way I can then sit around and read when I have some free time and there's no animals around to spot.

Not long now!

Regards, Michael  

klaatu

Hot diggity. I got home to find my final joining instructions in the mail box waiting for me. 

Regards, Michael  

Chris_Hutchison

I must admit having the visas in my hand would probably give me peace of mind, but my travelling during the year makes it difficult to send my passport away for any great amount of time. As long as everyone gets in then we will all be happy. ;o)

I just purchased a new lens for my camera this morning so I am really getting excited about this trip now. Work is going to be a nightmare for a few weeks.

 

Chris

 

 

sfabre

Hi Chris

What camera lens did you buy? I've recently got a 70-300mm which is great - takes nice close-ups without being too heavy to use without a tripod. Also has a macro setting which is great for plants & small animals/insects.

I've been thinking about buying a bean bag to rest my camera on the side of the truck with. Has anyone used one before - are they worth getting?

Cheers, Sue

 

Chris_Hutchison

Thanks Michael for the link, it may be something that I upgrade to at some point. I have 6GB of memory cards at the moment and I may just buy a new 8GB card and hopefully that will suffice. Today has been a day of expenses, first of all I bought the lens, then I booked the hot air balloon trip for the 2 of us!

Also someone mentioned camera batteries earlier and that they were expensive. I have a Canon 350D that I have owned for 4 years now. I have a non-canon battery and I have never had a problem with it. You can get them on ebay for £3 or so, might be a cheap backup solution for people?

Time to stop using my credit card I think. ;o)

 Chris

klaatu

This may sound like over kill, but I'm taking 8 batteries for my camera. I have a battery grip that takes 2 at a time. I've been able to find 3rd party batteries I've been very happy with for my Canon for very cheap prices on Amazon. It takes a bit of searching but I've generally been able to find batteries for less than $15 a piece. 

Regards, Michael  

sfabre

I thought I was overdoing it taking 5 batteries for my Pentax but I think I'll stick with that now after your message Michael! We'll definitely have a chance to recharge in the truck though and I'm sure we'll all take turns to make sure we can all take as many pics as possible.

Also going to order a couple more 8GB cards - found a class 6 on Amazon for £15.99.

As well as the 70-300, I have a 50-500mm lense that takes really good photos but is really heavy - practically impossible to use without a tripod. Thinking I might take it along though - along with my tripod - as it would be perfect for wildlife shots.  

Cheers, Sue

Chris_Hutchison

Wow, I have 2 batteries and was thinking of maybe getting another one! This is like a photography arms race!

 ;o)

 Chris

jloader

I thought hard about what size memory cards to take. I originally thought that I would take 8 GB cards to save time having to change the cards but then i thought, what would happen if a large 8 GB card was to fail and you would loose many more pics than if it were a smaller 2 GB card, so in the end I have plumped for 8 x 2 GB cards. Can't beat anyone with the batteries though, only have 3!

Not taking a DSLR here but a compact Panasonic DMC FZ28 with an 18X optical lens, not sure what size lens that equates to in mm lens though.

If our group starts on the 5th September and going from Nairobi to Kigali, do you think the two gropus will meet up in the middle?  

 

klaatu

LOL! Chris, you have no idea how funny it is that you called it a "photography arms race." Me, my brother, and a couple of friends are all amateur photographers and every time one of us buys a new bit of kit we talk about the escalation in the "arms race." Heh. My friend Kiki just escalated things by buying a new Canon 5D Mk II. 

Regards, Michael  

I spoke to somebody at Exodus who had recently taken the trip herself and she told me that recharging camera batteries was not a problem - you can recharge them on the truck and at some of the campsites.  I think I will take 3 plus about 8-10GB of memory cards which seems like a lot to me.  I think I am an amateur photographer compared to everyone else!  I have got a Canon DSLR with lens upto 300mm and that will have to suffice.  I have got a little bean bag travel pillow which will do as a pillow and a camera prop which I recently bought from Lidl's for about £4.

Regards

 Andrea

gemmanickols

i am not even going to join the camera discussion, far too technical!!  i too have the panasonic fz28 which i like mostly because it is easy to use.  i am only taking 2 batteries, but sounds like charging will not be too problematic.

my passport arrived back from the ugandan embassy today, they have written the date on it a few times and in 2 places have written '08 instead of '09.  i have called them and it should be fine as it is human error.  i still have to send mine to the kenyan embassy, so will not have time to return it.

what type of sleeping bag are people taking?  2 or 3 season, i have previously been cold camping so thinking of buying a new warmer one.

gemma

klaatu

Hi, Gemma. I'm taking a 3 season sleeping bag that was donated to my by my Uncle. It's also what was recommended by the trip notes, so that worked out well for me. 

Regards, Michael  

sfabre

3 season for us too, and ours have built-in mosquito nets which might be handy!

Cheers, Sue

3 season for me too, plus a liner thing.  I was told that there is no need to worry about a mossie net as the tents have them already, that is, unless you would like to sleep outside!

I spoke to someone at Exodus today and she recommended quite thick, stretchy trousers or gaiters for the gorilla trek.  Apparently there are some nasty nettles along the way which can sting through thin trousers.  Definitely need walking boots too plus some gardening gloves (recommended by Exodus anyway).  Also, they provide sticks so there is no need to take walking poles.

Cheers Andrea

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