Enjoy an eight-day flying safari in Uganda that combines the country’s excellent primate tracking opportunities with some stunning safari lodges. Visit chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, which has one of the highest density and diversity of primates in all of Africa before heading south to the highlight of the itinerary spending two days with the gentle giants of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park the critically endangered mountain gorillas of Uganda.
A comfortable, intimate little hotel, the Boma Guesthouse is conveniently located five minutes from Entebbe International Airport (EBB), and is a great place to stop over at the beginning or end of your Uganda tour. The 16 rooms are simply, but elegantly furnished, and the extensive gardens, created by renowned Kampala landscape architect Roger Wood, are home to an incredible variety of birdlife. The gardens offer hidden nooks and crannies for guests wanting to curl up with a good book away from the main buildings, or to enjoy a spot of private dining away from other guests.
Overlooking the Munyaga River, Sanctuary Retreats’ Gorilla Forest Camp is the accommodation of choice for the northern sector of Bwindi National Park. Your spacious tent, with two queen beds, a polished wooden deck, rock-faced shower, and bathtub open to the forest will provide an impossibly romantic base from which to explore the surrounding forest. The dining room, similarly, faces the forest. While you enjoy your breakfast, you can often hear the cry of colobus monkeys, with the occasional distant screams of a chimpanzee hunting party.
Located near Fort Portal on the edge of extinct volcanic Lake Kyaninga, the main building is perched on a rocky ridge, with the generously proportioned log cabins strung out on either side. The view from the dining and rooms looks down onto the lake, and then on to the Rwenzori Mountains, the fabled ‘Mountains of the Moon’ in the distance. From the lodge, clients can track chimpanzees and other primates in the nearby Kibale Forest National Park, about an hour’s drive away. Relaxing and soaking in the enchanting scenery of rural western Uganda, or hiking around the nearby crater lake are also options.
You arrive at Entebbe International Airport (EBB), where Journeys Discovering Africa will meet you and transfer you to your nearby boutique guesthouse for a welcome drink and a briefing on your Uganda primate safari.
This morning, after breakfast at your hotel, Journeys Discovering Africa will transfer back to Entebbe International Airport (EBB) for a scheduled flight to Kasese. Met by the lodge vehicle, you will enjoy a private transfer to the stunning Kyaninga Lodge, a fairy-tale-like construction perched on the edge of a cobalt-blue volcanic crater lake. The entire lodge is constructed in the style of log cabins, and is the result of six years of labour by master carpenter and owner Steve Williams.
After lunch at the lodge, set out on a guided crater hike. Choose from following the rim of the crater, on tracks that pass through local community land using for traditional crops such as maize and matoke bananas, offering panoramic views of the lake; or take the lakeside option, passing through forest and spotting butterflies, monkeys and ancient volcanic lava tubes as you go. At the end of your walk, there is the invigorating option of wild swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the lake from the lodge’s private swimming pontoon.
Kibale Forest is the natural habitat for an amazing 13 primate species, and contains the highest primate density of any area on earth. Here, you will spend a full day with the chimpanzees in a unique chimpanzee habituation experience, watching these fascinating primates from dawn to dusk. Some of the trees are 50 to 60 meters (150 to 180 feet) in height, and provide a majestic canopy for the profusion of rain forest life, including 325 bird species.
On your tour, you are likely to see numerous bird species as well as black and white colobus, red colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkey, vervet monkey, and L’Hoest’s monkey.
This morning you'll reconvene at Kibale Forest headquarters for another opportunity to go chimp tracking. Your guides will help you try to find the chimps, and if you are lucky, you will spend up to an hour observing a chimpanzee family feeding, playing, and resting among the trees.
After lunch at a nearby lodge, you will be driven through a beautiful area of crater lakes and rolling hills to the small village of Rubona, where you will visit the basket weaving association for a demonstration of how they use natural pigments to dye the grasses used in their colorful creations. The ladies will also demonstrate their weaving techniques and there are always some excellent examples of their work in the association gift shop. Over the road, you can also pop into a local honey co-operative, where a tour of the premises explains the process of harvesting honey - if it’s season you may get the chance to taste fresh honeycomb. Those with a creative bent, may fancy trying their hand at molding their very own beeswax candle to take home.
After an early breakfast, you'll be driven to Kasese Airstrip and board our scheduled flight to Bwindi. You are met at the airstrip and transferred by road to our lodge, climbing through the Kigezi Highlands that form part of the eastern wall of the Albertine Rift. You'll pass small villages, plantations, and fields on the way, through one of Uganda’s most densely populated regions. As you'll near the end of your climb, you will begin to see the mountainous, mist covered forest of the park, located more than a mile above sea level. Your base will be Gorilla Forest Camp, widely acknowledged to be the best camp in the northern section of Bwindi.
Once we reach the lodge, you will enjoy lunch and spend the afternoon relaxing, preparing for tomorrow’s great adventure with the gorillas.
Along with the numerous primate species and endangered chimpanzees, the most notable inhabitants of the park have to be the 408 critically endangered mountain gorillas, which live in family groups of between seven and 25 individuals. A number of these families have been habituated over a period of five years each to tolerate human presence for a brief period every day. Only eight visitors per day are allowed to track each gorilla family.
On each morning you go gorilla tracking, you will have an early start to get to the briefing point at park headquarters, where you receive information about your gorilla trekking experience and select your porters for the day. Then you’re off to the trailhead nearest your appointed gorilla family - the drive to the trailhead can take anything from ten minutes to two hours - before you start your hike to find the gorillas. The walking can be strenuous because of the steep slopes and the high altitude. Initially, you will hike along established paths, your ranger coordinating with the advance trackers by radio to guide you in to the gorillas last know location. As you get to where the gorillas are, you will leave the paths and begin hacking your way through the slippery underbrush. Your porters will stay back as only your privileged party of eight and your ranger approach the gorillas to spend your magical hour with them. The hour passes all too quickly, and then it’s time to reluctantly make your way back to your waiting vehicles.
On this, your last full day you will enjoy a second encounter with the mountain gorillas. No two visits to these gentle giants are the same. There are up to eleven habituated groups currently available to track in Bwindi, with five of these situated in Northern Bwindi: Rushegura, Habinyanja, Mubare, Oruzogu and Bitukura. Each will have their own territory, in a slightly different location, with its own variety of ages and individual characters, giving every family its own unique group dynamic.
After breakfast this morning, you will be transferred to the nearby Kihihi Airstrip where you will take the scheduled flight departing for Entebbe. Upon arrival, you will your driver who will transfer you to a guesthouse in Entebbe, where you can enjoy lunch and some well-deserved relaxation, before transferring to Entebbe International Airport (EBB) for your flight out.
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is in south-western Uganda. Along with mountain gorillas, species in the park include the common chimpanzee, L'Hoest's monkey, African elephant, African green broadbill, and cream-banded swallowtail,black and white colobus, red-tailed monkeys, vervets, the giant forest hog,and small antelope species. There are also many carnivores, including the side-striped jackal, African golden cat, and African civet.The park has more than 350 bird species and more than 200 butterfly species.
Kibale National Park is a national park in Southern Uganda protecting moist evergreen rain forest. Kibale National Forest has one of the highest diversity and concentration of primates in Africa. It is home to a large number of endangered chimpanzees, as well as the red colobus monkey and the rare L'Hoest’s monkey. Much of the forest was logged during its time as a forest reserve, and some exotic species of trees were planted in plantations.
Please book your flights to Entebbe International Airport (EBB). Transfers from and to the airport are included in the price. Journeys Discovering Africa will have the driver / guide send to pick you up from the airport.