Classic Uganda and Rwanda

Tracking gorillas and chimps in the Virungas and Bwindi
Overview

overview

This is a fantastic all-around wildlife experience, tracing the western Rift Valley in the very heart of Africa. On the savannah plains below the Rwenzoris, see the great game of Africa in Queen Elizabeth National Park, including elephant, lion, buffalo, hippo, and leopard. Track the fast-moving and elusive chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge. In Ishasha, hunt for tree-climbing lions lounging on old fig trees. You will visit three gorilla parks – Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda, and Parc National des Volcans (PNV) in Rwanda – with up to five opportunities to track gorillas. Note: one gorilla permit in Bwindi is included in the quoted land cost of this trip, and additional permits are available as noted. All gorilla permits are subject to availability at the time of booking.  Read JOURNEYS FAQ on Mountain Gorillas for detailed information about the animals and the logistics for visiting them.

On this trip, you'll have several opportunities for additional activities beyond gorilla trekking, including game drives (Queen Elizabeth National Park); a boat cruise (Kazinga Channel); primates, a bat cave, and Blue Lake (Maramagambo Forest); chimpanzees (Kyambura Gorge); tree-climbing lions (Ishasha); golden monkeys (Mgahinga); a nature walk (Bwindi Imprenetrable Forest); climbing or a nature walk (Muhavura and Gahinga volcanoes); and a visit to Dian Fossey's grave and Ros Carr's orphanage.

 

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Uganda/Queen Elizabeth Nat. Park

    Upon arrival at the Entebbe Airport, you will be welcomed by your guide, and set off on your great African adventure about 10:00 am.  On the way, you will have the opportunity to see  royal drum makers, stand in both hemispheres at once as you straddle the Ecuator, and bargain at roadside markets bursting with fruit and vegetables. Continue on to the escarpment overlooking the Great Rift Valley, an unforgettable sight. Time permitting, visit the Tropical Bee Care Centre to look at their range of community projects, from beekeeping and honey making, to the community nursery for children. Descend to Queen Elizabeth National Park and the contemporary Kyambura Gorge Lodge, keeping an eye out for game along the way. Enjoy pre-dinner drinks on the veranda that overlooks the savannah plains with the magnificent Rwenzori Mountains in the distance.

    Meals
    Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Kyambura Gorge Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Queen Elizabeth National Park

    Taking an early morning or evening drive in QENP and resting during the heat of the day provides the best opportunity to see game. What you see depends on the season, but the Kasenyi plains are excellent for sighting lions and large herds of Uganda kob. The Mweya peninsula offers excellent game drives with magnificent views across the water to the Rwenzori Mountains. Mweya is one of the best places to look for leopard, which live in the dense, scrubby thickets. Time permitting, visit the Kyambura Women's Coffee Cooperative and its coffee processing station or the wetland reserve to spot birds. Both projects were set up and are supported by the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Project.

     

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Kyambura Gorge Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Kyambura Gorge/Kazinga
    Chimpanzees, one of man's closest relatives

    The Kyambura Gorge is an extraordinary natural environment and forms a stark contrast to the surrounding grasslands. Here, you can track one of our closest animal relatives, the chimpanzee. The chimp population is quite mobile, so viewing can be unpredictable, but the walk itself is enchanting. In the afternoon, take a cruise on the Kazinga Channel, which flows between Lakes Edward and George. Kazinga is home to one of the greatest concentration of hippo in Africa, and herds of elephant, buffalo, and other animals come to drink at the water's edge. The channel is a magnet for waterbirds, with great flocks of pelicans and others birds on the shore, and a great spot to see African fish eagles.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Kyambura Gorge Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
    Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge

    Your safari now continues to the primeval Bwindi forest. Travelling via Ishasha -- subject to road conditions -- you can observe the unusual behavior exhibited by the tree-climbing lions. The long journey through the rapidly-changing landscape takes you to Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge, which looks across to the towering trees of the forest. Depending on when you arrive, there may be time to explore the lodge grounds with its clear mountain stream or visit the local village.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Bwindi

    After enjoying an early breakfast, you set off for gorilla tracking. Trekking through the steep, densely-forested hills and then finally coming across the gorillas camouflaged in the vegetation is an inspiring and privileged moment. Tracking in the Bwindi forest requires stamina and can often take most of the day. Alternatively, there are other activities and excursions on offer in and around the national park:

    • Take a guided walk in the rainforest, home to several endemic bird species, clouds of butterflies, and rare plant life. This walk offers excellent photographic opportunities, and your knowledgeable guide will provide great insights into this globally-important habitat.
    • Walk through the local village and learn about community projects, such as the Amagara project that assists local farmers and their communities, and Bwindi Community Hospital which started as a health clinic under a tree and now provides vital medical and educational services to over 60,000 people. The Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust supports both projects.
    • Discover the traditions of the Batwa Pygmies, and learn about the native tribal inhabitants of the forest. The indigenous people of Bwindi forest, although no longer resident in the forest, still practice many of their traditional hunter-gatherer skills.
    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Bwindi
    Bwindi gorilla trekking is challenging but hugely rewarding

    Either go gorilla tracking in Bwindi again or opt for one of the other, gentler but equally rewarding alternatives available (see options listed on day 5, above).

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Mgahinga

    Leave for Mgahinga after breakfast, on a route that winds through bamboo forests and then on mountain roads to the Kanaba Gap with its spectacular views of the Virunga volcanoes. The route drops dramatically, surrounded by terraced hills, to the frontier town of Kisoro and climbs again to more than 7,500 feet to  Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge, next to Mgahinga National Park. Enjoy pre-dinner drinks on the terrace with stunning views of the volcanoes, or warm yourself inside by the roaring fire.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Mgahinga

    Experience the lives of the Mgahinga Batwa Pygmies, and walk the Batwa Trail. Accompanied by Batwa Elders, this is an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the unique cultural heritage of the forest’s indigenous people. While you walk through the forest, the Batwa will demonstrate their traditional hunting techniques and knowledge of medicinal plants. You will also visit sacred Ngarama cave and enjoy the traditional music and dance of this rich and fading culture. Alternatively, there are other exciting activities for those interested in the culture and natural history of Mgahinga:

    • Track gorillas in Nkuringo. Tracking is possible at Nkuringo, located at the southern sector of Bwindi National Park. Tracking here can be challenging due to steep and muddy paths.
    • Hike the Muhavura or Gahinga volcanoes. Gahinga offers a gentler hike through the bamboo forest on the lower slopes and marshy craters at the peak. The lower slopes are rich with forest birds, while the marshes near the summit are home to bushbuck and elusive duiker. Muhavura is the most challenging peak in the park. The hike will take most of the day, but the adventurous will be rewarded with great sense of accomplishment and -- on a good day -- spectacular views.
    • Take a guided nature walk through the park to track the golden monkeys. The path takes you from the bamboo stands and a forested gorge on the lower levels to the elevated heath and moorland higher up. The forest is not only home to the rare golden monkey, but also a great diversity of bird and animal life.
    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Mount Gahinga Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Virunga
    Volcanoes Virunga Lodge

    Today offers a more relaxed morning during which you can do one of the activities in day 8 (anything except gorilla tracking) before journeying south to Virunga in Rwanda. Volcanoes Virunga Lodge is perched on the top of a hill overlooking the volcanoes and Lakes Bulera and Ruhondo. From the terrace, you can take in the panoramic sunset over the lakes and -- weather permitting -- enjoy a performance from the Intore Dance troupe.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Virunga Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: Parc National des Volcans
    Gorilla Trekking in PNV

    Gorilla tracking in the Parc National des Volcans, through the light mountain forest on the slopes of the Virunga range, is a magical experience. Once you reach the gorillas, you can spend an hour with them and be back at base in time for a late lunch! Some gorilla families are more elusive, and tracking can take a full day, especially if it is wet and muddy.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Virunga Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Parc National des Volcans

    Either go gorilla tracking again in PNV (additional permit required, subject to availability), or choose from one of many other available options. There is much to explore here, including tracking the endangered golden monkey or trekking to Dian Fossey’s grave and the gorilla cemetery, the final resting place of her favorite gorilla, Digit. Other popular excursions include visiting the local school and community projects supported by the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust, or visiting the Roz Carr Imbabazi orphanage and meeting some of the hundreds of children helped by this uplifting project. Alternatively, relax on the shores of Lake Kivu, home to some of the finest inland beaches in Africa, or take a guided walk to Lake Bulera and experience local village life.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Volcanoes Virunga Lodge (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 12: Kigali/Onward

    Your safari ends with your journey to Kigali after breakfast. Before transferring to the airport, there maybe time to tour the city and visit the genocide memorial, a moving testimony to this country’s past that it has courageously overcome. Return to your hotel or transfer to the airport in time for your return flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Sep 1-12, 2014
Sep 13-24, 2014R
Oct 6-17, 2014
Oct 18-29, 2014R
Dec 1-12, 2014
Dec 13-24, 2014R
Jan 5-16, 2015
Jan 17-28, 2015R
Feb 2-13, 2015
Feb 14-25, 2015R
Jun 1-12, 2015
Jun 13-24, 2015R
Jul 6-17, 2015
Jul 18-29, 2015R
Aug 3-14, 2015
Aug 15-26, 2015R
Sep 7-18, 2015
Sep 19-30, 2015R
Oct 5-16, 2015
Oct 17-28, 2015R
Dec 7-18, 2015
Dec 19-30, 2015R
R - Itinerary runs in reverse
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$7,164
- $7,960
2014 Low Season - $7,164 2014 High Season - $7,960 2014 rates honored until 2015 rates published Extra Gorilla Permits: Rwanda $750 / Uganda $600 High Season: 12/16-2/28 & 6/1-10/14 Low Season: 10/15-12/15 & 3/1-5/31
Single Supplement:
$807-897
2014 High Season - $897 2014 Low Season - $807
Need to Know

Need to Know

This trip is operated by Volcanoes Safaris, gorilla safari specialists and ecotourism practitioners.

Duration:
12 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
2
comfortable & delightful hotels
Group Size:
2-10
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
4
comfortable & delightful hotels

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Exotic Zanzibar

Duration: 5 days

Escape to Zanzibar, the “Spice Island”. This tiny African island offers great contrast to the mainland: beaches ideal for snorkeling, rich history and Muslim culture. Experience town and village life, the reefs and the inner natural forest.

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