Uganda, Rwanda & Kenya Wildlife & Conservation Small Group Tour (With Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka), Jan 2021

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Run by: Rainbow Tours

Reference number: ITN-UGA017

From: £8225.00

Join us on this once-in-a-lifetime, immersive tour taking a small group of guests to wildlife hotspots of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.

During this extraordinary three-country journey, you will not only enjoy seeing diverse wildlife, but also learn about conservation from renowned experts like Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikosoka. You will come away with an in-depth understanding of human-wildlife conflict issues; challenges facing conservation initiatives and also, about conservation successes in these three countries. The tour starts in Rwanda where our focus is Akagera National Park, managed African Parks which has been conducting sterling work in order to transform Akagera into the rewarding wildlife haven that it once was. Here you will be able to meet the rangers and learn about conservation developments in this park. In exquisite,verdant south-western Uganda at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, visit the Mountain gorillas with none other than Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, one of the world's leading authorities on Mountain gorillas. You also enjoy the stunning scenery in this corner of Uganda, including dense rainforests, the Virunga volcano chain and picture-perfect crater lakes.

The third and final country incorporated into this itinerary, is Kenya. Here we stay for six nights at the Enonkishu Conservancy in the Mara region. Aside from game drives (day and night) galore in Enonkishu and two other conservancies, you will have the privilege of meeting conservation figures such as the conservancy Operations Manager Albabus Musyoka; you can engage in one-to-ones with rangers, wardens and park staff; learn about camera trapping techiques, transects; foot patrols; animal track identification and you can get to know something of the everyday lives of the Masaai people, with whom you can enjoy a traditional dinner at a Masaai home and even 'put the cows to bed'; one night. The inclusion of a visit to a little-known Rhino sanctuary, means that guests are afforded the chance to see the Big Five; during the tour.

Among the many other highlights of this busy but utterly fascinating itinerary, are a sunset boat trip on Lake Inema (Akagera); a visit with the Batwa at Mgahinga Gorilla Park; the unusual Kisozi Caldera walk near Bwindi and a cooking class with Kenyan food blogger Kaluhi Adagala. All this, with the blend of quintessential tropical African scenery, diverse habitats and abundant wildlife (and birdlife), make the trip a truly memorable experience.

Itinerary

Day 1 Fly from London Heathrow (or selected other UK airports) to Kigali, Rwanda. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by your dedicated, professional, English-speaking, Ugandan driver-guide/tour leader, who will transfer you to your hotel where you stay overnight and meet the rest of your party, with breakfast included (approx. 30min drive).

Day 2 After breakfast, you will be met and transferred along a scenic route to the southern sector of Akagera National Park (approx. 3hr drive time). On arrival at the national park, you will be given a fascinating ‘Behind the Scenes’ talk by one of the rangers, who will speak about Akagera’s history; the wildlife relocation programmes, and the management take-over by Africa Parks (2010). In the afternoon, venture on an exciting boat trip on Lake Ihema, where you can spot an array of birds; pods of hippos, crocodiles and more. Sunsets here are magical.

Day 3 After breakfast, venture out on a full-day game drive up to the north of Akagera National Park. Despite its relatively small size, this attractive savannah park in eastern Rwanda protects varied wildlife, so expect interesting sightings in a short amount of time. The wildlife in Akagera has increased over time and the recent count is estimated that the park is now a home to over 8,000 large mammals. Lions were re-introduced recently and have had cubs. Game you should see in Akagera includes African elephant; Cape buffalo, Giraffe, Impala, Topi, Zebra, Bushbuck, Oribi, Reedbuck, Roan and Sable antelopes, Eland, Warthog and smaller mammals include Baboons, Vervet monkeys and Mongoose,. During the wonderful drive from the south to the north of the park, you'll be able to savour panoramic views from the top of the mountain across Lake Ihema and out towards Tanzania.

Day 4 Enjoy another game drive this morning in Akagera National Park, in search of the resident Lions and elusive leopards (which we saw in our 2018 inspection visit), as well as all of the aforementioned mammals. In the afternoon, you'll be shown the work that park fence attendants do to safeguard Akagera's biodiversity. (Part of their work entails walking along the fence on a daily basis. Today's walk starts at the park entrance taking you 7km into the hills following the fence on the outside of the park. The walk takes on average 2 hours and ends at the top of a ridge from where there are spectacular views of Akagera in all directions.

Day 5 Today you will be transferred in your comfortable 4-wheel drive vehicle to the Rwanda/Uganda border and from there, up to the boundary of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This very scenic drive takes about. 5hrs. T his afternoon, you meet the Batwa during the Batwa Settlement Walk. A 45 min walk through picture-perfect, fertile rural Ugandan countryside, will bring you to the temporary homes of the Batwa. Joined by an official translator and mediator between the Batwa community and the management of Mt. Gahinga Lodge, guests have the rare and very special opportunity to ask the Batwa questions. This is not a staged: you can ask challenging and contentious questions relating to their (the Batwas’) forced eviction from the forests and the unfulfilled promises on the parts of the Ugandan government and the Uganda Wildlife Authorities (UWA). So expect honest and sometimes harrowing replies.

Day 6 Set off after breakfast into the forest to track the Golden monkeys. Listed as ‘Endangered’ by the IUCN, the Golden monkey (Cercopithecus Kandti) is endemic to the Albertine Rift. The Virunga Volcanoes harbour the only remaining viable breeding population of this localised primate, a rare subspecies of the Blue monkey with a golden-orange patch on the upper flanks and back. The activity will involve venturing through open farmland and searching the dense bamboo forest canopy. Here, the Golden monkeys feed most of the year on bamboo leaves, insects and on ripe fruit when it is available. If successful at tracking the Golden monkeys it is hoped to spend an hour observing their behaviour. After lunch, enjoy another varied and interesting rural Ugandan countryside. You will be taken on the Kisozi Caldera walk, followed by a short canoe trip on lovely Lake Mutanda. You will then be driven to Nkuringo in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (an approx. 2.5hrs drive).

Day 7 After an early breakfast, you will be taken to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park's HQ (Nkuringo) for a briefing at 07:00 on conduct during gorilla tracking. You will then meet the renowned Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka and her team of experienced ranger-guides, who will take you into the rainforest-clad slopes, to seek out one of the resident, habituated Gorilla groups. ‘Dr Gladys’ as she is affectionately known, started the Conservation Through Public Health’s (CTPH) Gorilla Health and Community Conservation Centre veterinary unit at Uganda Wildlife Authority, and she is the first full-time authority and gorilla veterinary doctor in Uganda. Time taken to reach the Gorillas varies from as little as 45 mins to a few hrs. They may be in bamboo habitat or in closed forest. Once the Gorillas are located, you will be allowed a max of 1 hr with them. This is one of the most memorable and awe-inspiring wildlife experiences to be had anywhere in the world – superlatives simply fa...

This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website

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