EXTRAORDINAIRE

The Gorilla Kingdoms Of Uganda and Rwanda

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Long considered an add-on to the classical Big Five safari experiences of Kenya and Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda are fast becoming safari destinations in their own right, offering unforgettable opportunities for up-close gorilla and chimpanzee encounters.

Long considered an add-on to the classical Big Five safari experiences of Kenya and Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda are fast becoming safari destinations in their own right, offering unforgettable opportunities for upclose gorilla and chimpanzee encounters.

Tucked away in the Great Lakes region of East Africa, Uganda is one of the most vibrant emerging safari destinations in the world. Its mesmerizing views, astonishing biodiversity, opportunities for gorilla trekking and lower temperatures are fast making it one of the top experiences in East Africa. The country’s main attraction is undeniably the imposing mountain gorillas, the last of their kind. They make their home in the forests along the south western border of Uganda, mostly in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Impenetrable Forest.

Screenshot 2015-12-19 14.27.57Climbing up along the slopes of a mountain range, the park covers a series of narrow, steep valleys. An old and complex ecosystem with a wealth of biodiversity, within its depths lies a rare and striking world. Due to the dense undergrowth and rugged terrain, large portions of it can only be reached on foot, preserving its primordial nature. A variety of species makes its home here, many of them found nowhere or scarcely anywhere else on earth. Forest elephants, giant forest hogs, hundreds of butterfly species and several types of primate roam beneath the thick canopy of trees.

Bwindi is home to half the world’s remaining population of critically endangered mountain gorilla. Out of these, several families have become habituated to humans, allowing small groups of people to track them and spend an hour in their company. The gorillas remain wild and the interaction takes place under the careful eyes of highly trained trackers.

The other half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas can be found in neighbouring Rwanda. While trekking permits may be cheaper to obtain in Uganda and some people consider the experience there to be more rewarding, the smaller size of Rwanda means that the areas inhabited by gorillas are easier to access. Kigali, the point of entry into the country for most visitors, is situated only a few hours from key gorilla tracking areas. Rwanda’s gorillas are also located in a smaller area and the gorilla families are more habituated to humans.

Located in the far northwest corner of Rwanda, the Parc National des Volcans protects the steep rainforested slopes of the Virungas mountain range. Home to the rare mountain gorilla, this mountain range spans from Rwanda to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The lush slopes of these volcanoes provide a dramatic natural setting for one of the most thrilling and memorable wildlife experiences – seeing the mountain gorilla in its natural habitat.

Gorilla Tracking Safari in Rwanda & Uganda

Track mighty mountain gorillas on an exclusive private guided safari in East Africa. Explore mist-covered mountain slopes in search of enchanted moments spend watching the intricate interaction of families of mountain gorilla.

Track the groups of mountain gorilla that live protected by this dense network of vines and shrubs, rewarded by exhilarating moments as you get to view their complex social structure at work. Traverse dense thickets and bamboo forests that extend over a series of steep ridges and marvel at the ecological uniqueness and natural beauty of this secluded mountain haven.

RWANDA ITINERARY / DAY 1: KIGALI
Upon arrival at Kigali Airport you will be met by an &Beyond representative who will drive you to Kigali Serena Inn. Vibrant and colourful, Kigali is the bustling capital city of Rwanda. It spreads out over four scenic ridges and the valleys in between, with the city centre located on one hill, and the government and administrative quarter on another. The highest hill, Mt Kigali, sits at 1 850 m (6 075 ft) above sea level. Kigali’s peaceful, tree-lined streets are clean and safe, and the city boasts a selection of hotels, restaurants, shopping centres and markets. Kigali is the perfect starting point for an unforgettable gorilla trek – one of Africa’s most fascinating wilderness experiences. Spend one night at Kigali Serena Inn. Accommodation is in a standard room with an ensuite bathroom. Your stay includes bed and breakfast.
RWANDA / DAY 2, 3 & 4: PARC DES VOLCANS
After a scrumptious breakfast you will be driven to Parc des Volcans where you will spend three nights. The rainforests of the Virunga Volcanoes are the last refuge of the Mountain Gorilla. The Virungas span Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the Parc National des Volcans being the Rwandan element of this ecosystem. The lush slopes of the volcanoes provide an appropriately dramatic natural setting for what is perhaps the most poignant and thrilling wildlife experience to be had anywhere – to see the Mountain Gorilla in its natural habitat. Roughly half of the world’s wild population of Mountain Gorillas are resident on the Rwandan slopes of the Virungas. Seven habituated families of gorillas are visited, and these families have from seven to over thirty-five individuals in each group. Rise in the cool of dawn and look out on the misty peaks of the mountains. Tuck in to a hearty breakfast. Peer up at the majestic mist-covered slope of the mountain and soak up the anticipation as the guide briefs and the trekkers get ready. Follow in the light steps of your nimble porter as the rainforest folds in around you. Stop and take it all in; the sounds, the smells and the astonishing scenery. Feel the rush of excitement as those dim shapes and faint sounds become actual living, breathing, free gorillas. Savour every second of an exhilarating hour with the great apes. Walk tired and exhilarated back to your heroes welcome and a soothing massage. Sink into a comfortable seat in front of a crackling fireplace and recount every moment of the encounter with your companions. Update your bucket list and sleep like a baby.
RWANDA / DAY 5: DEPARTURE
After a scrumptious breakfast you will be driven back to Kigali Airport for your outbound flight.
UGANDA ITINERARY / DAY 1: ENTEBBE/KAMPALA
Upon arrival at Entebbe Airport you will be met by an &Beyond representative and transferred by road to Lake Victoria Serena. Uganda’s steady economic growth is visible on the modern streets of Kampala, the country’s eclectic capital, with its melting-pot of restaurants, entertainment venues and upmarket hotels. Located on the wetlands that once made up the favourite hunting grounds of King Mutesa I, the city is famed for its seven beautiful hills. It is also home to the palace of the King of the 13th century kingdom of Buganda, as well as magnificent tombs, mosques and cathedrals. Spend 1 night at the Lake Victoria Serena Resort. Your stay includes breakfast.
UGANDA / DAY 2-4: BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your scheduled charter flight to Bwindi. An ancient rain forest, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest extends over a series of steep ridges in the Virunga Volcanoes mountain range. Its impenetrable nature, which is due to the dense growth of herbs, vines and shrubs that covers the valley floors, makes it the ideal habitat for the mountain gorilla. Declared a World Heritage Site due to its ecological uniqueness and natural beauty, the forest is home to roughly half of the world’s total gorilla population. With terrain that varies from swamp and bamboo forest to dense thicket, this beautiful area poses both challenges and rewards for anyone interested in an intimate glimpse of the life of these fascinating primates. Tuck in to a hearty breakfast overlooking the majestic mist-covered slope of the mountain. Soak up the anticipation as the guide briefs and the trekkers get ready then follow in the light steps of your nimble porter as the rainforest folds in around you. Stop and take it all in; the sounds, the smells and the astonishing scenery. Feel the rush of excitement as those dim shapes and faint sounds become actual living, breathing, free gorillas. Savour every moment of your exhilarating encounter with the great apes. Walk tired and exhilarated back to the lodge for a hero’s welcome and a soothing massage. Sink into a comfortable seat in front of a crackling fireplace and recount every highlight of the experience with your companions. As eyelids grow heavy, update your bucket list and sleep like a baby. Spend 3 nights at Clouds Mountain Lodge . Your stay incudes all meals and selected local drinks.
UGANDA / DAY 5: DEPARTURE
After a scrumptious breakfast you will be transferred to the airstrip for your scheduled flight to Entebbe. Upon arrival in Entebbe you will be transferred to your international flight.

Whether in Rwanda or Uganda, a day of gorilla trekking begins early, departing with the dawn. The guides will meet and brief groups of visitors at the gathering point before setting off. The walk can be challenging, especially during the rainy seasons, which are from March to May and then again in November and December. Depending on where the gorillas were last seen, the trek can take anywhere between 40 minutes to six hours. When the gorillas emerge from the foliage, visitors are able to enjoy their company for up to an hour. Gorilla tracking tours are available in both Rwanda and Uganda. For more information, contact andBeyond.

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