8 Day Uganda Gorilla Trek, Chimp Habituation Safari. 4x More Time w/Gorillas

Uganda Gorilla Trek, Chimp Habituation Safari. 4x More Time w/Gorillas

Uganda is home to the highest concentrations of primates on earth, including the majestic mountain gorilla, one of the rarest animals on the planet. Only 840 mountain gorillas remain, of which at least 60% are in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Wild Planet’s exclusive Ultimate Gorilla & Chimp safari allows you to spend the most possible time with Gorillas of any tour operator. Contribute to Chimpanzee habituation in Kibale, join research teams in Queen Elizabeth N.P tracking lions and mongoose; and in a Wild Planet Exclusive, join expert wildlife researchers in the habituation of endangered mountain gorillas in the lush Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, an intimate Gorilla experience that allows you to spend 4x the amount of time with the gorillas than any other Gorilla trekking experience! Also enjoy guided night walking safaris in Kibale National Park, (home to over 12 primates species), plus tree climbing lions, the famous Mountains of the Moon and more!

DAY 1 Entebbe

Arrive Entebbe airport, meet our staff and transfer to your hotel. Our staff will brief you about all the activities.

DAY 2 Entebbe – Kibale National Park, Night Forest Walk

After breakfast we’ll drive west towards Fort Portal and to Kibale Forest National Park. Traveling on both asphalt and unpaved roads, we’ll pass through traditional Ugandan Villages where you’ll see people tending traditional crops of millet, sorghum, beans and maize. The lush rolling hills give way to the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, a famous tea plantation region. A carpet of green spreads before us as far as the eye can see, in contrast to the countryside through which we have just passed. We arrive at Fort Portal, then continue toward Kibale Forest, one of the great African rainforest research reserves. This evening enjoy a guided night walk in the forest to spot nocturnal animals.

Driving distance: 5 ½ hours. Overnight at Primate Lodge Kibale (mid-range) or Kyaninga Lodge (upscale) (B, L, D)

DAY 3 Kibale – Chimpanzee Habituation Experience

Today we’ll accompany Kibale’s researchers in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to contribute to a “soft” habituation project with chimpanzees. You’ll learn to safely observe the chimps during their daily activities, so they get comfortable with human presence without changing their natural behaviors. You will be able to experience the chimp families as they wake up, hunt, patrol, play, fight, copulate, and breastfeed. Guided by research assistants and sometimes scientists themselves, we will enjoy unprecedented intimate access to these wild chimps for the entire day until they build their nests at bed time.

Kibale Forest hosts at least 1,500 chimpanzees out of the 4,950 found in Uganda, making this the largest concentration of chimps in Africa. The park is also home to 10 other primates including diurnal species like the Red Colobus Monkey, Blue Monkey, Red-tailed monkey, Gray Checked Mangabeys, and Vervet Monkey, as well as many other animals.

Overnight at Primate Lodge Kibale (mid-range) or Kyaninga Lodge (upscale) (B, L, D)

DAY 4 Mountains Of The Moon, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Mongoose Tracking

At 09:00 AM, we begin our drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park, enjoying the majestic views en route of the snow-capped 16,000-foot Rwenzori Mountains – the famed “Mountains of the Moon”.

Queen Elizabeth National Park holds huge concentrations of wildlife including predators such as the famous tree-climbing Lions, Leopard, Serval cats and Spotted hyena. Other mammals include elephant, cape buffalo, hippo, a variety of antelope, warthog, giant forest hog and 10 species of primates including vervet monkeys, black and white colobus and olive baboon. The park’s bird species number more than 600, amongst the highest in Africa. There are also several soda lakes filling ancient volcanic calderas where flamingos reside seasonally.

In the afternoon we’ll join a research team from the Uganda Wildlife Authority to track banded mongoose, a highly social mongoose which are closely related to the better known meerkat. As the research team embark on their daily monitoring activities, you are awarded plenty of time to observe the mongoose troupes as they normally go about life. See how they engage teamwork, hunt prey and defend each other. Observe family/group hierarchy among other amazingly interesting mongoose behaviors.

Like meerkats, each mongoose group or family sleeps together in a communal underground den, changing between den sites every 3-5 days. They emerge at sunrise and forage together in the morning and afternoon before returning to the den at sunset. Take as many photos as you wish before heading back to the lodge.

Overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge (deluxe rooms for upscale and standard rooms for mid-range)
(B, L, D)

Mweya Safari Lodge – offers visitors an unforgettable experience. Located on a peninsula within the heart of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Mweya Safari Lodge is surrounded by the magical Rwenzori Mountains aptly described as the ‘Mountains of the Moon’. To the east, lie the guardians of the birthplace of mankind, the Great Rift Valley hills, separated from the Mountains of the Moon by the meandering Kazinga Channel. Here the water flows endlessly into two giant lakes – Lake George and Lake Edward. 

The lodge has a spectacular infinity swimming pool with a panoramic view overlooking the Kazinga Channel, which separates Lake George and Lake Edward. You can peer across the channel and view many wild animals cooling off in the waters below.

DAY 5 Queen Elizabeth National Park – Jeep Safari, Lion Tracking, Boat Safari

See a different face of the park as we venture off road with a research team to track lions and contribute to a valuable lion research project in the Ishasha Sector. The researchers’ Landcruiser is fitted with radio-collar-receiving equipment. You get a full briefing on the animals with opportunity for as much lion photography as you can manage.

After a leisurely lunch on the Mweya Peninsula we’ll enjoy a two hour boat safari along the Kazinga Channel. This affords the opportunity to view wildlife up close: hippo’s huff and spray and buffalo linger in the shallows. The shores of the channel are also home to an array of birds including pink backed pelicans, pied and malachite kingfishers, saddle billed stork and many others.

Overnight at Mweya Safari Lodge  (deluxe rooms for upscale and standard rooms for mid-range)
(B, L, D)

DAY 6 Queen Elizabeth / Ishasha – Tree Climbing Lions / Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

After breakfast we drive further south through stunning savannah grasslands as we head to the southern sector of the park – Ishasha. This is the best area to see the famous tree-climbing lions draped from low hanging limbs of fig trees. Next we visit the Kob Mating Ground—a defined area specifically used by these stunning antelopes for challenging other males, enticing females and mating. Finally we’ll pass through beautiful savannah grasslands as we head towards the breathtaking Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

While most of today’s forests are no more than 12,000 years old, Bwindi’s vegetation has been weaving itself into tangles for over 25,000 years, in the process accumulating a lengthy species list. This includes 310 species of butterflies, 51 reptiles, 200 trees, 88 moths and an exceptional 120 species of mammals including 10 primates. The latter includes chimpanzee, L’Hoest’s, red tailed and blue monkey, black and white colobus, baboon, and Bwindi’s most famous resident, the mountain gorilla. Bwindi is a prime destination for birdwatchers. Its 350 species include seven which are IUCN red data listed and 90% of all Albertine rift endemics – species which are difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa.

If staying in sector A – Overnight at Silverback Lodge (Mid-range) or Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp (Upscale)
If staying in sector B – Overnight at Chameleon Hill Lodge (Mid-range) or Clouds Mountain Lodge (Upscale)
(B, L, D)

DAY 7 Gorilla Tracking Bwindi Impenetrable Forest


Researcher-Led Gorilla Habituation Project – 4 Hour Permit by Special Arrangement!

We have an early morning entry into the mountain gorillas’ sanctuary. The rainforest is spectacular, and heavily vegetated with dense landscapes crisscrossed by numerous animal trails, allowing access for trekkers. This park is best known for the fascinating gorillas, where the time taken and terrain varies according to the movements of these fantastic apes.

Our intimate gorilla experience allows you to accompany the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s Bwindi gorilla habituation team for the entire day, allowing you to have a minimum 4 hours in the presence of a mountain gorilla family – since regular permits only allow 1 hour, this is 4 times the amount of time spent up close with Gorillas – more than any other safari operator! During this time you will be able to experience the gorilla family as they wake up, hunt, patrol, play, fight, copulate, and breastfeed until they build their nests at bed time.

The thrill of spending time with and observing these gentle giants is a rare and moving adventure that will leave you with long lasting memories. Spending more time with them than the norm means you are assured of the best possible experience, with 4 full hours for better photography, researcher access for more questions, and enough time to experience more intimate and unusual behaviors. The gorillas are shy and peaceful animals and it is an unforgettable experience to watch and photograph them as they interact with each other.

The walking can sometimes be tough and long, but when you catch a glimpse of the magnificent silverback, any discomforts will be quickly forgotten. Once the gorillas are sighted, you will be guided to within 6 meters of the gorillas, and be able to sit all around them while gazing into their big round eyes as the researchers note health, behavior and other characteristics.

If staying in sector A – Overnight at Silverback Lodge (Mid-range) or Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp (Upscale)
If staying in sector B – Overnight at Chameleon Hill Lodge (Mid-range) or Clouds Mountain Lodge (Upscale)
(B, L, D)

DAY 8 Departure Via Entebbe

Your driver will transfer you to Kihihi or Kisoro Airport early morning after breakfast to catch your 90 minutes flight to Entebbe. You can also choose to travel by road to Entebbe for the same price as the domestic flight. Driving distance is about 9 hours, and you will pass by mountains, tropical rainforest and bamboo forest along the way.