Uganda – Mountain Gorilla Trip 15th – 26th Jan 2020

Uganda is one of my favourite countries; it has stunning countryside, friendly people and is stuffed full of wildlife. I first travelled there in search of the magnificent mountain gorillas. I had no idea of the incredible wealth the country had to offer.

 

The moment you arrive in Entebbe, the charm of the place hits you. Situated on the shores of Lake Victoria, it is a leafy, lazy place to find your feet. The hotel has a beautiful garden, full of flowers and colourful birds. It’s a great place to acclimatise.

 

One of the wonderful things about Uganda is its huge range of habitats and because it is a relatively small country, these changes happen quickly. The lowland swamp areas around Entebbe are home to the prehistoric looking shoebill. Reached by dug-out canoe, an early morning search for these huge blue birds is truly magical.

 

Then there is Kibale rainforest, where we trek for chimps; Queen Elizabeth National Park, where open savanna provides a home for elephants, big cats, many different antelope species and much more…. There is the stunning Fort Portal area where extinct volcanoes filled with water make up Uganda’s lake district. And then, of course, there is Bwindi. The air in Bwindi forest is so clean it’s exhilarating. You breathe the freshness; it makes you inhale to the very bottom of your lungs. The subtle power, the life force of the trees hits you the moment you enter. And everywhere there is moss, it drips from every bough, clings to the newest of trees. The ferns are enormous, they curl forth competing with the trees for light, they tower over you like huge umbrellas creating dappled shade on the forest floor. All this to a background of insects and birds and the constant babble of the river. The clear water making its way through the stones. There are waterfalls too, moss and ferns hanging improbably from their constantly wet stone sides. And all this before you have even seen the gorillas….

 

The accommodation is in a variety of incredible locations from jungle to escarpment. It is good quality, clean and comfortable with wonderfully helpful and happy staff. Dietary requirements catered for…

 

Meditation, yoga, movement and breathing practice is available throughout your trip…. I will do my best to guide you through whatever practice you would like to explore. I have years of experience in both well-being and mindfulness. I also, believe in having fun, not taking things too seriously & enjoying the moment….

 

ITINERARY

Day 0: Arrival and transfer to your hotel

Arrive at Entebbe international airport (EBB), transfer you to your hotel. We will meet our guides and drivers and have an opportunity to discuss the trip…. Relaxation after journey. Transfer time is 15 Minutes

Protea Hotel

 

Day 1: Shoebill at Mabamba swamp/Entebbe Botanical gardens/UWEC

After breakfast, we will be collected and driven to Mabamba Swamp, home of the prehistoric shoebill. The bird life in Uganda is incredible and it is likely we will see some interesting stuff along the way. Dug out canoes will take us out into the swamp in search of the Shoebill. We are also likely to see; pygmy-kingfisher, jacana, marsh harrier, African pygmy-goose, whistling duck, blue swallow, blue breasted bee-eater etc. You get the picture, loads of birds. Very nice swamp. In the afternoon/evening you can have an optional walk around the beautiful botanical gardens. Resident troop of black & white colobus monkeys & some beautiful fauna & flora. Or you can visit the UWA education centre. You will return to the hotel for relaxation, dinner and overnight. Transfer time is 30 Minutes and activity takes from (2-4 hours)

Protea Hotel

 

Day 2: Transfer from Kampala to Kibale

Departure early in the morning. We will head to Kibale Forest National Park in the morning. Lunch in Fort portal. We will stop on our way for breaks and wildlife and countryside…. Stay a night in the beautiful area close to a crater lakes zone bordering Kibale Forest. You can often hear the chimps calling from your cottage. Transfer time (5 Hours)
Dinner and overnight at Chimpanzee Forest Guest House

 

Day 3: Chimpanzee tracking tour in Kibale Forest, Nature Walk Bigodi Wetlands

After early morning breakfast, you will be transferred to the park office to meet the ranger guides for the pre-trek briefing after which you will set off to trek into the forest to track the Chimpanzees. You may spot other primates like the red-tailed monkey (my favourite, it has the kindest face!) Black & white colobus (chimps like them on toast), Red Colobus Monkey, L’Hoest Monkey, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, and Vervet Monkeys. The bird lovers will spot many forest specials from a total of 335 bird species recorded in the forest. The chimp encounter can be very different; sometimes I have been amongst them & almost fallen asleep with their soporific vibe and other times, when they are hunting, it has been an adrenaline filled experience… its great either way. There are some really nice butterflies in Kibale forest…. Back to CFGH for lunch.

Later in the day, you shall be transferred to the Bigodi Wetlands, situated on the eastern edge of the forest. There you shall take a light walk in the wetlands to observe plenty of wildlife including birds, with any luck the magnificent blue turaco. Its primate tastic too. The office is home to a wonderful town of weaver birds, quite enchanting to watch. Return in the evening for dinner and overnight at Chimpanzee Forest Guest House

 

Day 4: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth national park for a game drive OR Boat cruise on Kazinga channel

Have your breakfast and then embark on a road trip to Queen Elizabeth national park for a boat cruise on the Kazinga channel. Elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, crocs, hippos and thousands of birds. This short channel of water is a tapestry of nature. The slow boat ride from Mweya into Lake Edward and George is a real favourite…. Transfer time (2 hours)

Mazike Valley Lodge

 

Day 5: Morning Game drive and transfer to Ishasha sector

After breakfast, you will take packed lunch and head for a game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park to increase your wildlife animal view counts and see Africa’s highly famed “Big 5”, Bush Bucks, Giant Hogs, Antelopes, Waterbucks and plenty of birds. Later in the evening, you will be transferred to the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park in the southern part of this park. This area is known for its tree-climbing lions.

In Ishasha we will drive off in this adventurous vast savannah area with Topis, Uganda Kobs, Cape Buffalos, the African Elephants and lions leaning on tree branches. Here you will experience a change in the landscape from flat savanna grassland to jungle with thickets and fig trees. Transfer time (4 hours

Ishasha Wilderness Camp

 

 

 

Day 6: Morning and afternoon game drives in Ishasha

After breakfast, you will drive to Ishasha side of Queen Elizabeth National park for your morning game drive. Ishasha is popular for tree climbing lions. Ishasha has other animals like Buffaloes, Elephants, Antelopes and many others. You may also drive to River Ishasha to see the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Return to the Lodge for Lunch and then evening game drive in Ishasha for more wild animal viewing.

Ishasha Wilderness Camp

 

Day 7:  Morning drive and Transfer to Bwindi impenetrable forest

After having breakfast at your pace, check out the lodge and transfer through the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National park with another morning game drive so that you increase your chances of sighting tree climbing Lions. We will drive through the beautiful terraced hills of Kigezi and the evergreen forest of Bwindi with mist. The dense rainforest of Bwindi, famous for its gorilla population, is one of the most fertile and rich in the world, is home to a variety of primates, plants, and tropical birds. On arrival, check in at the lodge for relaxation, Dinner and overnight stay at your lodge amidst the forests and verdant hills of Bwindi as you wait for the next day’s adventure.
Transfer time (3 hours)
Dinner and overnight at Engagi Lodge 

 

Day 8: Gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable forest

Early morning breakfast and proceed to the briefing point. Enjoy the highlight of your trip – Gorilla trekking, which may last from 2 to 6 hours depending on the group you are visiting. You will trek through the rainforest and bamboo covered slopes, accompanied by the Uganda Wildlife Authority guide and other trackers, in search of a mountain gorilla family. Due to the nature of the activity, you will have packed lunch. After Gorilla trekking, you will drive back to the lodge for a relaxed evening for refreshment later dinner and overnight at Engagi Lodge

 

Day 9: Explore Lake Bunyonyi (Community Tour and Boat Ride)

After having breakfast at your pace, you will be transferred to Lake Bunyonyi for another lakeside adventure. The canoe trek on Bunyonyi will introduce you to the major islands and their rich history, but also to a traditional healer and a craft maker who live on a peninsula with most complete views of the 25-kilometres long lake. There will be some little energetic hiking but also great time spent in traditional dugout canoes. You also have the option of visiting neighboring communities or spend some time interacting with the Batwa (pygmies) community who inhabit parts of the forest and its surrounding areas. Birders will treat themselves with well over 300 bird species recorded.  Pied kingfishers swallows and etc. 

Bunyonyi Birdnest

 

Day 10: Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park for a game drive and boat ride on Lake Mburo

After breakfast transfer to Lake Mburo, the ‘Zebra magnet’. Leave Lake Bunyonyi and continue driving through the hilly areas. Arrive in the park and have lunch at the lodge before heading for an afternoon game drive for a view of Zebras, Topis, Warthogs, Giraffes, cape Buffaloes and impalas. You will later have a boat ride on Lake Mburo, aimed at wildlife viewing as various aquatic animals are spotted on the banks including hippos and water birds. Transfer time  (5 hours)

Mihingo Lodge

 

Day 11: Morning Safari walk in Lake Mburo National Park and transfer to Kampala via the equator line!

After having an early breakfast, go for a morning safari walk in Lake Mburo national park. This park is famous for walks inside and around the park on foot where you can see long-horned cattle of Ankole community which can mix freely with Zebras, Impalas, Giraffes, Warthogs, Elands, Cape Buffalos, and many tropical bird species. Checkout of the lodge and transfer to Kampala with lunch along the way!! Along the way, you will make a stopover at the Equator line to have an authentic feel of standing at Latitude 00. You will arrive in the evening to be dropped at the airport to board your return flight Transfer time (4 hours). Depending on flight times, you may want to spend another night in Entebbe. This is not included but easily arranged.

 

 

BWINDI

 

“The air in Bwindi forest is so clean it’s exhilarating. You breathe the freshness, it makes you inhale to the very bottom of your lungs. The subtle power, the life force of the trees hits you the moment you enter. It makes me want to run down the narrow paths. There are steps made out of the roots of trees. Climbers that try and trip you up, spikey things that mean you have to watch where you place your hands… And everywhere there is moss, it drips from every bough, clings to the newest of trees. And the ferns are enormous, as they uncurl, they compete with the trees for light, they tower above me like huge umbrellas creating dappled shade on the forest floor. All this to a background of insects and birds and the constant babble of the river. The clear water making its way through the stones. There are waterfalls too, moss and ferns hanging improbably from their constantly wet stone sides.

 

Bwindi is magical, you know it even before you meet the gorillas….. Veering from the path, our guide cuts through the thick vegetation with his machete. Under foot the leaves on top of mud and rotting wood make the going slippery. The steep slope means a scramble up and a slide down. And then we are there among them. Our guide turns to brief us. I know I should be making eye contact with him and listening carefully but it’s so hard to concentrate when a full grown female mountain gorilla scales the tree behind me, munching leaves as she goes… Her pot belly silhouetted against the sky. Branches creek and crack under her weight. Totally ignoring us she carries on with her meal. Beneath her another female lies soporifically. Her tiny baby curiously poking out through the foliage, his bright clear eyes occasionally catch the light. I love the fatness of their hands and feet, they are squidgy looking. The skin not as soft as ours and grey, of course. I am always staggered by the blackness and fluffiness of mountain gorillas. There are two youngsters in the Mubare group. One is just 5 months old, the other 9. I am surprised at their smallness. The youngest never leaving his mother’s grasp. The elder only just taking a very few steps from his. This group has one silverback, Kanyonyi, the other adult members are all female. The silverback must be a pretty attractive proposition for he has purloined most of his ladies from other groups. The family are mostly resting when we come across them. The silverback close to his females.. All is calm. Then suddenly something frightens them. It is incredible how quickly they move, the females all rush to the silverback for protection. He is instantly alert and on guard. His massive bulk ready to defend. He stands up and beats his chest and the noise resounds through the forest. He means business. But it is nothing, this time. The mother with the youngest infant, clearly shaken, snuggles in to the huge male for reassurance. He embraces her, the gentlest of cuddles, their baby between them. They stay like that for a while and then he decides to move off through the forest leading his family away.

 

Bwindi has 350 bird species, 310 butterfly species and 324 tree species… At least 120 species of mammals, including 10 primate… The park ranges from lowland to afro-montane forest, a moist tropical forest that is unique in Uganda. It has remained like this for millions of years, thus Bwindi is a refuge for many species…. And I LOVE it….”

Cost – £3,000

Per person sharing twin room
Single supplement available.

 

What’s included

Airport transfer on Day 1 and Day 11
Transportation Charges
Boat ride and Nature Walk at Lake Mburo NP
Game drive at Lake Mburo NP
Canoe ride at Lake Bunyonyi
Batwa Cultural Visit
Gorilla tracking permit (600$ pp)
Game drive in Ishasha Sector
Boat cruise in Kazinga Channel
Game drives in Queen Elizabeth
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest NP
Bigodi Swamp Walk in Kibale Forest NP
Park entry fees
Guide fees
Full board accommodation
English speaking driver/guide
All meals

 

What’s not included

International flight ticket
Additional night in Entebbe before departure
Tourist Insurance
Beverages
Tips

 

Insurance

Clients should take care of the Medical and Travel Insurance.

Yellow fever vaccination required
Hep A & B recommended

Category: Uganda, Wild Trips