Seeing Uganda's wildlife is one thing, but getting close to some of our closest primate relatives in something else entirely. This is what this safari sets out to achieve for you, with some of Uganda's leading primate trackers, staying at some of the best-placed ecolodges in the country.
Locations you will explore include the largest remaining habitat for Mountain Gorillas at the Bwindi 'Impenetrable Forest'; the Chimpanzee strongholds of the Kibale rainforest and gallery forests of the Kyambura River Gorge; the Queen Elizabeth National Park for savannah game drives and wildlife boat safaris; and the wetlands of Bigodi and the Mabamba Swamp for an array of wetland birds including the eerie Shoebill Stork.
Your safari will begin at Lake Victoria and a visit to the Mabamba Swamps. These are famous for the Shoebill Stork, whose huge beak is designed to snare large lungfish, catfish and eels, as well as more meaty stuff of 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.
We will fly you from Entebbe in order to reach the Kibale National Park Rainforest. This location is incredible for primate watching, Whilst Chimpanzees will be our primary target, it is not unusual to find mixed groups of as many as 5 species of monkey here. Though Chimpanzees can be difficult to spot, you will be in no doubt of their presence as the forest is alive with their rather intimidating screeching.
The birdlife is abundant at Kibale too, as it is in the neighbouring Bigodi Wetlands where you can hope to see Blue Turaco and the rare Papyrus Gonolek. We also hope you will see Sitatunga, which are antelopes whose splayed hooves have adapted them perfectly to swampy ground. Red colobus monkeys are another elusive resident here.
From the forests of Kibale we head west to the savannah plains below the Ruwenzoris. Here we can encounter some of the big game of Africa in the magnificent Queen Elizabeth National Park. Elephant, lion, buffalo, hippo and leopard can all be found here, which we will take you in search of by game drives and boat safari.
The Kyambura Gorge cuts into the savannah, where you will 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 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 mountains where approximately half of all surviving mountain gorillas live. Here we 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 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 we can extend your stay and apply for permits on an extra day or two.
Sample 10 Day Itinerary
Meal plan: B&B at Lake Victoria Hotel. Full board & all drinks except champagne included for safari lodge locations.
Day 1: Arrive in Entebbe
Arrive Entebbe airport where you will be met and transfer to a hotel beside Lake Victoria.
Day 2: Exploring the Mabamba Swamp
Today, we will take you to the Mabamba Swamp in search of Shoebill Herons and other birdlife.
Day 3: Fly to Kasese
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 a lodge with amazing views of the ancient volcanic landscape, the Bunyaruguru Crater Lake and the Rwenzori Mountains beyond. After your journey enjoy the swimming pool, walk around the lodge garden and grounds or simply relax on the terrace.
Approximate Travel Times: Flying 2 hours; Driving 2 hours
Day 4: In Search of Chimpanzees
Spend the morning tracking the exuberant chimp families in the Kibale forest. Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor, is a thrilling experience. Though they can be difficult to spot, you will be in no doubt of their presence as the forest is alive with their noisy calls.
In the afternoon, you will be taken to explore the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. The reserve is abundant with butterflies, plants, animals and, in particular, birds. Spectacular birds like Great Blue Turaco and rare Papyrus Gonolek will be of great interest to birders. The swamp is also home to more elusive animals such as Red Colobus monkeys and Sitatunga antelope.
Day 5: Queen Elizabeth National Park
Depart for Queen Elizabeth National Park. En route, take a short walk in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains and take in the views of this magnificent mountain range. Alternatively, drive straight to the park and take a game drive. What you see depends on the season, but the Kasenyi plains 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.
Time permitting, visit the Kyambura Women's Coffee Cooperative and its coffee processing station; or visit the wetland reserve to spot birds.
Approximate Travel Times: Driving 2 hours
Day 6: Kyambura Gorge
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 7: 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 8: In Search of Gorillas
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 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