Getting close to some of our closest primate relatives is an experience you are never likely to forget. With this safari, we will take you to the largest remaining habitat for Mountain Gorillas at the Bwindi 'Impenetrable Forest'; a corridor of gallery forest where Chimpanzee rule the roost; the Queen Elizabeth National Park for savannah game drives and wildlife boat safaris; and the Mabamba Swamp for an array of wetland birds including the eerie Shoebill Stork.
Your safaris will begin at Lake Victoria with a traditional pole-propelled boat trip to explore the Mabamba Swamps. These swamps are fantastic for birdlife, of which one of the species of greatest interest is the Shoebill Stork. This bird has a huge beak, designed to snare large lungfish, catfish and eels, as well as more meaty animals such as monitor lizards, baby crocodiles and snakes. Famously, these storks give birth to two young, but will allow the weaker of the two to starve to death.
From Entebbe we will fly you to Kasese; and from there drive you into the Queen Elizabeth National Park and a lodge at the edge of the Kyambura River Gorge. Elephants, lions, buffalo, hippo and leopards can all be found here, for which we will take you in search by game drives and a boat safari. You will also visit the Kyambura River Gorge to track groups of fast-moving and elusive chimpanzees which live in the gallery forests of this isolated and deep river canyon. Around Ishasha, the wildlife searching is focused on the tree-climbing lions which lounge here in old fig trees.
From the flat savannah we head up into an area of mountains which provides the largest remaining habitat for the Mountain Gorilla. This is the Bwindi 'Impenetrable Forest' - a stunning area of forested mountain where approximately half of all surviving mountain gorillas live. Here you will track gorillas through dense tropical forest, watching as we go for orchids, birds and other wildlife. Chimpanzees are often heard screeching across the mountains, whilst black and white colobus monkeys can often be seen leaping from branch to branch, which at this altitude are already strained by dense collections of mosses and bromeliads. The scenery itself is quite breath taking which in the distance includes the Rwandan haven for the mountain gorilla: the Virungas of the Parc National des Volcans. All this is reason enough to want to visit this part of the world, but intimate encounters with our largest close relative can make this one of our natural world's most magical experiences.
From Bwindi fly you back to Entebbe and drive you to Lake Victoria for a final night before your return journey.
The number of gorilla permits released is strictly controlled. We will need to receive your deposit and then try to purchase your gorilla permit(s) before we can confirm your booking. In the event that permits are fully booked for the period you need them then we will refund your deposit in full. This itinerary includes 1 gorilla permit, but there is time to add in an additional permit (extra charge applies currently US$700 per person with a maximum 1 hour of contact with a gorilla group).
Sample 10 Day Itinerary
Meal plan: B&B at Lake Victoria Hotel. Full board for all other locations.
Day 1: Arrive in Entebbe
Arrive Entebbe airport where you will be met and transfer to a hotel beside Lake Victoria.
Day 2: Mabamba Swamp
Today, we will take you to the Mabamba Swamp in search of Shoebill Herons and other birdlife.
Day 3: Fly to Kasese & Queen Elizabeth National Park
You will be transferred to Entebbe airport where an Aerolink member of staff will assist you with the check in and transfer to your 07:45am (arrival 10:05am) or 12:30pm (arrival 14:35pm) domestic flight to Kasese. Check in time is one hour before the flight. In Kasese you will be welcomed by your expert guide who will provide knowledge and assistance throughout your journey.
You will be transferred to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, saying in a lodge overlooking the savannah plans, Kyambura River Gorge and the Rwenzori Mountains beyond.
Approximate Travel Times: Flying 2 hours; Driving 2 hours
Day 4: Kasenyi Plains
This morning you will head on a game drive to the Kasenyi Plains, which are excellent for sighting lion and large herds of Uganda kob. The Mweya peninsula is one of the best places to look for leopard, which live in the dense, scrubby thickets.
You will also visit the Kyambura Women's Coffee Cooperative and its coffee processing station; or visit the wetland reserve to spot birds.
Day 5: The Kyambura Gorge & In Search of Chimpanzees
The Kyambura Gorge is an extraordinary natural environment and forms a stark contrast to the surrounding grasslands. Here you can track one of our closest animal relatives: the chimpanzee. The chimp population is quite mobile and viewing can be unpredictable but the walk itself is enchanting.
In the afternoon, you will take a boa-based safari on the Kazinga Channel, which flows between Lakes Edward and George. Kazinga is home to one of the greatest concentration of hippo in Africa and herds of elephant, buffalo and other animals come to drink at the water's edge. The channel is a magnet for water birds, with great flocks of pelicans and other birds on the shore, and a great spot to see African fish eagle.
Also in Kyambura Gorge you can visit various community projects including: Women's Coffee Cooperative Tour, Reclaimed Wetland Tour, Bee-Keeping Fence Visit, Omumushaka Dance Group Performance, Empundu Playground Visit and much more.
Day 6: Journey to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Your safari now continues to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Travelling via Ishasha - subject to road conditions - you can observe the unusual behaviour exhibited by the tree-climbing lions. The long journey through the rapidly changing landscape takes you to your lodge which looks across to the towering trees of the forest. Depending on when you arrive, there may be time to explore the lodge grounds with its clear mountain stream or visit the local village and a safe local bar.
Approximate Travel Times: Driving 6 hours
Day 7: In Search of Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
After enjoying an early breakfast, you set off gorilla tracking. Trekking through the steep, densely forested hills and then finally coming across the gorillas camouflaged in the vegetation is an inspiring and privileged moment. Tracking in the Bwindi forest requires stamina and can often take most of the day.
Day 8: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
You will go gorilla tracking again today (as long as permits have been secured and paid for in advance), or you can save on the permit fee and go for a guided walk in the forest in search of other primates, birdlife (including endemics), butterflies and rare species of plant.
Day 9: Return to Entebbe
Transfer from the lodge to the Kihihi airstrip. Leave with the 09:45am (arrive at 11:25am) or 14:05pm (arrive at 15:55pm) return flight to Entebbe.
You will be met upon arrival and transfer to your hotel beside Lake Victoria.
Day 10: Depart Entebbe
You will be transferred to Entebbe airport for your flight out.
Please Contact Us to discuss any adjustments you need such as the number of persons travelling or itinerary adjustments (e.g. additional days in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest)
All transport starting and ending Entebbe airport
Domestic flights within Uganda
Expert naturalist driver / guide
B&B accommodation at Lake Victoria / Entebbe
Full Board accommodation at game lodges
All drinks at game lodges, including premium drinks except champagne
Entry fees to national parks
Government taxes, hotel levies and service charges
1 Gorilla Tracking Permit per person
Chimpanzee tracking permits for the itinerary
Items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks
Excursions or services not listed within the itinerary
Extra gorilla permits (currently US$700 per person per day)