Ultimate African Primate Expedition

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 rainforestÂduring such a rare encounter, thereÂs 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  it may well change theirs, too.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Entebbe, Uganda

Arrive in Entebbe and transfer to the Lake Victoria Hotel. Enjoy a dinner orientation with your Expedition Leader this evening.

Day 2: Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Travel by boat to the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. This refuge provides a home for orphaned chim­panzees in a natural environment. Your visit helps fund their rehabilita­tion while stemming the impact of illegal poaching.

Days 3-4: Kibale National Park

A drive across UgandaÂs green high­lands takes you to Kibale, the equato­rial rainforest reserve which is home to more primates than any place in the world, including 500 chimpan­zees. Trackers help you spot chimps and monkeys, and you may see up to 100 species of birds in a wetland sanctuary. Overnight in thatched cot­tages at Ndali Lodge, on the rim of a crater lake.

Days 5-6: Kibale / Queen Elizabeth National Park

After the morning tracking chimps, you depart by road for Queen Elizabeth National Park, skirting the Western Rift Valley. On the Kazinga Channel you take a boat ride among the worldÂs largest concentration of hippos, as well as crocodiles, baboons and myriad birds. The park is also home to lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and antelope. Stay at Mweya Lodge on the channel, in the shadow of the Ruwenzori Mountains.

Day 7: Queen Elizabeth / Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

On a morning game drive you may see the parkÂs famous tree-climbing lions. Continuing to Bwindi Impen­etrable National Park, you visit a local school before reaching your gorilla-trekking base, the deluxe tented Gorilla Forest Camp.

Days 8-9: Gorilla Trekking

Here you discover one of nature trav­elÂs peak experiences, a visit with wild gorillas in their natural habitat. Just 600 mountain gorillas remain in the world, half of them in this preserve. Early in the morning you depart on a trek through the dense rainforest on a quest to locate one of the habituated family groups. Your guides are expert trackers, reading signs of the gorillas recent presence in the undergrowth. Finally you hear and see them, and watch, rapt: they sit in the trees and chew leaves; babies cling to mothers backs; juveniles swing from branches; the big male silverback surveys all, including you. ItÂs hard to tell who is more captivated.

Day 10: Virunga National Park, Rwanda

Leaving Bwindi, you descend to the Rift Valley floor, passing local villages and coffee plantations. Your destina­tion is Parc National des Volcans, named for the string of volcanoes inside its borders. At GorillaÂs Nest, your lodge, the views across to the vol­canoes on a clear day are spectacular.

Days 11-12: Gorilla Trekking in Virunga

After breakfast, you drive to park head­quarters for a briefing from your guides. This is where Dian Fossey made her groundbreaking studies on mountain gorillas before her murder in 1985. There are several habituated gorilla families in the park, and you learn how important your ecotourism presence is to their survival before trekking in search of these famed families.

Day 13: Golden Monkey Trek

Many other species also live in Parc National des Volcans, including a habituated group of endemic and highly endangered golden monkeys. On a much less strenuous hike, you look for these agile entertainers who swoop through the forest canopy and delight you with their antics.

Day 14: Kigali / Home

After breakfast, you depart for Rwan­daÂs capital, Kigali. Time permitting, youÂll take a city tour and visit the Kigali Memorial Center  a deeply moving tribute to the 800,000 peo­ple killed in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. This afternoon you transfer to the airport for flights home.

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