Classic Uganda: A Primate Paradise

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    Destinations: Africa
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Tour Description

Uganda adventure travel is alluring and profound—after all, this is one of Africa’s most biologically diverse countries and home to the amazing mountain gorilla. Our experience here focuses on Uganda’s primates, but delves into the natural wonders of the country from the rain forests of the great Congo Basin to the wetlands of Lake Victoria to the semi-arid deserts of the Sahel. During our trekking safari tour, we hope to glimpse lions, leopards, elephants, cape buffalos, and, of course, the 400-pound knuckle-walking mountain gorillas. Our tour includes two days in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in search of families of gorillas—a truly life-changing endeavor.

Uganda Expedition Highlights:

  • A river cruise to the base of the Nile’s highest cataract at Murchison Falls, one of Africa’s most dramatic waterfalls.
  • Hike through mahogany forests in Kibale National Park, home to chimpanzees, over 250 butterfly species, and 360 bird species.
  • Tree-climbing lions in the Ishasha sector of famed Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of the few places where this behavior may be seen.
  • Up-close encounters with mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, one of the most profound experiences of this Uganda tour.
  • Led by Ugandan expert and Zegrahm Director, Jonathan Rossouw.
  • Accommodations in some of the region’s most luxurious lodges and permanent tent camps, including Gorilla Forest Camp in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

What to Expect:

For Uganda tours, we ask that participants be fit and capable of hiking along forest trails that are often steep and muddy. Many days involve rides in 4x4 vehicles over bumpy roads that require sitting for extended periods, sometimes up to ten hours. Most accommodations throughout will be in safari lodges; the rooms are spacious, include hot water and en suite facilities, and add the classic sense of a safari to your Uganda adventure travel. Average daily temperatures will range from the lower to the upper 70°sF. A recommended reading and packing list will be sent to your five months prior to departure.

Itinerary

Day 1-2

USA / Entebbe, Uganda

Depart on your independent flight to London and connect with your flight to Entebbe.

Day 3

Entebbe / Kampala

On arrival we drive to Uganda’s capital city of Kampala and check in to our hotel, Emin Pasha. After an afternoon at leisure, we enjoy dinner and overnight at our hotel.

Day 4

Entebbe / Murchison Falls National Park

This morning we transfer back to Entebbe Airport for the short flight to Murchison Falls National Park, which straddles the Victoria Nile.

Uganda’s largest national park, a scenic wonderland of rolling palm-studded grass lands, acacia woodland, papyrus swamp, and the meandering Victoria Nile, is home to some of the most impressive concentrations of animals in all of Uganda. We have two full days to enjoy the magnificent scenery and bountiful wildlife of this unique area. Meals and overnights at Paraa Safari Lodge.

Day 5

Murchison Falls National Park

We continue our exploration of the park by safari vehicle and river boat in search of such charismatic animals as the elegant Rothschild giraffe, Cape buffalo, and savanna elephant. Smaller herbivores such as Jackson’s hartebeest, bush duiker, oribi, and Ugandan kob are plentiful and support a healthy population of lions. With luck, we should also encounter bands of terrestrial Patas monkeys, a primate restricted to the arid savannas of the Sahel.

Highlights of our stay are game viewing cruises on the Nile. An upriver foray brings us to the foot of Murchison Falls. This memorable ten-mile journey delivers us to one of Africa’s most powerful and dramatic waterfalls. At this point, the mighty Victoria Nile is squeezed through a mere 15-foot-wide chasm and released over a sheer cliff to cascade nearly 150 feet to the rocks below, providing wonderful photographic opportunities. En route, keep binoculars and cameras at the ready for the large herds of hippopotamus and enormous Nile crocodiles, with Cape buffalos, waterbucks, and elephants in close attendance. Birders will thrill to the species that live in this region: Goliath herons, rock pratincoles, red-throated bee-eaters, and possibly even the shoebill—surely one of the world’s strangest birds.

Day 6

Kibale National Park

After an early breakfast we begin our long but fascinating drive to Kibale, traveling from the Rift Valley into a patchwork of colorful villages and agricultural lands. Eventually we reach a mixture of forest and tea plantations at the foothills of the looming Ruwenzoris, or “Mountains of the Moon.” We overnight at beautiful Ndali Lodge, situated on a high saddle between two crater lakes.

Day 7

Kibale National Park

We spend a full day in Kibale National Park, one of Africa’s most researched and documented forest reserves. Home to several large communities of chimpanzees, many of Kibale’s primates are well studied and accustomed to human observers. The reserve is accessed by a series of well-marked and maintained trails and walking is relatively easy.

Chimpanzees are abundant here. Typically, they live in large communities and are located by their characteristic pant-hooting calls as they execute their nomadic treks along forest pathways and forage for fruit in the canopy above. Although they feed primarily on figs and other fruits, they also hunt and eat other forest animals. At these times, the chimpanzees use their extraordinary social and communication skills to band together and rush through the forest to capture ground dwellers such as bushpigs and duikers.

Although chimpanzees are our main focus, we will also spend time viewing the other wildlife species which inhabit this diverse forest reserve. Those commonly encountered include grey-cheeked mangabeys, red-tailed and vervet monkeys, and both red and black-and-white colobus monkeys. The forest is also home to waterbucks, civets, buffalos, genets and, though rarely seen, Uganda’s largest population of forest elephants. We return to Ndali Lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 8

Kibale National Park / Queen Elizabeth National Park

After an early breakfast we return to Kibale to continue our exploration. After lunch head for Queen Elizabeth National Park and arrive in time for a cruise on the famous Kazinga Channel, which connects Lake George to Lake Edward. Birds here are both numerous and spectacular, including multiple species of eagle, stork, waterfowl, kingfisher, and bee-eater. Regarded by some as one of Africa’s best birding locations, more than 560 bird species have been recorded. Dinner and overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge, which overlooks Lake Edward.

Day 9

Queen Elizabeth National Park

An early start gives us a full day to explore this celebrated park. Our game drive explores the rich thicket savanna along the Kazinga Channel, then continues south through Maramagambo Forest to the remote southern sector of the Park. Dinner and overnight at the Ishasha Wilderness Lodge, which overlooks the Ntungwe River.

Day 10

Queen Elizabeth National Park / Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

The remote Ishasha sector protects a wilderness of swamps and thorn savanna and is home to large herds of Cape buffalo and topi. The Uganda kob is also conspicuous, with large aggregations gathering at traditonal lekking grounds. A special attraction of Ishasha is its population of tree-climbing lions, one of the few places where this behavior may be seen.

After lunch we drive to the permanent luxury-tented Gorilla Forest Camp, set on the edge of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a World Heritage Site and one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet. In the evening attend a briefing on gorilla-watching etiquette followed by dinner and overnight.

Day 11-12

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

We spend two days at Bwindi tracking mountain gorillas. Each day we will divide into two groups and, following an early breakfast, depart for the forest. Under the supervision of trained local guides, we head to the site where the gorillas were seen the previous day and then begin our search. Once the gorillas are located, we will make our approach and sit quietly by them, watching and observing, with ample time for photography, or simply enjoying this unique experience. The moment of looking into the soft brown eyes of a gorillas, to marvel at its size, and yet gentle countenance, as you introduce yourself to the family group is truly unforgettable.

Other activities at Bwindi include forest trekking for the lesser primates, colobus, red-tailed, and L’Hoest’s monkeys. We also look for the many bird species that make this montane forest their home. Dinners and overnights at the Gorilla Forest Camp.

Day 13

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest / Entebbe

After breakfast we board our charter aircraft for the short flight to Entebbe and return to Kampala for a brief tour and our final dinner and overnight at Emin Pasha.

Day 14

Entebbe / USA

Transfer to the airport for your independent early morning flights homeward.

Departures

Pricing Information

Land-based Accommodations

All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.

Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

Options and Extras

Tour Notes

Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.