Rare encounters with Africa’s endangered primates—an MTS experience of a lifetime!
This unique East African adventure blends the thrill of tracking gorillas and chimps with the variety of a classic big game safari. Uganda and Rwanda are a study in contrasts—deep jungles, crater lakes, wetlands, and savannahs, all vibrant with fascinating wildlife, yet deeply vulnerable. On game drives, forest walks, and launch trips, the fertile equatorial landscape of Queen Elizabeth National Park provides a beautiful backdrop for leopards, elephants, lions, and up to 30,000 hippos. We may even see one of Africa’s wonderful anomalies: the tree-climbing lions of Ishasha.
But the highlights of this adventure are the primates—most notably, chimpanzees in Uganda and mountain gorillas in Rwanda. You’ll enjoy two unforgettable days with the gorillas (many tours only offer one day of gorilla encounters) and a day tracking chimps. Group sizes are intentionally kept small, and permits are hard to come by, especially during peak season. But not to worry—we have permits guaranteed for our departure dates!
Most exciting are the two opportunities for mountain gorilla tracking in Rwanda's Parc National des Volcans (which offers easier terrain than other areas of East Africa). Our experienced guides and trackers know the local gorilla families well; each day, we’ll assign your group to track the family most appropriate to your hiking abilities. As you trek through the dense jungle in search of the gorillas, you’ll experience a heart-pounding sense of discovery—and a profound sense of urgency. These magnificent apes are highly endangered and cannot live in captivity. Their survival depends on the support of the local community and travelers like you. Sitting quietly among them is sure to be one of the most memorable moments of your life!
Kibale Forest National Park is home to Africa’s most diverse and concentrated population of primates, and tracking chimps here offers an exciting opportunity to encounter our closest relatives in the wild. Kibale is celebrated as a major research area. Because scientists have been studying the 500 chimps here for years, many of its residents are habituated to human observers. Chimpanzees are highly social animals, so their behavior is always fascinating to watch. They are very vocal and communicate with a large variety of sounds and gestures. It’s quite a thrill when a whole group suddenly bursts into a cacophony of wild hooting!
The local community is involved in many aspects of our visit, from supplying local produce, lodgings, and handmade crafts, to providing expert primate trackers. Throughout the journey, we enjoy the comfort of deluxe tented camps, intimate eco-lodges, and luxury hotels that only add to the specialness of this unique African safari.
5 days moderate to strenuous hiking
- Track mountain gorillas over moderate terrain in Rwanda's Parc des Volcans—one of nature’s most powerful experiences—against the stunning background of the neighboring volcanoes
- Visit both Rwanda and Uganda, including the Ishasha region, home to remarkable, tree-climbing lions (experiences you won’t get with most other operators)
- Gaze up at fig tree forests filled with dozens of highly social chimpanzees
- Spend an extra day observing lions, leopards, elephants, hippos and other classic big game in Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Enjoy the benefits of MTS’ expert planning—permits are guaranteed for our departure dates, even in peak season
Duration: 11 days Start Location: Entebbe, Uganda End Location: Kigali, RwandaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Entebbe, Uganda.
Arrive in Entebbe, Uganda.
Day 2 : Entebbe to Kibale Forest National Park
Drive to Kibale National Forest, home to more than 500 chimpanzees and twelve other primate species. Evening walk in search of nocturnal primates, including pottos and bushbabies.
Day 3 : Kibale Forest National Park
Track Kibale's chimps—an exciting opportunity to encounter our closest primate relatives in the wild. Birdwatchers will also find themselves in paradise on the afternoon swamp walk.
Days 4 - 5 : Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park
Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park: 2,000 square miles of deep, verdant forest, volcanoes, and crater lakes, and famous for the world's largest concentration of hippos.
Days 6 - 7 : Maramagambo Forest – Ishasha
Explore the remote southern Ishasha region of Queen Elizabeth National Park, known for herds of elephant, buffalo, many species of antelope, and its tree-climbing lions!
Day 8 : Kisoro – Kinigi
Drive through "the Switzerland of East Africa," so-called for its awe-inspiring mountains, including the Impenetrable Forest and the famous Kanaba Gap. Cross into Rwanda to Kinigi.
Day 9 : Parc National des Volcans
Local trackers lead us through misty jungle in the Parc National des Volcans for our first adrenaline-filled encounter with the mountain gorillas.
Day 10 : Virunga Volcanoes – Kigali
Trek once more up the forested slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes to find these gentle creatures. Transfer to Kigali, Rwanda's capital city.
Day 11 : Kigali
Tour bustling Kigali (including an optional tour of the moving genocide museum), then depart, or continue on one of our extensions in East Africa.
DATES: Best time to go: May - September, December Departures: Sep 7 - 17, 2014 Dec 20 - 30, 2014
Minimum age is 15
Protea Hotel EntebbeEntebbe
This newly-built 73-roomed hotel is ideally located on the glistening shores of Lake Victoria and a convenient 1km from the airport. Protea Hotel Entebbe has a trendy restaurant that offers an exciting and truly inviting a la carte menu seven days of the week. Specialities include Tilapia and Nile Perch, while guests can also relax on the terrace and bar. 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.
Ideally located on one of Kigali's most charming boulevards, the five-star Kigali Serena Hotel is built around a polished granite atrium, which showcases the very best of Rwandese cultural art.
Ishasha Wilderness Camp
Ishasha Wilderness Camp is situated inside the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park on the Ntungwe river, and is an idyllic retreat for people who truly enjoy the wilderness. Being the only upmarket accommodation in the area, this exclusive tented camp offers quality accommodation and services in this unspoilt remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park famous for its tree climbing lions that can sometimes be spotted resting in the branches of the large fig trees in the area.
Gorilla Mountain View LodgeParc des Volcans, Rwanda
This new hotel in the Volcanoes National Park offers 30 individual cottages located on the lower slopes of the Virunga Mountains. Just 15 minutes from park headquarters, it is perfect for gorilla trekking!
Primate LodgeKibale Forest National Park, Uganda
Luxury tents, private cottages, and a tree house are situated in the forest, each with their own veranda, spacious bedroom, and en-suite bathroom (except the tree house), just a short walk from the main lodge and chimpanzee tracking.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Born in Eastern Uganda, Denis is of the Kumam Tribe and grew up in a rural village, where his father is a local chief. After completing secondary school, Denis moved to Kampala where he obtained his license and became an escort driver for an NGO delivering relief supplies to Southern Sudan. After 4 years, he decided to go for a career change and entered the tourism industry, pursuing a childhood interest in wildlife. Through a combination of on-the-job and formal training courses with the Queen Elizabeth Bird Observatory and Bird Life International, Denis has gained extensive knowledge as a general interest Tour Guide specializing in birding. He has worked as a driver/guide for the past 12 years and is a member of the Uganda Driver/Guide Association and the Uganda Birdwatching Society
As both his parents worked for the Park Authorities, Sula was born and spent his early years growing up in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Subjected to invaluable exposure to wildlife during his childhood, it came as no surprise when Sula decided to follow in his parents footsteps and enter the tourism and wildlife industry. Having completed a Diploma in Tourism, Tours and Travel, Sula furthered his experience by working with a research organisation studying the flora and fauna of Queen Elizabeth. He has been driving and guiding safaris for the past six years. Sula is a keen birder and is very passionate and knowledgeable about all of the wide variety bird species found in Uganda. In his spare time, Sula loves to read and watch wildlife documentaries, comparing the wildlife of Uganda with other countries. He is married with one daughter and one son.