Day 1: Arrive / Entebbe
On arrival at Entebbe International Airport, your driver/guide will warmly welcome you and transfer to Hotel Lake Victoria for the overnight. You will be briefed later that evening on your safari. The afternoon is at leisure. You can take a walk to either botanical gardens or visit the Wildlife Education Center. Included: D.
Overnight Hotel Lake Victoria, Entebbe
Day 2: Entebbe / Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Approximately 9-10 hours drive)
After breakfast, you will set off for western Uganda through Mbarara, the home of the long horned Ankole cattle, you will have lunch en route. Drive through Kabale, on both sealed and dirt roads, winding up and down high-forested hills and deep-farmed valleys the area often described as the "Switzerland of East Africa" to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home of the Mountain Gorillas. Included: B, L, D.
Overnight Gorilla Forest. Camp / Engagi Lodge
Day 3: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Gorillas
Wake up early, breakfast, to be at the park headquarters by 7.30am for a briefing from your guides about your trek. Carry a packed lunch and lots of drinking water. Well-trained guides lead you to a point where the gorillas were encountered the day before. The gorillas whose continuous search for food requires a nomadic lifestyle determine the duration of the hike. The trek can take from 1-9 hours at altitudes in excess of 7,500ft and over rough and steep terrain. Although the hike is physically demanding, the beauty of the forest and its inhabitants make your experience extremely interesting. Upon encountering the gorillas, your fatigue is quickly forgotten. The gorillas are not tame, but they have been scientifically habituated to accept the presence of quiet and non-threatening observers. Each strictly regulated 60- minutes visit passes all too quickly, and you must depart, leaving the gorillas to their fragile existence. Porters are available at the park headquarters to help you carry your luggage. Return to your accommodation at the edge of the park. (NB: we do not guarantee seeing gorillas). Included: B, L, D.
Overnight Gorilla Forest Camp / Engagi Lodge
Day 4: Bwindi / Kisoro (Approximately 5 hours drive)
This morning after your breakfast, you will drive to Kisoro arriving in time for lunch. Depending on the availability of gorilla permits your trek can either be in Nshongi or Nkuringo, overnight Clouds Lodge / Travelers Rest. It is estimated that 300 of the rare mountain gorillas live in the Virungas. Included: B, L, D.
Overnight Clouds Lodge / Travellers Rest Lodge
Day 5: Gorilla Trek / Rwanda (Approximately 2 hours drive)
This morning you wake up early, breakfast and then head for the park headquarters for a briefing from the park warden on your gorilla trek. Experienced guides will accompany you on the trek. After the trek, you will return to the lodge for lunch and refreshment and then pack your bags for Rwanda for the last of the gorilla treks. Drive to the border, clear with immigration and then cross into Rwanda driving through the rolling hills and greenery onto Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, your home for the next two days. Included: B, L, D.
Overnight Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Day 6: Park National Des Volcans (Virunga) Gorrilas
Typically, after an early breakfast, you'll hike to the areas where the gorillas were last spotted. If necessary, your guides will find where the troupe spent the night and track them from there. Once they are located you can spend up to an hour sitting quietly nearby as they go about their foraging. It is estimated that there are about 170 gorillas in the park. They are very sociable animals, living in groups of three to thirty.
Being sedentary, they are continually looking for food in a living space that is comparatively restricted. They are active only during the daytime and build nests in which they pass the night. The trek to find gorillas can be quite short, but on most days an hour, two or more of rough hiking is necessary.
The climb begins through the lush terraced farmland of the lower volcanic slopes. As the slopes become steeper and more rocky, the vegetation becomes thick and tangled, the guides must use their machetes to help clear a path. Huge trees, clinging vines and undergrowth add to the challenge of swift streams and slippery red mud underfoot.
Usually at around 800 feet signs of the huge animals become apparent. Damage to the bamboo trees is an obvious sign as the gorillas relish the young tender shoots and break older stems to suck the sap. The smell of gorilla may waft by in a stray breeze. It is strong and unmistakable. Sounds, which can be remarkably loud crashes or dull reverberating growls of contentment, tell the visitor that the troop is nearby. The troop usually consists of a dominant male and up to five or more females and their young. Enormous only begins to describe the impressiveness of a mature male mountain gorilla: a typical size is just under six feet tall and up to 425 pounds.
Despite their powerful size and strength, gorillas rarely resort to actual violence in the defense of the group. Instead, highly ritualized behavior has been developed, such as chest beating; mock charging, roaring, howling and tearing up nearby bush to scare off rivals or enemies. Their incongruously shy nature puts them at great disadvantage at surviving human encroachment and the demand for 'bush meat'.
Although the gorillas are your main interest, during your stay, you can expect to have opportunities to see and photograph other primates as well as an impressive number of bird species. Your accommodations in Kinigi are at the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge. (NB: we do not guarantee seeing gorillas). Included: B, L, D.
Overnight Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
Day 7: Rwanda / Lake Mburo (Approximately 6 hours drive)
Today you wake up early, enjoy your breakfast, drive back to Uganda through the Kisoro border, marvel at the beautiful Mgahinga ranges and will have lunch at the White Horse Inn in Kabale. To avoid the long drive to Kampala, you will break the journey by visiting Lake Mburo National Park. This is a small park surrounding a lovely system of lakes and papyrus swamps. Mburo offers perhaps the best opportunities in Uganda to see birds associated with acacia woodlands, such as the Bare-faced Go-away Bird, Black-bellied Bustard, Black-headed Gonolek, Grey Hornbill and Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater. The only large predators here are Spotted Hyena and Leopard, but the park is home to a large variety of ungulate species, including African Buffalo, Topi, Uganda Kob, Oribi, Reedbuck, Klipspringer, Defassa Waterbuck, Common Zebra and Eland. This is the only place in Uganda where Impala are found. Nile Hippo and Crocodile are also fairly common in the park. Another attraction here is the long-horned Ankole cows. Included: B, L, D.
Overnight Mihingo Lodge / Mantana Tented Camp
Day 8: Lake Mburo / Departure (approximately 6 hours)
Early morning breakfast, game drive on your way out, pass through the town of Masaka near the shores of Lake Victoria, then continue through huge papyrus swamps, fragmented rainforest, with a stop at the equator and Mpigi Royal drum makers and witness how drums have been made in Uganda for centuries. Long before the coming of the Europeans, the Buganda people had a highly structured society and drums were used extensively for long distance and rapid communications. Kampala shopping then drive to Entebbe for your departure flight. (Your flight should be late in the afternoon or in the evening, otherwise another night can be arranged for you in Entebbe). Included: B, L.
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