Gorilla Express Safari
Day 1 – Entebbe
On your arrival into Entebbe you will be welcomed and transferred to the guesthouse for the night. Depending on your time of arrival, there are a few things you can see and do in and around Entebbe. If you arrive early enough in the morning you can head across Lake Victoria to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. 95% of the Ngamba Island is left wild for the rescued chimpanzees to spend their days in relative freedom. There is a small visitor’s centre where guests can have an educational talk on the work being done by Ngamba Island. After the talk, you can head to the viewing platforms to see the chimps being fed.
For our keen birders, Lake Victoria is one of the best places to see the prehistoric looking shoebill. Makanaga Swamps can be accessed by boat or canoe from Entebbe and offers excellent opportunities to see the massive birds in the reeds
Days 2 and 3 – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
From Entebbe you get a short flight south to the rainforest of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, home to the endangered mountain gorilla. Depending on the time of arrival you have the chance to do an afternoon village tour of Buhoma village or you can do one of the self-guided forest walks.
The following morning after an early breakfast you will head to the park headquarters for your gorilla tracking briefing. Groups are restricted to a maximum of 8 tourists all accompanied by park rangers and trackers. Each group is assigned a gorilla family and at the briefing you will learn more about your family as well as the rules and regulations. After the briefing you will head out into the Bwindi Forest in search of your gorilla family.
Bwindi is a mountainous park, clad in thick rainforest, so tracking can be tough going with steep muddy paths and thick undergrowth to work through. The rangers are in constant contact with the trackers who head out early morning to find the gorillas, so you and your group can head in the general direction of the family. Once you have located the family, you get to spend 1 hour with them as they go about their daily lives. This time limit is strictly enforced to ensure minimal disturbance on the family.
Spending this hour with them is an incredible privilege and is something you will treasure for a very long time.
Tracking can take anything from 30 minutes right up to a full day, depending on where your gorilla family is situated.
Days 4 and 5- Mgahinga National Park
For the more active, we would suggest an enjoyable 4-hour hike through the Bwindi Forest to a pick-up point where the vehicle will collect you and drive you another 2 hours to your next lodge, Mt Gahinga Lodge which is located in the lesser known gorilla park in Uganda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This is on the slopes of extinct volcanoes on the border with Rwanda.
This afternoon you have the chance to rest or you can visit the Gahinga Batwa Village to learn more about their traditions and culture.
The following morning you head to the park headquarters for your second opportunity to track gorillas. After your briefing you head into the forest clad volcanoes in search of the family. Again, you only get 1 hour with the family to minimize the impact on their natural behavior. Typically we find with the second trek, you spend less time taking photos and more time observing the gorillas, thus leaving a bigger impact on you and you engage more with the individuals.
Days 6 and 7 – Volcanoes National Park
Today you head from Uganda across to Rwanda for the final gorilla experience on your safari. The Volcanoes National Park is on the other side of the volcanoes from Mgahinga National Park which also joins the Virunga National Park in the DRC. Between the 3 national parks and countries, they are home to half the world’s population of Mountain Gorilla. It is on these slopes that Diane Fossey spent her life living with and studying the mountain gorillas for many years.
Depending on your time of arrival you could relax at the lodge or head out for an afternoon walk.
The following morning you meet at the park headquarters for your final gorilla tracking briefing before heading onto the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes to track the gorillas for the third time. The vegetation on the volcanoes is more open bamboo forests which often allows for better photography as there is more light. The same process happens here as it does in Uganda. Trackers head out in the early morning to locate the family and they radio through to your guide so that you know where to go to. Once you have found the family you get 1 hour with them before heading back to the lodge.
Day 8 – Kigali – Depart
From the Volcanoes National Park you head to Kigali in time for your onward flight