Gorilla Trekking Uganda - Road Trip to Murchison, Kibale, Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi
Gorilla Trekking – Road Trip to Murchison, Kibale, Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi
This is one of the classic road trips you can do as part of your Uganda safari, as it takes you to the ‘wilder’ and less visited Murchison national park, where as well as the stunning falls, you can see lions, herds of elephants, the bizarre and rare shoebill stork and lots of other stunning wildlife. From there you have a long, but stunning drive along the African rift escarpment to Kibale; which is one of the best places in the world to see Wild Chimps. From here it is a shorter drive to Queen Elizabeth national park, where a scenic boat ride on the Kazinga Channel provides encounters with Hippo’s. Wild Elephants and many bird species. On your return from the boat safari, watch out for the elusive leopard as you drive the famous ‘leopard loop’ road out of the park. Finally, we drive to the vibrant community of Buhoma and stay in a lodge overlooking the magnificent Bwindi Impenetrable forest. This is the kingdom of the Mountain Gorilla and your excitement levels will rise as you listen to your guide explain about the gorilla trekking you are about to embark on
Murchison National Park – Where elephants came back from the brink
When I first drove to Murchison national park back in 2005, there is a certain point of the drive where you have a spectacular view of ‘both sides’ of the park, split in half by the Nile River. One side was heavily forested and the other much more a mixture of grasslands and isolated groups of trees. My guide and driver explained that what we were seeing was the alteration of a landscape by one animal – the African Elephant. During the Idi Amin ere in the 1970’s nearly all of Murchison’s elephants had been poached and it has taken a long time for them to recover. There population numbers increased more on the northern side of the river –maybe they had greater protection there – and therefore this area has much less dense forest cover.
Murchison national park is now one of the best locations in eastern Africa to see wild elephants and during a safari drive inside the park you are likely to see multiple family groups. We have been lucky enough to visit Murchison twice as part of a 3 week gorilla trekking adventure through Uganda and it has never disappointed. We have stayed at Paraa Lodge with its stunning view over the River Nile and as a contrast put up our own tents in the UWA campsite at the top of the falls – falling asleep to the sound of the mighty Murchison Falls. We have searched with success for the iconic Shoebill Stork found in the delta area of the park and come across a Lioness and her cubs resting in the shade of an Acacia tree. Despite some small scale oil exploration, Murchison continues to be one of our favourite national parks in Uganda, but to truly appreciate it we recommend a minimum stay of 3 nights, as the onward road distances to other parks are considerable.
Kibale National Park – Walking with Wild Chimps
Mentally you need to accept that it is a long full day drive from Murchison to Kibale lasting as long as 10 hours and with a need to take regular breaks for rest and to eat. However parts of this car journey are very scenic as you drive along parts of the African rift valley. So with a mixture of relief and excitement you will reach you accommodation at Kibale National Park. Uganda is world famous for primates and after gorilla trekking, chimp trekking is one of the most requested wildlife activities to book. There are many good wildlife lodges in Kibale, but if you want easy access to the park headquarters where the chimp trekking starts from, then for sure Primate Lodge is the number one option.
Chimp trekking in Kibale generally does not involve long distances and the gradients are much less than for gorilla trekking, however the dense forests is often humid and you have to watch your footing as trip hazards such as tree roots are everywhere. When the monkeys or chimps are travelling through the tops of the tree, observation is not easy and photography very challenging. On our first visit in 2005 we continued to walk until a large group of chimps were all around us and then we stopped in that area and remained silent. To our delight many of the chimps descended ‘on mass’ and we were able to see them at close quarters – but this does not always happen.
Buhoma and Bwindi – The home of gorilla trekking in Uganda.
The continued success of gorilla trekking in Uganda and incredible international scientific co-operation between researchers in Uganda, Rwanda and the Congo, has resulted in more and more ‘habituated’ gorilla families becoming part of ‘gorilla tourism’ in these countries. However no place in Uganda has a stronger claim to being the ‘birth place’ of gorilla trekking in Africa and contributing to one of the most successful social/wildlife conservation projects in the world.
To arrive into Buhoma is to become – even for just 2 days – part of a vibrant and diverse mixture of tourists, scientific researchers, Batwa pygmies and local NGO’s; each of who, to some extent, are connected to the survival of the towns most famous resident – the Mountain Gorilla. In 1991, Impenetrable Central Forest Reserve along with Mgahinga Gorilla Reserve and Rwenzori Mountains Reserve was designated as a national park and renamed Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The very first organised gorilla trekking tour took place in Bwindi in April 1993. In 1994 this unique wildlife location was given World Heritage status.
If you would like to Wildlife Trails to design your customised gorilla trekking safari in Uganda then please contact us at [email protected] or click on this very special road trip visiting Murchison, Kibale, Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi.