Exclusive Uganda Chimpanzee & Gorilla Trekking

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Total Trip:

8 Days
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Countries Visited:

Uganda
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Places Visited:

Entebbe, Kibale National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Ruhija
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Gorillas stand resplendent in the thick and mystical forests of Bwindi. Chimpanzees jump through the tropical colors of Kibale as hippos and elephants surround the remote waters of the Kazinga Channel. Western Uganda will take you into a strange world to provide some of the world's most inspiring natural encounters. With two gorilla trekking experiences included, this luxury 8-day safari connects Kibale, Queen Elizabeth, and Bwindi National Parks and the wildlife highlights of Uganda.

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Customizable Itinerary

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Day 1

Kibale National Park – Scenic Flight and Surrounded by the Sounds of the Rain Forest

Uganda's landscape is of rainbow red as the ground blurs from blunted orange to bashful crimson, and then to a raw cobalt and into the remains of thick muddy trails. It's the color that many people imagine when they think of Africa, the one that elegantly contrasts with the burning red of the sunset. A scenic flight from Entebbe to Kibale will take just over an hour to save a day's travel when going by road. It will reveal the Ugandan kaleidoscope and showcase the tones that define the country. Touch down and it's a short transfer to your lodge, which is fully surrounded by the mystical calls of the monkeys. Over a dozen primates inhabit this national park, and various types of monkeys grace the trees around your verandah. Close your eyes, and the soundtrack will provide an incredible appreciation for how remote you are. Before the scenic flight, you will be assisted upon arrival at Entebbe International, with a representative to bring you to the small plane destined for Western Uganda.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Lunch, Dinner

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Day 2

Kibale National Park – Intimate Chimpanzee Trekking

Javelins of light flicker through the trees as you set off chimpanzee trekking. Soon you will notice a colobus troop, the shy monkeys that inhabit the upper realms of the canopy. Then the elongated tail of a Sykes monkey will appear, cautious yet inquisitive as you pass. You will wander beneath the awning, and your guide will clear a route with a machete as the undergrowth of the forest becomes thicker. The chimpanzees have been located, but they never stick to the park's open trails, so the final part of any primate trekking experience is a walk into the unknown and the sweeps of untrammeled green.

You will hear them, and it will feel as though you can smell them too, but perhaps it's just the whiff of something that contrasts with the forest's freshness. Walk slowly and you will see the primates, one at first, perhaps a mother feeding serenely from the tree branch. She will stop to look at you and consider her visitors, and then will continue to eat. Some of Kibale's chimpanzee troops have been habituated, so her troop is used to this hour of interaction. They will allow for a human presence, as long as their visitors accept their space. Like gorilla trekking, the length of the actual trek is unknown, although rangers look to match trekkers with their interests and fitness levels. So younger and fitter guests may trek further to a more distant troop, while senior travelers are likely to be guided towards the troop that is currently closest to the trailhead.

Walk further, and through the branches, the full troop will eventually come into view. There will be a couple of babies as they playfully test their climbing skills beneath their mothers' watchful gaze. A larger male will have a slightly frightening stare, although that's just his wild way of saying don't mess with the boss around here. The chimpanzees continue their eating from the trees and interacting with human-like actions, and will occasionally swing through the branches above your head. More than anything else, you will see emotion as you analyze the eyes and faces to read the story behind the expressions. Watch their eyes change when a branch snaps and a youngster falls, and then compare these with the equanimity of the older females. While you will be snapping photos and watching individual chimpanzees, the experience is very much about the dynamics of the troop.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 3

Queen Elizabeth National Park – Sailing Along the Wildlife-Rich Kazinga Channel

Drive in and out of the forests as you follow the lower slopes of the Ruwenzori Mountains in Western Uganda. It's is roughly a four-hour ride to Queen Elizabeth National Park, with part of this spent on a wildlife safari. Your destination is the Kazinga Channel, the spillway that slices through the park to connect two lakes. It is along here that wildlife congregates and an afternoon's boat cruise will reveal a succession of giants. Elephant herds squirt water on the banks as large hippo pods roll on sandbanks, and crocodiles bathe in the sun. Some hippos escape the water to wander across the savannah, and barge past a series of ungulates also in search of water. One of Uganda's two premier big game destinations (the other being Murchison Falls National Park further to the north), your cruise around the Kazinga Channel will make for a gentle contrast to the exhilarating walk of yesterday. Your accommodation stands above the Kazinga Channel, and wildlife is regularly spotted from your verandah.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 4

Queen Elizabeth National Park – Big Game Safari on Uganda's Plains

Impala skip around as a giraffe makes a lonely journey towards the river. An elephant herd is on the move, and their footsteps send a perceptible rumble across the savannah. Buffalo march past with the large herd in eerie unison, and you see a hippo pop out of the water in a boisterous mood. On a full-day game drive, you will explore these big game highlights and follow their footsteps as they wind to and from the Channel. Look closely as not everything is in the open. Perhaps you will stop beside a tree, and the camouflage is initially too effective. But then, a tail will move, and you will gaze in the eyes of a lion with its flowing black mane. Tree-climbing lions are just ten meters away, and you only just spotted them. They are another big game highlight on a classic safari day, and you will keep your eyes out for the elusive leopard on your journey back to the Kazinga Channel.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 5

Queen Elizabeth National Park to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – From Tree-Climbing Lions to the Forest's Mystique

Landscapes collide on today's drive as the savannah spills into the loose forests that bring the serene expressions of the tree-climbing lions. Then you ascend and rise into the mountains on a remote road around the west of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Every few meters is another postcard image as your pass rural communities and rise across the slopes of Bwindi to gaze in at the iconic sweeps of the swirling mist. Dip beneath a canopy as villagers that walk past with colorful baskets carried on their heads. Then, ascend to a luxurious lodge that offers the premier panorama of the national park. Your afternoon and evening are all about the incredible view and your chance to relax before your two days of gorilla trekking.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 6

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Up Close With Wild Mountain Gorillas

A guide will make the way, slicing off bamboo to open your path. You will follow some kind of trail, but the forest touches you on both sides, and a long trumpeted honk reveals that this is merely a path made by a forest elephant herd. Bwindi is called Impenetrable for a reason, and this is a huge part of the experience with your chance to journey into such a thick, untouched landscape. In the distance, you will see blurs of black and this is the troop that you are seeking to visit. But they are also on the move, so for the next hour, you must follow their footprints in the mud. Eventually, they will stop, and you will approach. One step, another step and now around a slight bend and a gorilla will stand before you. Don't move, and don't back off as the gorilla gets closer to perform her inspection to check you out. There is no thought of grabbing your camera as this first interaction is all about the gorilla's inspiring power.

As this mother turns, you will follow the trail a little further to find a dozen members of the Bitukura troop scattered through the trees with babies above your head, a giant silverback tearing branches down nearby and another three gnawing at tree bark. They are relaxed and will start to surround you until you are not quite sure which way to turn. Now the camera comes out, and you will keep snapping as all of the behaviors of a wild gorilla troop will continue just seven meters away. Less than 1,000 remain in the wild, and the sense of exclusivity lingers for years to come. For an hour you will watch, and then it's time to say goodbye with your last photos and snapshots. Except, with this itinerary, you will be returning for more gorilla trekking tomorrow.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 7

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Second Gorilla Trekking Experience in the Forest

It's an hour's drive to Rushaga, another of Bwindi's four gorilla trekking trailhead and the one with the largest number of habituated troops. Like yesterday, you will arrive at 8 am to receive your briefing before you head deep into the forest. Gorilla trekking for your second time is highly recommended for a number of reasons but primarily because you will enjoy such a unique and exclusive experience every time. Today, you will see a different troop with a different social structure in a distinctive part of the forest. The behavior will be new, the interactions will be different, and the chance of seeing rare scenes is enhanced as you may see the gorillas mating or see a silverback as he thumps his chest. Some troops have multiple silverbacks; others will have more youngsters while some gorillas are bashful, and others are vigorous and domineering.

Your second gorilla trek will also be a more relaxed experience as you will be calm in knowing that you have already had an excellent gorilla trekking experience. So when the gorillas thump around, you can just watch and fully admire the emotion that flickers across their eyes. You will not feel as though you are missing out because you are focusing on a playful baby as another 15 gorillas are nearby. Gorilla trekking is not just about taking photos and saying that you have seen one of the world's greatest and most endangered animals, rather it is about standing back to watch the beautiful interaction and emotion between a wild troop.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Activity

included

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Day 8

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to Entebee – Scenic Flight Over Bwindi and Departure

The mist will flutter through the folds of Bwindi and move like a phantom that forms and reforms across the mountains. By now, you will already understand why the movie was called Gorillas in the Mist. The mist will enchant in the morning light, and your scenic flight will offer a bird's-eye view as the green folds will ripple away beneath the wingtips. You will swoop over the national park and then fly east to return to Entebbe International Airport for your departure flight.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Wander through the mystical forests of Bwindi National Park and gasp at your first glimpse of wild mountain gorillas
  • Enjoy two dedicated gorilla tracking experiences to admire the contrasts between two different troops who inhabit the forest
  • Surround yourself with wild chimpanzees in Kibale National Park as the exquisite primates have recently habituated to human presence
  • Cruise along the Kazinga Channel to discover Uganda's most abundant wildlife abundant area, with hippos and elephants mixing with a range of antelopes
  • Game drive across the savannah of Queen Elizabeth National Park to find tree-climbing lions and wandering four-legged nomads
  • Savor the mystique with a scenic flight over Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and a flight across Uganda's red interior
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Detailed Description

It will never seem real, even as your second gorilla trekking experience draws to a close it will still be unfathomable to bring the experience back from the realms of the surreal. Chimpanzee trekking is equally hypnotic as each moment comes from a distant world that we are merely visiting. Western Uganda is defined by the forests that roll beneath a spell of mystique. Inaccessibility keeps them whole, and there are no roads to interrupt the wild. The only way is on foot as a guide clears the path with a machete as you follow the trail of the world's great primates. When the forest clears, another means of exploration will come by boat as the Kazinga Channel is filled with nature's other giants, like elephants, hippos, and lions.

This 8-day gorilla trekking safari will lead you through the ethereal and connect the three iconic wildlife destinations of Western Uganda. Each has the backdrop of the forested slopes of the Ruwenzori Mountains and will excel as it offers an exclusive experience. When the forests are so dense and untouched, it is very rare to see other tourists during the day. In fact, each primate experience is carefully controlled to limit the number of visitors to eight guests per gorilla troop. Scenic flights provide the expedited travel from Entebbe to the west and reveal the splendor of the red-tinged interior and the green-enshrouded mountains.

Your first stop is Kibale National Park, arguably the finest destination in Africa for chimpanzee trekking. Habituated groups make the experience virtually guaranteed and as with the gorillas, you will get an hour of wonderful intimacy with a wild troop. A dozen other primate species occupy the branches and introduce you to a world of primates in all colors and styles. Next, travel south by road to Queen Elizabeth National Park, where the forest becomes savannah and tree-climbing lions are among the safari highlights. You will spend an afternoon cruising the Kazinga Channel to bring delightful encounters with hippos and elephants. Spend your next day on big game safari searches for the big cats, particularly the wandering lions and furtive leopards.

Next, it is a wonderfully rural journey through the mountains as you curve and curl to the gorilla trekking trailhead of Ruhija and two days of gorilla trekking. Just eight people can use Ruhija in one day to create an exclusive experience with the Bitukura troop. Roam through the verdant forest and then spend the following day in the Rushaga region, where different gorilla troops can be tracked dependent on your interests. One might prefer a thrilling 3-hour hike through the forest, or perhaps an easier walk which is favored by senior travelers. Admire the silverback's power, the inquisitive antics of babies, mothers who serenely continue their day, and then the playful youngsters that jump in trees above your head.

On both days, you will get an hour with a troop and can come within seven meters of the animals, although sometimes the gorillas (particularly the younger ones) will approach you, rather than you trying to get closer to them. The first gorilla trekking usually goes too fast, with such an exquisite encounter viewed predominantly through the camera screen. There is far too much to take in, so going twice will help you to relax and fully appreciate the beauty of the experience. Stop, put down your camera and admire what is going on around you as you savor being so close to some of the rarest animals on the planet. These are mountain gorillas, the largest of the primates, and less than 1,000 remain in the wild. 

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Starting Price

$4795 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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