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Primate Encounters

Uganda

August 31 to September 10, 2025
Private Trip Available
Cost: $14,600
Leader: Scott Davis
Group Size: 7
Days: 11

Safari Overview

Submerse deep in the mountainous jungle lair of elusive mountain gorillas and chimpanzees to witness intimate behaviors of our closest ancestors. In the spirit of legendary primatologists Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, you’ll get up-close and personal with these complex and social animals. Full-day access permits in Kibale National Park will allow you to revel in plentiful photography opportunities (most visitors have only two hours). You will track chimpanzee families, often just a few feet away, and behold tender moments while chimps wake up, groom, forage, interact, and play. Hike deep into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and spend three days locating rare mountain gorillas and observe these gentle giants while they trudge among the trees to feed, socialize, and parent. In addition to the stars of the show, you may encounter up to 13 species of primates on this safari. You will leave Uganda with a rejuvenated sense of awe and wonder.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Up-close encounters with critically endangered mountain gorillas during the three one-hour visits in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
  • Two days in Kibale National Park with extended time to observe and photograph a full range of chimpanzee behaviors.
  • Exclusive small group size keeps encounters private, and without interference by other visitors.
  • Expand your photography skills with biologist-turned-professional-photographer Scott Davis.

Itinerary Updated: December 2023

Private Trip Available



Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Aug 31 Travel to Entebbe, Uganda.
Sep 1 Arrive in Entebbe. Protea Hotel, Entebbe D
Sep 2–4 Drive to Kibale National Park and then spend the next two days tracking chimpanzees and observing their behaviors. Ndali Lodge, Ndali B, L, D
Sep 5 Drive to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest with a morning boat ride down the Kazinga Channel. Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Bwindi B, L, D
Sep 6–8 Spend three days tracking gorillas. Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Bwindi B, L, D
Sep 9 Fly to Entebbe for flights homeward. Protea Hotel, Entebbe (dayroom) B
Sep 10 Arrive home.

Our Trip Leaders

Scott Davis

Scott is a professional photographer specializing in wildlife, nature, and travel. Originally trained as a wildlife and marine biologist, his research and photo assignments have taken him to the far corners of the globe and all seven continents. National Geographic, BBC, Animal Planet, NY Times, and renowned magazines have used his photography. His patience for teaching and love of capturing the essence of his subjects make him one of our most popular tour leaders.

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Travel to Entebbe, Uganda

Aug 31

Arrive in Entebbe

Sep 1

Arrive in Entebbe, where our local agent will transfer you from the airport to the hotel to rest and prepare for your upcoming adventure. If you would like to arrive earlier, we can arrange divergent airport transfers and extra nights.

Track chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

Sep 2–4

Chimpanzee
© Scott Davis

Drive from Entebbe to Ndali Lodge in the popular Kibale National Park. Kibale National Park is known for its rich variety and concentration of primates, such as vervets, l’Hoest’s monkeys, red colobus, black-and-white colobus, chimpanzees, and olive baboons. You may also encounter forest elephants, which are smaller and hairier than savanna elephants.

Kibale National Park is home to roughly 1,500 chimpanzees, all separated into various troops and some lone individuals. Several of the troops are habituated to humans, so you can observe them throughout the day without them getting anxious or upset. We have special permits that maximize time with the chimpanzees, so plan for a full day of activity. Wake up before dawn to hike into the forest, arriving at your focal chimp group just in time to see them stir and wake from their sleeping nests. Observe their daily routine while they interact in their natural habitat, and watch them eat, groom, play, and care for their young. Your expert guide will describe their behaviors and also help locate other animals that share the tropical forest, including other species of primates, bush pigs, dukiers, many amphibians and reptiles, and some of the more than 375 birds that inhabit this area.

Begin the last morning at adjacent Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, recognized for its extensive biodiversity and affectionately called “the paradise of birds,” to view numerous bird species, primates, and other mammals including mongoose, warthogs, and otters. This wetland boasts a rich habitat and great conservation success story. The area, once known for poaching, is now managed by the locals who directly benefit from tourism. After touring Bigodi, you will return to follow your chimpanzee troop for the remainder of the day.

Drive to Bwindi

Sep 5

Baboons
© Adam Walter

Embark on a scenic drive south to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home of the critically endangered mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). Enjoy a stop in Queen Elizabeth National Park for a boat ride down the Kazinga Channel, one of the park's most dominant wildlife spots. The Kazinga Channel connects two freshwater lakes: Lake George and Lake Edward and acts as a main water source for the wildlife. Cruising the channel, you will have the opportunity to see statunga antelopes, waterbucks, buffalo, crocodiles, the world’s largest population of hippos, and even elephants. There are also various bird species along the channel, such as marabou storks, saddle-billed storks, great and little egrets, white-bellied cormorants, African skimmers, common ringed plover, Kittlitz’s plover, and marsh sandpiper.

Track gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Sep 6–8

Mountain Gorilla
© Elizabeth Coler

Spend three days on gorilla treks in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The forest is part of a national park that lies on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley in southwestern Uganda, with a wide altitude range between 1,160m and 2,600m (peaking over 8,500ft above sea level). The forest dates back to the ice ages and is one of Uganda's oldest and most ecologically diverse regions. It is home to almost 400 plant species, 350 bird species, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics, and 120 mammal species including rodents, bats, mountain gorillas, olive baboons, chimpanzees, elephants, and antelopes.

Your knowledgeable guide from the lodge will lead you on your venture to track mountain gorillas each day. Following a morning briefing by your gorilla guide, who will tell you about your assigned gorilla family and appropriate safety precautions, you will drive to the trailhead for the start of your thrilling quest. Expect a full day of hiking long distances in steep and sometimes muddy conditions, taking anywhere from two to eight hours to find the elusive mountain gorillas.

Once you arrive at your gorilla family, you will spend one hour with them as they engage in their daily life. You will witness movement and behaviors such as feeding, playing, and tending to their young. Experience breathtaking and face-to-face encounters with giant mountain gorillas on an awe-inspiring adventure that few are lucky to know.

Fly back to Entebbe and depart

Sep 9

Take a private charter flight to Entebbe. You can refresh in your dayroom before catching your flights home.

Arrive home

Sep 10

Uganda

Visit Uganda and completely immerse yourself on this special great ape expedition.

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Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Cost Per Person
Trip Cost, double occupancy $14,600
Single Supplement $2,000

Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare (except for one-way flight from Bwindi to Entebbe), singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.

If you are a single traveler, we will try to find a roommate for you, but if we cannot pair you with a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement. Single rooms cost extra and are subject to availability.


Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $3,000
Final March 24, 2025 Remaining Balance

Payments are due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space.


Cancellations

Until the Final Payment due date, payments are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $2,750 per person ($2,600 for the pre-purchased, non-refundable and non-transferable chimpanzee and gorilla trekking permits); $150 per person of the cancellation fee can be applied toward another trip if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.

Included

  • Carbon offsets for the duration of this trip.
  • All leaders, transport, and park entry fees for all activities unless described as optional.
  • Permits for two full days of tracking chimpanzees in Kibale National Park (non-refundable and non-transferable).
  • Permits for three one-hour gorilla visits in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (non-refundable and non-transferable).
  • One-way flight from Bwindi to Entebbe.
  • Accommodations for the nights of September 1 through September 8 and a dayroom on September 9.
  • Meals from dinner on September 1 through breakfast on September 9.
  • Bottled water while trekking and in vehicles.
  • Transfers between Entebbe International Airport and Protea Hotel, regardless of arrival or departure day.
  • English-speaking drivers, park rangers, and trackers.
  • Trip Planning Materials – information about entry requirements, flights, packing, gratuities, etc.
  • Short-term AMREF Flying Doctor emergency evacuation insurance. This does not include hospital or treatment costs.

Not Included

  • Carbon offsets for your flights to/from this trip.
  • All airfare (except flights listed as included), airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Round-trip airfare is approximately $1,200 between the US and Entebbe, depending on origin.
  • Passport and visa fees.
  • COVID tests.
  • Extra hotel nights (we can arrange for an extra cost).
  • Gratuities – tipping is always discretionary. However, we suggest budgeting about $525 per participant for your drivers/guides, trackers, and rangers. This does not include any trip extensions.
  • Optional hiring of local porters to carry your gear during chimpanzee and gorilla treks.
  • Optional, additional emergency evacuation insurance.
  • Optional Trip cancellation insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Traveler Form.

Climate

Uganda’s temperatures generally stay the same year-round. Daytime temperatures range from 65 to 85°F and nighttime temperatures in the mid-50s°F, but with climate change weather is more variable, so prepare for varying climate conditions. September through November are the transitional months between the rainy and dry seasons in Uganda, so expect some rain. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is rainy and fairly damp year-round.

Fitness Level

You may hike to search for gorillas and chimpanzees for two to six miles per day (typically spending more than four to eight hours) in steep, uneven, and muddy terrain. You’ll hike regardless of the weather conditions. Plan to hire a local porter to carry your gear during the hikes so that you can focus on photography and the rugged terrain. Please contact us if you have any health concerns that may make this trip challenging.

Flights

Detailed logistical information is included in the Trip Planning Materials we will send you.

Flights you book

  • Arrive in Entebbe, Uganda (EBB) by 11:59pm on September 1.
  • Depart from Entebbe, Uganda (EBB) after 8:00pm on September 9.

Flights we book

  • The one-way flight from Bwindi to Entebbe is included in the trip cost.

FAQ

Accommodations

In Entebbe, you will overnight at a modern hotel. While elsewhere, your lodging is at luxurious cottages and tented camps. All rooms have private baths. After a long day of hiking to find the apes, you will appreciate the niceties of a warm shower, sunset views at the bar, good food, and a comfortable bed. If you are concerned about the standard of accommodations being below your expectations, please ask us before booking.

Motion Sickness

Transportation

Conservation

Our company ethos has always regarded conservation as inseparable from responsible tourism. We struggle with the dilemma that traveling worldwide expends climate-changing carbon. However, we wholeheartedly believe that traveling with us will cultivate your passion for conserving our beautiful world while stimulating each destination’s local economy. We encourage you to explore the various ways in which Cheesemans’ operates within this context:

Conditions

Read our current Terms and Conditions.