Those on the group flights arrive early this morning and we depart on the drive to Kibale Forest. The length of the drive does depend, in large part, to traffic in Kampala but should take approximately 6 hours. Upon arrival at Kibale Forest we can relax at our lake-side eco-lodge.
Today we have the opportunity to explore Kibale Forest National Park, home to 13 primate species. There are 9 diurnal primates, including, Vervet, Red-tailed, L'Hoest's, Blue monkeys, Grey-cheeked Manabey, Red colobus, Black-and-white colobus, Olive baboon and the most famous of all, the chimpanzee. Although chimp sightings are not guaranteed, the odds of encountering them standing are very good. We will explore the Bigodi Wetlands Sancturay located in the Magombe wetland. The sanctuary is a major eco-tourist attraction in the Kibale Forest area and is operated by the Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED), a local community based organisation. We will also go on a forest walk in search of primates. Whilst trekking in the depths of the lush green forest, you will be surrounded by bird song and can expect to see at least 5 or 6 other types of primate, most probably the grey-cheeked managebey and the red-tailed monkey and of course the chimpanzee. The walking is fairly easy due to the well-maintained trails and reasonably flat terrain. The order in which we do these activities may vary.
Today is a free day, there is the option of doing a 2nd chimp trek to increase the probability of seeing them (due to limited permit availability we recommend you pre-book the 2nd chimp trek). Other activities on offer include boat rides on the lake, a number of nature walks including to a local viewpoint known as the Top of the World, and exploring for local birds, frogs, otters and monkeys.
This morning we drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). The drive goes south along the eastern length of The Rwenzori Mountains, where, weather depending, we can see the glaciated peaks. We gently descend into The Great Rift Valley and QENP. The park resides in a fertile, equatorial area and has beautiful scenery. It is Uganda's most popular and accessible savannah reserve, with a total area of 1978sqkm. It is primarily associated with grassy savannah plains, but this impressive park also includes within its boundaries, leafy rainforests, dense papyrus swamps and natural volcanic crater lakes. As a result it has one of the highest biodiversity ratings of any game reserve in the world, including a total of 95 recorded mammal species and more than 610 species of birds. As we arrive at the national park we will have a game drive before heading to our lodge for the night.
This morning we will explore QENP on a game drive in search of the local game including elephants, lions, buffalo, leopard, hyena, jackal, topi, kob, bush buck and various others. In the afternoon we have a boat trip of about two hours along the Kazinga Channel to view some of the largest concentration of hippo in the world (reported to be about 30,000) and other game with excellent birding.
Today we drive through the park to the Ishasha region. We game drive in search of tree climbing lion and other game. This afternoon we drive to Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a World Heritage site, passing through the scenic area known as The Switzerland of East Africa. The driving today is about 5 1/2 hours (not including game drives).
For many, coming toe-to-toe with a Mountain gorilla is one of the most emotional wildlife experiences possible. Tracking these gentle giants can take anything from under an hour to over six hours depending on where the family is located. The number of permits allocated daily are limited so we recommend early booking. Should the permits for gorilla families close to where we stay be unavailable, there are more permits for another area of the park, though this will mean a long drive to the starting point of the trek. The trek itself can be along steep, slippery trails and through the bush so you should be in reasonable physical condition, but the rewards of spending an hour with our close cousins more than makes up for the effort of getting to them.
Today is a free day, there is the option of getting a 2nd gorilla permit for this day, though due to the limited number of permits, this should be obtained at time of booking. For those who chose not go on a 2nd gorilla trek, there are other walks which you can do nearby or you can relax at our camp, reminiscing about the previous day's encounters.
Leaving the forests behind we head towards Lake Mburo National Park. En route we will stop in Kabale near the Rwandan border, for lunch. Drive time should be about five hours not including stops. Lake Mburo is the only place in southern Uganda to see zebra and impala and is a great place to try and see leopards. It is also home to over 300 species of birds and offers the possibility of game walks as well as game drives.
Today we go on a final game drive looking for plains wildlife. There is also the option of tracking game on foot through the savannah and going on a boat excursion, particularly good for birdlife.
Today is our final day as we make our way back to Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria. Drive times will, again, depend on traffic in Kampala, and we will have stops dependent on time. Those on the group flights will return to the airport in time for their overnight flight.