Apes and human beings differ slightly in their DNA makeup and are therefore our close relatives in the animal kingdom. Chimpanzees and bonobo monkeys are the closest although gorillas resemble us more in some respects.
Visit Kibale National Park which contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. Forest cover, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau. The park is home to a total of 70 mammal species, most famously 13 species of primates including the chimpanzee.
From Kibale, drive to Queen Elizabeth, Uganda’s premier National Park. The park’s diverse ecosystems, which include sprawling savannah, shady, humid forests, sparkling lakes, and fertile wetlands, make it the ideal habitat for the classic big game, ten primate species including chimpanzees, and over 600 species of birds.
Finally, pay a visit to the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the southwest of Uganda where slightly over half of the remaining 800 gorillas in the world make their home. Bwindi is also home to a number of other primate species, including the black-and-white colobus (Colobus guereza) monkey, L’Hoest’s guenon (Cercopithecus l’hoesti), red-tailed guenon (C. ascanius schmidti), blue guenon (C. mitis mitis), vervet (C. aethiops), baboon (Papio anubis) plus various nocturnal prosimians.
Daye 1: Arrival & Overnight in Entebbe
On your arrival at Entebbe International Airport, you’ll be warmly welcomed by your guide/drive and transferred to your accommodations for the night at the cosy and relaxing Carpe Diem guesthouse in Entebbe.
Day 2: Kampala – Kibale Forest
After your breakfast, bundle up into the car and head out to Kibale National Park, about four hours’ drive from Kampala. Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. Forest cover, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau. The park is home to a total of 70 mammal species, most famously 13 species of primate including the chimpanzee.
The Kibale-Fort Portal area is one of Uganda’s most rewarding destinations to explore. The park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area and within half a day’s drive of Queen Elizabeth, the Rwenzori Mountains, and Semuliki National Parks, as well as the Toro-Semuliki Wildlife Reserve.
Arriving at the park in the afternoon, you’ll check into the Primate Lodge and spend the rest of the day relaxing.
Activities: Scenic Drive
Meal Plan: Lunch & Dinner
Travel Time: 4 Hours
Day 3: Chimpanzee Trek & Bigodi Swamp Trek
Kibale Forest National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. Forest cover, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau. Kibale Forest is the most accessible of Uganda’s major rain forests and is home to a remarkable 13 primate species, including the red colobus and L’Hoest’s monkeys.
You will track chimpanzees with an experienced guide and on finding them will spend approximately an hour with them. These delightful apes, more closely related to humans than to any other living creature, are awesome to watch as they bicker and have fun in fruit trees. A network of shady forest trails also provides much to engross botanists and butterfly lovers, while birders are in for a treat with 335 species recorded including the Prirogrine’s ground thrush.
After lunch, you’ll take a trip to Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary which is located outside the park in Magombe Swamp. Alternatively, you can take a cultural village trek and a lakeside walk along the shores of one of the crater lakes.
Return to the lodge in the evening for dinner, delightful conversation or a good book and some zzzs.
Activities: Chimpanzee Tracking, Nature & Cultural Treks
Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 4: Kibale National Park – Queen Elizabeth
After an early breakfast drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park via Fort Portal town. Fort Portal is the seat of the Kabarole district and is one of the most beautiful places in Uganda. Nestled in the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, the town is an ideal jump-off point for many attractions in the area including Queen Elizabeth National Park. You can visit the beautiful crater lakes, cultural sites, and other sights before heading to the park where you’ll check into The Bush Lodge.
After lunch, take a rewarding scenic boat cruise down the channel which joins lakes, George, and Edward. You’ll cruise just meters from hundreds of enormous hippos and buffalos while elephants linger on the shoreline. You’ll return to the lodge for a romantic dinner.
Activities: Game Drive & Launch Cruise
Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 5: Queen Elizabeth National Park – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
In the morning you’ll set off for the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park.
Ishasha is dominated by acacia woodland and features the meandering Ishasha River, banked by a riparian forest and is most famous for tree-climbing lions.
You’ll then proceed south to Bwindi arriving at Buhoma Community Haven Lodge in the afternoon where you’ll relax and unwind.
Travel Time: 5 Hours
Activities: Ishasha Game Drive & Drive to Bwindi
Meal Plan: Lunch and Dinner
Day 6: Gorilla Tracking, Nature & Cultural Trek
After a hearty breakfast, you will receive a briefing from the park guides on the dos and don’ts and then you’ll venture off into the forest. Tracking gorillas is an exhilarating experience taking you deep into the thick jungle and requires a modest level of physical fitness as it can take anywhere from 2-4 hours to find the gorillas.
Once you have found the gorillas, you’ll be able to spend up to two hours with them! It is always best to hear from other visitors, and this is Stella and Trudy’s story:
“At a distance of about fifteen feet a mountain gorilla with her baby appears. She comes out of the bushes, looks at me and lies down. My presence does not seem to bother her. She just wants to rest, whether I am there or not. I can almost touch her. My heart dances with joy. I am in a good position to take pictures, so I let my camera do its work. It is the thrill of a lifetime. I cannot but agree with the American zoologist George Schaller, the first to study gorillas in the Virunga volcanoes, who once said: ‘No one who looks into the eyes of a gorilla, gentle and vulnerable, can remain unchanged.”
In the afternoon you’ll take a walk with a guide and visit the surrounding communities. You’ll meet and interact with the locals and immerse yourself in some of the traditional pastimes like cultural dances and storytelling. Returning to the lodge late in the day and settle in for a quiet evening, dinner and a good night’s sleep.
Activities: Gorilla Tracking & Nature Walk
Meal Plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 7: Bwindi – Kampala
Depending on your chosen time, you’ll drive out to the airfield and board a plane for Entebbe.
Activities: Scenic Drive
Meal Plan: Breakfast
Travel Time: 2 Hours