UGANDA Chimps & Gorilla HABITUATION experience SAFARI - 5 Days
5-Days All inclusive, Private safari. Includes the Mountain Gorilla Habituation Experience (4 hours with Bwindi Gorillas) and full day chimps habituation experience in Kibale.
The 5-days tour gives you a chance to do the intimate Chimpanzee habituation Experience with Kibale Chimps (and other primates) and 4 hours Gorilla Habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
We start at 07:00AM from Kampala or Entebbe at your hotel (or airport if you are arriving same day before 12PM), drive to Kibale NP doing a forest walk that day. The next day is spent with the chimps and other 11 primates in Kibale. After we drive south to Bwindi Impenetrable NP, the home to the mountain gorillas. It is here that we track the mountain gorillas. When you find them, instead of the standard hour with them, you spend an incredible 4 hours!
You can choose to fly back from Bwindi after the tour or drive and enjoy the scenery along the way. Also, you might want to drive and depart from Kigali (which is about 4 hours drive only).
Uganda Gorillas & Chimps Habituation Experience Tour - 5 Days
- Day 1: Meet in Entebbe or Kampala, drive to Kibale National Park; guided primate walk in Bigodi Wetland
- Day 2: Full day chimpanzee habituation experience plus other primates
- Day 3: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Day 4: Gorilla Habituation Experience in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
- Day 5: Return to Kampala - Entebbe, or opt to be dropped to Kigali instead.
5 Days Uganda Habituation Experiences for Mountain Gorillas and Chimps Safari
Day 1: Start the Uganda Primates tour from Airport or your hotel in Entebbe or Kampala, drive Kibale National Park
Briefing on the safari before we drive westwards towards Fort Portal to the Kibale Forest National Park (about 5 hours).
Traveling on both asphalt and unpaved roads, you pass through traditional Ugandan villages where you see people at work tending their traditional crops of millet, sorghum, beans and maize. The lush rolling hills of this region provide good photo opportunities.
As you approach Fort Portal in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, you enter Uganda's famous tea plantation region. A carpet of green spreads before you, as far as the eye can see, and seems an unusual contrast to the countryside through which you have just passed.
You arrive at Fort Portal, then, continue toward Kibale Forest, one of the great African rainforest research reserves. Years of study by scientists (who have cut a grid through the forest) have habituated many of its animals to human observers. This forest is famed for the variety of primates found here and it is a terrific area for birds. This rural Ugandan town (Fort Portal) is locally famous for its weaving and basketry, and we can spend some time briefly to examine some of this local art.
In the afternoon we visit a nearby forest swamp that is excellent for viewing primates and other forest animals. At the eastern edge of Kibale forest is Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary which is maintained by the local community. You will expect birds like the great blue turaco, blue monkeys, baboons, otters, mongoose, bushbucks, bush pigs and among others.
Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)
Up-market: Kyaninga Lodge | Primate Lodge Kibale | Ndali Lodge
Moderate: Isunga Lodge | Turaco Treetops
Low Budget: Kibale Forest camp | Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse
Day 2: Chimpanzee Habituation Experience Plus Other Primates
Today we’ll accompany Kibale’s researchers in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to contribute to a “soft” habituation project with chimpanzees. You’ll learn to safely observe the chimps during their daily activities, so they get comfortable with human presence without changing their natural behaviors. You will be able to experience the chimp families as they wake up, hunt, patrol, play, fight, copulate, and breastfeed.
Guided by biologists and researchers, we will enjoy unprecedented intimate access to these wild chimps for the entire day until they build their nests at bedtime.
Overnight Lodges/ Camps:
Up-market: Kyaninga Lodge | Crater Safari Lodge| Primate Lodge Kibale | Ndali Lodge
Moderate: Isunga Lodge| Kibale Forest Camp
Budget: Kibale Forest Camp | Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse
Day 3: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
After breakfast we drive further south through stunning savannah grasslands as we head towards the breathtaking Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
While most of today's forests are no more than 12,000 years old, Bwindi's vegetation has been weaving itself into tangles for over 25,000 years, in the process accumulating a lengthy species list.
This includes 310 species of butterflies, 51 reptiles, 200 trees, 88 moths and an exceptional 120 species of mammals 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 bird- watchers. 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: Chameleon Hill Lodge | Rushaga Gorilla Safari Lodge
Moderate: Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge
Low Budget: Rushaga Gorilla Camp
Day 4: Gorilla Habituaton experience in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Our uniquely exclusive researcher-led gorilla habituation experience - 4 hour permit.
We have an early morning entry into the mountain gorilla’s sanctuary. Our intimate gorilla experience allows you to accompany the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s Bwindi gorilla habituation team for the entire day, allowing you to have a minimum 4 hours in the presence of a mountain gorilla family.
Since regular permits only allow 1 hour, this is 4 times the amount of time spent up close with gorillas – more than any other safari operator! During this time you will be able to experience the gorilla family as they wake up, hunt, patrol, play, fight, copulate, and breastfeed until they build their nests at bedtime.
The thrill of spending time with and observing these gentle giants is a rare and moving adventure that will leave you with long lasting memories. Spending more time with them than the norm means you are assured of the best possible experience, with 4 full hours for better photography, researcher access for more questions, and enough time to experience more intimate and unusual behaviors. The gorillas are shy and peaceful animals and it is an unforgettable experience to watch and photograph them as they interact with each other.
The walking can sometimes be tough and long, but when you catch a glimpse of the magnificent silverback, any discomforts will be quickly forgotten. Once the gorillas are sighted, you will be guided to within 6 meters of the gorillas, and be able to sit all around them while gazing into their big round eyes as the researchers note health, behavior and other characteristics.
Up-market: Chameleon Hill Lodge | Rushaga Gorilla Safari Lodge
Moderate: Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge
Low Budget: Rushaga Gorilla Camp
Day 5: Return to Kampala-Entebbe
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 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 Kampala in the evening before for your flight back home.
- Our exclusive 4 hours gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
- Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Kibale National Park
- Accommodation with meals indicated on programme
- Bottled drinking water on the vehicle
- Services of a good experienced English speaking tour guide/driver
- Transport on tour as well as hotel transfers in safari land cruiser
- Tips for drivers and other staff
- Flight tickets and departure taxes
- Travel documentation (visas)
- Travel and medical insurance
- Optional excursion
- Beverages other than mineral water in the vehicle
Talk to a Uganda Safari Consultant
Enquire about this special wildlife experience and habituation safari and tour prices.
Talk to one of our destination experts to start planning your Uganda safari.
MAIN NATIONAL PARKS FOR YOUR UGANDA PRIMATES' TOUR - GORILLA HABITUATION EXPERIENCE AND CHIMP HABITUATION EXPERIENCE TOURS
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (for your Gorilla Habituation Experience)
The park is located in south western 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.
Kibale National Park for Chimps Habituation Experience
Once this tropical rainforest provided a (very substantial) dinner, bed and breakfast for large herds of migrating forest elephants and, even now, the park contains the largest population of this subspecies in Uganda. Although they're rarely seen, and dangerous, the signs of these elephants' presence are abundant.
However, Kibale's claim to fame is its enormous variety of primates and its families of habituated chimpanzees - it's home to an astonishing 12 species of primate and provides one of the highest primate densities in the world. Here, on a daytime or evening guided forest walk, you may find families of chimpanzees and red colobus monkeys chattering and swinging through the ancient forest trees.
The sightings of birds in the forest are no less impressive - there are at least 325 species, many of which are found nowhere else. In addition, there are over 144 species of butterflies.
THE MOUNTAIN GORILLA HABITUATION 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 HABITUATION EXPERIENCE IN UGANDA
Secure Gorilla Habituation Experience permits early
Gorilla Habituation Experience is the most popular foreign tourist activity for Uganda. On every single day, only 5 tourists can do the gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi. Uganda's gorilla habituation experience is USD1500 per person and allows you 4 hours with the mountain gorillas. This means the competition is quite high for the few gorilla habituation experience permits in Uganda and it becomes hard to secure gorilla habituation experience permits a few days to your Uganda gorilla habituation 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 habituation experience 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 habituation 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 habituation experience tour
• 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 Habituation Experience Age Limits
The age limit for gorilla habituation experience is 15 years and the authorities are very strict on this! With special written permission however, a 14yr old might pass.
Videos & Photography for Gorilla Habituation Experience in Uganda
In Uganda, it can be difficult to capture good photos under the dark canopy of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, as the name suggests! If you are very lucky, you may encounter your gorilla family in a clearing.
Here are a few tips for photographing the gorillas in Uganda:
- If you’re taking photos using a standard point-and-shoot camera, then make sure your camera is fully charged.
- Always take extra memory cards.
- Remember that flash photography is not allowed when you are with the gorillas. Make sure you have your camera manual with you so you know how to disable the automatic flash and automatic focus light functions.
- We recommend a good SLR camera. The best lenses are those with a wide aperture such as f2,8 which allow in max light and are best in gloomy conditions. A 24 – 70 mm and a 70 – 200 m is a good combination. If you have space then consider a 300mm and a wide angle but it’s a steep walk so consider hiring a porter. A 50 mm 1.4 lens is also ideal for low light shooting and something to consider as a standard lens.
- Professional filmmakers require permission and need to purchase filming permits in advance from UWA (Uganda) or RDB (Rwanda).
- Keep your camera and/or phone in a waterproof bag (such as a large Ziploc bag). Cue: you’re in the rainforest.
Professional photographers, film makers or media should advise us at the time of booking as special procedures are required as well as costs to be incurred for photographing and filming.