The Katwe Gorilla group is the latest addition to the gorilla families of the Buhoma section of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda. Initially Buhoma sector had only three habituated mountain gorilla groups including Mubare gorilla group, Rushegura gorilla group and Habinyanja gorilla group.
This comes at a time where a recent survey documented 604 mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), the largest number of mountain gorillas ever recorded in the transboundary Virunga Massif, one of the two remaining areas where this Critically Endangered great ape is still found. The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda published figure of 400 mountain gorillas hence putting the total to an estimated 1,004 mountain gorillas.
It took close to three years to completely habituate the Katwe gorilla family located in northern part of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The inclusion of Katwe family means that the number of gorilla permits available daily for trekking in Buhoma region has increased from 24 to 32 gorilla permits since there are now four families. It should be noted that each habituated gorilla family is supposed to be trekked by a maximum 8 people for one hour.
The exact number of members in the Katwe group is not well known as yet but reliable sources claim the group has about 10 members including 1 dominant silverback,3 black-backs, 4 adult females and 2 babies.
They are the closest apes to the human race. They live in families of about 5-10 chimpanzees.
This safari takes you through Flametree Stables for horses before heading to the Murchison Falls National Park through the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. You the head to Kibale National Park for the Chimpanzee then to Queen Elizabeth National Park through the Kazinga Channel to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for Gorilla trekking. You will then head to the deepest lake in Africa, Lake Bunyonyi before heading to Lake Mburo then leave for Kampala.
The trip will continue to Jinja to have many funatic activities then head out to Ngamba Island then back to Entebbe.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN UGANDA
Upon your arrival, our driver guide will pick you from the airport to Kampala. You will then transfer to Flametree Stables in Kijabijo, Gayaza for Horse Riding and a tour of the green pasture and rare birds after which you will transfer back to Entebbe for dinner and overnight at The Boma Hotel Entebbe.
Travel Time: 2 hours
DAY 2: DRIVE TO MURCHISON, VISIT RHINOS, LUNCH ENROUTE
After breakfast, start your trip to Murchison Falls National Park, along the way in Nakasongola District, you will visit the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for Rhino tracking. You will spend 2 hours trekking rhinos and also have lunch here before continuing with journey through Masindi up to the park as you view the green flat landscape. Arrive at the park in the evening and use the remaining hours of the day by driving to the captivating top of Murchison falls. The top of the falls is an incredible scene indeed because it’s where the Nile, Africa’s the longest river goes through a narrow crevice in the rock (only 7 meters wide), before violently dipping down 43 meters. Murchison Falls Park is a habitat to a large number of African wild animals including Water buffalo, elephant, Crocodile, Lion, Leopard, Hippopotamus, Antelope, Giraffes, Uganda Kob, Oribi and other animals. The Nile River, within the park, is a home to a variety of water birds, including the uncommon Shoe bill stork. Dinner and overnight at Murchison River Lodge
Travel Time: 10 hours
DAY 3: GAME DRIVE & LAUNCH CRUISE
After breakfast, start an early morning game drive before dawn to catch up with the early risers. This exciting game drive will enable you spot animals like the jackals, hartebeests, Oribi, bushbucks, bohor reed bucks, hyenas, giraffes, lions, antelopes, elephants and the Uganda Kob among the many. You will rest from the game drive for anything to eat and later on lunch at the lodge. The afternoon time will be for an open launch cruise (Boat ride on the calm Nile). The boat trip will take you to the bottom of the falls where animals like the buffaloes, hippos, crocodiles, elephants and plenty of water birds like the herons, cormorants, ducks, bee-eaters, kingfishers, skimmers, fish eagles, the rare shoebill and many more species can be viewed from the peaceful sailing boat. The base of the falls is also an awe-inspiring moment at Murchison River Lodge
DAY 4: LEAVE MURCHISON FOR KIBALE NATIONAL PARK.
After early breakfast, drive to Fort portal with lunch enroute. You will drive through traditional homesteads and farms and this will enable you enjoy the beautiful scenery across that part of the country. Dinner and overnight at Rwenzori View Guest House.
Travel Time: 10 hours
DAY 5: CHIMP TREKKING, ENJOY BIGODI NATURE WALK
Enjoy breakfast and transfer to the park headquarters for briefing before heading through the forest to seek out for chimpanzees. You will come close to chimps and other primates like the red tailed monkeys, Colobus monkeys and many more. The trek will give you an opportunity to see a quite a number of primates, Birds and Butterflies through an arrangement of forest-sheltered trail. After good times with chimps, return to the lodge, have lunch and in the afternoon you will go for a nature walk in the Bigodi marshland. Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary situated in Magombe swamp is an appealing area to visit. The area is known for a wide range of biodiversity including many species of primates such as red Colobus monkey, black and white L’Hoest monkey, Colobus monkey, grey cheeked, Vervet monkey, Mangabey, red tailed monkey, blue monkey and baboon. Mammals like Sitatunga, bush pigs, bush bucks, otters, mongooses and chimpanzees also visit the swamp from Kibale National Park. Bigodi Wetland is a paradise for bird watchers. So far, 138 bird species have been identified in the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. One of the main bird species found in the sanctuary is the great blue turaco. In the evening, retire for overnight. Dinner and overnight at Rwenzori View Guest House.
DAY 6: DRIVE TO QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK, DO A LAUNCH CRUISE ON KAZINGA CHANNEL.
In the morning, drive off to Queen Elizabeth National Park where you will reach in the evening. Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most excellent treasures of Uganda and named after UK’s Queen Elizabeth II when she visited Uganda in 1954. As you get into the park you will be able to see the escapements of Rwenzori Mountain Crater Lakes, rift valley and spot some animals on the road side. Over 95 species of mammals and 600 species of birds have been recorded at this vast park. It will take you three hours to be in at the lodge. Check in and take a rest. After lunch at the lodge, go for an afternoon boat ride on Kazinga Channel.
Kazinga channel found in Queen Elizabeth National Park is a 40 km water channel that joins Lakes George and Edward. Any tourist to this park cannot fail to be impressed by the Channel’s astonishing variety. It’s where many buffalos rest in the water while big herds of elephants and different bird species can be seen enjoying themselves along the channel shores. A majority of visitors who participate in the 2 hour launch cruise along the channel regard it as the highlight of their African safari. There are also concentrations of hippos and birds. In short, this water cruise offers an excellent platform for clear photography, extensive bird-watching and an all-embracing game viewing. Retire in the evening to the lodge. Dinner and overnight at Enganzi Game Lodge.
Travel Time: 3 Hours
DAY 7: MORNING GAME DRIVE, AFTERNOON OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES
On this day, you will wake up early enough, take your breakfast and then set off for a morning game drive, during which you will have an opportunity to spot hippos, elephants, spotted hyenas, lions, leopards, stripped jackals, bushbucks, water bucks and warthogs and many wild animals. Retire from the game drive late morning and go back to the lodge for a rest as you admire nature. In the afternoon, you can take a rest, make a nature tour by going to Katwe Salt lakes or the Crater Lake or have more game drive in the park. Return to the lodge in the evening. Dinner and overnight at Enganzi Game Lodge.
DAY 8: DRIVE TO BWINDI FOREST, HABITANT TO THE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS
In the morning wake up at your own pace, take a late breakfast and then advance to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park going through the southern part of the park. Arrive around midday and check-in. Dinner and overnight at Buhoma Community Bandas.
Travel Time: 3 hours
DAY 9: GORILLA TRACKING
Get breakfast and be escorted to the park offices to begin your adventure. You will get some briefing from a local guide and then set off to the forest equipped with packed lunch. The time taken is between 1- 8 hours depending on the movement of the gorillas. Coming face to face with these mountain gorillas is one of the most electrifying experiences you can ever have. You will have a chance to observe and take pictures and you will enjoy them from a close range observing adults feeding, grooming and resting as the youngsters play and move backward and forward in a pleasantly comical demonstration. With time allowing, you may use the evening enjoying guided village walk to nearby communities to observe and familiarize yourselves with the different aspects of Ugandan lives, cultures and lifestyles or else, you will take rest. Dinner and overnight at Buhoma Community Bandas
DAY 10: DRIVE TO LAKE BUNYONYI; NATURE WALK, BIRDING & CULTURE
Take breakfast in the morning and drive off to Lake Bunyonyi, the deepest lake in Africa, good scenery & amazing waters. Check in at Bunyonyi Overland Resort; take a nature walk around the lake. Also visit the distinctive Abaheesi (black smiths) societies or to the Bukora Cave. Have lunch at the resort and use the afternoon or evening for a boat ride and go for a cycling tour of the area, going to Orugano Rain Forest which has diverse plants and animals and some community tourism through interaction with the Batwa (pygmies) who inhabit parts of the forest and its surrounding areas. Dinner and overnight at Arcadia Cottages.
Travel Time: 2 hours
DAY 11: DRIVE TO LAKE MBURO, TAKE A BOAT RIDE
Wake up early enough, freshen up, take your breakfast and drive to Lake Mburo National park where you will reach in the early and check in at Arcadia cottages, take a rest and the enjoy your lunch. In the afternoon, take a Boat Ride and evening nature walk respectively. A boat ride on Lake Mburo to view animals like the hippos’ buffaloes, and crocodiles alongside the many birds around the area which are attractive to see and a nature is worth its time. Dinner and overnight at Mburo Safari Lodge
Travel Time: 4-5 hours
DAY 12: GAME DRIVE & LEAVE FOR KAMPALA
In the morning after breakfast, get set to take game drive through the national park with your guide. Lake Mburo National Park accommodates mammals like the Eland, antelope as well as zebras and waterbucks, making it among the most admirable places to visit in Uganda. The park is exceptional for its attractive, soothingly sloping hills and open grassland basins, intermingled with brushwood, woodlands and rich wetlands. While at the park you will see animals like the impalas, water-bucks, the Cape buffalo and zebras plus many other animal species. You will return to the lodge late morning and then checkout to start your journey to Kampala and then to Jinja. Have Lunch enroute. After lunch, proceed with journey to Kampala but stop at the Uganda Equator, this is where there an imaginary line the divides planet earth into two sections (North and South Hemisphere). Take photos at the equator and visit the craft and souvenir shop at this site, spending about 40 minutes and then proceed to Kampala. Dinner and overnight at The Boma Hotel Entebbe
Travel Time: 5 hours
DAY 13: FULL DAY RAFTING ON RIVER NILE
After breakfast in Kampala, a waiting vehicle will transfer you to the briefing point on sidelines of River Nile near Jinja where you will arrive after a 1:30 hours’ drive. You will get briefing and then set off into the waters. Whitewater Rafting on River Nile covering 31kms. In popular paddle-rafts, each person joins as a member of a team commanded by a professional guide. Paddlers are coached enthusiastically on how best to enjoy the waters plus safety aspects including the use of welfare kayaks that escort every rafting voyage. The professional safety kayakers are superlative paddlers who skillfully pilot their tiny boats through the precipitous waves of each rapid ahead of the rafts. When rafts turn over upside downcast or rafters are eroded overboard, the escorting kayaks are readily available to get people back on rafting air boats. From the start, the expedition begins slowly whereby in the first few kilometers, the guides are able to train their crews on the rafting process. When every member has learnt what to do, the real rafting begins. The sport is threateningly amazing as you go through wild falls, flipping into the waters when the boat overturns and swimming floatingly, then back on the boat. After a few miles, you are already enjoying the game as your confidence is continually built as you see other rafters visibly cruising on the river in their boats overtaking your boat and vice versa. After rafting for about 18Kms, you will break off the morning session for lunch as it’s a biological fact that swimming stimulates hunger. After a pleasant lunch, the rafters are back to their boats again. You will enter Wild Waters Reserve which is a private conservation initiative to protect the exceptional flora and fauna of the mid-stream islands of the Nile. There is more time between the rough water but the rapids on the Nile become larger and more spectacular. In Active rapid (when the Nilometre is reading above 10 cubits) the rafts jump over a 4.5 metre waterfall, race downstream to the ever an astonishing show then vibrate timidly at the ‘BAD PLACE’. At Itanda, the young Nile gathers far too much power for rafts and you are forced to portage around the top of the rapid on land and then reflect on the huge hovel at the bottommost. However, the ‘BAD PLACE’ is optional (by choice) to whoever wants to raft through it as there are little chances of staying on the ship. Fearful rafters are free to jump into a service escorting boat that doesn’t overturn and passes through the known safer routes. While at the ‘Bad Place’, the raft confronts the huge breaking waves, regarded as maybe the biggest hole rafted commercially anyplace on earth. This point makes the most outstanding audiovisual footage as riders are frequently hurled in the air before trouncing the racing current and then swept lively downstream to the calm waters. This then marks the end of the wonderful rafting voyage on the Nile usually covering around 31kms. You will then after transfer to your accommodation for overnight. Dinner and overnight at Source of the Smile Hotel.
DAY 14: VISIT THE SOURCE OF RIVER NILE & DO ANY OPTIONAL ACTIVITY
After breakfast, you will be driven to the source of the mighty River Nile. It’s a magical experience to be at this scene. Feel the lake breeze, take photos and possible a boat ride onto the waters. When you leave the source of the Nile, you have enough time to undertake optional activities in Jinja and these include.
OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES INCLUDE; – Bungee Jumping – Horse Riding – Nile Boat Cruise -Quad Biking
NB: Once you decide to do any of the activities above, you notify us and we plan for them accordingly. But you pay for them. In the evening, drive to Entebbe for overnight at The Boma Hotel Entebbe.
DAY 15: VISIT NGAMBA ISLAND
Early morning after breakfast, visit Ngamba Island, the homes of chimps in Lake Victoria, return in the afternoon from the island and have lunch in Entebbe.
The 3 day Murchison Falls Wildlife Safari takes you to Murchison Falls National Park which is the largest and oldest conservation area in Uganda hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 bird species. It is bisected by the Victoria Nile flowing through an approximately 7 meter narrow gorge plunging 45 meters over the remnant rift valley wall creating the Murchison Falls. This cascade drains the rivers energy then transforms it into a broad stream that flows into Lake Albert. The riverbanks have common visitors Giraffes, Buffaloes and also permanent residents like the Nile Crocodiles, Hippos and Aquatic birds which can be seen during the game drive.
DAY 1; TRANSFER TO MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK – RHINO TREKKING
Start the journey from Kampala as early as 7am so that you may have ample time when in the park. You will have a stopover at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary where you will trek the Rhinos. You will have about 2 hours with the Rhinos before you set off for lunch at Kabalega Diner before you check in the hotel for dinner and overnight at Paraa Safari Lodge( Luxury), Pakuba Country Lodge( Mid-range) or Red Chillies( Budget).
DAY 2; GAME DRIVE AND BOAT CRUISE
Wake up early morning for breakfast before you leave for the game drive during which you expect to various wildlife like the Buffaloes, Elephants, Giraffes and so much more. At around 2pm, you will head for the boat cruise on the Victoria Nile to the bottom of the falls after which you will head to the hotel of Day 1 for dinner and overnight.
DAY 3; TOP OF THE FALLS AND TRANSFER BACK TO KAMPALA
You wake up in the morning, have breakfast then check out of the hotel. You will then go to the top of the Murchison Falls which is known for its very beautiful scenery before you board back to Kampala.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in South-Western Uganda approximately 330 sq km at an altitude of between 1,160m – 3,000m above sea level is the oldest rainforest in Uganda. The name “Bwindi” dwells from Rukiga (Local language) means very thick and not easily passable because of its Afromontane lowland forest in nature which makes it a little hard to trek. It is located at the rim of the Albertine Rift bordering the Great Virunga region which extends to Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is popularly known because it is home to almost half of the world’s largest apes and endangered Mountain Gorilla( Gorilla Gorilla Berengei) population which is projected to be less than 850 in the world. The Mountain Gorillas are the second closest primates to humans only after Chimpanzees having approximately 97% DNA similarity with the humans. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park has four Gorilla Tracking sections which include Ruhija section, Rushaga section, Buhoma section and Nkuringo section from which the different Gorilla Families are found during the trekking. More than 150 Mountain Gorillas are habituated hence can be viewed by visitors. The forest has a vast number of trails which lead to various attractions within including Waterfalls, Rivers like the Muyanga River in the Buhoma valley and many swamps which harbor a lot of wildlife.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park is not only known for being the Land of Mountain Gorillas but is also habitat to over 120 mammal species (only second to Queen Elizabeth National Park) eleven of which are primates most notably The L’Hoest’s monkeys, The Black and White Colombus monkeys, Baboons and Chimpanzees.
The forest is also home to over 346 bird species which include the critically endangered Albertine Rift African green Broadbill. Other commonly viewed include the Black throated Apalis, Crowned Hornbill, Rwenzori Nightjar, Compact and Dark-backed Weaver, Coppery Sunbird, and the Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher.
At such an altitude, its very interesting to be a great spot for its biodiversity with over 170 trees species some of which have existed for more than 2000 years, 100 species of ferns, 27 species of frogs, geckos and Chameleons plus a great number of endemic butterflies.
The park can either be accessed by Road or Air transport. It is about 535km from Kampala, the Capital City of Uganda.
You may use the different routes according to the section that you wish you wish to trek the Mountain Gorillas from.
1) Kampala-Ntungamo-Rukungiri-Kihihi-Buhoma(6 hours)
2) Kampala-Kabale-Nkuringo(6-8 hours)
3) Kampala-Kabale-Rujija( 6-7 hours)
4) Kampala-Kanungu-Buhoma( 6-7 hours)
Using Air transport from either Entebbe International Airport or the Kajjansi Airstrip can get off to Kayonza airstrip or Savannah airstrip in Kihihi which is almost close to all the sections.