A two week safari visiting Uganda and Rwanda, trekking the forests in search of mountain gorilla in some of the best national parks, and visiting the enchanting forest of Kibale to track chimpanzee.
The ultimate highlight is trekking gorilla in Parc National des Volcans (PNV) in Rwanda and Bwindi National Park in Uganda – two gorilla permits and one chimpanzee permit are included in the trip. There is, however, no shortage of other activities such as: boat safaris in the Kazinga Channel, visiting Dian Fossey’s grave, forest nature walks, visiting local communities, climbing volcanoes, and wildlife safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Read Director Nick Joynes' blog of his trip to view Uganda's fascinating wildlife.
Day1: Depart the UK
On arrival at Entebbe airport you will be met by your guide and transferred to your accommodation. The rest of the day is free to relax after your journey, explore the surroundings of the lodge or take an optional excursion to the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary (additional cost), situated on Lake Victoria and home to more than 45 orphaned chimpanzees.
Accommodation: The Boma Hotel, 1-night
Day3: Kibale Forest
Today, drive around 350 kilometres to the enchanting Kibale Forest, stopping for a relaxing picnic lunch en route. Alternatively you can opt to fly from Entebbe at a supplement.
Two nights will be spent in the Kibale Forest area giving you plenty of time for chimpanzee tracking and forest walks to the Bigodi Swamps and nearby Vanilla Farm. On arrival at the lodge, the rest of the day will be at your leisure to enjoy the tranquil scenery of the Rwenzori Mountains and Lake Nyinambuga.
This morning, drive to the Kibale 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 searching for chimpanzees. 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.
Returning to the lodge at around lunchtime, the afternoon is at your leisure. Optional activities, which may need to be booked in advance, include exploring Bigodi Swamps, which lies adjacent to the Kibale Forest and is known for spectacular birdwatching. Alternatively you may wish to take a walk around the lodge’s farm in search of birdlife, or relax by the pool amidst the magnificent scenery.
Days5-6: Queen Elizabeth National Park
Today you drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. On arrival, enjoy a vehicle safari in the Mweya area in the north of the park in search of herd of Ugandan kob, elephant, buffalo, leopard, bushbuck, warthog, waterbuck and possibly the giant forest hog – Africa’s largest pig. After a picnic lunch, enjoy a leisurely boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel where you will be able to approach herds of elephant, Cape buffalo and hippo by motor launch – an outstanding opportunity for photographers to obtain close-up shots of these remarkable mammals.
This morning, you head 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. There are only 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. Following the trek, you return to the lodge, and if time allows, you may wish to take an optional afternoon walk in the forest or visit the local community.
Day9: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Today offers the option for a second gorilla trek in the Bwindi Forest (note that this needs to be arranged at the time of booking). Those who haven’t booked a second trek will have the option to take a forest walk in search of the many monkey species and exceptional birdlife, or take a community walk visiting a local school or orphanage in the village.
Day10: Volcanoes National Park
Today you travel to Rwanda, via Kisoro. While this is the longest drive of the trip, it is possibly the most scenic, passing through the ‘Little Switzerland of Africa’ along mountainous roads and through rural villages. Once at the border of Rwanda, the Virungas – a row of dormant volcanoes - can be seen on a clear day. You continue driving until you reach your accommodation just outside the Parc National des Volcans.
Today you have the opportunity to trek up the volcanoes to the forest above in search of gorillas. Trekking through forest, and tackling steep climbs, should reward you with fantastic views of the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. You will have the opportunity to observe these magnificent apes within metres, before making your way back to the lodge to relax for the afternoon.
Day12: Volcanoes National Park, then drive to Kigali
Today offers a second optional opportunity to visit the mountain gorillas, visit Dian Fossey’s grave or take a forest walk in search of golden monkeys. All activities in the park take place in the morning; pre-booking is essential. After lunch, you drive to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, where you overnight.
Accommodation: Serena Hotel, 1-night
Day13: Depart Kigali
The day is at leisure before transferring to the airport in the late afternoon for an overnight flight back to the UK.
Day14: Arrive UK
You should note: Two gorilla permits and one chimp permit are included. If you wish to spend an additional day tracking gorillas in either location, we strongly recommend you to purchase another permit (subject to availability) at additional cost in advance of travelling, as numbers are extremely limited.
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 14 daysfrom £6,795 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 12 daysfrom £5,995 pp
Single supplement: From £1,195
When to go: Jan-Dec
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
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
Parc National des Volcans is part of the Virunga Conservation Area that straddles the borders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It contains 76 mammal species and over half the world’s estimated 880 mountain gorillas; trekking here in search of these wonderful creatures is an exhilarating experience.
Where: South west Rwanda
Ideal for viewing: black-fronted duiker, Cape buffalo, golden monkey, mountain gorilla, spotted hyena
Excellent for: Gorilla trekking
Suggested accommodation options are shown below.
for further recommendations.
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.
With spectacular views of the volcanoes and easy access to Volcanoes National Park, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge is very well-placed for gorilla trekking. The lodge itself accommodates guests in 30 individual stone cottages, each with en suite facilities and queen-size beds.
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.