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The Great Uganda Gorilla Safari

A Rare Opportunity to Sit With Families of Endangered Mountain Gorillas
Day 1: Entebbe, Uganda
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 Forest National Park
The drive to Kibale Forest traverses the verdant highlands of Uganda, where fertile volcanic soil supports a tapestry of tea, coffee and banana plantations. At the park entrance, we meet our local trackers. This equatorial rain forest reserve has the highest concentration of primates in the world, including 500 chimpanzees. We may also see red colobus, black-and-white colobus, red tails, gray-cheeked mangabey and other monkeys. A “swamp walk” through a wetland sanctuary reveals more than 100 species of birds. We stay 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 morning forest walk, we drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park along the western Rift Valley to arrive at Mweya Lodge, sitting atop a peninsula that juts out into the Kazinga Channel. Every room overlooks the channel, which boasts the world's largest concentration of hippos. Guests also enjoy magnificent views of Lakes George and Edward, not to mention wild forest hogs grazing just outside the windows, and an abundance of colorful local birds. 

Days 5 & 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park
On a boat trip down the Kazinga Channel we find great numbers of crocodiles and the world’s largest concentration of hippos. Baboons frequently entertain us from the banks. Elsewhere in the park we'll see a host 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, their 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 Park / Bwindi
This morning we explore the Ishasha region, home to Queen Elizabeth Park's famous tree-climbing lions – one of just two populations of such 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 stay 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 cloistered green rain forest on the mountain slopes. We’ll visit a school in a nearby village, then settle in at Mahogany Springs Lodge, a luxury enclave on the side of a misty mountain, and our gorilla-trekking base.

Days 8 & 9: Gorilla Treks
We rise early this morning in anticipation of an incomparable experience: the chance to look into the face of a gorilla in the wild. 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 300—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, and dung. Our anticipation mounts as we climb over vines and foliage to approach the group. Our guide signals for silence, then proclaims 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 / Home
Our Uganda safari tour comes to a close today with a charter flight back to Entebbe where we'll have a farewell meal together before transferring to the airport for departing flights.

Rwanda Gorilla Option
On our independent safari expeditions, where guests arrange a custom trip with us to meet their own specific needs, 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.

Physical Rating: Moderate to Difficult



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