12 DAYS WILDLIFE GORILLAS gorilla-in-volcanoes-national-park

The wildlife of Uganda is composed of its flora and fauna. Uganda has a wide variety of different habitats, including mountains, hills, tropical rain-forest, woodland, freshwater lakes, swamps and savanna with scattered clumps of trees. The country has a bio-diverse flora and fauna reflecting this range of habitats and is known for its primates, including gorillas and chimpanzees. There are ten national parks and thirteen wildlife reserves; some 345 species of mammal and 1020 species of bird have been recorded in the country.

Tour highlights

  • Gorilla trekking
  • Chimpanzee tracking
  • Hiking
  • Game drive
  • Bird watching
  • Boat cruise
  • Nature walks
  • Cultural encounters
  • Cycling/Mountain biking

Day 1: Transfer to Kasese

Arrival at Entebbe International Airport. You will be picked by a guide from Prime Tours Uganda. Transfer to Kampala city. Then embark on journey Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Stopover in Mbarara town for lunch at Agip motel/Cafe Havana/Shaheen restaurant. Continue with the journey to Fort Portal, visit the palace of the Omukama of Tooro kingdom and Amabere ga nyina mwiru and then proceed to Kasese town. Have dinner and overnight stay at Equator Snow Geo Lodge/Hotel Margherita/TJ Global Hotel Kasese.

Day 2: Transfer to Rwenzori Mountains National Park

After your morning breakfast, move to Trekkers hostel in Kyanjuki, Kilembe located 12 km from Kasese town and this will be the starting point. Walk 2.2km to UWA Ranger’s office which takes about an hour, for briefing you on park rules. Start the trek sa you walk up the valley floor through tall forests of Afro montane forest zone at 1,450m. Expect troupes of 15 to 20 Black and white colobus monkeys as they scamper off through the forest, and wild chimpanzees will be heard too in the distance. Have your packed lunch, and proceed to the Sine Hut.

At Sine camp 2,596m there are wooden huts set between tall forest trees on a narrow ridge where you may sit and enjoy the beauty of the Afro montane forest while you look down at a fantastic waterfall crashing over rocks below. Overnight stay Sine Hut.

Day 3: Hike to Hunwick’s camp (3,974m).

Have breakfast at 8:30am. Ascend to Hunwick’s camp at 3,974m through Bamboo-Mimulopsis zone. It is a steep climb with many high steps. Rainy season it is rather muddy. The trail meanders up and over small knolls to the top and then drops down the side of the valley before climbing again and in doing so it crosses several small streams and passes close to moss covered waterfalls. Rest and enjoy your packed lunch. Proceed through the various plants and flowers like Giant Heather trees whose trunks are covered in green moss and Usnea lichen. The valley is unique with many giant Heather trees. Overnight stay Hunwick’s camp.

Day 4: Descend to Sine Hut.

Enjoy your morning breakfast, and after begin your decent down the mountain slopes while enjoying the rewarding views of waters of River Mubuku passing through the mountains flowing down the valley, the sights of different bird species and wild games. Have your lunch and spend the overnight at Sine camp.

Day 5: Transfer to Semliki National Park

After your early morning breakfast, continue with descent to the starting point which was Trekkers’ hostel Kyanjuki from where you will proceed to Semliki National Park, upon reaching the park, visit to Sempaya hot springs which are the most attention-grabbing attractions in Semuliki for 2 hours.

These springs have a geyser that shoots up from the 8 meters hole, and the water is at a high temperature. The most interesting part about the springs is that one can boil matooke and eggs in the springs and they get ready for eating in a few minutes, these are called the female hot springs and then the male hot springs with very high temperature. In fact this is the largest hot spring in Uganda. Still along the trail where the hot springs are located, there are a number of birds such as the Blue breasted Kingfisher and various primates such as the red tailed monkeys, and the grey cheeked mangabey. Dinner and overnight stay Semliki Safari lodge/Sempaya Rest Camp/Semliki Guest House.

Day 6: Bird watching and Game drive

Have your early morning, proceed to Mungilo waterfall, there is number of beautiful birds such as the yellow throated cuckoo, chocolated-backed, red-rumped tinkerbird, African dwarf kingfisher among others and this is a great opportunity for a birder. Later, head back to the lodge and have lunch.

After lunch, go for a game drive of 2 hours, the expectations are high while having a great time when meet different animals including leopards, buffaloes, mona monkeys, bush babies, big cats, buffaloes, antelopes, elephants, and lions among others. Also crocodiles and Hippos are seen along River Semuliki. Dinner and overnight stay Semliki Safari lodge/Sempaya Rest Camp/Semliki Guest House.

Day 7: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park

After your early morning breakfast, transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park, upon reaching the park, check in at the lodge and after go for a game drive, drive to Ishasha sector of the park famous for the tree climbing lions. Expect to see other species of mammals like elephants, leopards, antelopes, buffaloes among others. Return to the lodge for lunch.

After lunch, go for an afternoon boat cruise on Kazinga channel where you will see schools of hippos swimming in the water.  This channel links two magnificent lakes that is, Lake Edward and Lake George and is as well a medley of wildlife like buffalos, waterbucks, strange statunga antelops and several birds like African fish eagle, kingfisher. The vegetation aligning this channel is composed of mangrove swamps, papyrus swamp and water weeds where crocodiles hide to wait for their daily meal. Dinner and overnight stay Mweya Safari Lodge/Kyambura Gorge lodge/Marafiki Safari lodge.

Day 8: Chimpanzee tracking

After your morning breakfast, visit Kyambura gorge for chimpanzee tracking. The trek will lead you into the nearby Maramagambo forest. Look out for other primates like black and white colobus monkey among others. Have your packed lunch and enjoy the rest of the day with these human closest cousins, enjoy the picture moments with them and these are for your memories. Dinner and overnight stay Mweya Safari Lodge/Kyambura Gorge lodge/Marafiki Safari lodge.

 

Day 9: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

After your early morning breakfast, embark on the journey to Bwindi Impenetrable national park in Kisoro district. Upon reaching the park, check in at the lodge, have lunch and relax a bit. In the evening, have the Batwa trail experience . The Batwa are believed to have been the first inhabitants of Bwindi forest and they have such an interesting cultural background that you will enjoy. Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight stay Buhoma lodge Bwindi/Silver back lodge/Gorilla Mist camp.

 

Day 10: Gorilla trekking

After your morning breakfast, along with your packed lunch, drive to the Buhoma headquarters from where you will be briefed on the rules of gorilla tracking and thereafter you will begin your adventure through this forest. Also look out for other primates like L’Hoest’s monkey,red-tailed monkeys, Vervet monkey, black and white colobus monkeys. Retire in the evening at the lodge for dinner and overnight stay Buhoma lodge Bwindi/Silver back lodge/Gorilla Mist camp.

Day 11: Bird watching and Cycling

Have your early morning breakfast. Head along the main trails of Buhoma waterfall trail, bamboo zone where bird watching is best done. Expect to encounter some of the birds and the 14 bird species that are not found anywhere else in Uganda apart from in Bwindi Impenetrable national park out of the 350 estimated bird species that are in the park. You take the chance to see birds like; African green pigeon, African harrier hawk, Cinnmon chested, Crowned hornbill, Giant kingfisher among others. Return to the lodge for lunch and relax.

In the early evening, go for cycling which is 13km from the park’s headquarters along Buhoma to the Ivi River. This provides a great looks of wildlife like the bushbucks, black and white colobus and red monkeys among others. Continue with Mountain biking in the hills in Buhoma as you encounter the views of the Bwindi Impenetrable forest, valleys, Ivi River flowing and many more. Dinner and overnight stay Buhoma lodge Bwindi/Silver back lodge/Gorilla Mist camp.

Day 12: Depart to Kampala

After your morning breakfast, embark on the journey abck to Kampala with a lunch stopover in Mbarara town at Agip motel/Cafe Havana/Shaheen restaurant. You will be dropped at the location of your choice in Kampala or Entebbe Airport for your departure flight.

END OF SAFARI

 

NO. OF PAX 1 2 3 4 5 6
COST ($) 6,790 6,700 6,600 6,490 6,370 6,240

COST INCLUSIONS

  • 4×4 Safari vehicle
  • Park entrance fees
  • Full board accommodation
  • Gorilla permit
  • Chimpanzee permit
  • Other tour activities as per the itinerary
  • Meals as per the itinerary
  • Bottled drinking water
  • Government levies & taxes
  • Professional English speaking guide

COST EXCLUSIONS

  • Visa costs
  • Insurance costs
  • Personal expenses like; telephone
  • Laundry costs
  • Extra food and drinks
  • Extra activities not in the itinerary
  • Tips

 

Commonly Visited Gorilla Destinations

Bwindi Impenetrable national park a large primeval forest located in the South Western part of Uganda is a home to over half the worlds 1,000 mountain gorillas.

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Bwindi Impenetrable national park

BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

Bwindi Impenetrable National park is found in southwestern Uganda in Kanungu district. It covers an area of 332kms. When we talk of gorillas in Uganda, we talk of Bwindi and this is Africa’s oldest rainforest, it hides much more than just gorillas but more other wild animals but when gorilla tracking became an activity it made it even more appealing. Bwindi is commonly known for its 400 endangered gorillas with many families, Batwa trails, the Batwa are the first and last forest people who anciently lived in the forest for a long time also known as hunters, gatherers and fierce warriors and 350 bird species. Buhoma as one of the gates apart from gorillas it’s the right place for bird watching.

ACTIVITIES
Bwindi impenetrable National Park is found in southwestern Uganda in Kanungu district, when we talk of gorillas we talk of Bwindi, but it not being the only activity, Bwindi has a variety of activities all incredibly good and as Gorilla Trips Africa here are some of the activities

Gorilla Tracking
Gorillas in Bwindi are habituated making them less dangerous and this is one of great activity done, the tour guides guide tourists through the forest on their way to track gorillas, gorillas act more like humans which keeps you wondering about God’s will, you can interact with them offer them yellows and even can have pictures with them creating memorable moments. Bwindi has a number of gates for example Buhoma gate with three gorilla  groups habituated, Nkuringo gate with two groups , Ruhija with four groups of gorillas habituated, and Rushaga with the most habituated groups and others are still under habituation with six groups

Gorilla Habituation Experience
During habituation Gorillas are tamed to be more of human, not to be dangerous around people, tour guides will take you through the process they go through while habituating the gorillas, it’s a terrifying experience but worth to go through and this is so because the gorillas are not yet fully habituated, this is most popular at Rushaga gate it being with the large gorilla habituation

Batwa Trail
Experience the ancient life of Batwa people. The Batwa trail is a celebration of the forest first people and still they are the last forest people who are also known as hunters, gatherers and fierce warriors. When you get a chance to see them you can see the forest in their lives and all through their eyes, this trail is guided by the Batwa guides who provide insights into their traditional forest life and culture. It runs  from the lower slopes of the muhavura and Gahinga volcanoes and ends in the Batwa community, throughout the trail you will be surprised all through for example showing you how incredibly  they made fire using friction of sticks, having a taste of the wild berries which they used to eat before going to hunter, seeing the huts the built using the tree leaves lastly after reaching the Batwa community you will get the unforgettable performance of your life since the Batwa are well known for their music and dance.

Nature Walks
Tourists who have a short time for nature walk usually do it near river Munyanga and river Ivy on the way you get an opportunity to see baboons, monkeys and birds. And if you continue to the Batwa pygmy community you will be surprised by the energetic dance of the Batwa, you will meet woman making craft giving you and opportunity to buy craft from the Batwa. Nature walk to the Mubwindi swamp is the right spot for the birders and if you use the path of the forest descending through the majestic rainforest it will give you great scenery of the green nature. Amazingly the name Bwindi came from Mubwindi swamp.

Bird watching
Bwindi is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda the pearl of Africa, it being the oldest forest in Uganda surely means it’s the ideal habitat for the variety of bird species, Bwindi is estimated to have around 350 bird species for example Jameson’s Antpecker, pink-footed puff back, Waller, crested Guinea fowl, Barred long-tailed cuckoo, Grey crowned crane, White headed saw wing and so many more. Migratory birds are present from November to April and if you want the main spot for bird watching is along Buhoma waterfalls trails.

gorilla-in-mgahinga-gorilla-national-park

Mgahinga Gorilla national park

MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is in the southwestern corner of Uganda, located in Kisoro district although the volcanoes stretch to the far parts of Rwanda and DRC. Mgahinga National Park was gazzetted in 1991 despite it being declared an area of game sanctuary in the early 1930s by the British Administration and it covers 33.9 square kilometers. As the name “Mgahinga” suggests, the park was mainly established to protect gorillas that inhabit the depth of the forest, other than that the park has a significance to culture “the Batwa culture”. Most importantly Mgahinga National Park has great features which are the beautiful extinct volcanoes, a great fauna, primates which include mountain gorillas and golden monkeys, bird species include handsome francoin, red throated alethe, Rwenzori batis, collared apalis, mountain masked apails, stripe-breasted tit, blue- headed sunbird, strange weaver, red –faced woodland warber, regal sunbird, Rwenzori turaco among others.

Top Activities Done At Mgahinga National Park

Gorilla Trekking

Mgahinga National Park is the right place for gorilla trekking and that’s so because it has half of the world’s Gorillas thus making it the most popular activity done at Mgahinga, it has one habituated gorilla family called “Nyakagezi Gorilla family” and this family at times moves to the parts of Rwanda and DRC. Gorilla trekking at Mgahinga usually starts from 8:30 in the morning and it takes 3-8 hours, trackers take visitor through the routes to the place they had left Gorillas a day before and that’s where they begin the trekking from, Gorillas are habituated making them less dangerous to humans. All in all Gorillas trekking is best done in dry seasons because it makes the hikes easier for tourists.

Golden Monkey Trekking

Mgahinga National Park is the best place for Golden Monkey trekking and it’s among the most interesting activities done for primate safari, the estimated number of golden monkeys at Mgahinga is 3000-4000. If you participate in this activity you will have an excitement of your life time since it offers you an opportunity to view, take pictures of the monkeys before heading back to the lodges.

Volcano Hiking

At Mgahinga Gorilla National Park despite Gorilla trekking visitors have an opportunity for hikes to the summit of Mountain Muhabura which requires more than one day to hike it but still tourists who prefer a one day hike can opt Gahinga trail aa their best and this takes 6 hours. During this hikes you will come across various bird species, also have a view of the famous extinct volcanoes.

Batwa Trail

Batwa are also known as the forest people. While at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the Batwa trail begins from the Muhavura cave with the Batwa guides who will give you an insight of their ancient life and culture in the forests where they lived in harmony with the gorillas. Batwa people lived as hunter-gatherers, built houses using tree leaves but later they were displaced from the park although some are still with in the park taking part in tourism as tour guides and others as porters.

Bird Watching

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is the ideal place for birders because its blessed and enriched with over 180 bird species all unique in one way or the other and these birds can be spotted in the wetland areas , forests, Buffalo wall among others. These unique bird species include Rwenzori turaco, regal sunbird, strange weaver, mountain masked apails, stripe-breasted tit, handsome francoin, red throated alethe, collared apalis among others.

Garama Cave Exploration

Beneath a plateau northern edge of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park you will come across the great Garama Cave lying on the length of 342meters and this believed to have been used as a retreat and council for the Batwa where they met to solve conflicts and problems among Batwa members.

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Volcanoes national park

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park also referred to as Parc National des Volcano in French and Pariki y’Igihugu y’Ibirunga in Kinyarwanda local language. The park is situated in the north-western province of Rwanda in a small town called Musanze formerly Ruhengeri.

The park is the oldest national park in the African continent and harbors the endangered Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda. Gorilla tracking is Rwanda’s main tourism activity. Volcanoes National Park borders Virunga National Park in DRC and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in south-western Uganda. Besides its huge population of Mountain Gorillas, it also harbors the endangered Golden Monkeys, primate specie that apparently offers the best diverse tourism activity within the national park at the moment.

Volcanoes National Park also shelters five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga massifs which are: Mount Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo: covering over 160 km2 of rain forest and bamboo. The park acted as a base for American zoologist Dian Fossey.

Fauna of the forest in addition to endangered species of mountain gorilla includes: golden monkeys, buffaloes, black-fronted duiker, hyenas then bushbucks. A few reports also clam that a small number of elephants can be found at the park but on very rare occasions. The bird life spans at 178 species, with about 12 of the main species and 15 of the subspecies being endemic to the Virunga conservation area and the great Ruwenzori Mountains.

The Volcanoes National Park is one of the three other only habitats for Mountain gorillas on the planet and the only possible destinations for Mountain gorilla trekking expeditions in Rwanda. The rainforests are at a higher altitude and temperatures are generally lowest in the African region. The tropical sun brings with it effects of heat, evaporation of vapor and rain forming. In Volcanoes National Park, it rains at any time regardless of the season. Factor is the volcanic soils that are fertile and very rich in plant mineral content, resulting in an evergreen rain forest; some parts have bamboo trees, small patches of shrubs and grassland areas, swamp and wetland vegetation in the valleys, and heath on the tips of the volcanoes. These are the ideal conditions for the survival and the existence of the Mountain gorillas and other unique wildlife species.

Mammal species

Volcanoes National Park is a rich ecosystem, a habitat with vibrant and unique mammal species. Mountain gorillas and Golden monkeys are most recognized than other wildlife species because the Virunga volcanoes region is their only habitat on earth. There is high mammal presence in the park, though harder to spot because of hilly and rugged terrain, coupled with  a thick and enclosed rainforest. The mammals in such habitat adapt to a solitary or pair lifestyle, shy away from intruders and are very aggressive if cornered. Save for rare physical encounters, there are signs that indeed show Forest elephants, buffaloes, bushpigs, bushbucks, giant forest hogs, spotted hyenas, bushbucks, duikers, vervet and colobus monkeys and other primate species reside in the park. Volcanoes National Park is very popular as a Rwanda gorilla trek and Golden monkey tracking destination. There are other Rwanda travel destinations to easily spot and have maximum interaction with the rest of mammal species.

Predominant activities include:

Gorilla tracking, Golden Monkey tracking, twin lakes visit, mountaineering, visiting Dian Fossey’s tomb, Iby’Iwacu cultural village and other community visits.

Rwanda is an exciting destination with a number of national parks in addition to the famous Volcanoes national park; say the Akagera and Nyungwe national parks plus Lake Kivu for water excursion.