15 days – A mixture of Mountaineering and wildlife safari. CH00 28
Trip Highlights: covering Rwenzori Mountains, Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi National Park.
Day One: Arrive at Entebbe Airport where your guide from Churchill safaris will warmly greet you and transfer you to overnight at either Serena Kampala Hotel (High end/luxurious accommodation), Hotel Africana (Medium class accommodation) or Namirembe Guest House (Low budget/basic accommodation). B/B. Day Two: After breakfast and a briefing from the General Manager, your guide will collect you from the hotel and set off for Kasese arriving at Margherita Hotel in the afternoon. Your guide will go to the park offices in the evening to finalise your following mountaineering logistics returning in the evening. Dinner and over night at either Margherita Hotel (Medium class accommodation) or Rwenzori International Hotel (Low budget/basic accommodation).Full board.
Day Three: This morning, you will begin your hike by leaving the park head quarters (5400ft 1,646 m), walking past typical “ wattle and mud” Buhonjo homes and gradually moving upward through elephant grass and garden plots. It takes approximately forty minutes to reach the National Park boundary (which can be a pleasant half or one day trip for someone not going further ).The trail then follows the Mahoma River after about two and a half hours. After crossing the River, you will have a very steep climb through open bracken fern slopes and Podocarpus forest up to Nyabitaba Hut (8,700 ft/ 2,652) reached about an hour and a half past the Mahoma River crossing. During this part of the trip, you may be able to see Chimps and some times behind the Hut you can see Black and White Colobus and Blue monkeys and catch glimpses of the brilliantly –colored Rwenzori Touraco ( a bird of the tree tops). Over night at Nyabitaba hut.
Day Four: From Nyabitaba Hut that trail leads westward for a half km then drops north (right) steeply to Kurt Shafer Bridge, crossing below the confluence of Bujuku and Mubuku Rivers. By turning down the bridge you begin the circuit counter clock wise. After crossing the Shafer Bridge, the muddy slippery trail climbs steadily up through bamboo forest. After one and a half hours you encounter an area of slippery boulder hopping which many hikers consider the most difficult and dangerous footing on the circuit. Over night at Nyamileju Hut. Nyamileju means “a place of beards” referring to the lichen and Spanish moss draping trees near by. On a rare day, Mts. Stanley and Speke can be seen from the top of the rock near the Hut.
Day Five: After breakfast, you will continue to John Matte Hut (11,200 ft3,414 m) which is through a tiring bog full of these extraordinary plants and the slow pace can be a delightful chance to examine and photograph this unique environment. Well situated, John Matte is newly constructed, large and comfortable though muddy around the site. Hikers who feel they have reached their limits by this point should consider John Matte a reasonable stopping point. You can just enjoy the unique vegetation in the bog and the great views and the following day begin you return to Nyabitaba.
Day Six: You leave John Matte Hut to cross the Bujuku River and enter the lower of the two Bigo Bogs, where your first real experience jumping from tussock to tussock in a grassy bog begins. The trail is very muddy and follows the left (southern) edge of Lower Bigo Bog until eventually it reaches the round metal “uniport” of Bigo Hut and its rock shelter. A steep section past the hut leads to upper Bigo Bog. In the last half of this bog a board walk has been constructed. Though some may think it an ugly intrusion, it makes walking easier and keeps hikers from further damaging the bog. An hour and a half beyond the upper bog, and after climbing through drier ground and crisscrossing the River, you reach Bukulu Lake. The southern end of the lake is a majestic setting, with Mt. Bakerto the south, and views west to Mt Stanley and north to Mt. Speke. Beyond the north end of the lake is a rock shelter called Cooking Pot and a short distance further is Bukulu Hut( 13,000ft/3,962m),favourably located for parties climbing Mt. Speke.
Day Seven: To continue the circuit, you leave directly west from Bukulu hut on a newer trail, which rises and falls twice before finally climbing steeply through magical moss- draped Groundsel Gully towards (14,345ft/4,372m) Scott Elliot pass. At the head of the gully is a short, strong ladder at a particularly steep section, after which a right hand branch would lead to Elena Hut (14, 700ft/4,430m). This is a steep, rocky trail which when wet or icy is treacherously slippery. Continuing straight, and a few steps below the pass there is a sheltered spot for a break, from here there is a second trail to the right to Elena is the Base Camp for climbing. Margherita peak in the Mt. Stanley complex, which would require an additional day or two and can only be attempted with ice axe, mountain boots, crampons, ropes and prior arrangements with RMS guides. Over night at Kitandara Lake Hut. Day Eight: Start hiking back to the park head quarters. After breakfast, you will probably begin very early if you decided to make it all the way to the Park Headquarters and complete your trek (8 hours). The other alternative will be to spend a night at the Nyabitaba Hut.
Day Nine: Start hiking back and complete your trek by the evening. On arrival at the Park Office, visit a simple restaurant developed by a local ladies group for a beer and a luxurious candlelight meal. Over night at either Margherita Hotel (Medium class accommodation) or Rwenzori International Hotel (Low budget/basic accommodation).Full board.
Day Ten: Kasese – Queen Elizabeth National Park. After breakfast you will head for Queen Elizabeth National Park having a game drive while entering the park . In the evening, relax around the pool after lunch and later go for an early evening game drive. Its little wonder that Queen Elizabeth boasts one of the highest bio diversity ratings of any game park or reserve in the world, - from the open Savannah to Rain Forest, dense Papyrus Swamps and brooding Crater lakes to the vastness of Lake Edward. Almost 100 mammal species that include Lions, Hippos, Buffaloes, Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Elephants and the elusive Giant Forest Hog plus remarkable 606 bird species that include the Black Chested Eagle, the Swallow Tailed Bee Eaters, to mention but a few. The Primates include Chimps, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, Blue, Black Faced Red Colobus, and Red Tailed monkeys and Olive Baboons. Reptiles are the amazing huge Rock-Python, Puff adders, Spitting Cobras, Gabon Rippers, Green Mambas, and Turtles etc. All these are regularly sighted around the tourist village on the Mweya Peninsula and all this makes a superb safari territory.
Birding is also wonderful. Queen Elizabeth Park has the highest recorded number of over 600 species of birds including the Shoebill Stork, Black Bee-Eater, Chappirs Fly Catcher, Bustards, and craters full of Lesser Flamingos etc. Over night at either Mweya Lodge/ Jacana safari Lodge (High end/luxurious accommodation), King fisher Lodge Kichwamba/Hill top Camp (Medium class accommodation) or the Institute of Ecology Cottages (Low budget/basic accommodation). Full Board.
Day Eleven: Early morning drive to the crater lakes where you may get a chance of seeing thousands of colourful Lesser Flamingos, as they feed in these soda lakes. Then go for the afternoon boat trip along the Kazinga Channel. Hippos huff and spray mere feet away from the boat, Buffalo linger in the shallows, a tremendous variety of birds grace the grasses on the shores. Great White and Pink-Backed Pelicans, Great and Long-Tailed Cormorants, Open-Billed Stork, African Jacana, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers are commonly seen. February and March offer spectacular sightings of some of the bird migrants. Spend the night at either Mweya Lodge/ Jacana safari Lodge (High end/luxurious accommodation), King fisher Lodge Kichwamba/Hill top Camp (Medium class accommodation) or the Institute of Ecology Cottages (Low budget/basic accommodation). Full Board.
Day Twelve: Queen Elizabeth - Bwindi This morning, we will have a game drive to the Kisenyi area to look for Lion prides and other wildlife like the Uganda Kob that mate around this area then head for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Best known for its Mountain Gorillas, the Montane Forest also attracts spectacular birds. There are 23 of the 24 Albertine Rift endemics including the African Green Broadbill, Bar Tailed Trogon and other beautiful forest species. You may decide to relax in the afternoon or take a nature walk ( at an extra cost of $10 P.P) which will lead you to the Munyaga Waterfall and a chance to see primates such as the Grey Cheeked Mangabey Blue Monkeys and others species. Spend the night at either Gorilla Forest Camp / Mantana Tented Camp (High end/luxurious accommodation), or Lake Kitandara’s Tented Camp/ Buhoma Homestead (Medium class accommodation) or the Community Bandas (Low budget/basic accommodation). Full Board. You will need to have a good night’s rest to get ready for the following day’s gorilla tracking.
Day Thirteen: Gorilla Tracking – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. (There is an option of tracking in Rwanda as well).
This morning you will have to wake up very early to get ready for Gorilla tracking. Do not forget to take your lunch boxes and all the necessary gear to track the rare Mountain Gorilla, perhaps one of the most exciting wildlife experiences on earth. There are now only 650 left in the world! The tracking may take between 2 and 6 hours but its well worth the effort. There are always park guides with you who interpret the flora and fauna and the lifestyle of the Gorillas. In the afternoon relax at the camp or go for a Village walk to visit the Local Batwa Community returning to the Camp in the evening. Dinner and over night at either Gorilla Forest Camp/ Mantana Tented Camp (High end/luxurious accommodation), or Lake Kitandara’s Tented Camp/ Buhoma Homestead (Medium class accommodation) or the Community Bandas (Low budget/basic accommodation). Full Board.
Day Fourteen: Bwindi – Kampala After breakfast, you will proceed to Kampala passing through the Switzerland of Uganda (Kabale) with beautiful scenery and terraced farming arriving in the evening. Dinner and over night at either Serena Kampala Hotel (High end/luxurious accommodation), Hotel Africana (Medium class accommodation) or Namirembe Guest House (Low budget/basic accommodation). B/B.
Day Fifteen: After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport to later catch your flight back home depending on the International flight departure times.
Quotation: Rates are the same till 2008! Medium class accommodation: If there are 2 pax on safari, the cost per person will be $ 3,255 including one gorilla permit. If there are 3-4 pax on safari, the cost per person will be $3,020 including one gorilla permit. If there are 5-6 pax on safari, the cost per person will be $2,817 including one gorilla permit. The single supplement is 540 for the whole trip.
Low budget/basic accommodation. If there are 2 pax on safari, the cost per person will be $ 2,780 including one gorilla permit. If there are 3-4 pax on safari, the cost per person will be $ 2,445 including one gorilla permit. If there are 5-6 pax on safari, the cost per person will be $ 2,192 including one gorilla permit.
The single supplement is 450 for the whole trip.
1.1 Gorilla Permit per person and mountaineering fees. 2. All Meals and accommodation as per the itinerary. 3. All ground transportation in a comfortable 4x4 vehicle. 4. Park entrance fees. 5. Services of a full time English speaking driver/guide. 6. Water, coffee or Tea while on safari. 7. All boat trips. 8. All game drives. 9. All airport pick ups and drops. 10. All activities at stipulated in the itinerary. 11. And all government taxes/levies.
Excluded Are: 1. Bar Bills 2. Phone calls 3. Personal insurance 4. Laundry 5. Air fare 6. All other Services of a personal nature. 7. Driver guide’s gratuity.
Please note that the following is required for your mountain climbing. Let us know in advance if you will need to hire any of them here. - Crampons - Sleeping bags - Sleeping mats - Rops – Available at 5000/= for the whole trip - Climbing boots - Rubber boats - Gaiter – Hired at 5000/= - Hanex – available at 10,000/= - Rain gear - Snow glasses - Gloves
Important: Please note the gorilla tracking in this itinerary can be done in Rwanda as well if permits/accommodation can’t be got in Uganda at the time of your booking. Gorilla tracking is dependant on the permits availability at the time of your booking. Gorilla permits in all park are in a very high demand and we advise that you book them as early as possible.