Our trip to Kenya was the most incredible experience I think I have ever had. I have had so many great questions about sharing this experience with you guys, and I wanted to share my full itinerary that we went through during this trip! A lot of people asked me if we got a tour guide on this trip or arranged it through a travel company and the answer is NO, our friends Billy and Jess who we traveled with on this trip planned it from the start to the end and it was AMAZING. Here’s a little inside look at our trip to Africa from Kenya, to Uganda, to Rwanda:
Day 1 - Nairobi
We spent the first afternoon at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust visiting the elephants and also visiting the two elephants Rasmus and I adopted. :) Yes, you heard that right. We have two adopted elephants in Africa. “'The Orphans' Project exists to offer hope for the future of Kenya’s threatened elephant and rhino populations as they struggle against the threat of poaching for their ivory and horn, and the loss of habitat due to human population pressures and conflict, deforestation and drought.”
Their Orphanage/Nursery is open to the public in Nairobi National Park, check out their website for additional information!
In the evening we went to Carnivore Restaurant for dinner. I came away feeling stuffed after this meal in a good way. :) Tons of good meats and FOOD.
Our first hotel: Ole Sereni - We picked this hotel as it is on that Bypass - which means we stayed away from traffic and the city. From there it was also really easy to get to the elephant orphanage, giraffe centre, and in and out of the airport.
Day 2 - Nairobi - Olarro
On day 2 we ventured into the Giraffe centre at David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The animals were incredible. It opens in the morning around 9am and we wanted to get there first thing to avoid the crowds. Luckily we were the very first people there so we didn’t have to wait in line to feed the giraffes and we even got kissed by the giraffes. Such an incredible experience to see them up close!
At around 1030am we left for Olarro Lodge, our second hotel destination. One thing to note, be careful of the grilled corn they are selling on the side of the road as my friend Jess spent the whole first day sick. The rest of us were fine, but just something to be cautious about.
We end up arriving at Olarro for lunch at around 2-3pm. Talk about one of the best experiences and places I’ve ever stayed. We were immediately greeted with cold towels and the BEST part we were the ONLY GUESTS at the whole lodge so we got special treatment our entire stay. 20,000 acres of Private Conservancy to explore!
Day 3 - Olarro Lodge
We woke up the next morning around 3:45am (I know, EARLY but WORTH IT) for a hot air balloon ride, followed by bush breakfast. I mean, who gets to say they went in a hot air balloon in Africa? Talk about a once in a lifetime experience that I HIGHLY recommend!
It was so worth it to have that vantage point to observe the wildlife in their natural habitat and in the morning where they were the most vibrant. It honestly felt like we were in Lion King. :) Another thing to note and be careful of when on a hot air balloon is that when they ask you to put your cameras away when landing, listen to them and don’t try to capture that one last photo. Our friend Billy decided to wait until the very last minute to put his camera away and got knocked out by his camera on the landing and got a cut on his nose. It could’ve ended up even worse and good thing it wasn’t broken! I’m currently laughing as I type this and remember this memory.
For the rest of the day, we then went to Masai Mara for a full day game drive where you get to ride along in the Serengeti National Park to see parts of the Great Migration! We saw lions, rhinos, buffalo, cheetahs, (we almost witnessed a hunt), hippos, all of it except we missed the one “Big Five” animal - the leopard. It was both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time to witness these animals so close.
Day 4 - Olarro Lodge
I love a good adventure, so we went quad biking in the AM!
In the afternoon, we visited a local school and I can say it was one of the most rewarding days of my life.
We were told by the teachers these kids don’t get visitors very often and seeing their looks of pure excitement was indescribable. We donated some Marvel books, colored pencils and clothes to the kids, and took pictures with the Polaroid camera to hand out. Everyone was having so much fun because they had never seen something like that before!
It was so cute seeing them chase each other around for the photos and they were even more wowed by Rasmus’s drone he was flying around. After we visited the school, at night we went to visit a Masai Tribe in the afternoon. Another unique experience, and a privilege to have been invited into their home and learned all about their traditional way of life.
Day 5 - Olarro Lodge
Day 5 was focused on really driving around the Conservancy's. We did both a day and night drive with the rangers. We were so fortunate to see first hand the Olarro Conservancy and to hear from the Anti-Poaching rangers. These guys dedicate their lives to protect the land and animals in a way that allows nature to run its course. They know every single lion in the conservatory, and can tell each type of animal just by looking at their eyes in the pitch black darkness of night. The golden sunsets, the array of wildlife sounds, starry nights and the fresh savannah air. Pictures and videos really don’t do this place justice! But check out these amazing photos below!
In the Morning we did another Game Drive, then returned for lunch and drove back to Nairobi for a flight to Entebbe. We took Kenya airways to Entebbe and then went to our hotel: 2 Friends Entebbe Beach Hotel on Lake Victoria. This was merely a place to stay overnight as we had a long drive the next day.
Day 7 - Entebbe - Fort Portal
Day 7 we drove from Entebbe to Fort Portal - which was around 5.5 hours.
Our hotel for the next few nights was Kyaninga Lodge. The view was absolutely stunning here as we were situated right on the crater. The stay here was spectacular. My only complaint was every morning they could not seem to get my egg order correct and food took a long time to get as they were in no rush, but the food was so fresh.
Day 8 + 9 - Kyaninga Lodge
We spent days 8+9 relaxing in our lodge and enjoying our beautiful surroundings. Every morning we went for our 5k run around the crater. Most people hike or walk this, but of course our crew was very much into fitness so we turned this into an enjoyable run.
On day 8, we biked through a local town in Uganda (lots of hills and narrow trails), met a woman who was over 101 years old, tried sugar cane straight from the farm, and met a lot of really nice people. The kids were running up to us screaming “How are you”. :) On day 9, we were packed sandwiches to go as we headed to the chimpanzee trek. This was a crazy experience to be in the middle of the wild, in pouring rain, hearing the chimpanzee cries. Would highly recommend this, but if we can Rasmus and I someday would love to do the gorilla trek!
Day 10 - Fort Portal - Lake Bunyonyi
We drove from Kyaninga Lodge to Lake Bunyonyi, leaving around lunch time. It was Around a 6 hour drive to our next Hotel: Bunyonyi Overland Resort. Immediately when we got there, we went kayaking around the lake and got some food at the restaurant there. Make sure to pack lots of bug spray as this place was packed with them.
Day 11 - Lake Bunyonyi - Rwanda
Early in the morning, we took a boat trip to visit a remote Pygmy tribe living at about 3000m above sea level. A truly fascinating experience. As we were taking our boat trip to the pygmy tribe, we passed punishment island on Lake Bunyoni. “Until the 1900s, a punishment island was where girls from surrounding villages who were found to be pregnant out of wedlock would be brought, abandoned, and left to starve to death.” Thankfully times have changed. After spending our afternoon with them, we drove from campsite to Rwanda. We got lost around Lake Bunyonyi for about 1-2 hours (LOL) Otherwise it should be around a 3-4 hour drive excluding time at border crossing! The border crossing took around 1 hour to register car, insure car and have all passengers cleared. Once through we reached our hotel in Rwanda: Davinci Gorilla Lodge.
Day 12 - Volcanoes Region / Davinci Gorilla Lodge
In the morning we hiked Mount Bisoke, getting back to the lodge around 4-5pm. This was such a fun hike about 10km of hiking. 3711m of elevation. 20,000 steps later. My Nike shoes were fully covered in mud. It was definitely way more challenging than we thought it would be! Our guides were like bunny rabbits going up and down the hill and thankfully we had them because at one point it got so muddy and slippery, a few of us kept slipping all over the place and they would grab us right before we would fall.
Here are my best tips about this hike: Allow a full day due to inefficiencies and depending on weather. The hike was supposed to start at 8am, but you need to meet at HQ, buy tickets (which is a very long process), and then drive together to the beginning of the hike. We got back to lodge at around 4-5pm.
Also another piece of advice, pack yourself a warm jacket for the top because it was very cold about 7 degrees celsius and there was fog which meant zero visibility. Ras decided to hike with shorts and a tank and we didn’t last long at the top because we were all freezing!
We would advise against driving to and from Kigali for a hike - it is a challenging one-day hike. Possibly in good weather conditions it would be possible though!
One of my favorite parts also about staying at the Davinci Gorilla Lodge, immediately when we got back, we were welcomed to hot tea and foot massages and the chef immediately requested what we wanted to eat for dinenr that night. After some hot showers and good food, we were out.
Day 13 - Volcanoes Region - Kigali
In the morning we drove to Kigali. It was around 1.5 hours drive in normal traffic. We visited Hotel Rwanda and the main Genocide memorial, we felt a little rushed so please allow yourself some time to look at this beautiful monument!
We ended the day at our next hotel: Heaven restaurant and boutique hotel.
The hotel was OK, simple and basic and good for a one night stop! The restaurant is regarded as one of the BEST in Kigali. There are much nicer hotels nearby but it was ok for our one night.
Day 14 - Kigali - Nairobi - Los Angeles
Our final day we made it to the airport to take our fight back to the States. We flew out of Kigali International Airport.
Two weeks of flying, ballooning, driving, boating, hiking and biking - it couldn’t have been more perfect. Of course there were tons of challenges along the way from cancelled flights, cheetahs almost eating our drone, getting lost for hours in the rain on the cliffside of a remote mountain in Uganda with no working gps and gas was running low, these all only added to the experience! From seeing the animals, to visiting orphaned elephants, school and Maasai tribe visits in Kenya, camping, crater runs around the volcano and trekking with the chimps in Uganda, to hiking Mount Bisoke and visiting the genocide memorial in Rwanda. This was for sure one of the best trips I’ve ever been on and I think what made it even better was the friends we spent it with. From workouts, to late night monopoly deal, to all the laughs - this was truly a trip of a lifetime and one we still talk about.
If you enjoyed this itinerary, please comment below if you want me to start sharing more of my travels like this! Traveling is a passion of mine and Rasmus and we love sharing with you all our experiences. :)