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Uganda BIG 5 Wildlife & Gorilla Trek Safari - 5 Days -

Gorillas and Wildlfe Safaris Hall of Fame Trip Advisor Recommended5 Days tracking Uganda's mountain gorillas in Bwindi and splendid savannah wildlife viewing experiences in Queen Elizabeth National Park - with the BIG 5!

Uganda 5 days gorilla tracking tour with wildlife safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The best of all Uganda tours for gorillas, primates and 'big 5' plus over 600 bird species, beautiful landscape sceneries all over.

This 5-days gorilla trek tour and wildlife safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park is probably the best and most popular East African safari package.

You get to track the mountain gorillas in their natural sanctuary - Bwindi Impenetrable National Park also with 12 other primates in there, a possibility of seeing tree-climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park plus the other 'BIG 5' - leopard, elephant, hippos, buffalo, lots of antelopes, forest hogs, hyena, and lots of birds (over 600 bird species). Great scenic views like the unmissable calderas and crater lakes, Rwenzori Mountains.

Overview
Itinerary
Accommodation
Inclusions
Overview

 Itinerary for Uganda Wildlife & Gorilla Trek Safari - 5 Days

  • Day 1: From Kampala or Entebbe to Bwindi impenetrable Forest (flights can be arranged)
  • Day 2: Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Day 3: Queen Elizabeth National Park - Ishasha Sector & Tree-climbing lions
  • Day 4: Game viewing drive and boat safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park
  • Day 5: Safari and back  to Kampala / Entebbe (flights can be arranged)
Itinerary

Day 1: From Kampala/Entebbe to Bwindi impenetrable Forest

Meet and greet with our local guide over breakfast, and then after drive heading to south-western Uganda.

En route, there is a local community popular for making local drums and crafts and a fruit market. Stopover, admire and buy yourself souvenirs. Proceed to the Equator line taken as one beautiful scenery in Africa - the pathway of the sun and take photographs.

Pass by mountains, tropical rainforest and bamboo forest during the nine hour journey.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Buhoma Lodge | Mahogany Lodge | Chameleon Hill Lodge | Trackers Lodge Buhoma

Moderate: Engagi Lodge|  Silverback Lodge | Nkuringo Gorilla Camp | Gorilla Mist Camp

Low Budget: Rushaga Gorilla Camp | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp | Gorilla Valley Lodge | Buhoma Community Campground

Day 2: Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Today enjoy gorilla tracking in Bwindi.

After breakfast, proceed for the morning briefing before enjoying the highlight of the trip - gorilla trekking, which may last the entire day. We trek the gorillas through the rainforest and bamboo covered slopes, accompanied by a guide and trackers, in search of a mountain gorilla family. The walking can sometimes be tough and long, but when you catch a glimpse of the magnificent silverback, any discomforts will be quickly forgotten. When the gorillas are sighted, visitors will be guided to within 6 metres from the gorillas, sit around them for a whole hour while gazing into their big round eyes.

Gorilla trekking is unpredictable. It's difficult to foresee how many hours you will hike. The gorilla excursion can take from 2 up to 8 hours. Expect to walk along distance in steep and muddy conditions, sometimes with rain overhead, before you encounter any gorillas. A good physical condition is recommended. For conservation purposes, time spent with the gorillas is limited to one hour. A ranger will brief you on how to behave with the gorillas.

While most of today's forests are no more than 12,000 years old, Bwindi's vegetation has been weaving itself into tangles over at least 25,000 years, in the process accumulating a lengthy species list. This includes 310 species of butterfly, 51 reptiles, 200 trees, 88 moths and an exceptional 120 types of mammal including 10 primates. The latter includes chimpanzee, L'Hoest's, red tailed and blue monkey, black and white colobus, baboon, and Bwindi's most famous resident, the mountain gorilla.

Bwindi is a prime destination for birdwatchers. Its 350 species include seven which are IUCN red data listed and 90% of all Albertine rift endemics, species which are difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa.

Up-market: Buhoma Lodge | Mahogany Lodge | Chameleon Hill Lodge | Trackers Lodge Buhoma

Moderate: Engagi Lodge|  Silverback Lodge | Nkuringo Gorilla Camp | Gorilla Mist Camp

Low Budget: Rushaga Gorilla Camp | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp | Gorilla Valley Lodge | Buhoma Community Campground

Day 3: Queen Elizabeth National Park - Ishasha Sector & Tree-climbing Lions

After breakfast we drive through stunning savannah grasslands as we head to the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Ishasha a much more remote and less-traveled part of Queen Elizabeth National Park, but one which has a sense of exclusivity and remoteness. The game densities here are high, and this region has reported some of the largest herds of Elephant anywhere in Uganda, as it is their main migration corridor between Uganda and the DRC.

As we enter the park, we do a game drive in search of the wild game. We continue and drive to the northern circuit which is the area near the main road known for its tree climbing lions. We look particularly at the many fig trees where lions like to stay. But we also visit the Uganda kob mating ground which is their preferred hunting area.

Up-market/Luxury: Deluxe Tent/Deluxe room at Mweya Safari Lodge | Katara Lodge

Mid-range or moderate facility: Ihamba Safari Lodge | Bush Lodge (rooms) | Buffalo Safari Resort or Enganzi Lodge

Budget price: Bush Lodge (tents)

Day 4:  Safari game drive and boat safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park

We set out early in the morning for a game drive in the northern part of the park on the Kasenyi Track in search of lions, elephants, solitary buffaloes. This is the best time for opportunities of viewing the cats in action owing to the vast population of Uganda kobs. We have an excellent chance to view just about every animal here at very close range.

In the afternoon we will go for a launch trip along the Kazinga Channel. This gives you the opportunity to view wildlife up close: hippo’s huff and spray at a mere feet away from the boat, buffalo linger in the shallows. The shores of the channel are also home to an array of birds including pink backed pelicans, pied and malachite kingfishers, saddle billed stork and many others.

Up-market/Luxury: Deluxe Tent/Deluxe room at Mweya Safari Lodge | Katara Lodge

Mid-range or moderate facility: Ihamba Safari Lodge | Bush Lodge (rooms) | Buffalo Safari Resort | Enganzi Lodge

Budget price:  Bush Lodge (tents)

Day 5: Safari to Kampala

Breakfast and head for Kampala (about 5 hours driving) via Mubende.

This route travels through breathtaking scenery and delightfully rolling plantations, some of the best in Uganda. Depending on how much time we have on us we can tour around Kampala’s crafts and souvenirs markets before checking in at your hotel or being transferred to the airport.

 

 

Accommodation
Inclusions

Included

  • Accommodation for the gorilla trek as indicated on programme (on full board basis)
  • 1 gorilla permit per person
  • Sightseeing as noted in the trip itinerary
  • Park fees
  • Entry fees
  • Airport transfers
  • Ground transportation by a private 4WD vehicles
  • Additional guides/porters where appropriate

Excluded

  • Flight tickets and departure taxes
  • Travel documentation (visas)
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Optional excursions
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Tips and gratuities for your guides and accommodation staff
  • Laundry
  • Beverages other than mineral water in the vehicle and at meal times with meals
  • Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls, postage fees and so on

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MAIN NATIONAL PARKS FOR YOUR 5-DAY BEST OF UGANDA WILDLIFE SAFARI FOR GORILLAS, WILDLIFE

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The park is located in southwestern Uganda, covering parts of Rukungiri, Kisoro, and Kabale Districts. It is situated in a hilly country-side that, together with some remnant lowland forest outside the boundary constitutes an important water catchments area for many rivers, supplying the agricultural land of the surrounding region.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a true equatorial jungle, inhabited by four gorilla groups. Amongst the dense vegetation the columbus monkey jumps from branch to branch, chattering its warning to its fellows hidden by the foliage. Chimpanzees, in families of 20 or 30, make the rounds, searching for fruit and edible plants.

It is situated in a hilly country-side that, together with some remnant lowland forest outside the boundary constitutes an important water catchments area for many rivers, supplying the agricultural land of the surrounding region.

The best time to visit Uganda is late December to late February, and from June to September, as the weather at this time of year is generally dry, and warm. Temperatures average at around 25 degrees Celsius.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

The Queen Elizabeth National Park provides an unforgettable and unique experience for your Uganda safari in search of beautiful scenery and the BIG-5 - lions, leopard, bufallo, hippos, elephant and hyenas.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is 1,978 Km2 in area and is situated astride the Equator in the Western Rift Valley of South West Uganda, close to the southern-most tip of the tabled, mist-covered "Mountains of the Moon - Rwenzori Mountains and is contiguous with Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo.

It is a region of varied habitats including, open grassland with thickets, thick bush, forest, swamps and lake-shore. Queen Elizabeth National Park together with Virunga National Park in (DRC) completely encircles Lake Edward which is connected to Lake George by the Kazinga Channel.

THE MOUNTAIN GORILLA TREKKING EXPERIENCE

Mountain gorillas are wild animals and, as such, sightings cannot be guaranteed. However, for the last 14 years, no one has trekked the gorillas and failed to see them in Uganda. Certainly, you won't be the one with bad luck! On the trek, once you find the gorillas, you will be allowed an hour with the gorillas and you can only go not more than 6 meters from them.  As the gorilla tracking can sometimes take a full day, you will need to go with your packed lunch and lots of drinking water when trekking to the gorillas.

Gorilla trekking timings and conditions vary tremendously as the gorillas move continuously through the rain forest. It is good to be prepared and remember the weather can change with very little warning. The terrain is often steep and through areas where there are no marked paths.

TIPS FOR THE BEST GORILLA TREKKING EXPERIENCE IN UGANDA

 Secure Gorilla Trekking permits early

Gorilla Trekking is the most popular foreign tourist activity for Uganda. On every single day, only 128 tourists can trek the gorillas in Bwindi. Uganda has the cheapest gorilla permits prices at USD600 (or USD700 beginning July 2020) for safe gorilla tracking as Rwanda's gorilla permits cost USD1500. This means the competition is quite high for the few gorilla permits in Uganda and it becomes hard to secure gorilla trekking permits a few days to your Uganda gorilla tour (although it is often possible with luck more so in the green season months of October, November, April and May).  It is best to have your gorilla trek permit fully confirmed at least 4 months in advance.

Assess your fitness levels 

There is a likelihood you could walk for 3-6 hours on a gorilla trek. Gorillas are located deep in Bwindi forest with thick undergrowth over several steep volcanic slopes. Gorilla groups keep roaming this forest looking for their favorite food. They are never stationed in the same place over days. Your gorilla trek will follow this same trend and it is quite unpredictable knowing how long or tough your gorilla trekking shall be. The longer trek is not necessarily a problem, just something to be prepared for.  A bit of moderate physical fitness is needed for gorilla trekking in Uganda.

Guides & Porters for the gorilla trek

You will be guided through the forest on your gorilla tracking by a Uganda Wildlife Authority guide whom you will meet at the departure point in the morning of your trek. Your guide can help you book a porter (or two!) so that you can track without having to carry the few essential items listed below in a day pack which you should bring with you. The porters are from the local community and very used to the local conditions and can assist in pushing, pulling and supporting you during your trek to the gorillas. They are usually an additional fee, over and above your safari cost, and you should budget on approximately USD15-20 per porter per day as a fee with additional tipping being optional.

As the porters do not have tracking permits they will be stopped a short distance from the point you will be viewing the mountain Gorillas. Please remember to take whatever you may need from your bag to view the gorillas and rather leave valuables at the lodge/camp.

You will be allowed up to one hour for viewing of the gorillas from when they are sighted by your group. This is to ensure that the wild animals are not overexposed to human presence. Whilst in their presence you will also be required to keep minimum distances from them – generally between 5-7 metres and your guides will ensure this is enforced.

What to pack on gorilla trekking

• Plenty of water – 1-2 litres per person
• High energy snacks in addition to your packed lunch provided by the lodge/camp
• Spare film and batteries for videos and cameras
• Gloves (gardening type are good)
• Waterproof bag to protect photographic equipment
• A hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and band-aids might be useful
• A lightweight waterproof jacket/poncho
• Walking sticks are made available at the start of the trek for some of the steeper and more slippery tracks and may prove to be very handy.

Gorilla Trekking Age Limits

The age limit for gorilla trekking is 15 years and the authorities are very strict on this! With special written permission however, a 14yr old might pass.