9 DAY Rwanda Culture, Uganda Gorillas & Chimps

This tour takes you to connect with Rwandan people in authentic cultural experience, head out on gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi Impenetrable national park and chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest  national park. This offers you the best wildlife encounter of the closest relatives to human beings in the jungle. The Tour starts with an orientation about Rwanda’s Dark past but bright future as you visit Kigali genocide memorial museum, in a Kigali city tour.

Day 1: Kigali City Tour, Visit Genocide Memorial, Musanze cave experience.

Day 2:  Cultural Experiences at Gorilla Guardians village

Day 3: Transfer to Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Day 4: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Gorilla Trekking

Day 5: Queen Elizabeth National Park,  Tree Lions safari in Ishasha Sector

Day 6: Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Day 7: Queen Elizabeth National Park – Kibale Forest National Park  

Day 8: Kibale Forest National park –  Chimpanzee Trekking (or top-up

full day chimps ‘habituation’ experience)

Day 9:  Road Trip  to Entebbe Airport or Kigali Airport for Departure  

Tour price: Please contact our tour consultant for detailed price information email: info@chigotours.com

Trip Price Includes:

4×4 transport with gas, Uganda Gorilla permit ($600), Chimpanzee permit,  English speaking driver guide, accommodation in self-contained, activities as indicated on itinerary. Full Board (Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch on tracking date as indicated on itinerary)

Trip Price excludes:

Air ticket, Rwanda/Uganda Visa, tips to guides, any meals not indicated on itinerary, drinks, tips, items of personal nature, entertainment, any other optimal activity.

Day 1: Kigali City Tour, Visit Genocide Memorial, Musanze cave experience.

Our guide  will pick you up at your hotel, go through a debrief about Uganda and Rwanda. Head out for a city tour, visit  Kigali Genocide memorial . It is where the remains of 250, 000 victims of 1994 Genocide are buried. It contains a cemetery, genocide exhibition section, a library The memorial is very moving – the tour takes two to three hours – It is in memory of the multitudes murdered in Rwanda’s genocide 1994. The memorial sites and centres are places of dignified remembrance for loved ones lost.

The Musanze Caves just opened to exploratory tourists in 2013. Located at the foothills of Volcanoes National Park, the caves offer a peek into the geological history of the region, which was created by intense volcanic activity that formed the Albertine Rift Valley some 65 million years ago. Extending for a length of two kilometers and relatively easy to hike, the underground caverns provide guests with a profound understanding of the origins of the area. The floors of the caverns are paved, while the trails have stairways and walkways in place to facilitate easy movement. As you wander through the various subterranean areas, you can view intricate rock formations lit by pockets of soft sunlight, which filters through gaps in the ceiling.

Luxury option: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge | Five Volcanoes Lodge

Midrange option: Gorilla Volcanoes lodge| La Palme Hotel

Day 2:  Cultural Experiences at Gorilla Guardians village – former Iby’Iwacu Village

The village offers visitors to the country an opportunity to gain a captivating insight into an age-old culture, to get a taste of the traditional lifestyle. As you wander through the village on a guided community walk, you will be overwhelmed by the warmth and friendliness of the local folk. They are happy to introduce you to their traditional way of life, including songs and dances accompanied by lively drumming. You can listen to “gorilla songs” sung. Take a lesson from a traditional healer in how to create medicinal elixirs from local plants, grasses, and shrubs, or peek into a classroom at one of the local schools.

Luxury option: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge | Five Volcanoes Lodge

Midrange option: Gorilla Volcanoes lodge| Muhabura Hotel

Day 3: Transfer to Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Have morning breakfast and then  transfer to the Rwanda/Uganda border crossing at Cyanika. We cross and continue driving through amazing landscapes of the terraced Virunga region. After the fabulous scenery drive, we arrive at our lodge.

Bwindi Forest National Park, located in south western Uganda on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, is considered the most diverse forest in Uganda. The area, one of the few large expanses of forest in East Africa, where lowland and mountain habitats meet, contains a dense ground cover of herbs, vines, and shrubs.

Luxury option: Ichumbi Gorilla lodge /  Mahogany Springs / Agandi Uganda lodge

Midrange option: Rushaga Gorilla Camp / Trekkers Traven cottages.

Day 4: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Gorilla Trekking

Today our guide will pick you up from your lodge, at 7.30am transfer to park gate (5-10 minutes) on time for  orientation  at 8:00 am. Trekking through the thick jungle, traversing canopies of thick undergrowth can be tough, wet, strenuous but not impossible – the tracking can last from as little as 45 minutes to as much as 10 hours. The activity depends on location of gorillas the previous day. Visitors therefore are supposed to move along with packed/picnic lunch and water, and should be equipped with strong water-proof clothing and must be averagely healthy.

Bwindi  impenetrable  national park is about 330sq kms, with spectacular scenery, impressive forest views. The whole geographical scenery is basically hilly and mountainous. At an elevation between 1160 to 2607m (3806 to 8553ft) rains can shower anytime in Bwindi forest, it is recommended that visitors pack rain wear, waterproof clothing and appropriate hiking shoes to wear on during gorilla tracking or forest walks. Daytime temperatures range from 23C/73F at times dropping to as low as 11C/52F

There are 16 gorilla families which have been habituated for gorilla viewing, all of which can be accessed from specific locations/sectors of the forest. Eight people are permitted to view a single family per day. To trek gorillas you need a gorilla permit/license. Gorilla licenses are booked by location not by the name of a gorilla family. There are 4 starting gates namely; in North at BUHOMA, in the East at RUHIJA and in the South at RUSHAGA & South West at NKURINGO.  

Luxury option: Ichumbi Gorilla lodge /  Mahogany Springs / Agandi Uganda

Midrange option: Rushaga Gorilla Camp / Trekkers Traven cottages.

Day 5: Queen Elizabeth National Park,  Tree Lions safari in Ishasha Sector

We depart in the early morning after your breakfast to Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park,  through Ishasha south section in Queen Elizabeth – This is home to tree climbing lions. There are chances of seeing lions in the trees. Please note that there is no guarantee but our guide will maximize all regular hot spots to increase chances of sighting lions.  

Queen Elizabeth National Park, which is dominated on its northern border by the snow-capped 16,000-foot Rwenzori Mountains-the famed “Mountains of the Moon”. This 767-square-mile conservation area is bordered on the North East by Lake George and on the South West by Lake Edward; its western border adjoins the Zaire Parc Du Virunga. You will expect to see teeming herds of impala-like Uganda Kob, as well as topi, elephant and lion, giant forest hog, Cape buffalo.

Luxury: Mazike lodge / Kasenyi Safari Camp ( B,L,D)

Midrange /Budget: Simba Safari Camp / Bush Lodge.( B, D)

Day 6: Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park

At 6.30am, your guide will pick you from your lodge and set off for morning game drive. A little before sunrise coffee, will be served in the lounge before we head out for a long game drive.  look out for early morning sunrise. You will search for wildlife in the park. look out for Elephants, Buffalo, Lion, Waterbuck, Leopard, Uganda Kob, and many Warthogs.

–  2pm boat cruise safari tour on Kazinga channel. This is probably the most amazing combination of spectacular water birds ( residents and migrants) teaming with wildlife on Kazinga channel. Along the channel, local people are seen loading their canoes, fetching water as  buffalos wallowing , Elephants shower, Hippos roam around, crocodiles basking on the same banks . unbelievable life at the fishing village. Tones of storks, spoonbills, cormorants, kingfishers, lapwigs, pelicans. You can expect to see buffalo, crocodile, bathing elephant, and a range of beautiful birds. This will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of your tour complimenting wildlife seen on game drive.

Luxury: Mazike lodge / Kasenyi Safari Camp ( B,L,D)

Midrange / Budget: Simba Safari Camp / Bush Lodge( B, D)

Day 7: Queen Elizabeth National Park – Kibale Forest National Park  Here we have optional activities.

Optional activity 1: Lion predator tracking:

For visitors who yearn to get up close to wild African animals, a research trip is a rewarding adventure. This new and unique experience allows visitors to actively participate in monitoring some of lions in the park, using locator devices and learn habituation calls, as well as monitoring weather, surroundings and behavior. The results are added to researchers’ databases, contributing valuable information to the overall understanding of wildlife ecology – and helping to conserve this wonderful ecosystem. This will as well gives you a 95% chance to see the lions!

The number of people on each outing is limited in order to reduce stress on the animals and to increase the quality of the experience for visitors. Experiential tours lasts between one and three hours. They usually take place in the early morning or evening. All activities must be booked through the Visitor Information Centre in Mweya at least 24 hours in advance.

This Cost: $85 us dollar per person.

Optional activity 2: Salt lake tour

At 8 am, we have the option of  driving to lake Katwe salt crater lake. This unusual crater lake – too salty to support any wildlife – though since the 16th Century it has ensured the survival of village community, who spend their days under the sun, harvesting salt from its milky waters. This tour gives you a unique insight into the fascinating yet tough process of salt mining, as well as providing an alternative income for people. on the tour you will see  local community at work, cross the mud walkways with lots of traditional grass huts, used as shelter.

We continue driving through the undulating highlands of western Uganda on our way to the greener and beautiful Fort Portal area.

You pass through traditional Ugandan villages where you see people at work tending their traditional crops of millet, sorghum, beans and maize. The lush rolling hills of this region provide good photo opportunities.

Luxury : Primate Lodge / Papaya Lodge

Midrange/Budget: Kibale Forest Camp / Dutchess Guest House

Day 8: Kibale Forest National park –  Chimpanzee Trekking (or top-up $70 for the full day chimps ‘habituation’ experience)

Today we transfer to Kibale forest national park – Kanyanchu gate. Kibale National park is an extension of the great rainforests of central Africa. It is inhabited by three large “communities” of chimps, with over 120 individuals. Only one community is allowed to be visited by tourists.

In Kibale, here you will find one of the largest populations of chimpanzees in Africa – about 1450 individuals.

Today you will do Chimpanzee ‘tracking’. This activity can take between 4 to 5 hours.

Remember to carry water, rain gear, and walking/hiking boots plus back pack. It will be perfect opportunity to listen to the chimps as the grumble and feed. Only one community is allowed to be visited by tourists.  

Optional activities:

Activity one: Chimpanzee ‘habituation’ experience.

You can do chimpanzee habituation tracking instead of the usual chimpanzee tracking at an additional fee of only $50 US per person,. Chimpanzees live in communities. Each community has a complicated social structure. The big adult males dominate the group and defend the community territory against other male intruders; the females usually wander in small family groups. Rangers locate the chimps by listening for their pant-hooting calls, following their eating trails. A chance to observe them as they feed in fruiting trees,  and socialize with each other. on a lucky day people have witnessed chimpanzees hunting. You will have very close encounter with these chimps. Please note it’s important to book this in well ahead of time because only 6 persons per day are permitted to experience this. In the event that one decides on going for chimpanzee habituation, it is possible to go on swamp sanctuary walk the next morning before heading to Entebbe.

Activity one: Bigodi  swamp  sanctuary  and community walk.

Bigodi wetland sanctuary for a primate swamp walk (2 hours). The wetland sanctuary is an  authentic eco tourism initiative of how the community co exists harmoniously with a habitat of over 50 bird species including Greatblue Turaco, and 8 primate species. Look out for grey cheeked mangabeys, Columbus monkeys, red tailed monkeys among others.Experience traditional coffee processing, local beer making , visit traditional healer. For crafter lovers, visit village women making baskets from natural local material. After transfer back to the lodge

Cost: $20 per person

Luxury : Primate Lodge / Papaya Lodge

Midrange/Budget: Kibale Forest Camp / Dutchess Guest House

Day 9:  Road Trip  to Entebbe Airport or Kigali Airport for Departure  

 

End of Tour.

Additional information

Accommodation: Additional accommodation before and at the end of the tour can be arranged for extra cost

Lodging mentioned in the itinerary depends on availability of rooms available at the time of booking. Reservations will only be made after your confirmed booking with us. At the time of your booking, in the event that listed hotels are fully booked, we will do our best to inform you and book a different hotel in the same class.

Important: To go on a gorilla trek, you need a gorilla permit/license which we can arrange for you.  We can only purchase your Gorilla permit after you have made a down-payment to us. Gorilla permits are competitive on a daily basis, advance booking is always preferred.

Please note the gorilla tracking in this itinerary can be done in Bwindi and or Mgahinga national parks. Gorilla tracking is dependent on the permits availability at the time of your booking. Gorilla permits in all parks are on a very high demand and we advise that you book them as early as possible.

Gorilla trekking can be strenuous activity and Minimum gorilla tracking age is 15 years.

What to bring: Hiking shoes/walking shoes,  long socks to tuck-in long pants , rain wear, warm clothing, evenings can be cold/chilly, gloves preferably gardening type are very helpful and  insect repellant.

Anyone with signs of communicable diseases will NOT be allowed to track.

While possession of a gorilla permit is a guarantee of trekking and

Maximum time allowed with the gorillas will NOT exceed ONE hour, you are kindly requested to practice different modes of using your camera in different light situations. Gorillas can sometimes be moving, Forest vegetation can at times obstruct visibility, and hence taking photos of these creatures can be very challenging!

 

Transport:

Our standard offering is a 4WD vehicle.  All passengers will have a dedicated window seat. Your driver/guide will be at your disposal for questions.

Extension/ add on Tour. If you want to extend your tour to one of our other destinations or if you’d like to add a few side trips to the itinerary, kindly let us know.

 

Difficulty:

Gorilla trekking takes place at altitudes 1200 to 2607m (3806 to 8553ft) above sea level. This means that moderate/average physical fitness is required. The slowest member will determine the groups’ speed. The pace will be moderate, with plenty stops to rest, ask questions, re-hydrate and enjoy the forest and views.

 

Booking and payment details: Once you have decided to join one of our safaris, you will need  to contact us for booking form which will include details relating to deposit and final payments etc.