Set off on a once-in-a-lifetime journey into the lush hills of Uganda and Rwanda to encounter chimpanzees and mountain gorillas in the wild. Observe chimpanzees with a primatologist, and track gorillas in the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Parc National des Volcans. Stay in stunning lodges, from a lakeside bungalow at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains to a hilltop eco-lodge with spectacular views of Rwanda’s volcanoes.
Depart on an overnight flight to Uganda and
transfer to our hotel, set on the shores of Lake
Lake Victoria Serena Resort
After breakfast, take a short boat ride to Ngamba
Island to visit the Chimpanzee Sanctuary,
established in association with the Jane Goodall
Institute. The island, home to hippos, otters, monitor
lizards, and many species of birds, provides
a natural habitat for chimpanzees that have
been orphaned or rescued from captivity. After
a talk with a caretaker, watch these fascinating
creatures from a special viewing platform. Later,
encounter a broad spectrum of indigenous wildlife
and plants at the Uganda Wildlife Education
Lake Victoria Serena Resort (B,L,D)
Travel to Kibale National Park, stopping in Fort
Portal, a market town at the foot of the snowcapped
Rwenzori Mountains. Keep an eye out for
black-and-white colobus monkeys as we continue
the scenic drive to our lodge, set on a crater lake
against a backdrop of high peaks. After breakfast
the following day, head into Kibale National Park,
whose tropical rain forests harbor 13 different primate species, including chimpanzees, black-and white colobus, red tailed and blue monkeys, and
the rare l’Hoest’s monkey. Take a short walk in the
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, on the lookout for primates,
butterflies, and some 200 species of birds.
Later, a resident primatologist joins us for a special
Kyaninga Lodge (B,L,D daily)
Spend a second morning tracking chimpanzees
with our primatologist. Then stop at the Equator
on our way to Queen Elizabeth National Park,
home to a high concentration of Uganda’s mammals,
as well as more than 600 species of birds.
The next morning, set out on safari to look for elephants, lions, hyenas, and Ugandan kobs
among the park’s volcanic craters and gorges. In
the afternoon, enjoy a wildlife cruise along the
Kazinga Channel, home to large concentrations
of hippos, crocodiles, and water birds.
Mweya Safari Lodge (B,L,D daily)
Leave the park via the southern plains of Ishasha,
known for its tree-climbing lions. Stop to view wildlife and enjoy a picnic lunch as we travel towards
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Visit a local
clinic to learn how doctors provide healthcare in
this remote area. In the thick forests that blanket
the hills of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, roughly half of the world’s remaining mountain
gorillas make a home alongside rare birds and a
wealth of other wildlife. Early the next morning,
head out with park rangers to track mountain gorillas. Sit among these gentle giants, observing their interactions, listening to their distinctive grumbles, and viewing one of the planet’s most endangered creatures from an awe-inspiring, up-close perspective. Time permitting,
take an afternoon walk to waterfalls set amid tree
ferns and orchids, or pay a visit to a nearby village.
This evening, watch a Batwa Pygmy dance
Bwindi Safari Lodge (B,L,D daily)
Cross the border into Rwanda and settle into
your private banda, or villa, perched on a hilltop
with stunning views of the surrounding volcanoes
and lakes. Meet experts at the Dian Fossey
Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center to learn
about ongoing conservation efforts and a recent
National Geographic–funded study that shed
more light on ape health and evolution. Spend
the next day tracking mountain gorillas with local
guides in the forested hills of Parc National des
Volcans, where National Geographic grantee
Dian Fossey conducted research on gorillas for 18
years. In the afternoon, meet children at a local
school and watch a performance of traditional
Rwandan dances. Tonight, celebrate your encounter
with the great apes at a farewell dinner.
Virunga Lodge (B,L,D daily)
Set out into the lower, flatter reaches of the park
on the lookout for golden monkeys, a distinctly
colored species now considered one of the most
endangered primates in Africa. After lunch at the
lodge, travel to the airport in Kigali for your flights
home, arriving the next day.
National Geographic Emerging Explorer Jill Pruetz is a biological anthropologist who specializes in primatology. A professor at Iowa State University, Jill spent two years in East Africa researching patas and vervet monkeys as well as Grevy's zebras. She is one of the world's foremost chimpanzee experts and is currently conducting ground-breaking research on chimpanzee behavior—funded by National Geographic—in southeastern Senegal.
Jill will join the following departures:
Jul 23 - Aug 04, 2016
Aug 20 - Sep 01, 2016
Dec 26, 2016 - Jan 07, 2017
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single
room, add $3,500. All primate-tracking permits are
included in the expedition cost.
International airfare to Entebbe and return from Kigali and the flight within Uganda are not included in the expedition cost. The group flight from Entebbe to Kasese is $300 (subject to change).
This is an active expedition with moderate to strenuous hikes. Participants must be at least 15 years old, and should be physically fit. Each departure is limited to 16 travelers. While tracking primates, guests will trek through thick jungle at elevations ranging up to 10,000 feet, for as many as six hours, depending on the location of the primates. Treks can be arduous; and the terrain can be steep, uneven, wet, and muddy. This trip is not suitable for those who suffer from a cardiac, respiratory, or circulatory disorder or a disability that limits mobility.