Kampala – Lake Bunyonyi (optional Gorilla Trekking), Uganda
We leave Kampala in the early hours of the morning and head west to our base at the serene Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda. Lake Bunyonyi is the deepest Crater Lake in Africa and is abundant with various exquisite birds. It is also the starting point of the optional Gorilla trek. Depending on where permits for trekking are currently being offered, we adventure out into the Magahinga or Bwindi National Parks in Uganda, the Virunga National Park in the DRC, or the Ruhengeri National Park in Rwanda. The costs per permit are constantly being altered and may be adjusted without notice.
At present, prices are set at US $600 (subject to change). A local transport and handling fee of approximately US$120 per person is also charged (this fee covers the return public transfer as well as the booking cost of the Wildlife Authority). For tours in the DRC or Rwanda, an additional cost is charged for your visa that will allow you entrance to either country as well as for visa renewal upon re-entering Uganda. It is recommended that you bring along a bit of extra cash for tipping the local guides and rangers. Please be sure to budget well, as permit payments must be made in US$ cash during the pre-departure meeting.
There are only approximately 700 remaining mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei), the species that are known as our closest living relatives. Paying a visit to these placid creatures is an incredibly unique experience that will not be soon forgotten. The gorillas are monitored by park rangers on a day-to-day basis, but their whereabouts is not always known due to them being free roaming animals, therefore a sighting is not always 100% guaranteed. Due to the massive amount of DNA that we share with these beautiful giants, anyone showing signs of a cold or transferable illness will not be allowed to join the trek. Keep in mind that trekking is only available to those over 16 years of age.
The restrictions on the daily amount of visitors trekking to see these amazing animals means that we will be departing on our excursions from our base at Bunyonyi in small groups over three to four days, depending on the size of our group. On the way to the National Park, we snake our way through some of the most stunning scenery in Africa and, depending on where permits are available, we might spend an evening in either Kisoro or Rwanda. The next morning, after packing a tasty lunch to bring along, we transfer to the ranger’s station where we begin our journey to the gorillas. We will be led by our rangers through farming lands, then into thick rain forests and finally, to a family of gorgeous gorillas. This adventure can take from 45 minutes to 8 hours (excluding transfer time) and it can at times be rather exhausting and physically demanding, therefore a reasonable level of fitness will be required. In order to make sure that the gorillas do not get too accustomed to being visited by humans as well as to ensure that no illnesses are caught from us (due to the amount of our shared DNA), the maximum time we are allowed to spend with them is one hour. This will give you more than enough time to observe their incredible lifestyle and makes for a spectacular photographic opportunity. The rangers with whom we trek will happily provide you with the background of the gorilla family you visit, giving you a better insight into their lives in the wild. When your time with the gorillas comes to an end, you will hike your way out of the rain forest and head to your meeting point where you will be taken back to our campsite at Lake Bunyonyi.
During your trek, do not let yourself feel as though you are exploiting these magnificent creatures as the countless number of tourists that make their way to see the gorillas every day plays a crucial role in the animals’ survival. For decades, gorillas have been mercilessly hunted for their hands and heads which are sold as ashtrays and lampshades. In addition to this, an enormous amount of gorillas have died whilst attempting to stop poachers taking their babies in order to sell them to zoos where they hardly ever live for very long. Every bit of the amount you pay for your permit cost to see these remarkable creatures is utilized by park authorities to pay for gorilla protection patrols that aid in preventing poachers from reaching these animals.
Depending on where your trek takes place, you might pass through some of the local villages situated in this area due to the large number of refugees escaping from the Rwandan Genocide or from the constant turmoil in the DRC. The inhabitants of these villages are mostly subsistence farmers and families who farm on the hills of the volcanoes. To witness how these residents have ploughed, planted and harvested their crops in such unusual terrain and settings is quite an extraordinary sight.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
GORILLA TREKKING IS OPTIONAL
Please note that the transfer fee is not included in the trekking price