Join expert naturalist Harriet Kemigisha on this unique safari to see chimpanzees, gorillas and a wealth of birdlife in Uganda’s best national parks.
The tour begins in the enchanting Kibale Forest National Park, which is home to 13 species of primate, to track man’s closest relative – the chimpanzee. Follow the footsteps of a large, habituated family and observe their playful antics.
Continuing to Queen Elizabeth National Park, look for the famous tree-climbing lions and an array of birds including black bee-eater and up to 11 species of kingfisher. Staying in comfortable lodge accommodation, you explore the park on a range of boat trips, game drives and walking safaris.
You then travel to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park – the oldest and most biologically diverse rainforest, home to the endangered mountain gorilla. Trek the forested mountainous slopes for a face-to-face encounter with these endearing apes and with luck you will see a great silverback.
The final stop is Lake Mburo National Park, where amidst spectacular scenery, you can observe large herds of zebra, impala and eland, as well as exceptional birdlife including African finfoot and papyrus bushshrike.
Take a look at Director Nick Joynes' account of his trip to Uganda.
Day1: Depart UK
Depart London on an overnight flight to Entebbe.
On arrival at Entebbe airport you will be met by Harriet and transferred to your accommodation in Kampala. The rest of the day is free to relax after your journey.
Accommodation: Kampala Serena Hotel, 1-night
Day3: Kibale Forest National Park
After breakfast, head west to Fort Portal with lunch en route, before continuing to Kibale Forest National Park. During a two-night stay, you have the opportunity to go in search of the 13 primate species which inhabit the enchanting, ancient forest, including chimpanzee, black and white colobus, red colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey and grey-cheeked mangabey. The birdlife is also remarkable, with over 300 species recorded, including crowned eagle, African grey parrot, black bee-eater, black and white flycatcher and yellow-mantled weaver.
Day4: Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest & nature walk at Bigodi Swamp
This morning, you drive to the Kibale Forest National Park headquarters for a short briefing on chimpanzee trekking. Accompanied by rangers, you head into the forest for a morning of walking, birdwatching and looking for chimpanzees. With over 120 individuals, Kibale is one of the best locations in Africa for chimp viewing. Other forest inhabitants include blue-breasted kingfisher, black-billed turaco, pied hornbill, chestnut-winged starling and many other birds. While there are well-defined paths through the park, you may need to head into the dense forest in search of markings. Once amongst the chimpanzees, you spend approximately an hour following and observing them. Sometimes they will be moving quickly and noisily through the forest, while at other times, you may stumble across a quieter group, foraging and eating on the forest floor.
After lunch, transfer to Bigodi Swamp to enjoy a nature walk amongst the rich diversity of birds and primates.
Day5: Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park
Today you will begin early for a three hour drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The afternoon will be at your leisure allowing you to enjoy the scenic views of the Kazinga Channel from your accommodation or take a refreshing swim in the pool.
After an early start, you take an early morning game drive to the mating ground of the Uganda kob. Here, you can also look out for lion, elephant, buffalo and other wildlife. Later in the day, you take a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake Edward and Lake George over 33km. The two hour boat excursion will cover a 12-14 kilometre stretch of the river to provide excellent sightings of hippo, Nile crocodile, buffalo, elephant and plentiful birdlife.
Day7: Queen Elizabeth National Park
After breakfast enjoy another game drive as you gradually proceed to the southern part of the National Park, known as Ishasha. After checking-in to your accommodation, take a game drive in search of the well-known tree-climbing lions, which are often seen in this area.
After an early start, set off on a game drive to look for lion, elephant and other wildlife, before returning to the lodge late morning. In the afternoon, transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home of the endangered mountain gorilla. Over 300 mountain gorillas live in the park, half of the world’s population, and two family groups have now been successfully habituated to human approach.
Day9: Gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Today is considered to be the highlight of the safari, an unforgettable encounter with Uganda’s mountain gorillas. After breakfast at the lodge, transfer to the Bwindi National Park headquarters to meet your guides and begin tracking gorillas in the dense rainforest on the mountain slopes. Walking through thick foliage on relatively steep climbs will reward you with a once in a lifetime experience of viewing mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. With an estimated 880 mountain gorillas left in the wild, you will be able to sit within metres of these superb apes and experience their day-to-day activities.
Day10: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
A second day in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest allows you to take part in the famous Batwa experience, to visit the long custodians of the forest, or take a village or waterfall walk in the forest.
Day11: Lake Mburo National Park
After breakfast, depart from Bwindi and drive to Lake Mburo National Park. Enjoy lunch at a restaurant before entering the National Park, with a game drive on the way to the accommodation. In the evening there will be the opportunity to have a night drive to look for rarities such as genet cats, bush pigs, white-tailed mongoose, leopard and spotted hyena. With luck you may also spot the one male lion who resides down by Lake Mburo.
This morning, take a guided walking safari in the National Park, allowing you to get much closer to the smaller, often overlooked details bringing you much closer to the wildlife. Return to the lodge for breakfast, followed by a game drive as you leave the protected area. You then drive back to the capital city, passing the Equator where you will stop for lunch, before being dropped back at Entebbe Airport for the return flight home.
Day13: Arrive UK
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 13 daysfrom £6,695 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 11 daysfrom £5,995 pp
Single supplement: From £980
Group size: 12
Included in the price/package:
1 night hotel, 8 nights lodge, 1 night tented camp
Services of the tour leader
Born in the Bigodi Village, at the edge of Kibale National Park, Harriet Kemigisha is a renowned naturalist guide in Uganda. Her lifelong interest in nature and conservation was influenced by her grandfather who introduced her to the natural world when she was just five years old.
Harriet has worked with the Uganda Wildlife Authority as a local ranger in Kibale National Park, and in 2005 she rediscovered the rare and sought-after green-breasted pitta. Previously, Harriet has worked with the Avian Vocalisation Centre at Michigan State University to record the sounds of rare birds, many of which have never been recorded before for science, but she now guides professionally – and is Uganda’s only female bird guide.
Lying east of the Ruwenzori Mountains, this forest habitat is home to an amazing 13 species of primate. Tracking a noisy chimpanzee family is a thrilling experience, and the sheer wealth of wildlife will delight naturalists. The birdlife is also outstanding. We recommend an overnight stay to maximise viewing.
Where: Kamwenge District
Ideal for viewing: chimpanzee, grey-cheeked mangabey, L’Hoest’s monkey, red colobus monkey, bushpig
Queen Elizabeth National Park offers Uganda’s best open-country birds (over 600 species) and wildlife (over 100 mammals). Often described as “The Pearl of Africa”, it has rolling grassland, tropical forest, volcanic crater lakes, papyrus swamp and lakeshore, giving it one of the highest biodiversity rates in the world.
Where: Kasese District
Ideal for viewing: black bee-eater, chimpanzee, giant forest hog, red-tailed colobus, Ugandan kob
Excellent for: Walking safaris, Vehicle safaris, River safaris
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has an exceptional range of altitude and is one of Africa’s most extensive belts of primary montane forest. Though there is a fine array of birdlife, the prime attraction is its mountain gorillas (over 300) and four family groups have been habituated to allow human approach.
Where: Kanungu District
Ideal for viewing: chimpanzee, golden monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, L’Hoest’s monkey, mountain gorilla
Excellent for: Gorilla trekking
Lake Mburo is a small, attractive park of rolling hills, grassland and a large papyrus-fringed lake. Effectively an extension of the Tanzanian plains, it has almost 70 species of mammal and good density of plains game. Once covered by open savannah, it contains much woodland and forms part of a 50km-long wetland.
Excellent for: Vehicle safaris, River safaris, Birdwatching
This lodge is situated within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and less than five minutes walk from the start point of the gorilla trekking. It comprises eight comfortable cottages, each with its own private verandah, which affords wonderful views of the surrounding forest canopy.
In the remote southern sector of the Queen Elizabeth National Park on the Ntungwe River, the luxurious Ishasha Wilderness Camp accommodates guests in ten well-appointed en suite tents. On a clear day you can see the Virunga Volcanoes lying to the south, and the Rwenzori Mountains to the north.
This exclusive retreat beside Lake Mburo National Park consists of ten spacious tented rooms on wooden platforms with thatched roofs, all with exceptional views. An infinity pool overlooks the valley below where buffalo, eland, impala, warthogs, bush buck and zebra can be seen at the waterhole.
Mweya Safari Lodge is a large, first class lodge located on a peninsula within the heart of the spectacular Queen Elizabeth National Park. All the rooms have en suite facilities and boast private balconies looking out across the famous Kazinga Channel with its large hippo population.
This exclusive eco-lodge stands in a secluded position in lush Kibale Forest, home to 13 species of primate including chimpanzees. Eight luxury safari tents on raised wooden platforms are covered by thatch to blend perfectly with the environment, and there is also an opportunity to stay in a tree house.