This gorilla and chimp safari will take you to the misty Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home to more than half the population of the remaining 880 mountain gorillas in the world. You will have the experience of a lifetime as you watch at close range the majestic gorillas feed, play, and relax. Your tour will conclude with a visit to Kibale Forest National Park, where you will take a nature walk in the unique Bigodi Swamp to see rare species of monkeys, birds, and plants.
During this trip, you will spend two nights at Gorilla Valley Lodge or Travellers Rest Hotel Kisoro and two nights at Rwenzori Travelers, Kibale Forest Camp, or Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse.
At Gorilla Valley Lodge, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest will be one meter away from your veranda. It feels like you are invited into the home of the majestic mountain gorillas. But these gentle giants are just your neighbors, occasionally coming out of the forest to spend some time in the garden. This is what makes Gorilla Valley Lodge so special.
Located on the border of the impenetrable forest and set on a steep slope the lodge has a truly unique setting. Imagine waking up to the sounds of the forest, having your cup of coffee or tea on you private terrace, experiencing the forest coming alive, and the mist mysteriously giving way for a lush jungle.
At Kibale Forest Camp, you will get absorbed by forest smells and sounds, spot primates swinging through the trees, and observe rare birds and beautiful butterflies fluttering around. Have a break from your daily concrete jungle life and experience the real thing.
The camp offers an affordable classic canvas experience in the form of 10 African safari style tents tucked in a lush forest. An alternative is the lazy camping on the campsite. Complemented by a cozy grass thatched restaurant, the camp forms your perfect base if you are looking for an affordable and comfortable place from where to explore the area.
Kibale Forest Camp is located in a patch of evergreen forest, just outside the southern part of the National Park. It borders the Magombe Swamp, known for the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, and is a mere It is a 10-minute drive to Kanyanchu Visitor Center, the place from where chimp tracks will start.
When you enter Travellers Rest Hotel, you enter history. It is one of the oldest hotels in Uganda, boosting on an impressive list of guests. To name just one, Dian Fossey, who even called this her second home. Situated just outside Kisoro, it offers a quiet setting with an amazing view of the Virunga volcanoes. In the evening, the lounge with its big fireplace is the perfect spot to wind down from a day filled with experiences.
You will meet and greet with your local guide over breakfast and head to southwestern Uganda afterward. En route, there is a local community popular for making local drums and crafts. You will also find a fruit market. Stop over, admire, and buy yourself souvenirs.
You will then visit the equator line, one of the most beautiful sceneries in Africa, to admire the pathway of the sun and take photographs. You will pass by mountains, tropical rainforests, and bamboo forests during the nine-hour journey. You will spend the night at Gorilla Valley Lodge or Travellers Rest Hotel Kisoro. Dinner is included for today.
Today, you will enjoy gorilla trekking in Bwindi. After breakfast, you will proceed for the morning briefing before the highlighting of the trip: gorilla trekking, which may last the entire day. You will track the gorillas through the rainforests and bamboo covered slopes, accompanied by a guide and trackers, in search of a mountain gorilla family.
The walking can sometimes be tough and long, but when you catch a glimpse of the magnificent silverback, any discomforts will be quickly forgotten. You will be guided to within six meters from the gorillas, so you will get to sit around them for a whole hour while gazing into their big round eyes.
Gorilla trekking is unpredictable. It is difficult to foresee how many hours you will hike. The gorilla excursion can take from two to eight hours. Expect to walk a long distance in steep and muddy conditions, sometimes with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. A good physical condition is recommended.
For conservation purposes, time spent with gorillas is limited to one hour. A ranger will brief you on how to behave with the gorillas. You will spend the night at Gorilla Valley Lodge or Travellers Rest Hotel Kisoro. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included for today.
After breakfast, you will check out of the lodge and drive to Kibale National Park. You will enjoy great views of the shadows of the Rwenzori Mountains along the way. Kibale National Park averages about 3300 feet in elevation. It is an exertion of the great rainforests of Central Africa and is inhabited by three large communities of chimps, each numbering more than 100 individuals.
Each community terraces a complicated social structure. The big adult males dominate the group and defend the community territory against incursions by male outsiders; the females usually wander in small family groups. Chimps tend to forage in small parties or even as individuals.
They usually travel on the ground but being primarily fruit eaters, they mostly feed on trees. Chimps coalesce into large groups when they find an abundant source of food, such as a fruiting fig tree. Typically, people locate the chimps by listening for their pant hooting calls, then hustle to the area from which they are calling.
You will get to observe them as they feed in fruiting trees, lounge, and socialize with each other. If you are lucky, you might even see them hunt. You will spend the night at Rwenzori Travelers, Kibale Forest Camp, or Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse. Lunch and dinner are included for today.
You will assemble at Kanyankye River camp at 08:00 to go for the most popular activity in this park: chimpanzee tracking. Chimpanzees are man's closest cousins, though they are one of the most threatened primates species. More primates can be seen during this excursion, such as black and white Columbus monkeys, L’Hoest's monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, red-tailed monkeys, bush babies, and pottos.
You might also spot many birds species, such as the yellow spotted nicator, rumped tinkerbird, little greenbelt, green breasted pitta, crowned eagle, and black bee-eater, as well as mammals, like elephants. In the afternoon, you will visit a nearby forest swamp that is excellent for viewing primates and other forest animals. At the eastern edge of Kibale Forest is Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, which is maintained by the local community.
You can expect to see birds like the great blue turaco, blue monkeys baboons, otters, moon geese, bushbucks, bush pigs, and many others. You will spend the night at Rwenzori Travelers, Kibale Forest Camp, or Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included for today.
After breakfast, you will head to Kampala via Mubende; the drive will take about five hours. This route travels through breathtaking scenery and delightfully rolling plantations. Depending on how much time you have, you can tour around Kampala‘s craft and souvenirs markets before being transferred to the airport.
For most travelers, trekking the mountain gorillas ranks among one of the absolute highlights of a trip to Uganda, and the spine-tingling feeling that you get being so near to one of man's closest relatives is hard to describe.
Mountain Gorillas are one of the world’s most endangered apes and it is estimated that there are only 880 (November 2012) left throughout the world. Almost half of these can be found in Uganda, as well as populations in Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to The Ugandan Wildlife Authority, there is a 95% chance that you will come across the Gorillas on your trek. Your journey will be an exhilarating one, cutting your way through dense jungle, thick bamboo, past local homesteads and up forested hills. Tracking spans vary and can be anything from a little as 30 minutes to seven hours. Your efforts will be rewarded with your first sighting of the gorillas, as these gentle giants shyly approach you and you come face-to-face with one of nature’s greatest animals.
The African mountain gorillas in Uganda are one of the main attractions to visitors to Uganda. Mountain gorilla tracking (trekking) permits are a much sought after commodity and with a small number of people allowed to track each day, it takes a lot of planning to ensure an opportunity of the tracking of mountain gorillas in Uganda. Since the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is unstable presently, there is more pressure on mountain gorilla tracking permits in Uganda. Fortunately, there is also Rwanda that is just a hop across the border from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and, at times the Mgahinga Gorilla Park area. Saso Uganda Safaris can help you acquire and track a Uganda gorilla tracking permit even if you are coming from Rwanda, and also arrange to transportation.
Your best bet for obtaining a Mountain Gorilla Tracking Permit is to book a Mountain Gorilla Tracking Safari with Saso Uganda Safaris as a thre-day safari or as part of a longer safari taking in other Uganda National Parks such as the Chimpanzees at Kibale, the wildlife, birds and chimpanzees at Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The price of the Mountain Gorilla Trekking Permits cost 600 USD each. You must be at least 15 years of age. Permits can be obtained for two different parks, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla Park. However, the situation in Mgahinga is a bit more fluid, since the habituated mountain gorilla group there moves back and forth to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Since Saso Uganda Safaris are a tour operator and registered as such in Uganda, they have a better opportunity to meet your schedule and if you book a mountain gorilla tracking safari with them, they are flexible to adjust the date of the gorilla tracking to fit into the overall safari itinerary they have for you.
Most people going on a mountain gorilla tracking safari actually see them, since your guide is extremely knowledgeable about the area where your habituated group is located in. Upon completion of your successful tracking safari you will be issued a certificate by Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The 600 USD may seem steep but it’s worth it and upon completion there is no mention of the money - only a satisfaction of having seen these magnificent and rare animals.
This trip takes place mainly in Kibale Forest National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, in Uganda.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in Southwestern Uganda, on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda’s oldest and most diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants.
The forest also protects an estimate of 320 mountain gorillas, roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated gorilla groups. This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including baboons, chimpanzees, elephants, and antelopes. There are also some species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.
The neighboring towns of Buhoma and Nkuringo both have an impressive array of luxury lodges, rustic bandas, and budget campsites, as well as restaurants, craft stalls, and guiding services. Opportunities abound to discover the local Bakiga and Batwa Pygmy cultures through performances, workshops, and village walks.
Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. Patches of grassland and swamp dominate the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau. The park is home to a total of 70 mammal species, most famously 13 species of primate, including the chimpanzee.
It also contains over 375 species of birds. Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180-kilometer long corridor for wildlife between Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Sebitoli in the north of Kibale National Park.
The Kibale Fort Portal area is one of Uganda’s most rewarding destinations to explore. The park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda Crater area and within a half-a-day-drive to Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains, and Semuliki National Park, as well as the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.
Two breakfasts, three lunches, and four dinners are included for this trip.
The varied habitats of Uganda’s oldest forest mean it is the ideal habitat for a variety of birds, with 350 species recorded, including 23 endemics (90% of all Albertine Rift endemics), such as the short-tailed warbler and blue-headed sunbird, as well as seven International Union for Conservation of Nature red data listed species.
Easy to see are the African emerald cuckoo, common bulbul, African blue and white-tailed, blue flycatchers, and red-headed bluebill. Birding takes place along the main trail, the Buhoma Waterfall Trail, the bamboo zone, and Mubwindi Swamp trail in Ruhija.
Overlooking the imposing hillsides of Bwindi Impenetrable forest, with mist swirling over the summits, Buhoma is a truly dramatic setting for your cultural tour. The three-hour village walk begins with a visit to the handcraft shop, selling fabrics, beeswax candles, and wood carvings, all produced by talented local craftsmen and women.
The neighboring Batwa community performs songs and dances about their former life in the forest, introducing you to another unique local culture. You will also meet the traditional healer, who treats the sick with medicinal plants, and the teachers and pupils of the local primary school.
Finally, you can learn how bananas are used to make juice, beer, and gin. You will also get to taste the results. Proceeds from the tour support community development projects, such as a secondary school, maize mill, and microfinance circle. The Batwa receive all proceeds from their performances.
Discover the gorgeous hidden treasures of Buniga Forest and its diverse flora and fauna on this trail, led by locals who are expert regional guides. Buniga Forest Reserve is one of the three remaining pocket forests adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Due to the encroachment on the forest and loss of biodiversity, the trail was created by Nkuringo Community Conservation and Development Foundation to protect the forest and manage ecotourism activities. Proceeds also benefit surrounding communities and encourage them to actively participate in its conservation.
Conservation Through Public Health is a grassroots organization that has improved the health of wildlife, livestock, and some of the poorest people in Africa. In Buhoma, visitors can take a tour of the Gorilla Health Centre to learn about their health and how diseases are transmitted between wild animals and livestock, as well as other conservation issues addressed by the organization.
Tour the Village Aquaponics project, where you will learn about sustainable methods of farming fish, which is then sold to local lodges. If booked in advance, the staff can also offer presentations on conservation issues in Bwindi and guided tours of local communities to demonstrate how improving the health and livelihoods of people and their livestock supports the conservation of gorillas.
Explore the culture of the local Bakiga and Batwa communities with village walks, blacksmith visits, craft shops, and vibrant dances. All against the astounding backdrop of the forest-covered hills of Bwindi.
Mountain biking follows a well-maintained trail from the park headquarters at Buhoma to the Ivi River. Along this 13-kilometer trail, you may see wildlife, such as bushbucks, black-and-white colobus, and red-tailed monkeys. The six to seven-hour round trip departs in the morning and is organized by Buhoma Community Rest Camp under the Ride for a Woman community development initiative.
There are six main nature trails in Buhoma for those who wish to explore the impenetrable forest. Muyanga Waterfall Walk departs from Buhoma along the River Ivi-Nkuringo trail and culminates in the sensational sight of the falls plummeting 33 meters.
Rushura Hill Walk passes through one forest shared by two countries. On a clear day, you can view Lakes Edward and George and the Rwenzori Mountains, as well as the conical peaks of the Virunga Volcanoes.
Muzubijiro Loop is a 6-kilometer walk around a hill, where you will encounter primates and birds and enjoy a view of the Virungas. The Ivi River Walk is 14 kilometers and takes around seven hours. The trail passes a place known as Mukempunu, meaning a place of pigs, where wild pigs can often be found.
The Buhoma-Nkuringo Trail takes three to four hours and crosses right through the park, connecting the two villages, and offering impressive views of the misty hillsides as you ascend the hills towards Nkuringo. This trail can also be completed as part of the Ivi River Walk.
The Habinyanja (Railegh) Trail takes four to six hours. After crossing the Munyaga River, it takes in a fairly steep ascent of the Habigorogoro and Riyovi Ridge overlooking Buhoma River. Found along this trail is the legendary African Corner, named after a rock piece depicting a map of Africa.
Following the steep ascent, keen hikers can enjoy a more relaxed gentle slope to the mighty Habinyanja Swamp. Birders on this trail should watch out for the Pel’s fishing owl, African black duck, and black bee-eaters, among others.
Set in a lush hillside bordering Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with dramatic views towards Congo, Nkuringo is a wonderful place to visit for those who want both a cultural experience and beautiful scenery. A visit to Nicholas, the blacksmith, will remind you of the Stone Age, as he hooks out red hot metal and hammers it into tools; from knives to machetes.
Sesilia welcomes you into her home, a series of traditional huts housing a millet-grinding stone, cooking pots, and apparatus for distilling local waragi banana gin. Pena is the village's traditional healer who uses native plants to make tea, ointments, and herbal powders that cure a range of ailments.
The foundation supports local artisans and the local Batwa community through its crafts shop. They train orphans who perform at a nearby lodge and can make arrangements for visitors to sponsor them.
At Nkuringo Cultural Centre, after a long day spent gorillas tracking or bird watching, you can enjoy one of the fascinating cultural evening workshops. Choose from African cooking, traditional weaving, or, for those who are feeling a little more energetic, a dancing and drumming workshop.
You can also take one of the guided village walks during the day to meet the residents, learn about life in Rubuguri, and participate in a crafts demonstration. You will then visit the primary school to watch this region's most famous cultural attraction: the dynamic Kiga dance.
Nyundo’s residents were firsthand witnesses to climate change. They cultivated crops on the hillsides bordering Bwindi Impenetrable Forest but noticed erosion, changing rain patterns, and the disappearance of the characteristic mist. Ultimately, their crops began to fail.
The community decided to protect the land and allow the forest to grow back and now, the trees, the rain, and the mist have all returned. Nyundo Community Eco-Trails were developed by community members as a sustainable alternative to agriculture, poaching, and logging; providing both an income and an incentive to conserve the forest.
On King Bakyara’s Waterfall Trail, you can enjoy spectacular scenery surrounding a waterfall, where only kings may bathe. Visit a blacksmith, a local banana beer distillery, a beekeeper, a cattle farm, and a banana plantation. During the Traditional Skills Trail, you can learn about millet-bread preparation, yogurt making, and craft making. Visit a traditional birth attendant and traditional homesteads, and meet the friendly villagers.
Reached by rustic roads clinging to steep hillsides, this small community makes up for its isolation with the warm welcome of its inhabitants. The village walk takes you past a swamp to a small homestead, where you will have the chance to meet the residents and learn about life in Rubuguri, as well as participate in a crafts demonstration.
You will then visit the lively Saint Peter's Primary School to meet the pupils and teachers and to watch this region's most famous cultural attraction: the dynamic Kiga dance. The best dancers are said to be those who make the earth shake and as the barefooted students leap several feet into the air to the rhythm of joyful songs, you will be able to decide for yourself if they achieve their goal.
Bird watching tours start at 07:00 at Kanyanchu; you are advised to book in advance. Rare species include the papyrus gonolek, white-winged warbler, white-collared olive back, and papyrus canary.
When chimpanzees and other forest residents rest up at dusk, a nighttime shift of rarely seen creatures becomes active. Night walks through the darkened forest use powerful torches to seek nocturnal creatures, such as the potto, bushbaby, nightjar, cricket, and tree hyrax with its chilling shriek, as well as the occasional civet or serval cat. Night walks leave the camp at 19:30 and last between one and 30 minutes and two hours.
Kibale Association for Rural Environment Development is a community-based organization, which promotes local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation through ecotourism. Join a local guide on a walk through the Magombe Swamp wetlands to enjoy the local wildlife, birds, and vegetation. The daily life of the Batooro can be discovered during village walks, including stops at the primary school, church, and traditional healer.
You will learn about the role of women in the village and traditional ceremonies, as well as the history of Bigodi as told through the story of the Village of Two Tribes, describing when the indigenous Batooro were joined by migrating Bakiga from Southwestern Uganda in the 1950s.
Income from this activity is invested in education, health, sanitation, and improving the livelihood of local residents. It is also used to help raise awareness of the value of biodiversity through music, dance, and drama performances at local schools. In 2010, Kibale Association for Rural Environment Development won the prestigious United Nations Development Programme's Equator Initiative Award.
Please book your flight to arrive at Entebbe International Airport (EBB). Transfer from and to the airport is included. Saso Uganda Safaris will pick you up from the airport.