DAY 1-2 Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi
Uganda’s capital Kampala is an attractive city situated near the shores of Lake Victoria. Despite a colourful history the city welcomes the visitor with a vibrant African street life, countless roadside traders, thriving markets and noisy matatu (mini-bus taxi) stands. If time allows we suggest you spend another day or so here before flying home. From Kampala, we travel west to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Uganda is a wonderfully fertile country of green terraced hillsides, lush banana plantations, steep mountains and tangled forests. We enter the QENP, with a view (further to the west) of the mountains that separate Uganda from central Africa. In fact Queen Elizabeth National park has over 500 species of bird and 100 species of mammals making it one of the most bio diverse national parks in the world and if we are lucky, we may get to spot these animals en route to Kyambura Gorge for the trek to see the chimpanzees. Unlike the larger gorilla, chimps live mostly in the trees and so our viewing is necessarily at some distance. However the experience of seeing man’s closest relative in the wild is a memorable one. Continuing deep into the Kigezi Highlands we come to the picturesque Lake Bunyoni, an ancient flooded valley, where we usually base ourselves for the gorilla trekking.
DAY 3 - 5 Gorilla Trek & optional local walks
This region of Africa is home to the world’s remaining 700 or so mountain gorillas, half of which inhabit Bwindi or nearby sanctuaries. Gorillas are sociable creatures, living in groups between 12 and 20 individuals, usually led by an ‘alpha male’ (the ‘silverback’ - so called because of the silver hair on his back which grows once the male gorilla attains maturity). Most people find that the gorillas are remarkably human-like at close quarters – particularly in the social interaction between family members and in ‘play’ activity in which the young engage. To many people, even those who stay in Africa longer than this six day tour, the time spent with the gorillas remains their most memorable wildlife encounter.
The usual procedure is to trek in small groups into the rainforest, and on the day of our trek we gather in the early morning to meet our local guide and tracker. The trekking can be demanding at times with uneven terrain and hilly rainforest but the privilege of spending time with a family of these gentle apes makes the effort well worthwhile. Once we have located the gorilla ‘family’, we squat or sit down and simply observe them for around an hour – the time set by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to minimise the human impact on the gorillas’ habitat. (Photography is permitted, although not with a flash and there are restrictions for those who wish to use a video camera.) Your permit allows you one trek, and because the authorities maintain strict limits on the number of visitors allowed to view the gorillas each day, we may spend several days in the area while all members in our group complete the trek and viewing. Community visits and forest walks can be taken around this beautiful area when not visiting the gorillas.
NB Depending on the availability of gorilla permits the tour itinerary may vary from the above, which is based on the brochure itinerary. From time to time we may trek outside Uganda in neighbouring countries, such as Rwanda, and this may entail extra visa requirements and fees, although we shall endeavour to advise you before departure of any significant change to the tour itinerary.
DAY 6 Bwindi to Kampala
Today we return to Kampala through lush valleys of banana plantations and rural villages before crossing back into the northern hemisphere. Our trip finishes at the end of the afternoon/early evening on arrival in Kampala