Trip reference number: ITN-UGA015
Trip Operator: Rainbow Tours
We are immensely proud to present this truly inspirational and immersive set, small group tour for September 2020. Our itinerary takes a maximum of 10 lucky participants in two 4WD vehicles on the journey of a lifetime - one which is filled with awe-inspiring wildlife encounters, stunning scenery and warm, hospitable people.
Apart from taking in an array of unforgettable wildlife sightings, the tour allows you to delve deeper into the relationship between the wildlife, the park authorities and the permanently resident communities. Spend time tracking endangered Mountain gorillas in Uganda and/or Rwanda, something with which few wildlife experiences anywhere in the world can compare.
Learn about Mountain gorilla and wildlife conservation through the eyes of the local rangers, the guides, wardens and various 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) organisation. Enjoy authentic cultural experiences with the Batwa in 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 be taken to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, an intensely moving experience. Created by the Kigali City Council in partnership with the UK-based Aegis Trust, the centre contains an exhibition of the Rwandan genocide, as well as an exhibition of other genocides around the world. Afterwards, you will be transferred in your comfortable 4WD vehicle to Parc National des Volcans, about 3hrs drive northwards. Visit the headquarters of the Gorilla Doctors/Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in Musanze/Ruhengeri. This enjoyable and very interesting introduction to Gorilla conservation entails a 1½hr lecture/slideshow by one of the Gorilla Doctors staff. The core of the Gorilla Doctors work is gorilla health monitoring by means of visually observing habituated gorilla groups on a regular (monthly) basis to check for signs of illness or injury. Only if deemed essential, will a sick or injured gorilla be treated. Also taken into account are observations of the trackers working for the national parks, and organizations such as the Karisoke Research Center of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International: they see the gorillas daily and are trained by the Gorilla Doctors to note signs indicative of illness or injury. Concerns are reported back to the veterinary team, which performs in-depth visual health checks. After the presentation, you will be transferred to your lodge where you will stay for the night with all meals included.
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 be allocated to a team of experienced ranger-guides who will take you into Parc National des Volcans, to seek out one of the resident, habituated Gorilla groups. 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. For those who elect not to track Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda, you have an opportunity to track the Golden Monkeys: After the briefing at the Park HQ, set off to seek these endangered monkeys which are unique to the Albertine Rift. The Virunga Volcanoes harbour the only remaining viable breeding population. You will venture through open farmland and search high in the dense bamboo groves. Here, the Golden monkeys feed on bamboo leaves, insects and on ripe fruit when available. After lunch, you drive the short distance to the Ugandan border, cross into Uganda and visit beautiful Lakes Chahafi and Kayamburu. Before sunset, time permitting, you enjoy a canoe boat trip on the lake before dinner.
Day 4 This morning, you enjoy a visit to a local church, meeting some of the young children and families in the village, seeing them in their Sunday best. You also get the opportunity to enjoy gentle walks around parts of Lakes Chahafi and Kayumbu. In the shadow of the Virungas, these lakes and the surrounding forests, wetlands and farmlands offer tranquility in a bucolic setting where few tourists venture. Watch people moving their cattle, fishing on the lakes and pushing their bicycles carrying charcoal for miles. From the simple Lake Chahafi Resort, it is possible to walk around part of the lake in search of resident Otters, and to explore a papyrus swamp. You are then transferred the short distance to the boundary of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (an approx. 1hr 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 have another 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 day through wonderfully scenic cou...
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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