5-Day Luxury Uganda Gorilla Safari (Fly-in) - Bwindi Impenetrable

5 Day Luxury Uganda Gorilla Safari

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Luxury Uganda Gorilla Safari

5 Day Luxury Uganda Gorilla Safari

  • Price
  • Duration 5 Days 4 Nights
  • Dates Open
  • Safari TypeGuided, Private Safari
  • LocationUganda
  • Departure CityEntebbe
  • End CityEntebbe
  • Contact nameLydia
  • Contact phone+256 774 805580
  • Cancellation policyUp to 90 Days
  • AccommodationAs shown in itinerary
  • Group TypeTraveler’s choice
  • Restriction No Children Below 15 years
  • LanguagesEnglish

Safari Overview

The 5-Day Luxury Uganda Gorilla Safari (Fly-in) is a jungle adventure into the pristine untamed jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to find the elusive mountain gorillas and spend a once-in-a-lifetime moment silently observing their evolutionary life in the wild. You’ll travel by air across southwestern’s Tuscan-like landscape and stay at an exclusive forest resort on the edge of the rainforest.

The flight to and out of Bwindi is to help you avoid the 10-hour bone-jarring drive and spare your energy for the backwoods trekking experience. The aerial view of southwestern Uganda’s rugged, terraced slopes is something to trap your gaze for the hour’s flight on this journey.

This safari is set in one of Africa’s oldest montane rainforests, which harbour some of the world’s rarest plant and animal species, including the endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, a couple of other primates, and an incredible array of birdlife. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is highly rated as one of the top African safari destinations.

The area offers a dramatic, steeply forested landscape and is incredibly dense but crisscrossed by numerous animal trails allowing access to tourists. You’ll also have a chance to explore the region on food, crossing the jungle on a 7-km trail, walking through local communities and paddling a traditional dug-out canoe across a rift valley lake.

Safari Highlights

  • Discover the stunning aerial view of the southern region of the Pearl of Africa
  • An unforgettable encounter with the Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
  • Meet, explore and learn from the local native communities
  • Support sustainable tourism initiatives

Know before you go

  • You’ll be taking a small local flight from Entebbe to Kisoro near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where you’ll track the mountain gorilla and visit the local native communities.
  • We’ll be keen to observe WHO, Government, UWA, and our Covid-19 guidelines to ensure your and our safety during this trip. The lodges booked for you have been checked for Coronavirus standards of operation and have been found to comply.
  • The private custom-made Uganda safari is limited to a maximum of 6 travelers per vehicle and a 30% deposit on confirmation.

Safari Includes

  • Local guide
  • Gorilla Permit ($700)
  • Food and drinks
  • Accommodation
  • Transfers in 4×4
  • Private tour
  • English guide
  • Gratuities & tips
  • All activities
  • Visa & travel insurance

General FAQs

  • You can reschedule this trip as a private tour to any date up to 12 months at no cost.
  • A 30% deposit of the total tour price will be required to secure a booking, the balance being due 45 days before the tour departure date.
  • Bookings not secured by the appropriate deposit will be released.
  • Cancellation between 90 and 45 days of tour departure will incur a 20% tour price penalty charge. Confirmed bookings canceled within 45 days of the tour departure date or no show will incur 100% of the tour price penalty charge.
  • Availability of accommodation and activities is not guaranteed; reservations will be made after receiving confirmation of the final itinerary and the requested deposit payment. Should any quoted accommodations not be available, we reserve the right to substitute them with a suitable alternative option, which might affect the final quoted price.
  • All clients who participate in this tour must be adequately covered by medical insurance and travel insurance to protect them in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Rates specified for this tour are subject to change without notice; however, every effort will be made to maintain them. If any change of Government taxes or operating conditions affects the rates, we reserve the right to pass on these charges.

UGANDA GORILLA PERMIT CANCELLATION POLICY
(different and separate from the tour cancellation policy)

A Gorilla Permit will be guaranteed ONLY upon receipt of the deposit (US$700 per person per trek) since we need to immediately pay Uganda Wildlife Authority Offices in order to secure the permits.

Cancellations received on full payment:

  • More than 90 days before the tracking date, 25% cancellation fee
  • 89 to 46 days before the tracking date, 50% cancellation fee
  • 45 to 9 days before the tracking date, 75% cancellation fee
  • 8 to 0 days before the tracking date, 100% cancellation fee

Important:

  • The minimum age required for gorilla tracking is 15 years; in case of flu or of any other airborne disease the visitor will be not allowed into the rainforest jungle to see the gorillas.
  • Your mask will stay on at all times and a distance of 10 meters shall be strictly maintained between you and the gorillas.

No. 5 Boutique Hotel

Entebbe—1 Night
With all luxurious rooms opening onto the garden and swimming pool, this is a great option for guests looking for an intimate stay in a tranquil setting.

For one of the most flavoursome dining experiences in Entebbe, carefully planned menus are paired to an international wine list, and served with pride.

Attention to detail and an attentive guest experience are synonymous with Hotel No 5, making it the perfect choice for a restful stay in this bustling city.

Unwind beside the swimming pool, pamper yourself with a spa treatment, or work up a sweat in the hotel gym to prepare for your gorilla trekking experience in the misty jungles of Bwindi.

Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
Garden Cottage @ Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
nkuringo bwindi gorilla lodge

Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge

South of Bwindi Impenetrable NP (Nkuringo Sector) — 3 Nights

Located on the Ridge in Nkuringo Village, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge has stunning canopy views of the misty rainforest and is a luxury option property for tracking the Nkuringo—Rushaga gorilla groups.

Perched high on Nteko Ridge, the charming Nkuringo Lodge has spectacular views over the entirety of Bwindi in one direction and back across the lake toward and beyond Kisoro.

The deservedly charming Nkuringo has earned its name as Uganda’s leading Safari Lodge at the World Travel Awards in 2016/17/18, greatly deserving our choice for you.

The cosy dining room is built around a beautiful tree, its trunk a quirky feature amid wooden beams and flooring, raffia ceilings and terracotta-coloured walls. The place exudes a rustic charm with a small bar and sofas around a stone fireplace and Ugandan fabrics and carvings adorning the walls.

Outside, the terrace looks across to the Virunga Volcanoes, the only other mountain gorilla homeland in the world. Eco-friendly and carbon neutral, the lodge has immaculate and colourful gardens, attracting an array of birds and even three-horned chameleons.

Nkuringo’s 12 chalet-style rooms are dotted around its pretty gardens. The elegant Villa is similarly designed with two bright and spacious bedrooms (they can be booked separately or interconnected) and private terraces overlooking Bwindi’s dense rainforest. All rooms are en-suite and individually decorated with splashes of colour in fabrics and local artwork.

Detailed Itinerary

1

Day 1: Arrival at Entebbe International Airport

Arrive at Entebbe International Airport, clear travel restrictions with immigration authorities, your visa, and the Nkuringo Safaris driver will pick you up from the Airport and transfer you to your hotel in Entebbe. (15 minutes)

There are optional activities around Entebbe to engage your travel lust if you arrive early in the day, like birding around the botanical gardens or just taking a walk among these internationally acclaimed bio-diverse gardens. Many birders visit Mabamba swamps to catch sight of the monstrous historical shoebill and hundreds of other rare African endemics.

You can also take a boat ride on Lake Victoria to watch the beautiful golden sunset. UWEC Zoo is nearby; you’re introduced to many of Uganda’s animal species here. Ngamba Chimpanzee Island, on Lake Victoria, is worth a visit to meet the orphaned chimpanzees. A tee on Uganda’s largest golf course and maybe go shopping around the town’s shopping malls.

Accommodation: No. 5 Boutique Hotel
Meal Plan: Bed & Breakfast

2

Day 2: Fly from Entebbe – Kisoro – Native village Visit

Start your long-awaited Luxury Uganda Gorilla Safari with an early morning transfer from your hotel to Entebbe International Airport for a local flight to Kisoro. The first part of the flight flies over central Uganda’s beautiful plains into the rolling hills of the southwestern region with cultivated terraces, tropical rainforest, bamboo forest, and the majestic chain of the Virunga Volcanoes. Our driver will pick you up from Kisoro Airstrip and transfer you to the lodge.

In the afternoon, you can take a nature walk through the Buniga forest for a Batwa people’s cultural experience. Listen to their ancient tales about their dying cultures and watch them reenact their life in the woods. Or choose to stay around the lodge and experience the jungle ambiance; relaxing will gather some energy for the physically demanding gorilla trek the following day.

Alternatively, when the driver picks you up at Kisoro airport, he can take you to Kisoro town to join our walking safari guide for a community walk, canoeing excursion on Lake Mutanda, and nature hike through communities & cultivated garden trails. 

It is an immersive walking adventure that will connect you with the local people and environments, taking you to some of the most incredible scenes of rugged southwestern Uganda. The walking safari takes about 4-5 hours to Lake Mutanda, where the driver will pick you up for lunch before continuing to your night’s stay at Nkuringo.

Accommodation: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
Meal Plan: Full Board 

3

Day 3: Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest south sector

Wake up early to start the Luxury Uganda Gorilla Safari highlight, have your breakfast, and be at the trailhead in time for the gorilla tracking briefing. The Nkuringo trailhead is about a 10-meter walk from Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge—our driver can drive you for that distance if you so choose.

The gorilla tracking briefing usually starts at 8:00 am. This is when you’ll be assigned the gorilla group that you’ll be tracking with six other trekkers and given the general observable rules in the jungle. You’ll be escorted into the African wilderness with two gun-baring rangers (for your security) and a tracker/guide with a machete to lead your way.

The jungle has dump floors and thick shrubs, which will definitely require you have waterproof hiking boots, a rain jacket, a waterproof backpack (it could rain anytime), trousers, long-sleeved and garden gloves. The tracking is at your pace, ask to stop when you want to, and body fitness will be required because it’s a mountainous region. Trekking can take from 30 minutes to 6 hours before you find the gorillas, be prepared for this.

Once you have found the gorillas, you will be allowed to spend an hour with them. Keep your camera in silence, observe a 10 meters distance from the gorillas, and keep your mask on. Your time in the forest cannot be pre-determined as every day is different from that previous.

Visit the top of the world in the evening to have a 360 degrees experience of the jungle you just visited, and on a clear day, you can see a line of the five volcano mountains, including Rwenzori mountains, in the far distance.

Accommodation: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
Meal Plan: Full-board

4

Day 4: Optional Activities — Second Gorilla Trekking Experience

Experience is crafty; psychologists say that experiencing an activity more than once is more memorable than a single event. This Luxury Uganda Gorilla Safari lets you explore that claim and take on the gorilla jungle for the second time. You can leave the camera and any other disrupting item back at the lodge for an uninterrupted gorilla trekking experience in another gorilla sector and get deep into the jungle feel.

With an early breakfast and packed lunch, transfer to Rushaga sector, located 23 kilometres Nkuringo Bwindi gorilla lodge. Proceed to the park headquarters for the briefing before walking with Uganda’s amazing, great apes. Remember, each gorilla group has different behaviours so expect something unique.

Optionally stay back at the lodge, take a walk or relax in the lounge and peruse through the snapshots taken during the last moments with the gorilla, listen to tales about Uganda, enjoy local dishes, and connect with others like-minded travellers.

Accommodation:  Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
Meal Plan: Full Board

5

Day 5: Fly from Kisoro – Entebbe

After breakfast, lazily get your bags early in the morning and take another jungle drive down the volcanic mountains to the lower Kisoro Airstrip for your local scheduled flight to Entebbe International Airport.

In Entebbe, you can use our facilities at Papyrus guest house to freshen up for your international flight back home. Accommodation for this day is not included, though. But we can book you a room at your discretion.

Accommodation & meals:
Day Room at Papyrus Guesthouse (Relative)
Breakfast, lunch, and drinking water.

End of Luxury Uganda Gorilla Safari – Fly-in

About Mountain Gorillas

We know of two species of gorilla: the eastern and western gorilla. The mountain gorilla is a sub-specie of the eastern gorilla and is listed as endangered on the ICUN Red List of Threatened Species because of its dwindling numbers. Currently the mountain gorilla population stands at an estimated 1,063 mountain gorillas according to the last census (2018) and the numbers have been increasing steadily over the  past decade, prompting authorities to move the listing down from ‘Critically Endangered’ to ‘Endangered’ in 2018.

Where To See Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorillas are found in high altitude montane and bamboo forest jungles only in East Africa. They live in two isolated groups: one group occupies the Virunga volcanoes shared between three national parks (Virunga National Park of DR Congo, Volcanoes NP of Rwanda and Mgahinga NP of Uganda), the other group flourishes in the jungles of one of the world’s oldest montane forest, Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

The best mountain gorilla habitats to see mountain gorillas, an activity famously dubbed gorilla trekking, are either in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Parks or Rwanda’s Volcanoes NP. This is because they have the best bush lodging options, security, access and easy logistics for gorilla tours. DR Congo is mostly avoided by most travelers.

Gorilla Social Structure

The mountain gorilla is highly social and lives in relatively stable, cohesive groups held together by long-term bonds between adult males and females. Relationships among females are relatively weak.

Mountain gorillas are patriarchal—live in families led by the silverback male gorilla, the other group members will follow and obey their leader as long as he still runs things. A typical gorilla family is made up of: one dominant silverback, who is the group’s undisputed leader; another subordinate silverback (usually a younger brother, half-brother, or even an adult son of the dominant silverback); one or two blackbacks, who act as sentries; three to four sexually mature females, who are ordinarily bonded to the dominant silverback for life; and from three to six juveniles and infants.

Most males, and about 60% of females, leave their natal group. Males leave when they are about 11 years old, and often the separation process is slow: they spend more and more time on the edge of the group until they leave altogether. They may travel alone or with an all-male group for 2–5 years before they can attract females to join them and form a new group. Females typically emigrate when they are about 8 years old, either transferring directly to an established group or beginning a new one with a lone male. Females often transfer to a new group several times before they settle down with a certain silverback male.

The dominant silverback generally determines the movements of the group, leading it to appropriate feeding sites throughout the year. He also mediates conflicts within the group and protects it from external threats. When the group is attacked by humans, leopards, or other gorillas, the silverback will protect them even at the cost of his own life. He is the center of attention during rest sessions, and young gorillas frequently stay close to him and include him in their games. If a mother dies or leaves the group, the silverback is usually the one who looks after her abandoned offspring, even allowing them to sleep in his nest. Experienced silverbacks are capable of removing poachers’ snares from the hands or feet of their group members.

When the silverback dies or is killed by disease, accident, or poachers, the family group may be disrupted. Unless there is an accepted male descendant capable of taking over his position, the group will either split up or adopt an unrelated male. When a new silverback joins the family group, he may kill all of the infants of the dead silverback. Infanticidehas not been observed in stable groups.

Are mountain gorillas aggressive?

Although strong and powerful, the mountain gorillas are generally gentle and very shy. Severe aggression is rare in stable groups, but when two mountain gorilla groups meet, the two silverbacks can sometimes engage in a fight to the death, using their canines to cause deep, gaping injuries. For this reason, conflicts are most often resolved by displays and other threat behaviors that are intended to intimidate without becoming physical.

The ritualized charge display is unique to gorillas. The entire sequence has nine steps: (1) progressively quickening hooting, (2) symbolic feeding, (3) rising bipedally, (4) throwing vegetation, (5) chest-beating with cupped hands, (6) one leg kick, (7) sideways running four-legged, (8) slapping and tearing vegetation, and (9) thumping the ground with palms . Jill Donisthorpe stated that a male charged at her twice. In both cases the gorilla turned away, when she stood her ground.

Gorilla Habituation

Gorillas live in the rainforest jungles of East Africa and nowhere else. Meaning the gorillas are wild and would not tolerate the presence of humans. Thanks to the excellent research work of Dian Fossey on mountain gorillas in 1966, gorilla habituation was introduced.

Gorilla habituation is the slow progressive process of preparing a gorilla family for human experience in their natural habitat. To become habituated to the presence of tourists, each gorilla group has undergone an extremely delicate process, lasting around five years, gradually getting accustomed to the presence of humans. Park rangers start by spending a short period with the gorillas every day, at a certain distance that represents the limit of the gorillas’ comfort zone. As the years go by, they gradually increase the time and reduce the distance until they deem the gorillas ready for paying clients to visit them.

In July 2014, UWA introduced the Gorilla Habituation Experience to allow paying participants to join researchers and rangers in the process of habituating a gorilla family, giving paying participants at least 4 hours in the presence of Africa’s wild gorillas. Such a once in a lifetime experience has been described by many as unmatched in all Africa safari activities.

In Uganda, gorilla habituation experience happens in the Rushaga region of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Tourists can now move with researchers to experience how mountain gorillas are habituated. The price for mountain gorilla habituation experience is USD 1,500 per person per day. One can stay for up to four hours with the gorillas; that’s three hours more than the gorilla trekking experience in Uganda and Rwanda.

Where would you track gorillas, Rwanda or Uganda?

Mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda are all the same, but the experience of tracking in either country has a significant difference. The most striking difference is access to the gentle giants. Uganda’s gorilla jungles are located quite far from the city, and it’s the rural countryside road trip that some people choose to track Uganda’s gorillas. On the other hand, Rwanda is a tiny country, making access to the jungles relatively easy for travelers heading that way. The gorilla permit price is arguably high for Rwanda bound compared to Uganda. We wrote an excellent text comparing gorilla trekking in Uganda to Rwanda. Check it out.

How different is gorilla trekking from gorilla habituation?

The raw jungle experience of tracking and staying with wild unhabituated mountain gorillas will leave your fragile emotions trained for the African jungle; gorilla trekking is exhilarating but not that close.

When it comes to pricing, Gorilla trekking in Uganda currently costs USD700 (2022), and you get to spend only one hour with habituated mountain gorillas. Gorilla habituation costs USD 1,500, the same price for gorilla tracking in Rwanda. If you desire more adrenaline in the African jungle, take habituation.

Gorilla habituation experience only takes place in regions with mountain gorillas under habituation. As of now, it’s only in Rushaga where new gorilla groups of Bikingi and Bushaho are under habituation.

In terms of tracking numbers, gorilla habituation is limited to only four people, while tracking allows up to 8 people per gorilla group.

What is the minimum age for Gorilla Habituation Experience?

Like gorilla tracking, the minimum age for gorilla habituation is 15 years, and above and all booking guidelines are the same as those for gorilla trekking.

Gorilla Permits

For this Luxury Uganda Gorilla Safari, you must first obtain a tracking permit from the UWA in Kampala or RDB in Kigali. If you prefer avoiding the bureaucracy, Members of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators are able to purchase permits on your behalf for up to 2 years from the month of tracking.

Nkuringo Safaris helps many of our visitors to obtain permits for either the Nkuringo, Bushasho, Nshongi, MIshaya, Bweza Kahungye or Busingye groups on the south side of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Gorilla groups on the Buhoma sector of Bwindi where availability exists. We also process, on your behalf, your Rwanda gorilla permit. Contact us should you require this service.

Each Gorilla Permit in Uganda costs USD $700 and Nkuringo Safaris’ processing fee is US$ 30 per tracking permit. A Gorilla Permit in Rwanda costs USD $1,500 per person.

We cannot make tentative bookings for tracking permits with UWA or RDB. All bookings we make with the wildlife authority must be supported with payment in cash at the time of making the reservation.

Gorilla Tracking Fees 2020/21

Country/AuthorityNon- ResidentEast African ResidentEast African Citizen
Uganda Wildlife Authority$700$600Ush 250,000
Rwanda Development Board$1,500$1,500$1,500
  • No persons under 15 years of age may trek Gorillas
  • Gorilla tracking begins at 08.30. Arrive at least 15 mins prior to this for registration.
  • Rates do include park fee, guide fee a certificate of trekking and community levy.

Best Time To Go Gorilla Trekking

Uganda’s raised topography means a cooler climate than its equatorial setting suggests but if you’re planning a gorilla trek on your honeymoon, it’s important to know when to go to Uganda for the easiest trekking conditions. Although it’s regarded as a year-round activity, the best time to visit Uganda for gorilla trekking is during the country’s two dry seasons: January and February and from June to September.

Game viewing in Uganda’s savannah parks is best at the end of the dry seasons – February and March and September/early October – when wildlife is concentrated around water sources. Bird watching is fantastic all year round but is at its peak between November and April when migrant species are present. April and May, even when considered the rainy season, its great time to visit Uganda and the Gorillas. The views are stunning and it rains mostly in the afternoon for 1 hr and not tempering with activities.

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