Archives March 27, 2019

Lake Bunyonyi safari – Canoe rides and other activities

A beautiful view of lake Bunyonyi

A Lake Bunyonyi safari is one of the highlights on a safari in Uganda is much needed after a traveller’s gorilla tracking safari in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park or Mgahinga Gorilla National park. It is a perfect place for relaxing before your flight back home. This beautiful lake is located in south western Uganda between Kisoro and Kibale districts bordering Rwanda. Lake Bunyonyi, which means a lake is many small birds is 1,962 meters above the sea level.
The lake is the second deepest lakes in Africa after Lake Tanganyika and the deepest lake in Uganda plus it is one of the most beautiful lakes and is decorated with many islands that include the punishment Island, Bushara Island, Kyahungwe Island, Bwana, Nyuyeera and Bucaranuka Island.
Lake Bunyonyi is popular among both local and international tourists, photographers, film directors with some parts of Black Panther movie shot from here.

Below are some of the activities to do in and around Lake Bunyonyi
Motorised or non-motorised canoe boat to the different islands
Visitors around Lake Bunyonyi can go for guided motorised or non-motorised canoe boats to the different 29 islands that done the lake, learning about their history. These include the punishment island which stands out the most, Bwama Islands and many others. You will learn about a British missionary who founded a leper hospital in 1921 which is now converted into a school on the island

Relaxation
Lake Bunyonyi is a very cool place with cool weather and is perfect for a weekend getaway relaxation and it is also a perfect place after your gorilla tracking adventure or safari.

Bird watching
Lake Bunyonyi means a lake of many little birds. It is a bird watcher’s paradise and is home to about 200 bird species which can be seen on some of our bird watching safaris Some of the birds to look out for include grey-crowned cranes, red-chested sunbirds and many flycatchers.

Swimming
Although Lake Bunyonyi is about 900 meters in depth, experienced swimmers can take a dip in this beautiful lake. The lake is bilharzia free and does not have crocodiles and hippos making it perfect for swimming.

Village Walks
Village walks in Lake Bunyonyi are a perfect opportunity to learn about the local people and their ways of life. Take a guided walk to one of the surrounding hills, taking in the beautiful terraced hills or even visit a local school and interact with children.

Delight in spectacular sunsets
Enjoy the beautiful sunsets in the evenings when the sun rays reflect beautiful on the lake, taking post card perfect photos of this stunning lake

Visit the traditional healer
Take a 20-minute boat trip to Sam Mulisa’s hut, a traditional healer. You will spend two hours with him, learning from him about traditional medicine practices. You will also learn about his home turned traditional clinic

Guided visit to the local market at Rutindo
Every Friday and Monday, there is a local open market at Rutindo land site that visitors in Lake Bunyonyi can visit. This is a great way to interact with the local people learning about how they ‘do’ business and farm their produce

There are interesting interactions to be had with the locals, and one such example is connecting with the people at a local market that happens every Friday and Monday at the Rutindo landing site.

Meet the Batwa – pygmy people
Visit the batwa people and learn about their history and cultures. They also perform their traditional dance which you can participate in.

Accommodations in Lake Bunyonyi
There are different accommodations for every budget in and around Lake Bunyonyi and below is the outline of some of them
Luxury – Bird nest Lake Bunyonyi
Mid-range – Arcadia cottages Lake Bunyonyi
Budget – Crater Bay cottages

How to get to Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyonyi can easily be accessed from Entebbe and Kampala on a 7 and 6 hours road trip respectively to Kabale town and 8km from Kabale Town on a murrum road to Lake Bunyonyi.

The lake can also be easily accessible from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
It can also be accessed from Rwanda, and this takes about 3 hours

Tree Climbing Lions Safari in Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park

Tree climbing lions safari in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National park Ishasha sector is one of the most fascinating safaris that should not be missed. In Ishasha sector, the Southern part of Queen Elizabeth National park is where these king of the jungle lions are seen lazying in fig trees and sometimes, visitors find them climbing up there. It is estimated that there about 3 prides of lions in Ishasha with approximately 40 lions.

In the whole world, lions can only be seen in trees in Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National park, Uganda and in Lake Manyara National park in Tanzania but with greater chance of seeing them in Uganda.

Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National park is easily accessed from the northern part of the park, Kibale National park, from Kampala, on your way to and from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and a safari to the tree climbing lions is easily to incorporate in the different itineraries.

Apart from tree climbing lions, visitors will also be able to see herds of elephants, African Cape Buffalo, Etopi among others.

Commonly Asked Questions about Tree Climbing Lions of Queen Elizabeth National park.      
Why do lions in Ishasha sector climb?          
Preferred Tree in Ishasha. It is believed that of the reasons why these lions climb is that they prefer a particular tree in Ishasha- They love resting in the sycamore fig tree which has big shades.

To avoid insects. It is also believed that these lions climb trees to run away from ground insects which pester them while on ground.

To escape from heat. It is also said that they actually climb into the branches to escape from the heat on the ground and enjoy the cool breeze from the trees

Is it easy to see Tree Climbing Lions in Ishasha Sector?
Yes it is easy to see these tree climbing lions in Ishasha on a morning or evening game drive and they are often seen in the fig trees.

Many of our safari packages that go through Queen Elizabeth National park include a game drive in search for the tree climbing lions.

Our 3 Days Tree climbing lions and wildlife Safari in Queen Elizabeth National park is one our popular safaris among others. The sight of these big kitties in the trees is very memorable. So if you are planning a safari tour to Uganda, consider including Queen Elizabeth national park, specifically the Ishasha sector on your itinerary since these tree climbing lions are a rare sight.

Suggested itineraries that include a safari to the Tree Climbing Lions

3 Days Tree climbing lions and wildlife Safari in Queen Elizabeth National park

9 days Gorilla ahttp://ccarchs.com/birds/tour/3-days-wildlife-and-chimpanzee-tracking-at-queen-elizabeth-national-park/nd wildlife expedition

Lion Tracking Experiential Activity in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda

Lion Tracking research experience in Queen Elizabeth National Park is a unique one and a way of actively learning about lions in this beautiful national park and should not be missed on any of the Uganda Safaris. Lion tracking is purely a research program

Lion Tracking Experiential Activity in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda

Lion Tracking research experience in Queen Elizabeth National Park is a unique one and a way of actively learning about lions in this beautiful national park and should not be missed on any of the Uganda Safaris. Lion tracking is purely a research program under the Uganda Carnivore Program (UCP) which is committed to the research and conservation of lions, leopards and hyenas in Uganda.

Visitors will actively monitor some of the lions using locator devices under the supervision of a Senior Research Assistant James who has been involved in numerous wildlife interventions, including rescuing and relocating lions and leopards, and removing snares from elephants, buffaloes, and warthogs. You will learn habituation calls of lions, monitor the weather, and learn about the environment that these lions call home, and their behaviours.

This lion tracking research trip gives visitors a great chance, about 95% to see the king of the jungles, the lions.

The results from this monitoring and tracking experience will be added to the data base and thus helping in conservation and better understanding of wildlife.

How many people per Lion tracking   Experience
Only a limited number of people is allowed to go for this activity to avoid stressing animals and for visitors to have a great quality experience.

How long is Lion    Tracking?
Lion tracking takes about 3 hours and takes place early in the morning and or in the evening and sometimes in the evening and must be booked through the Visitor Information Centre at Mweya peninsular and must be booked with in 24 hours in advance.

Other Experiential research Activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park
There are other experiential tourism activities currently available in Queen Elizabeth National Park and these include Mongoose Tracking, Hippo Census, and Bird Counts.

Cost of Lion Tracking  2018
The cost is 50 USD per person paid to Uganda Wildlife Authority at their Information Centre in Mweya in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and 10 USD per person is paid to the Uganda Carnivore program for the communities. The rates exclude park entry fees.

Bird’s Nest Safaris  can organize Lion Tracking Experiential activity that can be combined by with a wildlife safari and boat safari on Kazinga channel.

Walking Safaris – Best Places for walking safaris in Uganda

Walking safaris on a Uganda safari offer a better way to get up close and personal with the African savannah bush and its wildlife. A walking safari is such an adventure and it really is one way to get to know your friends and family better as you walk through the different national parks.

The best places for walking safaris in Uganda are Kidepo Valley National park and Lake Mburo National park.

The other place for a guided walking safari is the Ziwa Rhino sanctuary for a guided rhino tracking safari

Walking safaris are very special in a way that you walk in silence, enjoying nature’s rhythm. The Savannah land scape in these two national parks is exquisite. You get to see different types of trees – The acacia trees as well as the grassy plains and lots of animals that include zebras, buffaloes, different types of antelopes, elephants, and countless bird-life. The ranger guide points out to the different animals, their droppings and foot prints.

All walking safaris in Uganda are guided by an expert ranger guide who leads you every step and ensure that your safety is number. The ranger guides have so much experience, and always make the walking safari a truly enjoyable experience. They do teach you ways of the jungle and savannah plains, how to judge how big an elephant is from its prints, how to tell how fast a lion is walking, and how to tell the difference between different bird calls. You will learn so much and this makes walking safaris the best way to learn about the bush.

For the bird watching enthusiasts, a walking safari is a must. There are so many birds to be seen that include bateleurs, fish eagles, African hawk eagles, hornbills, barbets, rollers, sunbirds, bee-eaters, kingfishers, vultures, and many more. A walking safari allows you to get much better sightings of the countless birds in Uganda than you would from a safari vehicle.

For any questions about walking safaris on offer and itineraries that include them please contact us. We can design great combination of luxury and adventure in a heartbeat.

Golden Monkey Tracking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Golden Monkey Tracking is one of the unique activities in Uganda which takes place only in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Mgahinga Gorilla National park is also home to mountain gorillas and travelers can combine both a golden monkey tracking opportunity with a gorilla tracking adventure.

Golden monkeys are highly endangered and listed on the IUCN Red list due to the destruction of their habitat. There are two golden monkey families habituated for visitors to see. For visitors who yearn for a longer period of time enjoying the golden monkey opportunity, they can go for Golden Monkey habituation which gives one a deeper insight on the lives of these endangered monkey species.

Golden monkeys can only be found in the Virunga mountain range of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The golden monkeys were previously thought to be a subspecies of the blue monkey, they are similar but the golden monkey has golden orange fur on the upper flanks and back. They mainly feed on bamboo, leaves, and fruits and sometimes they also eat insects.

Golden monkey tracking starts at 8 am and one needs a permit that includes the park entry fees. Bird’s Nest Safaris can purchase them from Uganda Wildlife Authority on behalf of the clients, we would email you a pre-departure guide of what to pack for Golden Monkey tracking which is the same for gorilla tracking.

Other activities
There are other activities that can be added on to the golden monkey tracking experience. These include Gorilla tracking and gorilla habituation that can be done in both Mgahinga Gorilla National park and Bwindi ImpenetrableNational park, Batwa pygmy trail experience, guided nature walks and bird watching of the unique bird species here.

Accommodations in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park for the Golden Monkey tracking

Suggested Golden Monkey tracking itineraries

7 Days Gorilla And Golden Monkeys
6 Days Gorilla And Golden Monkeys Uganda, Rwanda

 

Hike Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Rwenzori mountains National Park, 386 sq. meters was declared a World heritage UNESCO site in 1994 and is one of the best adventurous activities in Africa, making these mountains of the moon the best hiking and mountaineering destinations.   Rwenzori Mountains national park is located in the South Western region of Uganda, on the East side of the Western Rift Valley, lying along the Uganda’s land borders with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and it’s Virunga National Park.

Rwenzori Mountains is the third highest mountain range is Africa after Mount Kenya and Mountain Kilimanjaro respectively, standing at 5,109 meters above sea level with 6 mountain peaks that include Mt Stanley which stands at 5,109 meters above sea level, Mt Speke at 4,890 meters above sea level, Mt Speke at 4,890m, Mt Emin at 4,715, Mt Savoia at 4,627m and last but not least Margherita peak which stands 5109 meters above sea level; Margarita is the 3rd highest mountain range in Africa. The whole mountain endowed with glaciers, snowfields, waterfalls, and lakes making it one of Africa’s most beautiful mountains

Rwenzori Mountain national park is a habitat to 70 mammals that include forest elephants, forest buffalo, duikers among others and 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics, as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation and beautiful plants that Montane forest with bamboo ( Arundinaria ) on lower slopes, heath and Afro-alpine moorland on higher slopes.

Rwenzori   Mountains National Park safaris in Uganda

Rwenzori Mountains were nominated as one of the World’s Best Hikes by National Geographic and every hiking adventure should not miss out an opportunity to hike through the safe mountains. All Mountain hiking safaris in the mountain are guided by experiences guides and hikers have so much support from the porters too, most of whom are local people of the Mountains.

There are different hiking options that can be organized through Bird’s Nest Safaris which include 3 days for the shorter foothill hike and 6-7 days for the usual mountain circuit. It normally takes about 9 days to get to the Margarita, the highest peak

Best Time To Hike Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
The best time to hike Rwenzori Mountains national park is January to February and the July to August which are the driest months, although rain is possible year round.

Bird Watching in Rwenzori Mountains national park.
Rwenzori Mountains is rich for bird watching and is well known for the special Albertine Rift endemics that survived ice age. It has a record of 195 bird species making it one of the best birding destinations in Uganda and Africa. These bird species include Handsome Francolin, Rwenzori Turaco, Montane (Rwenzori) Nightjar, Dwarf Honeyguide, Archer’s Robin-Chat, Red-throated Alethe, Kivu Ground Thrush, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Montane Masked and Collared Apalises, Stripe-breast Tit, Rwenzori Batis, (Grauer’s Cuckoo-shrike ), Blue-headed, Regal and Purple-breasted Sunbirds, Strange Weaver, Dusky and Shelley’s Crimson wings, Lammergeiger, Red-thighed Sparrow hawk, Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo, African Long-eared Owl, Western Green Tinkerbird, Olive Woodpecker, Grey-chested Illadopsis, Grey-winged Robin, Evergreen Forest and Bamboo Warblers, Lagden’s Bush-Shrike, Montane Sooty Boubou, Golden-winged and Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbirds, White-collared Olive-back, Red-faced Crimson wing, Oriole-Finch among others

Combo safaris
A hike to the Rwenzori Mountains national park,  also known as the Mountains of the moon can be combined with Gorilla tracking and gorilla habituation safaris in  Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, chimpanzee tracking and chimpanzee habitation in Kibale Forest National Park, and wildlife safaris in Queen Elizabeth national parkand Lake Mburo National park.

How to get Rwenzori National Park.
Rwenzori Mountains National Park is easily accessible from Entebbe and Kampala and from other parts of Uganda. It can be accessible by air transport through our partners Aerolink Uganda and or by road transport using our fleet of 4 x 4 WD customized safari land cruisers and safari vans

White Water Rafting, Jinja Uganda

White water rafting in Uganda takes place Jinja, which is East Africa’s Adventure Capital and home to some of the world’s finest grade 5 white water rafting and other adventure activities. There are different white water rafting adventures for even first timers, family and hard core adventurers. It is a very safe guided activity.

River Nile is the world’s longest river and it has its source in Uganda. There are different rafting options from half to 3 days rafting opportunities as mentioned below.

Grade 5 Full Day Rafting – USD $140
With this package, you will have all the fun. You will get wet, get wild and you will have no idea how much fun you will experience.

This full day white water rafting adventure is considered one of the finest and should not be missed while on any safari in Uganda. You don’t want to miss to experience the Nile from its source.

There are expert photographers who will capture all rafting moments to always look up to in the years to come.

Below is a suggested itinerary for the full day white Water rafting
On the day of rafting, you will be picked up from the central of Kampala or Jinja and transferred to the rafting base for some light breakfast.

At the base, upon arrival, you will meet with your fellow rafters and guides while enjoying a tea or coffee and breakfast since rafting is a physical activity. Pineapples, yellow bananas and biscuits are also provided to help keep your energy levels up throughout the day. Lunch is always light.

Before you head out for rafting, you will be briefed, and fitted with your life jacket and helmets. At the river point, you will be given a detailed safety briefing before getting into the river for practical instructions.

You will be guided through the rapids including the big challenging ones by your team leader as the river meanders through. You will raft through 8 major rapids plus several lower graded runs; all for your safety and fun.

You will then stop before all grade 4 and 5 rapids to brief you about the planned route through and at this time, if you feel you would prefer to join the safety boat or where possible, walk around and then re-join the raft, it is absolutely fine. Calm stretches of water separate the rapids; perfect for getting your breath back, taking a swim and enjoying the scenery.

At the end of the rafting day, you will go to a Riverside Restaurant for a delicious BBQ buffet with cold beers and sodas. Once done with your meal, you will be transported by a shuttle bus back to Kampala or Jinja.

Grade 5 Extreme Rafting – USD $160
This grade is for a traveler who is interested in challenging River Nile in a two man raft. If you prefer to spend more of your time out of the raft than in it, then this is the trip for you. It is more exciting and more challenging.

It will only be you and your guide in a small inflatable raft against the mighty rapids of the White Nile. As long as you have a good sense of adventure, and the ability to hold your breath, you can go for this trip. No experience is needed.

Raft River Board – USD  $160
Are you looking for the adrenaline rush? This is a perfect trip for you that is interested in an extreme adventure challenge

The raft river board combines rafting and river boarding so that you can rest the flat water sections and safely raft the few rapids that are considered unsafe for river boarding. If you’re up to it, try your hand at river surfing on a standing wave. River boarding is extreme boogie boarding and a great way to experience the Nile from an adventurous angle

Grade 3 Full Day Rafting – USD $140
This 1 day white water rafting trip is perfect for families with children as young as 8 years and people who are interested in experiencing the white water rafting without the intensity of grade 5 rapids

The grade 3 rapids are fun without being overwhelming so there’s plenty of white water action, but also time to sit back, relax and enjoy your surrounds and have the occasional water fight.

The photographers will be capturing your memories.

Important to note

  • Duration: 25 kms  4 – 5 hours on the river
  • Dress: Light clothing, shorts & t-shirt are ideal.
  • Lots of suntan lotion & a cap.
  • Fitness Level: 8 years Minimum weight 30 kg.
  • Under 18’s – guardian conditions apply.
  • Children under 16 should be accompanied by an adult.
  • No rafting experience necessary, however clients should be water confident & reasonably fit.
  • Pack: Towel & a change of clothes for the end of the day.
  • Any medication you require.
  • Money for optional extra’s

Grade 5 Two Day Rafting – USD $250 per adult, $230 per child under 16 years
This trip is the ultimate white water rafting adventure on the Nile.

You will go for white water rafting for two days with enough time to time to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery, admire the abundant bird-life, watch the fisherman cast their nets from dugout canoes, wave at children collecting water and smile at the ladies doing their washing. This is wrapped up by sitting by a fire on the banks of the River Nile at night.

Safari Game drives in Uganda’s National Parks

Safari Game drives are no doubt one of the highlights of any Uganda safari or African safari at large and can be combined with other safari activities that include gorilla tracking and gorilla habituation, chimpanzee trekking and habituation, mountaineering and bird watching safaris.

Safari game drives in Uganda involve going into the savannah plains of the different safari national parks, with a 4 x 4 WD safari van or safari land cruiser, with every traveller having a window seat. Safari game drives can last from 2-3 hours to a full day’s excursion, sometimes wrapped up with a bush breakfast.

What does a safari game drive mean?
The word ‘game drive’ means two different words; Game and drive. Game is referred to the wild animals that live and move freely in their natural habitats in the Savannah plains. Game includes elephants, giraffes, and African cape buffaloes among others.
Drive on the other side is referred to as driving with a vehicle- searching for game. So a game drive basically means driving with a safari vehicle in national parks and wildlife reserves searching for especially big game

Sunrise safari game drives

Game drives are a typical safari activity. We recommend going for a full day game drive for better game watching opportunities
Game drives normally start early in the morning at around 6 a.m. since this is when animals are most active.

You will always have early breakfast before you head out to the Savannah plains for the game drives. Unless you are doing a bush walk or another activity, you will likely go on two game drives per day while on safari. You will spot lions and hyenas hunting, vultures feeding on leftovers of predators, watch elephants, giraffes, and lots of antelopes that include the Uganda Kobs among others.

After the sunrise game drive, you return to the lodge for real breakfast, and relaxing since the animals rest too during the afternoon heat. But in most national parks in Uganda, in the afternoon you go for a boat safari, to watch animals and birds that come to rivers for water or go for a sun downer in some of the best scenic places in the different national parks.

Night  safari game  drives
In Uganda, one can go for night game drives in some of the National parks, with your safari guide and a ranger guide from Uganda Wildlife Authority. The night game drives may start from 4:00 pm returning at 10:00 pm latest. A spotlight is used to spot the different animals.

Night game drives offer a whole new perspective to a Uganda safari and allows travelers to experience the mysteries of the African bush after dark. Travelers will get a chance to see the nocturnal life such as porcupines, mongoose, leopards and other animals that love the dark.

Animal seen on a Ugandan safari        
Expect to see the big four animals that include the elephant, leopard, African Cape Buffalo, and lion. With rhino tracking at Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, a sanctuary aiming at breeding and re-introducing rhinos into the wild, one is able to see all the big five animals.

Other animals to look out on the game drives include bush back, water back, Uganda kob, warthog, giant hog, giraffes, mongoose especially white tailed, jackals, Jackson’s hartebeest , zebras, ostriches, among others
There are quiet a number of birds too that can be seen while on game drives and boat safari. Every national park in Uganda has common and special bird.

Safari vehicles used for safari game drives
Safari games drives are usually guided and conducted from 4 x 4 customized safari vehicles. These are either customized safari vans or land cruisers with a pop up roof that makes it easy for wildlife viewing.
Most of these vehicles carry a maximum of 7 people, each person with a window seat, all this making wildlife or game viewing fun and easy to spot different animals

Why you should go for a safari Game Drive in Uganda

  • You get guided around, learning about the different animals in their free nature
  • You learn about wild animals and their way of life
  • You come across many animals than you could possibly imagine
  • You get to see the big 8 animals of Uganda (Elephant, Lion, Leopard, African Cape Buffalo, Rhino, Giraffe, Chimpanzee and mountain gorilla)

National Parks for the best safari game drives in Uganda
Below are some of the national parks and wildlife reserves in Uganda where a traveller can go for safari game drives

Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Queen Elizabeth National parkis one of the highest and rich bio diverse national parks in Uganda. It is home to about 98 mammals and is the most visited national in Uganda. It is located in Kasese in Western Uganda and offers great classic African safari game drives.

The park is home to countless animals that include elephant, leopard, lion, African Cape buffalo, a number of different types of antelopes, wart hog, giant forest hog, baboons, tree climbing lions, chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge etc. The park has well developed game drive tracks through the Kasenyi area and North Kazinga plains and Ishasha sector that is home to tree climbing lions; to make game viewing possible and successful.

Travellers can go for an early sunrise game drive which is highly recommended, with a safari guide to look out for the early risers like the lions and hyenas. Sunrise game drives normally begin at 6.30 am for about 2-3 hours.

Murchison  Falls    National     Park
Murchison Falls National Park is the largest national park in Uganda and offers great game drive experiences because of its different animal species found here.

Morning, afternoon and night game drives are available and do take place from the well maintained game drive tracks, with Buligi track in the northern bank of River Nile.

With a safari guide, one can see and photograph different animals that include leopard, lion, elephant, giraffes, mongoose, hyenas, jackals, baboons, patas and black and white colobus monkeys, warthogs, duikers, Oribi, Jackson’s Jackson’s hartebeest , leopard, tortoise different types of antelopes. For clients staying in the Southern bank, they can go to a new track called the honey moon track where some giraffes where trans-located to.

If you have time, don’t miss night game drives to be able to spot the nocturnal animals.

Murchison falls National park is well situated close to Budongo Forest, which offers an opportunity for chimpanzee tracking in this rain forest, and it is also close to Ziwa rhino sanctuary, where a traveller can go for rhino tracking, thus offering a great possibility to see all the big five animals plus man’s closest cousin; the chimpanzee.

Lake  Mburo national   park
Lake Mburo National Park, the smallest Savannah national park in Uganda is located conveniently between Kampala, Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi impenetrable National parks. It is the only park in Uganda with an entire lake within its borders.

It has a great network of safari game tracks through acacia woodland, wetlands, rocks, grassy areas and game drives here are not long because of its size.

Safari game drives in Lake Mburo National park normally take place at 6.30am for the sunrise game drives and 7 pm for the night game drives. These are the best times since animals are moving freely for food in the park.
Animals to look out for are Zebra, eland, impala (only park with impalas in Uganda), hyena, leopard, bush babies, baboons, buffalo, giraffes among others.

Apart from morning and night game drives, one can go for horse back safaris, walking safaris, water safaris and birding safari.

Kidepo Valley national park  

Kidepo Valley National park is a semi-dessert national park located in the far North Eastern part of Uganda. CNN voted Kidepo Valley National park as one of the best national parks to visit in Africa. This is because of this beautiful endless scenery, African sunrises and sunsets, largest prides of lions and countless herds of African Cape Buffaloes.

About 77 mammal species call the national park home, making it perfect for classic African safari game drives that take place early morning, in the afternoon and in the night.

Game drives take place around the Narus Valley, morning ones starting at 6:00 am, and afternoon ones at 3 pm. The animals to look out for are elephants, lions which sometimes rest on rocks in the park, different types of antelopes, cheetah, bush baby, bush pig, jackals, giraffes and much more.

You can also go for a one hour long game drive to Kidepo Valley, which is very scenic. Kidepo Valley River is seasonal and during the dry season, the sand is so beautiful, adorned by palm trees. It should be noted that there is not much wildlife here, but it is part of the park where Ostriches are commonly seen. The drive takes you to Kanangorok hot springs and towards mountains, across the Sudanese border.

Toro  Semuliki  Wildlife  Reserve
Toro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve is one of the less travelled reserves in Uganda but it is underestimated. There are three game drive tracks across the Toro Semuliki Wildlife reserve savannah. Animals to see here include the forest and savannah elephants, buffalo, water buck, Uganda Kob, crocodile and with a bit of luck you may see the pygmy hippopotamus. Other animals include the leopard and the bush babies.

Safari game drives in Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve normally take place in the early morning, afternoon and in the night. The night offers great opportunities to spot the nocturnal animals like the white tailed mongoose among others.

Important points for safari game drives

  • Off road driving during night and morning game drives is not allowed inside all national parks. This is to prevent vehicle-damage to the environment. Please don’t force your guide to do so. If caught, there is a fine to pay to Uganda Wildlife Authority, and one may be banned from the national parks
  • Night game drives offer a great opportunity to spot nocturnal animals that include bush babies, genet cats, mongoose, aardvarks, and owls among others
  • Bring sandbags to steady cameras
  • A good binocular is recommended
  • Wear layers during the morning game drives. You go for the morning game drives when the sun is rising and so the temperatures are low, but as the game drive goes on and the sun is fully out, it gets hot.
  • Always wear a sun screen and an insect repellent
  • If you go on a game drive, make sure you carry your sunglasses and a hat. In case you come back after dark, don’t forget to take something warm to wear.
  • During a game drive you will have a possibility to stretch your legs, always stay close to the vehicle
  • When you go for a bush toilet, make sure to tell your guide. Please do not go by your self
  • In a lot of National Parks and Game Reserves it is not permitted to go off-road during your game drive.

General safari requirements

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Water proof trousers
  • Long sleeved Shirt/blouse
  • Water proof raincoat/jacket
  • Sun Cream
  • Gloves
  • Insect repellent
  • Backpack for carrying water/packed lunch
  • Camera
  • Light safari clothing’s i.e. shorts / sleeveless for the day
  • Warm clothing / sweater for the evening
  • Anti Malarial / Yellow fever vaccination

Chimpanzee Tracking and chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda, (Kibale Forest National Park)

Chimpanzee Tracking and Chimpanzee habituation in Kibale Forest National Park are one of the most popular activities in the park and in Uganda at large. Chimpanzee trekking and habituation are activities like no other and travelers on a Uganda safari should not miss these primate walks that take place in Kanyanchu area of the park.

Kibale forest is the best destination for chimp trekking in East Africa

The stars of Kibale National Park are definitely the chimpanzees, but the forest is home to thirteen primate (13) species that include diurnal monkeys. Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park have been tracked since 1993 with great chances of seeing them.

The chimpanzee trekking takes place twice a day, in the morning starting at 8:00am and in the afternoon starting at  2:00pm and can take about 3 hours depending on where the chimpanzees move to.

Chimpanzee Habituation
Chimpanzee habituation is rather a new activity and takes a full day introduced by Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Habituation is the process by which wild animals become used to the presence of human beings. The habituation process for chimpanzees can take up to two years. In Kibale Forest National Park, there are three habituated communities; two for research and one for visitors.
Travelers get a chance to visit a chimpanzee family that is under going habituation and involve visitors waking up so early, joining researchers from Uganda Wildlife Authority, to watch and habituate chimpanzees before they leave their nests at 6.30am, watch them hunt, rest, breast feed, feed among others until when they start building their new nests at around 7pm. Because chimpanzee is becoming very popular, some new groups are being habituated so as to make them ready for chimpanzee trekking.

Price of Chimpanzee Tracking and Chimpanzee Habituation
The price for the regular chimpanzee treks for either in the morning or in the after is $150 US dollars per person, per trek.
The cost for the chimpanzee habituation is $ 220 US dollars per person, per habituation.
The fees include park entry and guiding fees.
You need a lot of water for these two activities.

Other activities in Kibale National Park

Nocturnal walks

For travellers interested in nocturnal walks, there is an opportunity in Kibale Forest National park. This activity can be booked on site with the warden of the park who decides whether or not you should go depending on the activities of the elephants in the forest. The nocturnal walk focuses on nocturnal primates such as the bush babies among others.

Bird Watching safari in Kibale National Park

A bird watching safariis not complete without birding Kibale National Park, which is home to countless birds with rare bird species that include the Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, White-collared Oliveback and Papyrus Canary among others. Bird watching begin at 7am at Kanyanchu. The bird watching activity must be booked well in advance and it involves park entry and activity fees.

Bigodi swamp walk

The other popular activity around Kibale National Park is the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary guide walk. The sanctuary is located just outside the park and it is home to 138 bird species which may be seen during guided walks along the boardwalk trail and viewing platforms. Birds to look out include White-spotted Flufftail, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Western Nicator, Grey-winged Robin-chat, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Brown-backed Scrub-robin, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Superb Sunbird, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Black Bishop, White-breasted Negrofinch and Black-crowned Waxbill, the great blue turaco among others.

Best places to trek and habituate chimpanzees in Uganda

Kibale Forest National park This is the main and best location where chimpanzee trekking and habituation takes place. The park is home to the biggest concentration of primates and thus has been nick named the Primate capital of the world. It is located in Western Uganda and connects to Queen Elizabeth National park. The chimpanzee family trekked has about 120 family members.

Budongo Forest

Budongo forest which located near Murchison Falls National Park is a great destination for chimpanzee tracking too.

The chimpanzees here are newly habituated but there are great chances of seeing the chimps. The chimpanzee group in Budongo forest has about 45-50 individuals and has a high biodiversity of about 24 mammals, 9 primate species, 465 tree and shrub species, 359 bird species, 289 butterfly species, and 130 moth species.

Chimpanzee tracking here is cheaper than Kibale National park, between 85-95 US dollars per person

Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park

The other main location for chimpanzee tracking is the Kyambura gorge, located in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Travelers are able to trek the chimpanzees for only 90 US dollars per trek. The gorge has about 20 habituated chimpanzees. Kindly note that the walk here is steep and slippery and you would require some minimum fitness

Other habitats for chimpanzees in Uganda

  • Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park- Famous for mountain gorillas
  • Semliki National Park
  • Kalinzu Forest

What to wear for chimpanzee tracking and chimpanzee habituation

  • Layers of clothes when you set of in the morning which can easily be removed as it warms up during the chimpanzee trek
  • A good rain jacket
  • Long, light weight (but strong) trousers are also advisable as the vegetation can be thick with sharp thorns.
  • Comfortable walking boots or shoes (worn in) since you may be walking for a long time over some pretty tough terrain.
  • A small day bag to carry your camera, spare film/memory cards; spare camera battery, insect repellent, sun cream, loo roll, water and lunch etc.

Important points to remember

  • The best time for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda is during the low season months of March, April, May and November when there are fewer tourists, but keep in mind this is also the rainy season.
  • Chimpanzee habituation permits must be booked in advance (the earlier, the better) since the number of people to habituate chimpanzees is limited to 6 people
  • Don’t go chimpanzee tracking or habituating if you have a human born disease like flue since these can be transmitted to the chimpanzees because they share a 98.8% DNA with them.
  • A day pack will be required to carry your lunch. Place the food in a plastic bag in case of food leakages.
  • The weather is unpredictable, so rainproof gear, including boots with strong traction, is recommended, especially during the low/rainy season when the slopes are muddy.
  • Please bring a good insect repellent
  • Please bring long-sleeved shirts and long pants that will protect your skin from pricking foliage
  • Wear hiking gaiters or tuck your pants into your socks/boots to prevent ants from climbing up your legs.
  • With respect to photography, chimpanzees can be challenging to shoot in the dense, shaded forest. Add to that their tree-top lounging habits and swift movements, and you’ll fumble with your camera if you’re not prepared. Use a telephoto lens and increase your ISO to capture sharp images of them in action.

Some lodging options in and around Kibale National Forest National Park

Kyaninga LodgeHigh end lodge located between Kibale National Park and Fort portal. It has beautiful views of Kyaningacrater lake

Ndali LodgeLuxury Lodge located between Kibale and Fortportal. It has beautiful views of Ndali Crater Lake

Papaya Lake Lodge Luxury lodge located between Kibale National Park and Fort Portal. Beautiful views too of some of the crater lakes

Primate Lodge Luxury and standard cottages– It is located inside the National Park

Crater Lake Lodge Mid range lodge located an hour away from the forest with great views of the crater lakes

Kibale Forest Camp Budget camp located inside the park

Planning your own trip to Kibale Forest National Park to see the chimps?

Below are some of the recommended itineraries that include chimpanzee tracking in Kibale National Park.

  https://www.birdsnestsafaris.com/tour/3-days-chimpanzee-tracking-kibale-forest-np/
https://www.birdsnestsafaris.com/tour/10-days-gorillas-and-wildlife-safari/
https://www.birdsnestsafaris.com/tour/8-days-exclusive-gorilla-chimps-and-predator-expedition/

GORILLA TRACKING AND HABITUATION

There is so much to see and plenty of tourist activities to undertake while visiting Uganda. Of this fact, Bird’s Nest Safaris is in position to organise customized safaris and tours involving these tourist activities and so much more. Here are some of the major tourist activities in Uganda.

The mother gorilla with a 2 days baby gorilla !!!

Gorilla Trekking /Tracking and Gorilla Habituation

Gorilla tracking or Gorilla trekking is the biggest highlight for most travellers on Uganda wildlife and adventure safaris. Gorilla trekking or gorilla tracking takes place in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo and one needs a gorilla tracking permit.

It is actually the main reason many travellers get on the plane to Uganda since it is one of the unique activities in the world, considering that highly endangered mountain gorillas cannot live anywhere else, but where they are now which is Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Although about 880 mountain gorillas live in these three countries, half of the world’s them live in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National park and little Mgahinga Gorilla National park. One needs to prepare very well for the gorilla trek and Bird’s Nest Safaris always provide a per-departure guide to help with preparations.   Click here for our gorilla tracking safaris.        These safaris offer you a great opportunity to come close to the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.The whole gorilla tracking process can take place from 1 hour to 8 hours depending on where they nested the previous night. When finally found, one is allowed 1 hour with them, taking photos, ‘selfies’ and observing how they live. Mountain gorillas live in family groups headed by a giant silverback gorilla. The family normally has black backs, females, juveniles and babies. Coming face to face with Mountain gorillas in one of the best feeling; a feeling that is forever memorable.

Gorilla Habituation Experience
Gorilla habituation is a new activity that Uganda Wildlife Authority has opened up for travelers in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Gorilla habituation can only be done in Uganda, in Rushaga which is the southern sector of the park for $1500 a gorilla habituation permit

There are two gorilla groups that are being habituated and one can be part of that habituation program with researchers from Uganda Wildlife Authority. Instead of 8 people as is the case of gorilla tracking, only 4 people are allowed to participate in the gorilla habituation.

You will spend 4 hours with the gorilla family being habituated from the time you find where they nested the previous night; learning about their behaviors and so on. Your data collected will be added into the data base and even when you go back home and are still interested in updates about the gorilla family you habituated, they will be availed to you. The activity begins at 7 am, with a team of trackers, researchers and ranger guides.

Cost of the Gorilla Tracking and Gorilla Habituation permits.
As per Uganda Wildlife Authority, the conservation body in Uganda, a gorilla tracking permit is $ 700 USD and the gorilla habituation permit costs $ 1500.

In Rwanda, one gorilla tracking permit costs $ 1500 USD while in Democratic Republic of Congo, it costs $ 400 USD depending on the time and conditions

Bird’s Nest Safaris can help organize your gorilla tracking and habituation permits in these three countries

Best Time for Gorilla Tracking.
There is no bad or best time for gorilla tracking because it can be done throughout the year, evenly good since there is no higher or lower success of seeing the mountain gorillas in the different seasons. Visitors are guaranteed 95% chance to see them.

During the rainy season, the trek especially in the boggy areas might be with more mud, but the gorillas do not move very far for food too. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a rain forest, so there is no big difference between a rainy or dry season since it can rain anytime in the forest. The forest is always wet anyway.

The advantage of tracking during the rain season is you will likely track the gorillas alone or in a very small group since green months in Uganda are low season months

Is it easy to book a gorilla permit?
All our safaris that include gorilla tracking, a gorilla tracking permit is included in the cost. Gorilla permits are on high demand and only 80 gorilla tracking permits are available per day. In high season, the gorilla permits are sold out very fast and we advise you to always book your gorilla permits in advance to avoid disappointment. The demand has been made worse since Rwanda increased their gorilla tracking fees from $ 750 USD to $ 1500 USD. Kindly note that we always have to check if gorilla permits are available before we confirm your Uganda and gorilla tracking safari

If you’re a sole traveller and you don’t want to book a gorilla tracking safari with us, we can help organize your permits at on $ 50 USD  as handling fees. We will then organize on how you can get your gorilla permits, either from Kampala or Entebbe or from your lodge

How many Gorilla Family groups in Uganda?
In Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National park, there are about 12 habituated for gorilla tracking and 1 gorilla family in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Bwindi Impenetrable has three sectors but 4 places where one can go for gorilla tracking of the habituated gorilla families. There is the Northern sector also known as Buhoma which has three gorilla families. Gorilla tracking first took place from here and the first gorilla family to be habituated and open for tracking in 1998 is Mubare gorilla family. Then the Eastern sector also known as Ruhija has three habituated families too and Rushaga and Nkuringo in the Southern Sector. There are 5 gorilla groups in Rushaga and 2 gorilla groups in Nkuringo.

Gorilla tracking in Mgahinga Gorilla family is easier and takes a shorter time because the park is small. Nyakagezi gorilla family that is tracked from here is found mainly in the open areas of the bamboo Zone. The gorilla family used to cross boundaries from Uganda to Rwanda but came back to Uganda and has not gone back since

What is the best gorilla family to track?

This is one of the frequently asked questions by travelers coming on a Uganda gorilla tracking safari. The further ask which gorilla family has more members, is better and the time to track a particular gorilla family.

It is very hard to answer those questions since the mountain gorillas live and move freely in free nature. Much as they are habituated, they are still wild and it is hard to predict their movements, behaviors and so on.

Some gorilla families like Rushegura of Buhoma are easily spotted because it doesn’t move far but this too is unpredictable.

When a traveler wants to track the nearer or easier gorilla family, with the help of the safari guide, on the day of tracking at the gorilla briefing point, one can easily get an easier family to track depending on where they last nested the previous day.

There are four different places in Uganda for mountain gorilla tracking each with a distance of 2 to 5 hours drive from each other. So the choice of accommodations also plays a big part in which area one will track gorillas from.

Unfit for Gorilla Tracking? No problem

A traveler who is not fit and not able to walk long distances should go for gorilla tracking in Rwanda or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In Rwanda, all gorilla treks start from one point and easier and less difficult treks are chosen according to the fitness level of visitors

However, it is more expensive to track gorillas in Rwanda- 1500 USD for a gorilla permit and the trek is not as exciting as it is in Uganda

It is easier to track mountain gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National park because it is a very small area and the gorilla family is around the open areas of the bamboo Zone. A gorilla trek here can be combined with a golden monkey trek which is not the case with gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. If you want to read more about Mountain Gorilla Trekking, have a look at https://www.animalsaroundtheglobe.com/mountain-gorilla-trekking/

Some of the gorilla tracking rules to keep in mind during the gorilla trek

  • Only 8 visitors are allowed to visit each habituated gorilla family and only 4 visitors for the gorilla habituation
  • Always wash your hands before you head out into the forest to see the gorillas
  • Do not leave rubbish in the national park
  • Always keep your voices very low so you are able to enjoy other sights in the Park. But you can still ask your ranger guide questions
  • When you finally get up close to the gorillas, follow your guide’s instructions. He will inform you when to get your cameras ready to photograph these giant apes

Rules while with the mountain gorillas

  • Remember to keep a distance of 7 meters (21 feet) from the gorillas
  • Your voices must be kept low at all times
  • Do not eat or drink while you are with the mountain gorillas
  • When the gorillas charge which happens sometimes, follow your guide’s instructions. He will tell you to crouch down slowly, and please don’t look in the eyes of the gorillas
  • Don’t attempt to run away. This will increase the risk of the attack from the gorillas
  • Gorillas are wild animals, do not touch them
  • Turn off the flash from your camera. Flash photography is not allowed
  • You will only be allowed a maximum of one hour with the gorillas

Gorilla trekking safari Requirements:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Water proof trousers
  • Long sleeved Shirt/blouse
  • Water proof raincoat/jacket
  • Sun Cream
  • Gloves
  • Insect repellent
  • Backpack for carrying water/packed lunch
  • Camera