Uganda,

Southern Uganda’s Primates in Great Depth

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Tailor-Made Tour
11 Days
From £8745
GEOIP Not Available
Primate Watching
Luxury
Photographic
Rainforest

Tour Introduction

11 Days from £8745
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. Prices based on rates applicable at the time of costing which may vary. Please ask for a definitive quote

Uganda is most famous for its unique variety of primates on whom this itinerary focuses in great depth and intensity. Not only will you experience conventional chimpanzee and gorilla treks, but uniquely take part in the habituation processes for each of those species. Spend full days with much wilder groups of both apes than is usual as researchers attempt to accustom them to the presence of humans. These are authentic encounters few other visitors ever experience. The animals can be more difficult to get close to but you spend much longer with them and you get a feel for the incredible work the primate researchers do to get the animals used to people. While travelling between various locations you will have the chance to spy smaller primates, not least on a full day trek through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in between gorilla treks. This itinerary can be physically challenging and the locations of the wilder groups very unpredictable, so it’s not for the faint-hearted. However, fit and adventurous travellers can expect multiple thrilling primate encounters such as are experienced only by the fortunate few.

Full Itinerary

Price from £8745
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms
Day 1
Entebbe

Arrive Entebbe. Met on arrival and transfer to your hotel.

Staying at The Boma. Includes No Meals.

Day 2
Kibale

Pick up by private safari guide with specially equipped 4WD Land Cruiser with popup roof, charging sockets, WiFi and a fridge well stocked with fruit, snacks and soft drinks. Drive (approx. 60 minutes) to the Mabamba Wetland for a boat trip in search of shoebills and other birdlife. Continue by road (approx. 5 hours) to Kibale and check into your lodge.

Staying at Ndali Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 3
Kibale Chimpanzees and Bigodi Wetland

Depart before dawn for Kibale Forest National Park headquarters and check in for the morning chimpanzee trek. Bordering the Queen Elizabeth National park to the south, the Kibale protects Uganda’s largest expanse of intact forest containing more than 350 species of trees, 375 species of bird and 70 species of mammal including forest elephant, red and blue duikers, bushbuck, sitatunga, bush pig, giant forest hog, common warthog, buffalo, leopard and the occasional lion. The 13 species of primate include Uganda mangabey, Ugandan red colobus, L'Hoest's monkey, black-and-white colobus and blue monkey. It is also offers probably Africa’s best chimpanzee trekking with over 120 individuals within the main habituated community, divided into various sub-groups. After a short briefing, you will be split into parties of eight people and spend the morning tracking one of the chimpanzee groups with an armed ranger, usually starting where the group was seen the previous day. If lucky, the group will be vocalising so you are able to follow their distinctive whoops and calls to find the apes. If not, the ranger will need to use his tracking skills to follow the trail of broken vegetation and dropped fruit which leads to the group. This can sometimes take a little time and may involve plenty of walking through thick forest. Once found, however, you will enjoy an unforgettable hour experiencing chimpanzee behaviour and social interaction before returning to the park HQ and your lodge for lunch.

In the afternoon, have a walk in the Bigodi Wetlands for smaller primates found in the area and rich birdlife. A series of trails and boardwalks pass through farmland, forest and extensive areas of papyrus. Wildlife is dominated by birds including blue turaco, papyrus gonolek, hornbill, waxbill, weaver, cuckoo, flycatcher and a number of kingfisher species. There are also eight species of primate there, including black and white colobus, red colobus, mangabey, red tail, vervet, and L’Hoest monkeys.

Staying at Ndali Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 4
Kibale Chimpanzee Habituation

Depart before dawn and head to the Kibale Forest National Park headquarters for a full day’s visit to the chimpanzee habituation programme. Setting out before dawn with your armed tracker, you head to the last known location of the group and follow tracks and calls until you find the group. Then you may choose to spend as long as you like with the group but will need to return to the park headquarters by night fall. This unforgettable experience provides incredibly intimate encounters and reveals a wide range of chimp behaviour, usually with very few other tourists present. As with any wild animal, the length of your encounter cannot be guaranteed as it can take some time to find a group as they occasionally move to inaccessible areas of the park. The terrain is generally fairly flat but you might need to move quickly on uneven, slippery ground to keep up with the chimpanzees. Good boots and thick trousers are essential to protect from thorns and ants as you move through the forest. NB: You will not be allowed to participate if you show signs of illness, in order to ensure the health and wellbeing of the chimpanzees.

Staying at Ndali Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 5
Queen Elizabeth National Park

Pick-up from your lodge and drive (approx. 60 minutes) to the northern border of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Stop to see the beautiful crater lakes that punctuate the park and explore the flat open grasslands looking for lion and buffalo. Check in to your hotel and enjoy an afternoon game drive.

Staying at Kyambura Gorge Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 6
Kyambura Gorge

Morning chimpanzee trekking in the Kyambura Gorge. Bisecting the flat plains of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kyambura feels very much like a lost and secret world of primate-filled tropical forest. The gorge is around 1km wide at its widest point but is actually relatively shallow, descending to only around 100 metres.

The different terrain and presence of permanent water has led to a completely different habitat from the surrounding plains. Gone are the dry grasslands, grazers and predators. Instead, you are greeted by tall tropical trees, jungle, rivers and a wealth of different wildlife. The river is the home of hippos and you might spy forest antelopes and the occasional elephant wandering through. However, it is the primates that everyone comes here to see. The forest is home to black and white colobus and vervet monkeys, olive baboon, red tailed monkey and a small group of habituated chimpanzees. The chimps can be quite difficult to find, especially when silent, so sightings can be erratic. However, chances are high and you can often gain a little height in order to observe the apes at eye level or up in the trees, thus giving a refreshingly different view from those available in other chimp trekking locations.

Return to your lodge for lunch then enjoy a game drive south through the Ishasha sector of the Queen Elizabeth National Park looking for the famous tree-climbing lions. Arrive at your lodge in time for dinner.

Staying at Ishasha Wilderness Camp. Includes All Meals.

Day 7
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Depart with picnic lunch for a morning game drive in Ishasha to find tree-climbing lions and other wildlife. Continue south (approx. 2 hours) to the Buhoma section of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Rest of day free to relax and acclimatise.

Staying at Buhoma Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 8
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Morning gorilla tracking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. This is one of the oldest and most biologically diverse forests in Africa, containing over 400 species of plant, 350 species of bird and 120 species of mammal including forest elephant, antelopes and baboons. However, there is one mammal everyone comes here to see: the mountain gorilla. Bwindi holds the world’s largest surviving population of the great apes which are dispersed in several family groups, eleven having been habituated to accept human visits.

There are four main starting points for the Bwindi trekking. You will begin at Buhoma where there are three main groups: Rushegura, Habinyanja and Mubare (the first group to be habituated in Uganda). Arrive at the park by 8am to be registered and shown a video about gorilla conservation and the rules of tracking. You will be assigned to a group and begin your trek. Groups will be allocated according to participants’ fitness and the approximate location of the gorillas.

There is usually a short drive to the trek starting point where you will have a chance to prepare yourself and hire a porter – porters are not essential but we recommend one. Not only do they carry your bags but also lend a hand (literally) on steeper sections of the trip, and the fee of around $20 provides much needed income for them and their families.

Treks typically start with a steep walk up mountain paths into the forest, usually taking one to three hours depending on the route and overall fitness of the party. Then it’s a scramble through the vegetation to your gorilla group, usually across flatter terrain. You will often be hacking through very dense foliage (it’s not called “impenetrable” for nothing) so it’s best to have both hands free and wear thick gardening gloves for the thorns and stinging plants.

When you finally reach your gorilla group (often after another hour or so) you will have a chance to rest, collect your thoughts (and your camera) before walking the final few metres to the great apes. You will then be given an hour to observe and photograph the group. The time will fly by so make sure you have plenty of space on your memory card, a fully charged battery and your flash switched off as no flash photography is allowed. You are expected to keep a respectful distance or around seven metres from the animals. Of course, you should not even begin the trek if suffering from any sort of illness in order to protect the health of the gorillas.

After an unforgettable hour you will retrace your steps to the vehicle and return to the lodge. The total length of the trek can be anything from three to eight hours depending on the group tracked and the fitness of your party. Bring plenty of water, snacks, sun cream, hat and raingear with you.

After lunch there will be a free afternoon to rest and relax or, if you have the energy, visit a nearby Batwa (pygmy) tribe or enjoy a forest walk to spot some of the other wildlife found in Bwindi.

Staying at Buhoma Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 9
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Today, you will enjoy a fabulous walk (approx. 7 hours) with private guide from Buhoma through the Bwindi National Park in the hope of seeing some of its 350 bird species, 200 varieties of butterfly and various primates. With luck you may even encounter wild gorillas. Emerge from the forest at Nkuringo and continue by car to your lodge.

Staying at Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 10
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Travel (45 minutes) by car to Rushaga to begin your Gorilla Habituation experience. The environment and trekking conditions are the same as the regular gorilla treks, however, the experience is completely different. You will be in a small group with a maximum of four and permitted to spend up to four hours with the gorillas. You will be trekking a semi-wild group, so their behaviour should be quite different. The gorillas can be quite skittish, often trying to keep their distance and constantly on the move. It can be a challenge keeping up with them while taking photos. Please Note: This is part of the official habituation programme. There will usually be researchers there to explain their work but who will also have the right to cut the experience short if they observe that the group is getting unduly stressed by your presence.

Staying at Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge. Includes All Meals.

Day 11
Entebbe

Drive (approx. 2 hours) to Kisoro and take a scheduled light aircraft flight to Entebbe. Visit a nearby restaurant for dinner (included) then take your evening flight home.

Includes All Meals.

Tour Accommodation

Uganda Western Uganda

Kyambura Gorge Lodge

Overview

Converted from an old coffee store and located at the head of the Kyambura Gorge in the northern part of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, this upmarket lodge is perfectly located for chimp trekking in the gorge, boat trips on the Kazinga Channel and for game drives into the national park.

The eight individual luxury bandas all have views over either the savanna or gorge, each displaying an individual contemporary theme utilising local materials, furniture and artwork. Each room benefits from personal butler service plus there is an excellent restaurant, bar, swimming pool and new spa.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
8
Facilities

Eight private cottages (four are deluxe), personal butler, mosquito nets, 240v lighting, charging stations and a private balcony, swimming pool, new spa, Wi-Fi available in the main lodge building.

Local Wildlife

Kyambura Gorge Lodge is well located to explore the northern sectors of the Queen Elizabeth National Park where lion, buffalo, elephant, rich birdlife and a range of other plains animals roam. The Kyambura Gorge itself is heavily forested with a wide variety of primates including black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkey, olive baboon, red tailed monkey and a small group of habituated chimpanzees.

Optional Activities

Chimpanzee trekking in the Kyambura Gorge, game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park, nature walks, boat safaris on the Kazinga Channel, coffee plantation visits.

Uganda Southern Uganda

Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge

Overview

Probably the most luxurious and certainly the highest lodge in Uganda, Clouds Lodge sits at an impressive 2,100 metres above sea level with beautiful views over forested valleys towards the Virunga Volcanoes and the Great Rift Valley (occasionally obscured by clouds, hence the name).

Accommodation is in delightful private stone cottages, each with a large bedroom and a lounge area with comfortable chairs and open fire. Delicious dishes are served in the main building and each cottage comes with a private butler. All meals, snacks, teas and coffees, drinks (except premium brands) and laundry are included.

The lodge is located a few hundred metres from the starting point for the Nkuringo Trek and 45 minutes’ drive from other trekking routes.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
7
Facilities

Bar, restaurant, large private cottages with open fires, private butlers for each room.

Local Wildlife

Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge is located just a few hundred metres from the starting point for the Nkuringo mountain gorilla trek in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Roughly 45 minutes’ drive away is the park’s Rushaga gate which offers further treks to reach five habituated gorilla families – Nshongi, Kahungye, Busingye, Mishaya and Bweza – plus two (Bushaho and Bikyingi) which are part of the gorilla habituation programme. The forest contains 400 species of plant, 350 species of bird and 120 species of mammal including forest elephant, and various antelopes and baboons. It is also home to at least 200 butterfly species.

Optional Activities

Gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (access to six gorilla families), gorilla habituation programme, forest walks, birding, community tours, Batwa experience trips, private dinners, massage.

Uganda Western Uganda

Ishasha Wilderness Camp

Overview

A small, delightful tented lodge situated by the Ntungwe River in a quiet area of the Southern Ishasha section of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Each of the camp’s ten spacious, canvas tented rooms has a private veranda, large bed with mosquito net, hot ‘bush’ shower, running water for hand-basins and a flushing ‘eco-friendly’ toilet. The large thatched central area contains an outdoor fire, bar and dining area, with alfresco dinners and bush breakfasts being popular options. Much birdlife and monkeys can be observed in the trees around the lodge, elephants occasionally wander through and hippos emerge to graze the lawns at night.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
10
Facilities

Communal dining area, bar, lounge, laundry service.

Local Wildlife

The wilderness surrounding the camp is breathtakingly beautiful and unspoilt, inhabited by prolific wildlife including elephant, buffalo, black-and-white colobus monkey and tree-climbing lions. Animals often move freely through Ishasha Wilderness Camp.

Optional Activities

Game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park, guided birding and nature walks, Kazinga Channel cruises, chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura Gorge, community visits.

Uganda Eastern Uganda

The Boma Hotel

Overview

Located only around 10 minutes’ drive from the airport, the Boma Hotel is nestled in a quiet suburb of Entebbe with pleasant gardens and a swimming pool. Each of the eleven rooms is decorated in a colonial style and comes complete with en suite facilities.  The rooms combine modern comforts with the charm and character of the original 1940s homestead.

It is also 10 minutes from the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) and the pier from where boats depart for the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
16
Facilities

Swimming pool, free high speed internet (WiFi), room service, bar/lounge, restaurant, airport transportation, laundry service, minibar, outdoor pool and wheelchair access.

Local Wildlife

The hotel has lovely gardens which attract plenty of birds and butterflies.

Optional Activities

Visits to nearby Lake Victoria, birdwatching, bicycle hire, golf, visits to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre.

Uganda Southern Uganda

Buhoma Lodge

Overview

One of only two lodges situated within the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Buhoma Lodge offers the perfect base for your gorilla adventures. Each of the ten chalets is set above the main building to make the best of the forest views. The stone-built and insect-screened chalets have small verandas, comfortable beds and large bathrooms with rain shower (some also have bathtubs). The communal area is very cosy and inviting with a large central fire, small bar and restaurant serving excellent food freshly prepared from local produce.

Buhoma Lodge is a mere five minutes’ walk to the park headquarters from where all activities, mainly gorilla tracking, begin. This makes it an ideal lodge for activities in the northern section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Solar power is used inside the cottages for lighting, with a central area available for recharging videos and cameras.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
10
Facilities

Bar and restaurant, open air lounge, open fireside, spa treatment room with complimentary massages, and a complimentary laundry and hiking boot cleaning service. Free Wi-Fi internet and recharging facilities are available in the bar. The gift shop has local crafts for sale.

Local Wildlife

As well as in the national park, mountain gorillas can occasionally be found in the lodge grounds.

Optional Activities

Mountain gorilla trekking, Bwindi forest walk, bird watching, butterfly watching, the Batwa cultural experience, Buhoma community village walk, visits to the Batwa Pygmy tribe to learn about their unique culture, massages at the lodge.

Uganda Western Uganda

Ndali Lodge

Overview

Ndali is a rustic, intimate lodge owned and managed by third generation expats Aubrey and Clare Price. The lodge has a homely colonial feel while still feeling very informal. Built of local stone and thatch, the eight luxury bandas are perched on a hill and offer stunning views over a natural crater lake.

The rooms are nestled among beautiful, bird-filled gardens and walks around the crater lake often reveal a multitude of birds including the great blue turaco. The swimming pool overlooks miles of rolling hills and is a great spot for a welcome sundowner.  A full English breakfast is served on the veranda overlooking the lake, augmented by freshly squeezed passion fruit juice and homemade bread with wild honey.

Three of Uganda’s national parks are within easy driving distance from Ndali Lodge: as well as Kibale, these include the World Heritage-listed Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Uganda’s most famous, the Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
8
Facilities

A swimming pool, restaurant, laundry service, bar and lounge, free internet, hot and cold running water, lighting by candle or storm lantern.

Local Wildlife

Close by is the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary, a community-based conservation project and part of Kibale Forest National Park, which protects a variety of monkeys and other mammals and rare birds such as the white-winged warbler, white-collared oliveback and papyrus gonolek. Other species frequently spotted are the African marsh harrier, African harrier-hawk, grey parrot, black-billed turaco, yellow-billed barbet and white-breasted negrofinch. Below the lodge on the lake stands a sturdy jetty in a most tranquil and secluded setting, much frequented by five different species of kingfisher.

Optional Activities

Ndali provides local guides for walks around its 1,000 acre farm or to nearby Muhoma Falls. Guests can swim in the lake, soak up the sun or simply get away from it all. There is an inflatable two-man kayak that can be used for spotting birds and other wildlife by the lakeshore.

Route Map

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Ndali Lodge: 0.476336, 30.286354
The Boma Hotel: 0.053290, 32.465018
Buhoma Lodge: -0.993619, 29.613783
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge: -1.082293, 29.625701
Kyambura Gorge Lodge: -0.206781, 30.103883
Ishasha Wilderness Camp: -0.549158, 29.721429

Departure Dates

This tour has no set departure date and can be tailored to suit your travel requirements. Contact us for more details.

Travel Information

Are International Flights Included?

No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Flight Info:

One domestic flight included.

Best Visited:

June to October

Are you ATOL Registered?

Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.

Jonathan Morris

Area Specialist

If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965