Chimps and Gorillas of Uganda
Chimps and Gorillas of Uganda
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Uganda is renowned for its abundant wildlife. With landscapes ranging from savannah to lush forests the animal count is high: over 300 mammal species and more than 1,000 types of birds. This trip is a true adventure into the heart of Africa.
Kibale Forest is possibly the best place in the world to track chimpanzees whilst Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to hippos, elephants, buffalo, leopards and elusive tree-climbing lions as well as a huge variety of birds. Continuing on our journey we reach Bwindi where we have the option of tracking the gentle giants of the forests, Mountain gorillas.
Day 1 (Start Entebbe; drive to Kibale Forest)
Those on the group flights arrive in the morning and we depart on the drive to Kibale Forest. The length of the drive does depend, in large part, on traffic in Kampala but should take approximately 7 hours. Upon arrival at Kibale Forest we can relax at our lake-side eco-lodge. Kibale Forest National Park is home to 13 primate species. There are 9 diurnal primates, including Vervet, Red-tailed, L’Hoest’s, Red colobus, Black-and-white colobus and Blue monkeys, as well as Grey-cheeked mangabey, Olive baboon and the most famous of all, the chimpanzee. Although chimp sightings are not guaranteed, the odds of encountering them are very good.
Day 2 (Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale; visit Bigodi wetlands)
Today we will explore the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary located in the Magombe wetland. The sanctuary is a major eco-tourist attraction in the Kibale Forest area and is operated by the Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED), a local community based organisation. We will also go on a forest walk in search of primates. Whilst trekking in the depths of the lush green forest, you will be surrounded by bird song and can expect to see at least 5 or 6 other types of primate, most probably the Grey-cheeked mangabey and the Red-tailed monkey and of course the chimpanzee. The walking is fairly easy due to the well-maintained trails and reasonably flat terrain. The order in which we do these activities may vary.
Day 3 (Optional second chimpanzee trek; to Queen Elizabeth N.P.)
There is the option of doing a second chimp trek this morning in order to increase the probability of seeing them (due to limited permit availability we recommend you pre-book the second chimp trek). In the afternoon, we drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). The drive goes south along the eastern length of the Rwenzori Mountains, where, weather permitting, we can see the glaciated peaks. We gently descend into The Great Rift Valley and QENP. The park resides in a fertile, equatorial area and has beautiful scenery. It is Uganda’s most popular and accessible savannah reserve, with a total area of 1978 square kilometres. It is primarily associated with grassy savannah plains, but this impressive park also includes within its boundaries leafy rainforests, dense papyrus swamps and natural volcanic crater lakes. As a result it has one of the highest biodiversity ratings of any game reserve in the world, including a total of 95 recorded mammal species and more than 610 species of birds.
Day 4 (Game drive in Queen Elizabeth N.P.; boat safari on the Kazinga Channel)
This morning we will explore QENP on a game drive in search of wildlife including elephants, lions, buffalo, leopard, hyena, jackal, topi, kob, bush buck and various others. In the afternoon we have a boat trip of about two hours along the Kazinga Channel to view some of the largest concentration of hippo in the world (reported to be about 30,000) and other game with excellent birding.
Day 5 (Game drive in the Ishasha region of Queen Elizabeth N.P.; to Buhoma)
Today we drive through the park to the Ishasha region. We game drive in search of tree climbing lion and other wildlife. This afternoon we head to Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest, a World Heritage site, passing through the scenic area known as 'The Switzerland of East Africa'. The driving today is about 5 1/2 hours (not including game drives).
Day 6 (Mountain gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest)
For many, coming toe-to-toe with a Mountain gorilla is one of the most emotional wildlife experiences possible. Tracking these gentle giants can take anything from under an hour to over six hours depending on where the family is located. The number of permits allocated daily are limited so we recommend early booking. Should the permits for gorilla families close to where we stay be unavailable, there are more permits for another area of the park, though this will mean a long drive to the starting point of the trek. The trek itself can be along steep, slippery trails and through the bush so you should be in reasonable physical condition, but the rewards of spending an hour with our close cousins more than makes up for the effort of getting to them.
Day 7 (Optional second Mountain gorilla trek)
Today is a free day and there is the option of getting a second gorilla permit for this day, though due to the limited number of permits, this should be obtained at time of booking. For those who choose not to go on a second gorilla trek, there are other walks which you can do nearby or you can relax at our lodge, reminiscing about the previous day’s encounters. Please note that on some departures, due to the availability of permits, we may have to swap these two days over with the free day (and optional second gorilla trek) on day 6 and the included gorilla trek on day 7 or we may have to split the group to trek with gorillas across both days.
Day 8 (To Lake Mburo N.P)
Leaving the forests behind we head towards Lake Mburo National Park. En route we will stop in Kabale near the Rwandan border for lunch. The drive time should be about five hours (not including stops). Lake Mburo is the only place in southern Uganda where you can see zebra, giraffe and impala and is a great place to try and see leopards. It is also home to over 300 species of birds and offers the possibility of game walks as well as game drives.
Day 9 (Game drive; optional game walk or boat safari)
Today we go on a final game drive looking for plains wildlife. The park has a network of game tracks in the eastern part of the park passing a variety of landscapes; acacia woodland, wetlands, grassy hillsides, rock outcrops and seasonally flooded valley floors. The early morning and late afternoon are the best times to roam the park in search of wildlife.There is also the option of tracking game on foot through the savannah and going on a boat excursion, particularly good for birdlife. You have the option of going on an early morning game walk this morning. Accompanied by a ranger guide, you will walk to a salt lick where many animals are attracted to the salty rocks. At this time of day you may encounter hyenas returning to their dens and hippos retreating to the lake The lake itself is rich with a diversity of animal and plant species, and these can be viewed clearly while on a boat trip. These include crocodiles, hippos and birds such as pelicans, Black crake, heron, cormorant and Fish eagle, but you may also see the rare Shoebill stork if you are lucky.
Day 10 (Drive to Entebbe; visit Mabamba swamp en route to search for Shoebill storks; end Entebbe)
Today is our final day and we make our way back to Entebbe and the shores of Lake Victoria. The driving time will depend on the amount of traffic in Kampala, but we will make regular stops to break up the journey.En route back to Entebbe we will visit the Mabamba Swamp (Mabamba Bay Wetland System), which lies about 40 km from Entebbe. This swamp is the perfect spot in Uganda for watching the globally threatened Shoebill stork and the Papyrus yellow warbler. The Mabamba Swamp is said to support over 190,000 birds. Our adventure ends in the afternoon in Entebbe. Those on the group flights will return to the airport in time for their overnight flight.
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