Trip reference number: ITN-UGA016
Trip Operator: Rainbow Tours
We are proud to offer this truly inspirational and immersive, small group set departure for Oct 2020. Our itinerary takes a maximum of 10 lucky participants in two 4-wheel drive vehicles, on the journey of a lifetime - one which is filled with awe-inspiring wildlife encounters, stunning tropical African scenery and warm, hospitable people.
Apart from savouring unforgettable wildlife sightings, this tour allows you to delve deeper into the relationship between the wildlife, the park authorities and the permanently resident communities, so as to understand, not just observe. Thrilling highlighs include tracking Endangered Mountain gorillas in Uganda and/or Rwanda, something with which few - if any - wildlife experiences anywhere in the world can compare.
The tour is led by respected Primatologist/Ornithologist/Conservationist Charles Etoru, who obtained his MSc in Natural Resource Management throgh Leicester University and who, aside from also being a tourism specialist, managed - among others - the Jane Goodall Institute Colaborative Primate Habituation Project under the Ugandan Wildlife Authority. Participants will also have the marvellous opportunity to track Gorillas with Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikosoka, a 2019 Tusk Conservation Award nominee.
You will be able to learn about Mountain gorilla and other wildlife conservation through the eyes of the local rangers; resident guides, wardens and selected other specialists during talks, presentations, and discussions with the Gorilla Doctors/Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project; the Lion Monitoring/Uganda Carnivore Predator Programme, and the Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) organisations.
We will also take in an authentic cultural experiences with the Batwa people at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and at the Ndere Centre in Kampala.
Group Size: minimum 4 - maximum 10 participants.
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, your dedicated, experienced and professional, English-speaking driver-guide/tour-leader will meet you at the hotel. You will drive to the Ugandan border, cross into Uganda to the boundary of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (an approx. 4hr drive). Covering only 33.7km2, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is Uganda’s smallest national park. Many regard its location on northern slopes of three extinct volcanoes - Mt Muhavura (4,127m a.s.l), Mt Sabyinyo (3,634m a.s.l), and Mt Gahinga (3,474m a.s.l) – as the most scenically impressive in the country. The volcanoes are three of the six which mark the southern limit of the Albertine Rift Valley and are divided between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their slopes contain various habitat types varying according to altitude and the peaks provide a dramatic backdrop to a gorgeous location. The park is of salutary cultural significance to the original forest inhabitants, the Batwa. By late morning, you will enjoy a penetrating cultural experience: you will meet the Batwa during the Batwa Settlement Walk, something which has been gaining in popularity due to its authenticity. A 45min walk through picture-perfect, fertile rural countryside, will bring you to the temporary homes of the Batwa. Joined by an official translator and mediator between the Batwa and the management of Mt. Gahinga Lodge, guests have the 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). Expect honest and sometimes shocking replies. Time permitting, you have the chance to visit the Batwa Vocational Centre to see the inspiring educational work being conducted by the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT) with the Batwa. VSPT has donated some land on which the Batwa learn to cultivate potatoes and wheat. Additionally they are taught sewing and craft-making skills. They are encouraged to sell their products and handicrafts to generate income for medication and food. After lunch, you enjoy another varied and very interesting drive passing the wonderfully scenic Lake Mutanda en-route to Nkuringo in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, where you will stay for the next two nights (an approx. 2.5hrs drive).
Day 3 After an early breakfast, you will be taken to the park HQ for a briefing at 07:00 on conduct during gorilla tracking. You will then meet Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka and her team of experienced ranger-guides who will take you into Bwindi's Impenetrable National Park, 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 was the first full time gorilla veterinary doctor in Uganda. Time taken to reach the Gorillas varies from as little as 45mins 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 1hr with them. This is one of the most memorable and awe-inspiring wildlife experiences to be had anywhere in the world – superlatives simply fail to convey just how impressive it is. During the excursion, you may see other forest wildlife such as L’Hoest’s monkeys, Black-fronted duiker, Forest squirrels and various birds unique to the Albertine Rift, notably colourful Rwenzori turacous. You don’t have to be an athlete to take on Gorilla tracking, but you do have to be prepared to traverse fairly steep, rough and uneven terrain for what could be a lengthy period of time. Rangers and porters always go at the speed of the slowest walker, and you will be able to make several stops for drinks or snacks. This evening, you enjoy dinner with ‘Dr Gladys’ where she will tell you more about the CTPH, its history and its aims. The CTPH was founded in 2003, when scabies in gorillas was traced back to people resident around the park who have very little access to health care and to education about hygiene and disease prevention. So CTPH set about building a Gorilla Research Clinic, which then became the Gorilla Health and Community Conservation Centre. During dinner, you learn about gorilla health monitoring, gorilla conservation; community well-being and livelihood. You will also learn about work under way with community health, which is essential to prevent diseases being transmitted between humans and gorillas.
Day 4 There are three wonderful alternatives for today: a) You could make a second Gorilla tracking excursion in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Nkuringo) OR: b) You could go on a Gorilla Habituation Experience: this entails 06:45 to Rushaga, 23km away. Here you track the Rushaga Gorilla group. Once you reach the gorillas, you have the opportunity of spending up to 4 hrs with them. (Note: a maximum. of 4 guests is allowed for this activity so permits are very limited and subject to availability - if it is of interest, please book as long in advance as is possible to avoid disappointment). OR: c) Enjoy a 2-3hr 'Top of the World' trek, which is a very scenic rainforest walk in the Nkuringo sector of Bwindi, during which you can enjoy stunning vistas of the Virunga volcano chain and seek out birdlife and small forest wildlife.
Day 5 After breakfast, you will be transferred a short distance to Nteko village, the start point of an amazing walk through Bwindi fo...
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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