Day 1: Kampala or Entebbe to Kibale Chimpanzee Forest National Park
Pick you up from your Kampala or Entebbe lodging at 6:30 am in the morning for a westward 5-6hr drive to Fort Portal - Kibale Chimpanzee Forest National Park. The journey is a pleasant one and our 4-wheel drive vehicle, your English speaking driver will do his best so that you will enjoy the journey through the Ugandan countryside. It is a scenic drive and once again you will be reminded why Uganda is the Pearl of Africa. Arrive at Fort Portal and continue toward Kibale Forest, one of the great African rainforest research reserves, is famous for the variety of primates and it is a terrific area for birds. Arrive at Kibale Forest and check into your preferred lodging, lunch and prepare for the afternoon Bigodi walk. Accommodation in the Kibale Forest National Park area include;
Up-market: Kyaninga Lodge, Moderately priced: Kibale Forest Camp, and Budget: Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse and many more.
After lunch we take the afternoon guided walk in the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary where you are taken into the world of a jungle swamp, a rather unique experience. The wetland is a birder’s paradise with about 138 species and is best known for being home to the Great Blue Turaco. This is a 2½ - 3 hour walk and is a must for bird lovers. Bigodi Sanctuary is located outside the park in Magombe Swamp it also hosts eight species of primates including the black-and-white colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed, l’Hoest’s and blue monkeys, and olive baboons. Bushbucks and mongooses and many more can also be found here. Return to the lodge for dinner relaxation and overnight.
Day 2: Chimpanzee tracking, plus 12 primates in Kibale Forest National Park
After breakfast, it’s time for chimpanzee tracking we move down to the Kanyankyu River Camp for the most popular activity in this park, – Chimpanzee tracking at 0800hours. Kanyanchu, in the central part of Kibale, is the main trailhead for the park’s famous forest walks, the most popular of which is the daily Primate Walk. Chimpanzee tracking (trekking) can take up to 3 hours. Chimpanzees are our closet cousins though they are one of the most threatened primate’s species. Unlike other Uganda chimpanzee locations, we are over 98% certain that you will see the find them here. We find the chimps by listening to their pant-hooting calls, then hustle to the area from which they are calling. You are with the chimpanzees for one hour and get to observe them up close allowing you to take some close-up pictures. The chimpanzees are habituated, a process that takes up to two years and gets the chimpanzees used to human presence so that they continue with their activities while you are present.
The things you need for the day include long trousers preferably jeans, long-sleeved shirts, light hiking boots, daypack with a liter of bottled water, wide-brimmed hat and a light rain-jacket.
Kibale National park, is about 3,300 feet in elevation, it’s an extension of the great rainforests of central Africa. It is inhabited by three large “communities” of chimps, each numbering more than 100 individuals. Each community has a complicated social structure. The big adult males dominate the group and defend the community territory against incursions by male outsiders; the females usually wander in small family groups. Return to your lodge for lunch and relaxation in the afternoon. Dinner in evening as you arrange for the next day. You may want to learn more about the Chimpanzees of Uganda,..go here
You may consider spending more time with the Chimps and not just the 3-hour chimp trek of which just one is spent with them. You can do the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) and spend 4 hours watching and following the chimpanzees through the forest.
Common Question; What is the difference between regular Chimpanzee Trekking and Chimpanzee Habituation Experience?
Habituation here is simply a process of getting the chimpanzee oriented to human presence while in thier natural habitat. When you go for Chimpanzee Trekking, you are one hour with a fully habituated Chimpanzee Group after finding them. That means they are used to human beings. When you go on a 4-hour Habituation Experience, you are observing a Chimpanzee Group that is in the process of being habituated, – a process that takes up to two years long and you are a participant in the process. You go down in to the rainforest with a guide in a small group - max of 4 plus ranger. Once you find the chimps, you watch and follow them through the rainforest for a few hours. Expect the experience to differ each day as these are wild animals who are not trained to perform as if they are in a circus. On some days the trek may however be hard as you are often moving fast through dense forest so as to not lose the chimps. Learn more about Chimp Habituation Experience Vs. regular chimp trek.
Please Note – As of July 1, 2020, the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience increased in price from $200 to $250. Regular Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale Forest increased from $150 to $200. Advance planning is necessary as this is not something you are going to decide on ground.
Day 3: Depart for Bwindi Forest:
Morning breakfast then we depart for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. We rely on weather seasons to determine if we drive through Ishasha sector south of Queen Elizabeth National park and see the tree climbing lions or just go straight to Bwindi. No where in Africa you would stand a better chance to see this than in the large low limbed fig trees of Ishasha. We may choose to have lunch at Ishasha or in Bwindi. The road is to rough especially if it rains, so we want to avoid getting stuck in the mud and waste much of our valuable time for this day,...your safari driver/guide should advise since he always has up-to-date information about road situation in the parks. Once at Bwindi we will register you at your choice of lodging, better or budget according to your wishes. Location of lodging can depend on where your permit is for in the park. Bwindi, Mgahinga alongside Rwanda’s Volcanoes Parks and Congo’s Virunga Volcanoes are habitats to the only endangered mountain gorillas left in the whole world. Dinner once you reach your lodging destination.
Day 4: Mountain Gorilla Tracking (Trek)
Take an early morning breakfast, head to the park office headquarters with your packed lunch for a pre-tracking (trekking) briefing at 8 o’clock to go over guidelines for you and your safety. We trek through the rainforest and bamboo covered slopes, accompanied by an expert UWA guide and other trackers (if any but not more than 8 total in your party all above 15 years), in search of a mountain gorilla family.
The gorilla tracking (trekking) at Bwindi can last from a few hours to the whole day. Just as I always mention in all the other gorilla tracking safari itineraries, mountain gorillas never live in one place twice; they move and build a new nest every day so there is nothing like closest or farthest gorilla family. Once sighted, you will be guided to within 5 metres from the gorillas, sit around them for a whole hour while gazing into their big round eyes. The gorillas are shy but peaceful animals but it’s simply a powerful memorable experience to see these animals up close.
There is a chance to see over 10 primates in this jungle. Depending on the time your return from the tracking to the lodge, you can take a walk and visit the villages in the area, interact with the local people. Participate in captivating traditional performances presented by Women’s groups or orphan children groups. Visit the pygmy village and you will have some cultural insights into the local Batwa culture. Batwa pygmy people. The Batwa ("keepers of the forest" for millennia) are living as "conservation refugees" outside their beautiful ancestral home, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest / Park. The Batwa Experience is a pure delight - fun, interesting and informative – and a good work out too! Note that the fees you pay for these performances go directly to improve the welfare of families around the park. Go here for more information about Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Dinner at your lodging.
Day 5: Bwindi - Kampala
We start the long but rewarding drive back to Kampala. On our way we will pass Mpigi village, famous for the Royal Drums Makers and of course the Ugandan Equator, where you can take pictures and shop for a souvenir. With lunch on our way we will reach Kampala at the end of the day.
It does not include alcoholic beverages and drinks, laundry, or any other purchases you might make.
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