Day 1: Arrive Uganda
Lake Victoria Serena Resort (B)
Upon arrival at the Entebbe International Airport, you will be met by your guide. Having passed immigration and luggage collection, please exit the arrival hall and look for your guide who will be holding up a signboard with your name and featuring our logo. You will then be transferred to your hotel in Kampala, which takes between 45 minutes to one hour, depending on traffic.
Day 2: Bwindi National Park
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (B,L,D)
After an early breakfast, fly on your charter to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home of the mountain gorilla.
This rainforest is said to be 25,000 years old, making it one of Africa’s most biodiverse habitats. The altitude of this mountain park ranges from 1200 – 2600 meters. Five rivers and a high annual rainfall make the climate rather humid. Besides its mayor attraction, the mountain gorillas (gorilla berengeri) the National Park is also home to an amazing 120 mammal species, 350 species of birds, 202 species of butterflies and over 200 species of trees.
It is believed that about 350 gorillas remain in several stable groups within the park. The great protection over the last years has lead to a steady increase of the population.
Although best know for its mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest also attracts spectacular birds. There are 23 of the 24 Albertine rift endemics, including the African green broadbill, bar tailed trogan and other beautiful forest species.
High up on Nteko Ridge, on the edge of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, the views here are nothing short of breathtaking. Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge is situated in the shadow of three volcanoes, looking down into the thick treetop canopy of Bwindi and beyond to the golden grasses of the Western Rift Valley. The Lodge offers eight Stone cottages with fireplaces, soft armchairs, warm duvets, excellent meals made from local produce, good wine, a lush botanical garden, a cosy library and sheltered verandas with views to the volcanoes.
Clouds, with the ultimate goal of protecting the natural habitat of the mountain gorilla, also directly benefits the community of Nkuringo who also have a significant stake in the venture.
Guests will be able to walk from the lodge to the gorilla tracking starting point.
Day 3: Wildlife Scouting and Service
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (B,L,D)
You’ll rise relatively early each of these days for a hearty breakfast to give you the energy needed for your gorilla trek. Before 8 am, you’ll report to the ranger station for registration and a talk by one of the rangers. The guides will then take you through the bush pushing your way through the undergrowth, parting thick creepers, to track the gorillas. The trek can take from half an hour to 7 hours. A reasonable degree of fitness is required as well as a sturdy pair of walking shoes.
Once you are close to the group the guides will ask you to leave behind your bags as no food items should be carried close to the gorillas. Just take your cameras with you. Here you’ll have the opportunity to sit in the forest amongst the gorillas, listening to them grumble to each other and marvel at the sheer size of the dominant male: the silverback. It is an extraordinary feeling sitting in the dense rainforest, knowing you are with a few of the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world. Sadly, there are only about 650 of these beautiful creatures left. You are allowed exactly one hour with the gorillas before returning to the base station.
Please note: It is important that you listen to the instructions of the local rangers at all times. For both your safety and the safety of the gorillas, it is forbidden to approach the gorillas closer than five meters, to feed them or to use flash photography. You will be accompanied by armed guards who will guarantee your safety in an area where wild buffaloes are often sighted. While walking, please feel free to ask the guides to slow down if they are going too fast or if you need a rest. There is the additional option to hire porters on site.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority does not allow a trekking when you are sick, as gorillas are very susceptible of human diseases. Should you feel sick the day of the trek, we urgently advise you to abide by this rule. In order to receive a 50% refund of the permit cost you MUST get a doctor’s report that day (please ask your guide to arrange this for you).
We must also stress that, while you have a very good chance of seeing gorillas, success is NOT guaranteed. They are wild creatures with no fixed routine and finding them requires the skills and experience of your trackers and guides, as well as luck. The trackers and guides have helped to habituate the gorilla groups and know them intimately. They will take you to the area where they left the gorillas the day before. Before leaving, they may also be able to suggest how long the hike might be.
Day 4: Nkuringo
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (B,L,D)
Take a guided walk and experience the local community in the nearby village. The people of Nkuringo are largely self sufficient. The community experience reveals how they rely on local producers to provide commodities such as medicine, tools, soap, beer, baskets, and food.
Day 5: Semliki Wildlife Reserve
Semliki Lodge (B,L,D)
After breakfast, depart by charter flight to Semliki Wildlife Reserve.
Semliki Valley Wildlife Reserve is the oldest protected area in Uganda and is home to a staggering array of flora and fauna. The reserve is situated in the basin of the Western Rift Valley. It boasts one of the most diverse habitats in Africa, with wonderful examples of Riparian forest, gallery rain forest, borassus palm forest, and short and high grass savannas. Chimps exist next to elephant, lion, and buffalo, as well as the usual Western Uganda species.
Nestled on the crest of the beautiful Wasa River Valley is the small and luxurious Semliki Safari Lodge. The eight rooms are tented with large four-poster beds, Persian carpets and en-suite bathrooms. At night, through the canvas, you can hear the animals moving, the lions roaring and often the leopards harsh sawing as it hunts baboons. There is a lovely swimming pool area, ideal for relaxing, while still feeling as though you are truly in the heart of Africa. The food could best be described as ‘fusion food,’ and the chefs endeavor to use as much local, fresh produce as possible.
Day 6: Semliki Wildlife Reserve
Semliki Lodge (B,L,D)
An early morning rise, tea in your tent and a good breakfast before you depart on a boat trip on Lake Albert to try and see the incredible and rare shoebill, visually a cross between a dodo and a dinosaur. The lake is superb: there are sand cliffs where brightly coloured colonies of red-throated bee-eaters dart in an out of their burrows. There are several fishing villages along the way, virtually untouched by the Western world. Then drive back to the lodge through the borassus palm forest and the acacia savannah, which reveals different species of raptors and passerines.
Day 7: Semliki Wildlife Reserve
Semliki Lodge (B,L,D)
Another early morning rise, tea in your tent, and then you will head down into the beautiful gallery rainforest to track wild chimpanzees. Chimps are tracked by researchers in Semliki at dawn and dusk, as they tend to disappear in the middle of the day. The Semliki Chimp Project is jointly run by The Uganda Safari Company and the University of Indiana. The project was initiated to study bipedalism and the rare geography of Semliki makes it ideal to study this important stage in man’s development. There are also a number of bird species which are found in this picturesque forest.
Day 8, 9, 10: Kidep Valley National Park
Apoka Safari Lodge (B,L,D)
After breakfast, your guide will drive you to the airstrip for your private charter flight to Kidepo Valley National Park.
You will be met by staff of the lodge at the airstrip, and then driven to the Apoka Lodge which takes only 5 minutes. Please talk to the lodge manager about the many places you can visit and activities you can participate in. Let your inner explorer awaken!
Game drives and walks at Apoka are directed by nature, not time. Take a walking safari along a sandy dry riverbed fringed with palm trees, climb to the top of a rocky outcrop and take in the views. Move slowly along isolated tracks to fully appreciate everything around you, looking for tracks and signs of the animals’ movements. You can stop at any point to investigate further. Track the lions, cheetah, zebra, waterbuck, Jackson’s hartebeest, warthogs, patas monkeys, and big herds of buffalo.
Afterwards, relax in your outdoor bathtub under the stars, take a dip in the big rock swimming pool which overlooks the savannah and a waterhole frequently visited by animals before having dinner at the main building.
Apoka Safari Lodge is located in the middle of Kidepo Valley National Park. It offers ten big tented rooms with hardwood floors, hot running water (solar heated), and comfy furniture located around a dramatic rocky kopje each with the most astounding views out across the plains to the jagged mountains in the distance. Outdoor bathtubs are carved out of the rock face, the furniture is handmade.
The Apoka experience is truly unique, indigenous and natural – even the staff is from the local community. While the décor is uncluttered – a minimal aesthetic that uses the dramatic scenery and light as its inspiration and adornment – comfort is de riguer. Oversized armchairs, king size beds, cushions in little private nooks, soft summer weight duvets, Egyptian cotton towels, and wonderful fusion cuisine. It is just a short drive from the airstrip to the lodge. From the pool, carved into the rocks, you can observe animals at the waterhole below. Meals are served from a set menu but please feel free to speak with the chef should you have special wishes.
Visit Lorikul Village to see how the locals live and the community clinic the lodge is helping to build.
Day 11: Departure
Transfer by charter flight back to Entebbe International Airport for your outbound flight.
- All ground transportation, fuel and transfers as per itinerary
- All meals as specified in this itinerary (except hotels in Kampala or Entebbe which are generally B&B)
- Accommodations as noted in this itinerary (or similar)
- Water, snacks, tea and coffee in the vehicle
- Activities as indicated in the itinerary
- All game drives in a shared 4 wheel drive vehicle
- Ranger guide fees
- Park and conservation fees
- All applicable taxes, administration, and banking fees
- 1 gorilla permit per person (Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park costs US $500.00 per person, per trek for advanced bookings. There is a minimum age limit for gorilla tracking which is strictly 15 years). Gorilla viewing is subject to availability of permits, which are limited. Any additional gorilla permits required should be purchased when booking. Gorilla permit prices are subject to change without warning.
- Charter flights
Cost does not include:
- International flights
- All airport departure taxes
- All passport and visa fees (USD50)
- All meals not specified on this itinerary
- All drinks, including alcoholic beverages
- Specialty wines, spirits and champagne throughout this itinerary
- Items of a personal nature: fax, telephone, etc.
- Any extras and additional activities not mentioned in the itinerary
- Travel/medical insurance
- Laundry in Entebbe/Kampala
- Gratuities for guide/driver / hotel staff
- Trip cancellation, travel delay or baggage insurance
- Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond our control