This 5-day chimpanzee and gorilla tracking safari will give you close encounters with many primates including chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, different species of monkeys such as the black and white colobus monkeys, the red tailed and blue tailed monkeys, the L’Hoest’s monkeys as well as baboons among others, all in the famous Kibaale Forest and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Parks. Indeed, if you are a primatologist, then you will be in the right place!
|Arrival||Entebbe | Kampala|
|Departure||Entebbe International Airport|
After breakfast you will begin your safari taking you westwards towards Fort Portal and to Kibaale Forest National Park. The journey will take about 6 hours from Entebbe/Kampala.
You will pass through traditional Ugandan villages where you’ll see people tending to their agricultural crops of millet, sorghum, beans, and maize and large tea plantations. The lush rolling hills of this region from Kampala to Kibaale Forest will provide you with good photo opportunities. As you approach Fort Portal green landscapes spread before you, as far as the eye can see, with seemingly an unusual contrast to the countryside through which you’ll pass.
You will first reach Fort Portal, then, continue towards Kibaale Forest, which is one of the great African rainforest research reserves. This forest is famed for a great variety of primates and a high concentration of bird species.
From your lodge after breakfast, you’ll connect to Kanyanchu Tourism Centre for briefing and eventual chimpanzee trekking in the morning. Kibaale National Park supports over 13 Species of Primates and among others they include the common chimpanzees, the black and white colobus monkeys, the red tailed and blue tailed monkey as well as L’Hoest’s monkey which may be encountered during your chimp trek.
The chimpanzee trekking experience takes 2 – 5 hours involving hikes through challenging forest landscapes covered by matured trees and verdant flora with 371 tree species including the Warbughia, Ugandensis and Parinari exelsa. The forest is also known for a myriad of bird species counting to over 350 species, such as Green-breasted Pitta, Crowned Eagle, Black Bee-eater, Western Nicator, Red-chested Owlet, Little Greenbul, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Brown-chested Alethe, African Grey Parrot and Blue-breasted Kingfisher among other species.
You’ll have over one hour with the chimpanzees when you are able to see them munching fruit, playing, copulating and patrolling among other aspects. You are allowed to take photos but remember to keep the flash off. Feeding or carrying foods for these primates is strictly prohibited.
After the spectacular experience, you’ll then retreat for a lunch break or relaxation and then connect to Bigodi wetland sanctuary for an afternoon wetland walk. The sanctuary is an eco-tourism site and so far the best in Uganda with over 138 bird species among which are included the Great Blue Turaco. It is also a habitat for the swamp dwelling Sitatunga antelope. You’ll get back to your lodge for the night as you prepare for another spectacular day through Queen Elizabeth National Park.
After breakfast, you will embark on the transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – the home of the spectacular but critically endangered mountain gorillas.
You will drive through the Ishasha sector where you will get the opportunity to see the tree climbing lions which tend to hang on the branches of fig trees during the day time. Ishasha also supports other wildlife like Kobs, elephant, buffaloes, and waterbucks among others. In the evening you will arrive at your lodge in Bwindi for relaxation, dinner and overnight.
In the morning of the fourth day, you will gather for a briefing from the game rangers and then embark on the gorilla trekking experience in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest protects a population of over 320 mountain gorillas that is, approximately 50% of the world’s population of endangered Mountain Gorillas. The word “Bwindi” means “Darkness”, and taking a hike through this magnificent forest will certainly unveil to you the reason why the forest was named so. You’ll as well be in position to tell why the forest is regarded as impenetrable.
From the starting point of your gorilla trek, you will connect to the trail head and enter into the forest on foot in search of the ancient descendants of Old World Monkey that have decided to limit their world existence to Bwindi Impenetrable and Virunga mountain ranges. The eventual encounter with the gorillas meeting eye to eye takes you back to the moments when their ancestor and your ancestor separated from each other millions of years back.
You will have one full hour viewing the giant gorilla forage and socialize with the young ones playing, the silverback showcasing its dominance while you are taking photos and asking questions from the guide. The general trekking encounter that involves hiking the hilly landscapes of Bwindi, moving up and slopping down, traversing the dense impenetrable jungle - tend to last between 2 – 6 hours, and it has been recognized by CNN as an everlasting impression of arguably the best wildlife safari in the world.
In the evening, many travelers opt to go for a community walk in the nearby Batwa community, where you will be entertained and given tales of their unique culture. As the original dwellers of this ancient jungle, the Batwa were known as “The Keepers of the Forest.” The history of these small-statured people is long and rich. The Batwa survived by hunting small game using arrows or nets and gathering plants and fruits in the rain forest. Some anthropologists estimate that pygmy tribes such as the Batwa have existed in the equatorial forests of Africa for 60,000 years or more. Later enjoy dinner at your lodges or Hotel.
Alternatively, in the afternoon session instead of staying in Bwindi, some travelers opt to retreat to Lake Bunyonyi driving through magical Kigezi Highlands dubbed the Switzerland of Africa. Upon arrival, you will embark on a thrilling boat ride to explore the second deepest lake in Africa, with 29 Islands. You can also disembark from the boat at some point and take a walk in one of the Islands to share light moments with the Island communities. The waters of L. Bunyonyi are free of bilharzia and therefore one can choose to swim there.
After breakfast on the fifth day, you will embark on your journey back to Kampala (about 437km or 7 hours’ drive), passing through impressive countryside landscapes of southwestern Uganda.
You will make a stopover at Igongo Cultural Centre 12km past Mbarara City for traditional lunch served at its famous Kahwa Kanuzire restaurant where you will also have a souvenir and artifacts opportunity, after which you will proceed to Kampala with another stopover at the Equator that crosses Kayabwe on Masaka –Kampala highway.
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