Day 1: Arrive
Lake Victoria Serena Resort (B)
Arrive in Uganda; meet and greet and transfer to your hotel for an overnight stay at Lake Victoria Serena Resort.
Day 2: Bwindi National Park
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (B, L, D)
After an early breakfast, we will fly by private charter to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home of the mountain gorilla. We are transferred for about 2 hours from Kisoro Airstrip to our lodge.
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 major attraction, the mountain gorillas (gorilla gorilla berengeri), the Bwindi 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 past several years has led 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 from 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.
With the ultimate goal of protecting the natural habitat of the mountain gorilla, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge also directly benefits the community of Nkuringo who share a significant stake in the venture.
You will be able to walk from the lodge to the gorilla tracking starting point.
Day 3 and 4: 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 5 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.
Time permitting, after one of the gorilla tracking days, we will 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: Departure
Depart by private charter flight to Entebbe Airport for your international flight out.
- All ground transportation as well as 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
- Gorilla permits (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, and we can not guarantee gorilla permits without a deposit of US$500 per permit from you. Any additional gorilla permits required should be purchased when booking. Gorilla permit prices are subject to change without warning.
- Charter flights subject to change due to fuel increase
- International flights
- All airport departure taxes
- All passport and visa fees (US$50)
- 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 (i.e. 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