Uganda Gorilla Trek & Zanzibar Tour - Gorillas and Zanzibar - 7 Days
Combination tour of gorilla trekking in Uganda and Zanzibar beach with adjoining flights from Uganda to Zanzibar. Enjoy the gorilla trek in Bwindi as well as relaxing at Zanzibar in Tanzania. We start with the gorilla trek in Uganda and end the tour with a holiday on the tropical island of Zanzibar.
Uganda Gorilla Trek & Zanzibar Tour - Gorillas and Zanzibar - 7 Days
In the Uganda Gorilla Trek & Zanzibar Tour - Gorillas and Zanzibar - 7 Days, you will be trekking the mountain gorillas in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable as well as have relaxation at a Zanzibar beach resort. The gorillas and Zanzibar tour is designed for you to enjoy the endangered mountain gorillas and the best of Zanzibar.
There’s no place on earth like Zanzibar. The two unique islands offer distinct experiences for any visitor. Known as the Spice Island, the beautiful island of Zanzibar on Africa’s east coast is bursting with culture and history, seemingly at odds with its idyllic geography of white-sand beaches with palms swaying lazily in the sea breeze. Together this makes Zanzibar a fabulous place to explore as well as a dream to relax and unwind.
- Day 1: Start your gorilla trek tour by driving from Kampala/ Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
- Day 2: Gorilla Trekking, experiencing mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Day 3: Departure from the gorillas home to Entebbe, fly to Zanzibar via Tanzania.
- Day 4: Zanzibar Island
- Day 5: Zanzibar Island
- Day 6: Zanzibar Island
- Day 7: Zanzibar Island, transfer to Dar es Salam Airport for departure flight home
Uganda Gorilla trek Tour experience videos and photos
Some Photos from our Uganda gorilla trek tour
Day 1: Start your Uganda Gorilla trek tour by driving to Bwindi impenetrable N. Park (the mountain gorillas' home)
Meet and greet with our local guide in Kampala/Entebbe/Kigali at 07:00 hours before starting the gorilla trek tour on your drive heading to southwestern Uganda to the home of the mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
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.
The drive to the mountain gorilla sanctuary is over 7 hours from Entebbe or Kampala, most of the time on smooth surfaced road with about 45 minutes of dusty muram. You could choose to fly to Bwindi if you don't feel like driving. One way flights range from 280$-360$ pp.
Uganda Gorilla Trek Accommodation options (all on full board basis)
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 gorilla 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 tracking 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.
Uganda Gorilla Trek Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)
Day 3: Transfer from Bwindi to Entebbe from flight connection to Zanzibar via Dar es Salam (Daily flights to Entebbe can be booked as well)
Early breakfast before embarking on our return to Entebbe, driving down the grassed and terraced escarpments of southwestern Uganda while taking in the breathtaking sights of the hills of the region dubbed ‘the little Switzerland of Africa’.
This area is a highly fertile, mountainous region with steep-sided hills covered from top to bottom in neatly terraced cultivated rows. Not to miss as we traverse Mbarara are the impressing longhorn Ankole cattle. A remarkable highlight of this journey is the Equator line and surely you will cross it as we have a brief stop here.
We will be in Entebbe in the evening before for your flight to Zanzibar where you are met by our representative for the transfer to your hotel for overnight.
This island evokes magical dreams of spices, culture, sandy beaches and rich history. Walk through the labyrinth of streets in Stone Town, visit the ruins of the old Sultan palaces, take spice tours that awakens your senses, swim with dolphins or just relax on beautiful beaches. Zanzibar offers it all.
Day 4: Zanzibar Island - Optional activities.
You can spend your time at the hotel doing as much or as little as you choose. The beach is a fantastic place to have a stroll or read a book under the shade of a palm tree, and the shady beach bar is a great spot for unwinding during the heat of the day. There isn't a dive centre on site, but if you want to arrange a dive or snorkelling trip, just ask the managers and they can point you towards the dive centre down the beach, or make the necessary arrangements for you. There are bicycles to hire, which are a fun way to explore under your own steam, too!
Day 5: Transfer from Stone Town to Nungwi.
We would highly recommend heading out on a snorkelling trip at some point during your stay - you will sail in a traditional dhow to one of the reefs, and can spend an hour or two watching the colourful marine life living in the corals off Zanzibar. This is a lovely way to spend a morning or afternoon and a good opportunity to sail on a dhow as well!
Day 6: Full day Zanzibar for optional tours
For something completely different to the beach, you could head into Stone Town for a day trip - the town is located on the west coast, around an hour and a half away, and is a busy and fairly dusty town. However, it's full of shops and street stalls, so if you're looking to buy souvenirs this is the best place for it, and the narrow winding streets are reminiscent of Marrakech.
Day 7: Transfer back to Zanzibar Airport.
You will check out of your room this morning but can store your bags and spend the day relaxing by the pool until you are picked up in the mid-afternoon and driven to the airport.
Some Photos from our Uganda Gorilla Trek Tour
Buhoma Lodge is situated in Uganda in the idyllic Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, well known for being home to the rare and elusive mountain gorilla. From the private veranda of each cottage guests can enjoy views overlooking the forest whilst relaxing and taking in the stunning natural surrounds. Buhoma is an ideal accommodation for guests interested in gorilla trekking, being closely located to the meeting point for the treks.
There are ten comfortable cottages at Buhoma Lodge, each complete with a private veranda offering superb views of the forest. Cottages are traditionally decorated with wooden furnishings, but each is comfortable and spacious. Each cottage has en-suite facilities, and some provide bathtubs.
Meals are taken in the main, elevated lounge area, and are prepared using local ingredients to create an international cuisine. Located in the lounge, the bar is the perfect place to relax after the day's activities, or enjoy a drink around the fireplace.
Engagi Lodge is a small and exclusive property on the edge of the Impenetrable Forest, close to the park headquarters. The lodge is open-ended at the front allowing a dramatic view of the Bwindi National Park from every corner inside the building.
The accommodation consists of eight en-suite Cottages which are evenly spaced out and hidden in the foliage. Each Cottage has either double or twin beds, a bathroom with flushing toilets and hot and cold running water. All units have private verandahs where guests can enjoy their early morning tea or coffee.
The kitchen, which has been built a distance away from the lodge to ensure privacy for the clients, prepares a variety of three course meals and all requirements such as vegetarians and vegans are catered for by our team of experienced Kampala trained chefs. The main lodge comprises a rock bar, the restaurant and a large wooden verandah with a separate outdoor viewing platform. The lodge building is large enough to cater for sizeable groups needing banqueting tables, but still allows smaller individual groups to spread out in the various different areas for privacy.
Rushaga Gorilla Camp
Rushaga Gorilla Camp is a midrange facility located in the Rushaga Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Its within a walking distance from the Park Headquarters in the Rushaga Area of Bwindi.
Offering free WiFi and a sun terrace, Rushaga Gorilla Camp is located in Bugambira. Rushaga Gorilla Tracking (Nshongi Group) is 6 km away.
It offers 6 Luxury tents, 6 self-contained Rooms (twin/double), and and ample Camping site. All units feature a seating area. Some units have a terrace and/or balcony with garden views.
Guests can enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant or a drink at the bar. The property also offers packed lunches.
Bike hire is available at the property and the area is popular for cycling.
Mahogany Springs offers privacy and serenity blended with optimal comfort in a spectacular setting.
At Mahogany Springs it is the little touches that make the big difference, from the tiny details in the design of the lodge through to the unrivalled service levels provided by the highly trained staff.
Spend the day tracking for Gorillas through the forest, sitting on the terrace of your room or even down by the Munyanga River listening to the flowing waters as time slowly passes by.
All the rooms at Mahogany Springs are suites. The Superior Suites can be Twin, Double or Triple. These suites are spacious with large double doors and
beautiful windows. Each suite has its own private exquisitely designed terrace with panoramic views of the surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable Forest area.
All suites have large en-suite bathrooms with a gorgeously designed open terracotta shower. For added comfort and peace of mind all the suites have an advanced mosquito net system that wraps around the entire area of the beds.
There are power points in the living room and bedrooms as well as 2 desks/dressing tables.
Silverback Gorilla Lodge Bwindi
The lodge is located just minutes from the gate to the National Park where the gorilla tracking starts, and has stunning views over the forest.
The food was good and plentiful. Buffet breakfast of cereal, fruit, eggs, bacon, grilled tomato etc.
The rooms are clean with functional mosquito nets and all have views over the forest with fantastic hot showers. There is also small gift shop in the lodge.
Chameleon Hill Lodge
Chameleon Hill’s biggest leverage are the best views imaginable – from up the lush highlands, to the magical Lake Mutanda & its lush islands below and the sprawling highlands all around it, and to crown it off with a perfect backdrop of the Virunga Volcanic Mountains. The most visible of the volcanoes are Muhabura, Gahinga & Sabinyo whose peaks are cloudy most of the time. On clearer days, other Virunga volcanoes from Rwanda & D.R Congo can be sighted. At night, there is a good chance of spotting magma spilling in the air from the active volcano Nyiragongo, its epic!
The lodge has a unique style of multiple colors; each building painted a different color of the rainbow, which makes it so colorful and stand out beautifully.
Facilities and Services
- The Lobby – housed by the main castle, is comfy with colorful cushions. On arrival, it is here the lodge manager warmly welcomes you, served a glass of juice to refresh, & briefed before proceeding to check in to your room.
- The Restaurant – serves 3 meals a day, that is, breakfast, lunch & dinner, of both local & international delicacies. Lunch and dinner are served 3 courses (starter, main course & dessert). A daily menu for the main meal course is displayed. Visitors that require special consideration for meals or an alternative from the day’s menu make prior communication with the manager.
- Tea/Coffee is available in the Restaurant throughout the day.
- A Bar – located right next to the restaurant, has a good collection of renowned international wines & spirits in addition to the local beer brands.
- The Lounge, offers comfort on quality seats, sofas with cushions, and magnificent vistas of Lake Mutanda & the impressive landscape. Even better it has a fireplace to make your evenings cozy.
- A Library – placed in the lounge, has a good collection of travel information & books including field guides of birds, Trees & Shrubs, etc.
- A large deck, extending from the main house (that houses the Restaurant, Bar, & Lounge) overlooks the magnificent scenery – Lake Mutanda, the lush highlands, & cloudy Volcanoes.
- Evenings are kept entertained with traditional folklore by the local dancing group
- Electricity is provided by a generator, switched on from 7.00pm to 10.30pm.
- Laundry services are available at small cost.
Accommodation at Chameleon Hill Lodge
The lodge has a total of 10 chalets that include 5 doubles and 5 twins. Odd numbers are doubles while even numbers are twins.
Each chalet comprises of 1 large bed for the doubles, 2 beds (not as large as those in the doubles) for the twins. In the twins, beds can be pushed together to form a double. An extra bed can be added in the double room on request, for instance to accommodate a child. Mosquito nets over the bed, in spite of this being a mosquito-free area/zone.
Other extras in the room include extra thick blanket for the colder nights; bottle of drinking water per day; wardrobe; a Safe; Umbrella, a patio with excellent views over Lake Mutanda, highlands & Volcanoes
In the en-suite bathroom you will find, Linen and bath towels, a toilet, shower, and a wash bowl. Hot shower are available 24/7.
In between chalets is a fencing to ensure maximum privacy.
Buhoma Community Rest Camp
Buhoma Community Rest Camp (BCRC) is attractive complex set in wooded grounds on the slope facing a forest gallery immediately inside Bwindi National park entrance gate and has been in existence since 1993. They have self contained Bandas which are cabins in African Style, Self Contained Tents and Dormitories for your accommodation needs while doing a Gorilla Tracking tour in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Buhoma Community Rest Camp is setup at the Edge of Bwindi impenetrable National Park with the main aim of providing quality Lodging service to tourists and visitors.
They have got six (6) well finished safari tents, which are self-contained facing the forest with a spectacular view.
Wake up and go to sleep with the relaxing music of nature. Two cottages that are self-contained facing the forest. Nothing beats the scenes that unfold right in front of you. Gorillas do drop by to say hullo occasionally.
We also have got five (5) twin cottage bandas which are non-self-contained and are built with local materials with African architectural design.
Kendwa Rocks Hotel Opens in new window -3-star hotel
Breezes Beach Club and Spa
Evergreen Bungalows Zanzibar
Zanzibar Serena Inn
The Zanzibar Serena Inn has a superb location in the Shangani area of Stone Town. The main building was originally the External Communications headquarters, built in the early 20th century by the British colonial administration. The next-door house is much older and was originally known as the Chinese Doctor's Residence. The explorer David Livingstone stayed here before one of his journeys to the African mainland. Now, both of these buildings have been sensitively and superbly converted into arguably Stone Town's top hotel.
Perched on the edge of the Indian Ocean, the Serena Inn is luxurious and enticing. Large studded doors lead you through to marble floors, intricately carved staircases, Arabic arches and international-style rooms. All rooms are en-suite and air conditioned and many have spectacular sea views. There is a beautiful terrace with large swimming pool, fine restaurant and coffee shop. All the staff are attentive and friendly. At dusk, big dhows often sail past the hotel - it's a beautiful sight. With Stone Town right on your doorstep the Serena is an ideal place from which to explore.
- Non-smoking rooms
- Rooms/ Facilities for disabled
- Safe deposit box
- Currency exchange
- 24-hour reception
- Luggage storage
- Wheelchair access
- Multilingual staff
- Coffee shop
- No pets allowed
- Beauty salon
- On-site car park
- Private beach
- No parking
- No smoking on site
- Air conditioning in public areas
- Poolside snack bar
- Electric kettle
- Free breakfast
- Special diet menus
Leisure & Sports
- Swimming pool
- Outdoor swimming pool
- Garden area
- Spa centre
- Beach umbrellas
- Room service
- 24-hour room service
- Business centre
- Meeting/ Banquet facilities
- Bell staff/Porter
- Shops/Commercial services
- Medical facilities service
- Doctor on call
- Airport shuttle
- Wake up service
- Newspaper service
- 24-hour business centre
- Paid airport shuttle
- Self-service laundry
- Tours/Ticket assistance
- Air conditioning
- Tea and coffee facilities
- Hair dryer
- AM/FM alarm clock
- Private bathroom
- Turndown service
- Rollaway beds
- Direct dial telephone
- Bottled water
- In-room safe
- Game room
- Children's pool
- Kids club
- Flat-screen TV
- Cable/ Satellite television
- Babysitting/Child services
- Paid babysitting/ Child services
- In-room desk
- Room toiletries
- Individual air conditioning
- Premium bedding
- Bathtub shower combination
Uganda Gorilla Trek Tour Cost Inclusions
- Indicated meals in the final program
- 1 Uganda gorilla trek permit per person, sightseeing as noted in the trip itinerary
- Bwindi Park fees
- Regional flights from Entebbe to Zanzibar only and accompanying ground transfers
- Ground transportation from Kampala or Entebbe by a private 4WD vehicle with services of a good English speaking tour guide
- Additional guides where appropriate
- International 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
- 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 Gorilla Trek -Zanzibar tour
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THE UGANDA 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.
Travel Tips for Zanzibar HOLIDAYS
An African island paradise sits off the east coast of Tanzania and draws in beach-goers and foodies alike. Zanzibar is an autonomous state of Tanzania, and contrary to popular belief, the state is not just the island of Zanzibar, but is actually an archipelago of various islands, with Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba being the two largest and best known. Since Zanzibar is nicknamed the Spice Island, it’s no surprise the place is an up-and-coming foodie destination. Equally inviting are the powdery white sand beaches and warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Sound tempting? Here are a few tips for making the most of your first trip to Zanzibar.
Yellow Fever: visitors to Zanzibar must produce a valid yellow fever certificate obtained no less than 10 days prior to travel in order to enter.
Malaria: Zanzibar lies in the malarial belt and travellers to the island are strongly advised to take relevant precautions against contracting malaria.
Avoid April: this month experiences the heaviest rainfall volumes and, unsurprisingly, the most days with rain.
Dress code: remember that Zanzibar is a conservative, predominantly Muslim society. Travellers - especially women - are advised to dress and behave with respect to local customs and sensibilities. Please ask permission before taking photographs of Zanzibaris.
Ramadan: travellers are often advised to avoid visiting Zanzibar during Ramadan as many restaurants and other amenities close down. Check with your consultant for exact dates.
Other Islands: Zanzibar Island is part of the Zanzibar Archipelago - if you can't find what you're looking for on Zanzibar, ask your travel consultant for advice on outlying islands like Pemba or Mnemba as well as Mafia Island further south or simply use our 'Where to Go in Zanzibar' feature.
Enjoy the Beach
A trip to Zanzibar would not be complete without a visit to the famous white sand beaches found on nearly every coast. The beaches within Stone Town are not much to look at, nor is the water safe for tourist swimming, but once you escape city life and head to the north or east coasts, you’re brain will turn off as you dig your feet into the hot, powdery-soft sand.
For about 10 USD (per person, each way) you can travel an hour and a half outside the city to the lovely little resort area in the town of Kendwa on the north coast. There’s not much to do in the little community, but if relaxation is your goal, you won’t be disappointed. With a range of three- to five-star resorts stretching out along a beach as far as the eye can see, you’ll have your choice of comforts. From kayaking, snorkelling tours, and party boats to a beach curio market with local artists or a massage near the water’s edge, there’s a little something for everyone. And, let’s not forget the sunsets. Every night you can watch the beautiful orange sun sink into the water behind sailboats and fishing boats that have moored for the night.