Rwanda & Uganda Gorilla Discovery

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Overview

Embark on an unforgettable expedition to track mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, and other endangered primates in the rainforests of Rwanda and Uganda. Visit a research centre set up by Dr. Dian Fossey, who spent 18 years studying gorillas in the Virunga Mountains with support from National Geographic, and get up close to these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Witness the Earth’s opposing magnetic forces at Uganda’s equator, and see the African “big five” in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Itinerary

Day 1: Kigali

Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included.

If you arrive early, take some time to explore the city, known for its pleasant, friendly atmosphere. Kigali also has some interesting and historic sites outside of the city. If you want more time to explore, we recommend booking a pre-night.

Day 2: Kigali/Volcanoes National Park

Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial and pay your respects to the victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, learning about this somber chapter of the country’s past. Later, embark on a community walk in the vibrant Nyamirambo township and enjoy a local lunch at the G Adventures–supported Nyamirambo Women’s Centre. Travel to northern Rwanda in the afternoon and settle into our lodge, located at the edge of Volcanoes National Park and offering stunning views of the soaring peaks.

Volcanoes National Park borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains can be found here. The volcanoes and highlands of the park are covered in lush rainforest and bamboo (a favourite snack of the gorillas). While the most famous resident is the mountain gorilla, there’s plenty of other wildlife roaming around: buffaloes, bushbucks, golden monkeys, hyenas, numerous bird species, and some elephants call this place home.

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Volcanoes National Park

Set out on a trek in lush, jungle-covered hills with a park ranger to track a unique and endangered species—the golden monkey. Observe these playful, curious creatures in their natural habitat; then visit the Karisoke Research Center, founded by National Geographic Grantee Dian Fossey. Meet with a resident researcher to learn about ongoing efforts to protect endangered mountain gorillas, and deepen your understanding of these gentle giants at a talk by one of the park’s head wardens.

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Volcanoes National Park

Embark on an unforgettable trek through the jungle alongside a park ranger to search for mountain gorillas. When we come across a group of gorillas, witness their fascinating social dynamics up close. Note that these treks can vary in length and difficulty depending on the location of the gorillas. Return to our lodge for lunch, followed by a visit to a local village to catch a glimpse of daily rural life.

Approximately 800 mountain gorillas exist globally in the wild today. They are found in Rwanda, DRC, and Uganda. In DRC and Rwanda, gorillas live in similar ecosystems/areas. The gorilla species found in these three areas are called highland gorillas.

In Rwanda there are ten habituated gorilla families that are open to visits – the visit to a gorilla family is done once per day, with a maximum 8 trekkers per group and the duration of a visit is limited to one (1) hour with the gorilla family. The time spent with them is limited due to conservation considerations and to minimize impact on the day-to-day life of the gorilla family you are visiting. It is important to be well prepared for the trek — you never know if your total trek will be short or long. The total duration of a trek can vary and be anything between 4 and 9 hrs in length depending on the location of the gorillas, which are constantly moving. You will mainly walk where there are no paths apart from the occasional buffalo or elephant trail.

Touching the gorillas is not allowed (although in some cases they may touch you). Making loud noises or sudden movements is also not allowed. You should attempt to keep a distance of 7m from the gorillas, however the gorillas themselves are unaware of this and will often get very close, in which case you should try to slowly move away. At all times you must abide by the instructions of the trackers and rangers.

Please note that porters are available at approx. $10USD per person. The porters are all hired from local villages and not only can carry your day pack, but assist you with a welcome hand over difficult spots. Regardless of your fitness level, we highly recommend hiring a porter as some tracks can be very muddy and elevation can affect even the most fit person. It also provides employment and supports the local community.

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Volcanoes National Park/Queen Elizabeth National Park

After breakfast, cross into Uganda on a 4x4. Arrive at our lodge near Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of the largest and most popular parks in Uganda.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is characterized by open savannah, large areas of swamp around Lake George, the extensive Maramagambo Forest in the southeast, and the forested Kyambura Gorge along the border with Kyambura Game Reserve.

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Explore the verdant Kalinzu Forest Reserve with a ranger, looking for the chimpanzee families that call this protected area home. Learn about the habits and social activities of these endangered primates—our closest relatives in the animal world—and gain insights into current efforts to protect them. This afternoon, visit Queen Elizabeth National Park for a safari through rolling savanna and shrubland, keeping your eyes peeled for buffalo, elephants, leopards, lions, and hyenas.

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Head out on a morning safari through the park, dotted with acacia trees and covered in swathes of rainforest. Spot hyenes, warthogs, antelope, and, with luck, some of the African “big five.” Then float down the Kazinga Channel on a boat safari. This natural channel connects two of the park’s lakes and draws large numbers of wild creatures to its shores, including hippos, crocodiles, and a plethora of birds.

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Queen Elizabeth National Park/Entebbe

After breakfast, head to Entebbe, stopping en route at the equator; Uganda is one of the few countries in the world where you can cross this imaginary geographical line on land. Observe how water swirls in opposite directions on either side of the equator and have lunch at the G Adventures–supported AidChild Equation Café & Gallery. Later, visit a drum-making workshop and enjoy a musical performance.

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9: Entebbe

Depart at any time.

Includes: Breakfast

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