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    Tracking Mountain Gorillas

    Tracking Mountain Gorillas

    Uganda meridionale e occidentale

    • Periodo Ottimale: 10-22 Febbraio 2020;15-27 Agosto 2020
    • Giorni: 13
    • Zona di interesse: Uganda meridionale e occidentale (eventualmente Rwanda).
    • Costo: € 3450,00
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    Wildlife viewing trip in the easiest and most accessible destination among African rainforest safari, featuring from african montane forests to alluvial savanna plains with its famous tree–climbing Lions. The magical encounters with African Great Apes (Mountain Gorilla and Chimpanzee) will stand supreme among experiences that will leave you with lifetime impressions.

    • The Mountain Gorillas: following in Fossey’s tracks
    • The Virunga Mountains and the slopes of the famous Mountains of the Moon
    • The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, an incredible biodiversity hotspot
    • The Kibale rainforest and the Chimpanzees, the closest extant relative to humans
    • Semliki, the only example of Congo–Basin ecosystem in Uganda (optional). The return of the White Rhino at Ziwa
    • The alluvial plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Ugandan Kob and the arboreal Lions
    • Ancient Cultures in danger : the Ba’mbui and BaTwa Pygmy tribes
    • The stunning waterfalls on the Nile, exploring wildlife on savanna: Lions, Forest Elephants, African Wild Buffalos, Giraffes etc.
    • A bird’s paradise: the most diverse destination in the Old World
    The Virunga Mountains (Mgahinga National Park or Parc des Volcans) will be alternative choice to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park; this will depend on availability of Gorilla Permits.

    ClimateBiogeographic ProvinceBiodiversity and Cultural Heritage

    True equatorial, with little temperature variations (rarely above 30°C). Rainfalls are concentrated between April and May and between October and November.

    The itinerary, despite short distances, covers a great variety of ecosystems: easterly offshoots of the Congo’s Basin lowland forest, Eastern African montane forest, unique ecosystems in the Albertine Rift and Brachystegia woodland savanna.

    Southern Uganda has a scattered and diverse array of ecosystems (mainly falling under the forest type), as a result of different altitudes, geographic position and soil characteristics. They broadly range from African montane forests on volcanic peaks of Virunga Mountains, featuring giant Lobelias and alien–looking groundsels, to pristine rainforests typical of western African ecosystems, and to the tropical savanna of eastern plains. At the core of this itinerary is something unique and distinctive, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, whose tremendous biodiversity is to ascertain to the broad altitude range (from 1160 to 2607m above sea level) and to its antiquity. Its origin dates to about some 25000 years ago, before the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age.

    Fauna: There are few places on Earth that harbour a higher biodiversity than these, especially in terms of birds and primates. For birders, itinerary highlights include 29 species endemic to the Albertine Rift, the papyrus swamp specialists, 54 different birds of prey in Queen Elizabeth National Park, the amazing and massive Shoebill and all the many western African species on the border with Congo. The checklist is impressive, featuring 1008 species, 150 of them that are unique in all of Eastern Africa.
    Uganda harbours the greatest variety and concentration of primates found anywhere in East Africa, including Mountain Gorilla, Chimpanzee, Ugandan red colobus, Guereza, and many other species in the Cercopithecidae family.The characteristic fauna of Eastern Africa savanna is well represented, with Lions, Leopards, Elephants and Ugandan Kobs, Hippos, Crocodiles and many antelopes. Strangely easy to spot the usually oddly challenging to find the Giant Forest Hog. Among notable species, it is worth mentioning the Rothschild’s Giraffe (at Murchison Falls National Park), the Sitatunga and relict populations of African Forest Elephant.

    Conservation Value: Around half of the world’s Mountain Gorillas are hosted in Uganda’s forests, which harbour the highest density of different primates on Earth. Endemic species of these forests (listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site) include the endangered “Golden Monkey” (endemic to the Mgahinga Mountains) and the Rwenzori Colobus Monkey, in addition to many bird species.

    Cultural Value: People belonging to the oldest ethnic group in Africa, the Batwa minority, live in Bwindi and in Echuya. A small group of Ba’mbuti Pygmies (related with the Baswa of Congo) live not far from Semliki.

     

    Detailed Program

    (The following trip planning may vary according to the availability of permits for primates imposed by government authorities and can be adjusted for participants upon request)

    • Day 1: Upon arrival meet with our representative and check into the wildlife resort near Entebbe (on the shores of Lake Victoria). Overnight stay at resort.
    • Day 2: Canoe trip on Lake Victoria, Mamamba Swamps, Important Bird Area (IBA), and very good chances to spot the very rare Shoebill. Transfer to Lake Mburo; short game drive and staying at fixed camp lodge inside the Park. Zebras, Impala and the antelopes of eastern savanna.
      Lake Mburo National Park
      Lake Mburo National Park is a small–medium sized Park (for African standards), unique with its wildlife resembling what is normally observed in Tanzania and Kenya. In addition to Buffaloes, Hippos and a great variety of Antelope species, this is the only Park in Uganda with Plains Zebra and Impala populations. Again, this Park offers very good chances for up–close sightings of Eland and Bushbuck.
    • Day 3: Morning game drive in the Park. Transfer to the very scenic Lake Bunyoniy, located at 1962m above sea level in a particularly fascinating rural landscape, with its 29 little islands with few settlements of local people. Overnight stay at cottage on its shores.
    • Day 4: Ethnographic excursions in the traditional BaKiga villages on Lake Bunyonyi’s shores, close to the border with Rwanda. Chances to have contacts with BaTwa Pygmies (indigenous people of the montane forests of this area). Transfer to Bwindi. Overnight stay at lodge.
    • Day 5: Head for Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for stunning Gorilla tracking. The superb setting of the “Impenetrable Forest” and the Afro–Alpine vegetation. The magic encounters with Mountain Gorillas.
    • Day 6: Transfer to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The Ishasha sector, the tree climbing lions and the multitude of Ugandan Kobs. Late afternoon–evening game drive. Overnight stay at lodge.
    • Day 7: Game drive in the Park. Boat ride on Kazinga Channel. The Nile Crocodile, Hippos, the African Fish Eagle and the extraordinary biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems. Overnight stay at lodge.
    • Day 8: Eventual second try for chimps in Kalinzu forest, then transfer to the region with one of the world’s densest concentrations of volcanic crater lakes, distinctive ecosystem with more than 50 volcanoes. Overnight stay at lodge/cottage on lake Nyinabulitwa’s shores.
    • Day 9: Trekking within the Kibale Forest in search of Chimpanzees. Walking safari in the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary, featuring 5–6 species of primates in 2 hours of walk and the very rare Great Blue Turaco. Overnight stay at lodge.
      Kibale National Park
      The moist evergreen lowland rainforest of Kibale contains ecosystems typical of the Congo Basin. It owes its reputation for having the highest diversity and concentration of primates in Africa (13 species). Among these, Chimpanzees, Ugandan red colobus and many other species in the Cercopithecidae family. The Park is home of several well–studied habituated communities of chimpanzee, an unique experience to observe these primates who share 98,6% of the gene pool with us. Excursions within Kibale and the surrounding wetlands are very prolific, with 6–7 species of primates in few hours of walk. Some highlights: the Ugandan Red Colobus, the L’Hoest’s Monkey, the Red–Tailed Monkey, etc. Birdlife biodiversity is stunning, including the papyrus swamp specialists, the Great Blue Turaco and many endemic species.
    • Day 10: Excursion along Lake Nkurumba for bird and primate spotting, walk safari along Lake Rweetera and exploration deep in the area of volcanic craters. Overnight stay at lodge/cottage on lake Nyinabulitwa’s shores. Optional exploration of Semliki National Park for the Ituri Forest.
    • Day 11: Transfer to Murchison Falls National Park, along the impressive Bugungu slope, one of the most spectacular setting in the whole Africa. Overnight stay at lodge.
      Murchison Falls National Park
      Murchison Falls National Park is the largest among Uganda’s protected areas, covering 3840 square kilometres. Due to low elevation (619–1292), the park is characterized by open savannah grassland with Acacia and Borassus palm, woodland, and riverine vegetation. Wildlife is in plentiful supply and seem to be recovering after the area faced strong poaching pressures in the last decades: lions, elephants, Rothschild’s giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeests, buffaloes and a multitude of birds (460 species).
    • Day 12: Excursion into the north sector, the richest in wildlife. Sightings of Rothschild’s giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeests, lions, elephants and many different antelopes. Afternoon boat ride towards the Murchison Falls. Overnight stay at lodge.
    • Day 13: Walking safari in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for White Rhinos (Ceratotherium simum), where an initiative for Rhino reintroduction into the wild is in progress after the whole population was wiped out by poachers for their horns. The 70–square kilometres large Sanctuary actually support a small Rhino population (in addition to antelopes, primates and a large array of birds) that bodes well for the full recovery of the species. Return to Entebbe and flight back to Italy.

    The trip will be led and accompanied by one Biosfera Itinerari expert biologist guide who will be responsible of logistics, activities and tour guidance.

    N.B.Due to the typology of this trip and according to law disposal, the itinerary is restricted to participants over 15 years of age. In addition, due to limited availability, it is essential to make Gorilla permit reservations 3 months in advance, especially during summer months (from July to September).
    The price includes:
    • Mineral water while on safari
    • All land transfers with private vehicle
    • Toyota Landcruiser 4×4 or Minibus 4×4 fully equipped for safari
    • Driver and guidance from a Biosfera Itinerari Biologist
    • All taxes imposed by government authorities and Park entry fees
    • Double bedroom lodge accommodation full board
    • All excursions as in the Detailed Itinerary and Program
    • Gorilla and Chimpanzee Permits
    • A comprehensive travel insurance package
    Not included:
    • International flight and airport taxes
    • Cost of  Procedure Management (30 euro)
    • Visa for Uganda
    • Cancelling insurance (facultative)
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Voluntary activities and service tips, and in general everything not mentioned in section “The price includes”
    Price
    € 3296,00 based for 6 pax. The travel package price can vary in case of change of the currency exchange rate 

    Disclaimer 1: Please note this is an indicative and standard itinerary. Dates, activities and the succession and length of each part of the itinerary may change each year, and can be rearranged with the participants. Upon request by the participants, we will send the definitive and detailed programme to be evaluated at least some weeks prior to the confirmation deadline.

    Disclaimer 2: We will generally honor the posted prices, but these are subject to change at any time due to action or decisions made by local authorities. In such situations, and in the hope that will not happen, we will send all the ministries official communications to all participants, free from ambiguity and in total transparency. We reserve the right to correct the final price to the fullest extent permitted by law.

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