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Gorilla from the Rushegura family resting on a branch, Bwindi, Uganda

Uganda Gorilla Trekking & Lake Bunyonyi Tour - 3 Days

The 3-days Uganda gorilla trek & Lake Bunyonyi tour has gorilla trekking in Bwindi and optional adventure or relaxing at Lake Bunyonyi. We can start from Entebbe/ Kampala or Kigali on any day so long as the gorilla trek permits are available. You not only enjoy time with the endangered mountain gorillas but also experience Uganda's most beautiful landscape, Lake Bunyonyi after the gorilla trek. As an option, while at the lake you could just relax there or take community walks  or enjoy canoe trekking riding through the beautiful islands of Lake Bunyonyi.

Overview
Itinerary
Accommodation
Inclusions
Overview

Uganda Gorilla Trek & L. Bunyonyi  Canoe Trekking Tour - 3 Days

With its terraced hillsides and hidden coves, Lake Bunyonyi is a haven of tranquility that provides the perfect place to relax and unwind. The lake lies in south-western Uganda, between Kisoro and Kabale and close to the border with Rwanda. It was formed when the original valley exit was blocked by volcanic eruptions, creating a freshwater paradise that is a pleasure to explore. 

  • Day 1: Start from Kampala or Entebbe or Kigali  to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park at 07:00AM (any day), stopping at Equator  and Mbarara for lunch.
  • Day 2: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, transfer for overnight at Lake Bunyonyi
  • Day 3: Time for optional activities in the morning before departure to Entebbe / Kampala (or if you prefer to Kigali).

Pre-departure preparing for Uganda  gorilla trekking tour in Bwindi:

  1. Present your passport to the park office for verification and registration in the daily trackers' book
  2. Assemble together with other gorilla trekkers for briefing 
  3. Ensure you have your packed lunch and plenty of drinking water for whole day. You really can't predict how long the gorilla tracking will go on.
  4. A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
  5. Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.

On the way to the gorillas:

  1. Always follow the instructions as given by the lead gorilla trackers.
  2. Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
  3. DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
  4. You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!
  5. When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.

When you are with the gorillas:

  1. A 7 meter (21 feet) distance should tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
  2. You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas.
  3. Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
  4. Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
  5. Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
  6. Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
  7. Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
  8. The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
  9. After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

General health rules:

Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following rules are ways to minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:

  1. Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
  2. If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
  3. If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
  4. Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
  5. Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
  6. If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.

What to bring on your Gorilla Trekking Safari:

  1. Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
  2. Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
  3. Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water.
  4. Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
  5. Bring a photo of film camera. Using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.

For more information about Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations, kindly contact our office via email or phone call.

Itinerary

Day 1: Start from Kampala or Entebbe driving to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Meet and greet with our local guide in Kampala/ Entebbe/Kigali at 07:00 hours before starting your gorillas tracking tour with a  drive heading to southwestern Uganda.

Alternatively, a flight to Bwindi can be arranged for those who don't want the long drive.

En route, there is a local community popular for making local drums and crafts and a fruit market. Stop over, 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

Moderate: Engagi Lodge | Silverback Lodge | Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge| Gorilla Mist Camp

Low Budget: Rushaga Gorilla Haven Lodge| Buhoma Community Restcamp | Rushaga Gorilla Camp | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp 

Day 2: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, transfer to Lake Bunyonyi

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.

After coming back from tracking the gorillas, we depart from Bwindi and drive to Lake Bunyonyi for a much desired relaxation and overnight.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

Up-market: Bird's Nest | Acadia Cottages Lake Bunyonyi 

Moderate: Bird's Nest | Acadia Cottages Lake Bunyonyi 

Low Budget: Bunyonyi Overland Resort | Bushara Campsite 

Day 3: Departure

In the morning you could choose to engage in any of the available tour options at Lake Bunyonyi.

Given the inevitable rigorous day at Bwindi (yesterday), you might be cherishing some relaxing moments on the shores of this peaceful lake. Or you might choose among the various tour activities like birding, cycling, and sun bathing, swimming or even canoeing.

We will be in Kampala in the evening before for your flight back home.

Pre-departure preparing for Uganda  gorilla trekking tour in Bwindi:

  1. Present your passport to the park office for verification and registration in the daily trackers' book
  2. Assemble together with other gorilla trekkers for briefing 
  3. Ensure you have your packed lunch and plenty of drinking water for whole day. You really can't predict how long the gorilla tracking will go on.
  4. A maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
  5. Always wash your hands before you head out to the gorillas.

On the way to the gorillas:

  1. Always follow the instructions as given by the lead gorilla trackers.
  2. Please always keep your voices low. You will also be able to observe the great bird life and other wildlife in the forest.
  3. DO NOT leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring into the forest should be carried back out with you.
  4. You will be taken to where the guides observed the gorillas the day before. From there you will follow the gorilla’s trail to find them. Look out for the gorilla’s nesting sites along the way!
  5. When you approach the mountain gorillas, the guides will inform you to get ready.

When you are with the gorillas:

  1. A 7 meter (21 feet) distance should tried to be observed at all times from the gorillas. The further back you are, the more relaxed the group will be.
  2. You must stay in tight group whey you are near the gorillas.
  3. Keep your voices down at all times. However, it is okay to ask the guide questions.
  4. Do not smoke, drink or eat when you are near the gorillas. Eating or drinking inevitably will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/droplets falling, which could increase the risk of transmission of diseases.
  5. Sometimes the gorillas charge. Follow the guides example (crouch down slowly, do not look the gorillas directly in the eyes and wait for the animals to pass). Do not attempt to run away because that will increase the risk.
  6. Flash photography is not permitted! When taking pictures move slowly and carefully.
  7. Do not touch the gorillas. They are wild animals.
  8. The maximum time you can spend with the gorillas is one hour. However, if the gorillas become agitated or nervous, the guide will finish the visit early.
  9. After the visit keep your voices down until you are 200 meters away from the gorillas.

General health rules:

Remember that mountain gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. The following rules are ways to minimize the risk your visit might poses to them:

  1. Respect the limits imposed on the number of visitors allowed with the gorillas each day. This minimizes the risk of disease transmission and stress to the group.
  2. If you are feeling ill, or you are carrying a contagious disease, volunteer to stay behind. An alternate visit will be arranged for you, or you will be refunded your money.
  3. If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze when you are near the gorillas, please turn your head away and cover your nose and mouth in order to minimize the spread of bacteria or viruses.
  4. Always stay 7 meters (21 feet) away from the gorillas. This is to protect them from catching human diseases.
  5. Do not leave any rubbish (eg. food wrappers) in the park; foreign items can harbor diseases or other contaminants.
  6. If you need to go to the toilet while in the forest, please ask the guide to dig you a hole with his panga. Make sure the hole is 30 cm deep and fill it in when you are finished.

What to bring on your Gorilla Trekking Safari:

  1. Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for steep muddy slopes.
  2. Put on ear plugs for those who feel uncomfortable with the jungle sounds.
  3. Carry a packed lunch and enough drinking water.
  4. Carry rain gear, sunscreen lotion, a hat (as the weather is unpredictable) and insect repellent.
  5. Bring a photo of film camera. Using flashlight is not permitted so we recommend using films of 400-800 ASA.

For more information about Gorilla Trekking Rules and Regulations, kindly contact our office via email or phone call.

Accommodation
Inclusions

Included

  • Accommodation for the 2 nights of your gorilla tour as indicated on programme
  • All meals (except breakfast on Day 1)
  • 1 gorilla permit per person
  • Sightseeing as noted in the trip itinerary
  • Park fees
  • Entry fees
  • Ground transportation by a private 4WD vehicles with services of a good English speaking tour guide
  • Additional guides 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.

Start Planning Your Uganda Gorilla Trek

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Lake Bunyonyi (‘place of many little birds’) is undoubtedly the loveliest lake in Uganda. Its contorted shore encircles 29 islands, surrounded by steep terraced hillsides reminiscent of parts of Nepal. A magical place, especially with a morning mist rising off the placid waters, it has supplanted the Ssese Islands as the place for travellers to chill out on their way through Uganda, and has a selection of gorgeously remote and bucolic places to stay on distant islands, where you've only the birds for company. Best of all – unlike many lakes in East Africa – Bunyoni is bilharzia, croc and hippo free, and so its crystal-clear waters are all yours to swim in. lake bunyonyi and gorillas trek uganda days tour

Tourist Activities on Your Lake Bunyonyi Tour after Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi

  1. Just Relax and Chill Out at Lake Bunyonyi:

Lake Bunyonyi – is one of the best places in Uganda to relax and chill out after a safari, gorilla tracking, volcano climbing, hiking and other activities that call for at relaxation, chilling out on an island or along the shores of Lake Bunyonyi.

Lake Bunyonyi was one of the Top Choices by Lonely Planet as to where to relax and chill out in Uganda. It also one of the Top-Gorilla Trekking add-ons for our clients.

The Lake attracts many Ugandans, visitors, even residents of other countries such as Rwanda, to come and relax and chill out a bit.

2. Swimming -Lake Bunyonyi is Hippo-Crocodile-Bilharzia Free:

Lake Bunyonyi is bilharzia free, and there are no hippos nor crocodiles found here, it is safe to swim here and enjoy.

It is a deep lake – the second deepest in Africa, so you ought to be a good swimmer, but it is something to be enjoyed while staying here. Some lodges such as Birdnest Resort also have a choice swimming pool or the lake for their guests.

Take a swim in one of Africa’s most beautiful lakes. There are also places along the lake where they have enclosed a section of the lake like a swimming pool where one can swim.

Please be mindful that it is a very deep lake and if you swim out into the lake, use some safety precautions such as a nearby canoe, or buddy system.

3.  Dug-Out Canoeing Boating in Lake Bunyonyi:

There are 29 Islands to explore on Lake Bunyonyi. You can explore the quaint Villages, forest. Nature walks are all possibilities while here.

Take a dugout canoe with a guide and discover the world of Uganda’s magical Lake crossing it in an ancient like dugout Canoe.

This can be an all-day event or just a few hours. You can choose to paddle or to be paddled across the lake. Overnight options are also available.

You can also choose a motorized cruise of the lake. There are opportunities for sunset cruises and birding boat safaris.

Dugout Canoeing is quite popular, and you can even take overnight trips on the Lake and stay on an Island.

4. Nature Walks and Hikes in Lake Bunyonyi:

You can hike, take nature walks both on the Islands and around the Lake – your backdrop, for the most part, will the scenic Lake Bunyonyi.

The walks are not strenuous and can be taken at your pace, and guides go with you that you do not get lost and do not miss one of the highlights of your walk.

Your hike will mostly be scenic. Some will lead you through small villages where you will meet Ugandans up close and personal, while others might be on an island that you came to with a dugout canoe.

Your hike can also include some of the idyllic hamlets and villages with their terraced gardens that surround the lake.  Keep your camera handy and enjoy Lake Bunyonyi.

5. Mountain Biking in Lake Bunyonyi:

You can ride around the lake on a mountain bike and enjoy the scenery, the people, villages, hamlets, the people and get a feel for authentic Africa in Uganda as you ride along Lake Bunyonyi with its idyllic villages and hamlets.

The temperature and weather are pleasant here due to the elevation, and a bike ride will be most enjoyable, and the Equatorial sun will not beat you down.

Bike rides can be all day long or just a few hours, you will have a guide with you, or our safari vehicle will be near to help you if necessary.

Note;  Some lodges do not have Bike Rentals, but we can make arrangements for you.

6. Bird Watching in Lake Bunyonyi

The word Bunyonyi – means place of little birds and Lake Bunyonyi is home to over 200 species of birds – one can do a magnificent bird – boat safari with your birding guide from the water, on some of the various islands the surrounding shores of the lake.

You can go birding on one of the 29 islands on Lake Bunyonyi and combine it with a dugout canoe or motorized boat adventure.

You can also explore the excellent birding Site, which is a swampy area at the end of the lake.  This is best reached by boat.

The Place of Little Birds – Lake Bunyonyi is an excellent birding destination in Uganda where you will see some gray-crowned cranes, red-chested sunbirds, and many flycatchers.

7. Cultural Interactive Village Visits:

Interactive cultural visits in villages, hamlets on one of the islands or in the surrounding countryside including the Batwa Pygmy People who were the original people of the forest and today struggle in their quest of survival away from their beloved forest.

We can also arrange for a homestay in a village for you, along with a visit to a school, local market. Learn how to cook traditional and tend to the garden where things are grown and harvested.

This can be the most enriching time.  If it is market day in Rutinda, that is something to see and gives you an insight into life along and on the Lake.

Don’t Miss the Colorful Rutinda Market Day on Mondays and Fridays – the Place to be on Lake Bunyonyi

8. Crayfish – A Foodie Adventurer’s Delight:

Crayfish in Africa, in Uganda?  Yes, the crayfish of Lake Bunyonyi are off-springs of Louisiana Crayfish that were brought into Kenya, and Idi Amin had some delivered to Lake Bunyonyi.  They have thrived here. Some say overtaken the lake and surrounding bodies of water.

Restaurants and Lodges on the lake serve crayfish in every imaginable and beyond, from pizza to eggs with crayfish. Lake Bunyonyi means Crayfish anyway that you want it.  For those that do not like the tasty morsels, there are plenty of other options such as the whole Tilapia raised in the fish pond of many lodges since the lake does not support a fish population besides lung-fish and that to most lacks culinary appeal and only flavor.

9. Boat Ride to Akampene or Punishment Island

The Bakiga People would take unwed pregnant girls to Punishment Island and abandon them there to nature.  This would be a big event meant to frighten other girls into abstaining from sex outside of marriage and causing the loss of the Bride’s  Price for the family.,

Many boats would come, people, shouting, calling names, shaming the frightful girl even more.  Some tried to swim back to the mainland but often died. The only way to escape was if a poor man that not afford the bride’s price would come to the Island and rescue a girl.

Today Nature seems to destroy Punishment Island slowly.  It is good to have us arrange a boat ride here with a guide who knows the story and history of the Island.

10. Bunyonyi Island Explorations:

There are 29 Islands to discover. Below are just two examples of what you can find.

Dr. Leonard Sharp was a Medical Missionary who established a leprosarium center in 1931 on Bwama Island.  He, in turn, lived with his family on Njubeera Island which as a barren place when they arrived but turned into a small Tropical paradise. Those with Leprosy were brought to the island where they lived and were treated by Dr. Sharp and his associates. It remained open until into the 1950’s  Today there are two schools on the island and the students arrive by boat since there is no village on the actual island,

One is a secondary Boarding School, the other a primary school.  We can arrange a visit to the Islands if you would like, Even Dr. Sharp’s great Granddaughter visited the Island while on a Honeymoon safari with us a few years ago.

Things to do and see around Lake Bunyonyi while on a Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda – the Perfect Relax and Chillout  Add-on for Gorilla Trekkers before returning to Kigali, Rwanda or Entebbe, Uganda for your flight out. 

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“ My wife and I have recently returned from our Kenya/Uganda safari and gorilla trek. We had a fantastic time and have some superb memories and photos. It was fantastic, from Alex, our tour guide along with the other crew, the food, the safari’s and the gorilla trek. We can never have enough praise of this trip. ”