Ngamba – Kibale – Semuliki – Queen Elizabeth – Bwindi – Bunyonyi
This is Africa’s ultimate primate safari tour. Ten days in the best parks and forests of East Africa in search of the most fascinating and spectacular African primates. From adorable blue monkeys up to the majestic mountain gorillas, this one has them all.
We investigate Kibale, Bwindi, Semuliki and Queen Elizabeth, track chimps and gorillas and take some time to appreciate the splendid scenery and wildlife of western Uganda.
Day 1: Ngamba Island
Before we set out for the forests, we take advantage of the nearby Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. This close encounter with rescued chimpanzees sets the scene for the tour and gives you an idea of what to expect in the wild.
Set in Lake Victoria, Ngamba is home to over thirty rescued chimpanzees, mostly victims of the pet trade.
Day 2: Kampala – Kibale Forest National Park
Day 2 is spent transferring to the rainforests of western Uganda. Our destination is Fort Portal, on the edge of Kibale National Park and a convenient base for most Ugandan safaris.
The five hour journey fortunately takes us through some stunning scenery and doesn’t seem too long at all. The late afternoon is spent enjoying local entertainment and the stunning backdrop of the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon.
Day 3: Kibale – Semuliki National Park
The tour really gets going as we set foot in Kibale Forest.
We make an early start and head to Uganda’s best primate viewing location (if not the best in Africa) for a full day’s hiking, viewing and tracking. Our main focus for the morning is chimpanzee tracking. This can be tiring as the chimps are constantly on the move and we have to keep up.
This trek is also superb for bird life and other primates, and it is common to see half of Kibale’s 13 primate species, including L’Hoest’s monkeys, red colobus, blues, black-and-white colobus, red-tailed monkeys and grey-cheeked mangabeys.
In the afternoon we drive to the Congo border right under the Rwenzori Mountains and into the Semuliki National Park jungle.
Day 4: Semuliki National Park
A day spent investigating the Semuliki National Park rainforest. This is unspoilt Central African jungle with hundreds of bird species, excellent primate viewing and great guided walks.
The park hosts eight species of primate: chimpanzees, black-and-white colobus, De Brazza’s monkey, vervet monkey, red-tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboons and blue monkeys.
In the afternoon we visit the Sempaya hot springs and the shores of Lake Albert to try to spot some of Semuliki’s unusual wildlife including the 11 mammal and 45 bird species that are found no where else in Uganda.
Day 5: Queen Elizabeth National Park
It’s a two hour drive to the spectacular wildlife of Queen Elizabeth National Park. With 95 mammal and 600 bird species (the highest in Africa), it would be criminal to bypass this gem without seeing what it has to offer.
And so taking a break from primates, we head straight on to a game drive across the plains and crater lakes of the northern sector. Lions, elephants, antelope and hyena are all commonly seen in this region and the views are stunning.
In the afternoon we make our way to the Mweya peninsula and settle into the lodge grounds. Even here there are chances of seeing lions, hyenas, hippos and buffalo.
Day 6: Kyambura – Kazinga
Queen Elizabeth’s Kyambura Gorge offers great chimpanzee tracking. It doesn’t have the primate variety or concentration of Kibale, but has the distinct advantage of being an area restricted to a 16km long gorge. This means that the chimps are much easier to find and keep close to.
We leave the gorge and enjoy a brief excursion into the Maramagambo Forest and then drive back to the Mweya peninsula for a boat trip down the Kazinga Channel. You won’t see any primates here, but you will see one of the highest concentrations of hippo and buffalo in Africa, a spectacular number of birds and a few crocs.
Day 7: Queen Elizabeth – Bwindi National Park
Start out for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Depending on the roads (which depend on the weather) we will drive either via Ishasha, home of the tree-climbing lion, or take the alternative route through cultivated farms (approximately 4 hours driving). In the afternoon, we explore the area surrounding the lodge and local village and prepare for the next day’s mountain gorilla trekking.
Day 8: Bwindi Forest National Park
The highlight of any Ugandan safari, primate based or otherwise, is surely gorilla trekking. That is why most visitors choose to come here. As someone interested in primates, you may feel that this is your only chance to see the mountain gorillas and you may be right. There are few left in the world and even fewer places to see them.
Our trekking takes us close to one of Bwindi’s habituated groups for a magical hour. The trek itself may take a couple of hours or most of the day – it depends on where the gorillas are and how easy they are to find. Click here for more detail on trekking.
In the afternoon, depending on how much time we have left, we hike in the foothills (with a chance of encountering colobus and vervet monkeys) and visit local communities or we return to base to relax and savour the experience.
Day 9: Bwindi Forest – Bunyonyi
Today’s drive is through what is probably East Africa’s most spectacular scenery, the highland rain forests. Filled with primates and exotic birds, this really is an incredible journey and its a last chance to see the beautiful black-and-white colobus as we head towards Kampala.
The afternoon is spent on a foot safari around the magnificent crater lake, Bunyonyi.
Day 10: Bunyonyi – Kampala
We make the long journey back to Kampala, where the tour ends.