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Chimps & Gorilla Safari, Uganda - the ultimate Primate Safari - 7 Days

If you love Primate watching, then this tour is for you. 13 impressive primate species in Kibale + the ultimate Gorilla Trekking Experience

Safari tour package: A custom, tailor-made, private safari
Prices: $1600 - $2525
Includes internal flights: No
Length of safari: 7 days
Best months: All year
Countries visited: Uganda Uganda
Parks visited: Bwindi Impenetrable, Kibale, Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo
Activity level: Moderate - Game walks, Cultural visits
Safari type:
  • Cultural
  • Birding
  • Boating
This is a chimpanzee and gorilla tracking safari. You will get to experience like a local in a community swamp walk, in search of birds like the papyrus gonolek; with the Rwenzori Mountains at the backdrop. Go on a bird watching tour to see amazing birds and animals on a boat cruise across the rift valley on Kazinga channel. Head further South, look up to find Ishasha’s tree lions resting in the fig trees. Complete this Uganda journey with a drive to Bwindi impenetrable national park and spend a magical hour with mountain gorillas. On this tour, you will see that Uganda is much more than gorillas. Complete your tour with game viewing of giraffes, zebras, Impalas, Topis in Lake mburo national park. An incredible tour, incredible experiences.

DETAILED ITINERARY:

Day 1: Entebbe to Fort Portal to Kibale Forest National Park

Transfer to Fort Portal

Today we start our Gorillas & Chimps Safari with breakfast at 7.00 am; and later our guide will pick you from your hotel in Kampala or Entebbe, transfer early morning to Fort portal. This drive takes you through traditional Ugandan villages where you see native people working in their farmlands. The lush green rolling hills will end up into viewing Uganda’s expansive tea plantations offering you great photo opportunities. Check in at lodge.

In the afternoon you will be to exploring Bigodi swamp & community in a village walk (2-3 hours). Search for other primates including: I’hoestes, red colobus, blues, red tailed and gray– cheeked mangabey, bird species like the Great blue Turaco, bees’ eaters and many more. Experience how primates and birds live with the community, amazing farm life experiences; basket weaving, farm life, Coffee tour.

Day 2: Kibale Forest National Park

Tea harvesting experience and Chimp Tracking in Kibale

Today our guide will transfer you to a tea plantation to experience tea harvesting.

Did you know that majority of Ugandans drink more tea in their homes than coffee?. Fort portal and Kibale area produce some of Uganda's finest tea. a half-day excursion to a tea farm where you will be received by a local site guide, tour the plantation, learn tea, planting, seeds, propagation, and local harvesting techniques, followed by the chance to pick your own tea leaves using traditional woven baskets. Local guide will show you the best parts of the leaf to pick.  After the leaves are picked, they are transported to tea processing factory. There is plenty of tea leaves for you to take home as a souvenir or gift. You will have chance to sample at an on-site café. The experience allows tea lovers to get a deeper understanding of their favorite beverage.  Activity Duration: 2 hours.

After lunch, we transfer to Kibale Forest National Park – Kanyanchu gate. Kibale National park is an extension of the great rainforests of central Africa. It is inhabited by three large “communities” of chimps, with over 120 individuals. Only one community is allowed to be visited by tourists.

In Kibale, here you will find one of the largest populations of chimpanzees in Africa – about 1450 individuals. Today you will do Chimpanzee ‘tracking’.

Chimp walking time: 2 to 4 hours.

What to carry: Remember to carry bottled drinking water, rain gear, and walking/hiking boots plus backpack

It will be perfect opportunity to listen to the chimps as the grumble and feed. Only one community is allowed to be visited by tourists. Chimpanzees live in communities. Each community has a complicated social structure. The big adult males dominate the group and defend the community territory against other male intruders; the females usually wander in small family groups. Rangers locate the chimps by listening for their pant-hooting calls, following their eating trails.

There are chances of seeing other primates namely; the Guereza colobus monkey, red-tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, and olive baboons as well as the Red colobus monkey considered endangered and the rare L'Hoest's monkey that is considered Vulnerable and…plentiful of forest bird life.

Optional activity: Chimpanzee ‘habituation’ experience.

You can do chimpanzee habituation tracking instead of the usual chimpanzee tracking at an additional fee of only $50 US per person. Chimpanzees live in communities. Each community has a complicated social structure. The big adult males dominate the group and defend the community territory against other male intruders; the females usually wander in small family groups. Rangers locate the chimps by listening for their pant-hooting calls, following their eating trails. This gives you a chance to observe them as they feed in fruiting trees, and socialize with each other. On a lucky day people have witnessed chimpanzees hunting. You will have very close encounter with these chimps.

Please note that it’s important to book this ahead of time because only 6 persons per day are permitted to experience this. In the event that one decides on going for habituation, it is possible to go on swamp sanctuary walk the next morning before heading to Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Day 3: Kibale Forest to Queen Elizabeth National Park – Boat cruise

Today we transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park, enjoy viewing Rwenzori Mountains, check in at lodge.  Make a stop over the Equator - experience being in South and North hemispheres at once.

 At 2PM, you will go for a boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel (2 hours approx.). Look out for the hippos, great herds of buffalos, and lots of water birds by the channel side. Time permitting head out for an evening game drive; from 5pm to 7pm. look out for the lions, buffalos, elephants, and large numbers of Uganda Kobs and other antelopes.

Driving time: 3.5 hours

Day 4:  To Bwindi Impenetrable National Park/ Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

In the morning we do a second game drive, on a look out for the lions, buffalos, elephants, and large numbers of Uganda Kobs and other antelopes. We transfer to Bwindi impenetrable national park /Mgahinga national park.  You will drive via Ishasha (2 hours approx.), which is in the southern sector of Queen Elisabeth National Park, Ishasha is famous for tree climbing lions. There are chances of finding lions in the trees by the roadside. Please note that there is no guarantee but our guide will maximize all regular hot spots to increase chances of sighting.

After lunch, we embark on a road trip to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, home of the mountain gorillas. Bwindi is about 330sq Kms, with spectacular scenery, impressive forest views. The whole geographical scenery is basically hilly and mountainous. At an elevation between 1160 to 2607m (3806 to 8553ft) rains can shower anytime in Bwindi forest, it is recommended that visitors pack rain wear, waterproof clothing and appropriate hiking shoes to wear on during gorilla tracking or forest walks. Daytime temperatures range from 23°C/73°F at times dropping to as low as 11°C/52°F.

There are 20 gorilla families which have been habituated for gorilla viewing, all of which can be accessed from specific locations/sectors of the forest. Eight people are permitted to view a single family per day. To trek gorillas you need a gorilla permit/license. Gorilla licenses are booked by location not by the name of a gorilla family. There are 4 starting gates namely; in North at BUHOMA, in the East at RUHIJA and in the South at RUSHAGA & South West at NKURINGO. In Mgahinga gorilla NPK, there is one starting gate (Nyakagyezi ).

Depending on the park gate of gorilla permits available at time of booking, we will proceed to one of the following three sectors: Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija and Kisoro/Mgahinga gorilla gate.

From Ishasha, the driving time will be between 2 and 4 hours depending on the sector we are heading to.

We arrive in time for dinner at the lodge. Please note the choice of lodging will be determined by location of Gorilla family available at time of booking!

Day 5: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park: Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla trekking day; trekking time range: 1 to 9 hours.

Today our guide will pick you from your lodge early morning, transfer to park gate for orientation. Pre-tracking orientation starts at 8:00AM. Trekking through the thick jungle, traversing canopies of thick undergrowth can be tough, wet, strenuous but not impossible – the tracking can last from as little as one hour to as many as 10 hours. The activity depends on location of gorillas the previous day. Visitors therefore are supposed to move along with packed/picnic lunch and water, and should be equipped with strong water-proof clothing and must be averagely healthy.  

Please note that after gorillas tracking, late afternoon, transfer to lake Bunyonyi for relaxation.

Lake Bunyonyi is a lava dammed lake, described by BBC media as ‘probably the most beautiful lake in Africa’- formed when a river was dammed by lava and valley filled up. This is one of Africa's deepest and probably beautiful lakes at an elevation of 1960m (6400ft). Lake Bunyonyi is a known to be a place of so many little small birds. It's possible to have an early morning guided bird watching at the lodge.

Optional activities at Lake Bunyonyi

  1. Boat ride to punishment island - Look out  for "akampene”  - the punishment Island -  where until 1940's unmarried pregnant girls were dropped and left to die helplessly or starve to death, some drown trying to swim ashore; they were often saved my poor men who could not afford pride price. It was a taboo to pregnant before the recommended marriage age. Activity duration: 1 hour.  Cost $10 per person.
  2. Boat ride to traditional healer's village. Experience how traditional African medicine is integrated into modern medicine. The healer not only treats the sick, but uses his knowledge to conserve and educate about the various medicinal plants of ancient time. Activity duration: 2-3 hours Cost $15 per person

Day 6: Lake Bunyonyi - Lake Mburo National Park

Today morning you have a choice of optional activities to engage in before departure or simply transfer to straight Lake Mburo national park.

Morning Optional activities at Lake Bunyonyi

  1. Boat ride to punishment island - Look out  for "akampene”  - the punishment Island -  where until 1940's unmarried pregnant girls were dropped and left to die helplessly or starve to death, some drown trying to swim ashore; they were often saved my poor men who could not afford pride price. It was a taboo to pregnant before the recommended marriage age. Activity duration: 1 hour.  Cost $10 per person.
  2. Boat ride to traditional healer's village. Experience how traditional African medicine is integrated into modern medicine. The healer not only treats the sick, but uses his knowledge to conserve and educate about the various medicinal plants of ancient time. Activity duration: 2-3 hours Cost $15 per person.

Lake Mburo NPK, compared to other parks in Uganda is rather small (over 260km); but its size makes a more exciting park to tour – the park boasts of large varieties of wild life, giraffes, zebras, buffalos.    You will not miss antelopes like Bushbucks, Topi, Deffassa waterbuck, and reedbuck.  Time permitting go for an evening game drive 2 hours.

Day 7: Lake Mburo - Entebbe Airport

Today, you head back on a road trip. Our guide will transfer you to Kampala / Entebbe Airport.

 

IMPORTANT TO NOTE:

  • Accommodation: Additional accommodation before and at the end of the tour can be arranged for extra cost.
  • Lodging mentioned in the itinerary depends on availability of rooms available at the time of booking. Reservations will only be made after your confirmed booking with us. At the time of your booking, in the event that listed hotels are fully booked, we will do our best to inform you and book a different hotel in the same class.
  • Important: To go on a gorilla trek, you need a gorilla permit/license which we can arrange for you.  We can only purchase your Gorilla permit after you have made a down-payment to us. Gorilla permits are competitive on a daily basis, advance booking is always preferred.
  • Please note the gorilla tracking in this itinerary can be done either in Bwindi and or Mgahinga National Parks. Gorilla tracking is dependent on the permits availability at the time of your booking. Gorilla permits in all parks are on a very high demand and we advise that you book them as early as possible.
  • Gorilla trekking can be strenuous activity and Minimum gorilla tracking age is 15 years.
  • What to bring: Hiking shoes/walking shoes,  long socks to tuck-in long pants , rain wear, warm clothing, evenings can be cold/chilly, gloves preferably gardening type are very helpful and  insect repellant.
  • Anyone with signs of communicable diseases will NOT be allowed to track.
  • Maximum time allowed with the gorillas will NOT exceed ONE hour, you are kindly requested to practice different modes of using your camera in different light situations. Gorillas can sometimes be moving, Forest vegetation can at times obstruct visibility, and hence taking photos of these creatures can be very challenging!
  • Difficulty:
    Gorilla trekking takes place at altitudes 1160 to 2607m (3806 to 8553ft) above sea level. This means that moderate/average physical fitness is required. The slowest member will determine the groups’ speed. The pace will be moderate, with plenty stops to rest, ask questions, re-hydrate and enjoy the forest and views.
  • Transport
    Our standard offering is a 4WD with pop-up roof for easy safari viewing.  All passengers will have a dedicated window seat. Your driver/guide will be at your disposal for questions.
  • Extension/ add on Tour. If you want to extend your tour to one of our other destinations or if you'd like to add a few side trips to the itinerary, kindly let us know.

 

Booking and payment details: Once you have decided to join one of our safaris, you will have to contact our reservations department for booking form which will include details relating to deposit and final payments etc. 

Package Price Includes:

  • All transfers.
  • All park entries
  • 4×4 Land cruiser transport with gas.
  • English speaking driver guide.
  • Accommodation in self-contained rooms
  • Activities as indicated on itinerary.
  • Full Board (Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch as on indicated on itinerary).
  • Chimpanzee tracking permits
  • 1 Gorilla permit per person

 

Package Price excludes:

  • Air ticket.
  • Rwanda/Uganda Visa.
  • Tips to Guides.
  • Optional activities
  • Any meals not indicated on itinerary, drinks, tips, items of personal nature, entertainment, any other optimal activity,
  •  Internal flights from Bwindi/Mgahinga - Kisoro Airstrip to Entebbe (we can arrange them for you).

Listed below are hotels/lodges/resorts that the safari tour operator can accomodate for you.

  • * Kibale Forest Camp
  • * Bush Lodge
  • * Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge
  • * Bakiga Lodge
  • * BirdsNest Bunyonyi
  • * Rwakobo Rock

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