East Africa

Faculty: Laurie Koehler and Kathy Weiss
Class meeting time: Tuesdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

2 students looking through binoculars on a safari

Trip Highlights

Come join us for the best, most amazing, memorable “zoo” visit of your life. We will be up close and personal with Africa’s “Big Five” – the mighty lion, the thunderous rhino, the bigger-than-life elephant, the skillful leopard, and the undeniable African buffalo.

These animals will imprint your mind and your heart as you watch them in their habitat. You will also have your breath taken away watching giraffes, cheetahs, antelopes, eland, hippos, hyenas, flamingos, cranes, monkeys, gorillas, etc. The list is honestly too long to name them all. Without a doubt, this is a bucket list trip!

We will visit safari savannahs, historic parks, animal sanctuaries and more. The intent of this excursion is to view some of the majestic beauty God has created in an area you might now consider desolate and uninspiring. We will visit climates and landscapes that are not typical for us in the U.S., but you will quickly appreciate what it has to offer with its vistas, animal families, and unique ecosystem.

We will go to favorite locations of those who travel in the region but will also visit small villages and communities to appreciate the culture of Africa. Language and cultural differences will become aware to us as we move across three countries and various dialects. We will look at the economics of the regions we visit, as well as the religious views and historic layers.

In preparation for our expedition, we will read about the areas we will visit and study key words of each language and get to know helpful phrases. In addition to paying attention to who we are as George Fox students, we will also place a focus on recording our journey in words and images, creating a story to tell. It will be incumbent upon us to become storytellers for those who won’t be on the trip and may never be able to see what we have seen.

Prerequisites: You must have the ability to walk reasonable distances (up and downhill), climb stairs, and breathe comfortably in high altitude. Most often we will be in a vehicle while watching animals; however, there are several opportunities where we are walking in and around animals in their natural habitat.

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1 Travel from Portland to Uganda
Day 2 We will travel from the airport to Kampala, Uganda, checking out the local area and getting over jet lag. We will begin to see the cultural diversity as we move around Kampala from craft markets to restaurants and visit a local orphanage.
Day 3-6 The “safari” begins! We will climb aboard our truck and leave Kampala for Murchison Falls National Park. We will be on the road heading to our first adventure – and loads of monkeys. We will see a wide variety of terrain, including jungles and rivers, as we visit the top of Murchison Falls.

After we take pause at the amazing views and the loud crashing of water, we’re back on the truck, heading to our first savannah. We will have eyes open, looking for lions, elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, and so much more.

Following that excursion, we’ll head to the river for a boat ride up river to the base of Murchison Falls. We will visit the famous Budongo Forest Reserve to see chimpanzees in their domain. Large and small, we will see a community of chimpanzees in their home. On our way back to Kampala, we will make a stop at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and take a walk among families of rhinos in their natural habitat.
Day 7 We’re back to Kampala for the Ndere Cultural Center. There will be time to do laundry, get some rest, and spend a memorable evening at The Ndere Cultural Center, featuring a variety of African lifestyles, including drumming, dancing, singing, food, handicrafts and more.
Day 8 We’re back on the road, heading to Jinja and an amazing raft trip down the Nile River. With class 3 and class 4 rapids, it’s time to hold your breath and hold on. In addition, we’ll have some restful float time as we cruise downriver. The views from our camp will blow you away (and you’ll see plenty of monkeys).
Day 9 We’ll travel from Jinja to Kisumu, Kenya. Keep your eyes looking out the window. You will see housing and businesses that show a simple life. Happy children playing outside are often waving at our truck. Wave back and make their day.
Day 10 We move from Kisumu to Loita Hills. Here we will spend time with the Masai in the Maji Moto Maasai Cultural Camp. We are only an hour-and-a-half drive from the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. You will get to know the Maasai people living and working in the camp, visit their traditional homes, and get insight into their daily lives. Our activities include:
  • Warrior training: Try your skill at spear throwing, close-up warrior battle, fire making, and more
  • Village life: Visit tribal homes, understanding the daily life of cooking, water fetching and other activities
  • Cultural experiences: Hear the songs and stories of the warriors around the campfire, or plan for a ceremony of blessing and celebration
  • Walking with the Maasai: Experience the hills and plains as the Maasai do, on foot; learn about how they survive in the wildness, and use holy and medicinal plants from nature
We will be camping at the Maji Moto Cultural Camp for a full-on experience. You can stay in an actual Maasai mud hut.
Day 11-12 Our next stop is near Lake Victoria. The beautiful sunsets and enormous hippos in Lake Victoria are something to behold. We’ll visit the famous Masai Mara National Park on two different occasions to see how many animals we can find. We will also hike a canyon after we have our lunch with monkeys. We will also have an opportunity for a bike ride through a portion of the park, seeing the landscape close up.
Day 13-14 We’ll drive to Hells Gate National Park, known for cliffs, wildlife and scenery. Unique to the area, Hells Gate is also known for five geothermal power stations. We will drive through the park for more wildlife and spectacular views. If you take a look at pictures of Hells Gate and you can’t quite place why it looks so familiar, Hells Gate was the visual inspiration for Disney’s The Lion King.
Day 15 Today we travel to Samburu for an afternoon game drive in search of the “Special Five” species endemic to the North of Kenya. These include the Beisa oryx, reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, Gerenuk antelope, and Somali ostrich. (Did I mention how special this trip was?)
Day 16 Samburu and Buffalo Springs will give us more game drives as we continue to go in search of our best photos. We also will swim in the natural springs of Buffalo Springs Reserve. When you think of the movie Out of Africa, this is the place. Home to the big game of Africa, today is sure to please.
Day 17 We’re on our way to Mt. Kenya, following a morning game drive. Mt. Kenya is the second-highest mountain in Kenya, following only Mt. Kilimanjaro. An ancient extinct volcano, Mt. Kenya is an impressive part of the landscape with rugged ice-capped summits, 12 glaciers, and forested slopes. We will be staying near the base of Mt Kenya at the Bantu Lodge.
Day 18 We will have a full day visit to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, enjoying a game drive in the conservancy and visiting the chimpanzees. We will select from a variety of immersive experiences, giving us one-on-one encounters in this extraordinary corner of the world. Another night at the Bantu Lodge.
Day 19 Today is a travel day as we drive to Amboseli.
Day 20 This will be a full-day game drive in Amboseli National Park. With a diverse ecosystem of woodlands, swamp marshlands and lakes, the park is home to 80 different species, including African elephants, African buffalo, impalas, lion, zebra, wildebeest, giraffes, leopards and more. We will also have a front-row seat to 400 species of birds. Not to be forgotten, we will be at the doorstep of Mt. Kilimanjaro with a breathtaking view as we safari our way through the park.
Day 21 Following a morning game drive, we depart for Nairobi, Kenya. Arriving late in the afternoon, we will focus our attention on laundry, packing, and final shopping as we prepare to head home.
Day 22 Fly to Portland from Nairobi, Kenya