Humans have long been fascinated with gorillas and chimpanzees, our closest living relatives. To pause, sit, and match a gaze with the contemplative eyes of a huge silverback, just yards away in the rainforestÂ—during such a rare encounter, thereÂ’s something deeper occurring than simple observation. Yet these magnificent apes are in danger, struggling to survive in the face of poaching and habitat destruction. Our travels take us to their natural habitat, a visit which may be the only hope for their future. This once-in-a-lifetime adventure will certainly change your life Â– it may well change theirs, too.
Day 1: Entebbe, Uganda
Arrive in Entebbe and transfer to the Lake Victoria Hotel. Meet your ExpeÂdition Leader at a welcome dinner this evening.
Days 2-3: Kibale Forest National Park
The drive to Kibale Forest traverses the verdant highlands of Uganda, where fertile volcanic soil supports a tapestry of tea, coffee and banana plantations. This equatorial rainforest reserve holds the worldÂ’s highest concentration of primates, including 500 chimpanzees. You may also see red colobus, black-and-white colobus, red tails, gray-cheeked mangabey and other monkeys. A Â“swamp walkÂ” through a wetland sanctuary reveals more than 100 species of birds. You stay at Ndali Lodge, perched on the rim of a crater lake.
Day 4: Kibale / Queen Elizabeth National Park
After a morning forest walk, you drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park along the western Rift Valley, and JaÂcana Lodge on UgandaÂ’s largest craÂter lake. This "treehouse" eco-lodge built with local materials sits in one of the last untouched tracts of forest in Uganda. Each cabin overlooks the lake and lively troops of colobus monkeys in the trees.
Days 5-6: Queen Elizabeth National Park
On a boat trip in Kazinga Channel you find crocodiles, baboons, and the worldÂ’s largest concentration of hippos. Elsewhere in the park you may spot lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and antelope. The Ruwenzoris, "Mountains of the Moon," provide a dramatic backdrop, rising over 16,000 feet. Visit bat caves in Maragambo Forest before continuing on an afternoon game drive.
Day 7: Queen Elizabeth / Bwindi
Game drive to the Ishasha sector, home of tree-climbing lions before drivÂing to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. YouÂ’ll visit a school in town, then settle in at Gorilla Forest Camp, a luxury tented enclave on the side of a misty mountain, and your trekking base.
Days 8-9: Gorilla Treks
Today, you anticipate an incomparable experience: the chance to look into the face of a gorilla in the wild. The trail is challenging as you enter the jungle that early explorers called the "Impenetrable Forest." The forest is home to half the worldÂ’s mountain gorillas Â– about 300 Â– a population under severe threat. Two groups are habituated to humans. Tracking them to their last known location, your guide looks for signs of their presence: broken vegetation revealing a nest, stripped bark indicating feeding and dung. Your guide signals for silence, then proclaims your intentions to the troop with amiable grunts. You may see a range of ages: youngsters playÂing, mothers carrying babies, and the mighty silverback patriarch. No wildÂlife encounter will surpass the thrill of meeting these magnificent animals, so much like us, in their natural home.
Day 10: Entebbe / Home
Take a charter flight to Entebbe where you enjoy a farewell meal together before transferring to the airport for departing flights.