Gorilla & Rwenzori Expedition – 16 Days

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16 Days / 15 Nights

This Gorilla & Rwenzori Expedition takes you on the ultimate journey to explore the mountain gorillas and chimps as well as the snow-capped Rwenzori mountains.

You will see the endangered mountain gorillas, troops of chimpanzees, and climb the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains.

You will start off with a visit to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for a gorilla trekking experience, which is quite the breathtaking hike in the thick rainforest.

From Bwindi, you will go to Kasese town at the bottom of the Rwenzori Mountain ranges where your climb to Uganda’s highest peak will start. While Rwenzori has the 3rd highest peak in Africa, it is the toughest to climb and the whole climb and descent will take 9 days.

You will sleep in the various camps/huts along the hike and be among the very few who are tough enough to face the challenge.

After conquering the fabled mountains of the moon, you will then transfer to the nearby Kibale National Park for chimpanzee tracking and a hike to the craters in Fort Portal. Your trip will end with a return to Kampala.

This trip is ideal for seasoned adventurists who have some practice with long hikes and climbing. This is especially because Rwenzori is considered by many to be harder than Kilimanjaro.

What really matters is the spirit because people of older ages have actually climbed to the top.

As with all our safari packages, we can customize the program to fit your personal preferences.
Just reach out to us and we’ll be eager to craft a custom safari for you.

Safari Highlights

  • Entebbe International Airport /Kampala
  • Kisoro town
  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Kasese town
  • Rwenzori mountains
  • Kibale National Park

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Entebbe, transfer to Kampala

Our driver/guide will wait for you at Entebbe International Airport and welcome you to Uganda. You will then be transferred to your hotel for the night.

Accommodation:

Standard Boma Hotel
Comfort Cassia Lodge
Luxury Serena Hotel Kampala

Meal plan: Dinner

 

Day 2: Drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

You will embark on a drive from Kampala to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda. You will drive by the Ugandan countryside with farms, small towns, plantations, and interesting landscapes on your way to Bwindi Impenetrable National park.

With plenty of interesting stopovers along the way and you will reach your lodge in the evening.

Accommodation:

Standard Buhoma Community Camp
Comfort Rushaga Gorilla Camp
Luxury Mahogany Springs Lodge

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

Day 3: Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Today is gorilla trekking day and you will wake up early to have breakfast and be at the park offices at 7:00 am. You will be briefed by the Park rangers on all the procedures before you can start your gorilla trekking experience.

In groups of 8 and the rangers, you will go into the forest in search of the mountain gorillas that call this dense rainforest home.

The trekking can be quite challenging but meeting the gorillas will make all that sweat more than worth it. You will spend 1 hour with the gorillas after which you will be led back to the starting point by your guide.

You will spend your afternoon relaxing at the lodge and enjoying the views of the forest.

Accommodation:

Standard Buhoma Community Camp
Comfort Rushaga Gorilla Camp
Luxury Mahogany Springs Lodge

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

Day 4: Drive from Bwindi to Kasese Town.

We depart early today because it’s a fairly long drive to Kasese at the Trekkers hostel. This is where your simple but reasonable guesthouse is situated.

From here you will start the Rwenzori Trekking tomorrow. Trekkers Hostel is 12 kilometers from Kasese town in a deep valley at the end of the road leading to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

Behind the hostel meanders the Nyamwamba River which is the valley the Kilembe trail follows deep into the Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

The surroundings are delightfully green and you can enjoy the cool weather as the hostel is situated at 1,450 meters above sea level – which is nearly 500 meters in height above the nearby Kasese town. Make sure you bring something to drink and to bite on the way.

Accommodation: Trekkers Hostel.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

 

Day 5: Steady walk with a steep climb for the last kilometer.

Start at Trekkers at 1,450 meters and sleep at Sine Hut at 2,596 meters a height gain of 1,146 meters.

We start by walking up the valley floor through the tall forest trees of the Afro Montane Forest Zone. This is a steady climb with multitudes of birds and a chance of seeing a wild chimpanzee or blue monkey scampering off through the forest.

At times visitors may see troupes of 15 to 20 Colobus monkeys scampering through the treetops.

There are rare sightings of the L’Hoest monkey which are part of the Bukonzo cultural emblems and are protected by the virtue of the King or Omusinga. There is a wide variety of plant species from forest trees to bamboo thickets, low shrubs, flowers, fungi, and many mosses and lichen-covered vines hanging from the tall trees creating an awesome appeal.

Enock’s Falls are just 200 meters from Sine Hut and offer a splendid opportunity to capture a great screensaver for your memories.

The wooden hut is a set between tall forest trees on a narrow ridge, and a large verandah where you may sit and enjoy the beauty of the Afro Montane forest while you look down at a fantastic waterfall crashing over the rocks far below. Sine Hut is just below the bamboo zone and the area around has many different bird species.

Accommodation: Sine Hut – 2,585 meters.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

 

Day 6: Climb to Mutinda Camp

After a good breakfast, trekking starts at 8.30 am and you soon enter the Bamboo-Mimulopsis Zone which is a steep climb with many high steps. In the wet season, the bamboo area is rather muddy and slippery making the progress slow.

However, the atmosphere and the forests are beautiful as you climb 551 meters altitude and a distance of 1.8km to Kalalama Camp at 3,147 meters which is in the Heather-Rapanea Zone where you can take a rest and a quick cup of tea or coffee before heading on to Mutinda Camp.

The trail meanders up and over several small knolls along a ridge top then drops down the side of the valley before climbing again, and in doing so crosses several small streams and passes close to moss-covered waterfalls.

You then climb steadily along the side of a beautiful mossy river that tumbles down over the rocks under the Giant Heather trees whose trunks are covered in green moss with old man beards (Usnea lichen) hanging from the branches.

The trail twists and turns as you climb up the deep valley, which has an enormous variety of plants and flowers. This valley is unique with many Giant Heather trees creating a beautiful atmosphere often shrouded in mist.

Eventually, you get to Mutinda Camp which is set near a small river that drops off a waterfall and offers a chance to wash, refresh and relax or, you may wish to climb up to the top of the Mutinda Lookout (one and a half hours up and one hour down) The view and the atmosphere is amazing as you stand on moss-covered rocks at 3,925 meters with views across the Rwenzori Mountains, down to Kasese town and Lake George.

Accommodation: Mutinda Camp

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

 

Day 7: Hike 4.9km starting at 3,688 meters climbing to 4,062 meters Alpine Zone

The trail here is boggy particularly in the wet season but with a little skill you can step from tussock to tussock to make the going easier.

You cross the Mutinda valley through the tussock grass and everlasting flowers interspersed with many Giant Lobelias before climbing a steep section up to the Namusangi Valley (3,840 meters), which ends abruptly with sheer waterfalls and fantastic views of Mutinda Peaks.

The Namusangi Valley is wide, with many ups and downs and crossing several bogs as the trail climbs steadily to Bugata Camp at 4,062 meters.

Bugata Camp is situated way up Bamwanjara Pass high above Bugata Lake with views across Lake Kopello to Weismann’s Peak, which is often covered with snow then down the valley views of Lake Africa and Lake Kanganyika and the many small peaks towards Mutinda Camp.

The area is covered with tussock grass, everlasting flowers (Helichrysum), St John’s Wort (Hypericum becquaeritii), giant groundsel (Senecio adnivalis) and Giant lobelia (Lobellia gibberoa).

There are many Red Forest Duiker (Cephalophuc nigrifrons rubidus) which are sub-species only found in the Rwenzori Mountains. In the past, they have been very hard to see due to the thick vegetation but since the fire, which burnt across the alpine region of the Rwenzori Mountains, they are now easier to see in the new shorter growth.

In the dryer season, you may choose to walk directly up the valley but a more scenic trail meanders along the hilltops with fantastic views of Lake Nusuranja from Plozza Rock. From Plozza Rock you also get fantastic views down the valley of nine lakes ringed by rugged peaks and ridges.

Bugata Camp has good facilities, solar lights, good toilets and bathrooms where the guides may prepare some warm water in a basin for you to wash. Bugata also has a helipad (GPS reading N 18.312 E29 53.457) in case of any need for rescue by helicopter.

Accommodation:  Bugata Camp.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

 

Day 8: Hike 6.2km starting at 4,062 meters climbing over 4,450 meters sleeping at 3,974 meters

Commence trekking at 8.30 am to climb up Bamwanjara Pass, the trail climbs steadily with several long flat bogs.

The area is covered by everlasting flowers and Giant groundsel with the bogs being mainly tussock grass and Giant lobelia whose nectar is the main food source for the Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia johnstonu dartmouthi) which is common in this area and unique to the Rwenzori Mountains.

As you climb you look back to see the glacial lakes far down in the valley. On reaching the top of Banwamjara Pass you get excellent views of all the main snow-capped peaks where we have a small shelter for you to rest and enjoy the scenery.

The walk down to Kacholpe Lakes is steep and often very muddy but offers fantastic views of Kachope Lakes and McConnell’s Prong. Butawu Camp (3,974m) is set on a ridge high above Butawu River which flows down from Scott Elliott Pass-through Kitandara Lakes and has excellent views of the snow-capped Mt Baker.

Accommodation: Butawu Camp (3,974m)

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

 

Day 9: 4.2km Starting at 3.974 meters climbing to 4.485 meters

Walk back along the ridge before crossing several wet areas and small rivers coming from Mt Baker and Freshfields Pass to join Butawu River.

The walk up Scott Elliott Pass is enjoyable as you climb through the pass and up the ridge of Mt Stanley to Margherita Camp at 4,485 meters which are below Elena Hut.

It is sheltered with a ring of high rocks and it is the original camp used by the Italian Prince Luigi Amadeo di Savoia, Duke of the Abruzzi, who mounted a very powerful expedition in 1906, composed of biologists, surveyors, a geologist and a photographer.

The Italian-led team, between June and July 1906 climbed the mountains, opening a new page in the history of mountaineering and exploration in Africa, and providing an answer to the most unresolved geographical questions in the region for centuries.

Some of the peaks still have the names, that the Duke chose to honor the Italian Kingdom and Queen Margherita hence our naming this camp Margherita Camp. From here you have great views of Mt Baker, Scott Elliot Pass, and some of the high glaciers on Mt Stanley.

Accommodation: Margherita Camp.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

 

Day 10: Climb up to Margherita peak at 5,109 meters

The day starts at 4,485 meters climbs to Margherita Peak at 5,109 meters return to Margherita Camp then descends to Butawu Camp at 3,974 meters to sleep.

Distance 3.5km to the peak then 3.5km return to Margherita Camp plus 4.2km down to Butawu Camp. Total distance 11.2km.

Wake up at 4.30 am have a quick snack and start climbing so as to get on the Stanley Glacier before sunrise. The climb up from Elena can be difficult if covered in snow and ice but it is classed as a difficult scramble.

Once on the Stanley glacier, the going is easy however, the climb to Margherita glacier can be challenging and slippery in bad weather. Rwenzori Trekking Services has recently installed a new fixed static rope with bolts every three meters leading down a ledge to the top of a six-meter aluminum ladder.

This is a safe route and anyone with reasonable fitness and a head for heights is able to pass. It is not classed as technical and it is easy in dry conditions. The climb up Margherita glacier is steep and requires that you are fit.

On getting near to the top of the glacier you then climb around an exposed section of rock, which is also bolted and roped, to get on the ridge running up to the top of Margherita Peak. On a clear day, the views from Margherita Peak are awesome and your goal is achieved.

After summiting you then descend directly to Butawu Camp or in the case of bad weather, you may need to stay in Margherita Camp however the following day it will be necessary to bypass Butawu Camp directly to Bugata Camp.

Accommodation: Bugata Camp.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

 

Day 11: 6.2km starting at 3,974 meters climbing over 4,450 meters

Have a late breakfast at 8.30 am and start trekking by 9 am. The climb up Bamwanjara Pass which is steep and in wet weather can be rather boggy making it slow going and tiresome.

While crossing the pass you get the chance to see hyrax sitting at the entrance to their rock shelter warming in the sun.

The hyrax’s main predator is the Rwenzori Leopard Panthera pardus Ruwenzori, which is rarely seen, but occasionally people do get a glimpse. The leopard has been heavily poached for its skin in the past and there are few left.

There is a skeleton nearby in a small rock shelter for those who doubt the existence of leopards at those heights. However, on a rare occasion on a misty or overcast day, you may be lucky to see one briefly as they move between the rocks. Sleep at Bugata Camp.

Accommodation:  Bugata Camp at 4,062 meters.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

 

Day 12: Descend to either Kiharo Camp 3,460 meters or Samalira Camp 3,170 meters.

Early morning set off around Lake Bugata and the outlet of Kopello Lake then climb 200 meters to the confluence of the two valleys. As you descend down the upper areas of the Nyamwamba Valley there is a large area of thick Giant Groundsel with dense evergreen undergrowth and moss with the rocky peaks towering above.

As you descend the valley you will notice the terrain is made up of several flat boggy areas where millions of years ago glaciers sat and melted leaving a wall of big rocks in front of where it lay.

The valley is home to many Red Forest Duiker (Cephalophuc nigrifrons rubidus) At night you may stay in Kiharo Camp at 3,460 meters an area rich in evergreen plants and babbling streams.

At night the air is filled with the calls of the rock hyrax as they sit on the rocky cliffs high above.

Accommodation:  Samalira Camp.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

 

Day 13. Final Descent to Kilembe

Assuming that you slept in Kiharo Camp, you wake up to the shrill calls of the Ruwenzori Turaco (Ruwenzorornis johnstoni) and other birds.

After a hearty breakfast, you walk down the valley which is home to many species of birds who dive in and out of the thick vegetation. Chameleons are a common sight as they crawl along the branches of the thick vegetation feeding on insects.

In the clear areas, you may catch a glimpse of a Duiker quietly feeding surrounded by Giant Lobelias and a variety of flowering plants.

After descending a few kilometres you climb two hundred metres height to a ridge overlooking the valley before crossing several small valleys and streams to Kyalavula which means view or lookout in the local Bakonzo language with beautiful views down the valley and across to Lake Edward in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Samalira Camp 3,147 meters is situated in a closed valley at the top of several waterfalls and is the alternative to sleeping in Kiharo Camp.

From here you descend down a long ridge, through the Bamboo-Mimulopsis Zone and Afro Montane Forest Zone back down to base camp in Kilembe.

Accommodation: Trekkers Hostel.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

 

Day 14: Crater lake hike Fort Portal – Kibale Forest

After a 2 hour drive to Fort Portal, you can stretch your legs by making a nice hike around some of the Crater Lakes in this area. The views are stunning and with clear weather, you can even see the white peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains.

You have lunch in Fort Portal as well (not included) After this hike it’s only a 1-hour drive to Kibale National Park. On arrival, you will enter a completely different world… some serious monkey business.

Although you are here specifically to track Chimps, the forest is home to at least 12 primate species including the Red-tailed Monkey, Olive Baboon, Black and White Colobus Monkey, and the Blue Monkey.

The birdlife in the forest is also prolific and includes the beautiful Great Blue Turaco. If you are very lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the meandering herd of Forest Elephant.

Accommodation:

Standard Kibale Forest Camp
Comfort Turaco Treetops
Luxury Papaya Lake Lodge

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

Day 15: Chimp tracking and swamp walk in Kibale

Today, you will track Chimpanzees and do a swamp walk. Kibale Forest boasts the highest number of primate species in the world, including our delightful cousins, the Chimpanzees.

Today, in Uganda, there are approximately 5000 Chimpanzees left in the wild, which makes it a perfect place to spot them. As you track the chimps in the thick forest, your ranger will point out the other species living in the forest, including birds, flora, and fauna.

Your swamp walk (2-3 hours) will take you through grassland, small communities, and some beautiful scenery, where the locals are likely to greet you with enthusiastic waves. It is usual to spot 3 or 4 different primate species during this walk, though the highlight is catching a glimpse of the Great Blue Turaco.

If you are tired from the Chimpanzee tracking you can do this walk as well tomorrow morning.

Accommodation:

Standard Kibale Forest Camp
Comfort Turaco Treetops
Luxury Papaya Lake Lodge

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

Day 16: Return to Kampala – Airport transfer

Today, after an early breakfast, you return to Kampala. From Kampala, we drive to Entebbe airport for your flight connection.

Make sure your flight departs after 8 pm to make sure you can make this program. If your flight leaves earlier we suggest booking an extra night in Entebbe.

Accommodation: None (Last day)

Meal plan: Breakfast & Lunch.

 

Inclusions;

  • Transport in a 4WD vehicle with a pop-up roof.
  • All fuel for the tour
  • English-speaking driver/guide.
  • Accommodation and Meals on Full Board (Breakfast Lunch and Dinner)
  • Park-entrance fees for all National parks
  • All activities described in the itinerary
  • 1 Gorilla tracking permit per person.
  • 1 Chimpanzee tracking permit per person
  • Drinking water throughout the safari.

Exclusions;

  • International airfares
  • Entry visa Uganda
  • Meals that are not part of your accommodation.
  • A porter. Helps to carry your backpack & push/pull you on the slippery slopes.
  • Personal (medical/travel) insurance
  • Tips and gratuities to rangers, driver/guide, porter, hotel staff, etc.
  • All expenses of personal nature (e.g. drinks, laundry, optional activities.)

 

Cost per person in US Dollars (USD)

Accommodation 1 Pax  2 Pax  3 Pax 4 Pax
Standard
Comfort
Luxury

 

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