Primate tour in Rwanda and Uganda

Description of Primate tour in Rwanda and Uganda

Travel to Uganda and Rwanda and join our expert local guides or hire our Zoologist too and see up to 14 species of primates in 2 weeks! With a range of extensions and options we have all of Uganda and Rwanda covered for primates.

Price Includes:

Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) where mentioned. There will be bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private air conditioned 4x4 vehicles with an excellent local driver for all transfers. We also use the same open-top vehicle for all jeep safaris if you are visiting Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Kidepo or Akagera National Parks on your chosen itinerary. We try to use two brilliant full time guides; first a professional zoologist (where available) will escort you on all your excursions and also a very knowledgeable English speaking local guide who will also act as driver for all transfers. Your zoologist escort (please enquire about his availability when enquiring about the tour) is an expert in primate biology and behaviour as well as other African wildlife and will be able to help you identify the different species as well as interpret you what behaviours you are seeing. For example the taxonomy of African primates is in flux and many of the formally widespread species have been split into distinct species. Uganda has ‘inherited’ 3-4 of these species and most people visiting Uganda and Rwanda never know the difference or even that they have seen two different species. One of the joys of having a zoologist escort is that you will not miss these sightings. We also use excellent local guides, rangers, trackers and other forestry workers in order to find gorillas, chimps and other wildlife. These guides, rangers and trackers have years of experience in finding the observing primates and other wildlife in the area. They understand the wildlife here better than anyone and make spotting the monkeys and birds high in the canopy very easy in deed. All the activities including all safaris, guided walks and entrance fees to monuments and parks are included. We also include how ever many gorilla tracking permits that you need for your chosen itinerary. The below itinerary includes two gorilla tracking days, one in Uganda and one in Rwanda, these permits are included. We also include a full day habituation experience with the chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park. This is a much more comprehensive experience with the chimps than the standard 1 hour tracking experience. All other primate watching activities are also included. A comprehensive species list (which states the relative chances of seeing animals based on past tours) is included in the pre-departure pack. There is also a reference book library available for your use throughout the trip as well as some documentaries on gorillas and chimpanzees which are available to watch throughout the tour.

Seasons: The tracking of gorillas and chimpanzees is available all year around. However due to two wet seasons we recommend the between early June and mid October and then again from early December to late February.
As the rainforests and montane forests where these primates live are tropical the weather is pretty constant year around, the only significant climatic factor are the two wet season. So we recommend the dry seasons of early June to mid October and then again from early December to late February. However it can certainly rain heavily at any time of the year.

Introduction:

Whilst there are countless tour operators that conduct tours into the forests of Rwanda and Uganda there are few which offer the amount of time spent in the presence of mountain gorillas and chimpanzees that this tour offers. This is for people wanting a life changing and unparalleled experience with our closest cousins in their own habitats. The below itinerary is just a guide of what we can offer and is the most popular itinerary that people choose. It includes not one but two gorilla tracking days. One in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda and one in the famous Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. By visiting these two parks and spending a couple of hours with the gorillas that inhabit the parks you will be able to compare the differences between the habitats and populations. Bwindi is more tropical than Volcanoes and the gorillas here seem intermediary between the eastern lowland populations from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the ‘true’ mountain gorillas of the Virungas further south. Some scientists are prepared to list the Bwindi population as a new subspecies and making them the rarest type of primate in the world. As well as spending some magical time with mountain gorillas and chimpanzees we average over 10 species of primates on this tour including red-tailed monkeys, black-and-white colobus, golden monkeys, blue monkeys, Uganda red colobus, Uganda mangabey, Demidoff’s dwarf galago and many more. This tour is a must for anyone who has ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of the great primatologists Dian Fossey or Jane Goodall or anyone who has watched in a wonderful trance the intimate and human-like actions and behaviours of gorillas and chimpanzees in captivity or on the television. And by joining this tour you can also be assured that you are directly contributing to the continued research and conservation of these great apes as we donate and contribute to the various research and conservation groups here. Being led by expert local guides tracking down the endangered mountain gorillas and sitting with them as they eat, rest and play is probably the greatest wildlife encounter anyone can ever have. When tracking the chimps you will not just be in the forest for an hour like most tourists but you can join us for a full day with the chimps. From the moment they wake to the when the build their night nests. By joining this full day habituated tour you will have the bets chance of seeing some interesting behaviours that are rarely seen by anyone other than researchers; such as hunting, buttress root drumming, mating, nest building and inter-group conflicts. But the primate watching does not end with these two great apes as you will also visit some very rare primate sites to watch Angolan colobus, L’Hoest’s monkey, golden monkeys and blue monkeys which have only recently be habituated to regular human visitors and very few tourists come here to see them.
You will spend twice as much time on average than other gorilla watching tours around and our access to a habituated troop of chimps means you really do become part of their group and the sighting is around 95% guaranteed. The tour will also take you through the two breathtaking countries of Uganda and Rwanda and the stunning scenery of the Virunga Mountains is awe-inspiring. But the wildlife viewing doesn’t stop with primate watching in the forests as you will also see some of the more ‘common’ African safari wildlife including the famous tree-climbing lions of Ishasha. All in all this really is the most comprehensive primate tour of Africa and one which will not disappoint.

Why Choose this Tour:

• The suggested itinerary below has two days of guided treks to find wild mountain gorillas, in two of the most famous and iconic primate watching destinations in the world; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Volcanoes National Park. By trying to find gorillas in two different countries and on two different days you will increase your chances of seeing some interesting behaviours dramatically; as well as visiting two different forests the gorillas call home. They are only found in 3 distinct places and you will be visiting 2 of those on the proposed tour as outlined below. Other tours which offer two different days trekking usually include two tracking days in the same park and you lose the wonderful comparison between the two locations.
• By enjoying two gorilla tracking days you will probably see around 20 individual gorillas, this corresponds to around 2-3% of the global population. When you think about it like that you realise the importance of conservation for these magnificent animals and how privileged you are for experiencing them first hand.
• By following a group of around 150 habituated chimps from dawn to see the chimps rise and go about their daily business until they start to make their nests and settle for the night. You will follow the dominate males and their females and infants as they feed, play, rest, groom and possibly hunt (a hunt occurs roughly once a month) throughout the day. This is the best way to see chimps exhibit a range of behaviours and experience how scientists study this amazing ape as you experience how well adapted they are for the forest and we have completely lost all our ancient adaptations this environment.
• You will visit and have lunch the famous Travellers Rest House, where in the 60’s Dian Fossey spent many days here meeting people and completing paperwork. This iconic colonial building is a great place to visit and has been an important place for all gorilla biologists from the father of it all George Schaller to the modern researchers arriving from all over the world.
• Become one of the first people to track the beautiful golden monkeys of Volcanoes National Park, this is a rare species which is only known from a couple of locations and this group of around 200 individuals has only been habituated since 2002.
• Visit and trek through the Nyungwe Forest where 13 species of primates are known, including chimpanzees, Angolan colobus and blue monkeys.
• The Nyungwe Forest is one of the most diverse areas of Africa in terms of species and you will have access to many of the walking trails here with the help of expert guides. Here you may come across some of the rarest and intriguing African mammals such as golden cats, servals, black-fronted duikers and maybe even forest elephants.
• Enjoy some exciting spotlighting in Kibale Forest National Park and catch a glimpse of the rare and unusual primate the potto. Also try your luck with finding civets, genets in between spotting the small jumping bushbabies (or galagos) that abound around here.
• As well as using the local guides and experienced trackers we also have a zoologist (where available) who escorts the whole tour, this zoologist will help to interpret the behaviours seen in the species we observe.
• We have an unrivalled network of experts and guides all over Uganda and Rwanda that are able to find and observe animals like lions, elephants, buffalo, giraffes, leopards, hippos, crocodiles, Uganda kob, spotted hyena, shoebill storks and hundreds other endangered, rare or endemic species throughout this magical land. Whether it is Bwindi, Nyungwe, Kibale, Queen Elizabeth, Kidepo, Murchison Falls, Volcanoes, Akagera and many other wildlife watching locations you want to visit we can arrange it. Please inform us if you wish to add any Ugandan and Rwandan extensions to the primate watching itinerary below and we can provide an excellent wildlife watching itinerary and quote for you.
• Unlike many tour operators we are willing to run this tour for a single person (on request).
Locations:
• Uganda – In Uganda we search for chimps in Kibale Forest National Park and we track down mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. We can also visit many other locations in Uganda for more typical African wildlife in savanna habitats.
• Rwanda – In Rwanda we will try to find golden monkeys and mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, and track down rare and beautiful monkeys in the incredible Nyungwe Forest National Park.

Fitness Level:

The trekking for gorillas can be strenuous as the conditions maybe muddy and steep. We have no real way of knowing how far away the gorilla families will be so there could be a hike of up to 4 hours until we come across the gorillas. So a good level of fitness is required and participants must be used to walking. Moderate walking / Strenuous walking / Walking safari / The chimpanzee full day habituation experience requires a good level of fitness as the walking will be through hot and humid dense rainforest. Chimps can move quickly through the forest and to follow them can mean marches for 30mins or so until we catch up with them again. The experience can finish whenever you wish but we can be there for 12 hours if you wish, so be prepared for a long day walking through the forest. The gorilla tracking in Bwindi National Park (Uganda) can be between 1 and 4 hours and the ridges here are very steep, the tracking in Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda) can also be between 1 and 4 hours long and include steep climbs. Both places are dense with vegetation and the weather can be either cool and wet or hot and sunny. We require all guests to be aware of the physical effort needed to see wild chimps and gorillas and require everyone to have a good level of fitness and be used to hill walking.

Equipment:

When you book onto the tour we will send you a comprehensive pre-departure pack which will include a full packing list of recommended equipment; but as a rule of thumb we recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope (although this is not always very useful in the forests) as well as appropriate clothing; which should be hard wearing clothing which you do not mind getting muddy. Long trousers and long sleeved shirts are a good idea as the vegetation in the forests can be spiny and there are some stinging nettles, for the days travelling shorts and short sleeves are recommended. The nights can be chilly so a fleece is not a bad idea. Water proofs are essential and ponchos not a bad idea either. Comfortable and broken in, water proof walking boots with ankle support are a must. Insect repellent is needed. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be very strong here during the day.

Minimum Age: 15 Years old

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made between June - October and December - February
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Primate tour in Rwanda and Uganda

Environment

All the lodges and resorts that we use on this tour are careful with their waste management and when possible we help the accommodation owners make sustainable decisions about the on going running and eco-management. For example, most of the lodges we use have solar powered lighting and practise water conservation.
By purchasing the gorilla, chimpanzee and golden monkey tracking permits we are contributing towards the continued sustainable development of the ecosystems here as the money paid to the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Rwanda Development Board (respectively) is heavily used in the establishment of anti-poaching patrols and helping to protect the primates, the forests and every other species in these parks.
At the end of each we offset our carbon footprint (based on the number of tours we have completed and the number of passengers we have taken with us), with the Carbon Trust.

Wildlife Promise:

Firstly we adhere to and uphold the strict rules imposed when visiting mountain gorillas; making guests aware that any small virus they may have can have huge repercussions on the mountain gorilla population; and if we notice that a guest has a bad virus or is obviously ill with a contagious illness we make the decision there and then on what the best course of action is for the welfare of the gorillas. We only run small group tours here (group sizes are no larger than 8 people) which helps to reduce the impact that people have the behaviour of the gorillas and the environment as we trek through it.
We also donate an amount of money each year (depending on the number of tours and guests completed each year) to the International Gorilla Conservation Programme and the Ape Action Africa organisation. These organisations help to protect, understand and conserve gorillas and other primates throughout Africa.

Community

The local community benefits from out tours as we employ local guides and trackers to help find the primates in both Uganda and Rwanda. This ensures that the money we pay these guides, is invested directly back into the local economy. Thus generating a great financial option against illegal poaching and logging which used to be seen as a quick way to earn large amounts of money. Over the last 10-20 years of high profile eco tourism here we have seen a huge reduction in poaching and deforestation and an increase in the popularity that the primates here have in the local populations.
The other major effect this tour has on the local community is by the purchase of two mountain gorilla permits US$500 each, this money not only goes into protecting the wildlife of the park by paying for rangers and perimeter patrols but some of this money is given directly back to the local villages which helps education and health care in these remote African villages.
We use an African owned and African run company in Uganda to help us complete the tours, this ensures that the vast majority of the fee for this tour finds its way back to Africa and helps to protect and conserve the ecosystems here.

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