Organizing a gorilla and chimp trekking safari from Mbarara city
Organizing a gorilla and chimp trekking safari from Mbarara city. When organizing a gorilla and chimpanzee trekking safari, you obtain the gorilla and chimpanzee permits. These are the only assurances to this Uganda safari from Mbarara city. The Uganda Wildlife Authority sells the gorilla permits, and so are the chimpanzee trekking permits. Their supply is limited, which is why they seem scarce in certain seasons.
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Consider the number of gorilla and chimpanzee permits you need to check availability so as not to move back and forth. Also select where you hope to do gorilla trekking and chimpanzee trekking from Mbarar city.
Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park. Consider which park will bring out the best of your interests. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park currently has 148 gorilla trekking permits to public booking. Gorilla habituation experience is available in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park if you want extra time with the mountain gorillas. Mgahinga National Park has one gorilla family with 8 permits per day but this is the most virgin gorilla safari destination.
From Mbarara city, two chimpanzee trekking destinations can be considered that is Kibale National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Kyambura Gorge. Kibale National Park is Uganda’s prime chimpanzee trekking destination hosting over 1500 chimpanzees out of about 5000 chimpanzees population that Uganda hosts.
You need to consider the accommodations you may spend your nights at while on gorilla trekking safari and chimpanzee safari.
Choose how to get to these gorilla and chimpanzee trekking destinations as road transport is the most chosen way, but you can charter too for more exclusive travel.
What to do when planning gorilla and chimpanzee trekking safari from Mbarara City
Book gorilla and chimpanzee permit
The Uganda Wildlife Authority is mandated to sell and regulate gorilla and chimpanzee trekking permits; however, you can use the assistance of a tour operator. At Encounter Africa Safaris, we can assist you secure your gorilla and chimpanzee permit. When you enquire about your desire to go for this primate safari, we help you find availability and can assist with booking other safari amenities like accommodation, vehicle hire, driver guide hire and others.
Upon finding availability, we request you purchase your gorilla and chimpanzee permits immediately. This is because gorilla and chimpanzee permits are scarce due to their limited supply, yet demand is high no matter the season.
To collect your gorilla and chimpanzee permit cards, you need to provide us with some personal identifications like your full name as presented on the passport, date of birth, nationality, passport expiry date to be added to your permit card.
Chimpanzee trekking permits are booked either for the morning or afternoon session. Bwindi gorilla trekking permits are secured according to area of which the park is subdivided into four areas that is Buhoma in the North, Ruhija in the East, Nkuringo and Rushaga in the South.
Consider Accommodation For The Gorilla And Chimpanzee Trekking Destinations
Gorilla and chimpanzee trekking destinations start early in the morning with briefing which is a must-attend. Failure to attend the briefing due to the different obstacles you may encounter may cause you to be disqualified.
For this reason, you must sleep within or closer to where you are destined to do gorilla trekking or chimpanzee trekking in Uganda.
Accommodations to this primate destination are subdivided into luxury, mid-range, and budget facilities.
- Bwindi accommodations: Buhoma Lodge, clouds Lodge, Bwindi View Bandas, Gorilla Safari Lodge, Engage Lodge, Ruhija Gorilla Lodge, Nkuringo Gorilla Lodge, Bwindi Backpacker’s Lodge
- Mgahinga accommodations: Gahinga Lodge, Traveller’s Inn, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Mgahinga gorilla Triangle
- Kibale Accommodations: Primates Lodge, Ndali Lodge, Kibale Safari Lodge, Chimps Nest, CVK, Kyaninga Lodge
- Queen Elizabeth Accommodations: Mweya Safari Lodge, Bush Lodge, Katara Lodge, Jacana Lodge, Simba Safari Camp, UWA Hostels
Transport means to get to the gorilla and chimpanzee trekking destinations
You need a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle as the roads in the countryside get messy during the wet season and dusty and bumpy in the dry season. A professional and experienced driver guide makes the trip more informative and memorable.
From Mbarara city, the drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park is 119 kilometers then later to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is 64 kilometers from Ishasha area or 160 kilometers from Mweya area.
From Mbarara city, the drive to Kibale National Park is about 156 kilometers, then connect to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, about 260 kilometers.
Different routes can be used to get to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, so you need a professional drive guide with knowledge of the condition of these routes as they tend to get messy at times due to regular rains, the nature of the soils, and less sunlight received.
Charter flights can range from Mbarara to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip. This requires advance arrangement and air clearance from CAA.
You need a transfer vehicle as these airstrips are located about 2 hours distance from the park headquarters especially if staring with gorilla trekking.
Additional activities to combine with gorilla and chimpanzee trekking from Mbarara city
In Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga National Park, or Kibale National Park, you can take part in other activities within these parks.
Some of the additional Uganda Safari activities you can do in these parks include
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park:
While in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you can also do birding. Birding in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park gives you chances to spend time with a number of birds as over 350 bird species are present in this park, according to statistics, including Albertine rift endemics. The Ruhija area is the key birding spot for the Bwindi forest.
Visit the local community.
While in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you may walk into the local community to interact with the locals and visit a blacksmith, traditional healer, rural homestead, banana brewery and others.
Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park has several additional activities you can combine with gorilla trekking like birding. Mgahinga forest, part of the Virunga area, hosts some unique birds as over 155 bird species have been recorded living in this smallest Uganda National Park. The list is believed to expand, according to ornithologists, as more bird discoveries are being made.
Mountaneering in Mgahinga
Mgahinga National Park has three volcanoes you can hike in an 8-hour return trip. These mountains include Gahinga Mountain, Mountain Muhavura and Mountain Sabyinyo. You need a guide to complete this walk and when at the summit of Mountain Sabyinyo, you spot the border of Uganda, Rwanda and D.R.Congo.
A visit to the Batwa community
The Batwa are some of the victims of the mountain gorilla conservation. They were evicted from their ancestral home to conserve the mountain gorillas, as the forest was their home and sole provider. When you walk to their community, you contribute to their lively. They take you through some of their experiences in the forest, do some demonstrations, and may also entertain you with their folk tales and songs.
A visit to the Garama hills gives you insight into the life of the Batwa. This is a cave where they used to hide after raiding the Bafumbira gardens. This was a council chamber too but currently, performances can be watched from this spot.
Kibale National Park
Birding is also a common activity in Kibale National Park. Chances of spotting a wide range of forest birds are high. At the moment, Kibale National Park is hosting about 325 bird species including the rare shoebill.
Chimpanzees habituation experience
If you choose chimpanzee habituation experience, you get extra time with the chimpanzees. Chimpanzee habituation experience is an adventure where tourists can spend four hours with the semi-habituation chimpanzees in the wilderness. As a tourist, you escort a team of researchers and trackers in the wilderness to collect some information about the chimpanzees, like their traits, samples, lifestyle, and so much more. This is part of what is presented to tourists when they visit a chimpanzee troop during chimpanzee trekking.
Four tourists are allowed to do chimpanzee habituation per session per day.
Bigodi community visit
On the outskirts of Kibale National Park is the Bigodi wetland sanctuary in Masombe Swamp. Here you may encounter more wild animals like red-tailed monkeys, otters, mongoose, bushbucks, black and white colobus, sitatungas, and so much more. From the visitor platform and boardwalk trail, you can spot most of these interesting features.
This is a community-based initiative purposely created to conserve the exceptional biodiversity and environmental values of the wetland. Another similar community initiative is Kihingani wetland is located outside the park in Sebitoli.
Take a forest walk
Tropical forest Kibale National Park is great for a guided forest walk where you explore the great habitats that are tropical rainforest, riverine forest, swamp, and grassland.
You may get the opportunity to identify a number of other primates like black and white colobus, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, l’Hoests’, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboons, bush babies and others.
Children’s activities in Kibale National Park
When you travel with children 15 and below, they may engage in children’s activities in Kibale National Park, which takes about 1 hour and 2 hours. A children’s ranger guide leads the children and they engage in learning about the ecosystem, take short walks, pond dipping, cyanotype, photography, batik making and others.
Queen Elizabeth National Park activities
Other than chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge, Queen Elizabeth National Park has other activities you can engage in.
Game Drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park
During the early morning and late afternoon game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park, while you drive on the tracks in the park, you may spot herds of elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks, bushbucks, warthogs, topis, leopards and so much more. The Kazinga and Kasenyi areas are famous for hosting a wide range of wild animals, including sneaky lions that love to prey on antelopes.
Since Queen Elizabeth National Park is on the floor of the Rift Valley, you get to enjoy the stunning views while on a game drive, including the stunning Rwenzori ranges.
Launch trip on Kazinga channel
One of the top highlights of a visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park is the launch trip. This starts from the pier below Mweya Peninsular and takes about 3 hours return trip. Along the shore of Kazinga Channel, you may spot a number of animals that love spending time at the banks of Kanzinga Channel.
Some animals you may spot include lions, elephants, waterbucks, bushbucks, leopards, buffaloes and others. The banks of the Kazinga channel are often flocked by an array of birds and acts as a magnet to even foreign birds.
Have fun and relax at the launch and sink into the life on the floor of the rift valley.
The Crater Lakes visit
While in Queen Elizabeth National Park, you can have fun in the crater lakes areas where you may spot craters like Lake Katwe, the ancient salt mining industry in Uganda, Lake Nyamunuka, with a putrid smell, and others.
This 27-kilometer drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park provides superb views into numerous craters, some filled while others dry.
What Not To Do On Gorilla And Chimpanzee Trekking
- Never feed the mountain gorillas or chimpanzees because they are wild animals that must depend on in the wild.
- Dumping garbage in the forest is forbidden because this changes the nature of the environment where they feed.
- Flash photography is forbidden as this may scare the mountain gorillas and chimpanzees.
- Keep a distance of about 8 meters from the mountain gorillas or chimpanzees, as this is quite scary.
- Only one hour is allowed with the mountain gorillas and chimpanzees during trekking safari.
- In case you wish to cough or sneeze, keep at least 300 meters from the mountain gorillas and chimpanzees to protect them and you from exchanging possible infections.
Contact us to plan your gorilla and chimpanzee trekking safari.