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The Great Uganda Gorilla Safari

10 days with Natural Habitat Adventures   Rating: Deluxe

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Day 1: Entebbe, Uganda—Botanical Gardens
Our Uganda tour begins in Entebbe, where you're met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. If time permits, you may opt to visit the famous Entebbe Botanical Gardens. Established in 1902, the gardens' fine collection of plants spans the country's tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones. The gardens are also home to many different avian species, offering an excellent introduction to Uganda’s diverse birdlife. We commonly spot vervet and black-and-white colobus monkeys here, too. Meet your Expedition Leader at a welcome dinner this evening.
Days 2-4: Kibale National Park—Chimpanzee Trekking
A mid-morning flight and short drive take us from bustling Entebbe to Uganda's verdant highlands, where fertile volcanic soil supports a tapestry of tea, coffee and banana plantations. Arrive at our hilltop lodge in time for a late lunch and settle in before the sun dips behind the Rwenzori Mountains. The following morning, a “swamp walk” through a wetland sanctuary reveals more than 100 bird species. After lunch, we meet our local trackers and begin our first chimpanzee trek in Kibale National Park. This equatorial rain forest reserve has one of the highest concentrations of primates in the world, including 1,300 chimpanzees. We may also see red colobus, black-and-white colobus, red tail, gray-cheeked mangabey and other monkeys. 
Our final morning in Kibale National Park offers a second chimpanzee viewing opportunity at a different time of day, in hopes of catching these agile primates engaged in their morning routine. We spend another full hour in their presence before hiking back to the ranger station. After lunch back at Ndali, choose among several afternoon options: a walk around one of the nearby crater lakes, a visit to the library on the property that Nat Hab’s philanthropy arm has helped fund, or simply relax and take in the grand view from our boutique lodge perched on the rim of a crater lake.
Days 5 & 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park
An early start launches an activity-filled day exploring Queen Elizabeth National Park, located along the western Rift Valley. The park is a microcosm of East Africa's safari highlights, home to a great diversity of wildlife residing among its volcanic craters, grassy plains and tropical forest. More than 600 bird species—one of the highest concentrations of any park in Africa—and nearly 100 different mammal species are found in the park, including the Ugandan kob, an endemic antelope featured on the country's currency. On a morning game drive, search for classic African wildlife, possibly spotting lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and antelope in the park's northern sector. We then cruise the Kazinga Channel on a private boat trip among one of the largest concentration of hippos in Africa. The waterway is also home to abundant colorful birdlife, and baboons frequently entertain us from the banks. 
The volcanic Rwenzori range, also called the “Mountains of the Moon,” provides a dramatic backdrop, with snowcapped heights rising above 16,000 feet. Glimpse magnificent views over Lake Edward before transferring via a wildlife drive into the southern Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth Park. As we explore this region, look for the park's famous tree-climbing lions—one of just two populations of lions that climb trees as part of their regular behavior (the other is found in Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania). Though no one knows for sure, some speculate that these lions seek respite from the heat by availing themselves of cool breezes blowing through the branches on high.
Day 7: Queen Elizabeth Park—Ishasha Sector / Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
From Ishasha, head westward to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, watching the scenery gradually change from open savanna to mountain slopes covered in dense green rain forest. Time permitting, we'll visit a school in a nearby village, then settle in for three nights at Buhoma Lodge, the luxury mountainside camp that is our gorilla-trekking base. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies on the edge of the Great Rift Valley. Its mist-shrouded hillsides are covered by one of Uganda's oldest and most biologically diverse rain forests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains some 400 species of plants. More famously, the park also protects an estimated 400 mountain gorillas—roughly half the world’s population, including several habituated groups that visitors spend time with. It also provides shelter for another 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboon and chimpanzee, as well as elephant and antelope. Some 350 bird species inhabit the forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.
Days 8 & 9: Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi
Two full days of gorilla trekking are are our focus in Bwindi as we rise early each morning in anticipation of a peerless experience: a look into the eyes of a wild gorilla. The trail through the primeval rain forest can be challenging, sometimes slick and steep, but full of rewards. We are hiking in the jungle that early explorers called the “Impenetrable Forest,” and the name feels apt. Bwindi is home to nearly half the world’s mountain gorillas—about 400—a population that is under severe threat. Three family groups are habituated to human contact, and we hope to reach one of them by midday. Tracking them to their last known location, our guide looks for signs of their presence: broken vegetation revealing a night nest, stripped bark indicating feeding, a mound of dung. Our anticipation mounts as we climb over vines and foliage to approach the group. Our guide signals for silence, then proclaims our intentions with amiable grunts. We may see a range of ages among the individual gorillas: youngsters playing in the trees, mothers carrying babies, and the mighty silverback, patriarch of the troop. No wildlife encounter can surpass the thrill of meeting these magnificent primates, so much like us, in their own habitat. 
Yet the significance of our visit goes beyond our personal experience: our presence here among the gorillas is crucial for their survival. Responsible tourism has been integral to sustaining these critically endangered animals, and the dollars we infuse into the local community help support their protection through economic sustenance of the people who live in proximity to the gorillas. We go home not just with incomparable memories and photos, but as ambassadors for the gorillas' welfare, committed to their future. If time permits, we’ll visit Conservation Coffee, a local co-op of farmers who grow, process and roast their beans to sell at a premium price that benefits gorilla conservation. We may have a chance to walk through the coffee fields, pick some beans and see firsthand how this sustainable community enterprise unfolds.
Day 10: Entebbe / Depart
Our Uganda safari comes to a close today with a flight back to Entebbe. A day room is provided on arrival, to relax and refresh for those preparing to depart. We share a farewell meal before transferring to the airport for departing flights. 
All This Included
You push aside a tangled rope of vines, pressing through the maze of foliage, when at last you see them. Ten or 12 gorillas sit in a forest clearing, two more up in a tree. They stop munching for a moment to observe you, nonchalant. A few feet away, you spy the big silverback. Twice the size of the young females, he sits on massive haunches, stripping leaves from branches. He’s close enough to hold your gaze with his liquid brown eyes. Something primal, inexplicable, connects the two of you in that moment. The rest of the world slips away outside this rare encounter. On this riveting wildlife expedition, meet mountain gorillas at close range and observe a host of other primates, too, including chimpanzees.

  • Accommodations
  • Services of Nat Hab's professional Expedition Leader(s), local guides, camp staff, gorilla trackers and porter
  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 through lunch on final day
  • Most gratuities
  • Airport transfers on Day 1 and final day
  • All activities and entrances fees
  • All taxes and service fees

  • Multiple treks through the rain forest of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offer captivating close encounters with endangered mountain gorillas.
  • Observe the interactions of wild chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, and view a wide array of traditional African plains game in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
  • Outstanding Expedition Leaders, the finest ecolodges close to wildlife, plus chartered flights set this Uganda primate safari above the rest!
Entebbe: Hotel No. 5 or Protea Hotel Entebbe
Kibale Forest: Ndali Lodge
Queen Elizabeth National Park: Mweya Lodge and Ishasha Wilderness Camp
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Mahogany Springs Lodge or Buhoma Lodge
Pre and Post Add-ons
Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Extension
5 Days / Year-Round, From $3295 (+permits)
A 5-day safari extension to track endangered mountain gorillas. Hike through the rain forest and spend rare moments with a habituated family troop.
Custom Kenya Safari Camp Extension
Year-Round, From $2395
A fly-in extension to your choice of Kenya's most out-of-the-way safari camps in the Maasai Mara, Samburu, Amboseli and more.
Custom Tanzania Safari Camp Extension
Year-Round, From $3225
Extend your safari with at one of Tanzania's secluded safari camps in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Selous, Ruaha and more.
  • Group Size Limit: Approximately 11 Travelers.
  • Gorilla Permits: $1200 (the cost of these permits may change at anytime prior to departure)
  • Not Included: Travel to and from the start and end point of your trip, alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, passport and visa fees (if any), optional activities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry and internet, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes (if any), required medical evacuation insurance, optional travel protection insurance.
  • Mandatory Insurance: Since the areas we travel to on this trip are remote and wild (that's why we go there!), we require medical evacuation insurance for our guests' safety. If you decline the medical evacuation insurance coverage offered by Natural Habitat, we request that you send us documentation of the independent coverage you have selected. We will add the cost of a medical evacuation policy to your tour invoice until you provide our office with proof of coverage including your insurance company's name, contact number and your individual policy number. Thank you for understanding that our policy exists exclusively in the interest of our guests' safety.
  • Physical Requirements: Moderate to Difficult. The strenuous (sometimes very strenuous) trek to the gorillas usually takes between two and five hours, but can take as short as fifteen minutes and as long as eight hours (we’ve had a few treks take even longer than that). It is best to be prepared for a full-day out in humid or sometimes even rainy conditions as the exact distance of the gorillas is impossible to determine ahead of time. The terrain is varied and oftentimes uneven as we traverse the forest floor, but we will travel at a pace to accommodate all hikers with a designated porter to assist each traveler. Travelers are not required to participate in all activities and are welcome to forego any portion of the program, but in order to take full advantage of the itinerary and in order to view the primates, one must be able to participate in the hikes. Travelers should be aware that if they turn around due to fatigue, illness or any other reason the remainder of the group, including the Expedition Leader, will go on. The returning traveler will be escorted by a local guide. Additionally, there are long hours sitting during transfers and sometimes bouncing around during wildlife drives and while we don't consider this strenuous, it can be a different type of physical demand on the body. You must be able to climb into and out of these raised 4x4 trucks that serve as our safari vehicles, as well as walk to and from your safari accommodations. We recommend that travelers have an adventurous spirit, as they will often enjoy the closest animal encounters.
  • We ask that you arrive in Entebbe, Uganda by 5 pm on Day 1 in order to attend a 7 pm welcome dinner. For those who would like to arrive in Entebbe in time to visit the botanical gardens (plan to arrive Entebbe by 1 pm), please inform your Adventure Specialist if you would like to participate in a guided group excursion to the gardens at 3 pm on the afternoon of Day 1. We encourage travelers to arrive a day or more early to rest from their plane trip. You are free to depart Entebbe after 4 pm on the final day.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Natural Habitat Adventures terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.