On this safari we visit two countries in East Africa — Uganda and Ethiopia — and track three different primates: gorillas, chimpanzees and Gelada baboons. However, there are opportunities to spot up to 14 different primate species.
A maximum of five photographers are booked per trip, so early booking is recommended.
Dates: 30 November -13 December 2014
Cost: £5,800 per person sharing, excluding flights (50% non-refundable deposit payable upon booking; see below for details).
Day 1: Welcome in Uganda! Our driver/guide will pick you up at Entebbe Airport and take you to your hotel in Kampala. Depending on the time of your arrival, you might be able to explore Kampala. All activities today are at your own cost. You will stay in a nice hotel with beautiful views on Lake Victoria. The hotel has cosy safari-style furnished rooms, equipped with satellite TV, fridge bar, telephone, fan, a balcony overlooking the lake and an en suite bathroom.
Day 2: Travel to Kibale Forest. Today we begin our journey to Kibale Forest. The drive is incredibly scenic, passing through tea plantations and the lush green countryside which characterises so much of Uganda. We stop for lunch in the friendly town of Fort Portal. After lunch we have the opportunity to walk around the town and/or visit the local market. On arrival at the forest we enter a completely different world … some serious monkey business! Although we are here specifically to track chimpanzees, the forest is home to at least 12 primate species including the red-tailed monkey, the olive baboon, the black and white Colobus monkey, and the blue monkey. The bird life in the forest is also prolific and includes the beautiful great blue turaco. If we are very lucky we may even catch a glimpse of a meandering herd of forest elephant. We spend the late afternoon relaxing at the lodge, from which there is a lovely view of the forest and its wildlife.
Day 3: Chimpanzee tracking & swamp walk in Kibale Forest. Kibale Forest boasts the highest number of primate species in the world, including our delightful cousins, the chimpanzees. Today, in Uganda, there are approximately 5,000 chimpanzees left in the wild, which makes it a perfect place to spot them! The experienced ranger takes us chimp tracking in the morning or afternoon; besides the chimps, we have the chance to see other monkey species that live in this tropical forest. A wonderful jungle trip is the result, hopefully finishing in an hour of eye to eye contact with the chimpanzees (although this can of course not be guaranteed as they are still wild animals). Our swamp walk (2-3 hours) takes us through grassland, small communities and some beautiful scenery, where the locals are likely to greet us with enthusiastic waves. It is usual to spot three or four different primate species during this walk, though the highlight is catching a glimpse of the great blue turaco!
Day 4: Transfer to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest/Lake Mutanda. Today we drive to Kisoro in the south-western part of Uganda, close to the borders with Rwanda and Congo. We cross a beautiful part of the country often referred to as “the Switzerland of Africa”. There is some truly spectacular scenery including a bamboo forest and great views over the Virunga Mountains. Our accommodation is a lodge overlooking Lake Mutanda and the volcanoes on the border with Rwanda. We will sleep in pleasant self-contained safari tents. From here we are poised for gorilla tracking the following day!
Day 5: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest — gorilla tracking. Today is the big day … Prepare yourself for an encounter with one of Bwindi’s gentle giants: the rare mountain gorilla. For most people this is the absolute highlight of their tour in Uganda, and for some it is the apex of their experience of nature full stop! Bwindi Impenetrable Forest boasts both mountain gorillas and chimpanzees — the only forest in Africa that can make this claim. It also hosts five other species of primate, 113 species of mammal, over 200 butterflies and 360 birds. The gorillas we will be tracking belong to one of nine habituated family groups that can tolerate the presence of humans for a brief period every day. Our hike will be an exciting journey along forested slopes, entwined vines, bushes and bamboo before we eventually reach the gorillas’ habitat. En route our guide will point out signs of previous gorilla activity, including dung, nests and chewed bamboo shoots. The time taken to track the gorillas can take as little as two hours or as much as seven hours before one returns! Once the gorillas have been located our group will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them. Coming face-to-face with a mountain gorilla is a truly humbling and emotional experience. This is a fantastic and privileged opportunity to get up close and personal with Uganda’s very own “Gorillas in the Mist”.
Day 6: Another day of gorilla tracking.
Day 7: Transfer to Shoebill Stork Safari in Lake Mburo National Park. After breakfast we begin our journey to Lake Mburo National Park which is one of Uganda’s smallest parks but certainly not to be underestimated. It is the only Ugandan national park (besides to Kidepo Valley NP) which is home to zebra, eland and impala, as well as an abundance of other wildlife — not to mention the lake itself, which is teeming with hippos and crocodiles! Soon after we arrive we head to the Mabamba Bay Wetlands. Mabamba swamp was designated as a Ramsar Site (a wetland of international importance) in 2006. The wetland is home to rare and globally threatened bird species like the shoebill. Apart from Murchison Falls National Park, Mabamba Wetland is the only place and site where the elusive shoebill can be spotted at anytime. A canoe trip through papyrus swamp in the Mabamba will take us to the unscathed attractiveness of the wetland, where we will have the highest chance of seeing the shoebill and other papyrus-specialist birds like the saddle-billed stork, the malachite kingfisher, the African jacana and other swamp specialists.
Day 8: Shoebill safari in Mabamba Bay wetlands & airport transfer. Another early morning boat ride will give us a second chance to look for shoebill stroks before we head back to Kampala for the transfer to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. We will be met at the airport and taken to our hotel. In the evening we will visit a traditional restaurant.
Day 9: Awash National Park & hamadryas baboons. Today we drive to Awash National Park via Debre Zeit and Nazreth. If time allows we will have a game drive in the afternoon to spot hamadryas baboons.
Day 10: Hamadryas baboons and Awash Falls. This is a full day spent at Awash National Park to enjoy the Awash River falls and spotting hamadryas baboons.
Day 11: Transfer from Awash to Addis Ababa. After another game drive in the morning we drive back to Addis. In the evening we visit a traditional Ethiopian restaurant to sample a variety of Ethiopian dishes and to enjoy the traditional dances and coffee ceremony.
Day 12: Transfer to the Simein Mountains via Gondar. We depart Addis Ababa early morning and fly to Gondar. We then continue our journey by car to the Simein Mountains National Park.
Day 13: Gelada baboons. Today we spend mostly on foot tracking the Gelada baboons around Sankaber. There are also opportunities to enjoy the magnificent views of the Simien Mountains.
Day 13: Geladas, walia ibex and & bearded vulture. Today we visit Buit Ras for another round of Gelada spotting. We will also be on the lookout for other endangered species and endemic animals. We transfer to Gondar in the late afternoon for our overnight stay in preparation for the flight back to Addis Ababa.
Day 14: Flights out. Early morning we fly from Gondar to Addis to connect to our international flights.
The 13 day safari costs only £5,800 per person sharing.
The price includes accommodation, food, transfers, game drives, one chimpanzee permit, two gorilla permits and photography tuition. In Ethiopia the following are also included: all entrance fees at museums, churches, castles, archeological sites, parks and villages; scouts in National Parks and villages; a city tour of Addis Ababa; all types of government taxes
The price excludes international flights, park fees, porters, drinks, tips, insurance, UWA Conservation fees and visas.
When you have booked your trip Adriaan will contact you to discuss your level of photographic experience, your objectives for the safari and what equipment may be useful to bring along. He can also recommend some exercises, background reading and workshops to help you prepare for your trip.
During the safari Adriaan will be on hand to provide advice on location (if and when required), and you will also have the option to participate in photography feedback sessions. During these sessions he can provide one-to-one support to address any areas of difficulty or uncertainty, to advise on composition, etc.
When the safari has finished you are warmly invited to join our Safari Club to stay in touch with fellow enthusiasts and to start planning your next trip!
The bookings with the hotels mentioned in the programme depend on availability. Reservations will only be made after your booking. In case the planned hotels are not available during the requested period we will do our best to book a hotel in the same class and we will consult with you on the alternatives.
It is not possible to reserve gorilla and chimpanzee permits. Therefore we can only buy them (subject to availability) after your booking and down payment.
The rates mentioned are calculated with the UWA rates we currently have. Therefore, there is a possibility that UWA rates will increase which could affect fees for park entrance, ranger fees, chimpanzee permits and gorilla permits. In case the fees are increased (of course we hope they aren’t) we will let you know as soon as we can.
Accommodation is based on a standard double, twin or single room in mid-range lodges and hotels. All lodges and hotels have pleasant self-contained rooms and are selected on the grounds of their location and service standards. However; do not expect luxury. We retain the right to substitute the accommodation outlined above with suitable alternative accommodations if required, and we retain the right to run aspects of the itinerary in a reverse order if necessary.
Be prepared for long and possibly bumpy car journeys. One can never quite guarantee what will happen on African roads; we may encounter roadworks and of course, there are photo stops. However, you can be certain that although you may be seated for long periods at times during the trip, you will be passing some spectacular scenery and there will always be something of interest to see along the way!
A visa for Uganda can easily be obtained from Entebbe Airport upon arrival at USD 50 per person.