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Safari with mountain gorillas in Uganda

Country: Uganda
Next travel date: on demand
Size of group: from 2 people

Program

Program
 
Day One- Arrival at Entebbe International Airport
 
Meet and greet at the airport, transfer to 2 Friends Beach resort Hotel for Overnight stay. B, B
 
Day Two –Entebbe- Lake Mburo National Park
Early morning breakfast and then later set off for the western Uganda drive to Lake Mburo National Park. (5 hrs drive). Drive south westwards stopping at the Mpigi Drum makers, get a chance to view how the local drums are made using traditional methods. Have another stop at the equator for photographs and souvenirs. Drive passing by local communities and the rolling plains of Ankole. Continue on to Lake Mburo National Park, the only park in the country with an entire lake from which it derives its name. Arrive in time for lunch at the Lodge and in the afternoon, go for a game drive to search for different game animals.
 
lake mburo zebra mburo lake
 
Lake Mburo National Park (LMNP) is a very special place; every part of it is alive with variety, interest and colour. LMNP contains an extensive area of wetland. The park harbours several species of mammals including zebras, impalas, elands, topi and buffaloes. Its sculptured landscape with rolling grassy hills and idyllic lakeshores has a variety of habitats that support a variety of wildlife: forest galleries. The park is 370sq km and the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks. Its mosaic habitat: dry hillside, rocky outcrops, bushes, thickets, open and wooded savannahs, forests, lakes and swamps are home to a surprising diversity of plants and animals.
 
Location: Lake Mburo National Park is situated in Mbarara district. It is about 3.5 hours drive from Kampala. The park is accessed from the Masaka-Mbarara road; turn left to Nshara gate (13kms past Lyantonde) or alternatively turn left at Sanga trading centre (27kms past Lyantonde) which brings you through Sanga gate. Both junctions have clearly marked signposts. It is about 13 km from Sanga trading centre to Sanga gate and 8 km from the main road to Nshara gate. It is about 20 minutes’ drive from either gates to Rwonyo park headquarters.
 
Set on a massive granite outcrop, besides lake Mburo national park, Rwakobo rock has a variety of cottages
With running water and flush toilets. Solar power is used for heating and lighting and the lodge provides filtered drinking water.All rooms are dotted around the hill taking advantage of rocky edges and private corners.
 
Day three- Lake Mburo National Park
Early morning game drive. Afternoon boat cruise and evening nature walk in the park. Dinner and overnight Rwakobo rock. B, L, D
 
Game Drives: The park has a number of tourist tracks that are used for game drives. Impala track exposes the visitor to a diverse species of animals. Impala is the most common species viewed along this track although one may sight a number of waterbucks, warthogs, topis and zebras.
 
Zebra track leads to harems of Burchell’s zebra (Equus burchelli) with other species like bushbucks, oribi and reedbucks. The zebra track leads to the junction of Ruroko track, a drive through a wetland basin and thick acacia shrub and woodland, with olive trees and euphorbia species. Kopjes (rock outcrops) found along the Ruroko track, are home to elusive klipspringers to which the rock is the best habitat.
 
The Kazuma track passes through wooded grassland where black-bellied bustards often patrol the area. For visitors to experience a real exposure of Lake Mburo National Park, they should climb Kazuma hill, which is high enough to enable them to see what they could have missed. The five lakes within the park and the rolling hills become more visible and attractive. Its better seen than read or heard!
 
Kigambira loop takes you through a wooded wilderness with scattered thicket and while you are here, look out for bushbucks and bush duikers.
The Lakeside track is specially designed to facilitate viewing of water plants and animals. The park has a diversity of water birds and woodland birds which can be sighted along these tracks.
 
Boat Trips: The presence of Lake Mburo within the park is a blessing. The lake is rich with a diversity of animal and plant species, which can only be viewed clearly while on a boat trip. These include crocodiles, hippopotami and birds like Pelicans, Black crake, Heron, Cormorant and Fish eagle but you may also see the rare Shoebill stork, all of which will furnish your visit with pride.
The duration of each boat ride is 2 hours maximum, but arrangements for extra time can be made with management at an extra fee.
 
Guided Walks:
Nature Trail. The nature trail offers the visitor a chance to admire nature insite. Visitors have the opportunity to walk in the circuit at their own pace in company of an armed guide. Information on trails is also available.
Salt Lick. A walk to the nearby salt lick is a climax of it all. A strategically located wooden platform (Observation point) offers a chance to see at least four different species of animals at any one time while they lick the salty soil. The observation point is strategically located in such a way that close observation can be done without distracting the animals from their salt licking.
 
Day Four – Lake Mburo to Lake Bunyonyi- (3 hrs drive)
Depart after breakfast from Lake Mburo to Lake Bunyonyi and Bushara Island, where you will overnight, B, L, D
 
Bushara Island Camp is a popular facility on Lake Bunyonyi (Lake of the Little Birds). The first of its kind, the camp is a stopover to and from Gorilla tours, a bird watcher's haven, and a private place for retreats. This small island is peaceful, safe, natural, and particularly intriguing to day-visitors and families, and a special hide-out for the weary traveller. The perfect location to get away from it all, Bushara Island is a wonderful place to relax in nature. The green hills and papyrus swamps offer many opportunities for birdwatching and Eucalyptus trees provide quiet place to sit and read a book.
 
Day Five – Full day at Bushara Island
You will enjoy either swimming, bird watching or island hopping from Bushara Island today. Alternatively take a boat around the Lake to different spots and the Batwa culture. Dinner and overnight Bushara Island Camp, B, L, D
 
Day Six – Lake Bunyonyi to Bwindi National Park- (4 hrs drive)
Today we will depart to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. We will overnight in the Buhoma Community Centre Bandas. B, L, D
 
Buhoma Community Campground has clean well maintained bandas, each having solar electric lighting. 5 bandas have shared washing/toilet facilities and 1 is self-contained. The showers are heated by firewood. Levelled tent sites, some under tea-shades, are also available. There is a picnic banda in which to sit, socialise, relax and eat; as well as a reception building, which houses a bar and dining room. A variety of local foods are available, as well as refreshments.
 
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated in south western Uganda, on the edge of the Western Rift Valley (Albertine rift) and is shared by Kanungu, Kabale and Kisoro districts. It is 331 sq km in size and on an altitude range of 1,160 metres (Ishasha gorge) to 2,607 metres (Rwamanyonyi Peak). The annual average temperature range is 7°C - 20°C with the coldest period being June and July.Of the local people neighbouring the park, the majority are Bakiga and Bafumbira, constituting the most dense settlements in Uganda (350 people/sq km). A few Batwa are also found.
 
Species Diversity: Bwindi is home to 326 gorillas, almost a half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. There are also 346 species of birds and over 200 species of butterflies. This afromontane forest has dense under storey of fern, vines and shrubs. About 324 tree species have been recorded here, 10 of which occur nowhere else in Uganda.
 
Bird Watching: Bwindi is the bird watchers haven! It holds 346 species of birds and contains 90% of all Albertine rift endemics, difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa and seven IUCN red data listed species. An experienced bird watcher can identify up to 100 species in a day! Visit Ruhija and Buhoma for this dream. Indicate your interest to the Park Management so that appropriate early morning departures can be arranged.
 
Day Seven – Gorilla trekking in Bwindi
7:00am- After breakfast set out and transfer to the Park headquarters for the Gorilla trekking briefing. After this, you will enter the forest at 8:00am and enjoy the beauty and freshness of the forest, home to more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas. Proceed through the dense bush to trek for these endangered animals depending on where they built their nest the previous night. This can take from 2- 7 hrs while searching in the jungle forest. For conservation purposes, time allowed with the Gorillas is 1 hour. Return after the trek to the Lodge for relaxation, dinner and overnight stay at Buhoma Community Bandas. B, L, D.
 
gorilla
 
Gorilla Tracking: This is the major activity in Bwindi, with Ten Gorilla groups currently available daily for tourists. Mubare group (5 gorillas, 1 silverback) was opened for tourism in 1993, Habinyanja group (18 gorillas, 2 silverback) opened in July 1999, Rushegura group (20 gorillas, 1 silverback) was opened in July 2002, while Nkuringo group (20 gorillas, 3 silverbacks) was opened for tourism in April 2004. Bitukura group (14 members with Silverbacks) was opened up for tourism in 2008. Nshongi group was opened for tourism in 2009 and is believed to be the largest Gorilla family in the world with 25 gorilla members with 4 Silverbacks. Mishaya group with 9 members and 1 Silverback was opened up for Tourism in 2011, Oruzogo group with 23 gorilla members with 2 silverbacks was opened for tourism in June 2011 and Kahungye with 13 members including 3 silverbacks. The latest groups to be opened for tourism include Busingye which was opened at the beginning of the year 2013.
You need to book for your Gorilla Safari at least 6 months (but not more than two years) in advance to ensure that requested dates are available.
Gorilla tracking in Bwindi can be challenging, therefore ensure fitness. The tracking experience starts at 8.30 am local time and can last from a few hours to a whole day! Registration at the gate commences at 7.45 am.
 
Day Eight – Bwindi National Park
Optional forest walk today through the park up to it’s magnificent three water falls. You are welcome to jump in to cool off. Overnight Buhoma Commnity Camp, B, L, D
 
 
Nature Walks: For the visitor who has 2 or 3 days in Bwindi, the park has 4 fantastic hiking trails. On all these trails, you have the opportunities to see and learn about primates, many species of birds, butterflies, trees and other organisms. Arrange at the reception for a guide. The guide’s company is obligatory and affords you an excellent understanding of nature’s system at work in the park.
Departure times: 9.00 am and 2.15 am
 
The Munyaga river trail is an ideal short walk for visitors with little time to spare. Here you can see birds and primates of the forest edge.
The popular waterfall trail provides an attractive feature of the forest with a profusion of tree ferns, epiphytic ferns, orchids and Bwindi’s colourful array of butterflies. This trail which leads to 3 delightful crystal clear waterfalls typifies your impression of a tropical rainforest.
The Rushara trail commands expansive views across the western rift valley floor. To the west, Congo’s Parc Nationale des Virungas provides a spectacular backdrop and on clear days, Lake Edward and the Rwenzori Mountains are visible.
The 5.2 km Muzabajiro Loop trail offers breathtaking views of Bwindi Forest, Western Rift Valley and the Virungas. On the way, you witness hundreds of pre-historic tree ferns. The top of this trail is a great place for a picnic lunch.
The River Ivi trail, so far the longest in the park, will occupy you for a full day. It is highly recommended for bird watchers.
 
Day Nine – Bwindi to Queen Elizabeth National Park- (5 hrs drive)
8:00am- depart Bwindi National Park and drive through the country side passing through traditional home stead and farms. Continue on to Queen Elizabeth through the southern part of the park (Ishasha sector). Picnic Lunch along the way with in Queen Elizabeth. Proceed with a game drive as you pass through Ishasha and search for the tree climbing lions as well as other animals. Dinner and overnight stay at Simba Safari Camp. B, L, D
queen elizabeth nemzeti park
 
Simba Safari Camp features eight twin rooms and one triple room. The rooms are spacious and comfortably furnished with two single beds and mosquito nets. Ensuite is a bathroom with running water and flushing toilet. Part of the floor is covered with natural pebble stones, giving your feet a pleasant massage while taking a shower. The water is heated by a special solar energy system. Moreover, each room features its veranda where you can relax or read a book while enjoying your privacy.
 
Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) together with Kyambura and Kigezi Wildlife Reserves form one of the most diverse ecosystems in Africa. The melting glacier waters of the Rwenzori Mountains create a vast wetland system comprising of two main lakes, George and Edward, as well as the connecting Kazinga Channel. Thousands of hippos populate these lake shorelines. Open savannah dotted with Acacia and Euphorbia trees provide habitat for elephants, lions, leopards, Uganda kobs and big herds of buffaloes. Ten primate species including chimpanzees are present. Among the many animals frequently seen are giant forest hog, waterbucks, topi, hyenas and crocodiles. The park boasts of more bird species than any other park in Africa.
 
 
 
Day Ten: Queen Elizabeth National Park
Get up ready for a 6.30 am morning game drive. The park’s diverse ecosystem of grassy plains, tropical forest, rivers, swamps, lakes and volcanic craters is home to an incredible abundance of wildlife. Look out for buffaloes, lions, elephants and other wild life in their natural habitat. Return to the lodge for a late breakfast.
 
After lunch go for the afternoon launch cruise on the Kazinga Channel. This is a home of a variety of water birds and on a hot day, hippos, elephants, buffaloes and waterbucks can be sighted as they bathe and drink water at the water edge. Crocodiles are occasionally sighted along the channel banks. Dinner and overnight stay at Simba Safari Camp. B, L, D
 
Game Drives: This is the act of driving through the park for the purpose of viewing animals. This is best done in the early morning and late afternoon hours. Over 200 km of well-maintained tracks give visitors access to the park’s game. Some of the tracks pass through large mating grounds of great herds of Uganda kob.
Hungry lions can often be seen searching for prey. The legendary giant forest hog is visible roaming the bush. When it is hot, large herds of elephant make their way down to the water. Buffalo and bushbucks can be found on the Channel track and adjacent circuits. The warthog is a hallmark sight on the Mweya Peninsula. The outstanding scenery along the Crater track brings visitors to volcanic craters at the foothills of the misty Mountains of the Moon (Mt. Rwenzori). The drive is a breath-taking experience. Our friendly staff will assist in planning for a game drive.
 
Launch Trip on the Kazinga Channel: A boat trip along the hippo crowded banks of Kazinga Channel gives visitors a unique unequalled wildlife experience. Eye to eye with yawning hippos and surrounded by vast numbers of migrant and resident water birds, the boat puts one right in the heart of nature. Many buffaloes rest in the water while the big herds of elephant enjoy themselves drinking and playing along the Channel banks. Crocodiles have become a common sight and occasionally leopards may be seen.
 
Day Eleven – Queen Elizabeth to Kibale Forest National Park- (4 hrs drive)
7:00am, Spend this morning further exploring Queen Elizabeth National Park before making the 3 - 4 hour drive to Kibale Forest National Park. This is another beautiful journey and you could be lucky enough to see a rare view of the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains that usually remain shrouded in mist. En route stop over at the Katwe salt lakes for a panoramic view. Arrive in Kibale in the evening. Dinner and overnight stay at Rwenzori View Guest House. B, L, D
 
Rwenzori View Guest House is a small, friendly and comfortable guesthouse situated in the lush green countryside of western Uganda, within walking distance of Fort Portal town. Run by a Dutch/ English couple, the meals served are mainly European with lots of vegetarian dishes and include a blend of flavours from around the world. The meals are served in the lounge where you can enjoy the sunset over the Rwenzori Mountain.
 
With lush tropical rainforest and fascinating diversity of animals, Kibale National Park (KNP) is one of the most beautiful and stunning forests in Uganda. Kibale forest is certainly worth protecting as it is home to the largest number (in Uganda) of our closest living relative, the ENDANGERED chimpanzee, as well as the THREATENED red colobus monkey and the rare L’Hoest’s monkey. The forest has one of the highest diversity and density of primates in Africa totaling 13 species including the black and white colobus, blue monkey and grey-cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkey, bush babies and pottos. The park also hosts over 325 species of birds including the yellow spotted nicator, yellow rumped tinkerbird, littlegreenbul, green breasted pitta, African pitta, crowned eagle and the black bee-eater. There are a number of impressive mammals including forest elephants, buffaloes, bush pigs, duikers and bats. A keen observer may see some of the reptiles and amphibians as well as a colourful variety of butterflies. Furthermore, over 250 tree species have been recorded.
The most famous inhabitants of Kibale National Park are the chimpanzees with over 1,450 individuals protected within the park. At Kanyanchu, a community of chimpanzees has been habituated since 1991, allowing visitors the unique opportunity to view these great apes in their natural environment (with more than 90% chance of viewing).
 
Day Twelve – Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale
Early morning wake up to be ready for your chimp trekking experience today. Back to Rwenzori View Guest House to overnight, FB.
 
Primate Walk: This starts from Kanyanchu River Camp at 8:00am or 3:00pm. It lasts for 2-4 hours and is the most popular walk, highlighting the diversity of different animals and plant species within the forest. Chimpanzees are the main attraction, of which five groups have been partially habituated to human contact.
The guided walk is along well marked tracks and a distance of 3km to 5km is covered. This walk is restricted to four groups of four persons each, in the morning and the same number in the afternoon.
For the ultimate prize encounter, the park also offers the chimpanzee habituation experience which allows visitors to spend time from de-nesting in the morning through to bedtime
 
 



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