Great Apes, Uganda, Rwanda – March

22 – 31 March 2019 (9 nights)  

In March 2019, Helena Atkinson will lead a group of photographers and wildlife enthusiasts to Rwanda and Uganda to photograph Africa’s Great Apes: the mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and the endangered golden monkeys. This safari will focus on photographing these primates in an intimate setting.   It is truly an experience to get up close and personal to these great apes and with the increasing threat to their habitat there are few places left to view and photograph them.

 Trip summary

  • Cost: US$13 985 per person sharing with single supplement of US$1 010
  • 7 participants + 1 photographic trip leader
  • 3 full-day chimpanzee habituation permits
  • 3 gorilla treks 

How do I signup?

We have partnered with Eyes On Africa on this safari.  Our maximum group size is 7 participants.   If this exciting safari sounds good and you are thinking of joining this trip, please get in touch with any questions.   Please note that we do NOT purchase permits until payments for the trip are in and the folks on the ground keep an eye on permit levels for us.  When we collect the deposit required to secure your spot, we will also collect the full cost for ALL permits as these need to be paid for in advance.  

  Enquire now about this safari

Please click on individual tabs below for more detailed information. 

Highlights

  • Ten days on safari in Uganda and Rwanda to see two of the great apes
  • We welcome photographers with all levels of experience.  This safari will be conducive to learning from one another and include instruction that will suit everyone’s photographic needs.  
  • We focus on photographing in the field.  We spend most of our time and effort on photographic activities and getting images.
  • Non-photographer or videographer spouses / travel companions  will also have fun on this safari.  The wildlife places we visit will appeal to anyone with a love for animals and nature.  
  • The photo leader is an experienced naturalists with a rich background in conservation and field guiding and the region’s natural history and wildlife.  
  • Extra luggage allowances to accommodate the special needs of our photographic equipment (for our scheduled flights)
  • Comfortable lodge accommodation  
  • This itinerary focuses on up-close and real experiences with the great African apes

The Itinerary: 22 – 31 March 2019 (9 nights)

This safari represents a fantastic combination of superb wildlife photography experiences, comfortable accommodation and expert guiding.  As always, we will spend lots of time out in the field, and you will be with like-minded photographers who are happy to put in the time to get the images.  We will be staying in classic safari tented camps and for big parts of the safari, we will have the ability to go off-road (not in environmentally sensitive areas) in order to get the best photographic angles of our subjects.  

Protea Entebbe, Entebbe, Uganda

22 March 2019 (1 night)

On your arrival in Uganda at Entebbe International Airport and after clearing customs and collecting your luggage, you will be met by a local representative who will transfer you by road to the Protea Entebbe hotel.  

This luxurious 4 star resort hotel is ideally located on the glistening shores of Lake Victoria and a convenient 1km from the Entebbe airport. Protea Hotel Entebbe offers a wide variety of services & amenities including a restaurant that offers an exciting and truly inviting a la carte menu seven days of the week. Specialties include Tilapia and Nile Perch, while guests can also relax on the terrace and bar. It’s a hotel that complements your travel style. With elegant furnishings and a warm, inviting feel, the hotel’s decor and rooms create a luxurious atmosphere. The outside terrace, with its own special ambience and superb lake views is the perfect place to take it all in.

View Protea Entebbe Website

On the morning of the 23rd of March, at a time to be advised locally, you will be transferred by road to the Kajansi Airstrip in time for our private charter flight to Kasese airstrip.  

On arrival we will be transferred by road to Primates Lodge.

 

Primate Lodge, Uganda 

23, 24, 25 and 26 March 2019 (4 nights)

Primate Lodge in Kibale is an exclusive eco-lodge situated in the heart of Kibale Forest National Park. It is surrounded by a lush tropical forest that is home to 13 different species of primates, including the chimpanzees.  Privately secluded in the rainforest, this safari lodge offers you a truly authentic jungle experience and is the perfect gateway for tracking the primates in Uganda.

Our first afternoon will be at leisure at the lodge and we will spend some time preparing for the photo opportunities we will have over the next three days on our full day chimpanzee treks.  

Kibale’s varied altitude holds up different varieties of habitat, ranging from moist evergreen forest (wet tropical forest) along the Fort Portal plateau, then through the dry tropical forest (moist semi deciduous), and then to the woodland & savanna along the rift valley floor.

In the central part of the park, around Kanyanchu, the high forest consist of a mixture of evergreen trees and  deciduous with the evergreen species being dominant. Vegetation rise to over 55m and establish a semi closed canopy of massive stratified tree crowns. With shade tolerant herbs, a variety of ferns, shrubs and broad leaved forest grasses, the undergrowth is sparse. 351 tree species have been registered in the park.

The density and diversity of primates in Kibale National Park is the highest in the whole of Africa. The most well known of its 13 species are the chimpanzees, our closest relative. Kibale also hosts Uganda’s biggest population of this threatened primate.  Additionally Kibale is home to the uncommon I’Hoest’s monkey as well as East Africa’s biggest population of the endangered red colobus monkey. The black & white colobus, red tailed monkey, blue monkey, olive baboon, grey cheeked mangabey, bush baby and potto are among the other primates.

Other mammals are also present, though they are hardly seen. These consist of buffalo, leopard, bush pig elephant, and duiker. When spending enough time in the Park, you could also see amphibians and reptiles and a colorful variety of butterflies.

The park is a home to 325 variety of bird species, including 6 that are native to the Albertine Rift destination, there are the dusky crimson-wing, black-capped apalis, blue-headed sunbird, collared apalis, red-faced woodland warbler and purple-breasted sunbird. Other Kibale specials are the green breasted pitta,African pitta, black bee-eater,Abyssinian ground-thrush, yellow spotted nicator, little greenbul, black-eared ground thrush, brown-chested alethe, yellow-rumped tinker bird, blue-breasted kingfisher,  along with the crowned eagle.

For our three full day chimpanzee activities we will be going to Kanyanchu.  This is the focal point for tourism activities found in the central part of the park. The main tourist attraction is the opportunity to track chimpanzee in their habitation of this rainforest. A group of chimpanzee has been habituated in this forest since 1991 and this help our chances of encountering them.  Note that the park is just accessible on  foot there are no motorable tracks open to tourists in that part of the Park.  

We will accompany Kibale’s researchers & habituators of the chimpanzee all through their daily activities.   The habituation of the Chimpanzees means they are used to a human presence without changing their natural behaviour.  We expect to see the chimps de-nesting (in their nocturnal nests) between 05.30 to 06.30, going about foraging and displaying social interaction during the day till they make new nests at night around 19.00.   

There are over a 1000 chimps in Kibale, of which 320 are habituated to human visitation. The group we will visit includes about a 100 chimps, but often times the group is split between two or three sub-groups. The alpha male also spends time with other large males as he patrols through the forest and we may spend time with him if we encounter him.  

The Park guides normally keep in radio contact with the trackers and so we expect to have more than one opportunity to photography multiple sub-groups throughout our day. Other primates that occur in the area include the olive baboon, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed monkey, L’Hoest’s monkey, blue monkey, red colobus and the black-and-white colobus.

View Primate Lodge website 

Early on the morning of 27th of March, we will depart after breakfast at the lodge.  We will be transferred by road to Kasese Airstrip for our short charter flight to Kisoro.  On arrival we will be met and transferred to the Kyanika border post, clear through immigration to the Rwanda side and transfer by road to our lodge in time for lunch.

 

Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, Rwanda 

27, 28, and 29 March 2019 (3 nights)

The Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel in Musanze (Ruhengeri) is located on the road going to Volcanoes National Park and is the perfect base for our activities at Volcanoes National Park.  The park’s headquarters, from where will do our trekking, are about 15 minutes away. Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel is situated near the foothills of the mighty Virungas, the chain of 15,000-ft volcanoes stretching through Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The hotel’s name comes from the famous park which harbours five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga mountain chain, this is a superb base for visitors wanting access to the city and Rwanda’s famed mountain gorillas.  The park also acted as a base for Dian Fossey, the acclaimed primatologist, who spent many years studying the endangered mountain gorillas.

The hotel has 13 en-suite bedrooms as well as a pool and massage facilities.   

28 March: We will have an early breakfast and drive to the park offices, where we will have a briefing by our trackers and then drive to the beginning of the trail. From there we will begin our trek up the path to meet up with the gorillas (see important information on gorilla trekking under the General Information  section).

Our trek, in the footsteps of the rare and critically endangered Mountain Gorillas, the largest living primate on earth, starts in the cultivated foothills of the Virungas with interesting views in all directions. In this intimate rainforest you might see spoor of the mountains’ elusive buffalo and elephant, colourful bird and butterflies, etc. Through gaps in the canopy, the magnificent Virunga peaks, among the highest in Africa, can be seen.

Weaving through overhanging vines, moss-covered hagenia and giant lobelias that thrive in the tropical climate, our experienced trackers will soon bring us up close with the family.

Upon sighting the gorillas, we will stay with them for an hour as they go about their daily life, feeding, playing, resting; raising their young, before returning to the base where our driver will be waiting for us. Lunch is normally back at the lodge (dependent on how long our trek was and what time we return).

The afternoon we will spend downloading and processing images.

29 March: We will get up early again for our second day of gorilla trekking. Today we will visit a different family of gorillas (specific families visited are only determined at the Park HQ on the morning of the trek). Lunch is normally back at the lodge (dependent on how long our trek was and what time we return).

In the afternoon we have the option to be collected from Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel and taken to ex-poachers village.

Ex-Poachers Village – Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village, Rwanda

An award-winning conservation initiative, former poachers were convinced to renounce their former ways and become conservation activists. Together with their families, they founded this little community village with a replica of the Kings palace, where they now participate in eco-tourism showcasing Rwandan culture and customs.

On our last morning at the Park, you will enjoy your third and final gorilla trek and have an opportunity to see a different gorilla family. We will then return to the hotel to prepare for our transfer by road to Kigali and the Kigali Serena Hotel.

View Five Volcanoes website 

 

Kigali Serena, Kigali, Rwanda

30 March 2019 (1 night)

The hotel for our last night in Rwanda is in Kigali, just 10 kilometers from Kigali International Airport. Relaxed yet elegant, this is a good place to wind down our trip.

View Kigali Serena website

On the 31st we will be doing a city tour on our last morning.  Day rooms have been booked for us to refresh in before heading for our further travels or for international flights home.  

 

 

Safari Ends

NOTE: Air travel and customized extensions to this safari, including other camps in Tanzania and/or Kenya or other destinations can be arranged through Eyes on Africa.  Ask us for further information.

Detailed costs

US$13 985 per person sharing

US$1 010 single supplement

This fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation as well as all accommodation and all meals (except as noted above and in exclusions below).

Please note: We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, cultural, or wildlife migrations) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. We reserve the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participant.

What is included

  • Accommodation on a shared basis, however should you want single accommodation on this trip, please get in touch and enquire if this is possible 
  • 1 x Trip leader (Helena Atkinson)
  • Luggage allowance for chartered flights: 70 pounds per person in total
  • All treks and transfers to/from the airports and the hotels

What is NOT included

  • International airfare and / or other transportation between your home and airport for international flight
  • Dinner / drinks on Day 1 and last day 
  • Discretionary gratuities for hotel and lodge staff
  • Discretionary gratuities for local guides 
  • Laundry at Primate Lodge 
  • Visas, travel insurance, personal purchases (including curios, special spirit liquors, telephone calls, etc).
  • Optional pre- / post safari tours and meals or accommodation before or after the safari

General information 

  • Please read our Safari Code of Ethics and Conduct.
  • Ensure that you have relevant travel documentation for both Uganda and Rwanda.
  • During the safari we will share our workflow and processing techniques on the computer. To make the most of this opportunity you are advised to bring a laptop and card reader as well as enough external storage for these sessions as well as the editing software you are most comfortable with. 
  • Air travel and customized extensions to this safari, including other camps in Tanzania and/or Kenya or other destinations may be arranged through Eyes on Africa as desired.  Ask us for further information.
  • Discretionary gratuities for driver guides are recommended at USD $25 to $30 per person per day.
  • Discretionary gratuities for camp and hotel staff are recommended at USD $15 to $25 per person per day.
  • Any discretionary gratuities for guides, staff and trip leaders should be paid out in cash.
  • Our group size is a maximum of 7 participants with 1 trip leader (Helena Atkinson).
  • Note also that some of the lodges will only accept cash for private purchases.
  • Although most hotels and lodges offer complimentary internet access, connections are unreliable and extremely slow.  
  • Tropical rain showers can occur this time of year and you should bring rain gear both for yourself and your camera equipment.
  • At the Primate lodge they have solar power so extra camera batteries is a good idea.  
  • Special dietary requirements can be accommodated if sent through beforehand. 

Gorilla trekking information: 

The gorillas you will track in Volcanoes National Park will belong to one of ten ‘habituated’ family groups. Eight permits per day are issued for each group. For many years, these groups have undergone an extremely delicate process that has gradually made them used to the presence of humans and allowed a few privileged visitors to interact with them briefly in the wild. The gorillas are by no means tame. They are completely wild animals, which even now tolerate human presence for an hour a day at most. Experienced guides will accompany you on your tracking, many of whom have been involved in the habituation process themselves. These guides will brief you in detail on your arrival on the various aspects of ‘gorilla etiquette’, but the information contained in this set of guidelines is to help you arrive for your track well prepared and ready to enjoy this unique opportunity to the full. The permits are in extremely short supply, and are often booked as much as 18 months in advance. Only persons over the age of 15 are allowed to track the gorillas. Gorilla tracking is a year-round activity, with no season as such. The rain forest is moist, and it rains very often in Volcanoes National Park, even in the dry season. Tracking commences every morning from the park headquarters at 8:30 AM. There is a daily maximum of 8 visitors to each gorilla group, and each group is accompanied by a guide and by porters who will carry your shoulder pack for you. The gorillas cover large distances throughout the day and they are never constantly in one area. The guides will use their knowledge of the gorillas’ habits and information from the previous day to locate the group’s whereabouts. Because of this, the time taken to track the gorillas varies enormously, from as little as half an hour to as much as 9 hours before returning to camp. The terrain is sometimes difficult, with steep trails (often steeper than a flight of stairs) covered in dense vegetation that gives the park its name. In addition, the altitude of 5200 feet and more means participants do need to be physically fit to enjoy the track. Once the gorillas are located, your group will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them. After this, you will return to the park headquarters and your camp.

Gallery

Country information

 

Uganda

Uganda has transformed itself from a country with a troubled past to one of relative stability and prosperity.  Uganda, officially the Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is in the African Great Lakes region.  It is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania.   The diverse landscape encompasses the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and a substantial portion of Lake Victoria (in the southern part of the country), shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda also lies within the Nile basin, and has a varied but generally a modified equatorial climate.   Its abundant wildlife includes chimpanzees as well as rare birds. Remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a renowned mountain gorilla sanctuary. Murchison Falls National Park in the northwest is known for its 43m-tall waterfall and wildlife such as hippos.

Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country, including the capital Kampala. The people of Uganda were hunter-gatherers until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago, when Bantu-speaking populations migrated to the southern parts of the country. The official languages are English and Swahili. Luganda, a central language, is also widely spoken across the country.

Rwanda

Rwanda is a landlocked East African country with a green, mountainous landscape.  Rwanda officially the Republic of Rwanda is a sovereign state in Central and East Africa and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year.

Its renowned Volcanoes National Park is home to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. The park encompasses the 4,507m-tall Mt. Karisimbi and 4 other forested volcanoes. In the southwest is Nyungwe National Park, with ancient montane rainforest that’s a habitat for chimpanzees and other primates. 
 

  Enquire now about this safari