42 independent reviews for Gorilla Safari & the Masai Mara4.5 star rating

These full and frank independent reviews are from travellers who have booked directly through responsibletravel.com. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travellers below.

Valerie Koppi review 28 Mar 20145 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Every day was fabulous always something different, gorilla trek, Rwanda genocide museum, local people, orphanage, camping, scenery, game parks, animals, elephant orphanage and numerous other too many to mention but travelling with like minded people was also a good thing. Thank you.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go with a sense of adventure & you won't be disappointed.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, by buying goods from local stalls, following rules & contributing to local causes & respecting customs & spreading the word about the wonderful countries in Africa & their people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Everything I wanted, loved every minute, thanks.

Mark Asquith review 12 Mar 20145 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Gorillas!!!!!. Interacting with them was the most exceptional experience elf my life and the biggest adrenaline rush I have ever had. Its is without comparison. The Masai Mara was amazing, will decamping was a buzz and White water rafting on
the Nile was an amazing experience but being close to the African people(especially the happy kids) and not isolated in 5 star resorts made the trip a once in a lifetime experience.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


dont over worry what you take. The trip is well run, food is great , accommodation works really well, and go with the flow.
Its just the best escape from our western lives.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


it interacted well with local people and charities without being overbearing. Some individuals benefited directly while lost of things were bought locally. food was sourced locally but was of a great standard

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


awesome. Do it now!!. I miss it already

Sally Knowles-Jackson review 1 Feb 20145 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Where can I start, it was such a fabulous trip from the start in Kigali to the end in Nairobi. Seeing the gorillas was obviously so special and memorable and the rafting in jinja was an unexpected highlight. Also the people in my group and our
fabulous exodus team who were to efficient, friendly, patient and organised.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go for it you won't regret it. It has inspired me to see more of Africa and I would definitely go with this company again.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes I thought they did a great job in supporting local people - through local guides, buying food locally and a number of other things..
Also small things like encouraging us not to buy water and throw out the bottles etc.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was excellent. I would go again tomorrow.

Chris Hehir review 26 Mar 20144 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Wildlife from Masai Mara to Rwanda was amazing, varied and stunning.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Don't be put off for travelling in short wet season. We went at the end of Feb and still saw many animals.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes - but more could be done. Ensuring all trekkers for gorillas use a porter to carry their bags, stopping more at local markets on long driving days.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Brilliant - one I shall never forget.

Mary-Laure Bollini review 8 Jan 20144 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


spending time in the middle of a gorilla family, having one walking very close to me

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


take a small bag to take your items in the tent without taking the full bag and as well for the 2 days in the Masai Mara. Take warm clothes, the nights in Kembu and Lake Nakuru were cold. take an additional padlock and music for the travel time.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


yes for the gorilla permit, the porters, the food and charcoal bought on the way, the rangers/guides for the different activities.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


it was a really great holidays, great wildlife, beautiful scenaries, great people, well organised.

D Smith review 6 Mar 20133 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The Gorilla trek in Rwanda was the real highlight, would do it again tomorrow, but Uganda was an unexpected highlight, with wonderful bird watching at Lake Bunyonyi, camping next to the hippos at Lake Mboru and at Jinja the boat trip to the Source of the Nile.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


At Kilgali arrange a taxi to go to the Genocide museum as the organised excursion was poor and rushed. At Lake Bunyonyi find out about the motorboat trips to do on your free day. In the truck, don't get the bottom lockers, they get filled with water when the guys wash the truck and sleeping in a damp sleeping bag isn't nice! Take some snacks, camp food was excellent and plentiful but so healthy that I felt myself craving chocolate and crisps!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The Gorilla trek did make me feel I had supported conservation. As did the Masai village visit. Also by camping the guys bought food, charcoal etc in the local markets en route rather than just benefitting hotels/restaurants.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Rwanda and Uganda was excellent and would have been 4*. Only in Kenya was the trip disappointing. The dirty/noisy campsite at Lake Naivasha was below the standard of the rest of the trip. Masai Mara was also disappointing. Crowding 8 people + driver into a 4WD made it difficult to view properly. The driver never seemed to stop when we asked to stop, and also food there wasn't on par with Onemas wonderful camp cooking.

Lisa Irving review 17 Sep 20123 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Game driving in the Masai Mara and visiting the gorillas in Rwanda.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for very long drives. Take a small overnight sized bag to put your clothes in for camping in addition to your day sack. The pad lock need to be large to fit the lockers. Take your cash in dollars and make sure they are large denominations and dated after 2004.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Too many of the activities in Uganda involved paying a third party rather than the local people direct and were expensive. I got the impression that the local people did not get the majority of the money. I liked the idea that the food was purchased in route from local markets.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent.

Elaine Spence review 13 Dec 20115 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Albeit that the Gorillas were the ultimate highlight of the holiday the whole experience was a treat.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


When you arrive in Nairobi airport don't pay the porters 1000 schillings if they don't carry your bag. We got caught out paying them £5 for lifting our bags from the ground onto the truck, bit on the expensive side if you ask me and DON'T let them take the money from your hand either which they did to us.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I am unable to equate (apart from employment of people) how much my holiday benefited the local people and I don't think that driving a truck across country minimizes the impact on the environment, but how else do you get to see these places???

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


My holiday was the best, the guides were fantastic and made sure that all our needs were catered for, couldn't fault it and worth every penny. Very fortunate that we had a great group of people on the trip.

Pete Fuller-Thompson review 16 Aug 20115 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the gorillas, playing with children at the orphanage at Bunyonyi, seeing an elusive cheetah on our final game drive in the Mara and an absolutely fantastic group of people led by an amazing guide.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do the reverse itinerary, Kigali to the Mara. Seemed a much better way to do it in my opinion. And bring a good camera!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Absolutely. All our food was bought locally, and we stayed in local places. The environment, as much as possible for an overland trip. Chris and the team ensured we left no rubbish wherever we were, and left places spotless.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Trip of a LIFETIME!

John Durham review 30 Oct 20114 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the mountain gorillas at such close proximity. Incredible.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take a good camera and a long lens. Don't over pack, you only need casual clothing.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, we bought from local markets and shops or from local cooperatives. Due to an unscheduled leisure day we had an unplanned visit to an orphanage in Rwanda so we picked up a few things en route (pens, pencils, notebooks etc and a football which was a stroke of genius as it turned out). Being off the beaten track the orphanage received few visitors and therefore benefited from our goodies.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was an excellent trip. Very well organised with lots to see and do without feeling rushed.

Phoebe Harrison review 10 Aug 20114 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Oh, where to start. Firstly, the crew made the holiday for me, they were fantastic and the whole group loved travelling with them (they were Often, Bernard and Charles). The best parts for me in Kenya were visitng Joy Adamsons reserve, the safari game drives (we saw all of the big five!) and the balloon ride across the Masai Mara. In Uganda the highlights were visiting an elderly couple from a local village and then going to the Little Angels school for orphans. In Rwanda of course the gorillas and the genocide memorial centre. Overall I loved all the campsites but my favourites were Kembu Farm and the one overlooking the mouth of the Nile (I forget the name). I also liked the site in Uganda with the amazing views overlooking lake Bnyoni. I couldn't fault anything other than feeling we were ripped off by the Masai village we visited who split us up and took us into their huts basically to flog us so-called handmade jewellery that we didn't want. Most of us bought out of guilt alone. Otherwise the trip was incredible.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Don't be ripped off by the Masai village - the visit itself was great until they did the hard sell. That ruined it for all of us. Only go on this trip if you like camping. I am a seasoned camper and absolutely love getting close to nature - and we got close! Others were less keen on going back to basics. We had a lion, elephant, hyena, zebra, group of hippos and wart hogs outside our tents at night. No joke so be prepared! Take a head torch and a she-wee ladies if you don't want to leave the safety of your tent in the middle of the night! Make sure your camera batteries are good quality. Take at least three times the amount for tips than suggested - you will need it. If you want to sponsor a child you need to pay 6 months in advance in cash so take plenty of extra dollars for that. Take warm and cool clothes, the temperature varies hugely. Take things to read/do on the journey - some of the truck drives are long (and bumpy)

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I hope so. The crew were all Kenyan nationals and most of the wider team they employed were too. The visit to the Masai arguably benefits the villages and visiting the adorable elderly couple and the school for orphanes definitely did too. The gorilla treks contribute towards the huge challenge they have of protecting these enigmatic creatures. All in all I think it benefitted. Nothing worried me and I am very concsious of environmental and community issues. I do however wish we could have done more!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I have travelled a lot and have been to Africa before but not the East. However, something about this trip touched me deeply. I worry for Africa, for the people, the environment and the wildlife. This trip educated me further on the problems facing this great continent. It was truly educational, breathtaking, humbling and fun!

Karin Guttorm review 9 Jan 20113 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Gorillas.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Read closely - the driving is exhausting.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


No.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Good, but to much driving.

Barbara Wulff review 20 Aug 20105 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Almost walking into a zebra on my way to the toilet one night!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The camping was challenging for me, but it was worth it to hear animals at night

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


It benefited local people

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


5 stars

Nathanial Ray review 18 Jul 20105 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The gorilla treks, not only where they amazing but it was also on my birthday.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go with objective to speak to as many locals as possible and break away from the tour group when you can

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Five stars it was fantastic

Paul Oppenheimer review 18 Apr 20105 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It is hard to pick out just one moment as the trip had different types experiences throughout. The gorillas, white water rafting on the Nile, and the Masai Mara game drives were phenomenal. The guides were great and have been doing
this for a long time together. They are super laid back, funny, and extremely knowledgeable on any optional activities, local restaurants, and anything wildlife related.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you bring plenty of cash. It can be very hard to pull money out towards the end of the trip in Rwanda. Don't worry too much about the Visa's at the Ugandan border. It was easy for British, American, and Mexican nationals to get it
there. The trip notes are very accurate and most of your questions can be answered in the notes. There are nettles on the trek to the gorillas. You are going through very thick underbrush and should have long, relatively thick pants and
shirts so the nettles don't poke through. Our pants were light weight and the nettles got through to our legs. I wouldn't bother bringing any snacks. You stop frequently enough to purchase food for the group where you can pickup stuff for
yourself if hungry (not likely due to the abundance of good food from the guides). If you are a light sleeper, consider bringing ear plugs. The animals weren't very loud at night, but we did have some rowdy people from another tour group
at a campsite one night.

Just book it now!!!!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Most definitely...All of the food was bought at local stores and the various tour support people were all from the area.
There were plenty of opportunities to buy items from locals at shops and markets.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This was the best vacation we have ever taken. It was a packed with a wide variety of activities from wildlife to culture to beautiful site seeing.

Freddie Hull review 16 Nov 20104 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the gorillas and animals in the other game reserves, the experience of spending time in Africa, meeting the people and seeing the beautiful country. The guides and the group were excellent.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you allocate enough money for Visa's and tips. Head torch is a must, as well as mossi repellent, make sure you have enough memory cars and battery for your camera and enough the experience, it really is a privileged experience.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, I do hope so.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


One I will never forget.

Helen Rankmore review 31 Oct 20104 star rating

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


To expect the unexpected! Donít get hung up on itineraries, when something doesnít work out the way YOU are expecting it too. Donít expect hot showers and the same standards of cleanliness as at home.

Frank Townsend review 27 Jan 20104 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Gorillas in Rwanda, Seeing the orphanage at Lake Bunyoni, bird watching at Lake Bunyoni.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for some long driving days, and roughing it at times but all well worth it. Read the trip notes carefully.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I think a conscious effort is being made towards these goals.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


An excellent holiday, would readily recommend it to friends.

Rexford Newbould review 25 Nov 20103 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Gorillas of course!

However, our group, the people we met, the Masai Mara, Rwanda itself, and Lake Nakuru are also all highlights.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Avoid the $30 "walking safari" like the plague. It consisted of sitting in a 14-person minivan taxi in a privately owned ranch. When we finally got the driver to let us walk, the game guides that came with us knew nothing of the animals or plants. Luckily, we had a couple in the group who had been training to become guides who told us about what we were seeing. If my wife hadn't spotted the giraffes, told the guides where to look, and then held her ground when the guides couldn't see what we all could, we wouldn't have seen anything more interesting than a zebra.

The whole Lake Naivasha campsite and excursions (walking safari, boat trip to Ellesmere) felt poor value and unenjoyable.

Get used to camping in sites that are not in the wilderness. Our Entebbe campsite was on the lawn in front of a sports bar that doubled as a brothel. Several of the campsites (including the prostitute one) had parties going on that lasted all night. Bring earplugs!

Our trip was the last one being run by the operator that will use the open style of safari bus. They are now changing to enclosed "coach" style buses. We greatly enjoyed being in the open, and felt we saw and experienced more since it wasn't in a bus seat behind glass windows. Our seats were more padded benches in an enclosure with open-air sides.

Avoid the "Curio" shops you will be taken to throughout Kenya. They are overpriced, obviously pay commissions to your tour guides, and you will find better deals (about 80-90% less for the same merchandise) when stopping at Nakuru town.

These gripes aside, it was a wonderful trip we will always remember (and with 2000+ photos).

Also, when we ran into other tour groups doing similar trips, they were more hand-on, in terms of cooking their own food, pitching their own tents, etc. They were driven around in large buses from site to site, but otherwise they were providing their own manpower. They didn't seem to have paid much less.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Local as in East African, yes, but the guides/drivers/etc were from disparate places all over southern and eastern Africa. Some felt more like businessmen than wilderness guides.
Certainly we were spending money in local places and picking up supplies from local businesses.


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A very enjoyable time, and we plan to go back to East Africa again, though under our own steam now.

Angela Platt review 20 Mar 20095 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


All of it, it was one of the most amazing experiences Iíve had and Iíve been to many countries. Africa is the kind of place you fall in love with. We ventured to such different landscapes, enjoying the wildlife which was spectacular to see, the elephants roaming, the gorillas goofing around.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Definitely take toilet roll and sweets as some of the journeys in the truck are long, maybe even a pack of cards. Wet wipes or hand gel is a must and make sure you enjoy the trip and donít spend too much time seeing it through the lens of your camera!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Definitely yes, the local people we had on our trip cooking and driving for us were amazing as was the people who helped us on the way.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Amazing, do it!

Sharon Branch review 4 Feb 20094 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Too many great. There were highlights in each country. The gorilla's in Rwanda, the white water rafting in Uganda and The Masa Mara in Kenya.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do not assume that you will be able to place your whole bag into the locker on the truck. You can save yourself time by not repacking on your first night if you know you will need to empty everything out.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Overall I certainly think so. Fresh food was brought locally. The trip to the orphanage in Uganda was insightful but you came away feeling good knowing that you had helped to buy a goat. There was not a lot of time to do any shopping however which would have helped to put some of our tourist dollars into the economy.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fantastic - One of the best holidays I have been on.

Andrew Shand review 21 Jul 20085 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


To many to have only one, Gorilla trekking, time with chimps, watching lions hunt down a buffalo, wiping out while whitewater rafting on the Nile, meeting up with some great new people on the trip.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go for it and enjoy the trip.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


It probably did we cooked most of our food bought from local markets, we used lots of local facilities so we were pretty positive.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Due to the efforts of our driver Andy, our brilliant motherfigure Margie and the best cook in Africa Francis and just the way everyone made the most of every opportunity it was one of the best holidays ever.

Phillip Dear review 14 Dec 20084 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Start the trip in Nairobi rather than Kigali.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent.

John Wyatt review 13 Oct 20084 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the gorillas up close and personal - simply breathtaking.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Pack then reduce the amount you take by 50%, space is tight but if travelling in late September early October take a lightweight fleece, early mornings and evenings are chilly.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Good attention is taken to the local environment with opportunities to meet the local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A fantastic way to see wildlife and experience Africa in three different countries for a very reasonable price.

Sean Ramgoolam review 9 Sep 20084 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the gorillas for the first time, hearing the deep rumble of the silver back and then hearing the crashing around as the youngsters were playing and feeding was a moment that will stay with me.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Pack light, you have to unpack everything into a locker on the truck when you get there and this is what you live from for the next 2 weeks, use a kit bag (it's easier than a rucksack). Be prepared for some very long drives over bumpy roads, be aware that some of the campsites are basic and you will need to compromise on some of your comforts. Book your excursions with your trip, you may pay a bit more, but at least you are guaranteed a place (some of the tours we crossed with could not get gorilla permits or get onto the balloon rides), and most of all be sociable, I was luck to be with some really good people who helped make the trip a fantastic one.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I think that the tour does benefit the local people as we gave money to the various charities etc and when we stopped we paid into the local economy. I don't believe that we minimized our impact on the environment as we were traveling in a truck for 2 weeks and then in mini vans for the safari, the team that were with us had no choice but to cook with charcoal, there is a challenge with getting gas in some of the areas that we stayed. That said I am not sure how else this could have been done given the itinerary and some of the locations that we traveled to had very little in the way of infrastructure.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I was a bit apprehensive on going on a trip like this, but I can honestly say that my partner and I had the best holiday that we have ever had, there were some long and hard days involved, especially the travel from country to country yet you see and meet some fantastic sites and people who were just so friendly. The only big disappointment was the trip to the Massai Mari village which turned into a pushy sales pitch and wasn't worth the money.

Read the operator's response here:

Thanks for review - its great to hear that you had such a memorable trip! Seeing the gorillas in Parc National de Volcans is something that will stay with you for life. I just want to respond to your point about the Masai Village. We have spoken at length about this with our local partner. Although visiting one of the Masai villages can be a great experience, there are instances where clients feel pressured to buy goods. We are sorry that your experience of the Masai village was marred by the pushy sales pitches and we obviously do not want this to happen. We have recently started working with the Travel Foundation who, in 2006, began funding a project in Kenya aimed at working with villagers from the cultural manyattas in the Western end of the Masai Mara to significantly increase the economic benefits from tourism to the local community. Previously only 20% of the amount visitors used to pay for their visit went back to the local community. Through a lot of hard work, consultation, training and collaboration with the local community, the Travel Foundation are amending the way ticket sales for the visits are sold to ensure 80% of the ticket sale value returns to the local community. All of the local population will thus feel the benefit and this will ensure sales pitches in the villages are less pushy. This project is working very well and is being expanded in to other areas of the Masai Mara. Our Responsible Tourism Manager is now working to ensure we visit villages where the local population fully benefits and, as this initiative grows in the region, we will be able to do this on more and more of our trips.

Sarah Baker review 17 Aug 20084 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Masai Mara, gorillas, Nile, wildebeest.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You won't be disappointed at all if you read all the information you have been given. Participatory camping is good.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Probably.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very good, better than I could have hoped.

Joanne Halpin review 13 Aug 20075 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


This has been the most amazing trip with lots of varied and interesting experiences. For me the highlights of the trip have been the gorilla visit in Rwanda which was absolutely breathtaking and watching the wildebeest migration as they entered the Masai Mara in Kenya. The visit to the genocide museum in Kigali was also incredibly moving and should be visited by all.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Bring warm clothes for evenings and early mornings in truck Gloves are essential for gorilla trekking Buy a camera with a good zoom lens and ensure that you have spare batteries/film etc. Bring more money than you expect to use as it is easy to get carried away when buying gifts, also traveller cheques are not easy to change and there are not many opportunities to access ATM's or banks.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Absolutely! The tour leader and other crew members gave excellent advice and tips on where and what to buy to support responsible tourism that benefited the local community. They also ensured that all tour group participants were aware of environmental issues in area visited.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This holiday has been absolutely amazing and has exceeded all my expectations. I would like to mention in particular the outstanding work of the tour leader and the other crew members who were incredibly fantastic in ensuring that everybody involved experienced the most amazing holiday. For me also I was really pleased that my dietary needs of being a strict vegetarian were well catered for and the food was absolutely delicious!!

Cheryl McGookin review 13 Aug 20075 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Difficult to choose - gorillas, Masai Mara wildlife, rafting on the Nile, even just watching the world go by from the back of the truck. It was all fantastic

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared to camp with basic facilities, and have very early morning starts every day. Not a relaxing holiday by any means! It is pretty full on.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


More or less - local people employed by the operator as guides, local produce bought for cooking etc. I'm not sure how the environmental impacts could be reduced further.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Amazing. So glum to be home.

Nikki Wilson review 24 Sep 20074 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Too many to choose from! Seeing all the animals in their natural environment on the Masai Mara, watching baby gorillas play and taking in the scenery by the various lakes we were lucky enough to stay by - to mention but a few!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Definitely take a head torch, as comfortable a bed as you have space for and hygiene stuff for your hands.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Brilliant.

Yvonne Ovesson review 5 Jan 20074 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Gorillas without a doubt!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Prepare for long travels on the truck and bring a head torch!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes

Ms Amanda Stevens review 10 Mar 20065 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It was the most amazing holiday and my brain is still numb as it can't take in all that I've seen.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I would point out the amount of time spent in the truck - be prepared for long days on bumpy roads. I realise this is nobody's fault but it isn't stipulated in the brochure or on the trip notes how long some of the journeys are. That isn't to say that they are not pleasurable journeys just long ones.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


It benefited a small number of local people in some of the excursions offered but in the main I wouldn't say it benefited the local people. I would say it has a low impact on the environment.

4. Any other comments?


I had a brilliant time it was all I expected and more. I saw all of the BIG 5 and have fallen in love with Africa. The team we had were brilliant - Often, Peter and Mike were brilliant, their social skills are excellent and their knowledge of the animals was more than adequate especially as we saw a Pangolin which none of them had seen in the wild! It has been a brilliant experience - a real learning curve and a good leveller. I will definitely be going back to Africa everyone should go!

Stephen Cragg review 21 Jul 20064 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The undoubted highlight of this trip was the animals, whether it be the juvenile gorillas playing just a few metres from us, the lion cubs tucking into wildebeest with gusto, languid cheetahs or majestic elephants. The unexpected element was how close we were to them, and how unconcerned they were with us.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be aware that the gorillas can be quite high up. I personally found the walk from 2400m up to 3000m very, very testing. Some of the campsites can be rather noisy; earplugs were well worth it.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We spent a lot of time on the road, with all the environmental implications that has. Most of our food, camping etc was sourced from local vendors putting money into the local economy rather than a big tour operator's pocket.

Frances Clements review 9 Sep 20055 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Sitting within metres of the Gorillas was the most awe inspiring experience of my life to date - nothing prepares you for this and when you're there you have no doubt in your mind that when they look at you they are analysing your behaviour and the way you look just as we do with each other. Truly memorable - I didn't take pictures just sat and watched and built up a store of memories! You must try Ugandan food - wow!!!!!!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You're camping so make sure you bring a torch, wet wipes and for hygiene an antibacterial hand gel that you can use without water or towels - you'll be glad of it as many of the bathrooms on the road are basic with no water or soap! If you're going to see the Gorillas make sure you have a long sleeved top, trousers and gloves - the undergrowth you trek through is mainly nettles and thorns so protect all you can! If you're going to take anything with you for local people, take pens, crayons or note books but don't give them out to people begging - they are proud people - give these to village elders or teachers who will make sure people get the best use out of them. I took the time to learn some Swahili and local dialects and it is really appreciated and brings a smile to people faces.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


The local payment clearly went on local accommodation, food etc and the tour guides and cook where all Africans who shared their views with us freely but also had tremendous local knowledge. My only concern was quad biking through an African village and how the people of the village felt - it was only when I spoke to village elder who explained the economic impact on the village and why they were more concerned with development than the environment that I began to understand that my values couldn't be imposed on Africa - you need to understand their own values. Our guide also took us to places where we could purchase goods and souvenirs made locally so the money went straight to the craftsman rather than mass produced tourist goods - it's worth checking out what wood to buy or avoid if your buying carvings before you make a purchase.

4. Any other comments?


Great holiday already planning my next trip!

Anouska Behl review 2 Sep 20055 star rating

This trip was absolutely amazing for so many reasons, wildlife, activities, tour guide, chef, truck, fellow travellers and there is so much more! I booked myself alone but there were 16 other like-minded people on that trip. It was a truly amazing experience which included a trip to an orphanage. One of my fellow travellers has just booked flights to go to Rwanda to the orphanage to help out for three weeks in February. I loved Africa and will be going back. Thanks very much for providing such a valuable service. I would give the trip five stars as it was such a truly amazing experience.

Angela Margaret Parry review 19 Aug 20055 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


There were so many memorable bits! The most has to be the gorillas, especially in light of the recent news of how endangered they really are, to get so close to them without them being concerned at all was incredible.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take a torch, loo paper and plenty of film and batteries for the camera, plus a small padlock for the tent. Small denominations of dollars (as recommended in travel notes) have poorer exchange rates, so take some 100s and 50s too. Try to allow for a few optional extras in addition to those listed. Be prepared for basic facilities but amazing experiences. (It's worth it!).

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I hope we benefitted local people, I'm not sure whether this was the case everywhere, having read the Edirisa booklet at Bunyoni. The worst experience was watching the pygmy dance, I hope the money helped them, but if (as the above booklet suggests) they think tourists enjoy seeing them in abject poverty they are wrong, that was not what we expected, and it was very shocking.

4. Any other comments?


Our leaders Lucy and Often were fantastic, very informative, reassuring and fun. The food's good too! This is so much more than a safari, I give it *****. Thankyou.

Colin O review 17 Jun 20055 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Toss up between sitting feet away from a pride of 14 lions feeding on a buffalo they had just brought down and rafting the Nile's grade 5 rapids at Ginga.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take part in as many optional activities as you can, these were, almost without exception, hugely rewarding and contributed greatly to our experience. Also, consider travelling in (low) season! We went for the first two weeks in June, saw all the wildlife we could have hoped for and at the same time found the Mara relatively quiet and plenty of space on our truck. We may have just been lucky but will probably book at the same time of year if we return.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


On the whole yes and this always seemed to be a consideration for the crew looking after us. Only exception was a visit to a Pygmy village, which didn't seem to be benefiting those people and possibly created some tension with other communities in the area.

4. Any other comments?


Fantastic holiday, saw loads, met a really nice crowd of people and fitted loads in. Would not hesitate to return or recommend to anyone else.

Read the operator's response here:

I have spoken to the local operator about this and we are pulling the visit to the 'Pygmy' village. (It's not actually in the itinerary so we were unaware the guide took them there). Both the local operator and myself agree that neither the clients or the villagers are benefiting from this relationship. An email has been sent to all leaders to put a stop to this.

Lorna Collings review 14 Oct 20054 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Visiting the gorillas.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take pens/balls, anything small to give to the children.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Definitely minimized impact on environment. Benefitted some local business people, but not the real locals that need the help.

4. Any other comments?


Unique experience both exhilarating and heart wrenching.

Elizabeth Davies review 23 Sep 20054 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


1. The white-water rafting on the nile.
2. Seeing a Cheetah with its very young cub. The mother then left the cub while she hunted and killed a gazelle. We then waited with baited breath for the cub to catch up with its mother.
3. As we didn't see the gorillas it was arranged for us to visit a local orphanage. We spent several hours with the children playing games and came away feeling very humble. When we return next month we are planning on visiting the orphanage again if we have can and taking clothes, pens, crayons, colouring books etc for the children.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Although the operator's booklet doesn't mention it, people who had been to see the Gorillas suggested gardening gloves and waterproof trousers as there are lots of nettles on the way up to the gorillas. Always take a pack of cards as we spent plenty of time in the truck playing Hearts on the few long journeys we had. Toilet paper always comes in handy and one thing I never travel without is wet wipes.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes I did. The operator is very much into Responsible Tourism and are all for helping local people. A visit to the Masai village - which I didn't do as I had done a similar thing in 2001 when I did Kenya & Tanzania was enjoyed by those that did go. Having seen the local village my new friends on the trip were able to purchase direct from the Masai which must benefit both sides. This was appreciated a lot more than the mass produced items found in the local towns. When we were white water rafting on the Nile several of my friends instead helped paint a local school with Softpower who are a charity again helping local communities.

4. Any other comments?


I have to say the holiday did not turn out the way I expected. Due to a mix-up with the operator and the people in Kigali who issue the permits only 5 out of the 20 on the trip have so far seen the Gorillas. The operator have agreed that due to the mix up and as the main reason everyone went on the holiday was to see the Gorillas they have agreed to fly out the remaining 15 out for a long weekend later in October. Therefore the highlight of the holiday has yet to come.

Additional comments: When I sent in the comments we were going to be going back for a weekend so we could see the Gorillas - the final & most important part of our holiday. Although we spent approx 30 hours travelling (12 spent in total at Nairobi airport) and only 48 hours there it was definitely worth it. We arrived Friday lunchtime and headed back to the orphanage we had gone to previously - taking an assortment of supplies for them. On the Saturday we were up early to meet at the centre ready for our Gorilla Trek. 8 of us went to see the Sabyinyo group, when we got to the edge of the forests we expected a 2 - 3 hour walk up to were the were. Instead they were about 500 metres in, it was almost as though they knew how much we'd gone through to see them that they'd decided to come down to us.

Seeing them in front of us was amazing. They just ignored us and carried on eating and playing while we snapped away for the hour we had with them. I would recommend it to anyone who like me wants something different out of a holiday as this is definitely one of the most memorable holidays I've done.

Read the operator's response here:

We're investigating what went wrong with the gorilla permits. It's clear that it's an administration error at some level. Of the 15 clients that did not get to see the gorillas, we have arranged for 12 of them to go back to Rwanda FOC over a weekend in late October as Ms Davies mentions. I know the group are planning to visit the orphanage again and we are asking the orphanage what would be best to take out. We will be discussing some form of compensation or an alternative visit with the other 3 clients next week. We are very very sorry for the permit problem but we are doing our very best to remedy the situation quickly and to the client's liking.

Helen Britton review 12 Aug 20054 star rating

Thoroughly enjoyed my trip! Answers as follows:

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing the gorillas in their natural habitat, so close.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take currency (dollars) in preference to travellers cheques.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Local people were very welcoming and we were careful about minimizing litter etc. , so I would hope so.

Heather Evans review 29 Jul 20054 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The gorillas were the highlight of the trip.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Where possible, and within reason, take advantage of going out and exploring the local area and interacting with the local people.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes. In addition to buying food and drink locally, we were able to purchase personal goods/souvenirs from local tradesman and womens' co-operatives. Where possible, local guides were used. With regards to the environmental impact, the pre-travel advice and the trip experience was first class and extremely considerate.

4. Any other comments?


The delay was due to planning my next trip with you!

Alan MacNicoll review 8 Jul 20054 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Undoubtedly, seeing the mountain gorillas at close quarters.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take a padlock with several keys. You don't need a visa for Rwanda for the first 3 visits. Relax and enjoy......

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


All food was purchased locally, including road-side stalls. Most of the camp-sites visited appeared to be owned by white people. There were some optional trips led by locals. Generally the trip spent money locally - including the gorilla permit - which one hopes goes some way to benefiting the local communities.

Faye Pitchford review 23 Sep 20053 star rating

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing a Cheetah kill with her cub closely following, and memorable for bad reasons not getting to see the gorillas due to administration errors.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take warm clothes, relax and enjoy.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Minimized impacts on the environment yes. The guides were very careful and encouraged best practice.

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5 stars
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
4 stars
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
3 stars
Very enjoyable
2 stars
It was OK
1 star
A bit disappointing really
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