The Ultimate Primate Safari
Day 1: 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. Our visit helps fund their rehabilitation while stemming the impact of illegal poaching.
Days 3 & 4: Kibale National Park
A drive across Uganda’s green highlands takes us to Kibale, the equatorial rainforest reserve that is home to more primates than any place in the world, including 500 chimpanzees. Trackers help us spot chimps and monkeys, and we 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, we depart by road for Queen Elizabeth National Park, skirting the Western Rift Valley. On the Kazinga Channel we take a boat ride among the world’s largest concentration of hippos as well as crocodiles, baboons and myriad birds. The park is also home to lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and antelope. We stay at Mweya Safari Lodge on the channel, in the shadow of the Ruwenzori Mountains.
Day 7: Queen Elizabeth / Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
On a morning game drive we may see the park’s famous tree-climbing lions. Continuing to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, we visit a local school before reaching our gorilla trekking base, the deluxe tented Gorilla Forest Camp.
Days 8 & 9: Gorilla Trekking
Here we discover one of nature travel’s 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 we depart on a trek through the dense rainforest on a quest to locate one of the habituated family groups. Our guides are expert trackers, reading signs of the gorillas’ recent presence in the undergrowth. Finally we 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 us. It’s hard to tell who is more captivated.
Day 10: Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Leaving Bwindi, we descend to the Rift Valley floor, passing local villages and coffee plantations. Our destination is Parc National des Volcans, named for the string of volcanoes inside its borders. At Gorilla’s Nest, our lodge, the views across to the volcanoes on a clear day are spectacular.
Days 11 & 12: Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park
After breakfast, we drive to park headquarters for a briefing from our 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 we learn how important our 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, we look for these agile entertainers who swoop through the forest canopy and delight us with their antics.
Day 14: Kigali / Home
After breakfast, we depart for Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Time permitting, we’ll 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 we transfer to the airport for flights home.
*Itinerary subject to change.
Days 1-2: USA or Canada/Arusha, Tanzania
Depart by overnight flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Arusha, and transfer to your lodge. Mountain Village Lodge
Day 3: Arusha
In anticipation of the climb ahead, acclimatize as you walk through Arusha National Park. Situated between the peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro and Meru, this beautiful park houses a wide range of habitats, from the string of crater lakes where water birds may be watched to the highland montane forest and imposing summit of Mount Meru. The forest itself contains a wealth of wildlife, including beautiful bushbuck — easily glimpsed in the glades between the ancient cedar trees — and black-and-white colobus monkey. This evening, meet fellow climbers during a welcome dinner.
Mountain Village Lodge B L D
Day 4: Arusha/Mount Kilimanjaro
After breakfast, you are driven from Arusha to the Machame village on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro to begin your climb. Hike for about six hours through a dense rubber tree and giant fig forests to your camp, set up near huts once used for shelter on the mountain. As you make your way up through the forested terrain, look for signs of elephant. Your first camp is at an altitude of 10,000 feet.
Machame Camp B L D
Day 5: Mount Kilimanjaro
After rising early to a hot cup of coffee or tea, leave camp and absorb the commanding view of Uhuru Peak. Trek out of the forest up to the Hagenia zone through a savannah of tall grasses and ghostly landscapes of volcanic lava; arrive, after a six-hour hike, at the Shira Plateau and your camp. At 12,500 feet, it boasts sweeping views across the Masai Steppe to the distant Mount Meru and the Shira Needles.
Shira Camp B L D
Day 6: Mount Kilimanjaro
During a six-hour hike, skirt the Shira Plateau toward the Kibo Massif and upward to the pass at Lava Tower (15,000 feet). Descend toward Barranco Camp through the immense Grand Barranco Canyon, which is punctuated by small waterfalls and fed by streams from the Umbwe River. Camp is at an elevation of 13,000 feet. Barranco Camp B L D
Day 7: Mount Kilimanjaro
Hike for about four hours along the Barranco Cliff with no increase in elevation, allowing you time to rest and adjust to the increasingly higher altitudes. In the afternoon, you may hike in the Karanga Valley, where giant senecio and lobelia grow.
Karanga Camp B L D
Day 8: Mount Kilimanjaro
Take another short, four- to five-hour trek and a day of acclimatization as you near the mountain’s peak, stopping at Barafu Camp (15,200 feet) on a moraine with views of majestic Mawenzi Peak to the right and Kibo Peak overhead. The surrounding alpine desert terrain is largely mineral, with some lichens and moss. Turn in early this evening, as tomorrow’s is a longer, more arduous climb.
Barafu Camp B L D
Day 9: Mount Kilimanjaro
Rise very early and begin the final ascent to Stella Point, at 18,630 feet on the rim of Kibo Crater. Make your way up a winding path flanked by the Ratzel and Rebmann glaciers. As the sun rises, continue around the rim to Uhuru Peak (19,325 feet), where the air is rarefied. Should all go as planned, you will stand at the highest point in Africa in about seven hours’ time. After savoring the achievement, begin the descent to your last campsite, at an elevation of 10,200 feet. Trek for about 13 hours today.
Mweka Camp B L D
Day 10: Mount Kilimanjaro/Arusha/USA or Canada
Continue your descent to the base of the mountain, where your Abercrombie & Kent driver greets and transports you back to Arusha. During a farewell lunch, swap stories with fellow travelers. Dayrooms are provided until your departure flight.
Mountain Village Lodge (dayroom) B L
Day 11: USA or Canada
Connect with your homebound flight.
*Itinerary subject to change.