We are immensely proud to present this truly inspirational and immersive set, small group tour for September 2020. Our itinerary takes a maximum of 12 lucky participants in two 4WD vehicles on the journey of a lifetime - one which is filled with awe-inspiring wildlife encounters, stunning scenery and warm, hospitable people.
Apart from taking in an array of unforgettable wildlife sightings, the tour allows you to delve deeper into the relationship between the wildlife, the park authorities and the permanently resident communities. Spend time tracking endangered Mountain gorillas in Uganda and/or Rwanda, something with which few wildlife experiences anywhere in the world can compare.
Learn about Mountain gorilla and wildlife conservation through the eyes of the local rangers, the guides, wardens and various specialists during talks, presentations, and discussions with the Gorilla Doctors/Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project; the Lion Monitoring/Uganda Carnivore Predator Programme, and the Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) organisation. Enjoy authentic cultural experiences with the Batwa in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and at the Ndere Centre in Kampala.
Group Size: minimum 4 - maximum 12 participants.
Read more about this tour
03 Sept 2020: London Heathrow - Kigali
Fly from London Heathrow (or selected other UK airports) to Kigali, Rwanda.
Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by your dedicated, professional, English-speaking, Ugandan driver-guide/tour leader, who will transfer you to your hotel where you stay overnight and meet the rest of your party, with breakfast included (approx. 30min drive).
Accommodation: Heaven Boutique Hotel
04 Sept 2020: Kigali - Volcanoes National Park
After breakfast, your dedicated, experienced and professional, English-speaking driver-guide/tour-leader will meet you at the hotel. You will be taken to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, an intensely moving experience. Created by the Kigali City Council in partnership with the UK-based Aegis Trust, the centre contains an exhibition of the Rwandan genocide, as well as an exhibition of other genocides around the world.
Afterwards, you will be transferred in your comfortable 4WD vehicle to Parc National des Volcans, about 3hrs drive northwards. Visit the headquarters of the Gorilla Doctors/Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in Musanze/Ruhengeri. This enjoyable and very interesting introduction to Gorilla conservation entails a 1½hr lecture/slideshow by one of the Gorilla Doctors staff. The core of the Gorilla Doctors work is gorilla health monitoring by means of visually observing habituated gorilla groups on a regular (monthly) basis to check for signs of illness or injury. Only if deemed essential, will a sick or injured gorilla be treated.
Also taken into account are observations of the trackers working for the national parks, and organizations such as the Karisoke Research Center of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International: they see the gorillas daily and are trained by the Gorilla Doctors to note signs indicative of illness or injury. Concerns are reported back to the veterinary team, which performs in-depth visual health checks.
After the presentation, you will be transferred to your lodge where you will stay for the night with all meals included.
Accommodation: Mountain Gorilla View Lodge
05 Sept 2020: Rwanda Gorilla Tracking or Golden Monkey Tracking - Lakes Chahafi & Kayumbu
After an early breakfast, you will be taken to the park HQ for a briefing at 07:00 on conduct during gorilla tracking. You will then be allocated to a team of experienced ranger-guides who will take you into Parc National des Volcans, to seek out one of the resident, habituated Gorilla groups.
Time taken to reach the Gorillas varies from as little as 45mins to a few hrs. They may be in bamboo habitat or in closed forest. Once the Gorillas are located, you will be allowed a max of 1hr with them. This is one of the most memorable and awe-inspiring wildlife experiences to be had anywhere in the world – superlatives simply fail to convey just how impressive it is. During the excursion, you may see other forest wildlife such as L’Hoest’s monkeys, Black-fronted duiker, Forest squirrels and various birds unique to the Albertine Rift, notably colourful Rwenzori turacous.
You don’t have to be an athlete to take on Gorilla tracking, but you do have to be prepared to traverse fairly steep, rough and uneven terrain for what could be a lengthy period of time. Rangers and porters always go at the speed of the slowest walker, and you will be able to make several stops for drinks or snacks.
For those who elect not to track Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda, you have an opportunity to track the Golden Monkeys:
After the briefing at the Park HQ, set off to seek these endangered monkeys which are unique to the Albertine Rift. The Virunga Volcanoes harbour the only remaining viable breeding population. You will venture through open farmland and search high in the dense bamboo groves. Here, the Golden monkeys feed on bamboo leaves, insects and on ripe fruit when available.
After lunch, you drive the short distance to the Ugandan border, cross into Uganda and visit beautiful Lakes Chahafi and Kayamburu. Before sunset, time permitting, you enjoy a canoe boat trip on the lake before dinner.
Accommodation: Mount Gahinga Lodge
06 Sept 2020: Lakes Chahafi & Kayumbu - Mgahinga Gorilla National Park - Nkuringo, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
This morning, you enjoy a visit to a local church, meeting some of the young children and families in the village, seeing them in their Sunday best. You also get the opportunity to enjoy gentle walks around parts of Lakes Chahafi and Kayumbu. In the shadow of the Virungas, these lakes and the surrounding forests, wetlands and farmlands offer tranquility in a bucolic setting where few tourists venture. Watch people moving their cattle, fishing on the lakes and pushing their bicycles carrying charcoal for miles. From the simple Lake Chahafi Resort, it is possible to walk around part of the lake in search of resident Otters, and to explore a papyrus swamp.
You are then transferred the short distance to the boundary of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (an approx. 1hr drive). Covering only 33.7km2, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is Uganda’s smallest national park. Many regard its location on northern slopes of three extinct volcanoes - Mt Muhavura (4,127m a.s.l), Mt Sabyinyo (3,634m a.s.l), and Mt Gahinga (3,474m a.s.l) – as the most scenically impressive in the country. The volcanoes are three of the six which mark the southern limit of the Albertine Rift Valley and are divided between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their slopes contain various habitat types varying according to altitude and the peaks provide a dramatic backdrop to a gorgeous location. The park is of salutary cultural significance to the original forest inhabitants, the Batwa.
By late morning, you will have another penetrating cultural experience: you will meet the Batwa during the Batwa Settlement Walk, something which has been gaining in popularity due to its authenticity. A 45min walk through picture-perfect, fertile rural countryside, will bring you to the temporary homes of the Batwa. Joined by an official translator and mediator between the Batwa and the management of Mt. Gahinga Lodge, guests have the opportunity to ask the Batwa questions. This is not a staged: you can ask challenging and contentious questions relating to their (the Batwas’) forced eviction from the forests and the unfulfilled promises on the parts of the Ugandan government and the Uganda Wildlife Authorities (UWA). Expect honest and sometimes shocking replies.
Time permitting, you have the chance to visit the Batwa Vocational Centre to see the inspiring educational work being conducted by the Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT) with the Batwa. VSPT has donated some land on which the Batwa learn to cultivate potatoes and wheat. Additionally they are taught sewing and craft-making skills. They are encouraged to sell their products and handicrafts to generate income for medication and food.
After lunch, you enjoy another varied and very interesting day through wonderfully scenic countryside. You will be taken on the Kisozi Caldera walk, followed by a short canoe trip on lovely Lake Mutanda. You will then be driven to Nkuringo in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park to stay for the next two nights (an approx. 2.5hrs drive).
Accommodation: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
07 Sept 2020: Uganda Gorilla Tracking!
You have the chance to make a second visit to the Mountain gorillas today, but this time in Uganda. After signing in and being briefed, you will be accompanied by experienced trackers and a ranger to visit one of the resident, habituated groups of Mountain gorilla, the icon of Bwindi, if not of the whole of Uganda.
Permits are sold on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Accommodation: Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge
08 Sept 2020: Nkuringo - Buhoma, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park - Ishasha, Queen Elizabeth National Park
After breakfast, you will be transferred a short distance to Nteko village, the start point of an amazing walk through Bwindi forest to the Buhoma sector of the national park. This 5 hour ‘Ivy River Trail’ gives guests the chance to encounter various forest-dwelling species of monkey and wonderful birdlife. Take in stunning mountain and canopy views as you descend steeply, crossing the Ivy River into the rainforest. Upon exiting the Bwindi forest at Buhoma village, enjoy lunch, overlooking the rainforest canopy.
Upon exiting the Bwindi forest at Buhoma village, enjoy lunch at Bwindi Lodge, overlooking the rainforest canopy. After lunch, visit the Conservation Through Public Health’s (CTPH) Gorilla Health and Community Conservation Centre, headed by Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka. ‘Dr Gladys’ as she is affectionately known, started the veterinary unit at Uganda Wildlife Authority, and was the first full time gorilla veterinary doctor in Uganda. CTPH was founded in 2003, when scabies in gorillas was traced back to people resident around the park who have very little access to health care and to education about hygiene and disease prevention. So CTPH set about building a Gorilla Research Clinic, which then became the Gorilla Health and Community Conservation Centre. There, guests receive a behind- the- scenes briefing about gorilla health monitoring, gorilla conservation; community well-being and livelihood. You will learn about work under way with community health, which is essential to prevent diseases being transmitted between humans and gorillas.
After the informative talk, you meet your driver-guide and vehicle for the transfer north to the remote Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park where you stay overnight (an approx. 2hr drive). During this drive, landscapes change from lush green, fertile and mountainous terrain to hot, dry, and flat savannah country. Time permitting, you enjoy a sundowner in Ishasha.
Accommodation: Ishasha Wilderness Camp
09 Sept 2020: Ishasha - Mweya, Queen Elizabeth National Park
Ishasha is an alluring, quiet off-the-beaten track game viewing area and is renowned for its tree-climbing lions. This morning, you explore Ishasha, driving over the plains in open savannah searching for herds of Buffalo, Uganda Kob, and Topi, as well as the tree-climbing Lions amongst the many wild fig trees that dot the landscape. You also visit the Uganda Kob mating grounds, a preferred hunting area of the Lions. This morning, weather permitting, you enjoy a wonderful bush breakfast.
This afternoon, you journey to the Mweya sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park (an approx. 3hr drive). Enroute, you meet the Reformed Poachers Experiential Tourism Initiative in/around the Ishasha and Kyambura area where you learn how they are managing after denouncing poaching and how to support such groups including the Queen Elizabeth Parks Project.
The discussions will revolve around the reasons behind poaching - story telling, restorative approaches used by rangers and different tools used in poaching today, etc. We believe that collaborative work with visitors helps people understand the implications and better practices applicable in conservation. All support/ funds got through these activities help in strengthening the ranger workforce and community livelihoods.
Accommodation: Kasenyi Safari Camp
10 Sept 2020: Uganda Carnivore/Lion Monitoring Programme & Kazinga Channel Boat Trip!
This morning, you will meet a researcher of the Uganda Carnivore/Lion Monitoring Programme who will join you in our vehicle for a unique wildlife experience that focuses mainly on the Lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
During this activity, you help to track the carnivores via radio-telemetry in order to monitor their movements into conflict ‘hot zones’, where they face the danger of encountering resident people and livestock. You will learn how the results help to formulate recommendations for appropriate management of carnivores in the national park, and you learn how this assists the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in conflict mitigation, as well as wildlife rescue and relocation operations. You will also learn about the importance of involving community-based activities to increase local participation in wildlife conservation.
In the afternoon, enjoy a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel, a channel connecting Lakes Edward and George. The Kazinga Channel is home to one of the greatest concentration of Hippo in Africa and herds of Elephant, Cape buffalo, Defassa waterbuck, Bushbuck, Ugandan kob, Warthog, and other mammals come to drink at the waters edge. Birdlife is abundant.
Accommodation: Kasenyi Safari Camp
11 Sept 2020: Mweya, Queen Elizabeth National Park - Kibale Forest National Park
This morning, the group enjoys a 'One-to-One' with a Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Ranger (incl. Weapons Security and Anti-Trafficking Programme/Uganda Conservation Foundation). It is important to recognise that rangers, who are well facilitated, are fundamental to protecting and safeguarding conservation areas. Without rangers, more wildlife will be lost to many illegal activities creating long term human-wildlife conflicts. The project therefore, acknowledges the vital purpose of having well skilled rangers who on day-to-day protect and manage wildlife. Through organised planned guided walks one to one with a ranger, visitors get first-hand information.
You are then transferred the short distance to the entrance of Kyambura Gorge where you enjoy a presentation talk with a member of the Chimpanzee Migration Corridor. This discussion will surround chimpanzee and human conflict - the need to restore a migration corridor for their long-term survival (an approx 1hr talk).
Finally, you are transferred to Kibale Forest National Park, your base for the next two nights (an approx. 3hr drive).
By late afternoon, you make your way to the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, with an opportunity of enjoying panoramic views of the Rwenjuba and the Ndicho Crater Lakes en-route. At Bigodi, you enjoy the boardwalk trail for birds, monkeys (notably Red colobus) and butterflies. Rich in biodiversity and scenic beauty, the 8km long Bigodi Wetlands act as an important wildlife corridor of Kibale Forest. Located 5km southeast of Kibale Forest National Park, the sanctuary harbours 8 species of primates, including one of the best sightings in Africa to see the elusive Red Colobus monkey. It is rich in the abundance of butterflies and species of vegetation such as wild palms, polita figs, water lilies and papyrus. Guided nature/bird walks around the Magombe Swamp, on the broadwalk trail and the viewing platforms lasts approx. 3hrs.
It is managed by Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED), a community based environmental organization formed in 1992 with the aim of achieving social and economic development for local communities. With the generated income KAFRED has been able to maintain the tourism infrastructure and support community projects.
Tonight, you check into your conveniently located lodge where you will stay for two nights, all meals included.
Accommodation: Primate Lodge Kibale
12 Sept 2020: Chimpanzee Habituation Experience & Chimpanzee Trek!
This morning, you have the rare opportunity of enjoying a half day ‘Chimpanzee Habituation Experience’ in Kibale Forest National Park. Departing the lodge at approx. 06:00, you accompany Kibale’s researchers during their activities in the forest, and learn about their work to habituate Chimpanzees. You follow the Chimpanzees throughout the morning, a fascinating experience! Look out for various species of monkeys, and a wealth of birdlife.
This afternoon, staying in the forest, you venture out on an afternoon Chimpanzee trek. Once with the fully habituated Chimpanzees, you stay with them for a maximum of 1hr.
Accommodation: Primate Lodge Kibale
13 Sept 2020: Kibale Forest National Park - Murchison Falls National Park
After breakfast, you depart Kibale Forest and are transferred northeast to Uganda's drier region, and onto the wonderful Murchison Falls National Park (an approx. 8 - 10hr drive, depending on road conditions. Stopping for lunch, photo opportunities, and hopefully a local entrepreneurial business en-route).
Accommodation: Murchison River Lodge
14 Sept 2020: Game Drives & Murchison Falls Boat Trip!
This morning, you hop onto a small petrol powered car ferry that will transport you across the River Nile and onto the northern section of the park. It is this section where most of the larger mammals inhabit, animals such as Elephants, Giraffes, Hippos, Lions, etc. and therefore you enjoy an exciting game drive en-route to your lodge where you are likely to arrive sometime during the early evening.
An afternoon boat trip on the Nile gives you the opportunity to explore the park from a different perspective. Stirring upstream towards the falls, you search for the animals and birds that inhabit this lush riverine area. You might encounter large pods of Hippo and huge Nile Crocodiles basking along the riverbanks. Elephant are frequently observed playing in the water, often within a few metres of the boat. Defassa waterbuck, Warthog, Bushbuck, and Cape buffalo frequent this area. Troops of Olive baboons and Black and White Colobus monkeys also inhabit the riverine woods. In sight of the falls, you have the opportunity to depart the boat at the base of the falls to begin a hike to the top of the falls (approx. 90min walk). This is a breathtaking natural spectacle.
Accommodation: Murchison River Lodge
15 Sept 2020: Presentation Talk with UWA Ranger & Game Drives!
This morning, you enjoy a presentation talk with a Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) ranger/warden. The talk will discuss issues that surround the Management of the Park, Operation Twiga (giraffe relocation), and the Uganda Conservation Foundation. It is said that the Nubian and Rothschilds giraffes of Gambella and Murchison Falls respectively, have been found to be 'one and the same' according to genetic studies. You will find out how the giraffes have been settling in south of the Nile River, and discover how successful the transportation of the genetic ark has been to date.
This afternoon, you venture out for a wonderful late afternoon game drive in the national park in search of the Lion, Leopard, Giraffe, Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Warthog, Defassa Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Jacksons Hartebeest, Uganda Kob, etc.
Accommodation: Murchison River Lodge
16 Sept 2020: Murchison Falls National Park - Kampala
This morning, attend a ½hr – 1hr presentation/talk and Q&A session on the work carried out by the Uganda Youth Conservation Scouts. Here, you get to meet some of the youngsters who will tell you about issues that are involved in human-wildlife conflict.
The Uganda Youth Conservation Scouts is a voluntary initiative formed in partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) through their Park Manager of Murchison Falls National Park in order to recruit and engage the youth living near national park. The initiative supports addressing of – among other issues - humanwildlife conflict resulting from crop raids by Elephants.
Since 2011, over 200 scouts have been recruited and equipped with basic training on wildlife behaviour. The scouts help in scaring away animals that raid crops, digging and maintaining elephant trenches among other intentions. This has eased workload of the park service management.
Most of the scouts have basic education (average of primary three education), and others have already started families at a young age. Our desire is to have this programme implemented in all ten National Parks and also, at several forest reserves where biodiversity is noticeably high. The main objective of Uganda Youth Conservation Scouts is to create awareness amongst the youth about their rights and responsibilities towards conserving the environment and wildlife for future generations by empowering and inspiring them to make
positive change regarding environmental issues.
Rainbow Tours want to assist this project. We aim to help provide certain equipment, including rain-gear,gumboots, bells, vuvuzelas and eco-friendly income-generating programmes such as tree-planting, beekeeping and chili cultivation. We aim to assist as much as we can, with the resources for training of new recruits.
After a very informative and interactive morning, you are met and transferred to Uganda's bustling capital (an approx 6 - 7hr drive), where you enjoy a evening’s entertainment watching the multi-award winning Ndere Troupe, performing a repertoire of wonderful, authentic Ugandan dances and songs accompanied by various Ugandan percussion, string and wind instruments. Dinner will be a BBQ buffet and is included.
After the event, you will be transferred through the city to your hotel where you will stay overnight with breakfast included.
Accommodation: Le Petit Village Hotel
17 Sept 2020: Kampala - Entebbe
This morning, you will be transferred to the Social Innovation Museum near Mpigi. Here you will be taken on a guided tour with the community, learning about how the youth are engaged in creating incredibly inspirational projects and being assisted in terms of developing social enterprises.
Finally, you enjoy a farewell dinner in the late afternoon at the cozy Piato Restaurant on Lumumba Ave (Nakasero), before being transferred to Entebbe Airport, where you will say your goodbyes to your driver/guide and to check in for your overnight flight back to London Heathrow.
18 Sept 2020: London Heathrow
Today, you will arrive back into London Heathrow (LHR) (or selected other UK Airports)
Pricing Information & Dates
16 day tour, from £7585 per person
DATES: 03 - 18 SEPTEMBER 2020
Group Size: Minimum 4 - Maximum 12
* Return international flights from London Heathrow (or selected other UK airports) to Kigali; Entebbe to London Heathrow (or selected other UK airports) in Economy Class seating
* Accommodation in double or twin rooms
* All meals as listed
* All transfers and comfortable, 4-wheel drive transportation
* Services of your dedicated, professional, experienced, English-speaking Ugandan driver-guide as tour leader.
* All excursions and activities as per itinerary
* 1 Uganda Gorilla permit per person
* 1 Rwanda golden monkey tracking permit per person
* All National park/wildlife reserve entry permits and park guide and scout fees
* Bottled mineral water
Single Room Supplement: £1,175
* Uganda Visa (US$50, must be applied for online in advance), and Rwanda Visa (US$30, purchased upon arrival into Kigali Airport)***
* Any meals not mentioned on the itinerary
* Items of personal nature (travel insurance, phone calls, laundry)
***You might prefer to apply for an 'East Africa Tourist Visa' this costs US$100 and it must be applied for online, in advance from the Rwanda High Commission/Embassy
Additional Costs: (optional items)
* £1,210 per person: Rwanda gorilla tracking permit (instead of the Rwanda Golden monkey tracking permit)
Click on images to enlarge