Queen Elizabeth National Park – Lake Bunyonyi rest days or Gorilla trek day, Uganda
Our next destination is Lake Bunyonyi (‘Place of many little birds’). This lake is 900 metres deep and is the second deepest lake in Africa. When we are not trekking to see the mountain gorillas, there are 29 islands that can be explored by boat where you can spend the time at your leisure. You will be split into groups over the next three days, while each group takes turn in trekking to see the gorillas, and the remainder explore Lake Bunyonyi.
Here you will have time to hire canoes to row on the lakes, visit some of the local tribes, or spend some time with the children in the orphanages. There is also plenty of bird watching and walks that you can go on. Or you can relax at the camp and read or journal.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking
Only 700 gorillas remain in this region of Africa, mostly within the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. (Occasionally we will travel to Rwanda to sport the gorillas.)
On the day of the trek, the group gathers in the early morning to be introduced to our local guide and tracker. Following this, we walk in small groups, trekking through the lush rainforest. This journey can be physically demanding at times due to uneven terrain and the hilly forest itself, but the privilege of spending quality time with a family of these gentle and peaceful primates definitely makes the effort well worthwhile. Even to people who live permanently in the continent, this trek and encounter with the gorillas has proven to be one of the most exciting wildlife experiences in Africa.
The usual protocol once our group has located a gorilla family is to sit down and simply observe the magnificent creatures for about an hour, which is the time set strictly by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Gorillas are rather sociable, living in groups of between 12 and 20, each usually led by the alpha male – the ‘silverback’, named so due to the silver hair on his back that begins to grow once the male gorilla attains maturity. You will find that the gorillas and their tendencies are remarkably human-like, especially in the social interaction that takes place between the gorilla family members and their play time, in which their children are encouraged to engage. Photographers may take as many photographs as they like, but are under strict instructions not to use any flashes. There are also certain restrictions to those who wish to videotape their experience, too.
Your permit allows for one trek and gorilla viewing with your time limited to one hour. However, because the authorities maintain strict limits on the amount of visitors permitted to view the animals each day, we may spend several days in the area so as to allow for all members of the tour to complete their trek and viewing.
PLEASE NOTE: Depending on the availability of the chimpanzee and gorilla permits, the tour itinerary may vary in day to day running order which is based on the brochure itinerary. From time to time, keep in mind that we may have to trek on different days. If, by any chance, our Gorilla trek should be in another neighbouring country such as Rwanda, this may entail extra visa fees (although we shall endeavour to advise you before departure of any significant changes to the tour itinerary. Please take the above itinerary as a guideline only. This applies to days 5-8 of this tour.
For those not trekking, the day is free to explore the surroundings or unwind at camp by catching up on some well deserved rest and relaxation. On the last day in Lake Bunyonyi you could participate in a day of trekking or you could take part in the many optional activities on offer here.
Trip Highlights: Gorilla Trek, Lake Bunyonyi
Accommodation: Lake Bunyonyi Overland Stop, Gorilla Trek area, camping in twin share tents with shared facilities
Meals included: Breakfast x3, Lunch x3, Dinner x3
Distance Covered: +/-240kms
Approximate Driving Time: 5 hours, Trekking for gorillas or rest days
Optional Activities: Island boat trips US$25 – US80, village walk US5, Traditional dance US$30, Bird watching US$5, Canoe hire US$5