[12D13N] Gorillas and Chimps Tracking and Lions Safari at Uganda

Uganda

Changi Airport

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Uganda: [12D13N] Gorillas and Chimps Tracking and Lions S...

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“An avid traveller, Darius loves an exotic and unusual adventure. Some of his adventures include chasing after crop circles in UK, looking for Northern lights in Finland, and seeing Macchu Picchu in Peru. He has travelled upwards of 30 countries and this list continues to grow... For some of his travel stories, go to: https://elevenasia.com/about-us/darius-soon/”

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Highlights

Have you seen the movie "Gorillas in the Mist" and wish then that you have a chance to see gorillas face-to-face? There are only 2 places left in the world where you can do so, and we are going to one of them!

Now's your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to catch not just the gorillas, but lots of other wild animals in a safari that brings you a chance to catch all the Big Five animals.

I don't plan to repeat this trip once I have been there, and the price has been deliberately kept low (if you check the prices of other vendors online, it's in the range of USD$4k+ for an equivalent trip) because I just want to go myself! (You may wonder about the high price for this trip - the reason is the US$600 per day per person permit for gorilla trekking in Uganda - it's US$1,500 in Rwanda - and US$150 per day per person permit for chimpanzees tracking.)

Some of the major highlights of this trip include:
• Trek and come face-to-face with gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable national park

• Track chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

• See tree-climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth Park

• Search for the Big 5 (elephants, lions, leopards, African buffalo, rhino) as well as other African wildlife in game drives all over the country and at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

• Boat safari and hike up to Murchison Falls

Important Notes:
- As there is trekking involved (especially the trekking for gorillas), please be reasonably fit. The trek to see gorillas can be short or a whole day depending on where the gorillas are based. Would not suggest this trip for young children or the elderly.

- The permit for gorilla trekking and chimpanzees trekking are very high in demand and are usually booked 6 months to a year in advance. Once we get the minimum number, we would confirm the permits with the vendors. Anyone else who sign up after would only be accepted if the gorilla trekking permit is still available.

- The single supplement is an additional SGD$800 to be added onto the price.

- The pricing is based on an exchange rate of USD$1 to SGD$1.35. If there is too great a variance of exchange rates by then, I may have to request for the difference in exchange rates.

Recommended flights (do not buy until we have the minimum numbers to proceed):
Outbound flight 10 Jan 2020
0215 SIN – 1035 EBB Ethiopian Airlines ET639

Inbound flight 20 Jan 2020
1845 EBB – 1450+1 SIN Ethiopian Airlines ET335

Price of air tickets (as of 7 Apr 2019) = SGD$1,539

Trekking to see Gorillas at Bwindi Impenetrable NP

Chimpanzees Tracking at Kibale NP

Tree-climbing lions at Queen Elizabeth NP

Leopard at Murchison Falls

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Blue-headed sunbird

Hippos at Kazinga Channels

Game drives to catch wildlife in abundance!

Itinerary

9 Jan 2020

Meet at Singapore airport at night for late flight to Entebbe

10 Jan 2020: Airport pick up

Guide will be at Entebbe Airport to pick you up from your flight and take you directly to your lodge.

Optional activity: Experience at Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC)
Get to feed different animals at UWEC and learn more about these animals. 98% of these animals are rescued from the national parks, poachers and smugglers. Clients can feed giraffes, elephants, rhinos, pet a shoebill stork called Sushi, feed chimps among other animals.
Costing: 70 US dollars per person

Journey Time: 10 minutes
Accommodation: Papyrus Guest House
Meal Plan: No meals inclusive

11 Jan 2020: Transfer to Murchison Falls en route Rhino sanctuary

Today's journey will take you north from Kampala to Murchison falls national park. En route, you will visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary where you will go for guided rhino tracking with an experienced ranger, which gives you a unique opportunity to view the rhinos from a close distance.

Kidepo Valley and Murchison Falls National Parks once had both black and white rhinos; however, widespread poaching during the Idi Amin era resulted in the disappearance of these majestic animals from the wild. Founded in 1998, Rhino Fund Uganda works to reintroduce black and white rhinos into Uganda and runs a breeding programme.

Murchison Falls National Park is the largest conservation area in Uganda covering an area of over 3,840 km², The Park’s name derives from its famous waterfall: the mighty Murchison Falls, which are formed where the Victoria Nile powerfully forces its way through a narrow cleft before plunging 43m down with a thunderous roar.

The mighty Nile River divides the park into its north and south sections. At the spectacular Murchison Falls the world's longest river explodes violently through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment to plunge into a frothing pool 43m below. As the river attracts large numbers of game, a boat safari up the Nile provides the perfect opportunity to see and photograph the animals.

You will be staying at a great mid-range lodge, overlooking the River Nile. Here you can relax during the rest of your day.

Journey Time: 6 Hours
Accommodation: Fort Murchison Rooms
Meal plan: All meals

12 Jan 2020: Morning game drive, Boat safari & Hike to the top of falls

Today you will wake up very early. In the early morning hours animals are the most active, the sun is not yet so bright and temperatures are cooler. It offers the best time to spot wild animals. After an early breakfast you will go on a game drive to explore the northern part of the park.

You will be eye-to-eye with the African animals like elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, lions, leopards, different species of antelopes and many tropical birds may all be spotted during the game drive. So keep your eyes open.

In the afternoon you will take a boat safari up the Nile River to Murchison Falls. You will be watched by crocodiles, hundreds of hippos, buffaloes, water birds, monkeys and all the other thirsty wildlife that the Nile attracts, you will reach the base of the 43-meter high Falls which approach with a thunderous sound.

After the boat safari you will hike to the top of the falls. From here you will have a wonderful view and fantastic photo opportunities.

Accommodation: Fort Murchison Rooms
Meal plan: All meals

Optional Tour: Hot air balloon safari
Discover Murchison Falls from the air and enjoy the unique experience of flying over Murchison Falls NP in a hot air balloon. You will have the most amazing views over the river Nile, Lake Albert, the great Murchison Falls and of course this is the best way to spot lots and lots of animals. You will start early morning, so you will see the sun rise over the park. After your balloon safari you will have a bush breakfast in the park (inclusive).
Costing: $380 us dollar p.p.

13 Jan 2020: Transfer to Kibale National Park

Today you will begin your journey to Kibale Forest N.P. The long drive is incredibly scenic, passing through tea plantations and the lush green countryside which characterizes so much of Uganda.

Kibale Forest National Park is located in west-central Uganda just east of the Rwenzori Mountains, near the town of Fort Portal. The 766 Km² Park predominantly covers evergreen rain forest and ranges between 1100 and 1600m in elevation. Kibale Forest is one of the last remaining expanses to contain both lowland and montane forests and forms a continuous forest with Queen Elizabeth National Park.

You will have packed lunch en route, arriving in the evening for overnight and dinner.

Journey Time: 8 hours
Accommodation: Chimpanzee Guest House
Meal Plan: All meals

14 Jan 2020: Chimpanzee tracking – Bigodi swamp walk

Today you will wake up early to go to the park head offices to be briefed about your chimp tracking experience. Kibale Forest National park boasts the highest number of primate species in the world, including the chimpanzees. Approximately 5,000 chimpanzees live in the wild in Uganda, which makes it a perfect place to see them.

An experienced ranger will take you chimp tracking chimp in the morning or afternoon; you might also see other monkey species that live here. Once you locate the chimpanzees you will have a full hour of eye-to-eye contact with them. Since they are wild animals, we can never guarantee you to see them and might have to settle with hearing their hoots and hollers.

In the afternoon after lunch, you will go for the guided swamp walk. The walk (2-3 hours) will take you through grassland, small communities and some beautiful scenery, where the locals are likely to greet you with enthusiastic waves. It is usual to spot three to four different primate species during this walk, though the highlight is catching a glimpse of the great blue turaco!

Optional Tour: Chimpanzee habituation tracking
At an additional fee of only $70 US Dollar per person, you can do the chimpanzee habituation tracking instead of the regular chimpanzee tracking. This will take all day and you will be 100% sure to have a very close encounter with our cousins. Book this in time because only 6 persons per day are allowed to go. Your swamp walk can be postponed to the next morning before heading to Queen Elizabeth National park

Journey Time: 15 minutes each way
Accommodation: Chimpanzee Guest House
Meal Plane: All meals

15 Jan 2020: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park

After breakfast, your guide will drive you to Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to a high concentration of Uganda’s mammals that include tree climbing and savanna lions, elephants, wart hogs, Uganda kob, water buck, cape buffalo, hippos, leopards, as well as more than 600 species of birds that include the African spoon bill, pied kingfishers, fish eagles, pelicans, vultures.

Queen Elizabeth National park is Uganda’s second largest park, located at the base of the majestic Rwenzori Mountain range, adjacent to Lake Edward and Lake George. The park has game including Uganda kob, warthog and waterbuck. Lions are often sighted both in and at the entrance to the park. Be ready to see huge numbers of hippos and elephants, and keep your eyes on the look out for a leopard lazing in the sunshine.

In the late afternoon you will relax at the lodge. You will stay in a nice lodge, overlooking the Lake George.

Journey Time: 3 ½
Accommodation: Elephant Hab Lodge- Great views of Kyambura Gorge
Meal Plan: All meals

16 Jan 2020: Game drive & Kazinga channel boat safari

Today you wake up early and have breakfast. You will search for all the wildlife in the park and are likely to come across Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Waterbuck, Leopard, Uganda Kob, and many Warthogs.

In the afternoon you will take a boat safari along the Kazinga Channel which joins Lake George and Lake Edward.

Here, you will see a lot of hippos (more than you can possibly imagine!), as well as a variety of other animals which come to the waterhole to drink or bathe. You can expect to see buffalo, crocodile, bathing elephant, and a range of beautiful birds. This will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of your tour.

After the boat-safari you game drive back to the lodge.

Accommodation: Elephant Hab Lodge
Meal Plan: All meals

Optional activity: Lion Tracking:
For visitors who yearn to get up close to wild African fauna, a research trip is a rewarding adventure. This new and unique experience allows visitors to actively participate in monitoring some of lions in the park, using locator devices and learn habituation calls, as well as monitoring weather, surroundings and behaviour. The results are added to researchers’ databases, contributing valuable information to the overall understanding of wildlife ecology - and helping to conserve this wonderful ecosystem. This will as well gives you a 95% chance to see the lions!

The number of people on each outing is limited in order to reduce stress on the animals and to increase the quality of the experience for visitors.

The experiential tourism activities currently available are Mongoose Tracking, Lion Tracking, Hippo Census, and Bird Counts.

Experiential tours lasts between one and three hours. They usually take place in the early morning or evening, or occasionally at night. All activities must be booked through the Visitor Information Centre in Mweya at least 24 hours in advance.
Cost: $85 us dollar p.p.

Optional activity: Chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura Gorge
Another optional activity in Queen Elisabeth N.P. is to visit the Kyambura Gorge. A hike through the gorge gives you the opportunity to see habituated chimpanzees and other types of primates including red-tailed monkey, black-and-white colobus, baboons and velvet monkeys. Although the chance of spotting chimpanzees is only 50%, the landscape is among the most impressive in Uganda and is absolutely worth it!
Cost: $50 US Dollar p.p.


17 Jan 2020: Transfer to Bwindi Forest

Today after breakfast, you will be transferred to Bwindi in the south-western part of Uganda; close to the borders with Rwanda and Congo. You cross a beautiful part of the country often referred to as ‘the Switzerland of Africa’. You will see a great country-side, bamboo forest and have great views over the Virunga Mountains. For lunch you will stop at a local restaurant on the road

Journey Time: 7 hours
Accommodation: Rushaga Gorilla Camp New Block
Meal plan: All meals


18 Jan 2020: Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Forest

Today after early breakfast, you will be transferred to the park headquarters for briefing about gorilla tracking. You will encounter one of Bwindi’s endangered mountain gorillas. For most people this is the absolute highlight of their tour in Uganda.

Bwindi Impenetrable national park boasts both mountain gorillas and chimpanzees - the only forest in Africa that can make this claim. It also hosts five other species of primates, 113 species of mammals, over 200 species of butterflies and 360 species of birds. The gorillas you track are habituated and can tolerate the presence of humans for a brief period of time, every day.

The time taken to track the gorillas can be as few as 2 hours to as many as 7 hours. Once the gorillas have been located, your group will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them. Coming face-to-face with a mountain gorilla is a truly humbling and emotional experience. This is a fantastic and privileged opportunity to get up close and personal with Uganda’s very own ‘Gorillas in the Mist’.

Journey Time: 15 minutes each way
Accommodation: Rushaga Gorilla Camp
Meal plan: All meals

19 Jan 2020: Transfer to Lake Mburo National Park

After breakfast, you will travel to Lake Mburo National Park, one of Uganda’s smallest parks, but certainly not to be underestimated. It is the only Ugandan national park (besides to Kidepo Valley N.P.) which is home to zebras, elands and impalas, as well as to an abundance of other wildlife - not to mention the lake itself, which has lots of hippos and crocodiles. Last but not least: The Uganda Wildlife Authority recently brought 15 giraffes from Murchison falls to lake Mburo (1st July 2015)!

You will stay just outside the park boundaries, but it will feel like being in the middle of the park. From your veranda and restaurant you have a great view over the park and its wildlife.

Journey time: 7 hours
Accommodation: Eagle’s Nest Camp
Meal plan: All meals


20th Jan 2020: Guided bush walk and transfer to Entebbe

Today after breakfast, you will go for a guided bush walk. Lake Mburo N.P is one of two parks in Uganda where bush walks with an experienced ranger are permitted. This opportunity should not be missed. From footprints and animal droppings the ranger will be able to tell you which animal has left it and how long ago. It is exciting to approach wildlife at such close range.

Note: Instead of going for the bush walk, you can go on a horseback riding safari in the park (US $60 p.p. extra for 2 hours).

After that, you will drive back to Entebbe (Airport) stopping at the equator for the requisite snapshot and a bit of souvenir shopping.

Fly back to Singapore and arrive on 21 Jan 2020 in the afternoon.

Journey Time: 5 hours to Entebbe
Accommodation: Not included
Meal plan: Breakfast only, lunch and dinner not included