Kibale & Bwindi Combined

KIBALE TREKKING AND BWINDI COMBINED

Uganda Primate Tour Chimp Trek – 5 Days (Gorillas, Chimps Trek)

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.

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 Tracking in Kibale National Park & Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

Assemble at Kanyankyu River camp at 08:00 hours to go for the most popular activity in this park which is chimpanzee tracking.

Chimpanzees are man’s closest cousins though they are one of the most threatened primate species. More primates like black and white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkeys, bush babies, pottos and many bird species like the yellow spotted nicator, rumped tinker bird, little greenbul, green breasted pitta, the crowned eagle, black bee-eater and mammals like elephants can be seen in this walk.

Kibale National park, which averages about 3,300 feet in elevation, is 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.

Typically, we locate the chimps by listening for their pant-hooting calls, then hustle to the area from which they are calling. We get to observe them as they feed in fruiting trees, lounge, and socialise with each other, or even, occasionally hunt.

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 3: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for the gorilla trek (on day 4)

Depart early morning for Bwindi for your gorilla trek on the next day. .

Very early in the morning after breakfast, you will set off for Bwindi impenetrable forest National Park via Kabale- Kisoro route or Isasha Sector with packed lunch. On your way you will enjoy scenery views of different mountains and beautiful plantations. 

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

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

Moderate: Engagi Lodge | Silverback Lodge | Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge            

Low Budget: Rushaga Gorilla Havens Lodge | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp | Gorilla       Conservation Camp

Day 4: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

After breakfast, proceed for the morning briefing before enjoying the highlight of the trip – gorilla trekking, which may last the entire day.

We trek 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 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.

Accommodation options available (all on full board basis)

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

Moderate: Engagi Lodge | Silverback Lodge | Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge            

Low Budget: Rushaga Gorilla Havens Lodge | Ruhija Gorilla Friends Camp | Gorilla       Conservation Camp

Day 5: Return to Kampala

Early breakfast before embarking on our return to Kampala, 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 Kampala in the evening before for your flight back home.

TIPS ON GORILLA & CHIMP

What to wear and take when trekking to see the gorillas?

Put on your sturdiest walking shoes, and thick trousers and a long-sleeved top as protection against vicious stinging nettles. It’s often cold when you set out, so start off with a sweatshirt or jersey (which also help protect against nettles). The gorillas are thoroughly used to people, so it makes little difference whether you wear bright or muted colours.

Whatever clothes you wear to go tracking are likely to get very dirty as you slip and slither in the mud, so if you have pre-muddied clothes, you might as well wear them. When you are grabbing handloads of thorny vegetation, a pair of old gardening gloves are helpful. If you feel safer with a walking-stick, you will be offered a wooden one at the start of the ascent.

Carry as little as possible, ideally in a waterproof bag of some sort. During the rainy season,a poncho or raincoat might be a worthy addition to your daypack, while sunglasses and a hat are a good idea at any time of the year. You may well feel like a snack during the long hike, and should certainly carry enough drinking water – at least one litre, more to visit the Susa Group. Bottled water is sold in Ruhengeri town. Especially during the rainy season, make sure your camera gear is well protected – if your bag isn’t waterproof, seal your camera gear in a plastic bag.

Binoculars are not necessary to see the gorillas. In theory, birdwatchers want to carry binoculars, though in practice only the dedicated are likely to make use of them – the trek up to the gorillas is normally very directed, and walking up the steep slopes and through the thick vegetation tends to occupy one’s eyes and mind.

If you are carrying much gear and food/water, it is advisable to hire one of the porters who hang about at the car park in the hope of work. This costs USD15 per porter. Locals have asked us to emphasize that it is not demeaning or exploitative to hire a porter to carry your daypack; on the contrary, tourists who refuse a porter for ‘ethical reasons’ are simply denying income to poor locals and making it harder for them to gain any benefit from tourism.