Gorilla Encounter

from $/per person

Explore the forests of Uganda in search of the great Mountain Gorilla and Chimpanzee…

Duration
14 Day
Destination(s)
Africa
Starts in / Ends in
Nairobi / Nairobi
Departs on
Mondays
Hotel Rating
Camping
5-15 Pax

Sight Visited

  • Eldoret
    Eldoret

  • Jinja
    Jinja

  • Kampala
    Kampala

  • lake
    lake

  • Lake Bunyonyi
    Lake Bunyonyi

  • Naorobi
    Naorobi

  • Queen Elizabeth National Park
    Queen Elizabeth National Park

ITINERARY

1
Day 1: Nairobi – Lake Nakuru National Park
We depart Nairobi early and descend into the ‘Great Rift Valley’, an enormous cleft in the Earth’s surface stretching from the Red Sea to Madagascar but with particularly marked escarpments here in Kenya. We stop at a lookout point to take in the magnificent views. Our overnight stop is Lake Nakuru National Park, a relatively small park (by African standards) however prolific in wildlife, sited on the Great Rift Valley floor. The shallow soda lake attracts a huge variety of birdlife – especially flamingos, which may gather in such numbers that (when viewed from above) they form a strikingly pink ‘fringe’ around the lake-shore. However Lake Nakuru is not simply a bird sanctuary, it is also home to buffalo, lion, rhino (black and white), leopard, warthog, baboon, antelope, and a variety of smaller animals. A delightful introduction to East Africa’s wildlife diversity that we search for in an afternoon game drive making use of local guides and smaller safari vehicles for a more intimate experience.
  • Optional Activities: : No
  • Meals: Lunch, Dinner
2
Day 2: Lake Nakuru - Eldoret
From Nakuru we continue northwest and climb in altitude towards the town of Eldoret en route to the Ugandan frontier. We cross from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere today over the Equator, enjoy some time here learning a little about its significance and taking photos before moving onwards to Eldoret.  The name ‘Eldoret’ is based on the Maasai word ‘Eldore’ meaning stony river due to the stony bed of the nearby Sosiani River. The town is the 5th largest in Kenya and is the fastest growing with a population of approx. 194,000. We camp outside of the town in a unique campsite. It is created on a hilly forest tribal land, which was once home to members of the ancient Sirikwa tribe. Preserved on the site are excavations with stone sides, commonly called Sirikwa holes, which are believed to have been roofed and occupied by the inhabitants of a bygone age.
  • Optional Activities: : No
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
3
Day 3: Eldoret - Kampala
We cross into Uganda, Winston Churchill’s ‘Pearl of Africa’, a country with beautiful natural scenery and a rich mosaic of tribes and cultures. Travelling through Uganda you will be captivated by its sheer overwhelming beauty and friendly people. Our first night we camp in the capital city Kampala, which is an attractive hilly city, bustling with roadside traders, markets and busy matatu (mini-bus taxi) stands.
  • Optional Activities: : No
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
4
Day 4: Kampala – Queen Elizabeth National Park Area
From Kampala, we travel west towards Queen Elizabeth National Park, across the Equator again, through fertile green terraced hillsides, lush banana plantations, steep mountains and tangled forests with herds of Ankole cattle with their incredible long curving horns roaming the roads and paddocks. We camp a short distance from the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here you will have the opportunity to relax and unwind, take a walk in the surrounding areas and mingle with the local community.
  • Optional Activities: : No
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
5
Day 5: Queen Elizabeth National Park Area
This morning we enter the Queen Elizabeth National Park and take in the magnificent views of the mountains that separate Uganda from central Africa as well as Lake Edwards and Lake George. Queen Elizabeth National park has over 500 species of bird and 100 species of mammals making it one of the most bio diverse national parks in the world and if we are lucky, we may get to spot these animals en route to Kyambura Gorge for the trek to see the chimpanzees. Unlike their larger cousins the mountain gorilla, chimps live mostly in the trees and so our viewing is usually peering high into the forest canopy. However, the experience of seeing man’s closest relative in the wild is a memorable one. Chimpanzee Trek permits are issued by the wildlife authority in groups of up to 8 people per group. Depending on our group size, we may trek on the afternoon of Day 4, morning of day 5 and afternoon of Day 5 or morning of day 6.
  • Optional Activities: : No
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
6
Day 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park - Lake Bunyonyi
We leave the picturesque hills of the national park and make our way to the lush and stunning ‘Lake Bunyonyi’ (‘Place of many little birds’). This lake is 27 km long, 7km wide and at an elevation of 1950 metres above sea level is surrounded by undulating hills between 2200m to 2478m high. With a depth of nearly 900m in parts this lake is the second deepest lake in Africa (the deepest being Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania). With twenty-nine islands that can be visited by local boats, the lake is a great place to unwind, relax and explore on the days that we don’t trek to see the mountain gorillas. Over the next two days the group will be split with one group trekking to the mountain gorillas while the others relax at Lake Bunyonyi to enjoy the many activities on offer. Lake Bunyonyi There are many activities to do here such as hiring canoes to visit some of the lakes islands, visit local tribes and villages, visit the local orphanage, bird watching and nature walks. Alternatively, just relax around camp, catch up on your travel diary or postcards to home. Mountain Gorilla Trekking This region of Africa is home to the world’s remaining 700 mountain gorillas, many of which inhabit the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. [We may travel into neighbouring Rwanda to trek for the gorillas on rare occasion]. On the day of our trek we gather in the early morning to meet our local guide and tracker. Walking in small groups we trek into the thick rainforest. The trek can be demanding at times with uneven terrain and hilly rainforest but the privilege of spending time with a family of these gentle primates makes the effort well worthwhile. To many people the day’s trek and time with the gorillas remains their most exciting wildlife encounter in Africa. The usual procedure, once we have located the gorilla ‘family’, is to squat or sit down and simply observe them for around an hour – the time set by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (the national body charged with controlling and maintaining the gorillas in Uganda). Gorillas are sociable creatures, living in groups between 12 and 20 individuals, usually led by an ‘alpha male’ (the ‘silverback’ - so called because of the silver hair on his back which grows once the male gorilla attains maturity). Most people find that the gorillas are remarkably human-like at close quarters – particularly in the social interaction between family members and in ‘play’ activity in which the young engage. Photography is permitted (although not with a flash and there are restrictions for those who wish to use a video camera.) Your permit allows you one trek and gorilla viewing (time limited to one hour). However, because the authorities maintain strict limits on the number of visitors allowed to view the gorillas each day we may spend several days in the area while all passengers in our group complete the trek and viewing. NB: Depending on the availability of the gorilla permits the tour itinerary may vary in day to day running order which is based on the brochure itinerary. From time to time we may have to trek on different days. If at any chance our Gorilla trek should be in another neighbouring country, e.g. Rwanda (instead of Uganda) this may entail extra visa fees although we shall endeavour to advise you before departure of any significant changes to the tour itinerary. Please take the above itinerary as a guideline only. This applies to Day 7 – 9 of this tour.
  • Optional Activities: Please see day 7
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
7
Day 7: Lake Bunyonyi rest days or Gorilla trek day
If not trekking, today is free to explore the surrounding area, discover the Islands by boat on Lake Bunyonyi or relax back at camp catching up on some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
  • Optional Activities: Island boat trips US$25 – US$80, Village Walk US$10, Traditional Dance US$60, Bird Watching US$20, Canoe Hire US$10
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
8
Day 8: Lake Bunyonyi rest days or Gorilla Trek day
Today is a trek day or a day at leisure to enjoy the many optional activities in Lake Bunyonyi. Whether relaxing on the shores of this deep Crater Lake with a good book or heading out to the village and orphanage to gain an insight into the everyday life of Ugandans in this area - you’ll no doubt wish you could stay in this beautiful part of Africa for longer.
  • Optional Activities: Please see day 7
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
9
Day 9: Lake Bunyonyi - Kampala
Leaving Lake Bunyonyi we make our way back across the Equator (stopping for a photo opportunity if we did not stop on route to Queen Elizabeth National Park) through lush pasture lands and the northern reaches of Lake Victoria (largest lake in Africa) to Kampala where we will overnight. Kampala is a hotspot for great food and entertainment. If time allows, take the night out and try the local cuisines and enjoy the hospitality and friendliness of the local Ugandans.
  • Optional Activities: : No
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
10
Day 10: Kampala - Jinja
Leaving Kampala we drive the short distance to the town of Jinja on the banks of Lake Victoria and the Nile. It was in 1862 that the British explorer John Hanning Speke recognised Lake Victoria as the ‘source of the Nile’ settling a long running dispute about Africa’s (and the world’s) longest river. From this modest monument the Nile begins its 4132-mile course through Uganda, Sudan and eventually Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. Our camp is situated on the grassy banks overlooking the Nile River. It is here that we usually have the option to try river rafting - an exciting day out for those enjoying the thrill of ‘white-water’. There is also the opportunity to make some difference to local children at a local school project: ‘Softpower’ is a locally run voluntary programme aimed at building and improving schools in the Jinja area to which your contribution of a few hours of painting or plastering is always most welcome. Other activities at Jinja include mountain biking, quad biking, village walks and even cruises!
  • Optional Activities: Please see day 11
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
11
Day 11: Jinja
Enjoy a free day in this magical place and the many optional activities on offer. Adrenaline lovers can head to the world class rapids and try rafting - an exciting day out for those enjoying the thrill of ‘white-water’. Those seeking a more relaxing day can visit the local community or simply just relax at camp.
  • Optional Activities: Quad Biking US$80, White-water Rafting US$140, Community School Project US$45, Nile Cruise from US$25, Nile SUP from US$20, Kayak from US$20, Fishing Trips from US$80, Mountain Biking from US$30
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
12
Day 12: Jinja
Enjoy a last day on the banks of the Nile exploring the surrounding community, the town of Jinja and discover the beauty of the river Nile as you relax on its banks or indulge in the many optional activities on offer.
  • Optional Activities: Please see day 11
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
13
Day 13: Jinja – Eldoret
After our refreshing stop at Jinja, we retrace our steps across the border to the Kenya’s frontier and onwards to Eldoret, where we will camp for the evening.  Tonight, you can celebrate the last evening of your Gorilla Encounter with your fellow travellers and exchange stories, emails and laughter around the campfire one last time.
  • Optional Activities: : No
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
14
Day 14:
This morning we make our way south to the Capital city ‘Nairobi’ where our tour ends on arrival in the late afternoon.
  • Optional Activities: : No
  • Meals: Breakfast
Start
Price ($)

The tour price and the local payment cover the following services:

What is not included in the tour price and local payment?

  • Any flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not stated in the itinerary
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips & gestures
  • Visa fees
  • Entrance fees to the sights and museums
  • Optional activities
  • Other services not stated in the itinerary

Camping


We use 2-person dome tents with fly sheets, sewn-in groundsheets, zip-up insect screens and foam mattresses. We mainly use campsites, which usually have reasonable wash and shower facilities, electricity points and sometimes even a small shop, bar or swimming pool.

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