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Matt Clapp   –  
United States US
Visited: February 2024 Reviewed: Mar 9, 2024

Email Matt Clapp  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: 2-5 safaris

Rich and diverse memories of East Africa for a lifetime

Empirical Tour and Travel led an incredibly rich and rewarding custom trip through East Africa for my fiancee and I for 3.5 weeks. We were both in between jobs and wanted to do something really big. We researched a large number of different safari services and for various reasons, none of them were a good match for us. I stumbled across Empirical's profile and was intrigued by their focus on Rwanda, Burundi, and Congo. I had never really thought about these countries before, but I reached out to them to ask for more info. Eraste (the owner and head guide) was very responsive and provided good info. We discussed a custom trip based off a standard trip they offer. Within 2 days, Eraste provided me with a custom itinerary based on a large number of things I was interested in. We agreed to a 23 day trip across Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.

I requested a few last changes (removed DRC and added a horse safari in Kenya), which he accommodated. The itinerary we finally agreed on was very exciting. We paid Eraste via a mix of credit card (which had to be paid in batches of less than $2000 due to limitations on the Rwanda bank) and wire transfer.

Eraste met us at the airport in Kigali after midnight, as the flight arrives late at night, and took us to our hotel. We slept and then the trip began. Over the next 3.5 weeks we really got a taste of East Africa:

Rwanda was a true hidden gem. The entire country is impossibly clean and looks landscaped; a photo at any random location in the country looked like it had to be a park or something, but it wasn't, it was just the landscape. The Genocide Memorial Center was really a good experience. Rwanda has a painful past (the genocide was in 1994), but to walk around the country you don't feel it. Everyone is very kind (though street vendors are still trying to sell stuff). Other highlights included a canopy walk, golden monkey trek, a stay at a great beautiful lodge on tranquil Lake Kivu (where my fiancee and I got engaged!) and a visit to islands in the lake, Dian Fossey museum, banana beer making, and cultural dancing.

Burundi provided a great cultural experience at the Gishora Drum Sanctuary. This was amazing. You could feel the drum resonate through your chest. We also visited a waterfall park.

Uganda gave us the highlight of our trip - the gorilla trek. We hiked off trail in the jungle to spend an hour with a gorilla family of 8. The gorillas are habituated to humans (which takes years of daily exposure to trackers), so they basically ignore you. You're in no danger. We stood a short distance from a silverback while he munched on leaves. Our hearts were racing. Over the next hour we got to watch different members of the gorilla family eat ants, relax in trees, beat their chests (to impress us, according to the trackers), and liver their daily lives. In Uganda, we also visited several parks and got to see lions (male, female, and cubs), cheetahs, giraffes, antelopes, elephants, hippos, and several species of antelope and primates. We crossed the equator and saw a demonstration of water spinning clockwise and counter-clockwise and falling straight down. The crazy thing was, these were only 10 meters apart. We also did a really nice boat ride to Merchison Falls and saw more elephants and hippos.

Kenya provided an experience of a walking safari with members of a Maasai tribe in Maasai Mara. We saw elephants and antelope. We also got to visit their village, meet young warriors in training, and see their jumping contest and dancing. In a separate location, we did a horse safari which was was incredible. I highly recommend doing this. We were able to see giraffes from a distance and wart hogs and impala up close. We visited a rhino sanctuary and got see them up close grazing from a short distance while we walked around on foot. We also visited a giraffe park and got to feed and pet giraffes. So wonderful.

Tanzania was the end of our trip and we spent a few days snorkeling in the crystal blue waters of the Indian Ocean off Zanzibar. We also explored Stone Town and visited a slavery memorial location that was very educational.

Throughout the trip we stayed very good accommodations. Some were good, some were really good, and some were absolutely top notch. We were perfectly happy with this mix. Most hotels were gated, and we never felt unsafe.

The food ranged from local (which was really tasty) to specific to westerners. The quality varied by location. Sometimes the meat was tough, which really shouldn't be surprising, as the way food is stored in those areas is very different than back home. But sometimes it really was like eating at a nice restaurant. Again, it's travel, so we expected this mix. We chose to avoid vegetables that weren't peeled so we missed out on some stuff, but if felt like a good choice for us. We both got traveler's diarrhea once on the trip, though it was minor and passed in a few days. (Mine came from eating some berries for sale on the roadside in Burundi. I should have known better.)

The drivers were really on the ball and a did a good job covering long distances while ensuring we were safe and got to our destinations on time. They also did a great job in the game parks helping to get us to animal sitings, which may not last long.

Overall, I have to say the trip was INCREDIBLE. Seriously, nearly every day we experienced something incredible, and the whole time we kept thinking, and there's still a lot more amazing stuff to come! It felt like we packed months of experiences in a short time.

Eraste is a very kind and caring guide and went to a lot of trouble to give us the best experience possible, including adding a last minute trip to the giraffe park after he learned my fiancee liked giraffes and arranging with hotel staff to leave floral decorations on our bed to celebrate our recent engagement. Eraste also has great staff and we really enjoyed interacting with all of them.

I'd strongly recommend you bring a large amount of small currency for tipping and some extra money for visas and anything you want to buy. We brought a bunch of (USD) 1's, 5's, and 20's as well as several 100's. For 23 days, we each spent about $1200, though we didn't buy a lot of stuff. It was mostly tipping, the occasional beverage (alcohol is not included in the price), and visas. (Many of the activities are run by people at the specific location, not by Empirical, so you will need ample cash for tipping. So in addition to tipping your Empirical guides and drivers, you will also be tipping local staff.)

I can strongly recommend Empirical. We had a great time across a very broad and rich set of experiences. I can't say enough good things about the trip and I'm still smiling, days after returning home.

Eline   –  
Netherlands NL
Visited: December 2023 Reviewed: Dec 5, 2023

Email Eline  |  20-35 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Amazing experience to Burundi

On our 3 days trip to Burundi we had an amazing experience in this wonderful country. The communication was very smooth and in good english and therefore helped us a lot. The guide was very grateful with the tour and about the country and loved to share his experience with us. For us the last day of the tour was a little to long and maybe better to take a small lunch break so that you have some time to stretch your legs. Leaving a little earlier in the morning gives you already this time for a lunch break. We really can recommend taking a tour and we had an amazing experience!

Murray   –  
United States US
Visited: October 2023 Reviewed: Nov 7, 2023

Email Murray  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Awesome experience, highly recommended

Great tour of Kibira National Park in Burundi - the tour was expertly organized, terrific all round.

Karin H.   –  
Netherlands NL
Visited: September 2023 Reviewed: Oct 2, 2023

Email Karin H.  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Doing everything they can to give you the best travel experience ever!

I am still processing everything I have seen and done in Rwanda. A world completely different from mine. Guided by a guide who speaks English very well and a great experienced driver, I have seen the most beautiful landscapes. There was a good variation in planned activities, but they were also open to suggestions I made. Great communication.
I recommend Empirical Tour and Travelling. The gave me the best experience ever!

Jim and Marcia Bowater   –  
New Zealand NZ
Visited: August 2023 Reviewed: Sep 9, 2023

Email Jim and Marcia Bowater  |  65+ years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Efficient, kind-hearted, sensitive to customers wishes and needs and always smiling.

My wife and I travelled with Eraste to DRC, Burundi and Rwanda for 13 days during August,2023.Pre tour communication with him was great and any issues
quickly answered.He took care of all transport, accommodation ,visas and tickets (including Gorilla permits) without fuss which made our trip so enjoyable.Already we have recommended Eraste and Empirical Tour and travel, to traveler friends of ours as ours was an unforgettable experience.

Ania i Szymon   –  
Poland PL
Visited: August 2023 Reviewed: Aug 28, 2023

Email Ania i Szymon  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: 2-5 safaris

Unforgettable trip with ETT

Exciting and full of impressions and adventures trip through 3 countries. A great experience of meeting gorillas and chimpanzees, but also an amazing experience from a boat on the Nile. Photos with crocodiles and hippos near the waterfalls will remain in our memory for the rest of our lives. Thank you Erast for taking care of us and for the wonderful time together on the island near the volcano in DRC.
Good luck.

Richard W B   –  
New Zealand NZ
Visited: July 2023 Reviewed: Aug 16, 2023

Email Richard W B  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Eraste is a really nice guy who does all he can to give one a memorable trip.

I very much enjoyed my visit to see the Red Monkeys at Musanze even if there were so many people at the same venue going off to see the Gorillas.
The Diane Fossey centre is well worth the time for a visit.
The Genocide museum in Kigali although it is harrowing it should not be missed.
The highlight of my whole trip was going into the Congo to see the Gorillas, for me it was a life time memory.
The boat trip on the slow boat to Goma in the Congo was a really enjoyable day too, not much to see in the town except the wooden bicycles.
Burundi was a good experience too as not many make the effort to visit as such many locals are please to meet and chat.

Elizabeth   –  
United States US
Visited: June 2023 Reviewed: Aug 3, 2023

Email Elizabeth  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: 2-5 safaris


Eraste, the tour guide, was very attentive and helpful when it came to show us around and explaining things during the tours. He was with us for 2 weeks as we explored all around Burundi. He is very knowledgeable and kind. Definitely recommend booking tours with this company.

Alfredo   –  
United States US
Visited: June 2023 Reviewed: Jul 24, 2023

Email Alfredo  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: 2-5 safaris


Prior to coming to Burundi I communicated with the company a year beforhand. Eraste was receptive to all my concerns and answered all my questions promptly. He suggested a program that he thought we would like and we loved the program. We were able to see almost every part of Burundi. Apart from the popular tourist attractions we did many things that tourist don't typically do.
It did seem that we were the first guest that did this tour; exploring every corner of Burundi. Having that said there were some challenges we encounter along the way but Eraste managed to resolve them.
I highly recommend Empirical Tour and Travel as they will accommodate your needs.

Elina   –  
Finland FI
Visited: May 2023 Reviewed: Jun 19, 2023

Email Elina  |  20-35 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

8-day game safari

I did an 8-day game safari tour with Empirical Tour and Travel across the amazing land of Rwanda. As a white female solo traveller I was very pleased with the way this travel agency handled all the little details of my travel. Accommodations were nice and transportations between destinations were smooth. Eraste and Joseph made me feel safe and comfortable the whole journey. With their travel plan I was able to experience Rwanda as a local, which added priceless value for this trip!

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