Primate Encounters

Uganda

October 31 to November 13, 2017
Cost: $12,500
Leader: Scott Davis
Group Size: 7
Days: 14

Safari Overview

Enter the fascinating world of rare and elusive Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees in their forested habitats. Completely immerse yourself in the fascinating world of the rare and elusive Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees on this special Great Ape expedition. See through the eyes of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey as you get up-close and personal with these incredibly complex and social animals, all within the boundaries of Uganda’s forest habitats. Special access permits in Kibale National Park grant you an entire day with the Chimpanzees (most visitors have only two hours), giving ample photographic opportunities. For three full days, immerse yourself among Chimpanzee families, many times within just a few feet of them, witnessing and photographing intimate moments while chimps wake up, groom, forage, interact, and play together. Spend two days game driving in search of the tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park and a host of other African species. Delve into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; for three days, you will hike into the mountainous jungle habitat to locate and observe the rare and special Mountain Gorillas. Your time will be spent observing the daily routines of 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
• Leader Scott Davis is a professional photographer specializing in wildlife, nature, and travel.
• Up-close encounters with the Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
• Three full days with Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park to observe and photograph behaviors.
• Enjoy a specially planned 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.

Itinerary Updated: February 2017



FAQ Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Oct 31 Travel day to Entebbe, Uganda.
Nov 1 Arrive in Entebbe. Protea Hotel, Entebbe D
Nov 2–5 Drive to Kibale National Park and then spend the next three days tracking Chimpanzees and observing behaviors. Ndali Lodge, Ndali B, L, D
Nov 6–7 Drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park and explore during morning and afternoon game drives. Katara Lodge, Queen Elizabeth National Park B, L, D
Nov 8–11 Drive to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, then spend the next three days tracking gorillas. Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Bwindi B, L, D
Nov 12 Fly back to Entebbe, Uganda, for connecting flights homeward. Protea Hotel, Entebbe (Dayroom) B, L
Nov 13 Arrive home.

Our Trip Leaders

Scott Davis

Scott is a professional photographer specializing in wildlife, nature, and leading tours. 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 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 day to Entebbe, Uganda

Oct 31

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

Arrive in Entebbe

Nov 1

Arrive in Entebbe by this evening. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be transferred to our hotel to recuperate from your flights and prepare for your upcoming adventure.

Track Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park

Nov 2–5

Watching a Chimpanzee by Scott Davis

We’ll drive from Entebbe to our lodging in the popular Kibale National Park. Kibale National Park is known for its variety and concentration of primates, such as Red Colobus, Vervet, l’Hoest’s, and Black and White Colobus Monkeys, Chimpanzees, and Olive Baboons. We may also encounter forest elephants, which are smaller and hairier than the Savannah Elephants.

Kibale National Park is home to about 1,500 Chimpanzees, all separated into various troops or some lone individuals. Several of the troops are habituated to humans, so we’ll be able to observe them throughout the day without them getting anxious or upset. We have special permits that allow us to spend a full day with the Chimpanzees. Plan to be up before dawn and hike into the forest, arriving at our focal chimp group just in time to see them wake up and rise from their sleeping nests. We’ll spend the day watching them as they eat, groom, play, take care of their young, and go through their daily routine in their natural habitat. Our expert guide will describe behaviors and point out other species we will see along the way such as other primates, bush pigs, dukiers, many amphibian and reptile species, and over 375 bird species.

On the last morning, we will take a tour of the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary to see other primate species and many bird species. The wetland boasts rich habitat and a great conservation success story. The area was once known for poaching and is now run and managed by the locals who directly benefit from the tourism. After touring Bigodi, we will follow our chimpanzee troop for the remainder of the day.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Nov 6–7

Tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park by Scott Davis

You will bid farewell to Kibale and the Chimpanzees and drive to the northern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park is located within the famous Albertine Rift Valley and is home to over 95 mammal species and over 600 bird species due to the variety of habitats found here, including savannahs, wetlands, and rainforests. We’ll take an afternoon game drive to explore the park and have time to relax by the Kazinga Channel.

Depart for an early morning game drive in search of lions, elephants, and buffaloes and 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 will hopefully bring us the famous tree climbing lions, elephants, antelopes, buffaloes, hippos, and many more wildlife in their natural habitat. We will spend half of one of our days with lion researchers as they track lions – a special opportunity most tourists never experience!

Track Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Nov 8–11

Mountain Gorilla Silverback by Scott Davis

Take a scenic drive south to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home of the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). This park 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 itself, dating back to the ice ages, is one of Uganda's oldest and most ecologically diverse forests with almost 400 species of plants, 350 species of birds including 23 Albertine Rift endemics, plus 120 mammal species, including many smaller mammals like rodents and bats, but also Mountain Gorillas, Olive Baboons, Chimpanzees, elephants, and antelopes.

Our knowledgeable guide from the lodge will take us out to track Mountain Gorillas each day. After a briefing by our gorilla guide who will tell us about our assigned gorilla family and appropriate safety precautions, we will drive to the trailhead for the start of a thrilling adventure. Expect to hike long distances in steep and sometimes muddy conditions, taking anywhere from 2 to 8 hours to find the gorillas, so be prepared for a long day of hiking.

Once we arrive at our family of gorillas, we have one hour with them as they go about their daily life. We will observe feeding, moving, playing, raising their young, and sometimes wrestling by the juveniles. Coming face to face with a giant Mountain Gorilla is truly the most genuinely breath-taking wildlife experience on earth!

Fly back to Entebbe

Nov 12

Mountain Gorilla by Scott Davis

We’ll fly back to Entebbe on a private chartered plane. While In Entebbe we will have a dayroom to refresh before catching international flights leaving Entebbe tonight.

Arrive home

Nov 13

Arrive home today depending on your flight schedule.

Uganda

Enter the fascinating world of rare and elusive Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees in their forested habitats.

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Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Cost Per Person
Trip Cost, double occupancy $12,500
Single Supplement $1,300

We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. Single rooms are subject to availability.


Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $500
Second March 1, 2017 $1,000
Final June 1, 2017 Remaining Balance

Payments will be due based on the following schedule. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.


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 tour 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 described in the detailed itinerary.
  • Permits for three full days tracking Chimpanzees in Kibale National Park and three one-hour visits with Gorillas in Bwindi National Park.
  • Chartered flight from Bwindi to Entebbe on November 12.
  • Lodging for the nights of November 1 through 11. A day-room is provided on November 12.
  • Meals from dinner on November 1 through lunch on November 12.
  • Bottled water while trekking and in game drive vehicles.
  • Transfers on November 1 and 12 between the airport and the hotel in Entebbe.
  • English-speaking drivers, park rangers, and trackers.
  • Short Term AMREF Flying Doctor medical emergency evacuation insurance. This does not include hospital or treatment costs. Read more about travel insurance.
  • 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. Airfare is approximately $1,000 from the USA to Entebbe, Uganda (estimated February 2017).
  • We can arrange divergent airport transfers and extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
  • Visa fees.
  • Trip cancellation insurance. Read more about travel insurance.
  • Gratuities: tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting about $45 to $50 per participant per day for November 2 to 12 for our local guides, tracking assistants, and lodge staff (about $450 to $500 total per participant).
  • Hiring of local porters (optional) to carry your gear during hikes to find chimpanzee and gorilla.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, and items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.

Climate

Uganda generally stays the same temperature year round with a daytime range from 65 to 85° F (23–29° C) and nighttime temperatures in the mid-50s° F (~12° C), but with climate change weather is more variable, so prepare for varying climate conditions. November is the transitional month between the rainy and dry seasons in Uganda, so expect some rain. Bwindi National Park is rainy and fairly damp year-round.

Fitness Level

Hiking in search of gorillas and chimpanzees will total two to six miles per day (over four to eight hours). Terrain can be steep, uneven, and muddy. We’ll hike regardless of the weather conditions. You can hire a local porter to carry your gear during hiking; this is highly recommended 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

Airfare, except flight listed as included, 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: Plan to arrive in Entebbe, Uganda (EBB) anytime on November 1. Plan to depart Entebbe in the evening on November 12.

Flights we book for you: One-way flight from Bwindi to Entebbe on November 12. The cost of this booking is included in the tour 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. If you have new equipment, familiarize yourself with it before your trip so that you can get the most out of Scott’s expertise.

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 7 meters (21 feet) 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

We will be staying at high-end lodges and hotels. All rooms have private baths. Laundry facilities and additional amenities are available at all lodges, though may cost extra. 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

  • Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
  • Maximum time in the field: We try to spend as much time in the field as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops, and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.