Number of Days

12 Days

Category

Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees and other Primates

Best time

May, September, November – March

Uganda Primates Tour

Bird Uganda introduces you to this exciting adventure. This 12-day tour gives primate lovers a chance of a lifetime to track down some of the rarest apes in Africa. Uganda is indeed a primate-lovers paradise with a record of 20 species recorded within our borders.  From the largest primates like the Mountain gorillas to the smaller bush babies- surely primate lovers will be excited about seeing some of these diverse cousins of ours. Tracking gorillas and chimpanzees are surely the highlights of any trip to Uganda and with this itinerary, you will not be disappointed by what Uganda has to offer.

STRONG POINTS

  • Mountain Gorillas
  • Chimpanzees
  • Birding
  • Animal Species restricted to tropical forests

Day 1: Arrival, Optional Birding Botanical Forest

Arrive at Entebbe airport where you will be met by our team and transferred to your hotel. Check in and have a break, freshen up from your flight. Relax at your hotel. In the evening, you will have an optional visit to Botanical Gardens. The gardens were opened in 1898 and are a perfect introduction to Uganda’s environment, wonderful primates, and birdlife. They are located on the shores of Lake Victoria with a variety of species of trees, both indigenous and exotic. In the 1940s, the Tarzan movie was shot here.  We will have a guided walk around the gardens, where you can get a chance to view the friendly and playful vervet monkeys as they go about searching for food in their territories. Another species that can be easily seen is the Guereza Colobus. This striking monkey, also known as the black-and-white colobus monkey can be seen gliding from tree to tree in the canopy. Look out for birds like the Great Blue Turaco, Ross’ Turaco, Black-and-white casqued hornbill, Eastern Plantain Eater, Grey parrot, Pink-backed pelican, Pied kingfisher, Hammpekorp, Marabou storks, Spur-winged Lapwing, etc etc

Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight

Day 2: Mabira Forest

After an early breakfast, we will head to the Mabira forest, located about 54 km east of Kampala Town and 26 km West of Jinja town. This semi-deciduous forest is the largest remaining forest in Central Uganda and its location between the two developed towns of Jinja and Kampala makes it an ideal attraction for natural history enthusiasts. The forest is also of immense ecological value as its one of the few remaining forests one can see some of the Congo biome species.

One of the unique primates to look for here is the Uganda Mangabey monkey. Originally thought to be the Grey-cheeked Mangabey, it was later discovered to be a different species of its own with a smaller size and different characteristics in the male and female individuals. They are vocal monkeys and they can usually be seen up in the canopy, feeding in small numbers. Look out for other primates like the vervet monkeys, and the red-tailed monkeys. Bird life in Mabira is quite as impressive. This is one of the only two places in Uganda where you can see the Tit Hyla. Other birds you can look out for include the Nahan’s Francolin, Yellow-mantled Weaver, Weyn’s Weaver, Blue Swallow, forest wood-hoopoe, Yellow and Grey Longbills and so much more.

Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight

Day 3: Kibale Forest National Park

After an early breakfast, we will head west to Kibale Forest National Park. Gazetted in 1993, the 766km sq national park is a primate lovers’ paradise. With 13 primate species recorded, Kibale forest park is alluring for primate enthusiasts and bird lovers. At least 60 mammals have been recorded including elephants, buffaloes, hippos, warthogs, giant forest hogs, bushpigs, and Sitatunga among others. Over 335 bird species have been recorded including 4 species found nowhere else in Uganda. These are the Cassin’s spinetail, Blue-headed bee-eater, Nahan’s francolin, and Masked Apalis.  The Green-breasted pitta is one of the rarities to look out for when you visit the park.

Check-in and spend the rest of the day at leisure. You can bird around the lodge and then have dinner.

Day 4: Chimpanzee Tracking

After an early breakfast, we will head to the forest for chimpanzee tracking activity. You will often hear them hooting through the forest before you see them. Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives. They are highly intelligent species and share 98% of our DNA.

Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives. They are a highly intelligent species and share 98% of their DNA with humans. They are highly endangered species with only 150,000-300,000 species left in the world. We will spend an hour with them as they go through their day. Watching these amazing gentle giants just meters from you is an amazing activity you cannot afford to miss.

Return to the lodge for lunch. In the afternoon we will visit the Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) at the Bigodi wetland for a swamp walk.  The association was established in 1992 and its main goals are to provide a sustainable solution for the rural population and to help them get out of poverty. They do this by providing access to clean water and sanitation facilities, as well as improving agricultural practices.

They have created a lovely walk on the edge of the forest where primates like the Blue monkey, Guereza Colobus, Red-tailed monkey, Grey-cheeked mangabey, Vervet monkey and more can be easily spotted. Walking through the swamp is a refreshing and exciting activity unique to Bigodi Wetland. Bigodi swamp is known as the “Home of the Great Blue turaco” and the birdlife is quite amazing. You can easily spot over 40 species with most of these being forest-fringe or swamp specialists.

Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 5: Queen Elizabeth National Park

After breakfast, we will transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Established in 1920 as Kazinga channel National park, the 1,978 km sq park is the most popular and most accessible national park in Uganda. The park’s diversity is unparalleled with two large lakes, Lake George and Edward, ten crater lakes, the Kazinga channel, two forests, Kyambura and Maramagambo forest, and extensive savanna grasslands. 95 species of mammals have been recorded -the highest of any national park in Uganda. The birdlife is simply amazing, with a total of 610 species recorded, the highest of any National Park in Africa, possibly the world.

Arriver and check in to the lodge. You will then have lunch. In the afternoon we will head to the Maramagambo forest. Located in the southeast of the park, this forest has more of the characteristics of the Central Eastern rainforests. The forest also has beautiful crater lakes like Lake Nyamisigiri, Lake Kaguba, Lake Murabyo, and Lake Kyasanduka. Primates here include chimpanzee, vervet, blue, red-tailed, Guereza, and L’ Hoest monkeys.

Return the to lodge for dinner and overnight

Day 6: Chimp Trekking and Boat Cruise

Today we will have an early breakfast and head for chimp tracking activity in Kyambura Gorge. The gorge was formed by the Kyambura river slowly eroding its banks to finally make the 16km gorge. The riparian forest is an oasis in the savanna and acts as a buffer zone during the dry season where the animals come down the valleys to feed on the forest vegetation and drink from the gorge.

We will track chimps, the terrain is a little bit tough because of the gradient but the experience of spending time with these creatures is still as rewarding. Watch these intelligent creatures go about their usual activities of feeding, playing, grooming, and displaying. We will spend an hour with them while we look out for other primates and birds.  Look out for baboons, black-and-white colobus monkeys, and red-tailed monkeys. Kyambura is one of the best places for Black bee-eater and Blue-bellied kingfisher.

We will have lunch at the lodge. In the afternoon we will go on a boat cruise on the Kazinga channel. The channel is one of the main attractions of the park, drawing in hundreds of birds and thirsty animals to come to take a drink under the hot savannah heat. The Kazinga channel is 32 km and links the two main lakes of the park, Lake Edward and Lake George. The channel is excellent for game viewing with herds of elephants, buffaloes, and antelopes. This is the place with the highest concentration of hippos in Uganda and one of the places where you can see big mighty crocodiles basking in the sun. The birdlife is exceptional. Look out for species like Yellow-billed stork, Pink-backed pelican, Water thick-knee, Black-headed gonolek, African skimmers, Papyrus gonolek, lots of plovers, kingfishers, and gulls.

Return to the Lodge for dinner and overnight

Day 7: Transfer to Bwindi National Park

After breakfast, we will transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. The park is believed to be one of the oldest forests in East Africa, believed to be over 25,000 years old. This also makes it is known as a “True forest” and it’s unique because it lies between 1,160- 2,607 meters above sea level. Bwindi is home to half of the last remaining mountain gorillas, with over 500 individuals recorded. The rest are found in the Virunga region, which lies between Uganda, Rwanda, and DR. Congo. Bwindi also has the second highest number of mammals recorded. Apart from the Mountain gorillas, 11 species of primates can be found like Chimpanzees, Blue monkey, Guereza colobus, L’Hoest monkey, and olive baboons among others.

Bwindi lies in the Albertine Rift Valley and has a variety of species that are endemic to this area. The birdlife is absolutely exceptional with over 350 species recorded. 23 of these birds are endemic with 14 not recorded anywhere else in Uganda. Some of these include the most sought-after birds like the African green broadbill, Brown-necked parrot, Frazer’s eagle-owl, White-bellied robin-chat and so much more.

Check in and spend the rest of the day at leisure enjoying the sights and sounds of the jungle.

Day 8: Gorilla Trekking

Today, we will have an early breakfast and head to the forest for a gorilla tracking experience. The Mountain gorilla was on the brink of extinction in the 1990s with less than 250 individuals recorded. The highest threat is loss of habitat as they can only exist in these high-altitude rainforests. But with community awareness, and conservation efforts from governments and non-governmental organizations, the numbers have been steadily growing with new births recorded frequently.

Trekking through the rainforests looking for these gentle giants may be a bit strenuous due to the hiking through the wet floors of the forests, but the reward of coming face to face with them makes it worthwhile. We share over 96% of our genes with them, looking into the eyes of a gorilla, you can surely recognize a kinship between them and us. Their behavior and mannerisms are reflected in our own. And it is an amazing experience that will leave you with fond memories. A packed lunch will be provided as this activity can take from a couple of hours to the whole day.

Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 9: Transfer to Mgahinga National Park

Today, after a leisurely breakfast, we will transfer to Mgahinga National Park. The park is the smallest in Uganda, covering only 34 km sq. However, it forms a part of the Virunga, a chain of free-standing volcanoes found in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR. Congo covering an area of 480 km sq. The park protects 76 mammal species. The unique species of primates we can find here is the Golden Monkey, an endangered sub-species of the Blue Monkey. Mountain gorillas are also found here, the other half of the last remaining gorillas in the world. However here, unlike in Bwindi, they roam freely between the 3 countries. Bird life is also sensational with about 12  Albertine Rift Endemics found here.

Check in the lodge then have lunch

After lunch, we will have a nature walk to see more of the park. We will go on a trail that will lead us through the bamboo forest, where we have the highest chance of viewing the golden monkey. Birding here is also productive and we shall look out for Albertine Rift Endemics like the Handsome francolin, Kivu ground-thrush, Rwenzori turaco, Olive woodpecker and so much more.

Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

Day 10: Golden Monkey Tracking

After an early breakfast, we will head into the forest to track the golden monkey. These beautiful primates are listed on the IUCN Red List as critically endangered because of the gradual destruction of their habitat for agriculture and the wars that plagued this region.  The Golden monkey is a cousin to the Blue monkey but is distinguished by the golden-orange color on it’s flanks and back. Not much is known about the behavior of these rare creatures. However, they can be seen ranging from groups of 3 to about 60 plus. They mainly feed on bamboo, fruits, and insects. We will spend time in the jungle tracking these creatures while looking out for other primates. Sometimes we may even have a chance of bumping into Mountain Gorillas!

Look out for more forest birds and other Albertine Endemics like the Rwenzori batis, Montane sooty-boubou, Ladgen’s bush-shrike, Western green tinkerbird, African hill-babbler, Strange weaver, and many more. We will have a packed lunch in the forest.

Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight

Day 11: Return to Kampala

After a leisurely breakfast, we will return to Kampala. We will stop by places of interest like the Equator and also have lunch en route. You will be dropped off at your designated hotels for dinner and overnight.

Day 12: Departure

Day of departure. After breakfast, you will be dropped off at the airport for your return flights.

TOUR ROUTE MAP

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