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EXTREME DREAMS: WILDEST AFRICA AND THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON

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Uganda, Tanzania 14 days 10 - 23 JULY, 2020
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Overview

 

Venturing beyond well-trodden trails and tourist-saturated safaris, we’ll witness the unfathomably beautiful and raw corners of this unique part of the world…starting with the Mountains of the Moon (a.k.a. the Rwenzori Mountains). Nestled between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this legendary range lives at the source of the Nile. Its highest peak, Mt Stanley (5109m) is the third highest in Africa. Its challenging ascent has fascinated us for more than a decade.

The journey up Mt Stanley will be a serious mission for our crew, with seven days of hard trekking through untamed rainforest and alpine highlands before crossing some of the last remaining glaciers on the equator. We look forward to preparing and pushing my fellow Extreme Dreamers to ensure we all reach the summit and experience a journey we’ll never forget.

No African expedition is complete without a safari and some ‘Big 5’ action. Of course, we’ll do things a little differently. By day, we’ll wander amongst the mighty beasts of the Serengeti, with nothing more than our wits, our feet, a rifle and an expert guide to keep us on the right side of adventure. By night, we’ll sleep under canvas and a star-studded sky, as the magic symphony of African creatures reverberates through our campsite. This two-day walking safari will immerse us in nature in its purest and finest form and arrives at Kogatende Green Camp where we'll spend our final two nights.

After our two epic missions, we relax at the only camp in the wilderness and rhino zone of the northern Serengeti for the ultimate African wildlife experience close to the Mara River, where huge herds of migrating wildebeest and zebra wait to cross the crocodile-infested waters. Once the sun has set, we’ll relax around the campfire with dinner served under the stars to unwind, reminisce and plan the next big adventure.

There’s the option to stay extend your trip by two extra nights with a visit to one of Africa’s most famous safari destinations, the Ngorongoro Crater. You’ll stay high about this magnificent safari utopia at the Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp in a private luxury tent. More details can be found below.

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Mount Stanley, also known as Margherita Peak, is Africa's third-highest peak and the Kilembe route winds through diverse forests and valleys of ferns that showcase Africa's amazing diversity. Straddling the Uganda/DRC border in eastern equatorial Africa, the Rwenzori Mountains are the legendary 'Mountains of the Moon' written of by Ptolemy as early as 150 AD. Standing an impressive 5100m the mist-shrouded peaks carry permanent snow and glaciers, while the lower slopes are covered with dense forest. The range has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its spectacular beauty. While the mountains are a great attraction to hikers so too is the beauty of the area, the forests, birds and animals. Visitors can look forward to hiking through the mountains, soaking up stunning views, and traversing Stanley Glacier.

Please note - Climbing to Margherita peak is now technical and knowledge of ropes and use of crampons, ascenders and figure 8s to belay, and knowledge of how to use an ice axe is advisable with ice sections of 60% steepness and changing rapidly due to climate change and melting of the glacier. All our guides are trained in ice climbing and rescue and can guide you up with little experience however you must be prepared to learn on the way up and to be able to fit your own crampons and at least tie basic knots and use of ascenders and figure 8s.

We provide all the equipment necessary for the climb like crampons, ropes, harnesses, carabiners, you need to bring good hiking boots, warm clothing warm sleeping bag, and rain gear. We do hire sleeping bags for those who need one.

In the lead-up to this expedition, Best Life Adventures will run a pre-expedition training trip to learn the basic mountain skills required to complete this ascent. This will be at extra cost with details TBC.

This expedition has a fitness rating of 4 (Highly Active) - more details can be found here in 15.4.1

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Depart for Africa

Location : Entebbe, Uganda

It's finally time to embark on our incredible Best Life Adventures Extreme Dreams Expedition: Mountains of the Moon and Magical Beasts.

Make sure your bags are packed, you're physically and mentally ready and up for the adventure of a lifetime!

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ARRIVE ENTEBBE, UGANDA

Location : Nsamizi Rd, Entebbe, Uganda

On arrival into Entebbe International Airport, our driver will be there to meet you once you clear immigration and collect your luggage. You will then be transferred to the Karibu Guest House, Entebbe for a well-earned rest.

Situated on a peninsula in Lake Victoria, the former seat of Uganda’s government, Entebbe is just a short drive from the current capital and offers plenty to keep visitors amused. This charming town features tree-lined streets and serves as an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding area. Tourists can look forward to spending days on beautiful beaches along the banks of Lake Victoria, stroll through the fields and forests of the magnificent Botanical Gardens, or pay a visit to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, a haven for country’s orphaned chimps.

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START RWENZORI MOUNTAIN CLIMB

Location : Sine Camp Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda

After checking out of the hotel our driver will transfer you to Entebbe Airport to board a scheduled 1-hour flight to Kasese, the start point for our Rwenzori adventure.

On arrival at Kasese airstrip, we transfer you to the Trekkers Hostel, Kilembe at 1,450 meters. Here we'll meet our guides for a full briefing about the trek.

We start the day at Trekkers Hostel and climb to Sine Hut at 2,596m - a height gain of 1,146m. There's the option to proceed to Kalalama Camp at 3,134m, which gives more time at Mutinda Camp so you can enjoy the panoramic views from the Mutinda Lookout at 3,975m.

We start by walking along the valley floor through tall forest trees of the Afro Montane Forest Zone. This is a steady climb with large numbers of birds and the chance to see blue monkeys scamper through the forest. There are large troupes of around 15 to 20 black and white Colobus monkeys as they swing through the treetops. There are rare sightings of the L’Hoest monkey which are part of the Bukonzo cultural emblems and are protected by the virtue of the King or Omusinga or you may hear wild chimpanzee in the distance.

There are a wide variety of plant species from forest trees to bamboos thickets, low shrubs, flowers, fungi, and with many mosses and lichen-covered vines hanging from the tall trees. Enock’s Falls are just 200 meters from Sine Hut and offer a splendid opportunity to capture some stunning images.

At Sine Camp (2,596m) we stay in wooden huts set between the tall forest trees on a narrow ridge where we can sit and enjoy the beauty of the Afro Montane forest while looking down at the waterfalls that crash on the rocks far below. Sine is just below the bamboo zone and the area around has many different bird species. 150 metres from the camp is Enock falls set in vibrant green vegetation and hanging vines. 

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MUTINDA CAMP | RWENZORIS

Location : Sine Camp Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda

We head off at 8.30am and almost immediately enter the Bamboo-Mimulopsis Zone which is a steep climb with many high steps. In the wet season, the bamboo zone is muddy and slippery making the going slow. However, the atmosphere and the forest is beautiful and we climb 551m over a distance of 1.8km to Kalalama Camp at 3,147m in the Heather-Rapanea Zone before heading on to Mutinda Camp.

The trail meanders up and over several small knolls along a ridge top then drops down the side of the valley before climbing again, and cross several small streams and pass close to moss covered waterfalls.

We climb steadily along the side of a beautiful mossy river which tumbles down over the rocks under the Giant Heather trees whose trunks are covered in green moss with old man beards (Usnea lichen) hanging from the branches. The trail twists and turns as we climb up the deep valley, which has an enormous variety of plants and flowers. 

In the afternoon we climb up to the top of the Mutinda Lookout (one hour up and 45 minutes down) The views are epic as we stand on moss-covered rocks at 3,925m with views across the Rwenzori Mountains and down to Kasese town and Lake George. Taking a side trip to summit Mutinda (3,975m) is an excellent way to acclimatise and reduce the risk of high altitude sickness.

Overnight we sleep at Mutinda Camp at 3,582m.

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BUGATA CAMP | RWENZORIS

Location : Sine Camp Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda

The trail to Bugata Camp is boggy particularly in the wet season but with a little skill you can step from tussock to tussock to make the going easier. 

We cross the Mutinda valley through the tussock grass and everlasting flowers interspersed with many Giant Lobelias before climbing a steep section up to the Namusangi Valley (3,840m), with sheer waterfalls and fantastic views of Mutinda Peaks.

The Namusangi Valley is wide, with many ups and downs and the trail climbs steadily to Bugata Camp at 4,100m.

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HUNWICK’S CAMP | RWENZORIS

Location : Sine Camp Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda

We trek to Hunwick’s Camp via Bamwanjarra Pass. We leave Bugata Camp and climb a ridge before ascending Bamwanjarra Pass at 4,450m where there's a rest hut should the weather turn inclement.

From here on a clear day, you have excellent views of the three main peaks. The trail heads down the valley, around the edge of extensive bogs and thick evergreen vegetation.

It's here we have the best chance in all the Rwenzori, to observe the Malachite Sunbird as it feeds on the many lobelia flowers and is a known breeding site. Further on there are some steep sections before a steady climb up and over a ridge to Hunwick's Camp, situated at the top of a deep valley with good views of Mt Stanley, Mt Baker, Weismann's Peak and McConnell’s Prong.

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MARGHERITA CAMP | RWENZORIS

Location : Sine Camp Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda

From Hunwick's Camp, we pass down and across the valley floor to Lake Kitendara, with its deep water and beautiful vegetation. From here we climb Scott Elliott's pass then up the ridge to Margherita Camp at 4,485m, situated between some huge rocks offering shelter from the strong winds. This is the spot where the Duke of Abruzzi camped when he made the inaugural climb of Margherita Peak in 1906.

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HUNWICK’S CAMP | RWENZORIS

Location : Sine Camp Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda

We wake at 02:00, catch an early breakfast and head off to climb Mt Stanley. The early start is necessary to avoid potentially heavy clouds and snow falls from 13:00 - 16:00 and this can happen very quickly as the clouds rise up from the extensive Congo rainforests.

Due to these possible changes in weather, we set a strict turn around time of 10:00 in the interests of safety. In recent years, Margherita glacier has suffered from global warming and the outer edges of the glacier have receded with the ice becoming steeper, including a section of about 200 meters of more than 60% grade. 

This is where our crampon, ice axe and pre-trip training is essential to ensure we complete the most difficult part of the adventure. 

After ascending the peak at 5,109m we then pass directly back down to Hunwick's Camp at 3,874m.

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Kiharo Camp | Rwenzoris

Location : Kilembe, Uganda

Today's trek covers 11km to Kiharo Camp 11km and takes between 4-6 hours.

From Hunwick’s Camp we climb a ridge towards McConnell’s Prong where there are stunning views of all three peaks and Scott Elliott’s Pass before we reach Oliver’s Pass at 4,505m. The distance from Hunwick’s Camp to the top of Olivers Pass is 3km. Our trail cuts across below Weismann’s Peak to the confluence of the Nyamwamba River which flows down thought Kilembe and Kasese to Lake George in Queen Elisabeth National Park.

After crossing the confluence the trail meanders down the valley to Kiharo Camp with high cliffs and dense vegetation. On the way down the valley, we climb over a ridge of stones and earth pushed there by slow-moving glaciers thousands of years ago.

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Margherita Hotel | Kasese

Location : Hotel Margherita, Kasese, Uganda

Our final day is a big one with 12.2km to Kiharo Camp at the park gate and another 2.8km down to Trekkers Hostel Time. It will take between 5 to 8 hours.

The trail down the Nyamwamba Valley is mostly downhill and stunning with beautiful views, moss-covered rocks along the river, cascading waterfalls, deep valleys and forests which are the most dramatic in the Rwenzori Mountains.

The forest along this section is magnificent and full of life with many birds, primates, dikers and hyrax. It's a great experience and ending to a fantastic trek.

We then transfer to our hotel in Kasese and overnight here.

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Serengeti Walking Safari

Location : Kogatende Airstrip, Tanzania

After a relaxing breakfast, we transfer to the airstrip and board our morning flight to Entebbe.

On arrival into Entebbe, we board our private charter flight to Kogatende in the Northern Serengeti.

Our Serengeti walking guides meet us at the Kogatende airstrip and our drive to the start of the hike takes us through some of the richest and most diverse safari lands in Africa. After lunch, we prepare our equipment and start our afternoon hike to a fly camping site. 

THE LOWDOWN - walking from camp to camp

During this thrilling Serengeti walking safari, we walk from camp to camp. We won't carry anything besides a daypack containing personal items for a day walk, water and a snack prepared by the cook. All meals served in the camp will be three-course.

Lightweight walking camp

The only roads that exist into these areas are access roads to the campsites. Since there are no permanent accommodation facilities in the walking zones a small, lightweight camp is perfect. Our Walking Safari Camp is comfortable and always set in stunning locations.

The schedule

Our day will start with a light breakfast and we start walking around 06:30. Our cook will prepare a packed breakfast that we enjoy overlooking the African savannah. Our guide will have us back in camp before the heat of the day kicks in for a sit-down lunch. Afternoons are generally spent like the animals, with our eyes closed in a shady place. As the day cools down we set off on a shorter afternoon walk to enjoy an African sunset.

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Walking safari to Kogatende Green Camp

Location : Kogatende Airstrip, Tanzania

Our travel over the next two days explores the Northern Serengeti wilderness - Africa’s most famous park. The variety and abundance of wildlife we see are unmatched anywhere else in Africa. It's home to the Big Five and annual wildebeest migration.

Serengeti Wildebeest migration

Our camp is set up on a ridge under large evergreen trees, overlooking a large part of the Northern Serengeti. The camp is open from July until the end of November when the migration of millions of wildebeest is in the area, attempting to cross the Mara River.

Witness Mara River crossings

Kogatende camp is located on the edge of the Northern Serengeti Wilderness zone, approximately 20 minutes from the Mara River. A fabulous location to spot herds of wildebeest crossing the river. It is far enough out of the mainstream traffic to enable remote game viewing. 

Stylish safari camp

Our Serengeti Green Camp comprises 10 square en-suite tents. Each tent can be set up as double, twin or triple for families with cosy beds, stylish interiors and outdoor seating to relax on, each tent has been cleverly designed to offer the greatest comfort with minimum impact to the environment. Simple luxuries comfy beds, crisp linens, and classic bucket bush showers ensure we can relax and wind down after a full day enjoying the wildlife. Our stylish central mess tent has lounge chairs and a small library so we can relax in complete comfort during the day.

Delicious cuisine

Our meals are delicious home-cooked 3-course suppers cooked on open fires served under the stars. Meals are taken in a sociable communal style.  Private dining areas with fireplace and butler can be set up for a special occasion.

Eco-friendly

All our Green Camps operate in the most environmentally sustainable manner. We use low impact energy creation wherever we can, minimize waste in the camp by preparing part of the meals in Arusha. We are plastic free as much as possible, use solar-powered light, recycle and operate a number of green initiatives. 

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DAY GAME VIEWING KOGATENDE GREEN CAMP

Location : Kogatende Airstrip, Tanzania

After our two epic missions, we relax at the only camp in the wilderness and rhino zone of the northern Serengeti for the ultimate African wildlife experience close to the Mara River, where huge herds of migrating wildebeest and zebra wait to cross the crocodile-infested waters. Once the sun has set, we’ll relax around the campfire with dinner served under the stars to unwind, reminisce and plan the next big adventure.

Kogatende Green Camp is situated on the banks of a permanent drainage line and overlooks a large salt lick which numerous animals frequent daily.

The camp comprises of 10 large specially designed square tents with very comfortable beds and luxurious linen. Each tent has a bush en-suite with bucket shower and hot water on request. There is also a dining and lounge tent, where lunch and breakfast is served, whilst evenings are spent around the campfire and dinner is served under the stars. 

These green camps are arguably the most environmentally friendly camps in the industry, with all aspects well considered to minimise our impact, in line with the ethos of Best Life Adventures. The camps use low impact energy creation wherever they can, minimize waste in the camp by preparing part of the meals in Arusha. They are plastic free as much as possible, use solar-powered light, recycle and loads more.

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Optional

Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp

Price : US$1700

Location : Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Finish your adventure with two days of the ultimate pamper session at the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, the most idyllic African safari location on the continent, staying at Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp. With sunrise and sunset game drives on tap, the views from your room across one of the most fertile eco-systems in the world will stay with you forever. Go on.....you deserve it and when are you going to come back again?!

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Depart for home

Location : Arusha Airport, Arusha, Tanzania

The time has come to head for home. We'll take you to Arusha Airport where you'll board your flight back to your home country.

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Uganda, Tanzania
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