12 Day – Rwanda and Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour –
THIS TOUR STARTS IN UGANDA AND ENDS IN RWANDA
Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour – Many years on the road to development, have not left Africa the same. When you walk around its towns and cities, there is so much and significant first development going on. A couple of the countries are clearly in a take-off stage. It is a good thing, and many travellers get glad when they see it. However, some feel they have not been fed the most right information about Africa. Well, that is just within the urban areas.
This WILD INTENSE Rwanda and Uganda Gorilla and Wildlife Tour focus on exploring the remotest areas. From experience, we believe that this should give the adventurous traveller the true definition of traditional Africa. This well-packaged nature safari is delivered to travellers by our well locally trained nature guides. Very patient men and women whose principal value in the wild is taking care of travel companions, turning every bit of wildlife for identity and making even the smallest contribution to conservation.
The tour focuses on national parks, which are undoubtedly the most favourable homes of wild animals world over. And, it is an excellent mix of Savannah and forested parks set between 600 to 2,700 metres above sea level. These elevation variations come with a combination of unique habitats that host extremely extraordinary endemic and very localised wildlife.
Day 1 Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour: Arrival For Safari and Nature Walk to the Entebbe Botanical Gardens
Most of our Uganda arrivals, come through Entebbe International Airport; therefore, we like to spend a night around this beautiful town before heading to the wild. The countryside locations that the rest of the tour will cover are a couple of hours’ drive apart. Besides, this night is relevant for taking care of a few details, making sure everything is in place after your flight and also shade-off a little bit of the jet-lag.
But for travellers willing to go right away, we do not spend the whole day time wasted if the flights arrive early. We pay a visit to the best botanical garden in the region. These botanical gardens are a charming natural habitat mix. They are composed of native and a couple of exotic trees that identified as a priority in the formation of a research station over a hundred years ago.
These trees became a natural home to dozens of bird species, three primate species which are Vervet and the Red-tailed Monkeys and a family of the Mantled guereza which is a monkey from the colobus cluster. Other wildlife which is easy to encounter includes a Stripped ground squirrel and several reptiles among which the massive Nile monitor is.
The over one kilometre stretch along with Lake Victoria habitat is luxurious with a fantastic lake view and an attraction to classic African waterfowl. We take a walk around the gardens for the afternoon and spend a night in Entebbe.
Day 2 Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour: Transfer to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
After breakfast, we will drive around past Kampala, the capital city of Uganda and start heading north into the real wilderness.
The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, which is our first right wild destination, is a privately ran initiative that will give you reasons to appreciate conservation efforts and ignite the desire to be part of them. It ranks highly among the most successful conservation initiatives in Uganda. It is a shame that a country which, once habituated two species of Rhinos, had them extirpated by the end of the 1980s, quite a shame. Thanks to the efforts of the Rhino Fund Uganda and a new government that appreciates nature, we can now see Rhinos in Uganda. Today a health population of White Rhinos in all ages roams the lands that they owned several years ago. We enjoy the privilege of being among the few people who can visit the sanctuary to trek and see these threatened animals and also spend a night in their unique habitat. It is also a good feeling to know that you are part of the effort towards the survival of such a magnificent animal.
We have lunch at the sanctuary and also do the Rhino trekking activity today.
Day 3 Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour: Transfer to Murchison Falls National Park
This morning, we transfer to Uganda’s largest national park. Murchison Falls National Park is very popular, not only because of its incredible numbers of large and small wildlife but also exceptional sceneries that are composed of mountain views. Some of these mountain ranges are the border with Democratic Republic of Congo, long spans of plain Savanah grasslands, the sudden drop of the Great East African Rift Valley and its incredible escarpment. The Murchison Falls themselves are a highlight that hardly compares on the African continent.
After less than three hours drive, we will visit the top of the Murchison Falls National Park. Among our next day’s plans is to view them from the bottom, but the visit would be incomplete without enjoying the most dramatic views which are only at the top.
These are the world’s most powerful waterfalls, and they form when the mighty river Nile or the world’s longest river squeezes through a narrow cleft of eight feet and drops at a depth of forty feet. The Nile widens to up to three hundred and fifty metres and has points that are dipper than seven metres! Imagine all these water squeezing through 8 feet at one point; that is much pressure.
After we visit the top of the falls, we shall have a hot lunch from our accommodation facility and later do an afternoon drive. The drive will introduce us to the typical safari experience. Our game/wildlife drive on the northern side of the Nile will cover well-maintained tracks through open Savannahs. We should expect an excellent mammal experience from the large to some of the tiny mammals on the African continent.
Day 4 Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour: Wildlife Viewing for the Big Five in Murchison Falls National Park of Uganda
We head out in the field early in the morning to catch up with the early risers. The big game hunters like Lions, Leopards and Spotted Hyenas are active in the night, but we also know very well that they are also active at dawn and dusk. We hope to find them roaming the beautiful Savannah while we also look for Rothschild’s Giraffe and the enormous African bush elephants. Herds of African buffalo are easy to see here. However, we also expect to see Uganda’s national mammal the Kob, Lelwel’s Hartebeest, Waterbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Bushbuck, Oribi, Common Warthog, Side-striped Jackle, among others.
We will return to the hotel for a nice hot lunch and later take a three hours scheduled boat ride upstream to the bottom of the Murchison Falls. We love boat rides and the ones on Uganda waters are worth it. Each one of them has a unique wildlife experience. From the Jetty itself, we start scanning for wildlife, and frequently, the Hippopotamus are within close range. As the boat goes along the thick riverine forest habitats, we will browse the banks for gigantic Nile crocodiles and herds of African bush elephants that love to come down to drink and bath at this time of the day.
The birdlife here is terrific since the Nile harbours an uncountable range of small aquatic animals. We should expect to see several Egrets and Herons that should include, Cattle, Great, Intermediate and Little Egrets. Goliath, Grey, Squacco, Striated and Black-headed Herons. Malachite, Woodland, the stunning Grey-headed and Giant Kingfishers should also be expected. We hope to observe breeding colonies of Bee-eaters, African Fish Eagles and if very lucky, the elusive Shoebill which is also Africa’s most sought-after bird.
Day 5 Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour: Scenic Drive to Kibale Forest National Park
Today, we drive through verdant countryside and have continuous observations of the traditional grass-thatched homesteads and subsistence farmlands to Kibale Forest for the Chimpanzee Trekking experience the next day. This drive offers the complete knowledge of seeing the less privileged Ugandans and how happily they live; we learn from their lives that deferent factors drive happiness world over. The drive is quite lengthy, but we have the excellent roads advantage on this tour. We will enjoy the beautiful scenery and also be treated to an adorable green colour of the tea plantations when we approach Fort Portal town.
Day 6 Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour: Chimpanzee Trekking in Uganda
This morning we visit Kanyanchu, which is a tourist information centre, and where most of the activities begin. We do not consider Chimpanzee trekking at Kibale forest for regular reasons, we have confirmed that here are the best chances for bringing humans into great experiences with their closest relative. This forest has the highest number of Chimpanzee individuals for any protected area world over and also the best wild adventure with these precious apes. Kibale forest is also dabbed the primate capital of the world because of its fourteen species record of primates. When a day starts, keen primatologist will enjoy the encounters with the Uganda red and Mantled guereza colobus species. The diurnal colobus will mix with the endemic Uganda mangabey, Blue monkey, L’Hoest’s monkey, Olive baboon, Red-tailed, Vervet and the recently described Tantalus monkeys. The optional nocturnal activities are great for the elusive Potto, Thomas, Demidoff’s and Spectacled galago among others. We do not know if we will do this activity until the day it should be done, this because a minimum of participants have to be willing to go and it should not be raining.
We will join other tourists to be split into groups of six and track the Chimpanzee in the morning. In the afternoon, we take a nature walk to the Bigodi Community Wetland Sanctuary. Among the few community-based initiatives that we support, the Bigodi wetland is one of our favourites. The well designed two hours loop comprises of very well selected habitats; imagine the experience through cultivation, riverine forest and a boardwalk through papyrus. Over six primate’s species have substantially adopted to these habitats, and they are a lot tamer than anywhere else we will visit on tour. The endeavour to take this walk continues to be part of your efforts towards conversation and helping communities around wildlife areas. We will be accompanied by a trained local community guide who will share with us the definition of beauty in nature as seen by the simple people of Bigodi. There will be so much to learn amidst the fun.
Day 7 Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park for Game Viewing
Another beauty about this tour is the mix of habitats and activities. For today, we will continue to Africa’s most diverse safari drive park, which holds a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the existence of up to eleven communities. The diversity of the habitats here earned this remarkable park numbers of wildlife considering its size. At approximately 1900 square metres, it is only the second-largest park in Uganda, but it has the highest record of mammal species and over 620 species of birds. This is much wildlife in such a small area.
We shall arrive at our accommodation for lunch and later do incredible wildlife and scenic drive through the Katwe volcanic explosion craters. Views of the craters on clearly sun-lit days are the actual confession that some beauty can not be well told or described. We want to take you there so you have your own specialised experience that will linger.
Day 8 Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour: Game Viewing and Boat Ride on the Kazinga Channel
Two sections occur on the northern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park. We intend to spend our morning session on the Kasenyi tracks side because we know that this where the real deal is. The Kasenyi tracks have interestingly well maintained short grasses which are most preferred by grazing animals. It is on this side we have discovered magnificent lekking grounds for the Kobs. The intelligent cats like Lions and Leopards, like to keep around these mating grounds where prey seems more comfortable to get.
We will scan the Euphorbia candelabrums, the sparsely distributed bushes and isolated Acacia trees for the tree-climbing lions and the solitary but also shy Leopards among other animals. We shall also visit a local salt mining lake. The communities that are within the park survive on these salt mines. Others rely on the fish from Lake Edward and George.
We will return to our accommodation for a hot lunch and in the afternoon do a boat cruise on the famous Kazinga Channel. This is a forty kilometres long natural channel which connects lake Edward and George. Lake George is wholly in the park and Edward is shared between Uganda and DR Congo, and Kazinga channel is also entirely within this out of the ordinary conservation area. The two hours cruise covers a less than four kilometres round trip which goes along the banks of the channel and into Lake Edward. Here is an accurate picture of what paradise is described as in some Christian literature. African buffaloes chill in the water to suffocate parasites like ticks and also keep temperatures low while Oxpeckers peck their wounds for blood stains and cleanse them of insects as. The giant African elephants take baths and splash water around each other in love, species of antelope join the mix while Hippopotamus lay side by side with huge Nile crocodiles. The birdlife amidst these big mammals is incredible, and the calmness of the waters is breathtaking.
Day 9 Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour: Transfer to Bunyonyi Uganda’s Deepest Lake
We make the best out of our morning before we get into the high elevation mountains that Eastern gorillas have for a home. We drive south through the Ishasha. Ishasha is the southern section of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and this is the world most famous location for tree-climbing lions. When we talk about lions in trees, imagine a colossal cat of over 16o kilograms living natural high in fig tree branches!
We shall scan the roadside trees for the mammals and also hope to find the Topi which should be a new antelope species during the trip.
Around Lake Bunyonyi, our accommodation will have a serene environment with scenic beauties for the eyes to enjoy and the mind to reflect on the past days’ adventures.
We intend to use this one night’s stay by the beautiful larva-dammed lake to relax and also reflect on the previous days, but if you would like to take a leisurely activity the next morning, you will be welcome. Activities can include a boat ride, a nature walk or any other exercise of your choice.
Day 10 Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour: Transfer to Rwanda For Gorilla Trekking
Today, we will drive around the mountains and go past the fantastic Kigezi terraces. This is where Uganda has even more beautiful scenery.
We will proceed into more mountains and cross the border and meet up with a reasonable change in the weather; typically, it is colder up here. The scenery is delightful, and the people are very welcoming, we will mingle with both and prepare for the long-awaited activity for the next day.
Day 11 Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour: Eastern Gorilla Trekking Excursion at Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans) is in north-west Rwanda on the joint border with Uganda and DR Congo. It is contiguous with Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Uganda) and Virunga National Park (the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
The park is best known for Mountain Gorilla Gorilla gorilla beringei and famous for being the base for the American naturalist Dian Fossey to carry out her research into the Mountain Gorillas.
Dian arrived in 1967 and set up the Karisoke Research Centre between Karisimbi and Visoke. From then on, she spent most of her time in the park and she widely credited with saving the Mountain Gorillas from extinction by bringing their plight to the attention of the international community. Unknown assailants murdered her at her home in 1985, a crime often attributed to the poachers she had spent her life-fighting. Fossey’s life later was portrayed on the big screen in the famous film “Gorillas in the Mist”, named after her autobiography. Her grave is in the park close to the research centre, and amongst the gorillas which became her life.
The trekking experiences can be unpredictable; therefore, we do not want to act smart and tell you one place is the best. Every day’s adventure depends on the behaviour of the animals. They go where they want every day. But, we have been observing individual families for a long time, and we can rely on the joy our previous travellers have had then add that to other factors like logistics and then make recommendations that influence decisions about where to track.
This tour is customisable to choose a preferred tracking destination.
This morning we will go to the information centre for a briefing before being split into groups of eight. After group allocation, our adventure continues to the jungle for the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Once the activity starts, it should take anywhere from two to seven hours.
Like mentioned earlier, the gentle giants that we are here to see determine the trails and the pace to consider. We have the professional game rangers to thank for smartly handling this activity. They are knowledgeable, extremely patient and walk as first as the slowest person in the group and we believe that that will not be you.
Day 12 Rwanda Uganda Gorilla Wildlife Tour: Transfer to Kigali for Departure
The twelve-day adventure around Uganda and Rwanda comes to an end. We head to Kigali to catch flights. This is almost a three hours drive, and we are not considering a day room to change in Kigali in the costing of this tour. However, WILD INTENSE will be happy to secure a place on your behalf if you would like one.
- Transport in a 4WD Toyota Land Cruiser with a pop-up roof and clear sliding windows for excellent game viewing safari and photography
- All vehicle fuel for the tour
- One Eastern Gorilla Trekking Permit per person (In Rwanda)
- One Chimpanzee Trekking Permit Per Person (In Uganda)
- Boat Rides
- English speaking Ugandan driver/guide
- Accommodation and three meals a day (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) through the tour. Or as agreed at booking
- Park Entrance/Conservation fees according to the program
- All activities described in the itinerary
- International air fares and entry visa
- Meals that are not part of your accommodation
- A porter during the gorilla trekking (Optional Community support staff who carries your day pack)
- Personal (medical/travel) insurance
- Government tax or park fees increase
- Tips and gratuities to rangers, driver/guide, porter, hotel staff, etc
- All expenses of personal nature (e.g. drinks, laundry, optional activities, souvenirs etc.)