Uganda – mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and shoebill
We hope to have our very own David Attenborough moment and spend some time with the famous Mountain Gorillas.
Uganda lies on the equator on a plateau of over 1000m in altitude: the Ruwenzori Mountains in the east, home to Mountain Gorillas, are second only to Mounts Kenya and Kilimanjaro in height. The country is a lush one: rainforest cloaks the hillsides, the River Nile flows through the country and more than 25% of Uganda’s ‘land’ surface is water, including the great inland sea of Lake Victoria.
Our journey takes us from the reedy shores of Lake Victoria near Entebbe, where we will look for Shoebill, up to Murchison Falls National Park, with its eponymous cataract and large game. The forests at Kibale are home to the greatest diversity of primates in Africa, and it is here we will track Chimpanzees, our closest relatives.
29 July – 12 August 2017
Single Room Supplement – £775
Return flights from the UK to Entebbe. Local transport on excursions as specified in the itinerary, including four boat trips. Thirteen nights’ accommodation, full board basis. National Park entry fees.
Gorilla tracking permit (c$700). Optional Chimpanzee tracking permit ($125). Entry visa (£35/$50). Drinks with evening meals, refreshments. Gratuities (budget $150 each). Travel insurance.
Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees in misty rainforests, prehistoric Shoebills feeding along quiet swampy waterways, roaring waterfalls and tree-climbing Lions: this is a very different Africa to the plains of the Serengeti or the veldt of South Africa.
Day 1 – A long day’s travelling takes us to Entebbe.
Day 2 – An early start takes us to the shores of Lake Victoria and a trip by wooden canoe through the densely vegetated channels lined by papyrus and flowering water-lilies, where we hope to encounter the enormous and prehistoric looking Shoebill. After lunch we set off north to Masindi, where we spend the night.
Days 3 – 5 – We will explore Murchison Falls National Park; Uganda’s largest protected area sitting along the banks of the Nile, where the forests give way to savanna. We will take game drives in the park, and one of the highlights will be taking a cruise up the Nile river to see the dramatic Murchison Falls from below.
Day 6 – We’ll spend our morning walking along the famous Royal Mile in the rich Budongo Forest, with huge trees towering overhead as we search for its special wildlife.
Days 7 – 8 – We explore Kibale National Park; home to an amazing 13 species of primate. We will have the opportunity of joining a special Chimp-tracking walk here (optional: costs $125) to maximise our chances of seeing them. Butterflies abound in Kibale, and the birding is very rich.
Days 9 – 10 – We visit the open habitat in Queen Elizabeth National Park. We have a good chance of finding Leopard here among the riverine thickets; ironically, it is the Lions here that are famous for tree-climbing and we’ll look out for them too. We will also take a boat trip on the Kasinga Channel, which flows between Lakes Edward and George.
Days 11 – 12 – We will join a small party led by specialist tracker-guides to explore the Bwindi ‘Impenetrable’ Forest, arguable Uganda’s most famous forest, in search of Mountain Gorillas. The forest paths are full of an amazing diversity of butterflies while the bird list here is both long and alluring.
Day 13 – Time to make tracks; a travel day with a very scenic journey that takes us to Lake Mburo National Park.
Day 14 – We will take a boat trip on Lake Mburo looking for African Fish Eagles and Hippos. Our journey continues in the afternoon, arriving back at Entebbe with plenty of time to board our flights home, arriving back home early on Day 15.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.
Accommodation is at a mixture of comfortable hotels, lodges and permanent tented camps, all with private facilities. Single occupancy is very limited on this itinerary: please speak to us before booking.
We will be travelling by 4×4 minibus during the trip. Our boat trip at Mabamba Swamp is in small wooden boats with bench seats and lasts about 2 hours. Each boat carries 4-6 persons, so we will travel in convoy (according to group size). The boats at Murchison, Queen Elizabeth and Mburo are larger, with roofs and padded seats. These trips last about 2-3 hours each.
The group flights are with KLM from Manchester, via Amsterdam.
29 July depart Manchester 05.55, arrive Amsterdam Schipol 08.20
29 July depart Amsterdam Schipol 10.45, arrive Entebbe 22.20
11 August depart Entebbe 23.35, arrive Amsterdam Schipol 06.55
12 August depart Amsterdam Schipol 10.15, arrive Manchester 10.30
Flights should also be available from a range of airports, including London Heathrow, Leeds Bradford and Norwich.
Uganda is 2 hours ahead of UK time; Amsterdam is 1 hour ahead.
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the end of the holiday with at least two blank pages. UK passport holders need a visa to visit Uganda: you can obtain one in advance from the Ugandan High Commission (£35) or on entry ($50 US). If you hold a non UK passport it is essential that you check with the appropriate embassy and obtain the necessary documents prior to travel.
The weather in Uganda is similar throughout the year, with temperatures in the range of 17 – 27C.
Rainfall occurs in every month but this is one of the driest times of year.
Both malaria and Yellow Fever are present throughout Uganda. You should consult your GP for travel health advice at least eight weeks before travelling.
The Mountain Gorilla trek can involve spending between three and ten hours in the field (depending on where the animals happen to be feeding in relation to the camp); the going can be strenuous at times and the terrain is steep and rough. There is no denying that this will be a challenging activity. However, we will be taking things very slowly, and it is possible to hire porters to carry your pack and help you if needed. If successful (and the success rate is very nearly 100%), the rewards are immense – a close encounter with this ‘gentle giant’ is an experience never to be forgotten, and makes the hill walking all worth it!