A Rare Opportunity to Sit with Families of Endangered Mountain Gorillas
Day 1: Entebbe, Uganda—Botanical Gardens
Our Uganda tour begins in Entebbe, where you are transferred on arrival to the Protea Hotel Entebbe. If time permits, you may opt to visit the famous Entebbe Botanical Gardens. Established in 1902, the gardens house a fine collection of plants from the country's tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones. Home to a wide variety of bird species, the gardens also offer an excellent introduction to Uganda’s many birds. Vervet and black-and-white colobus monkeys are commonly spotted here as well. Meet our Expedition Leader at a welcome dinner this evening.
Days 2 & 3: Kibale National Park—Chimpanzee Trekking
The drive to Kibale Forest traverses Uganda's verdant highlands, where fertile volcanic soil supports a tapestry of tea, coffee and banana plantations. We arrive in time for refreshments around the pool and to watch the sun dip behind the Rwenzori Mountains. The following morning, a “swamp walk” through a wetland sanctuary reveals more than 100 species of birds. After lunch, we meet our local trackers to begin our first chimp trek. This equatorial rain forest reserve has one of the highest concentrations of primates in the world, including 1,300 chimpanzees. We may also see red colobus, black-and-white colobus, red tails, gray-cheeked mangabey and other monkeys. On our return, there's time to relax and enjoy the view from our accommodations at Ndali Lodge, a collection of eight thatched cottages perched on the rim of a crater lake.
Day 4: Kibale / Queen Elizabeth National Park
After a second forest walk in search of chimpanzees, we drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park along the western Rift Valley to arrive at Mweya Lodge, perched atop a peninsula that juts into the Kazinga Channel. Every room overlooks the channel, which boasts the largest concentration of hippos in Uganda. Guests also enjoy magnificent views of Lake Edward, not to mention elephants and warthogs that are frequently seen grazing just outside the windows, plus an abundance of colorful local birds.
Days 5 & 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park
On a boat trip down the Kazinga Channel, we find profuse numbers of crocodiles and hippos, and baboons frequently entertain us from the banks. Elsewhere in the park
we'll see an array of classic African wildlife, possibly spotting lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant
and antelope. The volcanic Rwenzori range,
also called the “Mountains of the Moon,” provides a dramatic backdrop with snowcapped
heights rising over 16,000 feet. On the morning of Day 6, we travel overland via a wildlife drive into the southern Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth Park, where we overnight at Ishasha Wilderness Camp.
Day 7: Queen Elizabeth / Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This morning we explore the Ishasha region, home to Queen Elizabeth Park's famous tree-climbing lions—one of just two populations of lions that climb trees as part of their day-to-day behavior (the other is found in Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania). Though no one knows for sure, some speculate that these lions climb trees to protect themselves against the numerous biting tsetse flies that hover nearer the ground, whereas others believe they seek respite from the heat by availing themselves of cool breezes through the branches. Then, we head westward to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, watching the scenery gradually change from open savanna to dense green rain forest on the mountain slopes. Time permitting, we visit a school in a nearby village, then settle in at Mahogany Springs Lodge, a luxury camp on the side of a misty mountain, and our gorilla-trekking base.
Days 8 & 9: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi
We rise early this morning in anticipation of a peerless experience: the chance to look into the face of a wild gorilla. The trail through the primeval rain forest is challenging, sometimes slick and steep, but full of rewards. We are hiking into the jungle that early explorers called the “Impenetrable Forest,” and the name feels apt. Bwindi is home to nearly half the world’s mountain gorillas—about 400—a population that is under severe threat. Three groups are habituated to human contact, and we hope to reach one of them by midday. Tracking them to their last known location, our guide looks for signs of their presence: broken vegetation revealing a night nest, stripped bark indicating feeding, dung. Our anticipation mounts as we climb over vines and foliage to approach the group. Our guide signals for silence,
our intentions with amiable grunts. We may see a range of ages: youngsters playing in the trees, mothers carrying babies and the mighty silverback, patriarch of the troop. No wildlife encounter will surpass the thrill of meeting these magnificent primates, so much like us, in their own habitat.
Day 10: Entebbe / Depart
Our Uganda safari comes to a close today with a private chartered flight back to Entebbe, avoiding a long return drive. This evening, we share a farewell meal before transferring to the airport for departing flights.
Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Option
On independent custom safari expeditions, the option exists to do gorilla trekking in Rwanda, instead of or in addition to Uganda. Both options offer similar gorilla-trekking experiences. Please call us for details.