Kibale – Rwenzori – Queen Elizabeth – Bwindi
Based around tracking chimpanzees in Kibale National Park and gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, this is a great chance to see the best of Ugandan primates in just one week.
With Kibale boasting the greatest variety and concentration of primates in East Africa and Bwindi almost half of the world’s mountain gorilla population, the primate viewing is exceptional and the tour fast paced.
Day 1: Kampala – Fort Portal
Following a briefing on the safari, we head to Fort Portal, lying on the edge of Kibale National Park (5 – 6 hours). En route, we pass through beautiful terraced green hills: great scenery that makes the journey seem much shorter.
Fort Portal lies in the shadow of the legendary Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon and makes a comfortable and convenient base for a Kibale tour.
In the afternoon, there is entertainment by traditional (kikiga) dancers and evening is spent discovering the surroundings of Fort Portal and recovering from the long drive.
Day 2: KibaleForest National Park
The tour really begins 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 try and keep up. This trek is also superb for bird life and other primates, and its 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 leave the chimps and head to Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. This swampland is a great example of eco tourism and a great chance to see more primates and Kibale’s colourful birdlife.
Day 3: Rwenzori – Queen Elizabeth National Park
We leave Kibale and head to the nearby foothills of the Rwenzoris, one of the great mountain ranges of the world. Despite the high chances of seeing blues and colobus monkeys, the Rwenzoris are not renowned for primate viewing. But as we are passing through, it seems a shame not to take advantage and enjoy a quick hike and some excellent scenery.
After lunch we continue on to Queen Elizabeth National Park and time depending, squeeze in a late afternoon game drive. This takes us through the plains of the northern sector and Mweya peninsula, where you can expect to see plenty of large game, including lion, elephant, hyena, buffalo and antelope.
Day 4: Queen Elizabeth – Kyambura
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 5: Queen Elizabeth – Bwindi
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 6: 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 7: Bwindi – Kampala
We make an early start for Kampala, retracing our steps through this green and pleasant land. There will be a picnic lunch en route and we aim to arrive back in Kampala in the late afternoon.