Primate Encounters

Uganda

September 24 - October 7, 2021
Cost: $14,500
Leader: Scott Davis
Group Size: 7
Days: 14

Safari Overview

This special great ape expedition submerses you in the fascinating world of the rare and elusive mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. See through the eyes of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey as you get up-close and personal with these incredibly complex and social animals. With special full-day access permits in Kibale National Park with the chimpanzees, you’ll have ample photography opportunities (most visitors have only two hours). For two-and-a-half days, track chimpanzee families, often within just a few feet of them, beholding intimate moments while chimps wake up, groom, forage, interact, and play. Game drive for two days to find the tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park and other iconic African animals. Delve into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; for three days, hike into the mountainous jungle to locate the rare and special mountain gorillas and observe these gentle giants while they feed, socialize, parent, and trudge through the forest. You will leave with amazing images of Uganda and beautiful portraits of these remarkable creatures, but above all, you’ll leave with a sense of awe and wonder from the close encounters with our nearest ancestors.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Up-close encounters with the mountain gorillas during three one-hour visits in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
  • Two-and-a-half days in Kibale National Park to observe and photograph chimpanzee behaviors.
  • Enjoy a special opportunity to join researchers as they track African lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
  • Our exclusive small group keeps encounters private and without interference by other visitors.
  • Improve your photography skills with biologist-turned-professional-photographer Scott Davis.

Itinerary Updated: October 2020



FAQ Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Sep 24 Travel to Entebbe, Uganda.
Sep 25 Arrive in Entebbe. Protea Hotel, Entebbe D
Sep 26–29 Drive to Kibale National Park and then spend the next two-and-a-half days tracking chimpanzees and observing their behaviors. Ndali Lodge, Ndali B, L, D
Sep 30–Oct 1 Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park and explore it during morning and afternoon game drives with special lion tracking. Ishasha Wilderness Camp, Queen Elizabeth National Park B, L, D
Oct 2–5 Drive to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and spend the next three days tracking gorillas. Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Bwindi B, L, D
Oct 6 Fly to Entebbe for flights homeward. Protea Hotel, Entebbe (Dayroom) B, L
Oct 7 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 took him to the far corners of the globe. National Geographic, BBC, Animal Planet, 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

Sep 24

If you are traveling from the US or similar distance, you will likely have to depart home today.

Arrive in Entebbe

Sep 25

Arrive in Entebbe, where our local agent will transfer you from the airport to rest and prepare for your upcoming adventure.

Track Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

Sep 26–29

Chimpanzee Youngster
© Scott Davis

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

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 allow you to spend full days with the chimpanzees, so plan to wake up before dawn to hike into the forest, arriving at your focal chimp group just in time to see them wake up and stir from their sleeping nests. You’ll spend the day watching them eat, groom, play, take care of their young, and go through their daily routine in their natural habitat. Your expert guide will describe their behaviors and point out other animals, such as other primates, bush pigs, dukiers, many amphibians and reptiles, and some of the more than 375 birds that inhabit this area.

On the last morning, you will tour the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary to see other primates and many birds. 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 follow your chimpanzee troop for the remainder of the day.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Sep 30–Oct 1

Tree-Climbing Lions
© Scott Davis

You will bid farewell to Kibale and the chimpanzees and drive to the northern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Located within the famous Albertine Rift Valley, the park is home to over 95 mammals and over 600 birds because of the variety of habitats, including savannahs, wetlands, and rainforests. You’ll take an afternoon game drive to explore the park and relax by the Kazinga Channel.

Depart for an early morning game drive in search of elephants, hippos, buffalos, and the famous tree climbing lions. Then, head to the mating ground of the Uganda kob, a species of antelope that appears on the Ugandan national flag. Game drives in the Ishasha sector may also bring you more wildlife in their natural habitat. You will also spend half a day with lion researchers as they track lions – a special opportunity most tourists never experience!

Track Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Oct 2–5

Mountain Gorilla Mother and Baby
© Scott Davis

Take a scenic drive south to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home of the critically endangered mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). This 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. 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 take you out to track mountain gorillas each day. After a 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 a thrilling adventure. Expect a long day of hiking as you will hike long distances in steep and sometimes muddy conditions, taking anywhere from two to eight hours to find the gorillas.

Once you arrive at your gorilla family, you will spend one hour with them as they go about their daily life. You will observe feeding, moving, playing, and raising their young. Coming face to face with a giant mountain gorilla is a truly breath-taking wildlife experience!

Fly back to Entebbe

Oct 6

Young mountain gorilla
© Scott Davis

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

Arrive home

Oct 7

Arrive home today depending on your flight schedule.

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 $14,500
Single Supplement $1,300

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 find a roommate for you, but if we cannot find you 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 $500
Second September 15, 2020 $2,000
Final April 15, 2021 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, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which 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

  • All leaders, transport, and park entry fees for all activities unless described as optional.
  • Permits for two full days and one half-day tracking chimpanzees in Kibale National Park
  • Permits for three one-hour gorilla visits in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
  • One-way flight from Bwindi to Entebbe.
  • Accommodations for the nights of September 25 through October 5 and a dayroom on October 6.
  • Meals from dinner on September 25 through lunch on October 6.
  • Bottled water while trekking and in game drive vehicles.
  • Transfers between Entebbe International Airport and Protea Hotel, regardless of arrival or departure day.
  • English-speaking drivers, park rangers, and trackers.
  • Short Term AMREF Flying Doctor medical emergency evacuation insurance. This does not include hospital or treatment costs. For more information, see www.flydoc.org.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included

  • All airfare (except flight listed as included), airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Round-trip airfare is approximately $1,200 between the US and Entebbe, Uganda.
  • Passport and visa fees.
  • We can arrange extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
  • Gratuities – tipping is always discretionary. However, we suggest budgeting about $45 to $50 per participant per day for September 26 to October 5 for our local guides, tracking assistants, and lodge staff (about $450 to $500 total per participant).
  • Optional hiring of local porters to carry your gear during hikes to find chimpanzees and gorillas.
  • Trip cancellation insurance. For more information see travel 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 Reservation 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

Unless listed as included, airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Entebbe, Uganda (EBB) anytime on September 25. Depart Entebbe, Uganda (EBB) in the evening on October 6.

Flights we book for you: The one-way flight from Bwindi to Entebbe is included in the trip cost.

FAQ

Why is this a photography tour?

Scott knows Uganda well and is eager to show you photographic techniques for optimal photography with primates. Our days are planned to spend as much time as possible observing and photographing wildlife behavior. Although this trip emphasizes photography, any skill level is welcomed and encouraged. You can forego photography altogether to watch animal behaviors for long periods of time if you choose. Our small group size gives us the flexibility to stay at a perfect photographic moment to capture world-class images. Scott will offer instruction on wildlife photography throughout the trip, as well as offer one-on-one critique time in the evenings.

What are the primate encounter rules?

• Your guides will review these rules before you visit the chimpanzees and gorillas.
• Do not approach closer than the minimum distance of 7m (21ft) from the primates. This is to control disease transmission and to not aggravate the animals.
• Total silence, no smoking, no eating or drinking, and no pointing or staring directly at the primates.
• No flash photography.
• Follow the guide’s directions and actions at all times.
• Move slowly and be calm at all times.
• If you are feeling ill or know that you have a contagious disease, do not attempt to track the primates. Chimps and gorillas are very susceptible to human diseases. You will not be allowed a refund of your permit if you cannot go trekking. Please respect this rule and put the primates’ health first.

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.

Seasickness

Transportation

Conditions