Uganda Experiential Safari

Experiential Safari: Gorilla & Chimps Habituation and Lion, Mongoose & Golden Monkey Tracking – 10 Days

Overview | Highlights | Detailed Itinerary | Includes | Lodges

 

Overview

The Uganda Experiential Safari package in which you take part in the habituation processes of Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees to make them get used to the presence of human beings around them and to track Golden monkeys, Lions and Mongooses to learn experientially about their group dynamics, behaviors and lifestyles.

Habituating Gorillas is done from nowhere else in the world except in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Southern Uganda and is an experience that leaves an indelible mark on your memory. Chimpanzees are habituated from Kibale Forest National Park in mid-western Uganda, tracking Golden monkeys is done from Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in South western Uganda while tracking Lions and Mongooses is conducted from Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The experience of habituation and tracking these fascinating animals never leaves you the same!

Safari Highlights

  • The opportunity to accompany the researchers through areas of the park normally off-limits to tourists
  • Spending 4 hours with a family of semi-habituated Mountain Gorillas and another 4 hours with a family of Golden monkeys and enjoying the thrilling moments of watching them as they respond to simulation of researchers in the process of making them get used to the presence of humans.
  • Gaining insights into the habits, behaviour, security consciousness and survival mechanisms of these highly social creatures that have a lot in common with human beings
  • An opportunity to film and capture perfect photo shots of the habituation exercise
  • Getting the additional bonus of viewing several other wildlife in the parks visited for habituation and tracking experience
  • You can also make a valuable contribution to longstanding research projects as the data collected is used by the researchers to improve the tourism industry.

Activity Schedule

Day 1: Travel to Murchison Falls National Park via Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Day 2: Game drive in Murchison Falls National Park
Day 3: Travel to Kibale Forest National Park
Day 4: Chimpanzee habituation experience in Kibale Forest
Day 5: Travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park & Viewing the Rwenzoris and Crater lakes
Day 6: Lion tracking experience in Kasenyi Sector & Boat Launch on Kazinga Channel
Day 7: Tracking Lions in the Ishasha sector and Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Day 8: Gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Forest
Day 9: Golden monkey habituation exercise in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Day 10: Return to Kampala & Departure


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Safari Itinerary

Day 1:  Game drive in Murchison Falls National Park

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda

You will have an early breakfast and drive to Murchison Falls National Park via the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary where you will have the opportunity to trek the Rhinos. The sanctuary houses Uganda’s Rhino reintroduction project. There are 9 white rhinos and tracking is done on foot for 1 and half hours.

You will continue the Uganda Experiential Safari to Masindi Town for lunch and later drive to Murchison Falls National Park.

The entire journey takes 6-7 hours. You will have dinner and overnight at the lodge of your booking.


Day 2: Game drive in Murchison Falls National Park

Game drive in Murchison Falls National Park

You will wake up very early and set off at 6.30am for a sunrise game drive in the Nyamsika plateau to see the Cape buffaloes, Rothschild’s giraffes, Uganda kob, hartebeest and waterbucks. You may also spot oribi, bushbuck, Bohor reedbuck, shy sitatunga, bush duiker, warthog and bush pig plus large carnivores including lions, leopards and spotted hyenas. Chimpanzees and olive baboons head the list of six species of primates found in the park with crocodiles and hippos along the banks of the Nile River.

Some of the more common birds that can be seen include goliath heron, Egyptian geese, pelican, bee-eaters, kingfishers, hornbill, cormorant, saddle-bill stork and the rare shoebill stork.

You will return to the lodge for lunch and some relaxation and set off for a boat launch on the placid Victoria Nile, upstream, to the base of the falls.

En-route you will see hippos, crocodiles, water buck and a wide variety of birds like the rare shoebill stork sunbathing on the river banks. The boat stops just tens of meters from the “Devil’s Cauldron” for pictures to be taken of the photogenic and majestic Murchison Falls.


Day 3: Travel to Kibale National Park, guided primates walk in Bigodi Swamp

Travel to Kibale National Park, guided primates walk in Bigodi Swamp

Start the 3rd day of the Uganda Experiential Safari with an breakfast and travel to Kibale Forest National Park in western Uganda. You will be driven through a beautiful countryside of rolling hills and plains dotted with homesteads, gardens and plantations of Bananas and tea. This is a 5-6 hour journey with lunch en route and you will get to the Park in the early afternoon hours.

You will check in at the lodge of your booking for a short rest after which you will visit a nearby forest swamp to see primates like black and white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkeys, bush babies, pottos and other forest animals.

Expect to see a variety of birds like the yellow spotted nicator, rumped tinker bird, little greenbul, green breasted pitta, the crowned eagle, black bee eater and the rare great blue turaco. At the eastern edge of Kibale forest is Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary which is maintained by the local community.


Day 4: Chimpanzee habituation experience in Kibale Forest

Chimpanzee habituation experience in Kibale Forest

Today you will accompany researchers on a chimpanzee habituation exercise. You will get to the forest early enough to watch the  chimps as they leave their overnight nests between 6:00 – 6:30am and follow them throughout the day as they hunt for food, feed, copulate, breastfeed, rest, patrol and play until it is time to build new nests around 7pm.

Unlike a normal chimpanzee trek, this experience offers something far more immersive, complex and powerful. The unrushed nature of the habituation trek allows for a far more relaxed study of the exciting moves of the chimpanzees; enables you to gain an insight into their behaviour and to appreciate the challenges of the researchers in getting these elusive apes get used going on with their daily activities in the presence of humans without changing their natural behaviors.

You will also gain an understanding of the forest, the plant life, and the other species found there. The exercise ends as the chimpanzees climb into their newly built nests for the evening.

This is an experience never to leave you the same!

Day 5: Travel to Queen Elizabeth National Park & Viewing the Rwenzoris and Crater lakes

After breakfast, the Uganda Experiential Safari guide will transfer you to Queen Elizabeth National Park with stopovers for sightseeing and lunch. One of the remarkable stopovers will be to see the Crater lakes region and to visit the Amabeere Ga Nyina Mwiiru caves. These are caves of wonder with milk-like substance oozing out of the rocks and cultural legends attached to them.

You will learn about their cultural significance and also get the scientific explanation of their existence.

You will drive to Fort Portal town where you will have lunch and later continue to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Dinner and overnight will be at the lodge of your booking.

Day 6: Lion tracking experience in the Kasenyi plains and Boat Launch on Kazinga Channel

Lion tracking experience in the Kasenyi plains and Boat Launch on Kazinga Channel

We set out early in the morning for a Uganda Experiential Safari game drive in the northern part of the park called Kasenyi in search of lions. This is the best area for viewing the cats in action owing to the vast population of Uganda kobs in this part of the park.

The pride (family) of lions and the family of mongooses to be tracked each have a member with a radio collar attached to it that enables the researchers to know where to find the family. The researchers will explain the fascinating habits, behaviours, instinct attributes and security consciousness of these cats and the various tricks used in tracking them. You will learn about how the lions leave trails of bent grass as they move, how they scent mark their territories and why they spray sticky urine in particular areas.

You will learn special features about the banded Mongooses particularly their gigantic appetites and their complex social and communication systems which are fascinating.

The tracking sessions last 1-3 hours and as a bonus expect also to see teeming herds of impala-like, as well as topi, elephants, giant forest hogs, and Cape buffalos.

You will return to the lodge for lunch and later go for a boat launch along the Kazinga channel whose shores habour a profusion of water animals and birds including pink backed pelicans, pied and malachite kingfishers, saddle billed stork and many others. You will return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 7: Tracking Lions in the Ishasha sector and Transfer to Bwindi

Queen Elizabeth National Park Safari

You will have breakfast and drive to the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park known as Ishasha for another Uganda Experiential Safari game drive in which you will see herds of kobs, elephants, topi, giant forest hog, Cape buffalo etc. You will visit the Kob Mating Ground – a defined area specifically used by these stunning antelopes for challenging other males, enticing females and mating. Ishasha Sector is famous for its tree climbing lions which you will see resting on the branches of Fig trees as they scan for kobs, their favourite prey, in the neighbouring mating grounds. You will later set off and drive south to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park arriving in the late afternoon hours.

Time allowing you will visit a community of former forest people, the Batwa, who used to live in this forest before it was gazetted as a national park. You will learn about their former life as gatherers, hunters, and warriors and about their survival skills in challenging forest life.

Dinner and overnight will be at the lodge of your booking.

Day 8: Gorilla habituation experience in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

You will wake up early in the morning and head to the park headquarters to join other visitors for a briefing about the dos and don’ts while with Mountain gorillas on a habituation exercise. After the briefing, you will start your trek into the forest guided by researchers and guides to find a family of Gorillas under habituation.

Unlike a normal Gorilla trek, this Uganda Experiential Safari experience offers something far more intensive and educative as you will spend about 4 hours watching the moves of the Gorillas to see how they respond to the simulation by the researchers to make them get used to the presence of people around them. This exercise presents you with the opportunity to gain insights into their lifestyle, mannerism and survival instincts and to film and capture perfect photo shots.

The exercise is incredibly stupefying!

You will return to your lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 9: Golden monkey habituation exercise in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Golden monkey habituation exercise in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

You will wake up early and transfer to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to participate in a habituation experience of the Golden Monkeys. You will get to the forest early enough to catch up with the Golden Monkey as they come out of their sleeping habitats between 6:00 – 6:30am. You will watch them as they stretch to exercise their bodies, make noises to communicate, care for the young, go food hunting, patrol and play until late in the afternoon when they vanish to their hiding places to sleep.

You will watch as the researchers carry out simulation activities to make the Golden monkeys get used to the presence of human being and be educated by the researchers about their feeding habits, the kind of noises they make to communicate the invasion of their space by strangers, what they do when they sense danger, what they eat, how the mothers care for the young, and how the members of the family keep together. You will also gain an understanding of the forest, the plant life, and the other species found there.

This is an experience never to leave you the same!

Day 10: Return to Kampala & Departure

You will have a relaxed breakfast and set off on a return journey to Kampala. You will have a stopover at the Equator where you will have an opportunity to stand in two hemispheres at the same time and take some photos. You will arrive in Kampala in the late afternoon and either be transferred to the airport for your departure flight or to the hotel of your booking for dinner and overnight.

End of the Uganda Experiential Safari.


Requirements for Chimps, Gorilla & Golden Monkey Habituation Experience

  • Uganda Visa (USD50) which can be paid on arrival at the Airport
  • Chimpanzee and Gorilla habituation permits (paid for in advance through our company)
  • Travel & Health insurance arranged for from your home country
  • Yellow fever vaccination certificate
  • Physical fitness

Cost Includes

  • Airport transfers on first and last day,
  • Transport in a 4×4 safari vehicle
  • Services of an English speaking driver guide
  • Fuel for the whole trip
  • Accommodation and meal plan as per the itinerary
  • All park entrance fees
  • Drinking water while in the vehicle

Cost excludes

  • Gorilla Habituation permit at USD1500 per person
  • Chimpanzee habituation permit at USD150 per person
  • Lions and Mongoose tracking permits
  • International airfares
  • Uganda Visa
  • Items of personal nature such as tips, drinks, and laundry

Enquire about this safari

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What to Expect on the Experiential Gorilla Safari

For a great gorilla trekking experience you need to be fairly fit, equipped for the humid, muddy conditions of a rainforest hike, and in good health – gorillas are susceptible to human illnesses but don’t have our immunity, which means a common cold can be deadly to a whole family of gorillas and you won’t be permitted to trek if you are unwell. Even in the dry season, the rainforest is a challenging environment: it’s humid, wet and muddy with some steep slopes, plenty of insects and thick vegetation. It is absolutely worth the effort to spend time with gorillas in the wild, but be prepared to exert yourself on the trek.

Your professional gorilla guide and tracker leads you into the forest’s secret paths, looking for a habituated gorilla family. Once found, you’ll approach the gorillas quietly and settle down to observe them from between 7 and 10m (22 to 32 ft) away. You’ll spend between 40 minutes and an hour with the gorillas, watching the adults forage and groom each other while the babies tumble and play. You’ll be under the watchful gaze of the great silverback patriarch, whose soft brown eyes constantly sweep over his family protectively. Witnessing gorillas express typically human gestures and emotions is a truly profound experience and one of the reasons that gorilla trekking is such a life changing encounter.

You’ll be asked to leave any personal items or bottled water you’re carrying with your porters and approach the gorillas with only your camera. You are not allowed to use a flash and it’s best to use a camera that doesn’t make loud clicks, whirring or other mechanical noises.

Quick links to gorilla trekking tips

When To Go – Best time to go on a Gorilla Safari in Uganda

Although a Uganda Gorilla Safari can be conducted all year round in the Virunga Mountains, due to the somewhat damp seasons experienced by Bwinid Impenetrable Forest jungle in which these gorillas stay, the majority of tourists prefer visiting in the dry seasons where traversing the jungles is somewhat doable – and that is the months of June to September as well as from December up to February. You can visit Bwindi at any time of the year, the low season calls for cheaper gorilla permit price.

Temperature & Weather

Up the mountain Forest in Bwindi could be very cold especially in the morning & night. The annual mean temperatures range is 7°C to 20°C with the coldest months being June & July. Hence warm clothing are required, plus wet weather gear because Bwindi receives up to 2390mm of rain every year. This is centered on during 2 wet seasons, short rains in March- May & heavy rainfall in the months of September-November. In Bwindi, rain often falls as long hours of soft drizzle, instead of short tropical deluge. Our Tour Experts will help you prepare depending on the season.

Getting There

Bwindi is located in western Uganda approximately 9 hours drive from the Entebbe International airport. For the Experiential Gorilla Safari, you can chose to drive up-to the destination and enjoy the scenic country views or you can take a chattered local flight from Entebbe Airport to Kihihi Airstrip where you’ll picked and drive apporximately 1:45mins to Bwindi.

Bwindi has various gorilla families in different locations, be careful not to select the accommodation not close to the briefing point of the Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Safari.

The gorilla permit

The gorilla permit on the Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Safari is the second most important document next to your Visa and passport, The gorilla permit costs $600, and the gorilla habituation experience costs US$1500, a hefty sum but very much worth it. You should know that some of this money is used to take care of these creatures, help them repopulate and protect them from the rampant poaching.

Acquiring a gorilla permit can be strenuous especially in peak season. We would recommend buying them months in advance to avoid the long cues. The permit per  person in most cases is included in the package price, so you’ll not need to hustle acquiring the document.

Once you have the gorilla permit and you’re guided into the jungle, prepare your emotions because seeing the mountain gorillas is guaranteed.

What To Wear on the Gorilla Safari.

Experiential Gorilla Safari gear guide: Good quality walking boots if trying any hikes or even climbs, warm layers of cloth for the cold evenings and clothing for wet weather remember it becomes cold and wet at this high altitude.

However during the day, the sun is strong even when cloudy therefore always remember to carry and wear sunscreen as well as a sun hat. In addition, you may have to carry along waterproof bags to safeguard cameras plus additional equipment for the hike. Water plus snacks are additional recommended items plus a packed lunch for people doing full-day expeditions.

What else after the gorilla safari?

While in Uganda, besides visiting the mountain gorillas, you can take a game drive safari to Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo National Park and other interesting tourist areas that are worth checking out. Most tourists on African trip combine Tanzania safari adventures with gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda in addition to a safari in Kenya or Mount Kilimanjaro Trekking in Tanzania.

Where Else Can you see the Mountain Gorillas?

After your 3 Days Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Safari, a visit to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is a great opportunity to see the other half of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world.

You can combine your Rwanda or Congo gorilla tour with climbing mount Nyiragongo. Most tourists who take on African safari holidays usually combine more countries in various destinations.

Let’s get you started on this trip, right? Request for a quote.

Quick Safari Details

Number of people: Tailored

Leaves When: Any Day

Start/End: Entebbe, Uganda

Activities: Road Drive/Local Flight, Gorilla Trekking, Jungle Trek, Bird Watching

Destinations: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Price: Request a Quote

Best time to go: June to September and December up to February.

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