16 Days Gorilla tracking & Rwenzori Climbing Expedition in Uganda.

Overview

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. The whole climb and descent will take 8 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.

Detailed Itinerary

Here is the full day-by-day itinerary for this tour

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 Papyrus Guest House
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 (approx. 9hrs). 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/ Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge
Comfort Rushaga Gorilla Camp/Haven Lodge Buhoma
Luxury Mahogany Springs Lodge/ Nkuringo 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/ Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge
Comfort Rushaga Gorilla Camp/ Haven Lodge Buhoma
Luxury Mahogany Springs Lodge/ Nkuringo 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 (approx. 7 hrs). 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: Hike to Sine Hut (2,585 meters)

 You will 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 is 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. You will 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. This camp 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. It crosses several small streams and passes close to moss-covered waterfalls.

You will 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. 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: Climb to 4,062 meters- Alpine Zone

From Mutinda Camp, the trail 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 will cross the Mutinda valley through the tussock grass and everlasting flowers interspersed with many Giant Lobelias. You will then climb 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: Climb to Hunwick’s Camp (3.874 metres)

Commence trekking at 8.30 am and climb up Bamwanjara Pass. The trail climbs steadily with several long flat bogs and thick vegetation with clear views of the three main peaks. The area is known for its Malachite Sunbird populations and lobelia flowers. The trek then takes you through some steep sections before a climb up to Hunwick’s Camp. It offers views of several peaks including Mt Stanley, Mt Baker, Weismanns Peak and McConnell’s Prong.

Accommodation: Hunwick’s Camp 

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 9: Climb to Margherita Camp (4.485 meters)

From Hunwick’s we pass down and across the valley floor to Lake Kitendara which is very stunning with deep water and beautiful vegetation. From here, you will enjoy the climb up Scott Elliott’s pass and then up the ridge to Margherita Camp.

Margherita camp is situated at 4,485 metres between some huge rocks which offer some shelter from the strong winds. This is the very spot where the Duke of Abruzzi camped when making his climb to Margherita Peak in 1906.

Accommodation: Margherita Camp.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

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

The day starts with waking up at 2am and catching an early breakfast before heading off to climb Mt Stanley at 2.30am. This is necessary as the weather has changed a lot and often even during the dryer season the mountain is closed in with heavy clouds and snow falls from 1 pm to 4pm. This happens within a short period of 10 to 15 minutes as the clouds rise up from the extensive Congo rainforests. 

Due to this change in weather, there is a strict turn around time of 10am. This means that if you do not reach the peak before, you must turn around regardless in the interests of safety. 

For those with less mountaineering experience, we suggest that you stay on Stanley glacier and climb up to a good vantage point on a rocky outcrop on the southern edge of Alexandra Peak to enjoy fantastic views over Congo and the lower mountain ridges.

After ascending the peak at 5,109 metres, you will then pass directly down to Hunwick’s Camp at 3.874 metres.

Accommodation: Hunwick’s Camp.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 11: Descend to Kiharo camp

From Hunwick’s Camp, you will start the day by climbing up a ridge towards McConnell’s Prong where you get the best views of all three peaks and Scott Elliott’s Pass. You will then continue to Oliver’s Pass at 4,505 metres which is 3km away from Hunwick’ camp. The trail then cuts across below Weismann’s Peak to the confluence of the Nyamwamba River which flows down through Kilembe and Kasese to Lake George in Queen Elizabeth National Park. On a clear day you get fantastic views of Margherita and Mt Stanley, Mt Speke and Mt Baker.

After crossing the confluence, the trail meanders down the valley to Kiharo Camp at which is situated in a deep valley with high cliffs and dense vegetation. 

Accommodation: Kiharo Camp

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 12: Final descent to Kilembe

You will wake up to the shrill calls of the Ruwenzori Turaco (Ruwenzorornis johnstoni) and other birds.

After a hearty breakfast, you will begin your descent down the Nyambwamba Valley. The trail is mostly downhill and absolutely stunning with beautiful views, moss covered rocks along the river, cascading waterfalls, deep valleys and forests. In the clear areas, you may catch a glimpse of a Duiker quietly feeding as you pass along the river. This area possibly has the highest population of Rwenzori Red Duikers anywhere in the National Park. 

A few kilometres down the river, the trail becomes  steeper with multitudes of stunning waterfalls.  After the waterfalls, you will climb up over a high ridge then down through the dense forests with stunning views of the valley below.  You will stop at Forest View Camp for lunch before proceeding back to base camp in Kilembe.

Accommodation:  Trekkers hostel.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 14: Crater lake hike in Fort Portal an Transfer to 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 will have lunch in Fort Portal as well (not included) and then a 2-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 African forest elephants.

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 (approx. 8hrs). 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

The price of this tour includes the following items
  • Transport in a 4WD vehicle with a pop-up roof.
  • All fuel for the tour.
  • English-speaking Ugandan 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

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

Inquire Now

Please send us a quick e-mail via the form, and our safari specialists will get back to you with specific answers.